The best of beginner motorcycles and scooters

Motorcyclist with L plates riding down UK road

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 bike with a small engine capacity makes more economical sense.

For hoisting onto the back of a campervan, 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.

1. BMW G310 R

BMW G 310 R with ocean in the background

Image source: BMW

  • Top speed: 88 mph
  • Torque: 28Nm
  • Price £5,190

IThe BMW G 310 R is an entry-level bike,  BMW’s first, modern, low-end, sub-300cc, beginner motorcycle. It debuted in November 2015 with global sales beginning in 2018. This is a lightweight low-seated city bike capable of zipping through the traffic. It comes with a good range of optional extras too.

Bright new LED headlamp and indicators in the latest models improve the machine’s visibility. Brakes are good and the peppy engine means the bike is fast enough for both the city and suburban cycle. It’s a beamer, it’s going to be a beauty!

2. Ducati Scrambler Sixty2

Scrambler Ducati on white background

Image source: Ducati

  • Top speed: 100mph
  • Torque: 34.3Nm
  • Price: £6,450

When you’re looking at best beginner bikes for an A2 motorcycle licence, you can’t ignore the Ducati Scrambler Sixty2. Ducati’s first scrambler was released in 1962, and this smaller, lightweight version pays homage to the original. 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. 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.

We’ve put together a handy blog about our favourite motorcycle scramblers on the market.

3. Honda CMX 500 Rebel

Honda CMX500 Rebel

Image source: Honda

  • Top speed: 95mph
  • Torque: 43Nm
  • Price: £6,299

The Rebel 500 is a minimalist bobber combining a fresh, blacked-out look with features such as a low seat height, lightness in handling and narrow 471cc parallel-twin engine with plenty of user-friendly power.

The riding position, chassis and fat tyres also contribute to its comfort, practicality and ease of everyday use. The seat is very low, just 690mm from the deck so the Rebel 500 may be a bridge too far for anyone over 6ft. For everyone else this good looking no-nonsense machine will deliver a delightful ride with plenty of power.

Want to get in on the bobber motorcycle scene? Read our blog to discover the best bobbers you can buy in 2023.

4. Triumph Trident 660

Triumph Trident 660

Image source: Triumph

  • Top speed: 120mph
  • Torque: 64Nm
  • Price: £7,895

Newer riders will love the Trident 660, it’s just so easy to ride. Equally at home jinking though traffic or on a bit of a run, the machine produces 80bhp ensures this entry-level machine can really make your eyes water!

However, a power reducing A2 licence restrictor kit is also available. It  can be fitted by a dealer, and removed again when you are fully licensed.

The 660 has full LED lighting, self-cancelling indicators, immobiliser, lightweight five spoke alloys, Michelin Road 5 tyres, adjustable brake lever, and tidy underslung exhaust to complete the look.

5. Kawasaki Ninja 650

Kawasaki Ninja 650 on white background

Image source: Kawasaki

  • Top speed: 131mph
  • Torque: 64Nm
  • Price: £7,649

The Ninja is a good looking machine which is fun to ride, manoeuvrable, and pretty quick off the mark, though it’s a tad underpowered when compared to its market rivals. It’s not really an overtly ‘sporty’ bike but it is a good introduction to the sports bike genre.

The new Ninja’s have a smart thin-film-transistor liquid-crystal display presenting a huge variety of useful information and good looking twin LED headlights making you, and the machine, far better to see and be seen – which is exactly what you’ll want on this nifty Ninja.

6. Suzuki SV650

Image source: Suzuki

  • Top speed: 130mph
  • Torque: 64 Nm
  • Price: £6,999

Often touted as one of the best commuter bikes in the UK, you’re probably not surprised that the Suzuki SV650 has made this list. Despite its nimble size, it has enough power to jump ahead of the traffic, making it ideal for city riding. Its 645cc engine and 72bhp means that it’s more than capable of completing longer motorway or dual carriageway commutes, and its upright seating position will keep you comfortable throughout.

Starting from around £7,000, the SV650 is a little pricey compared to other bikes on this list, but it certainly does pack a punch for that price. Its versatility allows you to use the bike not only for commuting, but also for fun weekend rides with twisting turns. The 2021 model is Euro 5 compliant so you won’t have to pay the charge in low-emission zones.

7. KTM 390 DUKE

KTM 390 Duke on white background

Image source: KTM

  • Top speed: 104 mph
  • Torque: 37Nm
  • Price: £4,600

With six-speed transmission reaching highs of 104mph, the KTM 390 Duke is one of the fastest 125cc bikes on the market. It has a maximum power output of 15hp from the four-stroke engine – built with the same attitude of its larger counterparts, the bike has a lot to offer.

Coming in three colourways, all with bright orange features, the powerful bike also looks the part. The lightweight frame allows an agile ride, perfect for the rush hours that come with city living. Offering safety and efficiency while guaranteeing an adrenaline-fuelled experience, the 125 Duke is great for both newcomers and those with more experience on the roads.

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 three super beginner bikes at the lower end of the price scale.

1. Suzuki Address 110

Suzuki Address 110

Image source: Suzuki

Top speed: 55 mph

Torque: 8.7Nm

Price: £2,395

The Suzuki Address 110 (also known as the UK 110) is one of the best beginner bikes for a provisional or A1 licence, and perfect if you’re on a tighter 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.

2. Kawasaki Z300

Image source: Kawasaki
  • Top speed: 110mph
  • Torque: 27Nm
  • Price: £4,349

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 110mph.

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.

3. Triumph Street Twin

Image source: Triumph
  • Top speed: 112mph
  • Torque: 80Nm
  • Price: £8,795

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.

Read this blog for more tips on how to choose your first moped and we’ve also provided a helpful article about the best commuter bikes on sale in 2023.

Need motorbike insurance?

Have a look at Bikesure’s specialist motorbike insurance policies, suitable for everyone from beginners to experienced riders. Our best quotes usually come over the phone so call 0330 123 1028 or alternatively book a callback at a time that suits you.

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August 8, 2023