There isn’t a “best beginner dual sport motorcycle”. There are only good bikes from almost every manufacturer that would be a good first bike. But the term ‘beginner’ is kind of a misnomer on it’s own. Any bike that is street legal could be your only bike forever. Some people think that all little bikes are just for beginners, well, I think those people are flat out wrong. In fact, there are some pretty small bikes that have done some pretty epic adventures!
Back on topic… Unlike most “the best” lists, this one wont declare a winner. Mostly because in this category there are just too many great bikes. Really, you just pick the bike that fits you well and is in your price range and there ya go! I know, easier said then done!
I’m basically going to just do the leg work for anyone looking in this segment and bring you all the specs and a few reviews so this can be a one stop shop for your first bike. But I’m going to make a couple assumptions first.
- This will be your first motorcycle.
- You want to buy new.
If you already have a bike, or took a couple years off from riding and are coming back, then the engine size really doesn’t matter. But for your first bike I would recommend sticking to engine sizes under 400cc. The reason being that it’s hard to get yourself into too much trouble with a smaller engine. Looping out (doing a wheelie so high you fall off the back of the bike) would require very poor clutch work with a smaller engine, and with less power the throttle tends to be a bit less responsive, making it easier to be smooth.
The second being that for some reason you want your first bike to be brand new. I can make a case for it if you aren’t mechanically inclined and don’t know anyone that can help you. Other then that I would strongly suggest getting a used bike. The biggest reason being that you will drop the bike. Whether it’s something silly like forgetting to put your foot down at a stoplight, or just inexperience leading to a low speed get-off, more then likely the bike will end up on it’s side.
But if you insist on getting a new bike, then a dual sport will normally fair the best being put on it’s side!
Another important feature is to make sure you can touch with both feet! I would prefer that you can flat foot both feet, but the reality is that most dual sport bikes are pretty tall, and not everyone has long legs. There are ways to lower most bikes, so if you are close then don’t be afraid to lower your bike.
The reason is that while you are new to riding you don’t have the instincts about leaning to the correct side quickly to avoid that low speed get-off. Most new people have trouble with low speed (parking lot speed) turns. Being able to comfortably touch with both feet might save you a bent lever, and scratched paint!
Price would be the next thing to consider. There are bikes in this category ranging from just over $4,000 to almost $10,000. How much do you want to spend on a bike that you might sell when (if) you decide you ‘need’ a bigger bike.
Lastly you should consider the way a bike looks. If you feel like the bike is dorky, or has too much pink then you probably wont enjoy riding as much. Another advantage to buying used is that you can generally sell a bike for close to what you bought it for if you decide you don’t like it as much as you thought you would and want a different bike!
Come back on Friday for part 2 when I list a bunch of good dual sport bikes for a beginner. I’ll round up some video reviews of each bike and list all the relevant specs to help you choose what would be the best first bike for you!