What is the best beginner motorbike?

jake Dolan racer and learner rider at AMA training business Faith restored in QRide system first bike beginner

The best beginner motorbike is whatever turns you on and keeps you riding. The actual model and make can vary substantially among riders.

Buy the bike that kickstarts your heart. The bike that you look good riding on. The bike that will get you some attention from your colleagues and love interests.

We would hate to suggest any novice rider buys a bike they don’t really like simply because it is the most practical, cheapest or easiest to ride.

If we did, novices might not grow to enjoy motorcycling like we did and they could pack it in. That would be a real shame!

However, if you are concerned about practical issues, then here are our top tips for the best beginner motorbike.

  1. As a beginner, you should face the fact that you may drop the bike, even if it just falls off its stand. We’ve all done it and it costs a lot of money in repairs. So buy a cheap bike first up until you are a more confident rider. Then go and buy something more expensive that you really love. Read our miserly bike-buying guide.
  2. In Australia, you are limited to Learner-Approved Motorcycles Scheme (LAMS) bikes. Thankfully there is a wide variety of makes and models. Click here to review them all. Pick a popular model as they will be the easiest to sell when you are finished with it.

    Kawasaki Ninja 300 beginner
    The Kawasaki Ninja 300 has been the most popular LAMS bike of the past few years
  3. The easiest bikes to ride are those that are light. They are usually more manoeuvrable. If it starts to topple off the stand, you can grab it. If it falls over, you can pick it back up.
  4. Ensure the seat height is comfortably low enough to provide some confidence that you can put your foot down in low-speed incidents where you might topple over. Check seat heights here.
  5. Bright-coloured bikes will attract more attention. Yes, drivers should be looking for bikes, but they don’t. So making yourself more visible with a bright bike and bright clothes may help.
  6. Avoid bikes with clip-on handlebars. They are difficult to operate in slow-speed manoeuvres and tight turns.
  7. Cruisers look easy to ride with their low seat height. However, avoid those with a feet-forward position as it doesn’t foster a feeling of balance in novice riders. There are plenty of cruisers with low seats, neutral riding positions and mid-mount controls.

    Harley Street 500 beginner
    Harley Street 500 has a neutral, upright position and mid-mount pegs
  8. Adventure bikes may be great fun, but they are a compromise between dirt and road performance. Work out which surface you will mainly be riding on and chose a suitable bike for that surface (dirt or tarmac).
  9. Touring bikes with fixed luggage may appeal to your wanderlust, but they are heavy and easy to scratch and damage. Almost any bike can be turned int a tourer with luggage accessories which are easy to remove for those times you are not touring.
  10. Get a bike with ABS. Most LAMS bikes now have it standard or as an option. Don’t listen to what older riders will tell you about how they can out-brake a bike with ABS. It will save your hide in an emergency. Learn to develop your emergency braking skills without having to activate the ABS and you can make up your own mind about the feature on your next bike.

3 Comments

  1. looks or what other people think are the last thing to choose a bike by. Eg. Look at cruiser and HD riders, they seem to enjoy themselves but they mimic the stance of a poodle begging for a treat. If you know what bike makes you smile, buy it. If you don’t know buy something cheap and sellable, ride it for a while and you will soon learn what bike will make you smile.

  2. Anything with a full fairing is just asking for trouble in my opinion. That inevitable ‘drop’ is going be a lot more expensive to repair if a fairing is involved. The choice would largely depend upon the stature of the rider. An average sized person would be better off with something like a Suzuki TU250. A tall person would be better suited to maybe a CB500 Honda. If you’re really tiny then you could always go for a Honda Grom or something similar.

  3. “In Australia, you are limited to Learner-Approved Motorcycles Scheme (LAMS) bikes.” and don’t modify it any way. Or buy a LAMS approved bike that has had modifications.

    In NSW ( don’t know about other states) if you choose to ride a modified LAMS bike, the bike is no longer LAMS approved. For what its worth, you may as well be caught riding a Ducati Panigale or Honda Goldwing cause that’s the size of the fine you will get.

    Go to the NSW L, P license approved section and it will tell you in such a vague way that it makes you wonder if using other than manufacturer original tyres that its out of manufacturer specifications.

    This happened to my Son’s friend ( 18 year old green P plater with offending exhaust that he got with the bike) and after reading about it lately its happening to others and I think its near impossible to challenge the infringement and the police love it. Much more revenue than being pinged for a noisy pipe. yeah, just grab the whole license.

    Whether you get booked or not is purely up to the discretion of the Police Officer. So, be polite and say as little as possible if asked.

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