So you’ve made the exciting decision to buy your first sportbike, which also may well be your very first motorcycle of any kind, and if you’re anything like me when I bought my first sportbike you’ll have a thousand and one questions on which motorbike is best for you personally.
Having been through this process not so long ago here are the best motorbikes available for new riders and the top things you should look for to ensure you get the very best sportbike motorcycle that suits you perfectly!
What Is The Best Sportbike For Beginner Motorcycle Riders
The best motorcycle for a beginner rider is one which:
- Has enough power to thrill yet still be safe;
- Is low enough that you can be flat-footed when stationary;
- Has a comfortable riding posture;
- Has an Anti-Lock Breaking System (ABS);
- Matches your budget for purchase and upkeep;
- Looks amazing going by your aesthetic tastes;
How Much Horsepower Should A Beginner Motorcycle Have
A new rider should have a motorcycle with between 40 and 60 horsepower. A beginner motorcycle should have enough power to give you adequate safe performance but not so much power that you feel unsafe when opening the throttle right up.
I have personally found myself in situations amongst traffic where I had to use all the power I had to accelerate suddenly out of a dangerous situation, such as trucks changing lanes or other vehicles trying to merge or manoeuvre irresponsibly, and if I didn’t have enough power I may have found myself in an extreme dangerously position that threatened my life.
As such, I wouldn’t recommend a motorcycle that has less than approximately 40 horsepower so that you can use the power for reasons of safety when required.
In the same vein, having this amount of power will allow you to overtake traffic more safely where you don’t have a lot of road space ahead of you to do it (but of course, always ride safe and don’t do anything stupid).
Additionally, having less than 40 horsepower means having a motorcycle that doesn’t thrill quite as much as one that does have 40 horsepower or more.
So if you’ve bought your sportbike almost purely for the thrill it gives you, much like I did, then having in excess of 40 horsepower is strongly recommended.
But how much power is too much…
If speed is your thing, then 60 horsepower will push you past 120mph (200kph) relatively easily and have you tearing up the streets or track with absolute wild abandon as a new rider.
However, this much power can bite you. If you’re not used to it at all remember that things happen extremely quickly with more power and speed and as a new rider you simply won’t have the experience or reflexes to handle the maximum performance of a sportbike with 60+ horsepower if things start to go wrong at speed.
The picture above is my 2018 Kawasaki Ninja 650 KRT, my very first road motorcycle after doing my training and testing on a small Honda CB125E.
Here in Australia new riders are power limited and so this particular Ninja 650 was detuned down to approximately 50 horsepower.
I intentionally went from the small 10hp Honda to my 50 horsepower Ninja, the maximum power I could legally get, purely to get the thrill of going from something very sedate to a bike where sedate wasn’t remotely in the vocabulary.
Now this 650 is not the most insane performance machine ever created, but it totally blew my socks off when I first rode it, and it had enough power to pull the front wheel off the ground when I wasn’t intending for it to happen.
And Yes, that did scare the hell out of me and humbled me greatly!
How Much Torque Should A Beginner Motorcycle Have
A beginner motorcycle should have 30 to 50 lb.ft of torque. This will provide enough torque to get adequate and safe acceleration while not so much torque that the front wheel lifts easily off the ground.
If horsepower represents the fastest speed your sportbike can get to, torque represents how quickly it can get to that top speed.
Generally speaking torque is more representative of acceleration rather than top speed potential, and it’s the torque of your bike that largely dictates how easy it will be to do a wheelie, something not recommended at all for new riders.
Should You Be Able To Flat-Foot On A Beginner Motorcycle
A beginner rider must be able to sit flat-footed on a stationary motorcycle for maximum safety, especially when stopped in traffic.
If you stop the bike and are on tippy toes or close to it then you’ll have a hard time keep the bike completely upright and there is a much greater potential to lean it too far and drop it.
Additionally, there’ll be times when you have to manoeuvre the bike using your feet and legs rather the engine power, and if you’re on your toes this will be extremely difficult and could leave you in precarious and dangerous positions.
In short, the closer you are to flat-footed when stationary the safer it will be for you on the motorcycle.
The table below shows the seat heights of many current sportbikes, listed in ascending order.
It’s an excellent idea to find a motorcycle you like the look of that’s in the list below (and note down the seat height) and go sit on one in a showroom.
If you can sit on it flat-footed then you know that seat height is perfect for you and anything in the list with a lower seat height will also be perfect for you, allowing you to quickly narrow down your search. 👊
|Seat Height (mm)
|Seat Height (inches)
|Aprilia RSV4 RR
|BMW M 1000 RR
|BMW R 1250 RS
|BMW S 1000 RR
|Braaap Moto 3
|Ducati Panigale V2
|Ducati Panigale V4
|Ducati Panigale V4 R
|Ducati Panigale V4 Specialie
|Ducati PanigaleV4 S
|Ducati Superleggera 1199
|Ducati Superleggera 1299
|Ducati Superleggera V4
|Ducati SuperSport 950
|Ducati SuperSport 950 S
|Honda CBR1000RR-R Fireblade SP
|Kawasaki Ninja 1000
|Kawasaki Ninja 400
|Kawasaki Ninja 650
|Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R
What Is The Best Riding Position For Beginner Motorcycle Riders
The best and safest riding position for a new motorcycle rider is as upright as possible, however with cautious initial practise you will be able to handle the more leaned over position of a sportsbike relatively quickly and easily.
The more upright the riding position the greater easy of control you will have over the motorcycle, much like a mountain bike or BMX relative to a road racing bicycle.
When you start to get into supersport type motorcycles with a more aggressive leant over seating position it becomes more uncomfortable, harder on your arms, wrists and elbows, and given the foreign seating position the bike will be harder to control.
However if you’re set on getting a sportbike with a very aggressive seating position then put in some practise in lightly trafficked areas with someone who’s familiar with the type of bike you’re on, and pretty soon you’ll have the hang of it.
Just remember to respect the bike and the power it has, as the learning curve on bikes with aggressive seating positions is a little steeper than usual.
Should A Beginner Get A Motorcycle With Anti-Lock Braking (ABS)
A beginner rider should get their first motorcycle with ABS for maximum possible safety, and the least chance of having an accident due to over-exuberant braking due to lack of experience.
An anti-lock braking system, or ABS, is a system on a motorcycle or car that stops the wheels from fully locking up under heavy braking conditions.
If you apply too much brake the bike’s computer will automatically release the brakes a little without any input from you when it senses the wheel(s) begin to lock up.
Let’s say a child runs out onto the road in front you and you have to emergency brake to avoid him or her, if you apply too much braking without ABS the wheels will lock up making the motorcycle almost totally uncontrollable and the chance of a crash is high.
However if you have ABS you can put as much force as you want into braking the ABS system will ensure that the wheels hardly ever lock up at all, making for a very much safer braking situation.
This is so important for safety that in Australia, Europe and Japan a law has been implemented that all new motorcycles sold must have ABS, there is no option anymore.
How Much Should You Pay For A Beginner Motorcycle
A new rider should get a motorcycle that is within their budget to purchase initially, and also within their budget to maintain and service for safety year round.
Obviously your income and budget for a motorcycle might be totally different to the next persons’, so while recommendations can’t be made specifically for you a little research of bikes available for sale will soon have you familiar with what’s on offer and at what price.
Generally speaking, the Japanese sportsbikes will be cheaper to purchase and maintain than European sportbikes, but this is a general rule.
It’s worthwhile doing some research and even calling a motorcycle dealer to ask what the maintenance costs are for a specific bike you have your eye on, because you’ll be massively disappointed if you buy a sportbike and fall in love with it only to find it’s too expensive for you to keep.
What Is The Best Looking Beginner Motorcycle
The best looking beginner sportsbike is one which has an aggressive stance and design coupled with eye catching details and livery.
is a totally subjective matter as every individual has different tastes, however generally speaking on sportbikes, the more aggressive and racey the bike is the better it tends to score in terms of aesthetics.
This can also be said of the livery and details, again a very subjective matter, but it has to be said that when you find a bike with a paint scheme and look that you fall in love with you’ll almost throw every other consideration out the window.