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Buyers Guide for A First Time Rider

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The ultimate guide to a riders first bike. I would like to say if you have made it here while doing research on your first motorcycle congratulations, you are taking the right steps to find something you like. Secondly that probably means you shouldn’t start out on an 1000 cc bike. When you are first learning about bikes you may just hear about the 300 cc bikes and 600 cc bikes, what you don’t hear about it all the in between bikes and the differences between them. Let me break it down to what I see as the best bikes when just starting out.  

How to find the motorcycle that fits you

With so many different types of motorcycles in  today’s entry-level class, it can be tricky even knowing where to begin your search, however, there are a few crucial tools to help you narrow down your search. The first thing you should ask yourself is “what will I be doing?” as this dictates the style of motorcycle that will be most appropriate for your wants and needs. If you solely plan on using your bike for urban commuting, you’ll likely want a gas-efficient model, though if you plan on doing some off-road riding, then a dual-sport or adventure motorcycle may be an ideal choice.

Factors to find out when buying a new motorcycle 

There are dozens of areas one can rack their brain over when shopping for a motorcycle, though for new riders buying their first bike, there are a few key areas you need to focus on. 

Engine: As the heart of every motorcycle, a bike’s engine should be one of the first things you look at. For new riders, we would recommend limiting your choices to models with a displacement of 500ccs or less, and engine configurations with no more than two cylinders. Though there are some exceptions to the 500 cc rule of thumb. 

Speed:  Models capable of speeds exceeding 70mph open the door to a myriad of riding applications such as freeway use or long-range touring. By referencing a bike’s top speed, you should get a decent sense of what riding applications it is conducive to (and which it isn’t).

Price: Today’s entry-level motorcycle market has some incredibly competitive pricing, with $5,000-$6,000 being enough to buy learner-friendly models. With that said, some bikes offer much more than others in the same price range. For this reason, it’s important to explore exactly what a given model’s features and components are as they can vary greatly. Low-mile used motorcycles are also a great way of saving a few bucks.

Manufacturer: It is more than just the logos on the tank, the company behind a given motorcycle model will play an enormous role in a machine’s overall reliability and performance. Buying from a larger, more reputable wide open network also comes with access to more replacement OEM and aftermarket parts. Some company’s bikes also retain their value much better than others, another area well worth looking into, especially if you plan on selling your first bike to upgrade to a larger model later down the road. Japanese manufacturers, like Yamaha, Kawasaki, Suzuki, or Honda,  have some of the easiest bikes to work on, get parts for, and resell. 

Weight: The more a motorcycle weighs, the more difficult it can be to control. Smaller bikes not only have more lightweight engines, but their lack of weight means they can also use lighter components for things such as the frame and suspension. With motorcycles, weight means more weight, for example bigger bikes need bigger brakes. It’s important to go for a lightweight motorcycle, as this will be the most helpful to progressing as a rider.


Rebel 300
Weight: 364lbs CC’s: 286 Top Speed: 85mph Seat height: 27.2 inches Avg. price: $4-5k
Rebel 500

Weight: 408lbs CC’s 471 Top Speed: 95mph Seat height: 27.2 inches Avg. Price $6-7k

Honda Rebel 300 & Rebel 500 

First introduced in the mid 1980s, the Honda Rebel has been a go to option for new riders. This nimble 300cc bike, and urban-friendly sport cruiser is small enough for new riders and has a low seat height for anyone to feel comfortable sitting on it for the first time.  It also has a sibling bike the Honda Rebel 500, this one is more freeway-friendly. With the same seat height as the 300 and only 40 pounds heavier this one should be just as comfortable. Both cc’s do allow the option for ABS, its Anti-lock brakes correct for the rider’s natural human reaction time and can be a life saving feature  It can also be critical if you need to stop quickly on a wet road or in low traction conditions.

Vulcan s
Weight: 491lbs CC’s: 649 Top Speed: 116mph Seat height: 27.8 inches Avg. price: $6-7k

Kawasaki Vulcan S 

This is one of the exceptions to the 500 cc rule of thumb. This bike comes in at 650 cc’s and although it is heavier than its counterparts at 500 and 300 cc’s it is a great first bike for beginners looking to do a lot of freeway riding. The bike has a  Positive Neutral Finder, which will prevent accidentally shifting into second gear while the bike is not started. This bike also does come with the option for ABS. 

Naked Bikes

Weight: 364lbs CC’s: 399 Top Speed: 112mph Seat height: 30.9 inches Avg. price: $4-5k

Kawasaki Z400 

Take a 399cc twin engine and throw it into a crowd-pleasing naked style motorcycle and the Kawasaki Z400 is born. Kawasaki’s new Z400 is a sharp-looking, compact, fast but not-overly-ferocious motorcycle that’s ideal for either the new rider or someone living in an urban area. This is a light and very comfortable bike. 

Weight: 313lbs CC’s: 286 Top Speed: 90mph Seat height: 31.5 inches Avg. price: $4-5k

Honda CB300R 

The CB300R is a learner-friendly model that’s equipped with a surprisingly high-end array of features and components including full LED lighting, an inverted fork, anti-lock brakes, and blacked-out hardware throughout. In terms of performance, the CB300R is an incredible machine, with its amazing handling and a top speed exceeding 90mph.

Standard Bikes / Sport bikes 

Weight: 366lbs CC’s: 399 Top Speed: 105mph Seat height: 30.9 inches Avg. price: $5-6k

Kawasaki Ninja 400 

The Ninja 400 is quite possibly the best buy in its class, with the same price points as the other bikes you get a liquid-cooled 399cc twin-cylinder engine and a lightweight frame. It is fitted with great suspension, brakes, and led headlights. The bump in displacement from a 300 also enables the Ninja 400 to keep lower rpms on the highway leading to a longer life span. 

Weight: 313lbs CC’s: 286 Top Speed: 90mph Seat height: 31.5 inches Avg. price: $4-5k

Honda CBR300R & CBR500R 

Powered by the same 286cc single-cylinder engine as the naked CB300R and CB300F models The Honda CBR300 offers a user-friendly entry point into full-faired sportbike riding. The relatively low 30.7-inch seat height and nimble chassis make navigating dense traffic flow easy, while still offering enough sporting capability to conquer the twisties. It also has a sibling bike the Honda CBR500R, this one is more freeway-friendly, and therefore gets better gas mileage when on the freeways. With the same seat height as the 300 and only 60 pounds heavier this one should be just as comfortable. 

Weight: 386lbs CC’s: 321 Top Speed: 103mph Seat height: 31 inches Avg. price: $5-6k

Yamaha R3

The Yamaha YZF-R3 is a versatile supersport model that’s capable of commuting and track days. With a top speed in the triple digits, and a liquid-cooled parallel-twin that’s new rider-friendly it allows for plenty of growth. The immense popularity of this model has also resulted in an enormous amount of available aftermarket upgrades and a value that holds if you look to resell one day.

I can give you all the advice in the world on what your first motorcycle should be, but at the end of the day the answer will lie in what feels most comfortable to you.  Trust your gut, you will need it when riding. With motorcycles, all these facts can be just ignored all together because of one simple reason: taste

You don’t pick one over the other just because of the price, performance, or fuel economy. You pick one because you like it.

Because every time you throw a leg over it, you’ll be happy with what you’ve got.

Good luck on your first bike and ride safe my friends.

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