Reviews

Best Starter Bikes: Safe Motorcycles for New Riders

Are you ready to ride? Then there’s no better time than the present to buy a starter bike.

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BY Noelle Talmon / LAST UPDATED ON April 19, 2021

Riding motorcycles isn’t just a hobby; it’s a passion and lifestyle. If you love to ride, then you may consider sharing that passion with friends or family members. As you already know, how you introduce them to riding and what they first ride is crucial. Putting a beginner on a bike that’s too big or powerful will present a safety risk, so you want to find the perfect starter bike.

 

Choosing the right starter bike requires you to consider the size and experience of the rider. Since not everyone comes to riding with the same skill set, there are several starter bikes available. There are even small starter bikes that are perfect for younger riders. This guide will help you know what to look for when buying a starter bike for someone.

Best Overall
RPS 250cc Dirt Bike
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Summary
Summary

This colorful starter bike has a 250cc engine and comes in four color options. The tires are large and knobby for lots of traction.

Pros
Pros
  • Broad rider compatibility 
  • Motorcycle style seat
  • Oversized tires
Cons
Cons
  • Not always street legal
  • Assembly required
Best Overall
RPS 250cc Dirt Bike
Best Value
SYX Moto Kids Dirt Bike
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Summary
Summary

Designed for young riders, this 50cc bike is gas powered with a two-stroke engine. It's also a great pit bike.

Pros
Pros
  • Automatic transmission
  • Easy to ride
  • Speed limiter for younger riders
Cons
Cons
  • Requires an oil/fuel mixture for operation
Best Value
SYX Moto Kids Dirt Bike
Honorable Mention
 Lifan X-Pect EFI Motorcycle
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Summary
Summary

This 14 horsepower bike comes 95 percent assembled and is perfect for younger riders. It has a fuel-injected 200cc engine. It has LED daytime running lights and an LCD.

Pros
Pros
  • Durable 
  • Includes a two-year warranty 
  • EFI system
Cons
Cons
  • Assembly required 
  • Too big for smaller riders
Honorable Mention
 Lifan X-Pect EFI Motorcycle
Red Starter Bike Close Up
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Benefits of a Starter Bike

  • Safer. Because these bikes have smaller engines, they have a limited amount of power. This makes them significantly safer than other bikes. They can’t achieve the same sudden increase in speed or high top speeds. 
  • Younger rider friendly. These bikes tend to be smaller in stature, making them easier to ride by smaller riders. Children will be able to control and ride these bikes. This makes them perfect for learning on.  
  • Affordable. These smaller and less powerful bikes are more affordable than buying a full-sized bike. This makes them great for purchase when you aren’t ready to invest in a full-sized bike. The lower price point makes them good for trying out riding.  

Types of Starter Bikes

Sport

These bikes are like a smaller version of the street bikes that you see on the road. They have more plastic body panels and put the rider in a leaned forward position with their legs tucked up under them. The body shaping and tire setup make them ideal for those who want to ride on pavement. You’ll find them easier to lean into turns and balance. 

Dirt

These are the most common starter bikes. They have a higher seat stance than street bikes. The tires aren’t smooth like street bike tires. Instead, they’re covered in a knobby tread to give you plenty of traction on soft or uneven terrain. These bikes are meant for riding on trails, off-road, or dirt tracks. They put the rider in an upright riding position, but their legs are still underneath, which some people find to be more secure. 

Cruiser

These bikes will look similar to the cruiser motorcycles that you often see on the road. They put the rider in an upright riding position with their legs out in front of them. These bikes don’t have a ton of plastic body panels like the other types. You’ll also find that the seat tends to have a lower stance, making them easier to ride for shorter people. They tend to be heavier than the other types. 

Top Brands

Lifan

Founded in 1992, Lifan has its headquarters in Chongqing, China. While the company is best known for its production of small passenger cars, it also has a motorcycle line. Its products are shipped worldwide and are considered dependable and versatile. The Lifan Gas Motorcycle is a sporty little bike that’s perfect for learning on. 

SYX Moto

The SYX Moto team prides itself on producing top quality trikes, street bikes, dirt bikes, electric rideables, and UTVs. The goal is to create top-class products with safe delivery and dependable customer service. The SYX Moto Kids Dirt Bike is perfect for having some pint-sized fun on two wheels.

Starter Bike Pricing

  • Under $500: Starter bikes in this price range tend to be the smallest. They are typically 100cc or smaller. This makes them perfect for younger riders. They’ll have the same quality build as larger bikes. 
  • $500 to $1,000: Starter bikes in this price range have engines that are in the 100 to 200cc range. They are slightly bigger bikes and can come in all three types. These bikes may or may not be street legal. 
  • $1,000 and up: These are the largest of the starter and mini bikes with engines that are over 200cc in size. These bikes are typically street-ready with headlights, taillights, turn signals, mirrors, and plate frame. 

Key Features

Type 

The type of starter bike that you buy will completely depend on the type of riding you want to do. Buying the wrong type can make for an unenjoyable or even dangerous situation. Dirt bikes are best for kids and for riding on surfaces that are not paved. Street and cruiser bikes are designed to be ridden on paved surfaces. 

Engine Size

Starter bikes range in engine size and power capabilities. When choosing a size, consider the skill level and size of the intended rider. Inexperienced and smaller riders should start on smaller engines. This matches their abilities with the size and power of the engine. Starter bike engines range in size from 40cc to 250cc. 

Seat Height

The height of the rider needs to work with the height of the seat. If the seat is too tall, then the rider won’t be able to reach the ground. This can make it harder to ride the bike or make them feel less stable. Some bikes with a taller stance can be lowered, which is an alternative option to limiting your search to already low enough bikes. 

Other Considerations

  • Color. Just like full-sized bikes, starter bikes come in a wide range of colors and designs. The one you pick will depend on your style and taste. Whatever color appeals to you most is the one you should buy. However, some bikes are limited, and you may not have an option. Thankfully, the color on most of these bikes is the plastic fairings, which can easily be changed out for something else. 
  • Accessories. Some starter bikes come with several features that mimic larger bikes. This includes things like turn signals, headlight, taillight, kickstand, and storage compartments. If you plan to ride the bike on the streets, then it’ll need to be street legal, and these accessories are a must. It also needs to have a license plate holder. 
  • Reliability. No one wants to buy a bike that’s constantly in need of repairs. You’ll spend more time with it in the shop than actually out riding it. If you’re handy, this means spending more of your time working on the bike. If you aren’t mechanically inclined, you’re spending money on someone else working on the bike. A reliable bike is less expensive to maintain and more fun to own. 

Best Starter Bikes Reviews & Recommendations 2021

Best Overall
RPS 250cc Dirt Bike

This brightly colored bike is perfect for beginner riders with its 250cc engine. It comes in four bold colors: bright green, black, blue, and red. The tires have an oversized diameter and are fat in width. This, combined with the knobby tread, gives you plenty of traction. The seat is motorcycle style to provide you with a more comfortable ride and allow for the most movement while riding. Riders up to 6 feet, 1-inch tall can comfortably ride this bike. 


Unfortunately, this bike may not be street legal in Florida, Pennsylvania, or New York. This means you’ll either have to avoid riding it on the road or make some modifications before riding it. The bike also requires some assembly upon delivery. This includes the handlebars, brakes, wheels, fender, and number plate. 

Best Value
SYX Moto Kids Dirt Bike

This mini dirt bike is perfect for younger riders. It comes with a 50cc gas powered two-stroke engine, making this the perfect pit bike. Riders will find that this bike is easier to ride thanks to its automatic transmission. This bike stands out because it comes with a speed limiter, which lets you set a limit between 15 and 30 miles per hour. It’s perfect for younger riders that are learning to ride on their first bike. The bike weighs 48.5 pounds and can support riders that weigh up to 160 pounds. 


One drawback of this bike is that it does require an oil and fuel mixture for powering it. This creates a separate fueling requirement from other personal motor vehicles that require only fuel.

Best for Adults
Lifan X-Pect EFI Motorcycle

This 14-horsepower enduro bike is perfect for those learning to ride. It comes 95 percent assembled and features a 200cc fuel-injected engine with an EFI system. It’ll perform well in all weather conditions and elevations. Riding this bike is fun with the easy-to-read LCD digital display with LED daytime running lights. The small amount of assembly required is to connect the battery, handlebars, and rearview mirrors. The large 17-inch tires are a decent width and have an aggressive tread for dependable traction. The bike comes with a two-year limited powertrain warranty. 


However, the assembly can take several hours if you don’t have experience, which can delay your enjoyment of the bike. However, the effort is well worth it for the durability, affordability, and warranty that comes with this bike.

Best for Kids
Fit Right 4-Stroke Kids Dirt Bike

The Fit Right 4-Stroke Kids Dirt Bike is designed for children ages eight and older who weigh up to 160 pounds. This gas-powered bike is 40cc with a 1.4hp automatic chain drive transmission. It travels up to 18 miles per hour and has a range of 27 miles per tank. It features a solid steel frame with a rear disc brake that allows riders to stop quickly and smoothly.  It also has an easy pull start and knobby tires for off-roading. Users report that its size and simple controls make it a great starter bike. It's very low to the ground, accelerates slowly, and is overall a great transition bike before purchasing a real dirt bike at a later point.


One downside is that it lacks suspension, so it can be a bit bumpy on some surfaces. Also, it vibrates and rattles a lot, and it may be a little small for bigger kids.

Most Versatile
Apollo DB-X18 125cc Dirt Bike

The Apollo DB-X18 125cc Dirt Bike is available in red, green, and blue. It features a four-speed manual transmission with a kick start. The bike has a 17-inch front tire, 14-inch rear tire, and reaches speeds up to 55 miles per hour. Compared to other 125cc displacement bikes, it's higher with more ground clearance, so larger kids and even adults can ride it. Other features include a heavy-duty steel frame, front, and rear suspension, and hydraulic disc brakes. The seat height is 36.5 inches and it has a 1.03-gallon fuel tank. Overall, it's good quality for the money, starts right up, and is comfortable to ride.


Some assembly is required, and it may take two people to put together. Also, it's strongly recommended that you replace the carburetor with a Mikuni V22 carb, which drives up the cost and requires some mechanical know-how. In addition, it may be too tall for some riders.

Honorable Mention
Supersized 196CC Youth Mini Bike

This supersized trail bike is perfect for young and older riders. It comes in the three stylish colors of black, red, and sand. The tires are super wide and measure 19 inches in diameter. The tread is a broad block pattern for plenty of traction on soft surfaces. Riding it is super comfortable with the extra broad seat and upright handlebar position. Powering the bike is a 196cc four-stroke engine that’s air-cooled. Riders weighing up to 200 pounds can safely ride this bike. What makes it stand out is the large fuel capacity, requiring you to fuel up less often. 


One drawback of this bike is that it doesn’t come fully assembled. You’ll need to attach the handlebars, rear fender, and pump up the front tire. The suspension isn’t great, and you’ll feel every bump and dip. 

Honorable Mention
Razor MX500 Dirt Rocket

The Razor MX500 Dirt Rocket is designed for riders aged 14 and older weighing up to 175 pounds. It is powered by a 650-watt, high-torque, variable-speed motor and operates on a 36V rechargeable battery system. It can reach speeds up to 15 miles per hour with up to 40 minutes of run time. The battery takes about 12 hours to charge, and the charger is included with the purchase. The bike has a 16-inch front tire, 14-inch rear tire, a steel frame, twist-grip acceleration, dual disc brakes, adjustable riser handlebars, folding metal foot pegs, and shatter-resistant plastic fairings. It is solid, sturdy, doesn't take very long to assemble, and is simple to operate. It easily tackles dirt, mud, gravel, and rocks, and is a lot of fun for children.


There have been some complaints that some parts arrive broken, but the company has good customer service and is willing to send replacement parts. Another downside is that the bike is a little slippery on wet surfaces.

Honorable Mention
X-Pro Hawk 250 Dirt Bike

Hop on this dirt bike and conquer the off-road. Choose from black,  blue, green, and red for your bike color scheme. Powering this bike is a 250cc engine. The seat is nice because it’s relatively low and comfortable, making it easier for riders of various sizes to use it. This bike stands out because it comes with an X-Pro cover, Bluetooth speaker, and phone bracket. The tires are nicely sized with front and rear fat tires with an aggressive knobby tread for plenty of reliable traction. Ride on the dirt track or the street with included headlight, number plate, rearview mirrors, and license plate holder. 


Unfortunately, this bike does require some assembly. This delays your ability to use it and requires you to have some mechanical knowledge.

Honorable Mention
2020 Version Lifan X-Pect EFI Bike

This adult dirt bike comes with a 200cc and 14 horsepower engine. It comes with aggressive all-black styling and an accenting of green, red, or orange. What’s nice about this dirt bike is that it has an EFI system that makes the bike easier to ride in a wider variety of weather conditions and higher altitudes. What’s nice about this bike is that it has an LCD and LED running lights. There are front and rear disk brakes for plenty of stopping power. The tires have a sizable tread for plenty of traction on soft terrain. 


One drawback of this bike is that it’s best for someone who has experience working on motorcycles. Most beginners don’t have the experience necessary to work on their bikes. However, this isn’t an issue if you know someone with experience who can help.

Tips

  • No matter what bike you get as a beginner, you should ride it in a parking lot first. Perform several maneuvers until you get confident with your skills. 
  • Look for a bike that you can customize. This lets you adapt the bike and make it your own. Aftermarket parts let you modify and upgrade your bike to help it grow with you. 
  • Don’t break the bank when buying your first starter bike. Most people ride their bike for about six months before they outgrow it and want more of a challenge. Plan for this and expect to upgrade. 

FAQs

Q: What bike should a beginner get?

A beginner rider should get a lightweight bike that isn’t too powerful. The rider’s previous experience, height, and weight should be taken into consideration. The beginner rider should feel confident in their abilities to control their bike. 

Q: Is a 250cc a good beginner bike?

Yes, if a rider has never ridden a motorcycle or dirt bike before, then a 250cc bike is a great beginner bike. These bikes are small, have a slow acceleration rate, and are easy to maneuver. 

Q: What is a good entry-level motorcycle?

A good beginner bike is one that isn’t too heavy in weight and doesn’t have too much power. This will make them easier to control so that the rider can focus on developing their skills with a reduced risk of losing control. 

Final Thoughts

Choosing the RPS 250cc Dirt Bike for your starter bike is perfect because it’s comfortable and dependable. An affordable and reliable option is the SYX Moto Kids Dirt Bike.