Getting New Riders get on the road with the Best 5 Beginner Motorcycles 2020
Unless raccoons have home schooled you, you will no doubt be aware that there are 50 states in the union. Each of these has a different rule on what is required before you can ride the motorcycle of your choice.
But for the purpose of this article, I’m going to assume that you are 18 years of age or older. You have passed the basic rider safety course and are looking for a motorcycle under 650cc. The categories are cruiser, road bike, sports bike, dual sports and finally a wild card, just to keep things interesting.
Cruiser- The News on the Street
To the best of my knowledge, I’ve owned over 10 Harleys throughout the years. Without exception, they’ve all been loud, long and large. And probably why I treated the Harley -Davidson Street 500, with such contempt when it launched.
But I put my hands up; I was wrong. The Street was designed to not only comply with fun strangling emission laws but also introduce the brand to a whole new generation.
Yes, beginner rider, that’s you! So what do you get for your $6849? The 491cc Revolution X engine is liquid cooled and fuel injected. A low seat height of 25.7’’ and a wide set of bars mean it’s easy to maneuver. The Street comes with belt drive, ABS as an option, and a six-speed box helps it reach over 60mpg.
Want to know the best bit though? At the last check, there was just over a gazillion custom accessories available for this model. Meaning, you can get it looking and sounding exactly how you want.
Road Bike- Back with a Bang
When the first gen SV650 hit the streets in 1999, it became a huge hit, and it’s not hard to see why. The little V- twin was a rev-happy heap of fun; it handled, stopped and looked purposeful.
Fast forward 18 years and the 2017 SV650 has certainly evolved but manages to keep its junior hooligan looks and zest for life. What has changed considerably though, is its user-friendliness for the beginner rider.
Gone is the clunky aluminum frame, replaced with a Monster style, tubed trellis. This trellis and the narrow tank has allowed the center section of the bike to be much slimmer. Meaning you will get your feet on the floor that much easier.
In the engine department, the mods have more or less just compensated for restrictive emission controls. But the addition of the low rpm assist, which makes it hard to stall on takeoff, mean it’s one of the best novice friendly bikes on the street.
Race to the Finish
The sports bike has got to be the best model yet for beginner sport bike enthusiasts ever. All the big manufacturers have finally caught on to the fact that there’s a huge market out there. And instead of doing their usual parts bin makeover, have gone back to the drawing board to come up with something special.
And top of that category is the 2017 Yamaha YZF-R3. It was a tough choice, especially in light of the competition. However, the 321cc twin cylinder Yam has a single-minded sense of purpose to it that’s come straight from the legendary R1.
The six speed, fuel injected R3 has a seat height that comes in at just over 30’’. The tapered seat and narrow frame mean it’s not too much of a stretch for shorter riders. You can’t compare a cruiser to a sports bike, but just out of interest, the R3 weighs an incredible 110lbs less than the Harley Street.
Begin the Adventure
The dual sports style of motorcycle is very user-friendly. You get a good upright riding position, an excellent view of the road and by the nature of their cycle parts, are very maneuverable.
As a bonus, if you do head for the loose stuff, getting used to the way the bike breaks traction, locks its wheels and skids, will be of enormous help to you on the road.
The only slight downside for the beginner motorcyclists is that they’re tall. But here’s one that isn’t too much of a stretch, the Honda CB500X. The 471cc parallel twin is fuel injected and has a six-speed gearbox.
The rear Pro-Link suspension is adjustable as are the front forks. The Honda even comes with an adjustable front brake lever, which falls where you need it. Capable of returning over 80mpg and coming with a 4.6-gallon tank, also means you’ll probably forget where your local gas station is.
Consider the Wild Card
The KTM Duke 390 is not to everyone’s taste. They’re loud, fast and aggressively styled, but they’re also one of the most versatile beginner motorcycles on the market.
With the single-mindedness of a sports bike, the user friendliness of a street bike and the riding position and maneuverability of a dual sport. The bike was launched in 2013 and was hugely popular, but its quirky looks and sparse dealer coverage stopped it going major league.
The 2017 model is a different beast. A new frame, bigger WP forks, re-worked engine, bolt on the subframe and the return to a conventional mounted exhaust is going to make the 2017 KTM Duke 390, the bike to watch.
It can be tricky being a beginner rider. There’s so much going on, on the other side of those handlebars, that it’s hard to keep up. So the last thing you want is a bike that demands too much of your attention.
Which bike is the front runner in the Best of the 5 Beginner Motorcycles?
Making a personal choice as to which one I’d go for as the ideal beginner friendly bike was a seriously tough decision. The 500 Street’s tank badge alone is going to make it very popular. Unsurprisingly, the new SV650’s return to its hooligan roots has a lot of people taking notice.
The Yamaha YZF-R3 has so hit the nail on the head, it’s going to drive novice racers crazy, and as for the Honda CB500X, what’s not to like? The KTM wild card has got Magazine Editor’s Choice, written all over it.
But for me, when you consider, bang for buck and beginner rider features, the 2017 Suzuki SV650 takes the crown. A close call, but the cream of the crop in our Best 5 Beginner Motorcycle’s round-up.