Best Bikes for New Riders

For those just getting into motorcycling, walking into a dealership to select your first bike can seem overwhelming. With so many to choose from, how do you know which bike is best for you, the beginner?

To help answer this question, we polled some of the Fit Specialists at GO AZ Motorcycles and Harley-Davidson of Scottsdale to learn about their favorites. These were their recommendations in the sport, cruiser and adventure categories.

Sport

Kawasaki Ninja 300

Kawasaki Ninja 300

Why we like it:

  • Lightweight, making it easier to handle at low speeds
  • Fuel injected so that it’s easy to start and ride every time
  • Sporty look, very similar to the larger 600cc class

Honda CB300F

Honda CB300F

Why we like it:

  • Sits upright a little more than most models, which makes it a bit more comfortable
  • Single cylinder which provides good torque and mid-range power, making it more street-friendly
  • Low seat height provides the new rider with greater confidence

Kawasaki Ninja 650

Kawasaki Ninja 650

Why we like it:

  • Has more power than the 300cc, so a new rider won’t grow out of it as quickly
  • Dual disc brakes with optional ABS makes stopping as safe as possible
  • Smooth parallel twin motor which delivers strong mid-range power for exceptional roll-on response

Ducati Scrambler

Ducati Scrambler

Why we like it:

  • 31″ seat height provides the new rider with greater confidence
  • Can handle both urban and off-road terrain, providing expanded access to a variety of locations
  • 803 cc with 75 hp offers a terrific platform that the beginner won’t soon outgrow

KTM 390 Duke

KTM 390 Duke

Why we like it:

  • 375cc engine gives riders with a good sense of power, while providing a smooth ride and good fuel economy
  • Single cylinder engine is less complex and more economical to maintain
  • At 300 lbs. and 44 hp, it makes for both a perfect lightweight city ride as well as a fun bike for a canyon ride
  • Low center of gravity for easier handling

KTM 690 Duke

KTM 690 Duke

Why we like it:

  • Single cylinder, just like the KTM 390 Duke
  • Has a secondary shaft balancer that reduces vibration making it a smooth and powerful engine
  • At 328 lbs. and 75 hp, it remains a lightweight bike, while offering greater power than the KTM 390 Duke, ensuring the new rider won’t grow out of it as quickly
  • With features like an electronically controlled throttle, riding modes, disengageable ABS, and Brembo brakes, it’s a safe machine for beginners

Cruiser

Honda Shadow AERO

Honda Shadow Aero

Why we like it:

  • 745 cc V-twin engine provides good torque and a wide, user-friendly powerband
  • Wide front and rear wheels that make for easier handling
  • 25.9″ seat height

Honda Rebel 250

Honda Rebel 250

Why we like it:

  • One of the smallest cruisers available
  • Very lightweight, making it easier to handle
  • At 250cc, it’s still got the power to make it highway legal

Harley-Davidson Sportster Iron 883

Harley-Davidson Sportster Iron 883

 

Why we like it:

  • Very low seat height makes it easy to keep your feet flat on the ground when stopped
  • A little heavier than other bikes on the list, but the added weight provides stability on the freeway
  • Fuel-injected engine makes for a reliable start every time
  • Affordable entry into the Harley-Davidson family of motorcycles

Kawasaki Vulcan 900 Classic

Kawasaki Vulcan 900 Classic

Why we like it:

  • Fuel-injected 900cc engine is a bit bigger than the others in this category, but delivers manageable power for the new rider
  • Rider floorboards with “heel toe shifter” enhances rider comfort
  • Low seat height ensures rider comfort at lower speeds and stops

Harley-Davidson Dyna Street Bob

Harley-Davidson Street Bob

Why we like it:

  • Next step up from the Sportster in the Harley-Davidson family; has a larger frame which makes it better suited for longer rides or 2-up riding
  • Very stable ride with great handling and adjustable suspension; rides “lighter” than its 670 lbs.
  • 5-gallon tank offers great range
  • Versatile bike for a daily commute, day trips or multi-day adventures on the open road

Adventure

Kawasaki KLR 650

Kawasaki KLR 650

Why we like it:

  • At 432 lbs., it’s a very lightweight adventure bike; makes for easier handling off-road
  • Very affordable, allowing the new rider to test the adventure riding waters without breaking the bank
  • On-road/off-road capability

BMW F700GS

BMW F700GS

Why we like it:

  • Parallel twin engine provides smooth power delivery
  • Standard ABS keeps the rider in control
  • Fuel tank is located under the seat, keeping the center of gravity low and providing exceptional handling

Of course, there’s no substitute for swinging a leg over the bike or test riding it to determine if it’s a good fit for you. Keep in mind that if you’re not comfortable sitting on the bike in the showroom, you won’t be anymore comfortable riding it on the open road.

You’ll notice that several of the bikes on our list feature a low seat height. This is important for new riders not only for the security it provides in allowing the rider to sit comfortably flat-footed when stopped, but because it also provides for a lower center of gravity, making the bike feel lighter, and as a result, more easily maneuverable to the rider.

Finally, keep in mind that most riders don’t end up on the same category bike they start out on or they find that it takes more than one type of bike to fulfill their passion. So do your homework and be sure to ask lots of questions, but also know that your first bike isn’t likely to be your last bike!

Is there a bike you’d recommend for a new rider? Use the “Leave a Reply” box below to tell us what you think.

Contributors: Spencer Faggioni, Paul Garza, Tommy Irvin, Felipe Rodriguez, and Troy Woodbury

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