Buying your first bike is very exciting for all of us, but the one thing that confuses a lot of riders, who are going to buy their first motorcycle is which motorcycle is best for them as a first motorcycle, a cruiser or a sports bike?
Cruises are comfortable but sportbikes are fast. So, which one best for you? Today I am going to help you decide which one you need to pick as your first motorcycle.
Choose an entry-level sportbike if you prefer performance and speed over comfort while riding. Choosing a cruiser motorcycle if comfort, utility, and better mileage are your priorities. Cruisers are better for highways while sportbikes are better for cities and tracks.
Buying my first motorcycle was one of the most significant moments in my life. However, it was the first time I was given the option to choose my ride. I still remember numerous discussions with other riders about which motorcycle to pick. They all started with the same question; should my first bike be a cruiser or a sportbike?
As eager as I was to get my new bike and go riding, I realized that the process of choosing my first motorcycle had to be done properly. I had to prioritize which aspects of the ride I was going to be focused on. I then had to find a good bike that satisfied my requirements and met my budget.
If you are in the same spot as I was many years ago, this article will help resolve your doubts. Read on as I share my views on both these categories of motorcycles and compare them.
I have also included a few models in each category that you can consider for your first bike. Other accessories you may need to purchase are listed at the end. This will ensure that you are geared up and ready to discover your new bike and explore new places.
Why are Cruisers Better than Sports Bikes?
- Versatile and easy to learn
Cruisers are made to last, thanks to their rugged and heavy-duty design. Although it adds extra weight to your motorcycle, cruisers allow you to use your cruisers in any way you please. You can also add many accessories like music systems and luggage carriers that make it a great choice for long-distance trips.
Despite being heavier, cruisers are easy to learn. The lower center of gravity and lower seat height help you develop a feel for the bike in a short time. As a result, you will come to terms with an entry-level cruiser motorcycle quite quickly, even if you lack riding experience.
- Comfortable ergonomics
Cruisers are called so because they allow you to cruise on highways comfortably for long periods. The main reason behind this is the riding position of such motorcycles.
They have wide handlebars with forward-placed footpegs that are located near the engine. This allows the rider to have a wide stance and upright seating position, which is very comfortable for long-distance rides.
Cruisers have well-cushioned seats, and most of them have back support for the pillion rider as well. Since these bikes are heavy, they do not move around easily at higher speeds, making them much more stable for highway riding while requiring minimal effort.
- Visual appeal
Cruisers have been around since 1930. While technology has resulted in vast improvements in engine and exhaust design, legendary brands like Harley-Davidson and Indian have not changed the exterior design of the motorcycle.
The low-slung chassis along with fat wheels and wide handlebars gives riders a feel that motorcycles with newer designs do not. The classic design is accompanied by a metallic paint finish and chrome-plated engine and exhaust covers.
They also have inline or V-Twin engines that have a distinct and loud exhaust note. As a result, this type of bike has a distinctly vintage appeal that will catch a few eyeballs.
Best Beginner Cruiser Motorcycles
- Harley-Davidson Sportster SuperLow
Harley-Davidson is a legendary brand when it comes to manufacturing motorcycles. The Sportster SuperLow is an updated design of the classic Sportster model. As the name suggests, the bike has a low and narrow setup in terms of seat height, fuel tank, and suspension.
Combined with the mid-set controls, this gives the rider improved control and comfort over long distances. It has an 883cc Evolution V-Twin engine and five-speed transmission that offer great power.
The motorcycle’s lower center of gravity and narrow frame makes it very convenient for beginner riders to handle the bike even in traffic. However, its increased weight and low ground clearance make it difficult to corner at high speeds.
Beginner riders can attend the Rider’s Edge course conducted by Harley-Davidson to learn how to ride the bike correctly and safely.
- Honda Rebel 300/500
The Honda Rebel is a great cruiser motorcycle for beginner riders, with its affordable pricing and good performance. The Rebel 300 has a 286cc single-cylinder engine, while the 500 variant comes with a 471cc parallel-twin engine design.
Both the models have a six-speed transmission that makes them capable of sustaining high speeds on the highway. Both the motorcycles are lightweight and nimble, making them easy to handle even in urban traffic conditions.
The low placed seat at 27.2” and minimal design gives riders better cornering ability than other cruisers. It can also be customized with additional accessories to add to the visual appeal.
- Suzuki Boulevard S40
Suzuki is a prominent Japanese motorcycle manufacturer that has a loyal customer base in various segments. The Suzuki Boulevard S40 is a cruiser motorcycle that has been around for more than 40 years.
Started in the mid-’80s as the LS650 Savage, it has a 652cc engine and five-speed transmission. Weighing in at around 381 pounds, the bike’s lightweight design makes it ideal for beginners looking to ride a cruiser.
However, it is more suited for medium-range highway riding, with more emphasis on better handling and comfort for riding in the city and traffic. It is also quite affordable for its segment, making it a great choice for beginners.
- Kawasaki Vulcan S
The Kawasaki Vulcan was launched in 1984, before evolving into several models with different designs and engines. Beginner riders on a budget can purchase a used Vulcan 500 (EN500A), which stopped production in 2009.
The bike offers a 498cc engine along with a six-speed transmission that helps riders maintain highway speeds. For younger riders looking to purchase a trendy cruiser, the Vulcan S is a great choice.
A 649cc parallel-twin engine that is liquid-cooled and a six-speed transmission offers a good amount of power and low-end torque. Its low weight, adjustable footpegs, and comfortable ergonomics give new riders a comfortable experience while learning.
For those prioritizing safety, the Vulcan S ABS incorporates anti-lock braking systems (ABS) on the front and rear wheels, giving you improved braking performance and safety.
- Harley Davidson Sportster/Iron 883
The Harley Davidson Sportster is a legendary motorcycle that has been around since 1957. The bike has an 883cc Evolution V-Twin engine combined with a five-speed transmission. While it has a low seat height of just 25.7”, it weighs a whopping 564 lbs when filled with gas.
The control pedals are placed in the middle, giving riders a comfortable stance while riding. New riders who are keen on getting a Harley-Davidson can consider this bike if you have the budget. However, the weight makes it a ride that will take time to get used to.
You will have to pay special attention while handling the bike at lower speeds and sharp turns. However, the Rider’s Edge course offered to beginner riders by the manufacturer helps you figure things out in a quick and safe environment.
Why Sportbikes are better than Cruiser Motorcycles?
- Quick acceleration
Sportbikes are all about speed and acceleration. These bikes are designed for extremely high torque and power output, making them amongst the fastest available bikes that are legal on the road.
This makes them dangerous, but with proper experience and skill, can be exhilarating for riders. Sportbikes also maximize efficiency in terms of wind resistance. They are aerodynamically designed to cut through the air, increasing the top speed by a considerable amount.
Combined with an aggressive riding stance, they allow these bikes to go much faster than other types.
- Nimble handling
Another big advantage that sportbikes have is their ability to take corners at high speeds. Thanks to the high center of gravity and lightweight design, they allow riders to lean into corners at higher speeds without risking injury.
Sportbikes also have compact handlebars that turn with minimal effort. This allows you to shift weight quickly and change directions without losing momentum. This ability to corner at high speeds adds to the thrill of riding a sportbike.
- Premium features
Sportbikes are not the cheapest options available in the market. However, these bikes come with features that make them worth the money. Most of them are made of high-quality materials like carbon fiber and aluminum alloys that help reduce weight and increase performance.
Aerodynamic fairings help improve the efficiency and mileage of these motorcycles as well. They also have great safety features like Anti-Lock Braking System (ABS), traction control, and superior suspension systems. This ensures that as a rider, you get the most thrilling riding experience which is worth the money spent.
Best Beginner Sports Motorcycles
- Yamaha YZF-R3
The Yamaha YZF-R3 is a great combination of performance and comfort while offering riders great value for money. It has a 321cc inline twin-cylinder engine that is coupled with a six-speed transmission.
The bike weighs around 375 lbs, which gives riders better handling and control. The YZF-R3 is a great choice for beginners thanks to its balanced design. It does not have a very aggressive stance, with a flat seat allowing the rider to be comfortably seated.
However, it offers performance that will thrill amateur riders looking to go fast.
- Kawasaki Ninja 300
The Kawasaki Ninja 300 is another great motorcycle for those looking for a compact and affordable sportbike. It has a 296 parallel-twin cylinder that is mated to a six-speed transmission.
Despite having rear-set footpegs, it allows riders to have a comfortable stance. This allows them to ride long distances on highways without tiring out.
New riders would love the sporty looks and visual appeal that the bike has to offer. It offers a smooth and powerful performance. Its lightweight design also makes it easy to handle, making it ideal for urban traffic.
- KTM 390 Duke
The KTM 390 Duke is an entry-level Austrian sports motorcycle that is ideal for beginners looking for their first bike. The bike has a 373cc single-cylinder engine that is optimized for performance and power output.
It has a lightweight trellis frame and ride-by-wire technology that make it an exciting ride. The bike is ideal for riders looking for an aggressive motorcycle that handles corners very well.
The light design also makes it very nimble, allowing you to cut through traffic with ease. Its affordable price tag allows beginners on a budget to consider it for their first bike.
- Hyosung GT250
The Hyosung GT250 is a Korean motorcycle that packs a punch when it comes to performance. The bike has a 249cc V-Twin engine that produces high amounts of torque and power. Despite its external appearance, the bike is lightweight and aerodynamically faired for maximum efficiency.
A major advantage of the motorcycle is its dual disc brakes, which allow beginner riders to learn their way around a powerful and effective braking system. Its low weight also gives riders the ability to maneuver it easily in traffic, reducing rider effort in such cases. I think this model is discontinued, but you can find good in the second-hand market.
- Yamaha MT-03
The Yamaha MT-03 belongs to the legendary MT line-up from the Japanese manufacturer. It has a 321cc liquid-cooled four-stroke engine that offers great performance. It also has an LCD and LED lights that increase its visual appeal.
The MT-03 is one of the most reliable motorcycles that has quickly gained popularity in the market. Its lightweight design and aggressive riding style allow riders to go faster around corners and weave through traffic. It is also much cheaper compared to other models in the market that offer similar performance.
Important Things to Keep in Mind while Buying a New Motorcycle
Is the bike new or used?
Riders with experience who are looking to upgrade their ride must choose to buy a new motorcycle. Although it is the more expensive option, it gives them increased value for money over the long run as the bike will last for years without giving too many problems.
If you are a beginner rider or have budget constraints, then go for a used bike. However, do your research and assess the bike carefully before finalizing the purchase. Here’s a quick checklist of the things you must do before completing the deal.
- Go for a bike that has low on miles.
- Ask the owner about the maintenance and repair history of the bike to know potential problems.
- Make sure the bike is not stolen or put up as collateral for a loan.
- Test ride the bike if you can.
- Take someone with you who has better experience in motorcycling.
Know your requirements
There are several motorcycles available in the market today. However, each one serves a very different purpose that they are specifically designed for. Your requirements must align with the intended purpose of the manufacturer.
This will make sure that you buy a product that you want and need, making it a wise investment. Listed below are the different types of motorcycles and the general-purpose they serve.
- Standard – Used for regular commute and short distances. Work better in urban conditions. Lightweight and simplistic design. Comfortable riding posture.
- Dual sport/ADV – Used for off-road riding and on trails. Have tall seats, off-road tires, and suspensions with high travel. Lightweight and powerful. Not for short riders.
- Sport – Very powerful and fast. Work better in urban areas. A lightweight and complicated design with high-end materials. Aggressive riding posture.
- Cruiser – Heavy and stable build make it good for highway riding. Low seats and wide handlebars for comfortable and upright riding posture. Difficult to handle at low speeds and corners
- Touring – Built for long-distance rides. Faired designs and other features to maximize rider comfort. Come with luggage storage and large fuel tanks to allow continuous riding.
Be thorough in your research
Before you purchase a motorcycle, make sure to research all the models that meet your requirements. This will help you get a rough idea about what each bike has to offer on paper. As a result, you will be able to choose the features and aspects that you would have on your bike.
This will help you shortlist a few models that you would then like to try out. Visit the nearest dealership to get an in-person perspective of how the bike looks and feels. Read on as I explain to you why it is so important to test ride a motorcycle before making the purchase.
Test ride your motorcycle
No matter how well advertised or popular a particular motorcycle is, there is always a small chance that it is not the best option for you. Every rider has their unique style and preference when it comes to riding a motorbike.
Things like ride height and weight are crucial to the overall riding experience. If you are too short for a bike, you will not be able to reach the ground with both your feet. This makes it difficult to maneuver the bike in traffic.
Heavy bikes require a lot more effort around corners and are difficult to handle at slower speeds. If this is the frequent setting in which you will ride, you may dislike the riding experience after a point.
Test riding the motorcycle gives you an initial understanding of the performance of the motorcycle. It is a great starting place to decide if the ride you have chosen is the best option for you.
Must have things while riding a motorcycle
There are certain things that you must have when you ride a motorcycle. These items ensure that you are properly prepared for any obstacle you may face while on a trip.
- Riding gear
It is critical to have the proper riding gear when you go for a ride. The most basic riding gear is a good helmet that offers protection to the head and neck during an accident. Ensure that the helmet is comfortable and properly certified by safety regulators.
Riding apparel like jackets, gloves, boots, and pants consists of fabric that is lined with a padded material. These items offer improved protection as well as increased durability and comfort. They also offer endurance against weather conditions like winds and rain.
We have made detailed article about riding gears and how to pick a good gear, you can read our articles:
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Riders must have enough cash on hand, especially on long road trips. You may also carry credit cards and enable mobile payments for convenience. However, there is a chance that gas stations and roadside stores in remote areas do not have the provision for digital payments.
In such situations, currency in hand will help you solve your problems. If you run out of money, make sure to withdraw cash at the nearest ATM or bank so that you can proceed on your trip without any issues due to a lack of funds.
- Essential Documents
Riding a motorcycle requires the rider to have the proper paperwork at all times. The most important document is your driving license. Keeping a photocopy in your luggage is a good practice, coming to your aid in unforeseen circumstances.
Ensure that you have the documentation for the motorcycle itself. This includes the registration of the vehicle and the insurance papers. Also, ensure that you follow the number plate rules of the states you may visit while on your trip.
- Tool kit and Puncture kit
You must carry a tool kit with you when you hit the road. This includes screwdrivers, wrenches, and sockets that allow you to make emergency repairs if your bike breaks down.
You must have a puncture kit with you as well. It will help you to fix your tires or patch them if you suffer a puncture. It is also ideal if you can accommodate an air compressor to fill your tires up in case of emergencies or low air pressure.
— Also read: Best Motorcycle Tool Kit, Reviews & Buying guide
If you are in a situation where you have to use these kits and are not a skilled mechanic, do not rely on the repairs completely and continue with the journey. Make a stop at a garage and get your bike checked to ensure a proper fix to the problem.
- Evacuation Insurance
When you meet with an accident, you may end up wrecking your ride. You may also suffer injuries that require treatment or admission to the nearby hospital. Post recovery, you will have to travel back home using an alternate mode of transportation.
The entire cost of this can burn a hole in your pocket. As a result, you must have evacuation insurance that will help you cover these costs. It will also ensure you do not have to deal with the hassle of settling bills and other formalities. Some insurance companies offer services to transport your motorcycle to the nearest service center or garage.
- Camera or GoPro
Cameras are not just used for vlogging or capturing scenic settings while riding. They help protect riders on the road and document any accidents or incidents that may have happened. It also helps to track down reckless drivers and criminals, which can then be reported to the insurance companies, police, and other agencies.
GoPros of today is designed for rugged applications like riding a motorcycle. They can be mounted on a stand on the bike itself or be mounted on the helmet itself.
- Cleaning equipment
Take an old cloth or microfiber hand towels while going on long rides. Keeping your ride clean not only improves the visual aesthetic but also reduces the chances of dirt and debris entering the internal chamber of the bike.
Also, keep a separate cloth and cleaning fluid for your helmet and visor. This will help improve visibility and prevent fogging.
- Motorcycle Owner’s Manual and Spare Bike Key
You must have a copy of the owner’s manual when you go riding. This will help you identify certain problems irrespective of where you are. The manual also outlines certain procedures that will act as a temporary fix.
Another good practice is to carry a spare bike key with you. If you stay overnight at motels or spend some time away from your motorcycle, you may lose your key. Having a spare key will help you continue your journey and avoid additional expenses for towing your bike.
- Tank Bag
Tank bags are a very handy addition to have if you go on long-distance motorcycle tours. They give you additional storage on the bike without affecting your stability and balance. Riders can use tank bags to store and access things that need to be accessed quickly. You can also store your phone, wallet, and power banks that will be secure on the road.