Some motorcycles are simply too heavy for a beginner to be a good starter motorcycle.
As we’ve mentioned on Best Motorcycle For Beginners .com, there is no magic “beginner motorcycle weight limit” number to give you because if you are a bigger and stronger person (than average), you are probably going to be able to handle more motorcycle weight than someone who isn’t as strong. So, below we provide you with guidance that will help you make a good choice in this area. Motorcycles are heavy and a rider’s strength level is going to have an impact on how well that rider can/can’t handle bikes of different sizes and weights.
What you need to realize is that in almost all cases, a motorcycle is going to outweigh its rider by hundreds of pounds. A motorcycle even on the smaller side (e.g., a 500 cc sportbike) will weigh around 400 pounds and yet motorcycles on the larger side (a 1700 cc touring motorcycle) are going to be weighing in around 900 lb.
Note: we’ll be using that term “cc” a lot as it is “motorcycle speak” for essentially the “size” of a motorcycle based on a characteristic of the motorcycle’s engine … so for example, a 600 cc motorcycle is a lot “smaller” (in terms of an engine size which typically has a big impact on the motorcycle’s overall weight) than say a 1200 cc motorcycle. CC stands for cubic centimetres and it is a motorcycle industry convention to refer to a motorcycle’s engine in this way and it’s like the convention of referring to a car engine by its liter size (e.g., “a 2.2 liter engine”). Generally, the larger the cc the more powerful (and heavier) the motorcycle will be. If you want to learn more about this, here is a nice article explaining the science and math behind CCs.
Considering the average male in the US weighs about 200 lbs. and the average female weighs about 170 lbs., this means for even motorcycles on the smaller end of the spectrum of motorcycle weight, the rider will be outweighed by about 200+ lbs. and for the larger motorcycles the rider could be outweighed by 700+ lbs. or more … that’s a lot of lbs. a rider may have to physically deal with at times. You see, when a rider is driving a motorcycle at say 20 mph or faster whether in a straight line or even through turns, the weight of the bike can feel irrelevant as the laws of physics take over and as long as the rider balances the bike properly and doesn’t do anything stupid, the weight of the bike seems to fade away.
But, as the motorcycle is operated at slower speeds is when the rider will need to physically manage that motorcycle to some degree (e.g., pushing the bike backwards out of a parking spot, getting in and out of a garage, etc.) or even manoeuvring the bike at very slow speeds where motorcycle balancing is more challenging and physically steadying the bike is often necessary (e.g., in stop-and-go traffic, working your way through a crowded 4-way stop, manoeuvring through a parking lot, etc.).
And so, being outweighed by a vehicle you are attempting to “push around” may present some real challenges if the ratio (rider strength to motorcycle weight) is way out of proportion. And worst of all, if something puts you in a position where the motorcycle starts to lean too far over, and it needs to be wrestled back upright, now the weight disparity can become overwhelming and that bike may come crashing down on one side … hopefully without you underneath it, as it completely lays over.
One not so uncommon cause of this situation is coming to a stop, putting out your foot to prop the bike up and only to realize that you’ve placed your foot on some loose gravel or some slick oil (two things that are not uncommon on roads or parking lots), and having the bike start to go down (see our infographic in the Rider Inseam Length to Seat Height Ratio section below).
Now your ability to quickly mentally process what is happening combined with your physical strength and coordination are going to be going head-to-head in an impromptu contest with this precariously teetering machine, with a burning hot running motor and exhaust, combined with that unrelenting gravity pulling on an indifferent machine … and so know this motorcycle rider strength to weight ratio we’ve been nagging about in this paragraph, is going to become tangibly clear (as well as nonnegotiable at this point).
You see, the moment you threw your leg over that 2-wheeled vehicle and took it off the kick stand, whether you realized it or not, you unconsciously signed up to accept this motorcycle rider strength to weight ratio if/when one of these moments, takes place. So, for these reasons and not too uncommon situations, it is very important to do some deliberate contemplation. And, considering most of you are not going to do something like start a weight training program to increase your strength while riding a motorcycle, really the only factor you can control in this case is the weight of the motorcycle.
So, you simply need to make a determination as to the what size/weight of a motorcycle you feel will be appropriate for a rider of your strength. And no, there isn’t some magical chart out there that you could some how “enter your strength” into a formula and it would spit out a maximum weight figure that you would use to guide your choice of a beginner motorcycles. So, the best that can be done is simply to provide you with a chart that shows some average motorcycle weights and what would be considered about “average ” and what weights would be considered “light” and “heavy” and let you make a determination of what motorcycle weight range would be best for your situation (recommended beginner motorcycle weight range spectrum infographic below).