15 Best Motorcycles for Beginner Riders from the 2020 Model Year
Our 15 recommended beginner motorcycles from the 2020 model year come from 10 different motorcycle manufacturers with the most from Honda followed by Royal Enfield and Harley Davidson. The average weight of our recommended beginner motorcycles is about 350 lbs, average engine size is 450 cc, and average seat height of is about 29-inches.
In 2020, motorcycle manufacturers looking to reverse unfavorable trends in motorcycle buyer demographics (motorcycle buyers continue to age and present motorcycle companies with potentially a grim future for sales) have continued to design, manufacture, and market motorcycles that are particularly aimed at the beginner motorcycle riders out there as well as have focused on making motorcycles that are more appealing and ergonomically designed for smaller riders (younger riders and women riders tend to be smaller than the average experienced rider). For this reason, there are simply a lot of great beginner motorcycles available if you are in the market for a new or slightly used starter motorcycle.
As expected, you will likely pay considerably more for a 2020 beginner motorcycle than one from say 10 or 20 years ago (there are MANY great choices as older motorcycles for beginner riders) if such a motorcycle is within your financial means, here are 10 that should make your shortlist of great 2020 beginner motorcycles for you to consider:
1) 2020 Honda Rebel 300
As the name implies, this motorcycle is powered by a 250-cc size engine which is particularly a “manageable” size engine for beginner riders as it will not be something that overpowers its beginner rider. And, Honda has really worked hard to revamp its Rebel’s looks to something that is a combo of retro, minimalist, and a bit of futuristic.
Of our list of 1- recommended beginner motorcycles, this is the one that most of our authors would choose if they were in the market for a 2020 beginner motorcycle. Not only is it light at a mere 306 lbs. (dry weight) but it has a near-ideal 27-inch seat height that works well for almost all beginners and particularly well for beginner riders who are on the shorter side of the height scales.
Another reason we recommend the Rebel 300 is that it has an ABS (Anti-lock Braking System) option that bumps up the price a bit (from $4,500 to 4,800) but ads that extra feature to help beginner riders safely brake particularly during emergency braking situations as the feature will keep new riders from locking up the brakes.
2) 2020 Yamaha V-Star 250
For many years now, the Honda Rebel has been the standard go-to recommendation for beginner riders and that bike has earned those endorsements for its lightweight, moderate-sized engine, and its Honda reliability and re-saleability. But, in 2008, Yamaha decided to challenge Honda in that beginner motorcycle space by introducing the smaller (yet not too small), V-Star 250.
This model presents a great alternative to the Rebel 300 as it offers a more traditional look than the Honda at a near-identical price point (about $4,400). Oddly, the smaller V-Star having a smaller engine (250 cc -300 cc) is actually a bit heavier by about 20 lbs at about 330 lbs. heavier than the Rebel but has the same nice and low 27-inch seat height so essentially the two will feel about the same.
Unfortunately, the Yamaha doesn’t offer ABS and so if that is a deal-breaker for you, you need to go back to considering the Rebel. If it is not, however, and you like the more traditional look of the V-Star, this may be a great beginner motorcycle for you to get into motorcycling on.
3) 2020 Suzuki GSX250R
The 2020 GSX250R is great value for a brand-new sport bike under $5,000 including a gem of a liquid-cooled 250 cc engine, make it a nice beginner motorcycle choice for its modest engine size, sub 400 lb. weight (380 lbs..), 31-inch seat height, and some very appealing modern looks (black box frame, lower half blacked out all topped with a striking colorful gas tank … if you like that look).
And, for the fact that the motorcycle has a hybrid sport-bike look and feel, it appeals to younger generations of riders and so if/when you decide to move up to a larger motorcycle at some point after you’ve built up your confidence in this 250, it should be pretty easy to sell your 2020 GSX250R starter motorcycle as there is always a new crop of young beginner riders who would love to take that late model “GSXer” off your hands.
4) 2020 Honda CBR 300
The Honda CBR 300 is another sport bike on the smaller end of the scale that represents a very good beginner motorcycle for a variety of reasons. First of all, Honda specifically markets the motorcycle as a budget-friendly beginner motorcycle which means they’ve designed this sport bike with a modest 300 cc engine, weighing only about 350 lbs., and a sub-31-inch seat height so it’s got all the right specifications and it’s built with Honda’s legendary reliability and a sub $5,000 price point.
All of this combines for one of the safest recommendations within our list of 15 for its value, beginner-friendly specs, strong resale likelihood, and assured reliability.
5) 2020 KTM 390 Adventure
One of the more unique recommendations in our list is for those beginner riders out there who see themselves not only exploring streets but also trails and are want to learn in both environments. The 2020 KTM 390 Adventure is a dual-sport bike offering a rare sub 400 cc engine and definitely not something KTM motorcycles are known for.
KTM, an Austrian motorcycle company, has a near cult-like following and has been a leader in the increase in popularity of Adventure Touring (aka dual-sport motorcycles built for more long-distance riding than your typical dual-sport models) motorcycles for a long time now. The 390 Adventure is KTM’s push to expand its market share by appealing to new riders and so it deserves your consideration if you feel the on/off-road riding lifestyle is where you will be headed.
One word of caution is that like most Adventure Touring models built for absorbing the shocks of off-road riding, they are equipped with taller suspensions to deal with the added stresses. And, this taller suspension typically translates to taller seat heights and so the KTM 390’s 33.7-inch seat height is definitely on the higher end of the scale and should fall out of consideration for those beginner riders who are say below around 6 feet tall. Another note is that as you may expect, a motorcycle from Austria may come with a higher price tag and that holds true for the KTM 390 Adventure as it cost around $6,300 which is a bit pricy for a motorcycle with a sub 400 cc engine.
6) 2020 Royal Enfield Interceptor 650
Another 110+-year-old motorcycle company (dates back to 1901 … coincidentally the same year as the oldest American motorcycle company still in production – Indian Motorcycles)) is Royal Enfield originally a British motorcycle company but later moved its operation to India where today, all of its models are manufactured today in Chennai, India (https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-03-11/royal-enfield-int650-motorcycle-review-reliable-cool-value).
Royal Enfield is a big push to re-enter the American market and it really offers some truly authentic-looking retro motorcycles at really great prices. The engines particularly have an authentic air-cooled look even though the Royal Enfield engineers worked in a nice small oil-filled cooling radiator and discreetly above the exhaust manifolds, just below the tank and behind the front forks thereby really preserving a great 1960s look (but adding a much more mechanically sound liquid cooling facet).
One such model that would be a great beginner motorcycle is the Royal Enfield Interceptor 650. This model has a classic British roadster look and comes in a variety of fantastic retro paint schemes, badging, and seats. The Interceptor 650 weighs in at about 450 lbs. (curb weight) with a seat height of about 31.5 inches keeping the size just about ideal for a beginner motorcycle rider all costing less than $6,000 brand new!
7) 2020 Triumph Street Triple 2020
The Triumph Street Triple has been one of the more critically acclaimed motorcycles on our list with many motorcycle reviewers raving about Triumph “triple” style engines for their power and torque. However, at 765 Cc this motorcycle is on the higher end of the engine size spectrum and although that may not be the most cautious set up for a new rider, the advantage is that the engine is powerful enough to keep most riders satisfied long after they’ve gotten comfortable learning to ride on their beginner bike so you might be inclined to hold on to this motorcycle for your post beginner riding years.
And the motorcycle’s modest 370 lbs. dry weight is in a nice range for beginners as well as its 31-inch seat height (31 inches is just about average for our list of 15 great starter motorcycles from the 2020 model year). Lastly, the Street Triple has a somewhat unique look for our listing of 15 as it has a bit of a combo sport-bike/street-fighter look that may be the look you are going for. And so, if you’re looking for a beginner motorcycle from a very up-and-coming manufacturer (Triumph has been on a roll in the US and worldwide motorcycle sales) with a gem of an engine, consider the 2020 Triumph Street Triple as a candidate for your starter motorcycle.
8) 2020 Moto Guzzi V7
If you are looking for a beginner motorcycle and have a strong desire to “go Italian” for your starter motorcycle and are looking for something with an engine size that will serve your post-beginner rider years, the Moto Guzzi V7 would be a great choice. At 744 cc, the engine size is a little higher than ideal for most beginners but the weight is just over 400 lbs. and a 30-inch seat height will help keep that weight in check.
And, like so many Italian manufacturers that put a premium on distinctive styling, the V7 offers a lot of different styling options that are sure to offer something that will satisfy your preferences. At nearly $9,000 it is however clearly more expensive than most Japanese beginner motorcycle options and the Royal-Enfield options, but if you’re going for “that look” and you’ve got the room in your budget, the Italian motorcycles really excel in the appearance space.
9) Continental GT 650
Like the previous Royal Enfield recommendation on our list, this recommendation is a great choice for those beginner motorcycle riders looking for a motorcycle brand that grabs attention for the fact that you simply will stand out in the crowd because most retro-looking bikes out there on the road are your standard Japanese brand motorcycles with some British models (Triumphs) and a sprinkling of Italian models (Moto Guzzi, Ducati, etc.). Royal Enfield is at the front end of being reintroduced to the US market and so you’ll be riding upon something that few have seen first hand.
And, Royal Enfield really has a knack for putting together classic vintage retro-looking motorcycles at near rock-bottom price points. And so, with that, another great beginner motorcycle option from Royal Enfield would be their Continental GT 650; which is essentially a mechanical twin (engine wise) with the previously recommended Interceptor 650. The difference between the two is mostly esthetics as the Interceptor represents a more traditional standard motorcycle look and feel while the Continental is more of the 60s café racer … the tank has spots carved into the side for the rider to tuck their knees into, the seat is more substantial, foot pegs positioned more rearward placing the rider’s legs in a more bent position and accommodating a more aggressive, more tucked posture. The Continental weighs in a 430 lbs and has a 31 inch seat height.
For those reasons, we recommended the Interceptor as it has a more neutral standard configuration that would be an easier way for a beginner to learn. But if you feel those slight differences mentioned would be something you would happily except for the fact that you just strongly preferred the look of the Continental, then we are happy to recommend this bike as a good starter bike.
10) 2020 Ducati Scrambler
The Ducati Scrambler is a relatively new model in the USA but it definitely offers one of the more unique retro styles as it combines both the classic look of a 1960s standard style motorcycle with a scrambler-Esque look giving the impression the motorcycle is ready for the street as well as taking on some trails here and there.
Keep in mind though, at 800 Cc it is on the more aggressive end of the motorcycle engine sizes appropriate for beginner riders, and the around 32” of seat height makes it not one of the lower bikes like you would tend to want for a beginner rider, but at 381 lbs. it’s not a heavy bike and so if retro looks and a near status symbol brand is what you want to work into your starter bike formula, the 2020 Ducati Scrambler may be the best choice.
NOW WE WILL RECOMMEND 5 UNCONVENTIONAL BEGINNER MOTORCYCLE
As BestMotorcycleForBeginners.com has explained, there is no ubiquitous set of rules or guidance to find the best motorcycle for beginner motorcycle riders, as there are just too many factors about a given rider that could steer the advice to one bike or another. For example, some beginner motorcycle riders have a lot of relevant riding type experiences, that may provide that rider with some of the skills they’ll need when they operate a motorcycle and so the motorcycle they choose can “bend some generic new beginner motorcycle rules/advice” as they can probably handle a motorcycle that’s perhaps larger and/or more powerful than a typical beginner motorcycle.
For these and more reasons, we’re providing a listing below of some motorcycles that could be good beginner motorcycles for certain riders in certain situations and we’ll try to explain what those certain riders/situations are.
11) 2020 Honda Grom
Our first two unconventional recommendation is the Honda Grom. The Grom represents not only the least expensive beginner motorcycle on our listing of 15 great 2020 beginner motorcycles but also one of the most unique in terms of its distinctive styling and incredibly small engine size at 125 cc. Now 125 cc is a pretty small motorcycle engine and certainly would be too underpowered for most average to larger sized beginner riders.
However, if you’re a rider of particularly small stature and/or you’re a rider who really has concerns about being on a motorcycle that may be too powerful for your first starter motorcycle, the Grom may be a perfect choice. And, along with this small engine also comes an incredibly lightweight motorcycle at only 229 lbs. and a modest seat height at 30 inches making this motorcycle a clear standout recommended beginner motorcycle for exceptionally smaller beginner riders.
And, with that small engine size, small weight, comes a very small price as 2020 Grom’s were selling for less than $3,500 each brand new!! Now, one word of caution for beginner motorcycle riders that are larger than average size.
12) 2020 Yamaha Zuma 125
Now our second, unconventional recommended beginner motorcycle also would apply to smaller riders or riders who, once again, simply want to keep the bike’s engine power minimized as a way of assuring them that it will not “get out of hand” when learning to ride the motorcycle. For those riders, if the Grom doesn’t seem to appeal to you, then you may consider a scooter (yes, scooters aren’t technically motorcycles but they are close enough to help you learn how to ride and that’s the main focus of this article).
Scooters will offer the advantage of being very lightweight, having very low seats, and are almost always “automatic” so you won’t have to learn how to operate the clutch/gearbox for your first step toward learning to ride motorcycles. Now when it comes to scooters there are a lot of options out there but one that jumps out to us as a good learning option yet with a strong enough motor to get a lot of practical use out of it is the 2020 Yamaha Zuma 125.
At 125 cc it will have the power to scoot around average size adults at around 60 MPH and get an amazing 107 MPG, it offers rugged good looks and is made by Yamaha which has often been identified by Consumer Reports as the most reliable motorcycle brand. The vehicle is only around 260 lbs. so by far it is the lightest in our list of 15 which will reduce the intimidation factor for many of you just beginning to learn to ride.
And, at around $3,500 brand new, you can get into this option as a starter bike for much much less than all the rest of the options on our top 15 beginner motorcycle recommendation list. So overall, the scooter option is a good way to dip your toe into the world of motorcycle riding at a fraction of the cost of other options and with a vehicle that is simply going to be easier to learn some of the basic riding skills on.
13) 2020 Indian Scout
This option for a beginner motorcycle is one of our riskier choices to recommend as its 1200 cc motor is way beyond the typical 500 or so cc range that is recommended for a beginner rider. But, Indian motorcycles have worked very hard to make this motorcycle fit smaller riders and the average height of female riders so it sits at an amazing 25 inches high (or should we say LOW as that is low for a motorcycle seat height) which is the lowest of all 15 recommendations; yes, even the scooter we recommended had a higher seat height!
What that’s going to do for a beginner rider is simply make the more powerful engine and heavier motorcycle (about 560 lbs.) more manageable. Normally, a motorcycle over the 500 lb. mark is pushing it for newer riders, but because the center of gravity is going to be lower, that 500+ pounds will feel less daunting. You may ask why we would even consider recommending the Indian Scout with its large than an ideal engine and weight for beginner riders …
It is simply because many riders within a year or two grow out of smaller motorcycles and want more power and so this motorcycle if the beginner rider can manage it safely over those early years, will not have that same effect of leaving the beginner rider longing for more power and having to sell their starter motorcycle as its 1200 cc engine will satisfy most riders for years if not for their entire riding career.
14) 2020 Harley-Davidson SuperLow
Next on our list is a beginner motorcycle that will appeal to those riders looking to get started with the number one selling brand in America – Harley-Davidson. You see Harley-Davidson currently accounts for about 1/3rd of the motorcycles cruising along US roads today but the company has a big demographics challenge for its future viability … simply put, too much of HD’s current customer base is the over 50 crowd and that’s not good for the future financial viability of this great American motorcycle company.
And so to confront this problem, H-D is really making some efforts to appeal to younger generations of riders and has put out the SuperLow model as a way to offer younger, newer riders, and female riders a better option to join the H-D community. At 1200 cc, this is another option on our list that is definitely above the normal beginner motorcycle engine size, but Harley has worked hard to keep the weight down at 500 lbs. and a nice and low 29-inch seat height and so this is not a safe choice but it is a great choice if you simply want to ride a Harley and you have the maturity and patience to take it nice and easy for the early years of your motorcycle riding career.
A word of caution is that it probably comes as no surprise that H-Ds are not on the cheaper end of the scale and compared to many other options in this list of 15 2020 Great Motorcycles for Beginners, this option is at the top of the list at around $12,000 new. However, shopping around and finding one used would be the way to go as the rapid depreciation of new purchases (cars, motorcycles, etc.) will be in your favor.
15) 2020 Harley-Davidson LiveWire
Probably the most surprising beginner motorcycle recommendation is our last one. And, we admit, we are going out on a limb here by offering such a new and unconventional motorcycle but our #15 beginner motorcycle is the 2020 Harley-Davidson LiveWire. Although the LiveWire is the newest and most fundamentally unique motorcycle in the list (officially the first year of the LiveWire production is 2019) there is some merit to the idea of the future of motorcycles is electric power and so today’s beginners who want to be born into motorcycle riding while being born into the electric power age, this would be your opportunity to do so.
If you choose to do so, be prepared for some very big differences and the first one of which is the dramatically higher price tag at approximately $30,000. Yes, you read that right and so you’ll be paying a premium to begin riding the future of motorcycle technology. Also, be prepared for a motorcycle that’s going to be heavy as its lithium battery is going to more than replace the weight of the missing traditional combustion engine.
But if you can get by those factors (and we admit, those are some “big factors”) and you want to go electric from the start of your motorcycle riding “career,” the H-D LiveWire is a great bike to do that on as it is clutch free and its automatic (no gear shifting) powertrain will take the burden of learning to drive a manual transmission of your list of new motorcycle rider challenges.
This bike will excel in shorter urban rides as it is projected to cover 140 plus miles yet will disappoint as a touring bike as the technology just isn’t there yet with is limiting 70 miles at 70 MPH projection. But, if you have the money, want the prestige of riding a cutting-edge motorcycle from a classic high-quality American manufacturer, then the LiveWire could be the perfect beginner bike for you!