10 Good Beginner Motorcycles

Even More Good Beginner Motorcycles

This lightweight bike has a comfortable riding position, and it's great for tricks.
This lightweight bike has a comfortable riding position, and it's great for tricks.
driver Photographer/Thinkstock

3: KTM Duke

The KTM Duke is a series of motorcycles, all of which are fit for beginners. If you want to buy newer, the 2015 KTM 690 Duke is lightweight, coming in at 342 pounds (155 kilograms), and has a comfortable riding position thanks to its wide-grip handle bars [source: KTM]. All models in the Duke line have anti-lock brakes, while the brakes themselves are Brembo brakes, which provide good stopping power.

The Duke 690 has a six-speed transmission and an electric starter. Its engine is liquid-cooled, which lessens the risk that it will overheat if you're stuck in traffic on a hot day. Its seat height is about 32 inches (81.28), making it comfortable for riders of a variety of statures. Other Duke models include the 390, 200 and 125. None have earth-shattering amounts of power, but all have enough to keep up with the flow of traffic while growing your riding skills.

2: Honda Rebel 250

A major consideration for beginner motorcycle riders who are looking for a bike is price. After all, you don't want to lay out a lot of cash on a bike you might outgrow. Even when you're shopping starter bikes, it's tough to find one as affordable as the Honda Rebel 250, which starts at just over $4,000 [source: Honda]. Seriously, it can be tough to find a used bike with Honda reliability at a price that low.

In addition to that small starting price (imagine how affordable a used one would be), the Rebel 250 has retro styling, a 234 cc engine and gets up to 84 miles per gallon (35.71 kilometers per liter), so it's cheap at the dealership and at the gas pump. The Rebel's seat is 26.6 (67.6) inches off the ground, making it easy to put both feet flat on the ground when you stop. That low seat height also aids parking and other slow-speed maneuvers, which helps you gain confidence while you improve your skills.

1: A Cheap Used Bike

Most, but not all, of the bikes on this list are available new and most will work for most new riders. Still, when you have that shiny new motorcycle license burning a hole in your pocket, it's tempting to go out and get the biggest, shiniest and newest bike you can afford. That's a mistake, no matter what the sales guy at the Harley or Ducati dealership says.

Before you shell out for your dream bike, take the time to build your skills on a small, affordable usedmotorcycle. You'll have something that you can gain confidence and skills on without making a big investment. When you drop it – and you will drop it – you won't be out thousands of dollars. With the number of people who buy beginner bikes and then trade up for something bigger or more powerful, there are plenty of affordable used bikes on the market. Look for something inexpensive and small, with a similar riding position to the kind of bike you eventually want to get. Take the time to get comfortable on your new-to-you two-wheeled teacher. When you're ready for your dream bike, sell your starter bike to another new rider and keep the great biker wheel of life turning.

Author's Note: 10 Good Beginner Motorcycles

Normally, I'd start a piece like this by recommending a cheap, used bike first. In this case, I think it's an important enough point to put in the No. 1 spot. I'm speaking from experience here. With my newly minted motorcycle license I went out and bought a brand-new Harley-Davidson Sportster 1200 Low. Now, that's not a lot of bike, but for a new rider of my stature, it was too much. I eventually grew into it, but the first few months of riding were not as fun or confidence-inspiring as they could have been. Learn from my mistakes. When it comes to motorcycles, start small and start cheap.

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  • Bestbeginnermotorcylces.com. "Suzuki SV650 Review." Bestbeginnermotorcycles.com. (July 20, 2015). http://www.bestbeginnermotorcycles.com/suzuki-sv650-review
  • Erwin, Kate. "The 10 Best Beginner Motorcycles." Complex. June 18, 2014. (July 20, 2015). http://www.complex.com/sports/2014/06/10-best-beginner-motorcycles/
  • Gromer, Cliff. "Buell's Blast Is Easy To Ride." Popular Mechanics. August 13, 2001. (July, 20 2015). http://www.popularmechanics.com/cars/motorcycles/a57/1268541/
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  • Perlman, Mike. "Top 10: Starter Bikes." Askmen.com. (July 20, 2015). http://www.askmen.com/top_10/cars/top-10-starter-bikes.html
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