Beginner Motorcycles

Let’s face it. Learning to ride a motorcycle isn’t easy. If it were, everyone would be riding them. So, by simply wanting to start riding a bike, you’re already a cut above the rest of the road users out there. By looking here for our choices of the best beginner motorcycles, you’re also showing that you’re approaching the selection of your first bike in a smart way. Kudos to you for not succumbing to the siren song of the latest, hottest high-performance machinery. There will be plenty of time for that. Right now, you want to focus on learning how to ride properly.

Here at, we’re big proponents of starting with smaller bikes before moving up to more advanced machinery. For example, I have written many times about how my first bike was a Kawasaki EX500 which I bought in 1989 when the small-bike options were relatively slim. Now, the manufacturers have realized that there is a market for smaller motorcycles – as long as they are built with the same care and attention as bigger, costlier bikes.

Top 10 Things To Do Before Buying Your First Streetbike

What follows is a listing, in alphabetical order by manufacturer, of the best beginner motorcycles we think budding MOrons should consider as their first motorcycle.

  • Gruf Rude

    These are all nice bikes but I suspect for a rank beginner, they are too big/expensive or powerful.
    Local Craigslist has lots of low mileage Ninja 250 from $1400 to $2500 or KLX250S around $3000. I’d be inclined to start there and spend a year getting competent.

    • scott.

      I would also add a used TU250X to your suggestions as well.

    • Fred

      Too big? What kind of Mary can’t handle a 250? I started on a 700 and now I ride a Vmax 1700. If you can’t handle a 250 I suggest a scooter and a skirt.

      • Gruf Rude

        Reading comprehension and irony alert. You’ll notice I suggested 250s as beginners’ bikes. Apparently you didn’t consider that a lot of those rank beginners are named “Mary” and have been wearing skirts since infancy . . .

  • aaMOron



    All great choices. If you can start riding in the dirt. There are a lot of advantages to this.

  • SRMark

    If it’s new bike, and I don’t think that’s a good idea, I’d put a beginner on a CRF250L.

    • Travis Donald Stanley

      That is a good choice. The Rally ABS model can be switched off at the rear.

  • Ozzy Mick

    What… not a single scooter?!?
    After getting my rocks off riding a motorbike from my first bike 40 years ago, l bit the bullet and bought a used 400cc scooter last year for under 4 grand.
    It’s great for 90% of my riding needs (and l daresay that of newbies too). The 10% is screaming up twisties.
    It’s quick enough to win the stop light grand prize starts, is good on congested and open roads, there are no gears to change, has good weather protection, secure luggage space for 2 full face helmets, doesn’t attract much attention (including from cops), has ABS… the list goes on.
    I’m aware that scooters are decreasing in popularity in the US as well as Ozzyland, and that perplexes me.

    • spiff

      Where I’m from scooters are a regular thing. Mainly the cheap 50cc pieces, but you do see some bigger ones here and there.

      That said, it isn’t like some cities in Europe, but for the US there are quite a few.

  • Ozzy Mick

    …stop light grand PRIX starts,…

  • benswing

    How about a Zero S for street or Zero FX for dirt? It’s easiest to learn to ride on an electric bike because all of your focus is on the traffic, safety, and enjoying the ride instead of shifting.
    With a growing used market they are becoming more affordable, too.

    • Matt Forero

      Electric motos would be great for a new rider, or especially young riders due to the minimal maintenance requirements. But considering this is a list of new bikes, a starting price of $8500ish for the baby Zero FX that only has 41 miles of range puts it almost $2k over the most expensive bike in this list. And that bike you can fill up with gas and keep practicing instead of staring at a plug for hours.

      That being said I’ve seen used Zero S’ for sale around $5k which would be a commuter bargain.

      • johnbutnotforgotten

        the other thing you have to consider with electrics is the almost complete lack of maintenance.
        i use my Zero S as my training bike and i haven’t needed to do anything except check tire pressure, brake pad wear, brake fluid level and belt tension in two years.
        my other bikes require (in addition to the above) oil changes, filters (oil, air and gas) spark plugs, valve adjustments, cable lubing, gas stabilizer every winter (and carb draining on the 1980)
        when i had bikes under warranty that was a $700-$1000 bill every year for scheduled maintenance, plus about $1000 for fuel (until i retired i rode about 20,000 km a year just for work) compared to about $50 for electricity (now that im retired its about $13 a year for electricity).

        • Matt Forero

          I did consider this very point in my comment above, but thank you for pointing out real world costs involved. If I could have a multi-bike stable there would definitely be an electric bike in it (probably an Alta Supermoto while I’m dreaming).

          • johnbutnotforgotten

            Sorry (noticed that after i posted my comment).
            Here in Canada our electric motorcycle options are Zero (as opposed to zero) we used to have a Vectrix dealer, but then Vectrix went Dodo.
            I have a multi bike stable (have had for decades) hopefully some day i will have a garage to put them in (would also make home maintenance a lot easier)

    • johnbutnotforgotten

      Electric bikes are the easiest to learn to ride.
      We offer manual transmission, scooter and electric motorcycle training and i’m still waiting for the electric and scooter markets to take off .

  • Travis Donald Stanley

    Those are some good bikes on the list. The DR200 is a good bike for those who did not grow up on dirt bikes and want to get an ADV bike later. The Versys engine was not changed from the Ninja. The biggest thing was the sprockets were changed from a 42 rear to a 46. Max torque is not even 20lbs. Not that it matters much, the X 300 would make for a great bike for a shorter lighter person because she can go 75mph all day long. Seems like a great commuter too.

  • Travis Donald Stanley

    This may seem strange, but if a new rider is about 6′-5″ or so and close to 250lbs+, The 2016+ Honda Africa Twin or the 2014+ DL1000 would be a good bike. Those are some really user friendly mellow engines. This assumes they spend all of their time on the tarmac. I have demo road the V-STROM and think the ergos for a tall and strong person would be great. Best thing about getting one of these bikes is you won’t need to up grade for years. Lol. Maybe a KTM 1290 SUPER ADV? lol.

  • Ron Nath

    They forgot to mention the brand new BMW G310R and Honda CB300F both available with ABS which is a must for all new riders IMHO.

    • Matt Forero

      BMW G310R***

      *** – soon available, one day, apparently

  • See BEYOND Fit

    Shiver 750 …im a big guy thats why

  • sallycrank

    I’m a beginner and I’m starting out on a Ducati Scrambler Sixty2. I love how short it is (I’m only 5’1) and I love how balanced it is. It’s a 399cc and handles like a dream.


    My first and only bike I ever owned in 1980 , was a 1977 Honda CB 550, rode it every day for the 3 years that I owned it, minus the winter months when there was too much snow. I am now 75 and still love bikes .