For new motorcycle riders, the look and feel of a motorcycle is often as important to rider as actually riding the motorcycle. Let’s be completely honest for a second: every rider wants to feel “cool” when they’re on their motorcycle.
For this reason alone many people jump into a motorcycle that’s far too big for their needs, resulting in unnecessary risk for the rider (as well as those surrounding the rider on the road). I cringe every single time I hear about a new rider hopping on a Yamaha R6 or Honda CBR600RR. I break into a full-on sweat if the motorcycle is a litre-bike (Yamaha R1-esque machines).
There’s a reason that “beginner motorcycles” exist: they provide a safer base that a motorcycle rider can use to hone his or her skills. The fact that they are quick, fuel efficient, and easy on the wallet is simply a bonus.
Common Beginner Motorcycle Myths
Like anything, those that are misinformed (or completely uninformed) often spread rumours. Common beginner motorcycle myths include:
Beginner motorcycles are for “girls” – While this may not affect a female rider, a male rider likely doesn’t want to think that he’s riding a “girls bike”. However, a 500cc Kawasaki Ninja 500R, for example, is still going to be faster in a straight line than 95% of the sports cars on the road. With a sub-4 second 0-60 time, the Ninja 500R is a very fast leaner’s bike- and hardly a “girls bike”.
Beginner motorcycles are slow – See reference to the 0-60 times of any of the following beginner motorcycles: Kawasaki Ninja 500R and Ninja 650R, Suzuki GS500F and SV650S, and the Yamaha FZ6R. Once you’ve done that, find a sports car that you can buy for under $80,000 that will outrun them. Find one? I didn’t think so.
Beginner motorcycles are no fun to ride – Whoever tells you this either doesn’t ride at all, or has never ridden a beginner motorcycle. The Suzuki DR200SE, for example, is an absolute blast on or off-road. The Ninja 650R/Suzuki SV650S, with linear power bands, are terrific to take corners with. Not fun? I beg to differ.
If you buy a beginner motorcycle you’ll need to “upgrade” after a year or two – This can be true if you want something that’s bigger and faster. However, many people find that the power of a Suzuki SV650S is more that sufficient for what they need. If you want a pocket-rocket or a mondo-cruiser, you’ll eventually upgrade to a 600cc super sport/1,000cc cruiser (or bigger). However, for most people, a Ninja 500R is plenty fast enough and more than enough fun to ride.
Which Motorcycle is Right for You?
The answer to this question comes down to what you’re looking for. If you want a reliable, quick, maintenance-free motorcycle you may very well find your future ride reviewed on this website.
If you aren’t even sure what a beginner motorcycle is, read our article that hopefully should address that question.
Ultimately, your needs determine what motorcycle is appropriate for you. If your dream is to ride a cruiser across North America, you will likely want a larger motorcycle than a 250cc Honda Rebel to do it with. However, if all you want is something to take you around town, the 250cc Honda Rebel is perfectly suited.
However, when you’re shopping, there’s always one thing you should never forget: it’s much more fun to ride a smaller motorcycle at or near its limits than it is to ride a larger motorcycle passively. The peaky power-band of a super sport might kill an inexperienced rider in the twisties, but that very same rider might have a blast on a Suzuki GS500F or Yamaha FZ6R.
Remember, it’s always more fun to ride a smaller motorcycle at or near its limits than it is to ride a bigger one nowhere close.