One of the most important questions for many beginners is what type of motorcycles they should start on. This question is tightly connected to the motorcycle’s engine and its capabilities.
And when it comes to 650cc motorcycles, things can get a little confusing as they may seem a little too powerful, so many riders will wonder if they will be biting off more than they can chew.
So, are 650cc motorcycles suitable for beginners? A 650cc motorcycle can be a great first motorcycle for a beginner. There are very good entry-level 650cc v-twin motorcycles that are not too big for a first bike and are suitable for beginners because they provide reasonable amounts of power and predictability.
Starting on the wrong motorcycle can spell a lot of trouble for the rider. In comparison, choosing the right one can make for a more enjoyable and, most importantly, safe experience. So let’s take a more in-depth look at 650cc motorcycles.
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Can a 650cc motorcycle be a good beginner bike?
Many 650cc motorcycles can be good beginner bikes. There are 650cc motorcycles that have enough power but not too much for a beginner to handle. There are also fairly light 650cc bikes that beginners will find have good maneuverability and steering responsiveness.
There is a notion that a beginner motorcycle is not a “real” motorcycle, which is wrong.
There are plenty of examples of motorcycles that are both good for beginners and can be used for a number of years without ever having to switch to a different motorcycle.
Just because somebody has started on a 650cc motorcycle does not mean they will ever have to switch to something bigger and more powerful.
Are all 650cc motorcycles suitable for beginners?
Although there is no universal definition of a beginner motorcycle, there are some guidelines and recommendations that are worth knowing, understanding, and following.
Generally speaking, a 650cc motorcycle can be considered a motorcycle suitable for intermediate riders.
Not all 650cc motorcycles are suitable and good for beginners to start learning on. Some 650cc motorcycles can be fairly powerful, unpredictable, and heavy, making them bad beginner bikes.
See article: Are heavy motorcycles harder to ride?
When considering if a certain motorcycle is suitable for beginners, there is a number of factors that should be looked into.
It is not all about the cc’s.
The more powerful the motorcycle is, the less forgiving it tends to be, which is not good for beginners. We have to keep in mind things like power delivery, weight, size, steering responsiveness, and riding position.
Most 650cc motorcycles are fast. Generally speaking, 650cc motorcycles can reach between 100 and 130 mph, with some models being capable of going as fast as 150 mph.
See article: How fast can a 650cc motorcycle go?
However, the engine size does not give us all the pieces of the puzzle. Just because two motorcycles have the same engine capacity does not mean they have the same capabilities and power delivery.
A 650cc sportbike can be just as powerful, if not more than an 800cc sport touring motorcycle.
Also, Honda’s CBR 650 motorcycles often have about 20 hp more at peak power than most Kawasaki Ninja 650 motorcycles. (But they also have different types of engines, which is also important.)
Straight-four engines and straight-three engines (also known as inline-four and inline-three engines) can be more unpredictable, powerful, and unforgiving than v-twin engines of a similar cc size.
A 600cc motorcycle with an inline-four engine can be significantly more dangerous than a 650cc v-twin for beginners. The same applies to a typical 675cc motorcycle inline-three engine. (Of course, that does not mean there are no good 600cc beginner motorcycles, it just depends on the type of motorcycle as a whole and not just its engine capacity.)
Generally speaking, inline-four engines tend to have higher top speed, less torque power at the low end, and a notable jump in power at higher RPMs, which can catch beginners off guard, while v-twin engines tend to have a smoother performance with higher torque values throughout the whole rev range.
However, not all inline-four and v-twin engines are created the same and will perform the same. So just because two motorcycles have a v-twin or an inline-four engine does not mean they will perform the same.
Some 650cc motorcycles are fairly heavy, which can be another problem for certain riders.
The weight of the motorcycle is important because it is not uncommon for beginners to drop their motorcycles at one point or another while they are still learning. This is why it is important to get a motorcycle that the rider will not mind potentially dropping.
The motorcycle should also feel comfortable to the rider while riding it and when stopping. In other words, the rider should be able to reach the ground with their feet. (This is why it is always recommended to sit on the motorcycle before you buy it.)
Is 650cc too much for a beginner?
Some 650cc motorcycles can be too much for a beginner, depending on how much power they can deliver and how they deliver it. However, there are many 650cc motorcycles that not too big or heavy and offer plenty of power but remain very manageable for beginners.
When it comes to weight, usually, 650cc motorcycles weigh between 337 pounds to 492 pounds (153 to 223 kg), making them a lot more manageable when coming to a stop, walking with the motorcycle backward, picking them up if they tipped over, and more.
Examples of good beginner 650cc motorcycles
There are a lot of different motorcycles one can start on. However, over the years, some models have gained popularity and clearly set themselves apart from others.
These are some of the best 650cc motorcycles for beginners.
- Suzuki SV650
- BMW F650GS
- Kawasaki Ninja 650
- Kawasaki KLR650
- Kawasaki Versys 650
- Suzuki V-Strom 650
- Kawasaki Vulcan S ABS 650cc
- Honda CBR 650
Should a beginner start on a 650cc motorcycle?
Many beginner riders often want to start on a 650cc motorcycle or something even more powerful. In reality, they may find motorcycles with fewer cc’s a lot more enjoyable and perfectly enough for their needs.
This is why it is always recommended to take the MSF course and try out different motorcycles in order to develop a better feel and understanding of how different motorcycles feel.
Most MSF courses provide motorcycles in the 250cc range, which are excellent beginner motorcycles. The rider will also be able to find out if they actually need something more powerful or not.
A 650cc motorcycle is designed to perform immediately in accordance with the rider’s input. This can lead to dangerous situations when beginners operate the motorcycle.
For riders that enjoy fast speeds and will immediately test how fast the motorcycle can go even though they are still beginners, a 650cc motorcycle may not be the right choice.
Nearly all riders will get in dangerous situations while on the road, and a smaller motorcycle can be more manageable and safer in these situations.
Overall, a beginner can start on a 650cc motorcycle as long as they understand the risks and pick a suitable 650cc motorcycle that is not too powerful and unpredictable. Heavier and taller riders often can find 650cc motorcycle more comfortable, too.
Is it worth starting on a 650cc motorcycle?
For a first motorcycle, it is worth considering buying a used motorcycle that is not too old and does not have too many miles put on it. Looking for other neat features like ABS is very much recommended, especially if for beginners, as this is a life-saving technology that can make all the difference in certain situations.
One of the great things about 650cc motorcycles is that they can be both excellent beginner motorcycles and great long-term motorcycles. This means that many riders may not have to sell their 650cc motorcycle in order to buy something more powerful, losing money in the process.
While most riders can outgrow their 150cc 250cc or even 300cc motorcycles, this does not happen as often with 650cc motorcycles. There are also plenty of examples of riders who start on 1000cc motorcycles only to switch to a 650cc later on.
Also, some of the top beginner 650cc motorcycles are fairly inexpensive, so they will not require a huge investment.
Motorcycles with less powerful engines will be cheaper, so depending on the rider’s budget, a motorcycle with a smaller engine can be more viable in certain instances.
If the rider is working with a limited budget and going with a 650cc motorcycle would prevent them from buying proper full motorcycle gear, accessories, and insurance, it may be worth looking for a cheaper motorcycle or waiting until they can afford them.
A 650cc motorcycles offers plenty of power—but not too much power. It is powerful enough to allow the rider to go on highways, keep up with the traffic or swerve their way around the traffic and avoid dangerous situations in a safe manner.
See article: How much CCs do you need for the highway?
All that makes 650cc motorcycles one of the best and most often sought-after motorcycles. Of course, whether or not a 650cc motorcycle will be worth it will also depend on what type of riding the rider will tend to do. In certain cases, the rider may need a different type of motorcycles. So as long as the rider understands the advantages and disadvantages of 650cc motorcycles, they should be able to make the right decision. In the end, it all boils down to the rider’s needs and type of riding.