When it comes to inexpensive motor bikes, a few classics stand out. One such classic is the Honda Super Cub, while Suzuki GS range has also become valuable investments over time despite not reaching classic status quite yet.
Metric cruisers also deserve recognition, particularly the Yamaha MT-03. These bikes can be purchased relatively affordably and can cover plenty of miles if properly taken care of.
1. Honda CB900 Hornet
The Honda CB900 Hornet is one of the most beloved bikes on the market. A classic that offers plenty of value, this bike makes an excellent introduction to riding for beginners and is an invaluable learning tool.
However, this motorcycle does have its own share of drawbacks: its engine doesn’t make a statement and ride quality can become uncomfortable during longer rides; weather protection also isn’t excellent as salt in winter can do considerable damage to it.
Honda modified their engine to make it more reliable and practical, eliminating wheelies from consideration but creating an ideal commuter bike that still feels exciting on back roads.
2. Hinckley Triumph Trident
Triumph’s Leicestershire research and design centre has spent the last four years crafting its new Trident model – its entry point, which sits below Street Triple S for an estimated price representing great value.
The Trident features a 660cc inline triple engine that produces 81 horsepower and 66 lb-ft of torque – not much by modern standards but still plenty for good riders on the road to enjoy its usable power. And its chassis has been tuned to deliver smooth handling. I found riding one to be relaxing yet rider friendly – making it an excellent option for novice riders while providing enough speed as their confidence builds up. It can even go fast!
3. Kawasaki Ninja 500
Kawasaki EX500’s half-liter twin engine may often fall to the wayside in budget bike comparisons, but this dependable power source helps ease beginner street pilots, commuters and other cost-conscious members of society with its smooth power delivery and forgiving nature.
While the original EX500’s agile chassis and forgiving parallel twin make it ideal for novice riders to learn key skills like smooth throttle application, its enough power also entertains experienced pros – making it the best value motorcycle ever produced.
4. Yamaha MT-03
The Yamaha MT-03 is an excellent way for new riders to start riding safely and affordably. As one of their small displacement naked bikes, it offers competitive pricing with other such as KTM 390 Duke and Kawasaki Z400 (as well as older Honda CB900 Hornet models which still provide decent value).
The MT-03’s light weight, short wheelbase and 25-degree rake make it perfect for city traffic and U-turns. Its 37mm inverted KYB front fork and monoshock feature 5.1 and 4.9 inches of travel respectively and deliver solid feel that allows riders to confidently carve twisties. A 298mm floating front brake caliper equipped with anti-lock braking brings this bike to a stop without chatter while LED turn signals ensure maximum visibility and add a stylish appearance.
5. Kawasaki Z400
Kawasaki expands their small displacement offering for 2021 with the launch of a Z400 that recalls its streetfighter roots. Utilizing the same 399cc parallel twin engine as its counterpart Ninja 400, but with more upright ergonomics and standard ABS to meet beginner riding needs.
It also ups the ante with its larger 41mm telescopic fork compared to its smaller sibling’s 37mm unit and features a larger front petal disc of 310mm compared with 280mm on its smaller sibling Ninja. An assist and slipper clutch helps limit fatigue for riders with shorter inseams while its six-speed transmission provides power when necessary.
With its claimed 202 horsepower on tap, the Z400 is one of the most capable beginner motorcycles around and easily outmatches competing models like Yamaha’s YZF-R3 and Husqvarna Vitpilen 401 for affordability in terms of motor bike horsepower.