You’ve passed your motorcycle DMV test. You have all your gear. Now you need a motorcycle to gain experience on, yet you want to be able to get some respect for your choice of bike. Some bikes just have that “I’m a new rider” look about them that honestly shouldn’t get you any ridicule, as we all start somewhere.
However, I’m here to present you seven bikes that both new riders and experienced riders respect. These are the motorcycles that will get you the tip of the helmet as you pass your fellow riders going the other way.
#7: Yamaha MT-03
Yamaha’s MT-03 is one of those bikes that is great for a new rider, but looks much more mature than it should have any right to. The engine is borrowed from the R3 and tuned more for the street, meaning the somewhat twitchy torque curve from the supersport is smoothed out and becomes extremely linear, something that a new rider will learn to appreciate.
Where the maturity comes from is from the hunched up streetfighter looks, as well as the light weight allowing an experienced rider to flick the bike into a corner, countersteer, and let the bike carve the perfect line.
#6: Honda CB500X
There are smaller cc adventure bikes out there, but they are often considered “beginner bikes,” and the whole point of this list is to provide you, the reader, options that don’t look like a beginner bike. The CB500X meets that goal, as it is widely recognized as a superb commuter bike, and able to handle off-road trails and dirt/gravel roads with competence.
It has a smooth, easy to control engine, a great center of balance, and in the hands of both the experienced and new rider, can keep up with whatever the situation requires. Also helping the new rider is a great seating position, allowing you to keep your head up and see traffic and obstacles ahead with ease.
#5: Suzuki SV650
No list of starter bikes would be complete without the Suzuki SV650. Widely considered across almost all riding circles as the new rider king, it has perfect amounts of feel, power, sportiness, and electronic aids.
It is also considered one of the best-naked city touring bikes for experienced riders that want a break from their 1000cc beasts, or who have come back from a track day and need to do maintenance on their supersport. That’s the beauty of the SV650. Everyone appreciates it, and it is attractive to both new and experienced riders as a great bike.
We did an in-depth ode to the SV650 because it’s just that good.
#4: Harley-Davidson Street 500
If the custom cruiser crowd is your desired destination, then Harley-Davidson has a model for you. Surprisingly affordable, the Street 500 has all the classic Harley features, the badge, the credibility, but it is also very gentle to the new rider.
It has a subdued engine that will still rumble and bark when you want it to, but instead of sitting you in a stretched out cruiser, it’s a fully standard motorcycle. As well, if you rock up to the local Harley meet with this between your legs, you won’t get scolded at all. Instead, expect a subtle smile and a knowing nod.
See all of Harley’s lineup for 2020.
#3: Yamaha YZF-R3
The only reason that the YZF-R3 does not make it to #2 on this list is that it is a bit of a fickle beast. Considered one of the greatest ever introductory supersport bikes, you have to approach with a healthy dose of respect. It has decent horsepower and a good, gentle torque curve, but once you get into the higher revs, it can take off on a new rider. As long as you aren’t stupid with the throttle, this is one of the best bikes to learn how to handle a supersport on.
It also keeps the lines and looks of its bigger R-model brothers. And with an experienced rider in the saddle, this tiny monster of a supersport will carve corners like it was a paring knife in the hand of a Michelin Star chef.
See Britanny’s hands-on review of the 2019 R3.
#2: Kawasaki Ninja 400
This one will get you a few sneers from the literbike club, but don’t let that get to you. The Ninja 400 has all the angles, the looks, the feel of its bigger brothers. It has great power and torque for the new rider and doesn’t try to buck you off into a massive highside if you accidentally breathe on the throttle while taking a corner.
For the experienced rider, you can absolutely wring the neck of this bike on a track. It will literally ride circles around the literbikes, as their riders are focused more on keeping their steeds under control instead of leaning deep and hard into the corner, hitting the apex, and powering out of it.
#1: Honda Rebel 500
The Honda Rebel 500 is, quite simply, one of the greatest bikes to bridge the new-to-experienced rider divide. For the new rider, it provides ample power without scaring the wits out of you, as well as letting you learn your basics and essentials so that they become muscle memory.
On the other hand, for the experienced rider, it’s a bike that can cruise comfortably, yet still get some sporty riding due to the light weight, great engine, and ample lean angles for a cruiser. Riders that have tried out the Rebel 500 know: it’s just a great bike all around for everyone.
(And if that wasn’t proof enough, one of our writers here at BestBeginnerMotorcycles rides a 2018 Honda Rebel 500 as his main bike, with over 15 years experience riding)