10 Great Intermediate Beginner Motorcycles

Buy Your Next Motorcycle

If you are ready to step up from your first motorcycle into something a bit more serious, these are 10 great beginner bikes offer a slight step up from smaller, first-time motorcycles. If you've ridden before and want a new motorcycle, try one of these.

Before you start shopping for an intermediate motorcycle, here are a few things to consider when buying a motorcycle: 

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2009 Kawasaki Vulcan 500 LTD ($5,499)

Photo © Kawasaki

Built around the compact parallel-twin engine found in Kawasaki's Ninja 500R, the Vulcan 500 LTD is a well-balanced mid-sized cruiser that is well-suited for beginners in the motorcycling arena.

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2013 Honda CBR500R ($6,299)

Honda CBR500R
The Honda CBR500R. Photo © Honda

The Honda CBR500R combines big boy sportbike styling with approachable dynamics and reliable operation.

For more about the CBR500R, check out this review.

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2009 Yamaha V-Star 650 Custom ($6,099)

Photo © Yamaha

With a wet weight of 513 lbs, Yamaha's V-Star 650 Custom cruiser might be heavier than most bikes here, but its low seat height and mild manners make it an approachable beginner bike for those who have ridden before.

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2009 Suzuki DR-Z400SM ($6,299)

Photo © Suzuki

If supermoto style is what you're after, the Suzuki DR-Z400SM offers that unique combination of a dirtbike body and street-biased suspension that make getting around fun.

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2015 Kawasaki Ninja 650 ABS ($7,599)

2015 Kawasaki Ninja 650 ABS
2015 Kawasaki Ninja 650 ABS. Photo © Kawasaki

The 2015 Kawasaki Ninja 650 ABS combines sportbike styling with a package that is practical and comfortable enough for daily riding. Though responsive, it is not wild enough to threaten intermediate riders. 

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2014 Star Motorcycles Bolt ($7,990)

2014 Star Bolt
2014 Star Bolt. Photo © Star Motorcycles

This liquid-cooled cruiser from Star may resemble the venerable Harley-Davidson Sportster at first glance, but it offers an entirely different riding dynamic compared to its air-cooled American competitor. Check out this 2014 Star Motorcycles Bolt Review.

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2011 Harley-Davidson Sportster SuperLow ($7,999)

Harley Davidson Sportster
Photo © Harley-Davidson

The Harley-Davidson SuperLow is one of three bikes in the 2011 Harley lineup, and this re-imagined Sportster offers enhanced low-speed maneuverability, a saddle height of only 25.5 inches and greater suspension travel for more comfortable riding.

Here's a 2011 Harley-Davidson SuperLow Review and ​a gallery of photos; for more Sportsters, you can also check out our '10 Forty-Eight Review, and our '07 Harley Nightster Review.

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2009 Triumph Bonneville ($7,299)

Photo © Triumph

If you like the look of classic British bikes, you are likely to love the Triumph Bonneville. Its torquey air-cooled 865 cc parallel twin engine doesn't need to rev high to produce decent power, and its iconic design combines retro styling and modern functionality. Read our 2009 Bonneville review, and take a look at the entire 2009 Triumph lineup here.

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2009 Suzuki GSX650F ($7,299)

Photo © Suzuki

Don't let its Gixxer-like looks fool you; the Suzuki GSX650F's upright posture and tractable powerplant make it a great beginner bike if you have ridden before. The 16-valve, DOHC four-cylinder engine has a thrilling top end rush. It attains top power of 85 bhp spread progressively over the rev range.


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2012 Honda Shadow RS ($8,240)

2012 Honda Shadow RS
Photo © Honda

The Honda Shadow RS's liquid-cooled 745 cc V-twin might be more powerful than most bikes in this category, but its low seat height and nimble handling make it a solid choice for beginners.

Click here for a 2011 Honda Shadow RS Review
Click here for a 2012 Honda Buyer's Guide