The Best New Starter Bikes – 2010 Edition

2010 Kawasaki Ninja 250 - My Favorite Starter Bike
2010 Kawasaki Ninja 250


*Update: our 2011 list is up!

The 2010 bikes are starting to roll in and it’s time to look at which ones might be better suited for those of you looking to get started.  First things first though, I always recommend getting a used bike for your first one.  Most new riders inevitably make mistakes and drop their bikes in parking lots or driveways; best to get this out of the way on a used bike instead of a shiny brand new one.  Besides, used bikes are cheaper and can be resold for almost the same price when you’re ready to upgrade.  For those of you who aren’t going to listen to my sage advice though, on to the new stuff.

As you’ve read on the choosing your first bike page, picking a bike with newbie-friendly power and ergonomics are the most important things I tell people to look for.  You’ll learn much faster on beginner-friendly equipment (as with any sport or hobby).  For the sport-minded rider, here are just some of the bikes that might fit the bill for 2010:


  • Ninja 250R – super sharp looks, fun to ride, friendly ergos and power, best starter bike around
  • Ninja 500R – based on a 20-year old platform but still a great starter bike
  • Ninja 650R – sharp bike but getting into that gray area of starter-friendly due to size, weight and power
  • ER-6n – naked version of the Ninja 650R; lower seat is better for new riders though


  • GS500F – fully-faired wannabe GSX-R styling; good engine and ergos for a starter bike though
  • Gladius – naked successor to the SV650; polarizing looks, very competent, good ergos, torquey engine makes it a gray area starter
  • SV650 – naked or half-faired “S” version; the naked has friendlier ergos, gray area starter bike but ABS is available, became a club racing phenomenon due to its versatility


  • FZ6 – closest competitor state-side is the ER-6n but with a high revving 4 cylinder engine, mostly naked styling, gray area starter for sure
  • FZ6R – sharp looking fully-faired bike, similar engine as the FZ6, very competent but yet another gray area starter


  • Monster 696 – the only choice if you must go Italian and don’t mind spending extra, definitely a gray area starter and a pity to drop in the parking lot

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