2021 Honda CB300R ABS
- Curb weight: 317 pounds
- Seat height: 31.5 inches
- Power: 286cc liquid-cooled single-cylinder
- MSRP: $4,949
Honda refers to this as one of its ‘neo-sports café' bikes, and the phrase does hold up pretty well as applied to this little naked bike. For 2021, ABS is standard. As for color choices, both the 2020 and 2021 models only come in matte pearl blue.
Interestingly, the 2020 model did not offer ABS, and yet it’s still available and also costs the same as the newer 2021 model that does. I know which one I’d pick if I was the one doing the shopping and decided that I needed a CB300R in my life. If you absolutely don’t want ABS, you can choose the 2020 model and be happy.
2020 BMW G 310 GS
- Curb weight: 374 pounds
- Seat height: Available in three versions: Standard is 32.9 inches; Low is 32.3 inches; High is 33.5 inches
- Power: 313cc liquid-cooled single cylinder engine making a claimed 34 horsepower at 9,500 rpm and 21 lb.-ft of torque at 7,500 rpm
- MSRP: $5,795
This is currently BMW’s smallest adventure bike, but that just means it’s easier to pick up when you fall over when you’re out hitting the trails. I don’t know about you, but I’d call that a definite win. Unlike its G 310 R sibling, it has a five-speed gearbox, which makes more sense given the purpose of this bike.
For those who want to make every ride an adventure, no matter how small, you have three color choices: Racing Red, Pearl White Metallic, or Cosmic Black. Pearl White Metallic also contains blue and red accents, so the overall effect is done in classic BMW Motorsport colors.
2020 Royal Enfield Himalayan
- Curb weight: 427.7 pounds
- Seat height: 31.5 inches
- Power: 411cc air-cooled single cylinder making a claimed 24.5 horsepower at 6,500 rpm and 23.6 lb.-ft of torque between 4,250 and 4,500 rpm
- MSRP: $4,749
This isn’t an all-the-bells-and-whistles adventure bike. Instead, it’s a stripped-down-to-essentials adventure bike, and one that Royal Enfield claims is its most versatile current offering. While its 650 Twin siblings are busy winning all the popularity contests, it’s easy to see why. Once again, small and lightweight definitely doesn’t have to mean a bike is incapable, and that’s exactly what the Himalayan is most eager to prove.
It’s available in your choice of Graphite, Sleet, or Snow. Sleet is the sort of gray camouflage colorway, while the other two options are solid-color paint schemes.
2020 Kawasaki Ninja 400 ABS
- Curb weight: 366 pounds
- Seat height: 30.9 inches
- Power: 399cc liquid-cooled dual overhead cam parallel twin
- MSRP: $4,999 to $5,199 for non-ABS; $5,299 to $5,499 for ABS
If you’re looking for a reasonably lightweight, zippy, fully-faired sportbike, look no further than the Ninja 400. It’s been a favorite in its segment among many riders for some time, and its winning combination of features make it easy to see why. It’s a sportbike scaled down to a smaller size, perfect for smaller riders, beginners, and anyone looking to hone their skills before tackling its bigger siblings.
It’s also a pretty rad commuter bike, and is available in your choice of Pearl Blizzard White or the Metallic Spark Black/Metallic Magnetic Dark Gray/Phantom Blue colorway. Both choices look good, so your only difficulty will be in choosing which one you want in your possession.
2020 KTM RC 390
- Dry weight: 328.5 pounds. KTM does not give a curb weight.
- Seat height: 32 inches, but it’s also quite narrow.
- Power: 373cc liquid-cooled single cylinder
- MSRP: $5,549
One of the best things about the RC 390 is that it consistently feels like you’re going much faster than you really are, so you can have the most exhilarating time without racking up a potential license suspension. This is a lightweight road bike that’s easy to get on, and is also incredibly fun to ride.
You could also go with the 390 Duke if you’d prefer a more standard seating position and like the looks of that naked bike over this fully-faired one, but be aware that its seat height is 10mm higher, which works out to 32.6 inches. If you’re seriously short, even that little bit could pose an issue, so be sure to sit on one before you make a choice. Dry weight is exactly the same according to KTM.
2020 Honda CB500X
- Curb weight: 430 pounds
- Seat height: 32.7 inches
- Power: 471cc liquid-cooled parallel twin
- MSRP: $6,699 without ABS; $6,999 with ABS
When Honda first came out with the CB500 trio, one criticism of the CB500X was that while it had adventure looks, it didn’t do enough to establish its basic off-road credentials. That’s all changed with this latest generation. While hardcore ADV riders will find it quite basic, the main draw with the CB500X is that it hits a sweet spot between power, weight, gearing, and how it manages all three things together.
Whether you’re standing up on the pegs or not, this is a capable and inviting machine. If you want a little more oomph than a smaller bike can give you, but you also don’t want something that’s too heavy, this may just be the right choice.
2020 Yamaha MT-07
- Curb weight: 403 pounds
- Seat height: 31.7 inches
- Power: 689cc liquid-cooled parallel twin
- MSRP: $7,599
Is there a bad member of the MT family? I’m not sure, but I do know that like Goldilocks and her bowls of porridge, this one seems just right to hit that sweet spot between power, accessibility, and approachability.
Some smaller bikes may make you wish you had a bit more power in everyday situations, but the MT-07 won’t leave you feeling that way at all thanks to its masterfully torque-y character. It might seem at first that the “master of torque” designation is just Yamaha doing a bit of clever marketing, but the way this bike uses its torque is awfully convincing.
2020 Zero S
- Curb weight: 313 pounds
- Seat height: 31.8 inches
- Power: 100 percent electric powertrain producing a claimed 46 horsepower at 4,300 rpm and 78 lb.-ft of torque. Combined city and highway range is rated as 68 miles.
- MSRP: $10,995
Think all electric bikes have to be heavy because of the current state of battery technology? Think again. While the Zero S does tip up into the double-digit price range, so do plenty of middleweight combustion-engined bikes that aren’t this light. If you’ve been electric-bike-curious and have been on the fence about dipping a toe into the current, this seems like a pretty good way to set off down that particular motorcycling path.
If you add the optional 6kW charge tank, Zero says the S will charge in an hour via a Level 2 J1772 charger. However, it’s not cheap, and costs an additional $2,295 as a dealer-installed option.
2020 Ducati Scrambler Cafe Racer
- Curb weight: 432 pounds
- Seat height: 31.7 inches
- Power: 802cc air-cooled Desmodromic L-twin making a claimed 73 horsepower at 8,250 rpm and 49 lb.-ft of torque at 5,750 rpm
- MSRP: $11,995
There’s a reason that Ducati Scramblers took off into the stratosphere as soon as they came out, popularity-wise. More than anything else, they’re approachable, capable middleweight bikes that are easy to ride and manage for new riders. It doesn’t hurt that the company has released so many different styles to suit a wide range of tastes.
Truthfully, you don’t have to go for the Café Racer, but you definitely shouldn’t count any of the 803cc Scramblers out in terms of their sheer approachability for the terms of this exercise. The silver ice matt colorway and graphics are incredibly appealing to me, as is that font. If I was Scrambler-shopping, this is the one I’d go for, no question.
2020 Triumph Street Triple R
- Dry weight: 370 pounds. Triumph does not give a curb weight.
- Seat height: Standard is 32.5 inches. Low is 30.7 inches.
- Power: 765cc liquid-cooled triple making a claimed 116 horsepower at 12,000 rpm and 57 lb.-ft of torque at 9,400 rpm
- MSRP: $10,500
If you think small-displacement bikes are fine, but you want something a bit more powerful that still falls in the lightweight and easy to ride category, the 2020 Triumph Street Triple R should suit your needs quite nicely. Plus, it’s got one of Triumph’s trusted triples inside, which differentiates it from everything else on this list. All engine configurations have their pluses and minuses, but there’s just something special about a triple.
Your color choices for 2020 are Sapphire Black or Matte Silver Ice, and both feature red accents that set off the color you’ve chosen. The new styling looks razor-sharp and while we can’t know how well a design will age, it looks like this one will age quite nicely.
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