A lot of beginner riders want to get an advanced bike right away, but what they don’t understand is that a beginner bike is actually more fun to ride when you’re starting out. If you’ve never been on a motorcycle before, and you hop on a racing-tuned Honda Fireblade, you’re going to 1) be turned off from riding because of uncomfortable position, 2) be too concerned with trying to handle this powerhouse machine to really appreciate the act of riding, and 3) probably die. The longer you live, the more riding you can do, so dying isn’t in your best interest as a fan of motorcycles.
There is a huge selection of bikes out there that are nicely suited for beginners, with engines around 250cc, a nice comfortable seating position, and a low price; but there are only two that I ever recommend for newer riders: the Honda Nighthawk 250 and the Kawasaki Ninja 250.
Kawasaki Ninja 250
The Kawasaki Ninja 250 is the perfect bike for those people who want a high-end sport bike, but have never been on a bike before. It’s a surprisingly fast 250cc bike since it only weighs around 300 pounds. Also, if you’re concerned about how you look, the Ninja 250 looks higher end than it is. The riding position is forward enough so the rider will get used to the aggressive sportbike posture, but laid back enough to be easy on a beginner. It isn’t as upright and comfortable as the Honda Nighthawk, but it’s certainly not uncomfortable.
The whole point though, is that it’s a fun bike. It doesn’t have the power that some it’s big brothers higher up the Ninja lineup may have, but it’s much easier to ride, and much more focused on the rider. Not as fast as it looks, but not as expensive as it looks either. Point blank: if you’ve never been on a bike before and you say things like “I can’t wait to get a GIXXER THOU”… start with a Ninja 250, you’ll have a better time.
Price: $3,500 for a new one. Look for a used one.
Honda Nighthawk 250
The Honda Nighthawk was the first bike I ever rode, so maybe I’m a bit biased, but I honestly think this is absolutely the best bike you can buy for under 5 grand. I would have only recommended this bike for beginners, but there are too many people starting out that wouldn’t appreciate the styling.
The Nighthawk is the most unpretentious, comfortable, easy to ride bike ever made, in my opinion. Someone who has never even been on a moped can hop on one of these bikes and feel at ease. It’s a very forgiving bike, so it’s absolutely perfect to learn on. They’re easy to maintain, highly reliable, fun to ride, and cheap to gas up. They really are the perfect starter bike. Plus I love the styling, it’s a beautiful bike with a timeless look.
They’re around $4,000 new, so I would try to find a used one since these bike are notoriously reliable, and will last for years.