Back in 2010, Honda realized the motorcycle industry was changing. Prices for many models had increased over the prior decade, making it difficult for new riders to get into the sport.
To address this change, Honda made an effort to curb domestic motorcycle prices, dropping prices for about 45 existing models by 10% to 30% in Japan over a three-year span, counteracting a decade of inflation and bring prices back down to what they were in the year 2000.
Fast forward three years and American Honda’s current lineup includes 15 street-legal models in the U.S. market with prices below $8000. Notably, eight of these models are all-new motorcycles introduced over the last three years. And most importantly, each of these new models would make an excellent first bike for someone just starting out as a rider.
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Honda was able to reach that price point while still offering new technologies such as anti-lock brake systems and its ground-breaking dual-clutch transmission. If you’re a new rider who finds shifting gears intimidating, or an experienced rider who appreciates the ease-of-operation an automatic transmission affords, then the DCT option is perfect for you.
The model that really kicked off this recent trend of affordable Honda machinery is the CBR250R. Introduced in 2011, the CBR250R was a breath of fresh air: a sporty-looking, fuel efficient, practical and fun to ride motorcycle, in a category that long had only one viable competitor in the Kawasaki Ninja 250.
Now in its third year of production, the CBR250R is the optimum choice as a beginner bike, priced at an affordable $4199. Even more, the CBR250R is also available with Honda’s Combined ABS for only $500 more, making the CBR250R the most affordable – and reliable – motorcycle on the market with the technology.
Of course, there are those riders craving a mid-level motorcycle that’s still affordable and approachable. For them, Honda introduced the CBR500R and its naked sibling, the CB500F. With 471cc, either model would be an excellent choice for those who are looking to step up from the 250, or those who want a bit more power without making the leap to the higher-end CBR600RR. And they both pack loads of value for the dollar: at $5999 (or $6499 with ABS), the CBR500R costs slightly more than the CBR250R, while the CB500F is similarly priced at $5499 ($5999 with ABS).
Adventure bikes form one of the hottest segments in the motorcycle industry in recent years, with consumers looking for versatile motorcycles with tall seats, comfortable upright seating and the ability to handle the occasional fire road. Adventure bikes tend to be more comfortable than sportbikes, especially for longer distances, while taller riders will appreciate the added legroom. And in recent years, Honda has introduced two new adventure models in the CB500X and the NC700X, both priced under $8000.
The CB500X shares the same platform as the CBR500R but adds adventure-bike styling, longer-travel suspension, higher, wide handlebars, an adjustable windscreen and a larger fuel tank, making it better suited for longer commutes. The CB500X also shares the same prices as its sportier sibling, at $5999 for the base model and $6499 with ABS.
A step up but still part of the adventure segment is the NC700X. Its 670cc parallel-Twin engine is canted forward 62 degrees to create a low center of gravity, making it easier to maneuver at lower speeds. The engine is tuned for low- and mid-range torque, making it great for city riding. And the forward-leaning engine also creates room for a storage compartment where a conventional motorcycle’s fuel tank would normally be located, large enough to hold a full-face helmet.
Most impressively, the NC700X is priced at just $7499. Even with Honda’s Combined ABS and its Dual-Clutch Transmission (DCT) features thrown in, the NC700X is still well priced at just $8499.
While adventure bikes offer a hint of off-road worthiness, those looking to do more extensive dirt riding may be better served with a true dual-sport, such as the Honda CRF250L. With a tall, 21-inch front wheel, raised mudguards, high ground clearance and knobby tires, the CRF250L is ideally suited for unpaved terrain. But with an upright riding position, superb handling and excellent fuel economy, it’s also right at home on the pavement.
With an engine based on the CBR250R’s powerplant, Honda claims the CRF250L manages 73 mpg, compared to 77 mpg for the CBR250R. The slender, motocross-style seat allows the rider to shift forward, back or to either side with ease, making it easier to adjust to uneven terrain, and maneuver through traffic. And priced at $4699, the CRF250L may be $500 more expensive than the CBR250R, but it’s still less expensive than competing 250cc dual-sports.
Cruisers remain the most popular segment in the U.S., with customers appreciating their low seat heights, comfortable feet-forward controls and the classic cruiser aesthetic. And with the CTX700 and CTX700N, Honda has two new cruisers priced below the $8k mark.
Designed around the concepts of Comfort, Technology and eXperience, the CTX models share the same engine as the NC700X, benefitting from the low center of gravity in the 62-degree forward-slanted engine. The CTX700N offers a modern take on the classic cruiser look, while the CTX700 features a fairing and windscreen, making it more comfortable for longer trips.
The CTX700 is priced at $7749 while the CTX700N is priced at $6999, making them both inexpensive options, but that’s just the starting point. Even more intriguing is the optional ABS and DCT package for $1000 more. That pushes the CTX700 up to $8749 but the CTX700N remains just under the $8000 mark, making it the most affordable motorcycle in the world with a dual clutch transmission.