Best bikes for new riders


It’s a tricky one this. Your heart says ‘the biggest, fastest one I can afford please’, where common sense says ‘whoah there big boy, how about something slightly easier to manage’. The sensible argument goes like this.

Big, fast bikes are harder to ride well. You’ll struggle to get to grips with the weight and the power and end up using a fraction of what that bike can do. You will also rely on the huge power reserves to allow you to tootle around in top gear, making crap overtakes without understanding what needs to happen for you to get better.

How’s this for an example. That 500cc Kawasaki ER-5 that your training school will teach you on makes 50bhp and weighs around 175kg. Honda’s original CB750 Superbike – the machine that changed motorcycling forever in 1969 (and was very definitely not intended for new riders) made around 65bhp and weighed well over 200kg. Your L-plated ER-5 would knock spots off the Honda on top speed, acceleration and handling. Compared with the CB750, the Kawasaki is a missile.

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Still think you’re too good for it?

Buying a smaller, lower powered bike doesn’t make you slower, it simply means you have to use more of the performance more of the time. And that teaches you more about why being in the right gear makes overtakes safer and smoother, why being in the right gear makes cornering feel safer and more in control and how to turn a bike and keep it on line through a corner. All that stuff that felt so alien while you were learning will become instinctive and second nature on the right bike.

Learning to really ride a smaller bike properly over your first summer will pay dividends for the rest of your biking life. You’ll feel in control, not overawed; confident, not wobbly and best of all, you’ll be a much better rider.


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