The Best Motorcycles For Beginners In 2022—Kawasaki, Honda, And More

So, you’ve decided you want to join the ranks of motorcyclists worldwide! First of all, congratulations. It isn’t something that’s for everyone, but then again, few things are. Whether you plan to commute and/or run errands, explore local trails, or tear through the twisties, there’s a motorcycle out there for you.

Once you get past the beginner jitters, you’re in for years of the very special joy that only life on two wheels can provide. Just be warned, you will drop your bike at some point. Also, your first motorcycle doesn’t have to be your only motorcycle. You can always sell your first bike as you develop as a rider. With that said, here are some excellent new motorcycle choices for beginners.

1. Honda Navi

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MSRP: $1,807

Engine displacement: 109cc

Saddle height: 30.1 inches

Curb weight: 236 pounds

Using a clutch can be intimidating for younger riders, especially for those that haven’t operated a manual transmission car before. To help ease that transition into motorcycling, Honda’s Navi boasts an automatic CVT gearbox. Along with the clutchless controls, the Navi also features an integrated storage compartment, compact dimensions, and an ultra-tractable, air-cooled, 109cc single that nets 110 mpg.

On top of that, Grom-inspired styling, playful colorways, and a bevy of customization options show beginners that bikes can also be a form of personal expression. Riders may outgrow the Navi in due time, but at $1,807, it won’t tug at your heartstrings when you inevitably drop it and/or sell it.

2. Honda CT125/Trail 125 ABS 

2021 Honda Trail 125 ABS

MSRP$3,899 

Engine displacement: 125cc 

Saddle height: 31.5 inches 

Curb weight: 259 pounds 

Do you want something that will handle narrow city streets but also be able to try tackling some of your local trails as well? The new Honda Trail 125 ABS may just be the right bike for those pursuits. It’s small, simple, and sturdy—three great attributes to instill confidence in even the greenest of riders. It also has a nice rear rack for carrying whatever you need to take along with you, which is extremely handy. While it clearly isn’t meant for mile-munching, different bikes are good for different jobs—and this could be a great choice, depending on what job(s) you have in mind. 

3. Yamaha MT-03 

2021 Yamaha MT-03

MSRP: $4,799

Engine displacement: 321cc

Saddle height: 30.7 inches

Curb weight: 373 pounds

The tiniest master of torque is a naked 300 with buckets of attitude to spare. It’s small, it’s nimble, it’s good at fuel economy—all things most commuters like in a bike they’re riding to work or school every day. Weaving in and out of congested city traffic situations is a breeze with this little bike, and if that’s how you’ll be riding, you may want to consider it as an option.

4. KTM 390 Adventure

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MSRP: $6,599

Engine displacement: 373cc

Saddle height: 33.6 inches

Curb weight: 379 pounds

For those that lust for a life on the unbeaten path, KTM’s 390 Adventure is the perfect gateway to the world of adventure bikes. With a low (by ADV standards) 33.6-inch seat height, traction control, and cornering ABS, the baby Adventure presents a practical package for beginners. However, the 390 also gives developing riders room to grow thanks to WP Apex suspension, pokey 373cc powerplant, and off-road ABS mode. The KTM 390 Adventure may be small, but it punches above its weight class and is an excellent first bike for the long haul.

5. Suzuki DR-Z400S 

2021 Suzuki DR-Z400S

MSRP: $6,999 

Engine displacement: 398cc 

Saddle height: 36.8 inches 

Curb weight: 317 pounds 

Riders start from all different backgrounds, with all different experiences under their belts. If you already know that you want to spend time both on- and off-road, and you want a single machine that can handle both jobs well, look no further than the DR-Z400S. It’s a classic in the dual-sport space for a reason, and plenty of riders speak its name fondly because it’s quite good at its job.  

While the seat height may seem a bit high as compared to plenty of other bikes, it’s also very narrow. If you have concerns about whether you’ll feel comfortable in the saddle, that’s what your local dealer is for—throw a leg over it in person and hit them up with all your questions.

6. Kawasaki Ninja 400 ABS 

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MSRP: $5,599 

Engine displacement: 399cc 

Saddle height: 30.9 inches 

Curb weight: 366 pounds 

If you’re looking for a fun, zippy, fully-faired, small-displacement sportbike, it’s hard to beat the Ninja 400 ABS. It’s agile enough to suit most everyday needs, and is simultaneously fun to ride, yet not intimidating for the inexperienced. It’s a great bike to grow your confidence on, as well—whether you plan to keep this one in your stable forever or not. 

7. Honda Rebel 500 ABS 

2020 Honda Rebel 500

MSRP$6,699

Engine displacement: 471cc 

Saddle height: 27.2 inches 

Curb weight: 408 pounds 

Cruisers have a reputation for being long, low, and hefty. While you might like the long and low part of that description, heftier bikes can be more challenging to wrangle for beginners. If you’re looking for a more lightweight, manageable cruiser option, look no further than the Honda Rebel 500 ABS.  

The combination of that extremely friendly low seat height and a curb weight that’s just a hair over 400 pounds is incredibly confidence-inspiring. Build your skills on this tiny cruiser before moving on up to the big league, big-displacement cruisers of your dreams. 

8. Royal Enfield Interceptor 650

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MSRP: $5,999

Engine displacement: 648cc

Saddle height: 31.7 inches

Curb weight: 470 pounds

Some beginners prefer the style of vintage motorcycles but lack the mechanical savvy to maintain them. For those folks, Royal Enfield’s Interceptor 650 merges modern convenience with old-school aesthetics, pairing a SOHC, eight-valve, 648cc parallel-twin with a double-cradle steel frame. That combination of looks and practical performance make the Interceptor 650 a perfect candidate for both in-town commuting and turning heads on Main Street.

The Interceptor 650 may look stunning out of the box, but Enfields’ 650 Twin platform also offers a slew of customization and upgrade options to help any beginner stand out from the crowd. At less than $6,000, the Interceptor is one of the best bang-for-buck deals on the market and a great entry-level option.

9. Triumph Trident 660 

2021 Triumph Trident 660

MSRP$8,195

Engine displacement: 660cc 

Saddle height: 31.7 inches 

Curb weight: 416.7 pounds 

We’ve recommended the Bonneville T100 on this list previously, but I think that if the Trident 660 existed in previous years, we’d have recommended it sooner. The one thing that gives me a bit of pause in suggesting it as a great beginner bike is that yes, I would definitely cry if I dropped it. I mean, just look at it; it’s gorgeous.  

That concern aside, it ticks some serious boxes—and it’s also the only triple on this list. If you’re looking for a bit of a different engine character than a twin or an inline-four, this triple may just hit a sweet spot for you. If you’re in the UK, there’s an A2 license-restricted version available as well—and if that’s not an endorsement of its eminent suitability for beginners, I don’t know what is. 

10. Ducati Scrambler Icon

2021 Ducati Scrambler Icon

MSRP: $9,995 

Engine displacement: 803cc 

Saddle height: 31.4 inches  

Curb weight: 417 pounds 

A lot of people love this bike, and for good reason. It hits a nice sweet spot between modern convenience and reliability, coupled with head-turning retro good looks. Even though I’m an outlier who didn’t love the way it looked the first time I saw it, I quickly became convinced of its appeal after riding one—and I think you will, too. It’s very rider-friendly, and the power band makes it feel very forgiving while you’re adjusting to when and where to shift for best results. 


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