Top 10 “Cheap”, But Reliable, Beginner Motorcycles

Apr 10, 2024


Beginner motorcycle rider on a course cheap but reliable beginner motorcycles

When you’re looking for a “cheap” beginner motorcycle, one thing is clear- you want an affordable bike that’s still reliable on the road. Yes, other companies may sell super cheap motorcycles, but the stress of finding parts or lifespan of some of these bikes wasn’t something we wanted to include in this article. Below is our list of the top 10 affordable beginner motorcycles that won’t break your bank and will still stand the test of time. 

It’s also important to mention that if you’re asking yourself “what size beginner bike” should I get, it’s different for everyone. Generally, rule of thumb is to start at under 500cc (the MSF has you test ride a 150cc-250cc bike). BUT, that doesn’t mean we’re not saying you can’t handle more. That answer is solely up to you, the rider, to determine what you feel comfortable with and ready to handle. These cheap starter motorcycles don’t have to be your end-all-be-all, but more a means to get comfortable and boost your confidence as a rider.

Our Lineup of Affordable Beginner Motorcycles ($1,807-$5,899)

  1. Honda Grom - $3,599
  2. Suzuki GSX250R - $5,099
  3. Yamaha YZF-R3 - $5,499
  4. Honda CB300R - $5,149
  5. Husqvarna Svartpilen 401 - $5,899
  6. Kawasaki Ninja 400 - $5,299
  7. Honda Navi - $1,807
  8. Kawasaki Z400 - $5,399
  9. Yamaha MT-03  - $4,999
  10. Benelli TNT 135  - $2,699

For more specifications and information on the above starter bikes, keep reading!

1. Honda Grom - $3,599

stock picture of a Honda Grom cheap but reliable beginner motorcycles

Riding the Honda Grom infuses every journey with pure, unadulterated joy. Since its debut in 2014, the Grom has carved out a niche for itself, beloved for its ease of handling, affordability, and cheerful design. Honda's latest update hones in on enhancing engine performance, fuel efficiency, maintenance simplicity, and customization flexibility, all while retaining its accessible price point. The Grom's charm isn't just in its playful appearance; it's also in its approachability and the genuine connections it fosters among riders and onlookers alike. Its compact size makes it a dream for navigating through congested city streets, offering an unmatched blend of fun and practicality perfect for beginners. 

2. SUZUKI GSX250R ABS - $5,099

stock picture of a Suzuki GSX250R ABS cheap but reliable beginner motorcycles

The 2024 Suzuki GSX250R ABS stands out as an ideal choice for those new to the world of sportbikes, offering an accessible and cost-effective entry point without skimping on excitement or functionality. This model retains its charm, thanks to its sleek, aggressive looks and a robust 248cc parallel-twin engine that delivers a solid 25 horsepower, perfectly balanced for novice riders. Its design prioritizes ease of use and confidence for beginners, featuring a low seat height, a narrow frame, and a light overall weight that demystifies the sport riding experience. Additionally, practical features such as anti-lock braking system (ABS), durable ten-spoke aluminum wheels, a finely tuned KYB fork, and a fuel-efficient engine underscore the GSX250R ABS's position as a thoughtfully designed, exhilarating yet practical choice for newcomers to sport riding.

3. Yamaha YZF-R3 - $5,499

stock picture of a Yamaha YZF-R3 cheap but reliable beginner motorcycles

The Yamaha YZF-R3 emerges as a highly cost-effective motorcycle, melding Yamaha's iconic superbike style with the practicality of a potent twin-cylinder engine and an ultra-light chassis. This blend not only introduces riders to the esteemed R World in an accessible manner but also satisfies those desiring a machine that's both agile and confidence-boosting. With features like refined ergonomics, advanced ABS for reliable stopping power, and an inverted front fork that ensures precise control and rider feedback, the R3 stands as an excellent value proposition. It offers the thrills and performance of sport biking without the daunting complexity or expense, making it a smart choice for both newcomers looking for a smaller, more manageable ride.

4. Honda CB300R - $5,149

stock picture of a Honda CB300R cheap but reliable beginner motorcycles

The Honda CB300R stands out as an affordable entry point into the sport-naked motorcycle segment, offering an impressive blend of style, performance, and quality construction. Priced accessibly, it appeals to those seeking a motorcycle that balances aesthetic appeal with practical engineering, without a significant financial outlay. Its neo-classic design, coupled with high build quality and reliable performance, has garnered positive feedback across the board. The bike's lightweight structure, nimble handling, and the efficiency of its 286cc engine make it an excellent choice for new riders, urban commuters, or anyone valuing fuel economy and ease of use. This combination of features solidifies the CB300R's position as a smart option for new riders that is both enjoyable and easy to manage.

5. Husqvarna Svartpilen 401 - $5,899

stock picture of a Husqvarna Svartpilen cheap but reliable beginner motorcycles

The Svartpilen 401 is an excellent beginner motorcycle, offering a perfect mix of style, agility, and performance for new riders. Its 373cc single-cylinder engine provides enough power for an exhilarating ride without overwhelming newcomers, and the lightweight, nimble chassis ensures easy handling in urban environments. The bike's design, which blends modern elements with classic aesthetics, appeals to a wide audience. Key features such as electronic fuel injection, ride-by-wire system, and advanced ABS brakes enhance the riding experience, making it safer and more enjoyable for those new to two wheels. With its approachable power, rider-friendly features, and distinctive look, the Svartpilen 401 is a compelling choice for anyone starting their motorcycling journey.

6. Kawasaki Ninja 400 - $5,299

stock picture of a Ninja 400 cheap but reliable beginner motorcycles

The Kawasaki Ninja 400 stands out as an excellent choice for beginners seeking an affordable yet thrilling entry into the world of motorcycling. Its appeal lies in the balance between performance and manageability: the bike is powered by a responsive 399cc twin-cylinder engine that offers a strong, linear power delivery, making it both exciting and approachable for new riders. The Ninja 400’s lightweight and compact design contribute to its nimble handling, allowing newcomers to confidently maneuver through various riding conditions. Additionally, its ergonomic design ensures comfort on both short rides and longer journeys, further enhancing its suitability for beginners. Kawasaki has also equipped the Ninja 400 with features typically found on more expensive bikes, such as ABS, contributing to its exceptional value.

7. Honda Navi - $1,807

stock picture of a Honda Navi cheap but reliable beginner motorcycles

The Honda Navi offers a compelling case as an accessible and fun entry point into motorcycling, especially for those considering the leap from electric bicycles or looking for an efficient urban commuter. With its automatic transmission and a modest 109 cc engine, the Navi simplifies the riding experience by eliminating the need to master manual shifting, making it an ideal choice for beginners. Despite its scooter-like appearance, the Navi provides a motorcycle feel with its seating position and classic motorcycling posture, enhancing control and comfort through city streets. Its low weight, short wheelbase, and the absence of a clutch lever or shifter make it less intimidating for new riders. The Navi's agility and ease of use, combined with its fuel efficiency and the fun riding experience, position it as an excellent "gateway bike" to the world of two-wheels, perfect for those seeking a simple, cost-effective mode of transportation that’s capable of weaving through traffic and turning mundane errands into enjoyable excursions.

8. Kawasaki Z400 - $5,399

stock picture of a Kawasaki Z400 cheap but reliable beginner motorcycles

The Kawasaki Z400 is a great affordable beginner bike thanks to its perfect blend of style, performance, and comfort. Its 399cc engine provides enough power for exciting rides, while its assist and slipper clutch makes handling smoother, especially for those new to riding. The bike's lightweight design and upright riding position ensure easy maneuverability and control, making it less intimidating for beginners. With its aggressive looks and low seat height, the Z400 not only stands out but also offers a comfortable ride. It's an ideal choice for anyone starting their motorcycling journey, combining Kawasaki's reliable performance with user-friendly features, all at an accessible price.

9. Yamaha MT-03 - $4,999

stock picture of a Yamaha MT-03 cheap but reliable beginner motorcycles

The MT-03, Yamaha's gateway to the Dark Side, beckons with its thrilling blend of style, performance, and accessibility. Priced starting at $4,999 MSRP, it's an enticing option for riders drawn to the darker, more aggressive side of motorcycling. Featuring a smooth and easy-to-ride 321cc liquid-cooled twin-cylinder engine, it offers a balance of low-end manageability and high rpm excitement. Lightweight forged pistons and carburized connecting rods ensure a responsive ride, while the light clutch feel amplifies city riding fun. Its advanced fuel injection system and offset cylinders promise smooth throttle responses. Visually, the MT-03 demands attention with its dual angled position lights and a powerful LED headlight that slices through the night, affirming its big-bike stance and serious street presence. This potent twin-cylinder powerplant is designed to deliver a remarkable power and performance spectrum, with a 180-degree crank design and integrated counterbalancer to keep vibrations at bay for a smooth, refined ride.

10. Benelli TNT 135 - $2,699

stock picture of a Benelli TNT 135 cheap but reliable beginner motorcycles

The TNT 135 is a game-changer in affordable, fun riding, blending Italian style and advanced technology into a lightweight, compact bike priced at just $2,699. It's ideal for new riders, featuring a powerful 135cc engine with unique air/oil cooling and a 4-valve design for top-notch performance. The bike's Italian steel trellis frame ensures precise handling and comfort, while 12" wheels with sticky tires provide great maneuverability and stopping power. Its ergonomic design fits almost anyone, with a mix of analogue and digital displays for ease of use. LED lighting technology lights up the road ahead, all wrapped in attractive Italian bodywork. With its well-designed frame and suspension, the TNT 135 delivers a confident, enjoyable ride every time, making it a perfect choice for those seeking excitement without breaking the bank.

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Finding the Right Affordable Starter Bike

Choosing the right beginner motorcycle is an important step towards a rewarding and long-lasting riding experience. The motorcycles listed above, ranging from $1,807 to $5,899, represent the best blend of affordability, reliability, and riding pleasure for newcomers to the motorcycling world. From the urban agility of the Honda Navi to the Italian charm of the Benelli TNT 135, each bike offers unique features that cater to the needs and preferences of novice riders. Remember, your first motorcycle serves as a foundation for developing riding skills and confidence, not necessarily your dream bike. With the right choice, you'll be well on your way to countless adventures on the open road, all without breaking the bank.