Eight of the best 50cc motorbikes
If you’re itching for some freedom and ready for your first ride, a 50cc motorbike is a great option. In the UK, you can ride a 50cc motorbike when you’re 16 (applying for your provisional licence from 15 years and nine months), or in some European countries the age is even younger.
- Aprilia SX50
- Rieju RS3-50
- Mash Fifty 50cc
- Derbi Senda Racing 50 SM
- Lexmoto Aspire 50 E4
- Sherco SM 50
- WK Colt
- Beta RR 2T 50
Although some people may decide to wait until they’re 17 so they can ride a bigger 125cc motorbike, these smaller options are a great way to get some miles under your belt and grow your confidence on two – or three – wheels. For 16-year-olds a 50cc needs to be restricted to travel at speeds of no more than 28mph.
A 50cc motorcycle doesn’t mean a moped either; we’ve found some great options that many riders of bigger bikes love, and they look stylish too. Remember to check out how much your motorbike insurance will cost before you start planning your purchase.
One of the most talked about 50cc bikes on the market, the Aprilia SX50 is a tasty little supermoto offering six gears with a two-stroke engine. The SX50 has been in production since 2006 so Aprilia have been doing something right to keep manufacturing this bike. It corners well but is a touch pricey, coming in just shy of £3,450.
This Rieju RS3-50 is a beautiful machine in the 50cc market and boasts a ‘race-winning’ status. It’s not the cheapest, with a price tag of around £3,000, but it certainly hits the mark if a sports bike is your thing. It’s an electric start with two-stroke engine for additional fun and has 17-inch wheels and disc brakes, plus upside-down forks for great handling and performance. This bike also offers a six-speed manual gearbox. If you have cash to splash this is a great option.
Mash Fifty 50cc
If you’re leaning more towards a classic bike, the Mash Fifty 50 may be to your taste. A stylish bike with the look of a scrambler, this geared vehicle offers four speeds and an electric ignition with electric and kick start for a new cost of around £1,900. If you like the Mash Fifty, it’s also worth checking out it’s slightly pricier sibling the Mash Dirt Track bike.
Derbi Senda Racing 50 SM
The Senda Racing 50 is one of a handful of Senda 50cc bikes holding their own in this category, along with the Senda X-Treme 50. Many riders favour derestricting the Senda for optimum speeds of up to 60mph, but if you’re riding with a provisional licence you’ll need to stick to the 30mph option. This bike offers a lightweight frame with a two-stroke engine and alloy cylinder. It’s also one to try if you’re tall as it may be a better fit for you. It’s thought since Piaggio bought out Derbi, the build of these bikes has improved, making it one to check out. New, the Senda Racing or X-Treme comes in at under £3,000.
Lexmoto Aspire 50 E4
With a digital display for the gears, luggage rack and boasting a comfortable riding position, it appears that everything has been considered for the Lexmoto Aspire 50 E4. This four-stroke motorbike looks anything but a scooter. Styled as a motorbike with much healthier price tag, the Lexmoto is priced at £1,250 brand new, making this a much more affordable option for any young rider.
Sherco SM 50
The Sherco SM 50 is a nippy little number – and even faster if you derestrict further down the line. Sherco has poured in its knowledge from international competitions into all the bikes in their range, including those in the 50cc bracket. This supermoto offers adjustable suspension and dual piston brake calipers, but isn’t cheap at just under £3,000.
There’s something exciting about the WK Colt. Not only is it a reasonably priced 50cc motorbike for £1,500, but it’s also available as an electric road-legal motorbike – the WK E Colt costs £1,900 and requires no fuel, filter or fluid top-ups, making it a cost-effective and environmentally-friendly way to travel. The lithium battery takes 7.5 hours to charge and has a 60km range. With the four-stroke WK Colt, it prides itself on being easy to ride and designed with a digital gear display and comfortable riding position.
Beta RR 2T 50
This single-cylinder two-stroke motorbike claims top of the range ‘assertive’ styling, a top-class finish with ‘a perfect mix of manoeuvrability and stability’. As well as the standard model the Beta RR 2T 50 comes in Sport and Enduro designs with fuel-oil mixer, single-key security system ignition, plus steering lock and fuel cap. The bike also has passenger grab rails, but they’re of no use with a provisional licence as you can’t carry a pillion. If you’re interested in the Beta, you’re looking at parting with around £2,895 for a new model. However, this vehicle and all the above motorcycles are much cheaper secondhand.
Things to consider before buying 50cc motorbike
The variety of bikes available come in at very different prices, so knowing your budget and what you can afford is a good starting point. So too is whether you’ll be sticking with a 50cc motorbike or moving on to something larger, like a 125cc bike, when you’re older – or have more cash.
How many tests you want to complete could also affect the choice of bike. If you’re 16 and take your Compulsory Basic Training (CBT) you can ride a 50cc bike with L plates (L or D if you’re in Wales). However, there are still restrictions – you can’t ride on the motorway or carry a pillion. If you complete a theory and practical test you could ride a 50cc (below 4kW) bike, tricycle or light quadricycle (weighing under 350kg).
Checking out how much the insurance will cost is also a factor. Even if you can scrape together enough for the Aprilia, can you afford the insurance and excess should an accident happen?
Will you use it for riding to work or college, or is this a fun weekend hobby to use every now and then? Trying out the different models is a great idea, as even though you may be thinking you want a road-legal dirt bike, are you actually more comfortable on the more sporty frames? Many offer different positions for riding and your own height may affect which feels the most comfortable when you’re sitting on it.
Can I ride a 50cc bike without passing Compulsory Basic Training?
The short answer is probably not.
There are only a few exclusions with this. You can ride a 50cc motorbike without a CBT if you::
- passed your car driving test before 1 February 2001
- passed a moped test and received have a full moped licence after 1 December 1990
- have a full motorcycle licence for a certain category and are upgrading to another
- live on an offshore island.
For all other motorcycle users you’ll need to have completed a CBT.
To ride a 50cc motorbike you need to be at least 16 years old, have successfully applied for your motorcycle licence, passed your CBT, put L plates (L or D if you’re in Wales) and of course insured your motorbike.
However, even at the basic stage you cannot continue to ride a 50cc bike forever. You would need to either complete another CBT or pass further motorbike tests within two years, including your theory test.
There are also rules about pillion passengers and riding on a motorway. With a licence for a 50cc bike only you cannot ride on a motorway or carry a pillion passenger, so don’t be tempted to offer your friend a lift home.
It’s also worth bearing in mind that there is one other option if you’re not keen on taking your CBT, and that’s an electric scooter or moped. Although the top-end ones able to reach 30mph fall into the category of needing a provisional licence and CBT, there are some slower options that don’t, offering the chance to grow your confidence on the road.
How fast is a 50cc bike?
The top speeds of a 50cc bike are up to 30mph which means you won’t be winning any speed races, but the benefit is the fuel consumption and confidence you’ll build. It’s certainly cheaper than any other form of transport with only a few pounds to fill most 50cc motorbikes. It is the perfect option for starting your adventure with bikes.