Where To Go From These Starter Bikes
The whole point of having a new rider or beginner-oriented sportbike is to get said rider prepared for the challenges of handling bigger, more powerful, and much, much faster machinery once they’ve mastered the basics. There are some people who will immediately go out and buy a Yamaha YZF-R1, a fearsome supersport that is a scalpel in the right hands. In the wrong hands, it is lethal. And we’re not saying that to dramatize it. The R1 is a very serious bike. As a new rider, you cannot handle it. Period.
Now that we’ve effectively crushed your dreams, let’s build them up again!
For those that chose to go the naked standard route (SV650, CB500F, Z650), the next step in the path of gaining experience while having fun would be to something like the excellent Yamaha MT-07 or its snarling, rowdy big brother, the MT-10. Both are fierce streetfighters that are also comfortable commuters when not brawling through corners.
For those that went with the sport standard KTM RC390 or mini-supersport with the Yamaha YZF-R3, a great bike to move to for experience would be any of the middle-class sportbikes that are distilled down from supersports. Examples of these would be the bulletproof Kawasaki Ninja ZX-6R, the legendary Honda CBR600RR if it returns to American shores, or the razor-sharp Suzuki GSX-R600. These are serious bikes infused with the DNA of their liter-bike parents, but will only try to bite your head off once in a while, not all the time.
We would recommend moving to supersports only once you have a few years of experience. However, any of the liter-class or V4 superbikes will actively try to bite your noggin clean off your shoulders if you so much as sneeze incorrectly on them. They are not, and we will repeat it endlessly, NOT beginner bikes, and even for intermediate riders they can be a handful.
About Our Selections
These selections are made based on a wide variety of criteria, however we focus mostly on the approachability, friendliness, and rideability of all the bikes that have made it to this list. This isn't to say that any of these are not serious and powerful canyon corner carvers, just that you have a much higher chance of coming of that corner on two wheels and not hugging the canyon wall muttering "... ow."
Keep in mind, any motorcycle can be dangerous if you don't respect it and keep the idiot filter between your brain and your right wrist. We also recommend that you add in enough room in your budget, when considering any or all of these bikes, for good quality gear including helmet, jacket, gloves, pants, and boots.