Buying your first motorcycle is an exciting experience, however, it can also be overwhelming trying to figure out how much a beginner motorcycle should cost.
On average, a beginner motorcycle should cost between $2000-$4000 if you are buying a used motorcycle and $4000-$6000 if you are buying a new one. You should also factor in another $400-$1000 for the cost of gear, courses, licensing, and insurance.
Some of these costs caught me off guard when I first started shopping for motorcycles, however, I was eventually able to get started on a budget that worked for me.
To better help you understand how much you should pay for a beginner motorcycle along with the other costs you can expect, keep reading below.
Beginner Motorcycle Cost by Type
There are beginner motorcycles of all types, with some costing more than others and some being around the same price.
To better help you understand where your budget should be, I will break down some of the most popular beginner motorcycles by type, along with their expected costs if you buy new or used.
Cruisers are one of the most popular styles of motorcycles and there’s a chance you are already familiar with their features like; a relaxed riding position, low seat height, and raised handlebars.
Due to their comfort and ergonomics, they are great for riding long distances and are well-suited for beginner riders.
Here are some of the most popular cruiser motorcycles for beginners, whether you’re buying new or used.
Popular Used Cruisers for Beginners:
|Motorcycle Model||Average Used Price|
|Honda Rebel 250||$1500 – $2000|
|Harley Davidson Street 500||$4500|
Popular New Cruisers for Beginners:
|Motorcycle Model||Average New Price|
|Rebel 300||$4500 – $5000|
|Royal Enfield Meteor||$4500 – $4700|
Of course, these are some of the most basic and budget models available. Upgraded models, more expensive manufacturers, and bigger engine sizes will add dramatically to the cost.
Sport bikes are just as popular and are distinguished by their aggressive ergonomics and high-revving engines.
For beginners, you want to look for a sport bike in the 250cc to 500cc range.
Here are some of the most popular beginner sports bikes.
Popular Used Sport Bikes for Beginners:
|Motorcycle Model||Average Used Price|
|Kawasaki Ninja 250/300r||$2000 – $3500|
|Honda CBR 250/300r||$2500 – $3000|
Popular New Sport Bikes for Beginners:
|Average New Price|
|Yamaha R3||$5000 – $5500|
|Kawasaki Ninja 400||$5300 – $5700|
Again, there are more factors that will increase the costs. These are just estimates based on some of the cheapest sport bikes I found while researching for the article.
Buying New Versus Used
Now I’m sure if you’ve spent any time looking for a motorcycle, you’re probably weighing the benefits of buying new or used.
Especially when the cost between new and used can seem negligible.
But what is the real answer, is it better to buy a new or used beginner motorcycle?
On average, it is better to buy a used motorcycle for your first motorcycle, however, a new motorcycle may work better for older riders or people with more accommodating budgets. Used motorcycles typically provide more value for the money, however, both options have their pros and cons.
This is actually one of the harder decisions I had to make when I first started saving to buy a motorcycle.
After all the research, opinions, and finally my actual purchase, I confidently stand by my recommendation that buying used is the best option in most cases.
But to better help you understand what would work better for you, check out some of the pros and cons below.
Buying a New Motorcycle
Having a brand new motorcycle as your first bike sounds exciting but it does come with a few disadvantages.
By weighing the pros and cons, you can see if this is a good fit for you.
Pros of buying a new motorcycle
Confidence in condition – One of the biggest benefits of buying a new motorcycle is knowing it is in good condition. This is huge for new riders who are just learning how a motorcycle should work.
Better financing options – You also get better financing options when you buy a new motorcycle. You can finance in-house, bring your own financing or even bring a trade-in.
More personalization – Although options are limited, you can pick a lot of features like color, accessories, and warranty.
Latest Features – Speaking of features, new motorcycles come with the latest features when it comes to technology and safety; easy to read displays, ABS, and better gas mileage – all great things for a beginner rider.
Warranty – Speaking of warranty new motorcycles actually come with one, giving you added peace of mind.
Peace of mind – Finally, a new motorcycle will give the rider peace of mind that they are riding a safe and properly functioning motorcycle. And if they have any issues, you can easily work with the dealer to get the right knowledge and help
Cons of buying a new motorcycle
More expensive – The biggest drawback of buying a new motorcycle is that they are considerably more expensive. Not only is the cost of the motorcycle more expensive, but you will also pay more on insurance and things like dealer fees. And if you happen to have any mechanical issues or cosmetic damage, repairs are going to be more expensive.
Faster depreciation – If you buy a new motorcycle you will also suffer the most from depreciation. New motorcycles can depreciate up to 25% in the first two years and as the first owner, you will suffer most from that depreciation.
More expensive to maintain – Not only are new motorcycles more expensive to insure, but they will also be more expensive to maintain. They have more strict maintenance schedules, often required to be completed by the dealership.
The break-in period – New motorcycles have a required break-in period that can be intimidating for new riders, especially when they are just learning how a motorcycle operates.
Who should buy a new motorcycle as their beginner bike
With all that, you may be wondering if a new motorcycle is still a good fit for you.
You should buy a new motorcycle as your first bike if you value safety and condition above all and if you have enough budget for the extra expenses like full coverage insurance, dealer fees, financing fees, and consistent maintenance.
If you think you’ll struggle to keep up with maintenance or insurance payments, you may be better off considering buying a used motorcycle.
Buying a Used Motorcycle
Buying is used motorcycle can require a little more effort and patience, but your efforts are often rewarded. Unfortunately, there are still a few drawbacks to buying used.
To help you understand the best option for you, here are some pros and cons of buying a used motorcycle as your first bike.
Pros of buying a used motorcycle
Cost less to purchase – The biggest benefit to buying a used motorcycle is the cost savings. Unlike dealers, sellers in the used market aren’t looking to make a huge profit and you can more easily find fair prices.
Cheaper to maintain – Used motorcycles are often cheaper to maintain. You don’t need full coverage insurance, no crazy dealer fees, and no mandatory dealership maintenance.
Less worry about drops – When you’re buying a used beginner motorcycle, its likely that the bike already has some cosmetic damage, making it hurt a lot less when you have that dreaded first drop.
Encourages DIY – Used motorcycles seem to encourage doing your own maintenance, and learning more about your motorcycle. You can use this to make yourself a better rider and also to save money.
Slower depreciation – Used motorcycles also hold their value a lot better than new ones. So if you plan to sell in the future, you can still get a good chunk of your money back.
Cons of buying a used motorcycle
No guarantee of the condition – The biggest drawback to buying a used motorcycle is not knowing the full condition of the bike. It could have been wrecked, ridden into the ground, or terribly maintained. And as new riders, you won’t have the knowledge to really judge the condition of a motorcycle.
No guarantee of safety – Similar to not knowing the condition, you are also taking a huge safety risk when buying used.
No warranty – Used motorcycles don’t usually come with warranties, so you will be responsible for any trouble or mechanical issues should they arise.
Possibly more expensive to maintain – With the last few points, used motorcycles can actually be more expensive. Depending on the mileage, age, and condition, you may end up having to pay for more maintenance and repairs.
Limited options – Finally, you don’t have a lot of options when it comes to buying a used motorcycle. You don’t get to pick things like color, features, or accessories as you are at the whim of your local market and the previous owner.
Who should buy a used motorcycle as their beginner bike
Although there seems to be a lot more risk when buying used, it is still the most popular option for new riders buying their first bike. So how do you know if a used motorcycle is the best option for you?
You should buy a used motorcycle as your first bike if you are looking to save money and are willing to do the research to make a smart buying decision. You can avoid a lot of the risk by having a keen eye or buying from a reputable used dealership.
You should also buy used if you plan to have minimal insurance or if you think you will do your own maintenance.
Hopefully, you have a better understanding of what you’re getting into with either option. Of course, this will ultimately be up to you and your budget.
As a ninja tip, I recommend buying a used motorcycle from a dealership. This allows you to get the best of both worlds. You can get a motorcycle at a significant discount but you can also be confident that you’re getting a safe and reliable machine.
Additional Costs to Consider
A lot of aspiring riders focus on the cost of the motorcycle and forget some of the other costs that go with it.
This was me, I only looked at the price of the motorcycles I wanted and never considered what it would take to actually get that motorcycle on the road.
To help you avoid this mistake and get a better understanding of what it will cost to get a motorcycle and start riding, I will break down some of the other costs you need to consider when you are looking for your own first motorcycle.
Just as important as the motorcycle, you must also account for the cost of good gear.
A lot of new riders will shy away from getting gear due to how much it costs but buying a motorcycle and gear should go hand in hand.
Here is a quick list of some of the gear you’ll need, along with an average cost for each item.
- Helmet – $150
- Motorcycle Boots – $100
- Motorcycle Gloves – $50
- Motorcycle Jacket – $150
- Motorcycle Pants/Jeans – $100
Again, I know the costs can add up quickly, but the gear is your only form of protection on the motorcycle. You definitely want to budget for good life-saving gear.
In addition to buying good gear, taking a motorcycle course is another cost you should budget for.
I did a whole article on the cost of taking an MSF course, however, you can expect to pay about $250 to take the MSF course.
This is another thing I see a lot of riders skimp on when it comes to buying a motorcycle and I recommend against it.
The MSF course teaches new riders a lot of life-saving techniques as well as general rules to keep you safer on the motorcycle.
Even if you have a lot of experience with motorcycles, you can really benefit from the lessons, concepts, and skills you learn during the MSF course.
Licensing and Registration
Another cost to account for is the cost to get your license and register your motorcycle.
This includes all the things you need to do to legally drive your motorcycle on the road.
if you took the MSF course, this waives the driving test at the DMV but you still have to pay to get the M endorsement or license.
Speaking of licenses, you need to register your motorcycle for road use. If you bought from a dealer, they most likely took care of most of this for you. But if you decide to buy from a private seller, these are some costs you need to account for.
It’s a good idea to check with your local county clerk to see how much it costs as well as the process of registering a motorcycle in your name.
This is a huge one, but make sure you account for the cost to add insurance to your motorcycle.
This is a no-brainer due to how cheap it can be as well as how useful it is, yet I know a lot of riders who don’t have an ounce of insurance on their motorcycle.
You must budget for the cost to add insurance to the motorcycle you plan to buy. Account for both the monthly payment as well as the deductible.
While I can’t give you the exact cost of motorcycle insurance, you can easily run some numbers by shopping online with your local insurance providers. You can enter your information as well as the information about the motorcycle you plan to buy and they will provide you with the expected costs.
Just a heads-up, motorcycle insurance can be really cheap (I pay less than $300 per year), or really expensive depending on a few factors.
The faster, more expensive, or older the motorcycle, the more expensive your insurance will be. And as far as the rider, if you have a lot of issues with your driving history, prepare to pay more than average for insurance.
Finally, you should also account for the cost to maintain the motorcycle you plan to buy.
Motorcycle oil changes can cost $80 and tires can be $600 or more. And the cost to maintain your motorcycle will go up if you have a “more expensive brand”, larger engine size, or older bike.
This is another reason you see a lot of riders starting out with the smaller cc size bikes, they are just cheaper to own all around – from initial purchase to the cost of maintaining it.
Tips for Saving on a Beginner Motorcycle
I know it may sound like there are a lot of costs to buying a motorcycle and getting started riding but you can actually save a lot of money and make the financial hit a lot better.
Here are a few new and familiar tips for saving money when buying your first motorcycle.
Start with a 250-500cc – Starting with a smaller cc is not only safer, it will also be cheaper all around
Buy from friends or private sellers – Buying from a friend or private seller is a great way to save money. You can easily look up the blue book value on the motorcycle and can negotiate from there.
Negotiate price – When buying used, you can negotiate on price.
Buy used – Buying used is the best way to save on cost, especially if you have a good eye for motorcycles. You avoid the initial depreciation and can actually sell later on for around the same cost.
Buy off-season – Whether you’re buying new or used, you can save by buying a motorcycle in the off-season. Dealerships will have slowed in sales and will be more open to offer deals. Private sellers most likely aren’t riding and are more influenced to sell at a discount as well.
Buy your gear and courses first – Finally, I recommend breaking down your purchase into 3 sections; first buying the gear, then the course, and finally your motorcycle. For example, I initially saved up $350 for my MSF course. I scheduled the MSF course for a month out, which allowed me to save up another $200 for gear. After the course, I was able to save for a motorcycle and eventually bought my bike.
Buy used from a Dealership – Again, buying a used motorcycle from a reputable dealership is a great way to get a quality motorcycle at a significant discount. A reputable dealership has a lot more responsiblity compared to a private seller when it comes to selling you a safe and reliable vehicle. Not only that, a dealer has a vested interest in making you a repeat customer, so you can expect a level of fairness and professionalism.
What to Consider When Buying a Beginner Motorcycle
Finally, I will give you some tips and recommendations for when you’re shopping around for a good beginner motorcycle.
I know it may be tempting to go out and buy the fastest and most expensive motorcycle you can afford, but there are certain things you should look for when it comes to finding a good beginner motorcycle.
Best types of motorcycles for beginners
There are all different types of motorcycles and some are better suited for beginners than others.
The best types of motorcycles for beginners are; dual-sport, cruisers, and “standard” style motorcycles. Dual sport motorcycles are easy to maneuver, cruisers have a low, comfortable seating position and standard motorcycles provide balanced ergonomics.
Unfortunately, there are also some not so beginner-friendly types of motorcycles.
As a beginner, you want to avoid any high-powered motorcycles like supersport bikes. You also want to avoid large motorcycles like big touring motorcycling or big adventure bikes. Finally, avoid custom motorcycles like choppers and cafe racers.
As a beginner, buying a beginner-friendly type of motorcycle is surprisingly important.
I was dead set on a supersport motorcycle until I took my MSF class.
I rode a dual sport motorcycle through most of the MSF course and it completely changed my preference. By the time I was ready to buy my first motorcycle, I knew I wanted something sporty like a sport bike but upright like a dual sport – I eventually found the perfect balance with a “naked” or standard motorcycle.
Best CC for beginner motorcycles
Just as important as the type of motorcycle, you should also buy a motorcycle with a beginner-friendly CC.
On average, the best cc for a beginner motorcycle is 250-500cc. These engine sizes provide enough power but are safer for beginners, cheaper to maintain, and easier to resell. Some 650cc and 750cc motorcycles can be appropriate for beginners depending on the type of motorcycle and rider.
I actually started on a 650cc. These are a little different than a 600cc sport bike and are typically more manageable. I really like the new 300cc and 400cc motorcycles as well.
The goal is to avoid any of the higher cc motorcycles like the 600’s and 1000’s. Not only are these more expensive to buy and maintain, but they also add to the risk and learning curve for new riders.
Choose a motorcycle with ABS
You also want to be on the lookout for motorcycles with safety features like ABS.
ABS helps prevent the wheels from locking up when braking. This is especially important for new riders who are more prone to pull on the brakes and less familiar with the limits of braking.
I actually made the mistake of purchasing a bike without ABS. I kind of rationalized it with the myth that it teaches you better braking skills but you can bet my next motorcycle with have ABS, regardless of how skilled I am with the brakes.
Make sure the motorcycle is in good mechanical condition
When I first started shopping for a motorcycle, I was thinking about buying a project bike or “fixer-upper”. Sure, these motorcycles looked a little risky, but they were also a lot cheaper than the ones in good condition or being at dealerships.
Luckily, I was saved by a youtube video that mentioned how cafe racers arent that great for first motorcycles. The video introduced the concept that:
You dont want your first motorcycle to be something you have to work on or worry about, you want to be able to just hop on and ride.
As a new rider, you will spend a lot of time just mastering the basic techniques to riding. If you have to worry about how your motorcycle is operating or if you have to fix issues frequently, it can really inhibit your learning process.
Consider resale value and potential for upgrades
Another thing to consider when buying a beginner motorcycle is resale value and the potential for upgrades.
It is common for new riders to want to upgrade their motorcycle once they get adjusted to the speed and operation of the bike. By considering resale value and upgradabilty ahead of time, you can plan a better budget should you choose to upgrade to a new bike or just add to your existing one.
Consider the ease and cost of maintaining the motorcycle
Finally, you should consider the cost and ease of maintaing your bike.
As a beginner, you dont want pick a motorcycle that will be hard or expensive to maintain. This could be anything from an expensive manufacturer that requires $100 oil and a trip to an authorized dealer to an old rust bucket that demands repairs every weekend.
The hobby of motorcycling will always be more expensive than you think. Insulate yourself from all the financial trouble and make a smart decision for your first motorcycle.
In conclusion, there are a few extra costs to think about when it comes to buying your first motorcycle.
Luckily there are some great ways to save and even better ways to get started as a new rider.
I hope this article was helpful and good luck to any new or aspriring riders.