There isn’t a magic timeline for a beginner motorcycle rider to be ready for their dream bike, but it definitely shouldn’t be their first bike unless they both happen to be something like the Kawasaki Ninja 400 ABS. Chances are that dream bike is something more powerful, more beautiful, and more expensive. My dream bike when I was a beginner was the Yamaha YZF-R6, but fortunately I had the good sense not to buy it despite some unscrupulous salesmen trying to convince me otherwise. So when is a beginner rider ready to make the jump to their dream bike?
A lot of the equation depends on the dream bike in consideration. If you like sportikes and the 200+ horsepower Aprilia RSV4 Factory is your goal, your path is going to be different than someone whose dream ride is the KTM Duke 890. The important thing is that you take your time and work your way safely up to the bike you eventually want to own.
Let’s say both riders start out on the the aforementioned Kawasaki Ninja 400 ABS, currently our favorite beginner sportbike. Its 399cc parallel twin cylinder engine is friendly and flexible enough for a newbie to ride and build up a nice skillset. When each rider feels like they’re ready to move on, which everyone has to decide for themselves because there’s no set timeline or formula, the next step up should be an intermediate bike that makes a good bridge to the dream bike.
For the rider aspiring to a superbike like the Aprilia RSV4, a feasible next step would be a sportbike in the range of 600cc and somewhat similar ergonomics. It’s going to be a somewhat jarring transition from the Ninja 400 due to the added power and more extreme riding position, and it will take considerably more time to reach the same level of comfort and competence as it did on the Ninja 400, especially if track days are on order. The important thing is to take your time. Learn the bike. Learn how to adjust the suspension. Learn the proper tire pressures for street and track. Work on your body positioning. Get to the point where you feel like you can do almost anything you want on that second bike, then consider moving up to your dream bike, or maybe even something in between before the big jump.
For the rider aspiring to a super naked like the KTM Duke 890, a feasible next step is a naked sportbike such as the Yamaha MT-07 with its similar ergonomics and analogous but smaller twin-cylinder engine. The jump from the Ninja 400 will also be a bit jarring at first due to the added power, especially the torque (think launching power), but the MT-07 is an excellent do-it-all bike with all of the power and performance needed to become an adept rider. Once a rider feels like they can do anything anywhere on the MT-07, they might be ready for the jump to the Duke 890