Looking for a brand-new motorcycle this year, but hoping to avoid something beyond your current riding abilities? Not to worry—nearly all major bike brands make models for beginner riders, and the ones on this list are some of the best.
We’ve spent countless hours looking at specs and pics of new bikes, and these are the ones we’ve decided are most exciting for newer motorcyclists this year. You won’t find supersports or hypersports here—ditto for big scary adventure bikes and touring machines, which are too expensive and dangerous to be practical for anyone who’s still getting comfy in the saddle.
I guess that just leaves the bikes we would recommend, so sit back and let me show you what I think most new riders would love to throw a leg over. Let’s go!
2022 Honda 500 Twins
Honda has an amazing trio of 500cc parallel-twin motorcycles that share the “CB” moniker, and the 2022 models all get some great improvements.
We’re going to focus on the 2022 CB500F, simply because it’s the most popular of the 3 models, accounting for almost half of all “CB” sales. The CB500F is the “naked” bike of the trio and offers a less aggressive riding position compared to the CBR500R.
For 2022, the CB’s switch from a single front brake disc to a dual setup helps improve performance and feel. A new inverted Showa SFF-BP fork and overall 4-pound weight reduction also enhance the riding experience and road feel on this already-fun bike.
For new riders, I suggest comparing how you fit on each model and going with the one that fits you just right. But the trio of 500s are all excellent choices.
The 2022 Yamaha YZF-R3, much like its R-series brethren over the years, is not to be taken lightly. It is, for all intents and purposes, a mini-supersport—despite that term normally being reserved for the fastest and most aggressive of 600cc to 1000cc sport bikes. We point this is out because if a new rider is looking to learn about track riding or supersport handling, there is no better starter than the R3.
Yamaha has somehow managed to make a bike with a 320cc parallel-twin give up 50 HP. This is almost double what every other sport bike in the 300cc segment produces. The R3 also comes with full dual-zone ABS, traction control, and the multiple engine modes of its big sibling, the R1. And do not be fooled by the clip-on handlebars being raised a little. You get any rider under 210 lbs to tuck down over the R3 on a straightaway, and it can decimate even some 600cc supersports.
Of course, if you are going to pursue riding supersports as your hobby, we highly recommend checking out our Best Full-Face Helmets For Under $500 list (our own sport riders highly recommend the Shoei RF1400 or Arai Regent-X if your budget can stretch). Having the right sport riding protection is hugely important for keeping you safe.
This retro-cool addition to the 2022 Kawasaki lineup is a brilliant choice for many new riders. The 649cc parallel-twin offers a solid amount of approachable power. But the riding position is also worth noting.
It’s far easier to handle a little more power when you are sitting in a natural, relaxed position. This makes it easier to find the footpegs—and the comfortable flat seat on the Z650RS also makes it simple to plant your feet when stopping.
Kawasaki has added a slipper/assist slipper clutch to the Z650RS, giving it a lighter pull and smoother action—plus, it’s more forgiving of bad shifts. Everyone has bad shifts sometimes, but a slipper clutch absorbs the shock and prevents the rear tire from locking up, reducing the chance of a harsh jerk. This is a nice feature that smooths your ride and also reduces wear-and-tear on your transmission.
As a modern bike with retro styling, this model also includes good stuff like ABS brakes, LED lighting, and solid fuel economy. Definitely worth a trip to your local Kawi dealer.
Let’s be honest: there are some people who mostly just want to ride because of the badass image and rebellious feeling that comes from straddling certain machines. The Indian Scout Bobber Sixty is one of those machines.
A smaller bike than its Scout brethren, the Scout Bobber Sixty is still nothing to scoff at. You’ll be sitting in a low, comfortable seat, behind a chunky 999cc liquid-cooled 60 degree V-twin that rumbles like a grizzly bear in heat. That engine also gives you 78 HP and 65 lb-ft of torque, which is more than enough for the bike’s 548 lbs.
The saving grace for new riders is the throttle, which is extremely progressive in the first quarter of its range. You’ll still get plenty of grunt and noise, but neither too much nor too early. For more mature new riders who have a healthy amount of respect for their bike, the Scout Sixty will provide countless hours of excitement. We recommend the Scout Bobber Sixty to those who are dead-set on having an American motorcycle and are scared off by Harley-Davidson’s somewhat enthusiastic pricing.
The adventure bike world is an incredible segment. Many riders actually get their first taste of powered riding on dirt bikes in childhood, so there’s a significant nostalgia factor—and the ability to head out of town for an off-road excursion on weekends is insanely appealing.
KTM is legendary for their motocross/dirt bikes, and transferring all that knowledge into an adventure package means great things for new riders. The 390 Adventure is lightweight and packs an excellent 373cc single-cylinder engine, making 43 HP.
The 2022 390 Adventure received a few updates, like new traction control modes for both street and off-road scenarios. The TFT display is easy to read, and there’s Bluetooth connectivity as well. The bottom line? This is a tech-laden machine built to get you way off the beaten path and back again, especially if you’re new to that aspect of motorcycling.
It’s almost a rule here at BBM that we need to have at least one “way out there” bike on each list. For that reason, we present to you the Honda GROM. Belonging to the “minimoto” class, the GROM is nonetheless a great starter bike despite its tiny size.
With its mighty fuel-injected 125cc four-stroke single, it produces a solid 10 HP and will get pretty much any rider under 200 lbs going at up to 50 mph without too much effort. Being a tiny little munchkin, it is also hilariously fun to ride, with versatile handling but not enough power to get you in trouble.
You also get plenty of high-quality Honda parts here—including the ABS system, suspension, wheels, and of course, the nigh-unkillable engine. If you like little bikes that are agile and controllable, this little beast should be your best friend.
Here’s the kicker: once you’ve moved on to a larger second bike, the GROM will still be fun to have around. It’s great for bombing around the neighborhood or puttering down the street to the corner store. Many riders get GROMs instead of scooters for short trips, and it’s really easy to see why!
Anyone who knows anything about starter bikes (or has watched more than three recommended starter bike YouTube videos) knew this one was coming. Ever since emerging in 1999, the SV650, in all its guises and forms—including the Gladius—has been on every annual recommended starter bike list without fail.
But why? Is it the 645cc V-twin that puts out 75 HP? Is it the six-speed manual that you can literally hit with a sledgehammer and still use? Is it the Tokico race-grade brakes on cast-aluminum wheels, sprung from Suzuki motorsport suspension? In a word: yes.
The SV650 for 2022 comes with dual-zone ABS as a standard feature, an assist-and-slipper clutch, and the same easily-read dash that it’s been sporting for the past four years. The predictable but agile handling, the useable power from the engine, and the gentle throttle for newer riders all make sure this remains one of the best beginner bikes ever.
Not one, but three sport cruisers! Last year, the Rebel 1100 was a new addition to the Honda motorcycle lineup, and we included it on our recommended list then as well.
The reason the 1100 gets included as a beginner bike is that despite its fairly powerful engine (86 HP and more than enough torque to move the Rebel with a little pep), it is still the same simple, un-scary sport cruiser that Honda developed to welcome more riders into two-wheeled life.
It’s also worth noting that riders over 250 lbs often didn’t feel that the smaller Rebel 500 had sufficient power to move them. That said, if you are a shorter or lighter rider, the Rebel 300 and Rebel 500 are still unbeatable entry-level cruisers to help you acquaint yourself with motorsports.
If you have always dreamed of riding a Harley, then the 2022 Iron 883 is your gateway drug. It’s by far one of the most pared-down, stripped back, simple riding experiences you can purchase from Harley-Davidson, but that doesn’t mean you should underestimate it. Its 883cc V-twin (dubbed the Evolution Engine) still gives you 50 HP and 54 lb-ft of torque.
For the same reason the Honda Rebel models are perfect starter sport cruisers, the Iron 883 is the best introduction you can get to muscle bikes. It’s got the classic looks and classic V-twin rumble, but it doesn’t challenge you with all that history. Hell, they even have the engine on rubberized engine mounts to knock some of the vibrations out of the frame.
The dragster handlebars are also perfectly positioned to give you a slightly forward-leaning posture, and the pegs are technically mid-mount but pushed really far forward. You can choose from 3 colorways for 2022, but I am all about the Gunship Gray.
A Ducati? For a new rider? Oh hell yes; that is what I am saying. Not every new rider is going to want something like this, but if you’re in the market for a scrambler than it’ll be perfect.
Scrambler bikes have a long history as versatile machines. Ducati Scramblers in particular are made for many different applications, and my recommendation is really for any of the 803cc models that fit you.
The L-Twin Ducati engine among the most powerful you’ll find on this list (it has 73 HP). This may feel like too much riders who are still struggling with confidence, but not every new rider is. Ducati Scramblers are also easy to handle, thanks to brilliant ergonomics and smooth power delivery from their 803cc engines. The Nightshift has a low wide handlebar that feels just right, and the Brembo brakes have a quality powerful feel to them.
Trust me: you will love the sound that comes through the twin pipes with every twist of your right wrist. If that’s not enough to excite you, I don’t know what is.
Although it’s certainly capable as an off-roader, there’s a great argument to be made for keeping this BMW on street tires. The 34 HP 313cc single-cylinder engine packs the perfect amount of power for light highway riding and commuting.
The G 310 GS also includes a number of rider aides and features as standard equipment. These include ABS, USD forks, adjustable rear suspension, an LED taillight, a 19” front wheel, a luggage rack, a windshield, and more.
I really love this little Beemer—and since the bulk of your riding, while you learn, is going to be in the city, you’ll most likely have no problems with the engine or the riding experience of the G 310 GS.
Being a BMW, it will also hold onto its value well—so don’t be concerned about wanting to sell it in a few years. It should still be worth most of what you paid for it (although many people who own these bikes hang onto them even after moving up, since they’re just that much fun).