Ultimate beginner motorcycle guide 2017/2018
Buying your first beginner motorcycle is like an addiction you want to be addicted to. Already as a child, you probably felt a bit excited every time you heard the charming sound of a motorcycle exhaust. You probably even looked up to the rider. All dressed up in motorcycle gear, looking like a superhero while taming the two-wheeled roaring beast.
Boys eventually become men, but deep down in the subconsciousness maze, you can often hear the silent whisper of the child within you, reminding you how you liked the scent of gasoline and the overwhelming sound of the motorcycles lungs, the pipes.
Can you feel the buzz already? Scroll down to find your perfect fit and don’t forget to save some budget on the side for a special add-on that every rider should mount on his beginner motorcycle.
Check compatibility of Smart Turn System and Smart Brake module with your motorcycle:
THE BUZZ OF THE LIFESTYLE – FREEDOM AND ADVENTURE!
You can’t stop thinking about it, and it feels like you are chained to the wall if you don’t get your share of the wind in your chest. It is time you become a superhero yourself. But where to start? It takes time and experience before you can become the »badass« you dreamed about when you were younger.
Like with every other thing, you have to start with the first step. With your first bike, and with your first ride. And to make it a joyful and memorable experience, let me help you with some ideas of what I think are the best beginner motorcycles out there. Come with me to start your new lifestyle and to become a real superhero instead of a statistic.
I woke up one morning and opened the windows. Yes, the spring was here. The sun came up, the birds were singing, and then it hit me. Somewhere very near, the roaring sound of the motorcycle engine completed the picturesque scenery. I don’t exaggerate if I tell you I got addicted to the idea of hitting the road on two wheels myself. Let’s do some research!
HOW TO CHOOSE THE ULTIMATE BEGINNER MOTORCYCLE?
Where to start? I like the angry sound of muscles of a sports bike, but I’m kind of afraid of the power it packs. I like the deep roaring sounds of a chopper. They also look badass, but am I fit to handle that heavy machinery?
I live in the city, but I would like to run away to the countryside from time to time. Maybe, just maybe I would like to experience how it feels like to go off the asphalt. Climbing an uphill road or following a path through the woods.
So many things to experience, but I’m not even close to a clue what will fulfil my two-wheeled dreams. One thing I know for sure, not every bike could handle all of those different terrains. I need to find myself first.
Choosing the right beginner motorcycle is not only about different models and designs, the power and what appeals to your idea of riding at best. A lot of riders make a mistake buying their first beginner motorcycle only for the image they are going after. But does it fit your lifestyle?
Motocross bike in a city makes as much sense as a Harley offroad – practically none, except if you want to showcase it in your garage. It is not impossible to make longer tours on a sports bike with a partner and some luggage, but it may happen you won’t enjoy it a lot.
Adventure motorcycles are a lot of fun, but if you are planning to commute in city traffic only, you are not nearly getting the most out of your bike, and it may even be a very expensive choice.
HOW TIGHT ARE YOU ON YOUR BUDGET?
Another very important thing is the budget that you will invest in your new favourite hobby. Be careful, the motorcycle itself is by far not the only expense that comes with the two-wheeled lifestyle. It starts with the motorcycle license if you don’t own it already. Buying the motorcycle will probably be your biggest expense, but make sure you have some budget left on the side for the safety gear.
A motorcycle helmet is mandatory in most countries, but even if it isn’t, make yourself a favour and don’t save your money buying a cheap helmet or even not buying it. Not only it is the most important piece of safety gear, without it, it even isn’t fun to ride. Wind in your hair sounds appealing indeed but in reality, it is hard to keep your eyes open and even a small fly hitting your face can hurt like hell.
Another important thing to think about is the insurance and registration costs. The calculations vary from country to country and here is a comparison of the average insurance costs between different States in USA.
In some cases, the insurance and registration costs increase with the bigger displacement of the engine and in some cases, with the bigger power of the engine. I recommend to check what is the basis for the insurance and registration costs in your country and start from there.
In the end, check what you simply couldn’t live without on a motorcycle, so you make sure not to run out of the budget to quickly before you get all the safety and other useful gadgets to start riding with confidence.
THE BEST BEGINNER MOTORCYCLES IN 2017/2018 – The STS TOP #10 list
Keep in mind that you have countless options for choosing a bike that will fit you. The order of the TOP 10 list is not intended competitively or to favourise any of the listed motorcycles. Also, all bikes from the list have their older predecessor that will be much more gentle on your wallet, but still offer you a very similar experience, so it is worth to make a bit more research if a particular model catches your eye.
The one thing I wouldn’t compromise on is the ABS, so do think about spending a bit more on your beginner motorcycle if it adds to your safety. So, let’s see the bikes I came up with as the perfect beginner motorcycle.
#10 SUZUKI SV650 2017
If you ask my colleague Rok, this is the number one choice for any rider, that looks for a naked bike with a scent of retro/cafe racer looks. It is very easy-to-handle, and with 196 kg of weight, it is also quite light and therefore manageable for female riders as well. The seat height of 785mm makes it attractive for riders that aren’t very tall, either way, it is not the lowest motorcycle so short riders would have to adjust the seat height for another few centimeters if needed.
What makes the SV 650 a perfect beginner motorcycle is its power that allows you to find joy in riding it even when you have passed the beginner phase of riding. With the 75,1 HP, it brings enough power to keep you thrilled in corners for years and provides enough torque when riding with your partner as well. The latest design is very lean and gives you a slightly more sporty feel than its predecessors, but you will definitely enjoy the pure naked-style looks and sporty performance.
#9 HONDA NC700 2017
Was your adventurous soul reincarnated in a world where adventure motorcycles cost a fortune? Don’t look any further, here is the Honda NC700. Not only is it in the lowest price segment of adventure motorcycles, but it also has all the characteristics of a perfect beginner motorcycle.
The power delivery is very gentle, it provides just about enough horsepower when riding alone, but you’ll be missing some extra power if riding with a passenger. Especially in the lower RPM, you will miss some extra torque after a while, but the gentle power supply will give you a lot of confidence during the learning period.
If you like adventure style motorcycles, Honda NC700 will bring you everything that you search for in a beginner motorcycle, and it even looks beautiful too. Another benefit is the low price, and I must confess you get a lot of motorcycle for little money. Like with all adventure motorcycles, the seat height is higher than on average, so the 830mm could be hard to handle for short riders.
#8 KTM DUKE 390 2017
An awesome looking, extremely light naked that handles like a bicycle but with enough power to enjoy it in every corner – this is the Duke 390. For those who are sensitive to vibrations, the Duke’s single cylinder engine won’t rise to your likeness, but for those who enjoy the raw feeling of power, it is simply the number one boy-toy.
The 2017 model comes with only 163 kg of joy, and its amazing maneuverability will make every ride memorable. Its unique handling characteristics offer you a lot of opportunities to upgrade your riding skills after the beginner phase, the only downside I see with this beginner motorcycle is the low engine power that you will want to upgrade after the learning period. Either way, the DUKE 390 is my personal favorite choice for the perfect beginner motorcycle.
#7 KAWASAKI Z650 2017
You simply have to love the designs of the new Kawasaki Z series bikes. It speaks muscles and sportiness, and since the naked style bikes are very popular among a younger generation of riders, you can imagine why it could be the number one choice for many beginner riders. A lightweight machine that is easy to handle, strong dual brakes will provide great stopping power, and ABS will keep you safe from beginner mistakes with braking in an emergency. With 67,2 HP, the machine offers a lot to take your two-wheeled love affair pass the beginner stage, so you won’t need to rush to change your beginner motorcycle for a stronger engine very soon.
#6 YAMAHA MT-07 2017
Another »naked« that you should seriously consider as your beginner motorcycle. The MT-07 from Yamaha made a very strong appearance among young riders. Many riding schools use it for riders that are taking their motorcycle license, from A2 and the A category as well. Like the Kawasaki Z650 and the SV650, it offers enough power to make the relationship last for quite some time. Its lean design and lightweight offer great handling and a lot of confidence on the bike. Even though it comes with an 805mm seat height, it is more likely you won’t enjoy the riding position if you are among the taller riders.
#5 HONDA CB 650F 2017
This is another and the last naked motorcycle on my list of perfect beginner motorcycles. The reason I included it in the list is the experience I had with its older predecessor when I was doing my motorcycle license. Even though the characteristics put it in the segment of »serious« motorcycles, mostly for the fact that it has the strongest engine power on the list, I had an amazing time learning to ride with it.
The power it packs is subtly hidden behind the gentle throttle bar, not giving the nervous punch before you rev the throttle to the fullest. You can easily advance your riding skills and not be unpleasantly surprised by too much power that the CB 650 can deliver. I could easily imagine taking the Hornet from the beginner rider stage to a two-wheeled companion for life.
It is about 30 kg heavier than other similar motorcycles on our list, which will make you put a bit more effort to get the right grip of it at first, but it will soon become second nature when you get used to handling it. The biggest benefit of the Hornet is that you don’t need to change to another motorcycle when you advance in your riding skills and you pass the beginner stage. It simply is enough motorcycle to make it happen for you when you want to take your ride to the next level.
# 4 KAWASAKI NINJA 300 2017
I remember when I was younger, the sports bikes were the synonym of what I considered the perfect motorcycle. It simply speaks performance and power, and a perfect type of motorcycle for a superhero every child wants to become. And here it is, the perfect super sports beginner motorcycle, the Kawasaki Ninja 300. With its 172 kg, you will overcome the handling limitation of sports bike design, low seat height allows you to keep your feet steady on the ground. And the 39 HP provides just enough power to get the sporty feel but still within the beginner rider comfort zone.
#3 YAMAHA V-STAR 250
It wouldn’t make much sense to risk too much money on a beginner motorcycle, does it? Especially since there is a lot of opportunities to make some damage to it before you get used to handling it and learning from your mistakes.
So, if you are a Harley enthusiast, going for a classic American dream style, here is a bike that could work for you while gaining experience. The V-STAR 250. It is the only V-Twin in this segment, furthermore providing the pure experience of a chopper/cruiser feel. And the looks easily compliment the style you are going after.
The low seat position will give confidence to smaller riders and especially women. It allows you to step down firmly to the ground with your whole feet. It’s the perfect combination together with »only« 147 kg of weight to handle it with ease.
The biggest turnoff for me personally is the smallest fuel tank capacity among the motorcycles on the list. With less than 10l of fuel, you will have to plan a few more stops on your cruise than with the average motorcycle.
It might lack in power for cruises with a passenger, so if you’re looking for a bike to ride in pairs, it will soon give you an idea to search for a stronger version of the V-Star.
#2 HONDA REBEL 300
It is simply an awesome looking bike. The 300cc version is definitely one of the perfect beginner motorcycles in the cruiser segment. The combination of retro style and cruiser design caught the eyes of a wide segment of riders. Therefore it is not surprising, that the Rebel 300 became so popular among riders. For those of you who look for just a bit more power, don’t search anymore.
The Rebel 300 has a big sister, that is the Rebel 500. You have two awesome beginner motorcycles for a very small price difference, but with the capability to provide you with anything you are looking for your beginner riding stage.
#1 KAWASAKI VERSYS 300-X
If you’re searching for an adventure bike with smaller engine displacement and lower horsepower to save on the insurance and registration, the Versys 300-X seems like your top choice. The amazing looking Kawasaki with only 175 kg will make your day on and off the road.
As with all smaller engines, the only thing you will be missing in your advanced riding stage is the lack of power, but you will want to keep it for future rides off the road where you can push the bike to its limits. The big fuel tank capacity will keep the engine going seemingly endlessly, so you’ll not need to visit the petrol station too often.
I didn’t have the opportunity to try it myself, but I’ll believe the words of my colleague, who recently bought it for his girlfriend for her first motorcycle. As a beginner, she got used to the bike very quickly.
The only problem she had was the seat height, which caused her few problems at the beginning since she couldn’t reach firmly to the bottom with both feet at the same time. With some adjustment and new springs on shock absorbers, she simply won’t get off of the bike anymore.
TAKE YOUR TIME FOR EXPERIENCE
Every true rider knows there is a special bond between him and his two-wheeled mistress. But as it is with every other thing, what you choose depends on your priorities, which vary from rider to rider. In my humble opinion what matters the most is to give yourself enough time and the opportunity to find yourself first. Don’t spend all your money on the first motorcycle. Do a research first and try to define what would make a perfect beginner motorcycle for you. Then start slow, perhaps with an older model, that will be cheaper for your wallet, if nothing else.
If you took the right approach, there would still be a lot of options for upgrades opposed to starting from the beginning and buying another bike just to see if this might be the one. If you have an opportunity to test it, go for it. Don’t be too shy and grab those bars and take it for a ride.
Don’t exaggerate on your first ride and put the attention to your riding position and handling instead of how fast you can ride it in a straight line. By doing this, you will find out if this is the right bike for you much easier and you will be able to enjoy it and get the most of your beginner motorcycle.
And the most important thing for a beginner rider comes at the end. Always learn and always anticipate the worst, then ride accordingly and be prepared to react within your riding capabilities. Don’t save your money buying cheap safety gear. And if your loved ones don’t have an idea, what to buy you for Christmas or your birthday, you can always show them your favourite motorcycle mods, the Smart Turn System or the Smart Brake Module – or a bundle of the two 😉
Take care and ride safe!