Entry level bikes are not all boring little machines.
Our biggest hurdle in the entry-level motorcycle market is the sales person. In my view many care too much about the commissions they make off the sale and less about making sure the bike fits the rider. Less expensive bikes (talkin' new bike sales here) have a lower profit margin; in turn, they have lower commissions. That's why you only see a few bikes in show rooms that are under 500cc and 3 to 4 times that in 600cc or larger sizes. There are variables in displacement and horsepower ratings that could be considered but, by in large, the larger the displacement the higher the horsepower. Let's target specific new models and give you an informative and interesting take that you should consider if you are looking for an entry level bike for you, your significant other or your licensed teen.
Aprilia makes a bike called the Mana 850/Mana 850GT. It's an 850 cc bike and it's the largest displacement of any other "entry" bike on the market, but this is what sets it apart: It's essentially a scooter motor in a motorcycle frame. No joke. The Mana is a fully automatic motorcycle with some of the cleverest features found on any current model from any of the competition. It's deceptively quick, but because it's an automatic, scooter-based motor the power is a linear progression that does not overwhelm. If you are in your middle 20s or older and entering the riding world this is something you should be able to wrap your brain around. If you are near retirement age and don't want anything heavy to ride it's also an excellent bike to investigate. The Mana pictured is from RIder's Hill/European Motorsports in Dahlonega, GA. They currently are selling new 2009 Mana's for $5999 with 2 year factory warranties. Remember that ALL motorcycles, regardless of year model, that are previously untitled are sold as new and eligible for full factory warranties.
BMW makes a couple bikes that are fine examples. The G650 models and the F650 models are great bikes. The F bikes are a little more powerful because they are twin cylinder bikes and the G bike is more of a dual sport, but both come with ABS options and are BMW reliable. They cost a bit more than the competition but if you have the funds they are certainly capable of years of entertainment. Both the F & G models offer on-road and dual sport variations but you will hardly find a negative review of these models.
Ducati's Monster 696 is an excellent ride for those that love the "roadster" style of riding. That's described as a slight bend in the knees toward the rear of the bike. Not sportbike cramped, but canted rearward. "Sporting" is the best word. It's an air-cooled twin cylinder motor and it has awesome brakes and suspension for a bike they market as entry level. The trade off is that it's not really a bike you want to tour long distances on.
Honda makes the Shadow 750 series and Rebel 250. Both are great beginner bikes for those that love the cruiser look. Reliable doesn't even come close to describing them. Additionally, the resale is solid. You can look at a 10yo model of the Shadow 750; it will still fetch $3500 if it's clean. The picture provided and an excellent review on the Rebel was just published by my friends at Motorcycle.com. Then there's the new CBR250R. This bike is new to the American market and it, too, is Honda reliable. It's a ¼ liter sized sportbike and you have to understand that from the on-set. The seating position is a little tighter than the Ducati would be, but it's not an uncomfortable bike. Tall riders may find it a bit cramped if your inseam extends past 32 inches but I'm inseam challenged allowing my knees to be comfortable. The CRF230M (supermoto- 17" street tires on a dual sport bike) and it's dual sport brother CRF230L are excellent bikes that can easily transition from street to dirt and are surely worth consideration. These two models are great for the teen and early 20's rider that need cheap transport and great mileage.
In the next installment we will cover Kawasaki, Moto Guzzi, Suzuki, Triumph and Yamaha.
Atlanta injury and accident attorney, Charles Scholle sponsors Georgia on Two Wheels for the motorcycling community. He provides free consultations to those who have been injured in a motor vehicle or other accident and is a good source of information and guidance after an injury accident. Please contact our law firm to discuss your matter. Charles Scholle represents clients throughout Georgia and has several convenient offices in the Atlanta metro-area.