Best 650cc Motorcycles for Beginners

There are just so many different types of motorcycles that it can be difficult to pick one sometimes—especially for beginner riders.

Beginner riders are recommended to always start with a motorcycle that has a smaller engine displacement—read, fewer ccs—that is not very powerful for safety reasons.

This is perfectly sound advice that should be followed. However, this does not mean that beginners cannot start on something a bit more powerful—650cc motorcycles can be suitable for beginners, too.

This is why the best cc for beginners is around 250cc to 650cc, but there are some exceptions. For example, most 600cc motorcycles are usually not suitable for beginners because of their engines.. Some 650cc motorcycles can go very fast, too, and be less predictable or have other little quirks, so not all bikes will make for a good beginner motorcycle.

There are some excellent 650cc motorcycles that beginners can start with and prove to be not just great starter bikes but also long-term ones. Below you will find some of the most commonly used 650cc motorcycles by beginners.

Suzuki SV650

  • Motorcycle type: Street motorcycle
  • Displacement: 645 cc
  • Engine type: 4-stroke 8-valve DOHC 90° V-twin
  • Max power: 64.2 hp (47.9 kW) at 9000 rpm / 73.4 hp (54.7 kW) at 8800 rpm / 74.9 hp (55.9 kW) at 8500 rpm
  • Transmission: 6-speed
  • Weight: 165 kg (364 lbs) up to 198 kg (437 lbs)

The SV650 has been in production since 1999, with a little break between 2012 to 2016 and it has gone a long way from its humble beginning and are still highly regarded even today.

There are some slight differences between the different generations of SV650, however, it can be said that overall they are pretty much the same motorcycle.

For example.

After 2003 the SV650 models got fuel injection. And from 2007, the SV650 also came with optional ABS.

The Suzuki SV650 is considered one of the best 650cc street motorcycles for beginners by both owners and experts, and it is one of the most recommended 650cc motorcycles to beginners looking to start on something more powerful.

There is a good reason why people refer to these motorcycles as the most fun per dollar on the street. It has just enough power but not too much. It is a very predictable motorcycle. And if you are looking for a good beginner and long-term motorcycle, look no further. It looks good, and it can be found for cheap.

Suzuki V-Strom 650

  • Motorcycle class: Sport touring
  • Displacement: 645 cc
  • Engine type: Four-stroke liquid-cooled 8V
  • Max power: 66 bhp (49 kW) at 8,800 rpm
  • Transmission: 6 speed
  • Weight: 427.6 lbs (194 kg) (Dry); 485 lbs (220 kg) (Wet)

It is not uncommon for beginners to be split between the Suzuki SV650 and the V-Strom 650.

Both motorcycles are somewhat identical and, at the same time, slightly different.

The V-Strom 650 can be a great beginner bike. It has a slightly more comfortable and puts the rider in an upright riding position.

This motorcycle is not too powerful, but it is heavier, which can be considered a downside for beginners that are still learning.

That being said, taller people looking for a beginner bike can have trouble finding something that is both reasonably powerful and comfortable, but the V-Strom 650 is an excellent option. This is often one of the motorcycles that taller and heavier riders will feel more comfortable on, and it can be taken on some less technical off-road tracks, too. But much like any other motorcycle should be ridden with respect and care.

Kawasaki Vulcan S ABS 650cc

  • Motorcycle class: Cruiser
  • Displacement: 649 cc
  • Engine type: Parallel twin, fuel-injected 4-stroke engine
  • Max Power: 61 hp / 44.5 kW) at 7500 rpm
  • Transmission: 6 speed
  • Weight: 498 lbs (226 kg)

The Vulcan S 650 is an overall amazing and solid cruiser that can definitely do for a great first bike. The neat features like ABS, the improved fuel-injected engine, and more are all good news for any beginner rider.

The Vulcan S is not very light, but it is nothing that a beginner should not be able to manage. In fact, the bike feels a lot lighter than what one would expect from a nearly 500-pound motorcycle.

The Vulcan S is super easy to maneuver, handle, and control. It has plenty of power that it can offer but nothing too crazy. Usually, beginners can start higher CC cruisers due to how these motorcycles are designed to perform.

Cruisers usually have a very manageable amount of power, and the Vulcan S is a good middle ground if you are looking for something that you will not outgrow too quickly.

The ergonomics are adjustable, which means that both shorter and taller riders can find the Vulcan S comfortable and be able to flat-foot it. The Ergo-Fit (A Kawasaki exclusive sizing system found on Vulcan S models) allows for high levels of adjustability of the seat, footpegs, and handlebar.

Since this is a cruiser, we are also looking at lower insurance rates.

BMW F650GS / G650GS

  • Motorcycle class: Dual-sport / Multi purpose motorcycle
  • Displacement: 652 cc
  • Engine type: Single-cylinder
  • Max power: 48hp (35kW) at 6500rpm
  • Transmission: 5-speed
  • Weight: Dry: 395 lbs (179 kg); Wet: 421.1 lbs (191 kg)

The BMW F650GS can make for a good first bike. In fact, the whole F650 family has a good reputation. Some of these motorcycles have even been called “Funduro”.

The BMW F650GS is fairly lightweight and easy to maneuver and control—it really feels like a dirt bike. Overall it is great for city riding and going off road. It has plenty of power to overtake cars, too, but it is also very forgiving.

On top of that, F650GS motorcycles can be found for cheap, and with their excellent and reliable engine and low mpg, it is no surprise that a lot of riders love these motorcycles.

However, it is not really a great option for highway commuting and overall long-distance traveling. The single-cylinder engine tends to produce some vibrations, and you may already be pushing it to the limits at around the 70 to 75 mph mark.

See article: How many cc motorcycle do you need for the highway?

In addition, keep in mind that the F650GS (2000-2007) was renamed to G650GS (2008-2016). The F650GS made between 2008 and 2012 is a 798cc parallel-twin motorcycle.

Kawasaki Versys 650

  • Motorcycle type: Adventure touring crossover
  • Displacement: 649 cc
  • Engine type: 4-stroke 8-valve DOHC parallel-twin
  • Max power: 68 hp (51 kW) at 8,500 rpm
  • Transmission: 6-speed
  • Weight: 454 lb (206 kg) (Wet)

The Kawasaki Versys 650 is another excellent motorcycle that can be a great beginner bike. It is a comfortable motorcycle that is easy to maneuver and turn, and it is not too heavy. It is fairly inexpensive, too.

These motorcycles are not just reliable but super fun to ride as the throttle is very responsive. The Versys 650 offers plenty of power but nothing too excessive.

It can also be taken off-road and can do well on even tougher tracks and trails. It can do pretty well on the highways, making it an excellent touring motorcycle.

Kawasaki KLR650 

  • Motorcycle class: Dual-sport
  • Displacement: 651 cc
  • Engine type: single, liquid-cooled, 4-stroke,
  • Max Power: 41.7 hp at 7100 rpm
  • Transmission: 5 speed
  • Weight: 337.3 lbs (153 kg) (Dry); 416 lbs (189 kg) (Wet)

The Kawasaki KLR650 can be a good beginner bike. It is reliable, durable, and offers just enough power, but nothing too crazy.

To an extent, it can be considered the jack of all trades, master of none type of motorcycles. It is a decent street and highway motorcycle, but not too fast. It is also a decent off-road bike but not really geared toward highly technical sections and hard offroading.

However, it may be more suitable for riders that are taller—the KLR650 is a little on the heavier side and fairly tall with a higher center of gravity.

And this is the biggest concern here—it is a tall motorcycle, so long the rider can flat foot it, it can be a good choice to go with.

The KLR650 are easy to maintain, tough, and reliable. They are excellent all-rounders and, with a little tinkering, can be extremely fun and a great choice for a first bike.

Kawasaki Ninja 650

  • Motorcycle class: Street / sportbike
  • Displacement: 649 cc
  • Engine type: liquid-cooled, DOHC, parallel-twin with digital fuel injection
  • Max Power: 64.8 hp (48.3 kW) @ 9,000 rpm; 71 hp (53 kW) @ 8,500 rpm
  • Transmission: 6-speed
  • Weight: 410 lb (186 kg) (dry); 465 lb (211 kg) (wet)

Riders often tend to be a little split on whether or not the Ninja 650 can make for a good beginner motorcycle. These bikes are very easy to handle and maneuver, and they are fairly light. They are not just fun but also fast and very reliable. Maintenance is also easy.

A Ninja 650 can be a good starter motorcycle that a rider may not outgrow and feel the need to change for years.

That being said, the Ninja 650 is a relatively powerful and fast motorcycle. But it should not be too powerful for beginners to manage. The twin-engine it comes with is fairly forgiving and delivers a more predictable and linear power.

Nonetheless, 650cc’s are enough to get the rider in trouble. 

A Ninja 650 should be ridden with care, discipline, respect, and patience—especially by newer riders.

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