Top 10 Best A2 Licence-Friendly Bikes

Whether you want a bike that's A2 compliant from the factory or A2 restrictable, there's plenty of choice - here are our picks!

Aprilia RS660 review

When it comes to A2 licence-compliant, i.e. 47bhp machines, there are two ways you can go. Either go for the easy, straightforward option of an ‘off-the-shelf’ or ‘factory ready’ A2 machine or think longer term by going for a probably larger bike which is restrictable to the A2 requirements but has the added dimension that, once you qualify for a full A class bike, it can de-restricted thus effectively becoming the ‘fastest A2 bike’ out there. Sort of.

The first route is simpler and often cheaper but also usually restricts you to smaller capacity, lighter bikes that, while great when a novice, you may want to immediately trade up from once you leave the A2 restriction.

The latter is the more complex, and expensive and can result in a heavier, more intimidating bike – at least at first. To qualify as being ‘A2 restrictable’ a machine has to have 95bhp or less in the first place. Many of those eligible naturally qualify straight off the bat. Others, however, such as Aprilia’s RS660 (which is normally 100bhp), various Ducatis or Indian’s 120bhp FTR1200, also come in specially tuned 95bhp form to enable them to qualify.

There is also now more choice in both categories than ever, with a raft of bikes which qualify for both routes being introduced recently. All of which prompts the question: ‘Which are the current best A2 bikes?’ Here’s our pick of five of the best of both types to help you decide…

Best A2 'out of the box'

Honda CBR500R

In truth we could have picked any of Honda’s A2-specific ‘CB500’ family here – ranging from the CB500F roadster (renamed the CB500 Hornet for 2024), CL500 scrambler, CMX500 Rebel, CB500X adventure (now tweaked and renamed as the NX500 for 2024) to this sportster. All are based around the same 47bhp parallel twin which remains the best all-round A2 engine, friendly and versatile chassis and are classily finished and equipped yet affordable. Choose your flavour and you can’t really go wrong.


This fully faired sportster based on KTM’s brilliant 390 Duke roadster has the same single-cylinder punch, ultra-nimble handling and aggressive attitude but with sporty shades of its MotoGP bikes. Like the Hondas above it’s not hugely cheap and, being a lightweight single may be a little ‘dinky’ for larger riders, but it’s addictive fun, has bags of classy touches and is probably the sportiest A2 bike you can buy.

Royal Enfield Himalayan 450

Royal Enfield has entered the modern era with its all-new Himalayan 450 which boasts liquid-cooling, inverted forks, monoshock suspension and more. The 452cc single produces 40bhp, it works just as well off-road as on, it’s capable yet unintimidating and, overall, it’s a true, full-size, A2-compliant adventure bike for not much over £6000.

Triumph 400s

Britain’s own Triumph finally entered the bespoke A2 class (after previously only offering restrictor kits on some of its bigger bikes) in 2024 with not one, but two all-new 400 singles – and they’re both brilliant. The Speed 400 is the more accessible and affordable roadster with shades of retro. 

The Scrambler 400 X is the slightly pricier, taller retro trailie interpretation probably preferred by larger riders. Both are powered by an impressive, all-new, liquid-cooled 400cc single producing 40bhp, have straightforward, sweet handling, unintimidating chassis and are smartly equipped and built.

Husqvarna Svartpilen 401

It’d have been all too easy to put KTM’s riotous 125 Duke here, it’s that good, but we’re already including the RC390 and the Svartpilen, by KTM sister company Husqvarna, is essentially the same bike with an identical, punchy, 399cc, 44bhp single-cylinder engine and nimble chassis but with a style – freshly updated for 2024 – and exclusivity all its own. Better still, there are two versions, the more upright, semi-scrambler-style Svartpilen and the more aggressive, roadster-style Vitpilen. Both are great, distinctive, classy and above all fun A2 machines.

Best restrictable A2 bikes


BMW’s F-series parallel twins might not be as popular as the German marque’s legendary boxer twins but they’re brilliant real-world all-rounders and, from a starting point of (around) 105bhp, all are also available in 95bhp, A2 restrictable form. 

If you want a novice-friendly adventure the new F800GS is worth a look, while the 900R is an underrated and fun roadster. But our pick of the bunch is the F900XR – an ‘adventure sport’ in the style of the bigger S1000XR but one that’s lighter, cheaper, somehow brilliant at virtually everything and with tons of BMW’s usual options, too. Buy one and it’s all the bike you’ll ever need.

Triumph Bonneville T100

Like BMW, leading British brand Triumph also goes out of its way to offer a wide choice of its bikes with A2 restrictor kits – although only the new Tiger 900 needs to be detuned slightly to qualify. Of the rest, there’s the excellent Tiger 850 Sport while the Trident 660 roadster and spin-off Tiger 660 Sport, with their charismatic three-cylinder engines have a lot of appeal. But our pick is arguably the type of bike that Triumph does best – its twin-cylinder retro roadsters. 

There’s the sporty Speed Twin 900 and stylish Scrambler 900 but we’d go for a kitted version of the smaller 900cc Bonneville T100 which is probably the definitive retro and, in A2 kitted form, loses little in performance in reality compared to ‘full-bore’ 54bhp version.

Ducati Desert X

Italian exotica experts Ducati also offer a variety of its bikes in detuned A2 restrictable form – mostly those based around its usually 113bhp 950 V-twin engine, although the new Hypermotard 698 single and Scrambler also qualify. That gives you a choice of the new Monster roadster, Hypermotard 950, 950 Supersport and even Multistrada V2. 

Our pick, though, going by the philosophy that, ‘if you’re going to be a bear be a grizzly’, is for the wild but fantastic Desert X adventure bike, a true off-roader that’s also great on the road and with more charisma and style than you can shake a stick at. Be wary, though, in restricted A2 form, there’s less than half the performance the full-bore version has.

Honda CB650R

If one of your reasons for going for a ‘restricted’ A2 bike is to get the full big bike experience in an A2-compliant form, one of the bikes that should be on your radar is Honda’s updated-for-2024 CB650R/CBR650R duo. Both have full four-cylinder motors with the rev-happy smoothness only a ‘multi’ can deliver. They’re also meaty and substantial without being intimidating, refined, classy and decently equipped and now also come with Honda’s novel ‘E-Clutch’ system. Our pick is the CB roadster, but the CBR sportster is arguably the best A2 way to sample a four-cylinder sports bike.

Aprilia RS660

In truth, there are now so many A2 restrictable bikes available it was tricky to limit our choice to just five. Yamaha’s MT-07 roadster twin is worth a mention, as is Suzuki’s four-cylinder GSX-S950 while Kawasaki’s 650 twins – the Versys adventure, Ninja sportster and Z650 roadster, also comply. But we had to include Aprilia. The saucy Italian brand’s 660cc twin-cylinder duo, the RS660 sportster and Tuono sport-adventure, both normally produce around 100bhp but are available detuned to be restrictable. The RS is our pick. In an increasingly competitive class (don’t forget Triumph’s new Daytona 660!) it’s one of the standout sports bikes, is gorgeous, fabulously equipped, fine handling and fun and, arguably, the best (and possibly fastest) A2-compliant sports bike of all.