Top 10s

The best first big bikes for new riders

If you’re thinking about taking your full motorcycle licence, but don’t know which bike is for you, look at Visordown’s pick of the best big bikes for new riders

WELL DONE! You’ve finally passed your full motorcycle licence and the days of fretting about it are finally over. Now you just have to find a bike, get some insurance and get out on the road! Here are the best big bikes for new riders

Some of the people reading this will already have their bike in mind, it’s probably been ‘the one’ for some time. But for others, the process of choosing a motorcycle will be a bit like my other half choosing what to eat in the restaurant!

If you are in the second group, have a read of this guide to the best new bikes for new full licence holders. We’ve covered everything from sportsbikes to adventure machines, and nakeds to commuters. There are even some tips on why this would or wouldn’t suit you and the way you ride.

Now all you need to do is get to the dealership and get it bought and enjoy the best autumn since autumns began!

Triumph Street Scrambler

Price: from £9,300

More info: www.triumphmotorcycles.co.uk

Quick specs:

  • 900cc, parallel twin, 8-valve
  • 203kg,
  • 12l tank
  • 64.1bhp

Who’s it for?

With bags of style and retro coolness, the Street Scrambler (or any of Triumph’s Modern Classic range) is a perfect bike for the style-conscious, who still want a decent base of performance and rideability.

What’s to love about the Triumph Street Scrambler?

The detail and finishing of Triumph’s are top-notch. There aren’t many bike makers who can create a retro bike quite like Triumph can. It’s also not a bad handling machine either, Triumph’s Adventure Centre in Wales even has a fleet of them for off-roading. The seat is low, the engine is torquey but not too powerful and exhaust not is peachy.

What’s not to love?

Comfort isn’t great on any journey over an hour, the comfort seat from Triumph may alleviate this a little. With a tad over 64hp on tap the Street Scrambler does become breathless above 60mph. Perfect for a new rider but after a year, it might become a little underwhelming.

Yamaha MT07

Price: £6,500

More info: www.yamaha-motor.eu

Quick specs:

  • 698cc, parallel-twin, 8-valve
  • 182kg
  • 14l tank
  • 73.5bhp

Who’s it for?

Hailed as one of the biggest selling bikes in Europe for Yamaha, it’s fair to say the MT07 is the perfect fit for a wide range of riders. It’ll make a great commuter machine, B-road scratcher for a weekend, I even took one on a trackday and mixed it with folk on (much) older sportsbikes. With a few editions like a rack and topbox, it’ll even handle some mid to long-distance touring.

What’s to love about the Yamaha MT07?

The 698cc mill in the MT07 is a lovely little unit, with bags of mid-range and low-end grunt and a very excitable character. The seating position is spot on, with a comfortable reach to the bars and easily enough room for a pillion – as long as they aren’t too big!

What’s not to love

Not a great deal, there is a reason it’s such a high selling bike after all. For some, the styling is a bit bland, but other than that it’s a fairly solid, very enjoyable all year motorcycle.

Kawasaki Vulcan S

Price: £6,449

More info: www.kawasaki.co.uk

Quick specs:

  • 649cc, parallel-twin, four-stroke
  • 229kg (wet)
  • 14l tank
  • 60bhp

Who’s it for?

The Kawasaki Vulcan S is a perfect bike for those that want to join the cruiser lifestyle but don’t want to heave around on a 300kg battle cruiser. With a 705mm seat height, the Vulcan S is a perfect machine for those who are short in the leg! For a bike that’s fairly retro-looking, the Kawasaki cruiser is also bristling with modern tech and materials meaning the riding experience and reliability will be bang up to date.

What’s to love about the Kawasaki Vulcan S?

As mentioned above, for a full-size cruiser, the Vulcan S is extremely light, perfect for a new rider. It’s also blessed with some top-notch chassis and cycle parts meaning its on-road performance is better than some cruisers with twice the capacity.

What’s not to love?

Cruisers as a whole (and not just the Vulcan S) tend to be quite niche bikes, the kind that only comes out on high-days and holidays. But with lashings of nicely finished panels and no weather protection (unless you buy the touring version) winter riding and road salt might put off all but the hardiest riders.

Suzuki SV650

Price: £5,999

More info: suzuki.co.uk

Quick specs:

  • 645cc, DOHC, V-Twin
  • 198kg
  • 14.5l tank
  • 75bhp

Who’s it for?

The SV650 is an ideal machine for those that want some genuinely sporty handling with their first bike.

What’s to love about the Suzuki SV650?

If a sporty naked V-twin is on your list as a first bike, you can’t go wrong with the SV650. It’s also one of the best value machines a new rider can get. With a £300 deposit and 4000-miles a year, a brand new SV650 could be in your garage for as little as £112 per month.

What’s not to love?

Some of that good value can manifest itself in the form of peeling finishes and corrosion after a couple of winters. If year-round riding is on your radar, some decent anti-corrosion protectant should be on your shopping list.

Honda CBR650R

Price: £7,729

More info: www.honda.co.uk

Quick specs:

  • 649cc, Liquid-cooled, 4-stroke 16-valve DOHC inline-4 cylinder
  • 207kg
  • 15.4l
  • 93bhp

Who’s it for?

If you’re looking for a sporty machine that offers everyday usability, you can’t go far wrong with the CBR650R. It’s quick enough to excite riders new and old, but just about comfy enough to ride everyday and over long distances.

What’s to love about the Honda CBR650R?

When Honda launched the CBR650R, many thought it’d be the natural predecessor to the CBR600RR. In reality, it isn’t, in some ways, it’s much better. The riding position is sporty yet comfortable. The screen offers good whether protection, and it still has the same throaty engine note of the smaller race-replica sibling.

What’s not to love?

The tank is a little small on the CBR650R and the bike only comes in two colours, matt black or red with decals. The dash is also tricky to read in bright daylight.

Kawasaki Ninja 650

Price: From £6,599

More info: www.kawasaki.co.uk

Quick specs:

  • 649cc, Liquid-cooled, 4-stroke, Parallel Twin
  • 193kg (wet)
  • 15l tank
  • 67bhp

Who’s it for?

Were the Honda above is sometimes not sporty enough, the Ninja 650 is all about the sports riding. It looks every inch the race replica with a sweet-sounding exhaust note to boot!

What’s to love about the Kawasaki Ninja 650?

It’s a sharper handling and looking successor to the ER-6f that’s made a name as itself as one of the bikes of choice for the Isle of Man TT lightweight class. It’s well equipped too, with a new dash, good weather protection and a host of aftermarket parts to choose from. It’s good value too at £6,599, with PCP deals for £120 p/m on a £500 deposit

What’s not to love?

It’s another machine that is hard not to fall for. If anything, the head-down sporty nature of the bike means you’ll always end up riding it like you’ve stolen it. That’s not so good for the MPG, or the points on your licence!

Yamaha XMAX 400

Price: £6,149

More info: www.yamaha-motor.eu

Quick specs:

  • 395cc, Single cylinder, liquid-cooled, 4-stroke, DOHC
  • 210kg
  • 13l tank
  • 34bhp

Who’s it for?

Not all new riders long for the thrill of the B-road and the adrenalin fix of a sports bike. For some, a bike is a quick, clean, comfortable and cheap to run mode of transport. That’s where the XMAX 400 comes into its own.

What’s to love about the XMAX 400?

It’s about as simple to ride as a motorcycle can get. Quick enough to waft you along at motorway speeds and will still return over 80MPG in the process. It’s ULEZ approved and thrives as much in the city as it is on the open road. It’s surprisingly good on a twisty road too!

What’s not to love?

Maxi-scoots such as this aren’t home-service bikes. Pretty much everything from a small service to a change of the tyre will mean a trip to the dealership.

Kawasaki Versys 650 Grand Tourer

Price: £8,799

More info: www.kawasaki.co.uk

Quick specs:

  • 649cc, Liquid-cooled, 4-stroke, Parallel Twin
  • 217kg
  • 21l tank
  • 68bhp

Who’s it for?

The Kawasaki Versys range is one of the true all-rounders in the current marketplace. It’s a very capable touring machine, good for commuting and sporty enough to raise a grin when the mood takes you.

What’s to love about the Kawasaki Versys 650 Grand Tourer?

There are few bikes at this price point that come this well-equipped. You have integral hard panniers, a 47l top-box, handgaurds and waterproof pannier bags. Add to that the Grand Tourer’s special decals and paint and you have a very attractive proposition indeed.

What’s not to love?

At 840mm the seat is fairly tall which might put off some people. Although an aftermarket lowered version may help – at the slight expense of comfort.

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