Best beginner motorcycles | 125cc-600cc for learners and new starters

Visordown picks the best motorcycles for beginners from the motorbikes we’ve tested over the last 12 months



SO, you’ve passed your full or A2 motorcycle test and you’re now on the hunt for the best beginner motorcycles for new riders – a daunting task in itself.

You may be able to lean on the experience and advice of a family member or friend, or, like many, you may be delving into the world of two wheels un-assisted. Whichever side of the fence you sit on, Visordown is here to help, as we pick the best motorcycles for new and upcoming riders currently on sale.

In this article, we’ll be listing the best beginner motorcycles and updating the list as new bikes get released. Most of the motorbikes in this article will have been ridden and tested here at Visordown, and if we haven’t had a chance to test them yet we’ll make it clear in the sections below.

You can also read our best electric motorcycles article here.

Best beginner motorcycles | 300cc to 660cc

Yamaha R7 | Best beginner motorcycles – sports bikes

Specs and features

Price (UK)

Power (BHP)

Torque (lb-ft)

Weight (kg)

Seat height (mm)



49.1 lb-ft

188 (wet)


 A2 compatible - yes

Pros and cons


·       Supremely accessible and exciting engine

·       Featherlight weight

·       R1M-a-like styling


·      Cramped for taller riders

·      LCD tricky to read clearly

·      Town riding becomes tiresome quickly

The 2022 Yamaha R7 launches right into the heart of the newly ignited middleweight sportsbike market, alongside bikes like the Aprilia RS660, and Kawasaki Ninja 650. Featuring the DNA of the R6 and R1, it’s a bike designed to bridge the gap between the CBT-friendly R125, and the bigger R1 and R1M.

Out on the road and track the R7 is a delight to ride. It’s a featherweight of a bike, and that brilliant CP2 engine at its heart impresses even the hardiest of track riders. And it’s more than just an MT-07 with fairings bolted on too. The chassis, suspension, and brakes for the R7 are all revised compared to its naked sibling. As a result, it’s more focused, accurate, and a hoot to ride on the road and track.

More information on the Yamaha R7 can be found here.

Read also: 2022 Yamaha R7 review

Aprilia Tuono 660 Factory | Best beginner motorcycles – performance nakeds

Specs and features

Price (UK)

Power (BHP)

Torque (lb-ft)

Weight (kg)

Seat height (mm)



49.4 lb-ft

181 (kerb)


 A2 compatible - yes - with restriction

Pros and cons


·       Track-focused ultimate mid-weight naked

·       Advanced electronics

·       Easy-going character around town


·      Menus are a bit fiddly

·      Wheelie control either on or off

·      Pricy compared to the competition

Taking the excellent Aprilia RS660 as its base, the new Aprilia Tuono 660 Factory mates easy going ergonomics, with RSV4-derived electronics and a manageable chassis package. With just under 100bhp on offer, it is one of the more powerful machines on this list, and with just 181kg to shift, it’s a perfect road bike for those looking for B-road bliss, if sometimes considered a little spicy to be on our best beginner motorcycles list.

We tested the Tuono 660 Factory earlier this, riding it on the road and also at the fabulous Cadwell Park circuit in Lincolnshire. On the road, it feels like just about all the bike you’d need for maximum grin factor, and on the twisty and narrow Cadwell Park track, it was a match to some of the bigger, faster V4 machines.

It’s not without its grips though, multi-level wheelie control and fiddly menus being the main two, although for pure riding pleasure on the road there really isn’t much to dislike about Aprilia’s brilliant middleweight weapon.

More information on the Aprilia Tuono 660 Factory can be found here.

Read also: Aprilia Tuono 660 review

Honda CB500X | Best beginner motorcycles – adventure bikes

Specs and features

Price (UK)

Power (BHP)

Torque (lb-ft)

Weight (kg)

Seat height (mm)




199 (kerb)


 A2 compatible - yes

Pros and cons


·       Extremely accessible engine

·       Big-bike adventure-ready look and feel

·       Lots of luggage and accessory options


·      Suspension can feel budget off-road

·      Buzzy bars at speed

·      Crosswinds can be an issue

A firm favourite with riders new and old, the Honda CB500X is one of the most popular bikes in the A2/new rider adventure motorcycle sector. Using the venerable 471cc parallel twin that is shared across this and three other Honda models, the CB500X is a bike for everyday commuting and touring, with some light off-road world thrown in.

Its simplistic specs and easy-going nature make it a perfect choice for riders looking to move up from the CBT licence bikes, yet is also a prime choice for those already riding bigger machines and just looking to gain their adventure bike spurs.

It’s frugal too, with motorway cruising returning upwards of 100mpg, meaning that 250+ miles between fill-ups are a very real possibility

More information on the Honda CB500X can be found here.

Read also: Honda CB500X review

KTM 390 Duke | Best beginner motorcycles – easiest to ride naked

Specs and features

Price (UK)

Power (BHP)

Torque (lb-ft)

Weight (kg)

Seat height (mm)




150 (dry)


 A2 compatible - yes

Pros and cons


·       Funky styling

·       Friendly single-cylinder engine character

·       Decent-spec WP suspension


·      Build quality can be questionable

·      Comfort over distance isn’t great

·      A favourite among bike thieves – invest in decent security!

The KTM 390 Duke has been around since 2013 and is a firm favourite with new riders and those moving up the ranks. The 390 Duke features funky, youthful styling, a punchy single-cylinder engine, and sweet handling. Simply put; it’s a weapon in town and fun once you get out of it.

It’s a bike that hasn’t seen massive, mechanical updates since it first launched, instead being steadily evolved, with facelifts and technical upgrades along the way.

It’s an engaging thing to ride, with a rev-happy engine that doesn’t red-line until around 10,000rpm, and still delivers some shove further up the rev range. It’s not without its faults, as with any bike, and the biggest gripe from owners is the build quality. The TFT dash can allow water inside if left in the rain, and electrical gremlins are two of the most common complaints we hear from owners online. It’s also a popular bike with thieves, so make sure you get some top-spec security – and remember to use it after every ride!

More information on the 2022 KTM 390 Duke can be found here.

Read also: KTM 390 Duke review

Royal Enfield Hunter 350 | Best beginner motorcycles – retro bikes

Specs and features

Price (UK)

Power (BHP)

Torque (lb-ft)

Weight (kg)

Seat height (mm)



19 lb-ft

191 (wet)


 A2 compatible - yes

Pros and cons


·       Probably the most accessible 'big bike' you can get

·       Excellent around town

·       Chunky styling and funky paint options


·      Engine is breathless above 50mph

·      Tyres lack grip and feel in any conditions

·      You might quite quickly long for something quicker

Post CBT motorcycles simply don't get more accessible than the new-for-2022 Royal Enfield Hunter 350. It's as simple as it gets, on the surface at least. single-cylinder 350cc engine, simple brakes and suspension, and a relaxed and spacious riding position. There are no fancy electronics to worry about, just a simple ABS system and an LCD dash. It is though a peach to ride in the city, with nimble handling and a sweet exhaust note that echoed off the skyscrapers as we passed below.

If you are looking for a slice of classic British style, but the larger and more powerful machines from Triumph, BSA, and Royal Enfield (with its 650cc parallel twins) are a little intimidating, the little Hunter 350 could be just the ticket to get you on two wheels.

More information on the Royal Enfield Hunter 350 can be found here.

Read also: Royal Enfield hunter 350 review.

What licence do I need to ride a motorcycle?

To legally ride a motorcycle on the road in the UK you will need to pass your motorcycle test, or at the least complete you Compusory Basic Training (CBT). The licence you need, and the way you go about gaining it, will be dependent on the motorbike you want to ride. Simply put, there are restrictions on the power output of the bike in which you can ride on some licences, and specific licence types for bikes with no more than 11kW (15bhp), 35kW (47bhp), and unrestricted machines.

Motorcycle licence types and how to get them

AM Motorcycle Licence

If the bike in question, be it geared or twist-and-go, has a speed range of between 25kph (15mph) and 45kph (28mph) you can ride it from the age of 16. You will need to complete your Compulsory Basic Training (CBT) and hold a provisional licence.

A1 Motorcycle Licence

If the bike has no more than 11kW (15bhp), a CBT, theory and practical test are needed and you can get on the road at 17 years old.

A2 Motorcycle Licence

If the bike has no more than 35kW (47bhp) you can either take a direct access approach, theory and practical exam, or a progressive approach. Progressive will require you to have at least two years of experience on an A1 equivalent motorcycle and licence. Either method can see you on two wheels from 19 years old.

A Motorcycle Licence

A full A motorcycle licence allows you to ride any motorcycle of any capacity. To gain this you must be 24 to use direct access (only one test - practical and theory), or 21 if you choose progressive access. Progressive access also requires two years on an A2 equivalent motorcycle and licence type.

Motorcycle licence types and requirements




Minimum Age

Up to 28mph


CBT, Theory Test, Practical Test


Up to 11kw


CBT, Theory Test, Practical Test


Up to 35kW


Direct access

Progressive access

19 stepped

19 progressive 



Direct access route

Progressive access route

24 (direct access) 

21 progressive

21 (progressive access)