First Bike

  • This topic has 6 replies, 4 voices, and was last updated 1 year ago by David Pittomvils.
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    Mark Braverman

      Your course is a fantastic source of high quality information to get started correctly and continue learning correctly for years to come. Along that vein and in the spirit of this section of the forum, would you please comment on what to look for in a first bike and what to stay away from. So many You Tubers and moto journalists… So many opinions…

      I am not asking for a brand, albeit using the Yamaha MT line up could serve as a good reference point. I am asking about an appropriate bike to get started and enjoy the sport safely. How much HP is too much? To what extent could electronic assists and rider modes make a more powerful bike, than say a 250, more appropriate to start and grow into.

      If you could provide some sound guidelines on what to start with and when to go bigger (if there is a need to start really small) I would certainly appreciate it.


      Keith Culver


        Great question with never the same answer for everyone. I can definitely tell you what is NOT the best first bike and that is anything on the 1 liter class of sportbikes (R1, GZSR1000) including the naked versions (MT-10, etc.) as well as the larger cruiser bikes (Harley Ultra-Classic).

        The answer for the best first bike is a bit depending on you. A smaller person who is a bit type-b, more of a cautious type of person may enjoy the small cc bikes (R3, MT-03) but we are not huge fans of them for first bikes because there is just not enough power to get away from danger if it presents itself. They are difficult just to accelerate into traffic if you don’t have the experience to use every bit of the limited horsepower and torque available when needed.

        IF you are really tall (over 6’2″) and just won’t be comfortable on a regular-sized bike, ones like the TracerGT are great. A bit heavier and definitely taller but not crazy fast like the bikes above (but quite fast when you know how to ride them). If you are tall and have dirt experience, I just bought the Tenere 700 adventure bike and I absolutely love it. Not as fast as the TracerGT but works well on dirt roads, etc.

        That middle section. For Yamaha, the MT-07 (and R7 for sport riders) is where we like to send most new riders. While ANY bike can get you in trouble if not used correctly, these bikes typically are not powerful enough to easily get out of your control yet have enough to get you out of trouble if you need it. Many come with ABS and some TC which is a nice safety feature (although not as good and plentiful rider training) and all of them are bullet-proof. Riders tend to not grow out of them as quickly as other bikes as a few upgrades to them after a few years (suspension first) makes them just as fun for the mid-experience rider.

        Hope this helps.

        – Keith Culver

        Mark Braverman


          Thanks. Very helpful. Lots of people out there preaching to start on A2 power level bikes yet most used ones I am seeing only have about 400 miles on them.

          I see the MT-07 and the R7 you recommend have about 75 HP. While the MT 10 and R1 that are not new rider appropriate have about 158 and almost 200 HP respectively. Is it fair to say anything under 100 HP is OK/good for a starter bike or is 75-80 HP the top limit you would recommend. Not sure how big a difference that additional 25 HP would make on such a light vehicle.


          Keith Culver

            Hey Mark,

            Sorry, I don’t have a definitive answer on this. Have spent a lot more time making riders better with any horsepower bike than studying horsepower for new riders, all who have different experiences, skill levels, and risk tolerances. The actual horsepower doesn’t really come to play in my mind. An R6 only makes about 110hp stock but you need to get to 11-13k of RPMs to use it so it’s typically wasted on a new rider but in the hands of a good rider, its a serious weapon and I can often get better lap times on an R6 than a 158hp R1.

            I can only comment on my experience which is that power that is too low or hard to use in the real world when you need it can be dangerous, too much power that can get a rider out of control quickly can be dangerous and that in the middle there are some really nice bikes with friendly and usable powerbands.

            Mark Braverman

              Thank you Keith. Very helpful.

              Gray Olson

                As another point of reference…

                IMO, it depends on your goals.

                If you want a good all around starter bike for the road and also dipping your toes into track riding, something in the MT-07/R7 class is very hard to beat, as Keith said, for all those reasons. When you look at it by numbers, 75HP doesn’t seem that much different than 110HP (R7 vs R6). But having ridden both after starting on a 300, let me tell you that they *feel* like /completely different/ motorcycles. Though the peak HP doesn’t look that different, the way the engine delivers that power is also incredibly different. The Yamaha twin at the very least (and I would say likely other manufacturers as well) is incredibly smooth, controllable, and confidence inspiring. An inline 4 tuned for race performance, on the other hand, even if not that much higher real HP, feels like a rocketship under you in comparison. And even disregarding the engine differences, everything else on an R6 feels infinitely “sharper” than an R7. The brakes are super powerful… yet also super “touchy”. The riding position on an R6 feels like you’re perpetually pointed downhill, whereas an R7 feels like you’re straight and level… I could go on. Point is, an R7 would be a great first bike, while an R6 would very much not, IMO.

                If you want to improve your skills as fast as possible on track and get as fast as possible in as little time as possible, starting on a true small bike (R3 or equivalent) is the way to go, IMO. Why? Well, it will not be quite as pleasant for street riding for the reasons Keith listed, but… On true small bike, if you make a mistake, the bike will make sure you know you just made a mistake. It will be very obvious. You’ll be going super slow, engine feel incredibly underpowered or even lugging, bike will feel “off” and not smooth, etc… but, you’re also not as likely to crash even when you do make one of these mistakes. On a bigger bike, you can fib your skills more and still go moderately fast by just having extra power at your disposal. On something like an R7, you’re unlikely to get yourself into too much trouble with your power like you might be more likely to on an R6 or R1 etc… but, you also will “feel” your mistakes much less than you would on a small bike in the ways I talked about above. At least, that’s my experience.

                So, different strokes for different folks 🙂

                David Pittomvils

                  Some good points indeed from Gray.

                  I’m also a new rider and used MT-07 in riding school, lovely bike. Nothing to say wrong about it.
                  My own first bike is now a KTM Duke 890, got it for like a month now and I haven’t even used 20% of it I guess. Hold on to the bars if you know what I mean.
                  It also feels like the R7 that Gray explains, except that it feels like a rocketship under you :D.

                  But I just liked the bike, so I bought it (otherwise it would have been a MT-07, Z900 etc)

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