We trolled Craigslist for some of the best starter bikes.
New riders have it tough: there’s so much to learn and no great place (except here at RideApart!) to find the general information you need, like what’s a good bike for a new rider? We’re here to help. Spring has sprung in most of the nation and used bikes are hitting the market like whoa. Here’s a list of good bikes for new riders that won’t empty your wallet.
First, I’ll let you in on my criteria when it comes to a good used bike for a new rider:
- Nothing obscure. The bike has to be relatively popular enough, and modern enough, to have decent parts support. A new rider may love a classic, but getting sidelined by an old-bike unavailable part is terrible for their learning curve.
- Relatively inexpensive, and easy to resell. There’s no guarantee that a new rider will stick with the sport.
- Lightweight, to make that finesse of takeoffs and landings, that you can only learn by doing, easier on the noob. A big, heavy bike is unforgiving if you roll to a stop a little off center. A couple of degrees of lean on a little bike is recoverable; on a heavy bike it’s broken levers or bones.
- Nothing too new or fancy. It’s gonna get dropped.
- The bike should not have been heavily modified. A few added accessories can be a good thing, but a long list of performance upgrades or engine modifications can make a bike significantly less reliable and more difficult to repair. Pop the seat off. Is there a rats-nest of wires? Hard pass.
- Anything that measures its maintenance schedule in hours instead of miles is right out, unless the new rider is, or is in a long-term good relationship with, a mechanic.
- Something that will last, and that the new rider won’t grow out of immediately. Lots of people think they need to “graduate” away from their first bike relatively soon, but that doesn’t have to be the case.
- A kind, friendly machine; one that will do what you ask of it, but will not spit you into the weeds with just a bit too much throttle. Enough power is good, too much power will get a new rider into lots of trouble and fast.
Too often, a new rider buys a bike that is too powerful, too heavy, and/or too tall for them, they thoroughly frighten themselves after a ride or two, and that bike ends up parked with a couple hundred miles on it. You’ll see a lot of big, powerful used machines with very low miles for sale. Don’t make the same mistake they’ve made.