Opinions on the best motorcycle to learn on vary from person to person. However, there is one thing that almost every seasoned motorcyclist will tell you, start small, and start slow. The art of riding a motorcycle is just that, an art. It must be refined and practiced before a rider should feel comfortable behind the handlebars of a bike. Therefore, the best motorcycle to learn on is a bike that will forgive you for the common mistakes made by newcomers to the world of motorbikes. The chances of a new rider taking a spill are relatively high, so make sure the bike does not cost an exorbitant amount of money.
Some Tips Before You Consider Buying a Bike:
Take a Safety Course: Before you get anywhere near a motorcycle of your own, take a motorcycle safety course. The best starter motorcycle in the world cannot compensate for a basic lack of knowledge when it comes to two-wheeled riding. Most states provide courses funded by the MSF “Motorcycle Safety Foundation.” In Pennsylvania, these courses are free. Free! They fill up quickly but are worth the wait. You will learn the basics of riding a motorcycle, operating the clutch, the front and rear breaks and the throttle. Motorcycles are VERY different from driving a car. It is about as foreign as riding a horse, a steel horse I guess. But you get the idea.
ATGATT: This may sound like some sort of crazy gibberish, but alas, it is not. It may actually save your life. This right here is an acronym. All The Gear All The Time. That is what it stands for, but what does it mean you ask? It is something that has been drilled into my head since day one of riding. Whether you are going to the corner store a mile from home or on a cross-country trek, helmet, gloves, jacket, over the ankle boots and at the very least jeans. Every time. Statistically, over 50% of motorcycle accidents occur within 5 miles of the rider’s origin. Every time!! Of course, a good helmet is your best investment. Arai makes the best helmets available. Don't skimp to protect your noggen!
The Best Motorcycle to Learn On: Here are some particular things to look for in a motorcycle to learn on. If you are considering a late model bike (2000 or newer) stay below 500cc’s. For all you home gamers out there, CC is a measure of engine size, a 1,000cc motorcycle is equivalent to a 1.0 liter car engine, just for reference. I personally recommend nothing larger than a 250cc starter motorcycle. Like I mentioned before, the best motorcycle to learn on is one that forgives you for the stupid mistakes that new riders invariably make. You might be thinking, what kind of mistakes is he talking about? The mistakes I’m talking about are out of your control in most cases. For instance, let’s say you’re riding down the road minding your business when a man sized pothole comes out of nowhere. Your front wheel dips beneath the street’s horizon and your forks compress violently. The decompression of the forks causes a whip of the handlebars. What’s attached to the handlebars? The throttle. As the handlebars jerk towards the sky your hand twists the throttle open quickly. If you are in the engine’s RPM sweet spot on a 250cc bike, the front wheel may lift ever so slightly off the ground, but you will probably make it away keeping the tires on the ground. Now, imagine the same scenario, but you have a 600cc sportbike (a favorite starter bike for the uninformed daredevils out there) under you. This bike REACTS to throttle inputs with amazing force. Your couple inches of 250cc wheel lift will turn into a full on wheelie. You have been riding for a grand total of 2 weeks. What do you do now? Probably dump the bike.
Same thing goes for the brakes. The disc brakes on race bikes are built to stop. Duhhh. No, I mean STOP. FAST. Grab a big four fingered handful of brake lever on one of these things and you will be head over handlebars before you can blink. That’s a bad place to be just in case you were confused.
The Bikes I Recommend:
Kawasaki Ninja 250r
If you are into the look of the sport bikes, this is the best motorcycle to learn on and still get the look you desire. I know, sport bikes look sooooo cool. But trust me, they look a lot less cool when their plastic fairings are scattered across a busy intersection and the rider is getting a free ride in an ambulance to the nearest emergency room. Start with this bike. As a novice, you will find this bike exhilaratingly fast. Trust me. Coming from the world of 3,500 pound vehicles and hopping on a 400 pound bike, your whole idea of speed will change.
Honda Rebel 250
If you are into the cruiser style motorcycles then this is the best motorcycle to learn on. It is quick, light, nimble and a blast to ride. It is very forgiving and will allow you to learn how to ride safely. I know most of you who are into the cruisers will want a Harley right out of the gate. Harleys are awesome. I love them, trust me. But do not be the guy who’s first bike is a Harley, but clearly has no business riding it. They are not learners bikes. They are heavy, big engined rocketships. I know, they’re really cool. But do not fall into the trap of buying something on its cool factor. Learning how to ride is cool. Be that kind of cool.
1970’s Honda CB550
This may surprise some of you, but the CB550 has about the same horsepower as today’s 250cc bikes. It is a really nice motorcycle to cut your teeth on, especially if you are into the café racer look. The Honda CB550 Café Racer is one of the coolest looking naked bikes around. It has a modern front disc brake and a finned air cooled engine. The best part, it’s a Honda and they run like tops. Not to mention, they can be found for under $1,000.