You need a beginners bike…

Posted: May 16, 2013 in Uncategorized

Everyone who thinks about starting down the road to be a motorcyclist hears this… “You need a beginners bike”.

Makes sense, you are new to the activity so a beginners bike is a good idea.

Now, WHAT is a beginners bike?

This is the huge question… because it can be different for everyone.

Choosing a motorcycle is like choosing a gun.
Hear me out on this.
You have similar things to consider, power, intended usage, fit, price…

I am 6’4″ and around 260-270, my sister is 5’1″ and around 100 lbs.
We dont need the same beginners bike.

She could get a little 125 or 250 and be happy as a pig in mud, Me, I would be miserable.
Intent is important also.
Are you wanting something just to learn how to operate a motorcycle… then moving up to something different?
Are you going to use this to commute to work from the next town over?
Is it just an in town commuter?
Would you want to make a weekend trip on it?
Think about taking it off the pavement?

Some of these uses overlap, pick what you need before bike shopping.

Engine size/power.
Here is where the arguments start.
Low power is less intimidating, more user friendly for the novice.
However, many motorcycle riders get caught up in More’s Law.
If some is good, MORE is better.
I will not disagree with this, after all my last 3 bikes have had performance 1100cc engines.

So, you decide that you can deal with having a low powered bike, you are more comfortable on it  and dont worry that an extra 10 degrees of throttle will send you blasting out of control into the weeds.
Is that low power going to be OK for taking it on the hiway to the next town… out to visit a friend… on a weekend out of town?

The perennial Kawasaki learners bike, The 250 Ninja, can handle those duties.
And some people are more than happy with the bikes and keeps them for years.
Many other smaller bikes are not so useful.
A lot of people get the small underpowered bikes and decide that they need more power and utility.

If you decide on one of the small bikes, buy used.
Lower entry price, and if/when you decide to sell it… you dont take as much of a monetary loss, if any.

I would also suggest buying used anyway.
As a learner, there is a HIGH chance that you will drop it or fall over.
I know people who have come to a stop and forgotten to put their feet down and just fallen over.

As a personal preference, I like the idea of a 1 or 2 cylinder mid size bike… 300-650ish in size.
This gives a person a bike that is a manageable size, enough power for about any use, not enough power that it should be unwieldy, good fuel economy… and you are a lot less likely to outgrow it or become bored with it.

And not that it should concern you, but you will be looked upon as riding a “Real” motorcycle.
This should be your LAST thought when selecting a motorcycle.
You are actually RIDING, that makes you cooler/braver than most people out there.

Riding a motorcycle is about freedom, this includes freedom from what others think about you.

I think everyone should take rider training, such as the MSF course.
There you will learn on the small 125-250cc bikes.
This will give you a chance to see if they suit you.
Dont just learn the skills, evaluate the bikes… see if you fit, you like the power characteristics, if you like the riding position.

You are paying good money, get the most of it.

Lately I have been looking at a lot of mid size bikes, and trying to see them thru the eyes of a beginner.
You guys have a lot of good bikes to choose from out there, all shapes, sizes, styles, and manufacturers.
I was a kid in grade school when I learned to ride… 1955 Sears Allstate rebranded Vespa.
In my teens I got a Honda 400 twin.
In my 20s I stepped up to a 750 and then to an 1100.

Dont just go out and buy the “IN” motorcycle.
A novice doesnt need a 500 pound machine with the power of a small car.
Start off with something easily manageable, properly learn your riding skills.
Learning on a rocketship steals a lot of the enjoyment of learning to ride from you.

I love the saying “Life is a Journey, Enjoy the Ride”, on a bike… you dont just enjoy it.

You experience it.




  1. NotClauswitz says:

    Where’s the dirtbike? 🙂 Its natural condition/position is scratched and laying on the ground – no worries! The plastic is inexpensive. Not much oncoming traffic on a trail in the woods. Speeds are low and traction is not so abundant you can high-side yourself – you have to “find” traction as you learn wheelspin and throttle control – sliding is fun! You wear a bunch of protective gear (roost, elbows, knees, big boots, kidney belt, camelbak, etc.) so the impacts are absorbed – because impacts you WILL have. You learn to wring the neck of a 125cc and hold back on a 400. IMO as a street-to-dirt guy, that’s the one that really teaches you how to ride. Cheers and I’m adding you to my blogroll

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