How to choose your first motorcycle (A2 friendly)(Last Updated On: March 25, 2018)
So you’ve decided, you need a motorcycle. Most likely, one of 2 things led you to this decision. Option one is, you once saw a bike somewhere and immediately fell in love with it. For no good reason, something clicked in your brain and you decided you need this in your life. The other way would be a more rational, reasonable approach. You may have, over the course of some time, slowly convinced yourself that you would benefit from owning a motorcycle.
If it was a love at first sight type of thing, there isn’t all that much to talk about. In that case you didn’t ration yourself into motorcycling, and certainly this article won’t change your mind about anything. However, if you are here to look for alternatives or discover your options, especially as a restricted licence holder, you came to the right place.
The first question you’ll have to answer when picking a motorcycle is what purpose is it going to fulfil in your life. How are you going to use it and what for? Do you need a city commuter? A highway cruiser? A tourer you can take off-roading every once in a while? Any combination of those things? No matter what bike you settle on, it will more or less fit into one of these categories:
Standard issue motorcycles offering a relaxed riding position with generally sporty characteristics. Even though nakeds aren’t considered to be the highest powered bikes out there, some larger displacement models can definitely be too much for a beginner. With that being said, you can’t really go wrong starting out on a naked. They accommodate most riders well, and are easy to sell when upgrading from your first motorcycle. Some of our favourites from the naked beginner segment are Honda’s CB500 lineup and KTM’s Duke 390. Read the full list of A2 ready naked bikes.
Sportbikes are the closest thing we have to GP bikes. They are the highest powered, most agile machines on the market. However, there are several beginner friendly sportbikes to choose from. The main drawbacks of this category is the limited use cases. Due to the aggressive seating position you won’t be going on road trips on a sport bike and fairings make for an easy to damage weak spot.
Great long distance touring machines with comfortable, ergonomic features and occasional offroad capabilities. The adventure bike segment is generally known for having the tallest motorcycles with engines well above 1000cc. Recently however, that has started to change as manufacturers are pushing beginner-friendly touring bikes for newer or shorter riders bringing a very welcome change to the motorcycle landscape.
The general characteristics of a cruiser includes a rather large, V-twin engine with plenty of torque and not relatively low power. This combination makes for an attractive choice for beginners. The seating position is something that is fundamentally different than all the other bikes. The seat is lower, legs are more stretched out and your body more laid back. Due to the generally large engines, they often don’t comply with A2 regulations, but if you want one, the Honda VT750 could be an ideal first ride.
Some things to consider
As someone with no riding experience you can’t possibly know what bike would you benefit from most long term. You may know what you want, but the best way to end up with a bike you’ll enjoy for a long time is to try as many different motorcycles as you can.
No beginner rider is safe from dropping their new machines in the first year or two owning it. To make the damage less daunting, consider having a bike with less breakable parts that will cost less to fix or replace. The best way to do this is to avoid bikes that come with fairing. This includes sportbikes and maybe some cruisers.
How much is too much?
The question every beginner rider has is, what is the right size to start out with? Is 600cc too much? Ultimately, you’ll have to answer this question yourself. To give you some guidance, any bike you feel comfortable with is probably a solid choice. 600s are also commonly referred to as mid-sized for a reason. They are generally meant to serve as your second motorcycle, and starting on something smaller (300 – 500cc) is generally recommended.
New vs Used
To give you a quick answer to this one, buy used. For sure, this won’t be the first time you read about deprecation and the immediate price drop when buying a new vehicle. Which, for a long term investment, is absolutely fine. Chances are, however, that your first motorcycle won’t serve you for very long. If the bike in question is smaller displacement one, you will definitely grow out of it in a season or two. Event if you decided to go with a larger bike, there’s a good chance that what you initially thought was the perfect bike for you turned out to be less than perfect and this is when you’ll really appreciate having spent less money on a used one.