Buying your first motorcycle can be a daunting and overwhelming process. And as with most things in life, it is better when you know what to expect and there are no surprises. In my experience, the best way for beginner biker to buy their first motorcycle is by going into the process fully informed about pricing so that they aren’t surprised or disappointed after buying.
This article will cover how much you should spend on your first motorcycle, good beginner motorcycles that I personally recommend, the costs associated with buying gear & some considerations you might have overlooked.
How much should you spend on your first Motorcycle?
Your first motorcycle should cost between $2000 – $4000. You’re far more likely to drop, scratch, and possibly crash your first Motorcycle than any other motorcycle you’ll ever own. Sorry if that is not what you wanted to hear, but it’s the truth. Motorcycle prices will fluctuate from country to country, but you shouldn’t have an issue finding some great street motorcycles (sports or naked bikes) for this price.
When it comes to your first motorcycle, my recommendation is that you don’t spend every penny you have on it. If you did purchase that expensive $14,000 Ducati Monster and crashed it, it will likely discourage you from riding.
I recommend that your first Motorcycle be a used motorcycle so that if something does happen to it or lose interest in the sport entirely then at least some of your investment can be recouped back by selling the bike.
Should your First Motorcycle be Used or Brand New?
Used motorcycle street bikes are my personal preference for a first-time motorcycle. Avoid bigger touring bikes or adventure bikes until you have more control over motorcycling.
My reasoning for this has to do with the long-term costs associated with owning & operating it. Yes, you will not have as many concerns and issues when buying a brand new vehicle but nothing in life is perfect – especially motorcycles! And sometimes buying a brand new motorcycle can lead to buyer’s remorse and feelings of regret later down the line after making such an investment when there was no need to make one at all (especially if you didn’t like riding).
I’ve seen people go through both situations personal experience myself: someone buys their dream bike on finance only then discover they don’t enjoy the sport or them getting out of riding altogether.
Best First Motorcycles for Beginner Riders
First off I recommend something around the 300CC range for your new motorcycle. This will give you enough grunt to go but won’t overwhelm you. Trust me, when you’re new to biking and buying a motorcycle bigger is not always better!
Here are the best first motorcycles for beginner riders:
Honda CBR 300R (2014-2019) – Average Price $3300
The Honda CBR 300R is a fantastic first bike for anyone looking at getting into the sport.
This bike is fantastic value for your money considering all of its features and benefits (see more below). It’s also very comfortable to ride on longer journeys without feeling fatigued too quickly.
A street bike like the Honda CBR 300R is very well balanced. It has a low center of gravity so you won’t get as many wobbles or tip-overs when cornering and almost always keeps the bike stable at high speeds which can be quite surprising for riders who are new to motorcycles because they feel like they lose balance at such speeds but with this motorcycle, in particular, it’s usually not an issue. Buying a motorcycle like the CBR 300R would be a solid first choice.
The seat height on the 2015 model (the year I got mine) is also relatively short compared to other first bikes which makes mounting & dismounting it easy – especially if you’re short! The seat itself isn’t too wide either so even those with smaller statures will still fit comfortably without feeling cramped up on the back end. Don’t overlook this sexy street bike for your first new motorcycle.
Kawasaki Ninja 300 (2014-2019) – Average Price $4000
Street bikes like the Kawasaki Ninja 300 are great first bikes for beginner riders.
It’s also light and responsive which makes it easy to maneuver around tight corners or other obstacles on the road. The 2015 model has a very comfortable seat which is thin and not bulky like some other motorcycles. This makes it easy to mount & dismount, especially if you’re short in stature or have smaller legs (like I do).
The Ninja 300 also has ABS brakes which is a fantastic safety feature to have (especially if you’re just starting out). ABS prevents the wheels from locking up when braking which can make a huge difference in avoiding accidents. Buying a motorcycle with ABS is not essential, but it is helpful. There are talks of mandating ABS in the not too distant future.
The Ninja 300 has also been known to be quite reliable and fuel-efficient – two things you want if purchasing your first bike.
Yamaha YZF-R 300 (2014-2019) – Average Price $4000
The Yamaha YZF-R 300 is another great first bike for beginner riders.
This motorcycle is also a very popular choice among casual and frequent riders alike because it’s comfortable, has good fuel efficiency, and has ABS brakes just like the Ninja 300 and costs slightly less if you’re looking to save some money (which can be important when starting out). It doesn’t have as lightweight or nimble a feel as the Kawasaki Ninja but will still give you plenty of confidence while riding around corners at higher speeds. Buying a motorcycle like the ninja will give you a lot of joy.
Suzuki GSX250R (2014-2019) – Average Price $4000
Another very popular choice among beginner riders is the Suzuki GSX250R.
This motorcycle has a more nimble feel than most other motorcycles in its class which makes it easier to maneuver around tight corners and obstacles on roads or riding paths with ease. The seat height is also quite short, making mounting & dismounting easy as well (especially if you’re shorter).
However, this model doesn’t have ABS brakes like some of the others do so make sure that’s something you want before purchasing this bike because it will be harder for beginners to avoid accidents without ABS when braking at high speeds. If not having ABS isn’t an issue then there really isn’t anything wrong with choosing the Suzuki GSX.
Duke 390 (2014-2019) – Average Price $5000
The Duke 390 is a great mid-range first bike for beginner riders. I would say the Duke is on the higher end of the price range here.
It’s got an average seat height and is not too bulky but doesn’t have ABS brakes which are important to many beginners so this might be something you need to consider before making the purchase. The 390CC engine associated with buying this motorcycle makes it very appealing though because it’s powerful and responsive for a first bike. The Duke also has a good fuel efficiency so you won’t have to fill up as often which is nice.
I will say I noticed the seat high of this bike was significantly higher than I was expecting. Whilst I’m 5″10, I didn’t have an issue getting on, but my 5″4 wife struggled. When buying a motorcycle, make sure that you can comfortably touch the floor when leaning to one side.
Must-Have Motorcycle Riding Gear & How much do Spend
Once you’ve decided which motorcycle to get, there are some additional things you need to consider before hitting the road. I recommend getting a helmet, a jacket, gloves & boots. Let’s break down how much you should spend on each:
Helmet – Spend $300
The cost of a helmet fluctuates hugely. But something that manufacturers don’t tell you is that when you skimp out on a helmet you’re actually not skimping out on safety, but rather cutting out a lot of your comfort.
You see, all helmets sold in the USA need to meet minimum safety standards, so that’s not the problem here. The thing is – all helmets sold in USA are DOT certified which means they pass this standard:
DOT stands for Department of Transportation and these helmets have been tested to meet certain criteria when it comes to impact resistance & penetration resistance (meaning if you get hit by something how well will the helmet protect your head).
The problem is that these helmets were designed for people who are not going to wear them. That means they’re incredibly uncomfortable because you don’t want it touching your face, so companies add thicker cheek pads & whatnot which all adds weight and makes the helmet heavier than normal. They also have a cheaper plastic shell that’s thicker than normal so when you drop your helmet it doesn’t crack.
So what does this mean? It means that if you’re spending $100 on a cheap DOT certified helmet, don’t be surprised by how thick the pads are inside or how heavy it is compared to more expensive helmets.
When you buy a more expensive helmet you are paying for lightweight and comfort.
I would suggest spending $300 on a helmet, that way you can get something comfortable without spending a fortune.
Jacket – Spend $200
The motorcycle jacket is the second most important motorcycle riding gear you’ll need. I would recommend that you spend around $200 on a jacket.
Buying a leather jacket will get you the best protection. Leather is thick and has a lot of impact resistance meaning that if you fall off your bike it will protect you better in a slide.
Make sure you purchase a spine protector with your jacket.
Gloves – Spend $120
Gloves are the first line of defense when it comes to your hands hitting the ground.
When it comes to gloves, I would recommend any of the Five gloves these are absolutely fantastic. These can set you back anywhere between $60-$120.
Motorcycle Boots – Spend $150
Boots are the next step in motorcycle riding gear. There is a big difference between boots and shoes. Shoes offer no protection at all, whereas boots will protect your ankles from rolling over which can be very painful if it happens to you!
I would recommend you spend $150 on a good pair of boots. Safety gear like motorcycle boots will save you while learning.
Other costs to owning a First Motorcycle
Motorcycle Insurance – The cost of motorcycle insurance is determined by a number of factors. The main ones are the make and year of your bike, where you live, how safe your driving record is, and what cover level you require for your circumstances. On average a motorcyclist spends between $300 to $700 per year on motorcycle insurance. The insurance on a $3000 2015 motorcycle will be towards that $300, whilst a brand new Harley Davidson will be more like $700.
Fuel – Average price $100 / month if you are looking at a gas motorcycle or average price of $5 / month if you’re looking at electric motorcycles.
Storage Fees – If you’re living in an apartment or house, make sure to account for storage fees. These vary from state to state but usually, it’s around $20 / month. So if you own your home and don’t have any issues
Registration – Average Price $90 / Year
License and Riding Courses – Getting your motorcycle license and paying for riding courses cost money. The average price can be anywhere between $200 – $500 depending on where you go. These license and riding courses are once-off costs but can’t be overlooked.
Tires – Depends on the bike, but around $50 per tire every year or two.
Maintenance/Repairs – Depends on the Bike and how well you take care of it. Around ~$400 a year between oil changes, brake pads & air filters, etc.
Some final thoughts…
The cost of buying your first motorcycle can vary depending on the type of bike you’re looking for, but in general, you should expect to spend around $2,000-$4000 to purchase a 2014 to 2018 street bike. This will get you a decent beginner-level bike & save you enough money to purchase all the safety gear that you need to stay safe riding. Purchasing that brand new Harley Davidson cruiser might look pretty slick, but won’t give you the best first-time rider experience you need.
The most important thing to consider when purchasing your first motorcycle is how much time and money you want to invest into maintenance while still getting plenty of enjoyment out of riding!