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Motorcycle Beginner: Buying Your First Motorcycle-III


Motorcycle Beginner: Buying Your First Motorcycle-iII



Low seat heights are great for short newbie riders, as it gives them a better sense of control. But the diminutive size of many newb bikes makes them cramped for bigger and taller riders. For newbie riders my size and larger (5-foot-11, 185 lbs),I suggest looking into the world of enduro motorcycles.

Tall by default, bikes such as theYamaha WR250R/X or Kawasaki KLX250S/SF provide ample legroom. Enduro bikes such as these are also lightweight, easy to maneuver and incredibly versatile. If, however, you’re a bigger guy, in excess of 200 lbs, these 250cc models may be somewhat underpowered. If that’s the case, stepping up to a Suzuki DR-Z400S, Honda XL650 or Kawasaki KLR650 may be a better option. Slightly heavier but with enough power to accelerate a meat-and-potatoes-eatin’ male to freeway speeds with power to spare, these larger displacement enduros are both safe and satisfying for big, beginner riders.


Another advantage of owning an enduro bike is inexpensive insurance; they’re one of the easiest street-legal motorcycles on which to complete a motorcycle training program and/or DMV test. Best of all, there’s not much to break in the event of a fall. Enduros are glorified dirtbikes and are built for off-road use with minimal bodywork and lacking other expensive-to-replace items.

Enduro bikes have existed for decades, so there’s a lot of cheap, used models from which to choose. Enduros are (mostly) powered by simple, single-cylinder, air-cooled engines where everything is exposed and easy to work on, so they also provide a terrific platform for learning basic motorcycle maintenance.

– Tom Roderick, Content Editor


The problem with so many beginner bikes is that they frequently lack a cool factor. Sure, we know a beginner’s ride should have docile but adequate power and comfortable ergonomics, but it would help our street cred if our newb-friendly machine had some style. Cruisers have style, but their ergonomics often feel unwieldy to new riders.

My solution is Kawasaki’s almost-forgotten W650, a facsimile of a vintage TriumphBonneville more authentic than even New Triumph’s version. Powered by a 676cc parallel-Twin engine and produced in 2000-2001, the air-cooled W harks back to a simpler time yet provides more than enough punch for keeping up with freeway traffic. Nostalgic references include spoked wheels, fork gaiters and chrome fenders – not to mention an honest-to-goodness kickstarter! It’s really nimble and easy to ride, and it never fails to draw admiring glances.

– Kevin Duke, Editor-in-ChiefWhen we tested a year-2000 version, the W650 retailed on the high end for $6499, and the bike’s unique attributes and limited production run has kept resale prices fairly high. NADA Guides list’s a sub-$2000 price, but speculators often ask much more. Regardless, this is a terrific motorcycle that allows its rider to recreate a little of the persona of Marlon Brando’s character in The Wild One.