Motorcycles offer a fun and fast way to get around town. More and more people are choosing to buy motorcycles every year, with around 8.4 million motorcycles registered for on-road usage in 2017.
However, picking your first motorcycle can be an intimidating prospect. Many new motorcyclists aren’t sure where to start. You can narrow down your options as we rank the best types of motorcycles for beginners.
Note that your unique needs will play a large role in deciding which bike is right for you. A new rider who plans to mostly commute through town to work will likely need a different first bike than a rider who wants to take long trips on the weekend.
Make sure that you consider what you want the most out of your new bike as you go through our rankings of the best types of motorcycles for beginners. We’ll take you from the worst options to the very best, starting with:
# 8: The Scooter
Scooters are not true, full-size motorcycles, but they do offer practical transportation, especially in urban environments. Drivers can get great fuel mileage from these small vehicles. They are also fully automatic, which can make driving them easier.
However, scooters are not the right choice for highway travel. Scooter drivers may also fail to develop the skills necessary to operate a full-size motorcycle, so they might not be a choice you want to consider for too long.
There were around 723,404 scooters on the road in 2017. These vehicles vary wildly in price depending on their size and the company that produced them. You can purchase small scooters for under $1,000, while a fancier model could cost you $9,000.
Example: The Piaggio Fly 150
# 7: The Touring Bike
Touring Motorcycle Pros
Touring class motorcycles are full of impressive features and options. New riders can expect weather protection, stereo systems, adjustable seats, USB ports, and more from a touring class motorcycle. These bikes can haul your gear and a passenger easily. They can even pull a trailer, all while getting surprisingly solid gas mileage.
Touring Motorcycle Cons
On the downside, touring bikes are incredibly heavy. This can make them very difficult to handle for new riders, who don’t already know how to drive a bike. They are also very expensive. Some riders even say they don’t feel entirely like they’re driving a motorcycle when they’re on a touring bike.
Touring Motorcycle Popularity and Prices
Despite these drawbacks, 1,769,520 touring class bikes were on the road in 2017. Many of these bikes were owned by experienced motorcyclists. This is largely because even the cheapest touring class motorcycles are pricey. You could expect to spend around $14,000 – $24,000 for a touring motorcycle.
Example: The Honda Gold Wing
# 6: Adventure Tourer
Adventure Tourer Pros
Many drivers select an adventure tourer if they’re planning on going on long rides. Adventure tourers offer you weather protection and they have the capacity to carry your luggage while lacking the size of a pure touring class. Despite their size, they also handle very nimbly, for the most part.
Adventure Tourer Cons
Adventure tourers can be expensive, especially for a starter bike, and some new riders do not like their seat height. They are also larger than some of the other options you might choose from. The sheer number of choices in the adventuring touring class may be intimidating for new riders.
Adventure Touring Motorcycle Popularity and Prices
Adventure touring motorcycles are growing more popular. Many companies offer basic adventure touring motorcycles as well as high-end examples. You could expect to pay between $9,000 – $23,000 for an adventure touring motorcycle.
Example: The Kawasaki Versys 650
# 5: The Cruiser
Cruisers are large, impressive motorcycles with a low center of gravity. They also have low seats, which can make it easier for beginners to get on and off their bike. Most people pick cruisers if they’re looking for a relaxed ride, which can be great for beginners.
However, many cruisers also feel awkward to new riders because they are so low and so long. New motorcyclists can be intimidated by the sheer size of a cruiser. Cruisers are also heavy, which makes them more difficult to maneuver, especially at low speeds. New riders might also have difficulties adjusting to the brakes on a cruiser, which aren’t as sharp as some other options.
Cruiser Popularity and Prices
There were around 3,592,275 cruisers on the road in the U.S. in 2017. Cruisers can vary greatly in price, with some models offered for as little as $4,000 and other models reading a price of $18,000.
Example: The Harley Davidson Street 750
# 4: The Sport Bike
Sport Bike Pros
Sport bikes had a reputation for a long time as a challenging ride that wasn’t meant for beginners. These days, sport bikes are friendlier to new riders, though they still offer a lot of speed. Many new riders find them easy to handle, because they tend to be light-weight.
Sport Bike Cons
Sport bikes are generally eye-catching. They look fast even sitting still. Many sport bikes are incredibly high-powered, which can make it a challenge to operate them safely. You might also face higher insurance costs if you ride a sport bike.
Finally, sport bikes often require more maintenance than other motorcycles, which can increase the costs for new riders.
Sport Bike Popularity and Prices
You could expect to see around 425,322 sport bikes driving in the year 2017. The market for sport bikes is very robust, with prices ranging from $4,000 – $16,000.
Example: The Honda CBR 500
# 3: The Sport Tourer
Sport Tourer Pros
Sport touring bikes are, in many ways, sport bikes designed to be more comfortable, especially on long rides. Many sport tourers offer storage space and bonuses like cruise control that can be appealing to new riders.
Sport Tourer Cons
A sport tourer can also get expensive. The price will rise as you add more options to the bike. Additionally, many new riders are intimidated by sports tourers, as they offer high powered engines.
Sport Tourer Popularity and Prices
Sport touring motorcycles are not as common as many other types of motorcycles. There were only 190,113 sport tourers registered in 2017. You can expect to pay around $8,000 – $26,000 for a sport tourer, with some outliers rising above $30,000.
Example: The Triumph Sprint ST
# 2: The Dual Sport
Dual Sport Pros
Dual sport motorcycles can be used on or off road, which is appealing to many new riders, especially if they have experience with dirt bikes. Many drivers enjoy the versatility offered by a dual sport. These bikes are also generally inexpensive and tough, which can help them handle any bumps and dings from a new rider.
Dual Sport Cons
However, dual sports aren’t for everyone. Dual sports are not really designed to handle long rides and they have a high seat, which can be intimidating for new riders.
Dual Sport Popularity and Prices
There were 498,228 registered dual sport motorcycles in use in 2017. Dual sport motorcycles are generally a cheaper option, with prices ranging from $4,500 – $7,500.
Example: The Suzuki DR 200 SE
# 1: The Standard
Standard Motorcycle Pros
Standard motorcycles are designed to be good a lot of different things, but not to be the best at anything. Many standard motorcycles are great starter bikes and many riders find them to be very ergonomically comfortable.
Standard Motorcycle Cons
However, keep in mind that there’s a lot of variety in standard motorcycles. You can get standards with high horsepower that might not be perfect for a beginner. In general, though, a standard motorcycle is a solid choice if you want stick to a size that is appropriate for a new rider.
Standard Motorcycle Popularity and Prices
Reports indicate that there were 281,311 registered standard motorcycles in 2017. You can buy basic standard motorcycles for around $4,000, with prices rising from there.
Example: The Suzuki GW 250
Picking the Best Type of Motorcycle for You
The truth is: no two motorcycle riders are the same. The perfect beginner bike for someone else might be a terrible option for you. You need to focus on:
- The Distances You’re Going to Be Driving
- The Type of Roads You’ll be Driving On
- Your Needs for Handling
- The Amount of Cargo You Need to Carry
You also need to think about how much weight you’ll be able to lift when you drop your motorcycle for the first time. Picking the best type of motorcycle for your first bike can be exciting and stressful. Focus on balancing:
- Rider Comfort
You also want to consider reliability for any bike you purchase. There are winners and losers in all types of bikes. Dig into all your options before making a final decision and buying the bike of your dreams.