Best Budget-Friendly Motorcycles for Beginners 2023

Look at that longing look. That’s the power of the 2023 Yamaha V Star 250. (Yamaha/)

They say the best part about your first motorcycle is that you won’t own it forever. It’s a cliché, but they exist for a reason. Put real thought into your choice, but give yourself a pass on finding “the perfect bike.” Got a picture in your head about what bike you look really cool on? Forget that picture. Focus on value, safety, and accessibility. Worry about looking good later. For now, worry about getting a motorcycle you can handle. Also peruse the Best Affordable Used Motorcycles for New Riders 2022 and Best Budget-Friendly Beginner Motorcycles 2019 articles for more affordable streetbike options.

Related: Best Budget-Friendly Beginner Motorcycles

The do-it-all, friendly-as-can-be 2023 Honda CB500F. (Honda/)

In the interest of upholding Motorcyclist’s reputation for hard-hitting motorcycle journalism, none of last year’s bikes are included in this year’s list. The 2022 choices are great bikes, but let’s dig a bit deeper.

Sporty spice on two wheels: the 2023 Honda CBR500R. (Honda/)

This year’s criteria for inclusion included model longevity, usable power, and more dual sport and/or ADV options. The adventure category is inspiring folks to take the MSF course (Motorcycle Safety Foundation), which is highly recommended. It’s not an exact stat, but taking the MSF course results in 98 percent fewer injuries compared with learning in a parking lot from “Jeff.”

Here’s a brand-new list of affordable motorcycles for beginners. Obviously we missed a few contenders or are completely wrong, so feel free to tastefully disagree in the comments section.

Get mildly lost in adventure on the 2023 Honda CB500X. (Honda/)

Small Cruiser: Yamaha V Star 250

Made from 2008 to present, the V Star 250 features the smallest V-twin you can buy that powers a real motorcycle. An air-cooled 249cc 60-degree V-twin inspired by the classic Virago will hustle you anywhere you want to go, within reason. Fun fact: People who make fun of Viragos are secretly in love with them. And while most of the V-twin world is busy stocking up on apparel and merchandise extolling freedom and individuality, V Star owners are living the dream atop their 27-inch seats.

This 2018 Kawasaki KLR650 would look nice in your garage. Or pasture. Or dirt road leading to your ranch. (Kawasaki/)

Still not sold? Try this: Spend a season cutting your teeth on a V Star, flip it for what you paid, and use the money you saved on a bike you want (and are totally ready for). Remember, you only paid a couple of grand and don’t have bike payments. A new rider gets their first training wheels while you get experience and, eventually, the wheels you want. Karmic, eh?

Price Range: $1,750–$3,000 (good/great condition), $4,699 (2023 MSRP)

All-Around Value: Honda CB500 Family

Did you see this coming? This 2022 Royal Enfield Himalayan in camouflage. (Royal Enfield/)

Everybody’s making parallel twins that serve across a wide variety of models. In that spirit, Motorcyclist is getting in on the act. The Honda

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By: Anders T. Carlson
Title: Best Budget-Friendly Motorcycles for Beginners 2023
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Published Date: Thu, 23 Mar 2023 10:00:00 +0000


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