Visordown's guide to big bikes for beginners

Fancy something different than the usual post-test hacks? Visordown offers up five big bikes for beginners

Posted: 1 July 2013
by Tim Skilton

WHICH FIVE bikes would you recommend to a new rider once they've passed their test? Honda's Hornet, Yamaha's Fazer 600 and Suzuki's SV650 are all worthy contenders. Trouble is, not every wants, or is suited to a middleweight commuter.

Article originally posted May 2008, updated July 2013

Some riders are just too big and need something a little roomier, while others simply prefer the torque of a big capacity engine over a high-revving, bhp-sniffing 600.

We've listed five big bikes we think would be ideal for level headed beginners armed with enough nous to respect them. None of our chosen five are race reps, just big capacity machines that'd make a better proposition than a middleweight. Some models were made with optional ABS - worth considering for peace of mind.

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This thread is for discussion of the article Big bikes for beginners

Posted: 12/09/2007 at 15:07

This is a useful article. I'm 6ft6 and started out on a FJ1200 as my first bike after doing my DAS. With 110bhp at the rear wheel, smooth tractable engine, shedloads of torque and very good at low speeds. After replacing the old calipers with R1 calipers and sticking a Hagon shock in it, the bike handled way better and was great fun to ride. Could be fast when you needed it to be as well, as some 600's found out. I'll be seeing it again on Saturday when the bloke who bought it from me brings it in for an oil change and to look at the slipping clutch...

Posted: 13/09/2007 at 12:58

I've had my ZRX1200S for 8 months now and am still very impressed by it.
Swapping from my previous VFR was a revellation, roomy, comfortable and with incredible stonk.
It really is easy to ride, gone are the rev happy power bands, it just delivers buckets of stomp from tickover.
This newly found low down power also gets me 50mpg.
Highly recommended.

Posted: 18/09/2007 at 10:04

Having returned to biking after 43 years, started of with the Honda 600CBF. After six months moved on to the 1000CBF both had ABS.
The 1000 was in fact easier to ride although quite heavy. The style is a little bland, but the word CBF is what it is 'Can't Bloody Fault it'.

Now moved on this month to the CBR600RR, now that is a different beast

Posted: 21/09/2007 at 16:00


The new triumph street triple could be a good bike for a beginner?


Posted: 29/09/2007 at 11:19

I bought mine 6 months after my Das as the GSXF750 was really uncomfortable.

I had to ride back to Luton from Dover and didnt have a clue what to expect from a 1200 bike.

I thought It would unleash mayhem at the merest breath of throttle but actually found it very soft and forgiving if you treated it with respect. However on the M2 I thought I'd see what It was capable of.

Massive grunt came as a real surprise after the tame initial ride but always you feel in control what a fantastic bike. and not lumbering and huge as you might expect but the seat is low enough for the shortest of legs although still giving plenty of leg room and ground clearance.

I'm 6'2" and took this bike to Scotland touring. It's so comfortable and bundles of fun.

No wonder Suzuki left it the way it was for so long. I would have to agree that any half sensible newbie shouldnt overlook this bike due to size of engine.

If your a bit of a nutter though dont bother, you'll be in a box before you hit the limiter.

Posted: 30/09/2007 at 21:26

Biggest bike I ever owned was a RD250 back in 1981 and had not ridden any bike since for over 25 years

Made a return to motorcycling last year April  with a Bandit 1200S

I had been a little concerned about what I had done when I first brought the bike ,  but the concerns were soon alleviated the first time I rode it, It just felt right . So easy to manouver and gave plenty of initial confidence whilst not being intimidating at all.

A handfull of throttle can quickly remind you of just what you are sat astride though and it can soon show you why it has a bit of a hooligan image ,

for a first big bike? why not, just treat it with respect.

Posted: 11/01/2008 at 01:50

I have just bought a Bandit 1200S too - fantastic bike, not a rocket ship but pulls well and very easy to ride and I'm only a 5'2 girlie!

Posted: 25/01/2008 at 23:01

 2000 model cbr 600  imo. a good bike ,that wont bite your arse but provide plenty fun.

Posted: 28/01/2008 at 21:22

2006 model CBR600 and i love it to bits so comfy and perfect to ride with that little bite when you need it

Posted: 27/02/2008 at 07:29

This is an interesting article, not least due to the rather odd mix of bikes chosen.

Why the ZRX1200S and not the ZRX1200R?  What makes the S version any more appropriate for a beginner, other than the fact that it's ugly?

Just about any of the big 'retro' bikes are as suitable as any of the bikes on this list.  ZRX1100/1200, XJR, CB1300, GSX1400, the list goes on.  All have really flexible engines, & go as fast or as slow as you want to.  The only real drawback is weight, but the same could be said for any of the bikes in the article.

Posted: 27/02/2008 at 10:26

Six months with a 600 Bandit after my DAS, then I mortgaged wife and family for a BMW R1200GS.What a revelation!  It is so much easier, tamer, more comfortable, more economical.  Came back from London today while it was pissing down on the motorway.  Grinned all the way.  Yes, it's a lot of money, but it really is COMFORTABLE.  Oh yes, and quickish, if you want.

Posted: 28/05/2008 at 20:51

Didn't have a bike for 2 yrs after my DAS due to personal/work commitments, then bought a Honda CB600F2-Y half-faired Hornet.  Hated it and sold it within weeks losing £500.  It was far too small for a 6'3" guy, and I couldn't see anything but elbows in the mirrors without becoming some kind of contortionist!  From the sitting up-right with excellent mirrors of the CB500 DAS training bikes which really inspired confidenced, the Hornet was a disaster... it shook my confidence and I felt vulnerable riding it.  Have recently bought a 2006 Fazer 600 which I took for a 1 hr test-ride and it's spot-on.  Full confidence is back and I'm loving every minute of it to the point of turning down extra shifts at work just to spend the day riding.  Due to my extreme case of 'lack-of-self-control', the 600 does me fine at the moment, but my advice to any newly qualified riders is that just because your 500cc training bike was ok, don't assume a slightly bigger bike from that manufacturer will be the same. Whatever your bag is, make sure you get a good test-ride (not just a spin round the block), make sure you have plenty of room and are comfortable, but most importantly, make sure you can see clearly in the mirrors as to have full confidence when riding, you need to know what police/dizzy women/boy racers/general nutters are sitting on your ass!

Posted: 30/06/2008 at 23:13

Took my DAS after I retired 2 years ago at the age of 66, and then it was decision time. I'd always hankered after a big Harley, but the budget only allowed for a Sportster & I didn't think I'd be satisfied with the performance, so I took a test ride on a Buell Lightning & came back grinning. Terrified, but definitely smiling! Two years later & absolutely no regrets. It's a bit critical at a standstill due to leg length(!) but I love riding it & there's plenty of grunt to satisfy my ability & ambition!!

Maybe when I'm old enough (only 68 now), & if the lottery coughs up, I'll consider a Road King. Meanwhile, I'm taking the Buell to Spain with me....

Posted: 01/07/2008 at 11:49

As my first big bike (well I wouldnt count my MZ301 big before that illegaly on L plates pre-das) I got a '86 GPZ1000RX, cheap to insure, lots of power, didnt bother me to much if droped or broke anything. Once I had that droping and bolt rounding faze behind me got the ZZR11 and later the ZZR12.

 I think for a first bike best to get something old to learn on, better than dropping your brand new bike eh

Posted: 01/07/2008 at 20:46

Ducati Monster! What I ride now after 18 years since passing my test and having gone through all the sportsbikes and raced for the past 7 years (current race bike is GSXR1000).

Monsters are light with quick steering. They have plenty of power for the road if you get a reasonable sized one (750 or above). I guess the only deterent to a newbie maybe that it needs kid gloves when it comes to getting it serviced / looked after. I have an air cooled one to overcome this problem somewhat .

My S2R 800

Posted: 31/07/2008 at 10:40

Hello all,

Atlas Riders are 5 biker mates that go on Ride Outs and capture the trips on camera. We've just started a website which documents our trips and has Bio pages which tell you a bit about us. The Sites not completely finished yet but is up and running with more pictures of Ride Outs, Past & Present Bikes and General Bike stuff being added as and when the other guys email them to me!! If you fancy checking it, I've put a link on the bottom of this post, feel free to check it out, if anyones local to us and fancies coming for a Ride with us, feel free to contact us via the "contact us" page. Like wise, if you know of any bike meets/events that happen and you're looking for bikers to attend let us know and if we can make it we'll rock up!

Cheers Everyone

Posted: 12/08/2008 at 16:12

My first big bike after passing my DAS was a Honda Firestorm. I had a grin from ear to ear. So much power after after learning on a Kawasaki 500. Learnt a few scary lessons like changing down fast to engine brake is rather silly. Snaked all over the road and ended up in the gravel. Been through lots of bikes since and learned a lot. Current bike is a Bandit 1200 which is a brilliant bike.

Posted: 22/01/2013 at 16:17

Passed my test in november last year after not being on a bike in nearly 20 years and thought stuff it il get a ZXR750 (im 37 so insurance was cheapish)bought the bike cheapish spent a bit on new tyres and fork seals etc,very quick bke when i feel safe to try it not too bad bumbling round the streets to get to work on either,have loved every minute on it,lots of people said i was mad to get such a big sports bike as i did but i have a few mates who also passed recently and they went straight for fireblades etc,end of the day take your time there is a reeson for speed limits and just imagine that every other road user is out to kill you

Posted: 08/04/2013 at 14:12

HI all,

Interesting read! Nice to hear there are still a lot of people out there who are willing to give good advice and guide those others looking at their first big bike.

For me, I would like some of that guidance too! I passed DAS in 2004, but havent really ridden since. I passed on the ubiquitous Honda CB500, and found her frustrating. Once I got passed the "bulk" of the frame compared to the CBT Yamaha RD350, within 4-5 hours, I was bored on the CB500. This is not to say I am a card-holding member of the head-bangers club and am seeking a NOS-powered Hyabusa, but, there has to be some element of excitement.

Add to that fact, I am 6'2" and rugby build, I cant really perch atop a SV650 or something like that. Now, last element is, I am in Dubai. Out here, most bikers just buy new. There are limited suppliers here too, although the big names are here.

I was wondering about a Kawasaki Z1000SX or the new Honda VFR? But, before that, I met a bike rental place (very rare in Dubai!!) and the most appropriate bike for rent is a .... BMW K1200GT. I sat on her, checked her out, and she is a match for my physical size, but, at 300KGS+ wet, am I going to struggle to maneuver this bike? She is 3x my weight, am I going to drop this lady and pay a fortune in repairs? Or, if I am sensible (which I always am!) can i get back into riding on this BMW after a dry spell of 8 years?

Would love to have opinions on that, before I hand over the rental cash for a few weekends on the BMW, and drop it in the rental carpark...



Posted: 29/05/2013 at 13:20

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