Sports Bikes

Fast, light, sleek motorcycles designed for maximum performance, for racing or spirited road riding. They are distinguishable by their full fairings and the rider’s tipped-forward seating position.

The 600cc and higher motorcycles available today are incredible machines that are without a doubt too much bike for a beginner to handle. Remember, with your first motorcycle, you shouldn’t be trying to hard impress anyone. This is a bike that you are going to learn the basics on. You can take a Kawasaki EX250 to it’s limits and learn what that feels like, you will not be able to do the same on a Ninja ZX-6R. So if you want to learn how to ride a really fast motorcycle well at its limits, you need to start with something more manageable. You will learn faster and these bikes don’t really lose much in resale value, so when you are ready to trade up, you won’t have lost much or any money.

#1 Beginner Sport Bike:

Kawasaki Ninja 250R (New Version Released 2008) – Retails $3,999+

Specs: 0-60mph: 7.7 seconds

Weight: 375lb wet

MPG: 51

Top Speed: 95mph

Horse Power: 26.4 at 11,000 rpm

The Kawasaki Ninja 250R is the quintessential beginner sports bike. While some people scoff at the 250cc motor, you’ll be able to learn how to handle the bike at its limits (a more powerful bike will be faster, but you won’t know how to really handle it). While older versions looked more like toys, this new model is a beautiful bike that is prettier than many 600cc motorcycles. The 250R will maintain its value and many dealers are still selling them for above MSRP. Check for them used with low mileage as original owners look to trade up to larger cc motorcycles.

Kawasaki Ninja 650R – Retails at $7199, used from $3000

Specs: 0-60: 3.8 seconds

Top Speed: 130+ mph

Engine: 649cc Parallel Twin

MPG: 46.9

Horse Power: 71hp at 8500 rpm

This is a good beginner bike for someone who does not want to start at 250cc. As you can see from the basic specs, this bike is much more powerful than the 250R. It is good as a beginner bike compared to similar displacement sports bikes because of its upright seating position. The handlebars are higher meaning that you don’t need to lean as far forward when riding. It makes a good commuter bike and is still fun in the turns. You can find them used for a great deal, new they aren’t cheap.


Please let us know what you think. Have any other Sport Bike suggestions? Comment on your favorites! Ask Questions…

20 thoughts on “Sports Bikes

  1. Lookin to buy my first sport bike. Not trying for anything over the top but dont want to buy something that i will grow tired of within a year or less. How is the Honda CBR600′s for a starter sport bike ?

    • Hey Edwin. We don’t recommend the Honda CBR600 – but your first motorcycle is your choice. Yes, in a few months you’ll be comfortable accelerating in a straight line and weaving through traffic. Still, the Honda CBR600, with over 100 horsepower and a crazy 0-60, you’re never going to get a feel for how to handle the bike when it’s at its limit in the twisties or in a dangerous situation.
      If you know you’re responsible, go for it. You could also get it and then take a few racing courses on smaller bikes once you’ve had it for a few months. This isn’t so much to get into racing as it’s good so you know what a motorcycle feels like when it’s at its limit.

  2. I am 6’2” and just got my permit today. I am looking for a starter motorcycle that can be good especially for my height. The Ninja 250 is too small. Any other suggestions? Thanks!

    • I’d check out the Ninja 650R. It’s really a nice bike and quite a lot bigger. I’d also take a look at a 2006 Suzuki SV650. Let us know if you have any other questions and what you eventually buy!

      • Thanks for the suggestions! isn’t a 600cc+ bike too powerful for me? i will start to ride for the first time either next month or August.

        • Well, we’d also recommend you take a look at the Suzuki GS500E or the full-fairing GS500F. The GS500 motorcycles are rock solid, inexpensive, and have relatively stable resale values. They also have a forgiving upright seating position that might be good for your height. If you want to start with a safe bike, try that and then you can move on to the 600cc bikes.

          I will say that the SV650 is a v-twin engine that doesn’t produce quite as much power as the “crotch rocket” sports bikes, so it’s less dangerous than a gsx-r600 or other high performance sports bike.

  3. Hey, what do you think of the BMW R1100S for a starter? I realize its a lot of bike for a starter…so I’m REALLY hesitant on it. That said, I’d prefer a sport-tourer for my first as I’d like to do a lot of long travels as well as commute to classes and work. Any other suggestions?


    • Hey Andrew, well… The problem with Sports Touring Motorcycles is that by definition they are all pretty powerful. They are a bit less dangerous than the really powerful and light sports bikes, but you should still be careful if you do end up getting an R1100S as a first bike.

      If I were you, I’d look at something like a Suzuki SV650s. It’s great for commuting, will give you experience in a lot of types of riding and if you buy one used, it should keep its value. In 6 months to a year, you can then look at getting something more in the Sports-Touring class.

  4. I totally agree. I do NOT want something I could kill myself on within 2 minutes. I’ve looked at the Suzuki SV650s, and my only problem is that I’m 6’5 (another reason why I’ve looked at the BMWs, they seem to sit “taller” I guess) and have been told that the Suzukis are a bit on the small side. I haven’t sat on one yet sooo I’m hoping I’m wrong.

    Thanks a bunch!


  5. where to take a class to learn how to ride a motorcycle.. ?
    and is Kawasaki Ninja 250R safe for the beginner but not really have that “fully” experience as well ? if you get what im saying ? in case you didnt know.. im an hearing impaired myself.

  6. DeeDee… I found a listing of classes through the DMV of my state; you might start there. It might even be right on their website.

  7. Hi there, I have started motorcycling and I am looking for a bike that will suit my limits, I dont want to kill myself with 100hp+ monster… I have been looking at the hyosung gt650r, would you recommend them for a beginner? Compared to the ninja 650 and sv650. Which of the three is best? Im 18 years old. I looked at the 250cc bikes, but I know that I will get bored of it easy. What would recommend for me?

  8. I have not ridden a motorcycle for 17 years. I rode, off and on, from age 14 to 24. I’ve owned a 1983 Yamaha 650cc Seca, a 1984 Yamaha V-MAX, and I also had access to a Honda 750cc Chopper- bored out with a 930 kit. When I was an active rider I took the V-MAX and the Seca to their limits. BUT, I don’t know where to start again, after 17 years of not riding. I’m confident in anything I do, but I don’t want to be unintelligent in this area. After continuous research, I still can’t get a feel for viable bike options to get back into ridding again. Any suggestions? Thanks.

  9. A friend of mine who is a pretty experienced sport bike rider advised me to get something less than 600cc which I would normally full heartedly agree with, but as someone said earlier, they’re definitely on the smaller side and I’m 6’2. My friend suggested the Honda CBR600F4i…..something about it being different than the normal 600 which makes it easier to ride maybe? Another friend has the Yamaha FZ6 which I’m told is more of a multi-purpose bike. What do you think?

  10. Thanks for the info here!! I just sold two cars and I want a motorcycle for the first time….I have 6200 cash…I am going to look at the 650r you mention…I think I like that one…thanks for th info…I am 52 5’11″ 188 lbs… hope this bike is not too small…..chris

  11. I’ve committed myself to making the jump to motorcycles. It’s been a few days and i’ve eyed the ninja 650R, as a new rider this may be a bit much at first in regards to power vs. experience, but that is not my main concern. As i’m in the military i’ll warant all the required safety material and riding safety courses. I’m 5’9″ 185 lbs. The gas mileage is good and i’ll be making a lengthy commute on a daily basis (mostly highway). I still have several months before i’ll actually purchase a bike and begin learning. I’d gain some confidence with advice from all of you. Thank you.

  12. Hiya, I’m 23 and am currently riding a yamaha yzf r125 , which I have had for 10months now. I feel very comfortable on this bike and now find it very slow :) . I am taking my test in August and am very keen on the R6 and the CBR600rr or perhaps the fireblade. These are light bikes and I love the style. I can’t find any smaller cc bikes that I like the look of and I just become disinterested in them. Do you think the r6 or Honda would be suitable for me? I am 5,9 and light.
    Thanks Chlor

  13. I am getting my first bike in a week or two and i am 6 foot and weigh 205. What is the best beginner bike for me?

  14. I like the Ninja 250R Im looking at getting one for my first bike. Another bike that seems great for taller riders is the Suzuki drz400sm would you recommend it for a first bike?. I cant pick! Guess Ill test ride both.

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