Exciting times! You’re looking to buy your first motorbike. There are thousands to choose from, so how do you select the one that’s right for you?
An important question to ask yourself is: how will I use my motorcycle?
In a city environment, where you’re forever stopping and starting and your speed is always low, a motorcycle with a small engine capacity makes more economical sense. For hoisting onto the back of a camper van, a lightweight bike is best. And for travelling long distances or on main roads, you’ll probably be thinking of a larger, more powerful motorbike.
For those who are feeling a bit bewildered by the vast choice of bikes available, we’ve picked out a few of the very best motorcycles for beginners.
Lightweight motorcycles for beginners
Lightweight motorbikes are typically more efficient in terms of power and fuel. Ideal for nipping around the city, light bikes are also pretty handy for popping onto camper vans and manoeuvring into parking spaces.
Load weight – rider plus luggage – makes a difference to the speed of acceleration and deceleration, as well as steering. Sluggishness in acceleration and deceleration can be dangerous, and a delay in steering engagement, due to additional torque, can also cause problems for inexperienced riders. Lightweight motorcycles are not really suitable for heavy riders.
Honda SH Mode 125
If you have a provisional or A1 motorcycle licence, the Honda SH Mode 125cc scooter is a fantastic first motorbike. Weighing in at just 116kg wet weight, which includes a full fuel tank and everything else that makes the bike ready to ride, this nifty little number is compact, adaptable and stylish. The seat is quite low – only 76.5cm from the ground – and the liquid-cooled, four-stroke engine will give you a massive 141 miles per gallon (2 litres per 100km).
Like most scooters, this little Honda has automatic transmission, so there’s no gear changing to worry about, and when you’re stopping and starting in heavy traffic, it will give you good value for money. The lightweight Honda SH Mode 125 comes in three colours – Candy Noble Red, Poseidon Black Metallic, and Pearl Jasmine White – and has a price tag of £2,495.
Ducati Scrambler Sixty2
When you’re looking at best beginner bikes for an A2 motorcycle licence, you can’t ignore the Ducati Scrambler Sixty2 – hailed as the most popular scrambler of all time. Ducati’s first scrambler was released in 1962, and this smaller, lightweight version pays homage to its older cousin in the name. The Sixty2 has a power of 30kW and a 399cc air-cooled engine.
Retro cool, this superb all-rounder is perfectly capable of managing long journeys, as well as nipping through busy towns and cities. The comfortable double seat is only 79cm from the ground, and with the wide, well-positioned handlebars, the rider has good visibility. At a wet weight of 183kg, this six-speed classic features the Ducati logo on the seat, grips and engine casing, and comes with plenty of opportunity to accessorise and personalise.
Available in a choice of Atomic Tangerine, Ocean Grey or Shining Black, the Ducati Scrambler Sixty2 will cost you £6,450.
Triumph Street Triple RS
When you think about first motorcycles, it’s not usually the big ones that come to mind! But it’s not unheard of for a newbie motorcyclist to be the holder of a full motorcycle licence. On the other hand, you might have been riding smaller bikes for some years; you’ve just got your full licence, and you’re looking to buy your first high-power motorbike.
In this section, we’re looking at lightweight bikes and the one that stands out from the crowd is the Triumph Street Triple RS, which will give you around 54mpg (5.2 litres per 100km). This 765cc beauty comes in Matt Jet Black or Silver Ice and is described by Triumph as “Light, fast, fun and agile”. The Street Triple RS is six-speed, with Triumph Shift Assist, which means that transmission requires no clutch. Seat height is 82.5cm.
The bike has a liquid-cooled, double overhead camshaft (DOHC) engine, which provides a high level of power and speed through a four-valve-per-cylinder system. The Street Triple RS has a dry weight of 166kg and can be bought for £10,300.
The Triumph Street Triple RS is in the standard category of motorcycle – also known as roadsters or naked bikes.
The best of budget motorcycles
If you’re shopping for your first motorbike, you’ll probably fall into one of two main categories. Maybe you’re in your teens, and this is your first mode of independent transport. Or you might have driving experience and are now looking to branch out into motorcycle riding, either as a new hobby or for logistical reasons.
In most cases, the newness of motorcycle riding will be accompanied by a sense of caution. Bikes aren’t cheap, so whatever you choose, it will be a significant purchase. Here are some super beginner bikes at the lower end of the price scale.
Suzuki Address 110
The Suzuki Address 110 is one of the best beginner bikes for a provisional or A1 licence, and perfect if you’re on a tight budget.
Achieving a superb 138 miles per gallon (2 litres per 100km) and a top speed of around 65mph, the Address 110 is extremely economical to run. This is a truly practical bike, with a generous 20.6 litre luggage compartment and reinforced hooks for helmet stowage. The fuel tank has a capacity of 5.2 litres, taking this little motorbike an impressive 158 miles on a single tankful of fuel.
Suzuki’s bike is available in two stunning colours – Brilliant White and Metallic Matt Blue. The seat is 75.5cm high and the bike’s wet weight is a very low 97kg. The attractive price tag is £2,199.
At £4,349, the A2-licence, six-speed transmission Kawasaki Z300 is a great choice for a beginner bike. The 300cc liquid-cooled, four-stroke, DOHC engine provides a maximum power of 29kW, allowing the bike to reach an estimated 100mph. The Z300 is perfect for longer journeys, with a comfortable seat, wide bars for good control and the ability to do 70 miles per gallon, which is equivalent to 4 litres per 100km.
The Kawasaki Z300 weighs a modest 170kg and is available in Candy Flat Blazed Green and Metallic Spa.
Triumph Street Twin
For our full-licence best beginner motorcycle, we’ve opted for the Triumph Street Twin, based on Triumph’s original 1959 Bonneville model. The dry weight of this bike is 198kg and the seat is 75cm, and it features an under-seat USB socket.
The five-speed, 900cc Street Twin is designed for customisation. With copious accessories and alternative features available, there’s every opportunity to make this bike your own. Starting with colour choice, there are three black options – Jet Black, Matt Black and Phantom Black – as well as Cranberry Red and Aluminium Silver.
This handsome motorcycle will set you back £8,100, but running costs are low. Triumph advertises the cutting-edge liquid-cooling system, which produces enhanced fuel efficiency. This claim is upheld by the fact that the Street Twin will do 72mpg – that’s just 3.91 litres per 100km.
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