Learning to ride a motorcycle: Choosing the right bike

Whether you're after a sports bike, commuter, naked, adventure or scoooter. Find out the best first bike to buy...

What Bike?

Once you’ve passed your test, you’ll need to consider what sort of bike will suit your needs, if you haven’t jumped the gun and bought one already.

If you can afford the initial outlay and insurance premium, there’s nothing stopping you from buying a top-of-the range 1000cc sportsbike - many have as their first bike – including me. But we’d strongly recommend steering clear of high-performance machines and instead focus on improving your riding skills on a machine that’s a little more forgiving.

Your instructor or local dealer will be able to give you best advice as to which sort of bike suits your style, requirements and even mentality. If you’re a speed junkie with nine points on your licence do you really think a top flight sportsbike is a good idea?

So before your tear down to your local motorcycle dealers, itching to part company with a wad of hard-earned cash, get onto Visordown’s forums and ask what kind of bike others have bought for their first machine. There’s a wealth of knowledge an experience lurking within the forums; so tap into it and start asking.

Visordown's top five first bikes

We’ve chosen five machines we’d suggest are worth consideration for your first big bike. All are a few years old and can be found readily on the secondhand market. There’s a commuter, a sportsbike, a tourer, a trailie and a scooter – so there’s something for everyone’s taste.

Honda CB500 £800 - £2500

Honda’s bullet-proof parallel twin is the chosen weapon of many training school throughout the country. Robust, reliable and a great commuter, the CB500 is an easy machine upon which to improve your riding skills. They’re popular with new riders so check for crash damage or ex-training school bikes.

Honda CBR600 F Sport £2000 - £4000

Honda’s CBR600F Sport is probably the best all round sportster ever made. Forgiving handling, excellent build quality, a smooth engine and a sporting pedigree make this bike the best value CBR600 around. This is the sort of machine you could keep for years and still get a kick from it every time you ride.

Suzuki DL650 V-Strom

The 650 V-Strom rates as one of my favourite bikes of all time. It’s comfortable, practical, great for touring, yet perfectly happy scything through rush-hour traffic. The V-Strom has good weather protection, ample luggage carrying capacity and a good turn of speed, in the right hands. What’s more, the Suuzki’s fuel-injected 650cc V-twin engine is one of the sweetest motors Suzuki have ever produced.

Honda Deauville 650 £1500 - £4500

The Deauville is the perfect first tool for riders who want to get out and see the world with a pillion and luggage. The Deauville’s immensely reliable, well-built, easy to ride and has shaft drive, rather than chain, so you’ll not need to mess about with sticky chain lube. The bike’s 650cc engine isn’t the most brisk motor on the market, but it will hold a steady 70mph all day long yet still return over 50mpg. The perfect stepping stone for riders aiming for a big-engine tourer in a couple of years time.

Yamaha T Max 500 £2000 - £4500

If you’re after a superscooter then Yamaha’s T-Max is well worth a look. Capable of almost 100mph, the T-Max takes scootering to another level, yet it cossets the rider in total comfort. Cavernous underseat storage space, decent weather protection and a reasonably good tank range make this the ideal bike for those wanting a tourer/commuter but without the hassle of clutch and gears.

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