Remember when you got your first bicycle when you were a kid? Feelings of excitement and freedom quickly engulfed your senses. “I can ride anywhere!”, you think. You don’t know how to ride, you don’t know how to brake, you don’t know how to really do anything…you just know you love it.
Fast-forward through the rest of your childhood, adolescence, and early adulthood. Now you want more. More acceleration. More lean. More miles. And most of all…more speed. You want a motorcycle. You aren’t sure where to start or what to look for, but luckily, you are reading this article.
First time motorcycle buyers have a dizzying array of bike genres, technical features, engine types, and manufacturers to choose from. The most important decision a first time buyer has to make is the style of riding you wish to pursue. Motorcycles being manufactured right now are versatile machines, but they are still built with a specific purpose in mind from the manufacturer. For the purpose of this article, street riding is the focus over riding dirt.
The best advice any first time motorcycle owner can get is to not buy a bike with a huge engine. My personal advice would be to keep it 600cc and below. Most riders benefit from starting at 250cc and working their way up. Smaller engines afford beginners the comfort of not trying to control a rocket ship while also trying to learn to do everything else riding requires. Smaller also means lighter, for the most part. Motorcycles that have smaller engines generally weigh less than bikes with larger engines, which creates a large advantage when it comes to handling, stopping, and accelerating. Less moving mass means turning, starting, and stopping become easier, the very things learning motorcyclists need to become deft at negotiating. The smaller engine classes also tend to be more comfortable for a wider variety of riders when it comes to seating and riding positions. Not to mention smaller engines also means smaller price tags, for insurance too.
The difference between a 250cc and a 600cc engine is vast. Known as middleweights, 600cc bikes should probably only be the first bike for people who are comfortable riding something like a dirt bike or large scooter to begin with. One of the main reasons being that 600cc bikes right now are not that much different than bikes with 1000cc engines, known as liter bikes. The top speeds and horsepower ratings between 600 and 1000cc engines are very close, so if you decide on a 600, pay close attention to things like weight, 60mph-0mph ratings, and especially ergonomic comfort. If you don’t feel good on your test ride, it won’t get better.
Here is a quick list of entry level bikes to consider for your first purchase:
Kawasaki Ninja 250R
Good luck, and remember that winter is the best time to negotiate price!