Motorcycles for beginners: Which is the right machine?
The perfect beginner's motorcycle does not exist. It can't exist because each person has different requirements.
But there are certain features that make a motorcycle suitable for beginners – see the list opposite. So you should make these features your guide when choosing your first motorcycle.
Essentially a motorcycle is most suitable for newcomers to biking if it is easy to ride, gives you confidence, requires the least possible effort and does not distract you from concentrating on the road ahead.
What makes a motorcycle good for beginners:
- Low seat height enables rider to have a secure stance.
- Upright sitting position for relaxed riding and good overview.
- Intuitive, neutral handling for quick avoidance maneuvers and safe cornering.
- Sensibly positioned rearview mirrors for good rear vision.
- Good lock for safer manoeuvring.
- Easy-to-modulate brakes, with ABS for safety.
- Uniform power curve and smooth throttle adjustment for good control of the motorcycle.
- Light weight for ease of handling.
Which type is best for you? Almost every beginner has a picture in their mind about what sort of motorcycle they would like.
But before you spend a lot of money on your dream machine, you should ask yourself whether it really would be fun to ride. Here is a rough guide to the main categories of motorcycle and their key features.
Naked Bike / all-rounder
A really authentic motorbike, from classic to high-tech. Almost all training centres use this type of motorcycle, and with good reason. Advantages: ideal for everyday use, medium seat height, usually moderate weight, comfortable riding position with good overview, good handling. Disadvantage: hardly any wind protection.
The fastest machines on the race track. For everyday use, such sporty performance can sometimes be problematic. Advantages: high stability, precise handling, light weight, super aerodynamics. Disadvantages: relatively high seat, strenuous riding position with little overview, hardly suitable for a pillion passenger, not very maneuverable in city traffic or on bendy mountain roads, demanding engine characteristics in some cases.
The comfortable long-distance bike. Perfect for that biking holiday down to Sicily. Advantages: very comfortable riding position, very good wind protection, ideal for pillion passenger and built for long distances. Disadvantages: usually very heavy, relatively sluggish handling, seat height + width not ideal for people with short legs
Chopper / cruiser
Biking American-style – not fast, but cool. Heavy metal for laid-back people. Advantages: low seat height, good overview, relaxed ride. Disadvantages: passive riding position, little control, usually very heavy, sluggish handling, often moderate braking performance, little cornering clearance, no wind protection.
Enduro / supermoto
The epitome of a fun bike for on-road and off-road. Ideal for beginners who are not too worried about comfort. Advantages: very active, upright riding position, optimal control, very maneuverable, very lightweight, stands up to harsh treatment. Disadvantages: high, narrow seat, not very pillion-friendly, not ideal for long distances, single-cylinder engine takes getting used to, no wind protection.
Touring enduro / crossover
The SUVs on two wheels. Extremely versatile for everything from gravel track to motorway. Advantages: active and comfortable riding position, very good overview, pillion-friendly, suitable for long distances, superbly comfortable suspension, good maneuverability. Disadvantages: often a very high seat, high centre of gravity, sometimes rather heavy.