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Best 250cc Motorcycles for Beginners

Picking your first motorcycle can be a tricky thing to do.

Usually, beginners are recommended to start with a motorcycle that is not too powerful or unpredictable. This usually translates into motorcycles with fewer ccs. (A brand new motorcycle is also ill-advised.)

Although the ccs of a motorcycle cannot tell you everything about it, overall, this is sound advice.

Generally, 250cc motorcycles can make for an excellent first motorcycle. They are not too fast but not that underpowered either—especially newer models. They can make for great commuters and get you almost anywhere. However, you have to understand their limitations (See: Are 250cc motorcycles big enough?)

This is why the best cc for beginners is around 250cc to 650cc, but with a few exceptions. (See also: 250cc vs. 650cc motorcycles)

Below you will find some of the best 250cc motorcycles for beginners that have proved themselves over the years.

These motorcycles are listed in no particular order because, in my opinion, it can be very difficult to rank them objectively and meet everyone’s expectations and needs.

They are all excellent beginner motorcycles but do come with their slight differences and quirks, which can sway riders one way or the other depending on their personal needs and preferences.

Best 250cc Motorcycles for Beginners
The Honda CBR250RR is an excellent motorcycle. It is reliable and packs quite the punch, yet remains very manageable.

Honda CBR250RR

  • Motorcycle type: Sport bike
  • Displacement: 249.7 cc
  • Engine type: Liquid-cooled 4-stroke 8-valve DOHC parallel-twin
  • Max power: 31.8 hp @ 12,500 (2017 – 2020) to 40.2 hp @ 13,000 (2020 – present)
  • Top speed: 111 mph (179 km/h)
  • Transmission: 6-speed constant mesh, chain final drive
  • Weight: 165 kg (364 lb) to 168 kg (370 lb)

The Honda CBR250RR is an excellent starter bike beginners can learn on. The CBR250RR, despite its smaller engine, has plenty of power to allow beginner riders to keep up with the rest of the traffic in a fairly comfortable way. The seating position is relatively comfortable and neutral.

The CBR250RR is easily one of the most underestimated motorcycles in the 250cc class. The CBR250RR is reliable, fun, and beginner-friendly. It looks sporty and very aggressive. It is powerful enough to allow you to keep up with other vehicles on the road but not too powerful to get beginners in too much trouble too quickly.

One of the problems with these motorcycles is that they may be a little difficult to get. Also, beginner riders tend to buy them, so their condition may vary a lot.

There can be some confusion between newer CBR250RR bikes and older models manufactured between 1990 to 1996. The older pre-2000 models had an excellent i4 engine that was not just very powerful (capable of delivering about 45 hp and having a 19,000 rpm redline), but the motorcycle as a whole was a beauty to look at.

Best 250cc Motorcycles for Beginners
The Ninja 250R is considered a great starter motorcycle that also packs quite the power.

Kawasaki Ninja 250R

  • Motorcycle type: Sport bike
  • Displacement: 248 cc
  • Engine type: Four stroke, parallel twin, DOHC
  • Max power: 29.9 hp @ 10,500 rpm
  • Top speed: 110 mph (180 km/h)
  • Transmission: 6 speed
  • Weight: 304 lb (151 kg) (dry); 374.7 lb (170 kg) (wet)

There was no way I would overlook the Ninja 250R.

The Kawasaki Ninja 250R is an excellent beginner motorcycle that new riders can start on. The Ninja 250R is reliable and powerful enough to be used as a daily commuter to work and can do reasonably well when taken on the highway.

The Ninja 250R is a very nimble motorcycle that is also very reliable.

Though the motorcycle has a top speed of around 110 mph, it is most comfortable when ridden in the 65 to 75 mph range, which will allow most riders to keep up with traffic on most roads. Going over 85 mph can be a somewhat uncomfortable and unpleasant experience due to the vibrations and especially if you get blown around by stronger winds.

Bikes manufactured up to 2007 also had a more comfortable seat compared to the ones made between 2008 and 2012 (which is when the Ninja 250R was redesigned).

The 250R is a cheap motorcycle with an excellent mpg, making it a great pick for people working with a limited budget. It also tends to hold its resale value pretty well. The insurance on the Ninja 250R is also going to be cheaper compared to other larger motorcycles, making it a good-budget motorcycle that riders will not outgrow too quickly.

Best 250cc Motorcycles for Beginners
The Suzuki TU250X (2009-2019, US) is an excellent retro-looking beginner motorcycle that is extremely reliable, comfortable, and economical.

Suzuki TU250X

  • Motorcycle type: Standard
  • Displacement: 249 cc
  • Engine type: 4-stroke, 2-valve, single-cylinder, Air-cooled, SOHC, Fuel Injected
  • Max power: 16.1 bhp (12.0 kW) @ 7200 rpm
  • Top Speed: 75 mph (121 km/h)
  • Transmission: 5-speed gearbox, constant mesh
  • Weight: 310 lb (140 kg) (dry); 328 lb (149 kg) (wet)

The Suzuki TU250X is considered a great starter bike for new riders. The TU250X is exceptionally reliable, beginner-friendly, and easy to maintain and work on. It is not fast, but it is very light, fun to ride, and very economical to run.

The Suzuki TU250X is held in high regard and considered an excellent new bike for beginners in the motorcycle community.

It is not uncommon to see a TU250X on some MSF courses, as these motorcycles are very manageable and good for building confidence, too.

The Suzuki TU250X is one of the motorcycles that people can’t really go wrong with, as long as they understand its limitations in terms of speed and acceleration. It is still a powerful motorcycle but not enough to put the rider in too much trouble.

With a top speed of 75 mph, this is by no means a fast motorcycle. However, it is a great commuter bike if you do not do a lot of highway miles.

The seating position is also very comfortable and easy on the rider.

It tends to hold its resell value pretty well. So, depending on the price you get it for and how you maintain it, you can sell it without losing too much money, if any at all.

The Suzuki TU250X is one excellent motorcycle that also just looks good. New riders looking for a newer motorcycle with a great retro look can’t go wrong with the TU250X.

Best 250cc Motorcycles for Beginners
The Honda CBR250R easily ranks among the most popular beginner motorcycles in the 250cc range. Small, powerful, and fun to ride.

Honda CBR250R

  • Motorcycle type: Sport bike
  • Displacement: 249.5 cc
  • Engine type: Single cylinder, four-stroke, fuel-injected
  • Max power: 23.7 hp (17.7 kW) @ 9,900 rpm
  • Top speed: 84 mph (135 km/h)
  • Transmission: 6-speed, manual, chain drive
  • Weight: 337 lb (153 kg) to 366 lb (166 kg)

The Honda CBR250R is an excellent beginner bike to start on. The CBR250R is powerful yet not too powerful for a beginner. It can be used as a great commuter and a motorcycle to build your confidence on. The ABS version is also a great choice for beginners for extra peace of mind.

The CBR250R can be ridden comfortably at speeds between 60 to 75 mph but can be taken up to 80 and even 90 mph in some cases. I have tried this model myself and I have found that it’s very fun to drive. It’s really conformtable at highway speed and respond very rapidly to any command on the bars. The only downside I have found it that for a 6 foots tall guy the motorcycle is a little bit small, I mean that the driving position is not ideal for tall poeople.

It has plenty of power for most uses. It is a fairly small motorcycle, so taller riders may feel a little cramped on it. The seating position is a bit more aggressive so being mindful of your posture is important in order to stay comfortable on longer trips.

One of the cool things going on for the CBR250R is the fuel injection. This is a good selling point for many riders because of the advantage of not having to deal with carburetors.

It is not uncommon for people to often compare the CBR250R to the Ninja 250. The CBR250R is not as fast and has a lower top end. Overall, with the Ninja 250, riders will be able to ride more comfortably at higher speeds compared to the CBR250R.

Talking about the CBR250R vs. the Ninja 250, it is worth mentioning that the Honda is a single-cylinder, whereas the Kawasaki is a two-cylinder motorcycle. So they will behave a little differently.

The CBR250R is great for getting around town and riding on local and back roads where high speeds may not be required. Riders who plan on doing a significant amount of highway miles on a daily basis may find it a bit underpowered, and looking at more powerful motorcycles may be worth considering.

Best 250cc Motorcycles for Beginners
The Honda Rebel 250 is a beautiful cruiser that can make for an excellent new bike.

Honda Rebel 250 (Honda CMX250)

  • Motorcycle type: Cruiser
  • Displacement: 234 cc
  • Engine type: Straight-twin air-cooled SOHC two valves per cylinder. 
  • Max power: 16.1 hp (12.0 kW)
  • Top speed: 79 mph (127 km/h)
  • Transmission: 5-speed, manual, chain drive
  • Weight: 306 lb (139 kg) (dry); 320 lb (145 kg) wet

The Honda Rebel 250 is a great starter bike. In fact, the Rebel 250 is often used in MSF courses where beginners learn the basics of riding a motorcycle. The Rebel 250 is a great town commuter where the rider may not need to reach high speeds.

Now that being said, the Rebel 250 does suffer from what many motorcycles in this range do. Namely, it is a small motorcycle, and being a cruiser, you cannot expect it to be super powerful. Larger and heavier riders may find it small in size and somewhat underpowered.

Getting it to highway speeds can also be fairly problematic, and riders that are making a lot of highway miles on a daily basis may be better served by a larger cruiser.

If the Rebel 250cc is not going to be powerful enough for your needs, it is worth looking into the Rebel 300, 500, and 1100. For more information about the optimal engine size in terms of cc’s, check the article on how many cc’s you need for the highway, where I compared a range of different motorcycles.

Best 250cc Motorcycles for Beginners
The Suzuki GZ250 is among the best beginner 250cc motorcycles for those working on a smaller budget.

Suzuki GZ250

  • Motorcycle type: Cruiser
  • Displacement: 249 cc
  • Engine type: single cylinder, 4-stroke, air-cooled, Carbureted
  • Max power: 19.72 hp @ 8,000 rpm
  • Top speed: 71 mph (115 km/h)
  • Transmission: 5-speed constant mesh
  • Weight: 302 lb (137 kg) (dry), 330 lb (150 kg) (wet)

The Suzuki GZ250 is a great cheap motorcycle that beginners can learn on. The GZ250 is very fun, safe, and comfortable. It is a very reliable motorcycle and generally has very few issues. Maintenance is also easy and cheap as it is very easy to work on the GZ250 bikes.

The GZ 250 is a great bike for people looking for something to get around town on and on local and back roads at speeds between 50 to 65 mph and are looking for something budget-friendly.

With a top speed of around 71 to 75 mph and an average cruising speed of 60 mph, the Suzuki GZ250 is definitely not among the most powerful motorcycles out there. So its capabilities in terms of speed should be considered before making a purchasing decision.

Taller riders are likely to find the GZ250 small. The GZ250 is a great motorcycle for shorter riders looking for a smaller motorcycle that they can set both their feets flat on the ground comfortably.

The GZ250 can often be offered on some MSF courses, too. Overall you can’t go wrong with a GZ250.

Best 250cc Motorcycles for Beginners
Hyosung is a Korean manufacturer who got flamed for their early motorcycles’ frequent reliability issues. However, they have stepped up their game in recent years.

Hyosung GT250

  • Motorcycle type: Sport bike
  • Displacement: 249 cc
  • Engine type: Four-stroke, V-twin, air-cooled (2005 – 2009) and oil-cooled (2010 – present)
  • Max power: 32.1 hp (23.9 kW) @ 10,500 rpm
  • Top speed: 110 mph (180 km/h)
  • Transmission: 5-speed
  • Weight: 414 lb (188 kg)

The Hyosung GT250 is a good starter bike as long as it has been well-maintained. Beginners may find the riding position a little more aggressive. The GT250 is not top-end in terms of quality, and because of this, it usually can be found cheaper than other 250cc motorcycles, making it a decent budget choice.

The Hyosung GT250 is considered a decent motorcycle for what it is but not at the same level as the Kawasaki 250 and the Honda CBR250R (or the CBR250RR, for that matter).

Sometimes, Kawasaki and Honda motorcycles in the 250cc range can be found at slightly higher prices, which is another reason why many riders will not pick the Hyosung GT250.

Though it is a fairly powerful motorcycle, it does not rank among the fastest or quickest to accelerate at the top end. Although it can technically reach higher speeds, it performs the best and feels comfortable around the 60 to 75 mph range.

Older models before 2007 used to have reliability issues, and people were not really happy with these motorcycles back then. However, since 2007 the company has made good improvements to its motorcycles. Nonetheless, the manufacturer’s reputation had already suffered.

The 2008 and later models are also fuel-injected.

Replacement parts are generally more difficult to find in certain areas because this is not such a famous brand and can be considered a niche motorcycle. That said, parts and modifications can be very cheap.

Best 250cc Motorcycles for Beginners
Source Wikipedia common

Kawasaki Z250

  • Motorcycle type: Naked/Standard bike
  • Displacement: 249 cc
  • Engine type: Liquid-cooled 4-stroke parallel-twin
  • Max power: 26.1 hp @ 9,000 rpm
  • Top speed: 94 mph (151 km/h)
  • Transmission: 6-speed, chain final drive
  • Weight: 148 kg (326 lb)

The Kawasaki Z250 is a stylish and nimble naked bike that is perfect for urban riding. It has a lightweight chassis, which makes it easy to maneuver in traffic and around corners. The engine is smooth and responsive, making it a joy to ride. The Z250 is a great option for beginners who are looking for a fun and versatile bike to learn on.

Best 250cc Motorcycles for Beginners
Source Wikipedia common

Yamaha WR250R

  • Motorcycle type: Dual-sport bike
  • Displacement: 250 cc
  • Engine type: Liquid-cooled 4-stroke DOHC single-cylinder
  • Max power: 30 hp @ 10,000 rpm
  • Top speed: 90 mph (145 km/h)
  • Transmission: 6-speed, chain final drive
  • Weight: 134 kg (295 lb)

The Yamaha WR250R is a versatile and capable dual-sport bike that can handle both on-road and off-road adventures. It has a high-revving engine that delivers plenty of power and torque, and the suspension is fully adjustable to handle any terrain. The WR250R is a great choice for riders who want to explore the great outdoors on two wheels.

Best 250cc Motorcycles for Beginners
Source Wikipedia common

Yamaha V Star 250

  • Motorcycle type: Cruiser
  • Displacement: 249 cc
  • Engine type: Air-cooled 4-stroke SOHC V-twin
  • Max power: 21 hp @ 8,000 rpm
  • Top speed: 80 mph (129 km/h)
  • Transmission: 5-speed, belt final drive
  • Weight: 147 kg (324 lb)

The Yamaha V Star 250 is a classic cruiser that offers a comfortable and relaxed riding experience. It has a low seat height and a laid-back riding position, which makes it perfect for cruising around town or hitting the open road. The engine is smooth and reliable, and the V Star 250 is a great choice for riders who want a stylish and easy-to-ride cruiser.

Best 250cc motorcycles for beginners

KTM 250 Duke

  • Motorcycle type: Naked/Standard bike
  • Displacement: 248.8 cc
  • Engine type: Liquid-cooled 4-stroke DOHC single-cylinder
  • Max power: 29.5 hp @ 9,000 rpm
  • Top speed: 85 mph (137 km/h)
  • Transmission: 6-speed, chain final drive
  • Weight: 153 kg (337 lb)

The KTM 250 Duke is a lightweight and agile naked bike that is perfect for both urban and rural riding. It has a powerful engine that delivers plenty of torque and acceleration, and the chassis is well-balanced and responsive. The KTM 250 Duke is a great choice for riders who want a fun and versatile bike that can handle anything the road throws at them.

Best 250cc Motorcycles for Beginners

Benelli TNT 250

  • Motorcycle type: Naked/Standard bike
  • Displacement: 249 cc
  • Engine type: Liquid-cooled 4-stroke DOHC single-cylinder
  • Max power: 26.8 hp @ 9,250 rpm
  • Top speed: 87 mph (140 km/h)
  • Transmission: 6-speed, chain final drive
  • Weight: 159 kg (351 lb)

The Benelli TNT 250 is a stylish and affordable naked bike that offers a comfortable and smooth ride. It has a responsive engine and a well-balanced chassis, which makes it a pleasure to ride.

Best 250cc Motorcycles for Beginners
My girlfriend’s CRF250L Rally 2018

Honda CRF250L and 250L Rally

  • Motorcycle type: Dual Sport
  • Displacement: 250 cc
  • Engine type: Single-cylinder, liquid-cooled, DOHC, four-stroke
  • Max power: 23 hp (17.2 kW)
  • Top speed: 85 mph (137 km/h)
  • Transmission: 6-speed, manual, chain drive
  • Weight: 320 lb (145 kg) (dry); 346 lb (157 kg) wet

The Honda CRF250L bridges the gap between city commuters and off-road adventurers. As a dual-sport, the CRF250L is versatile and designed to handle both asphalt and trails. The agile nature of the CRF250L, combined with its responsive engine, offers riders an exhilarating experience on a wide range of terrains.

For beginners who are keen on dabbling in both commuting and off-road riding, the CRF250L serves as an excellent introduction. The bike’s lightweight design and modest power output make it forgiving for novice riders while still offering enough zest for more experienced enthusiasts.

Its seat height might be a tad tall for some, especially compared to the cruisers mentioned earlier, but the slender design allows for easier reach to the ground. Moreover, the bike’s suspension and chassis are geared towards soaking up rough terrains, making it a joy to ride on unpaved paths.

I have ridden the CRF250L Rally plenty of times, and it’s very fun and easy to ride. If you are shorter, you can drop the bike a bit and it will help a lot. My girlfriend drives one every day during the season, and she is literally in love with it (the one in the picture above). We upgraded the suspension because it’s really cheap from the factory, but apart from that, we have had many adventures on and off-road with this motorcycle.

Highway journeys, while possible with the CRF250L, are not its primary domain. However, it’s capable of holding its own at reasonable speeds, and its sixth gear aids in maintaining momentum.

Maintenance for the CRF250L is straightforward, with many owners applauding its reliability and longevity. Its cost of ownership remains low, ensuring it’s not a financial burden.

In comparison to bikes like the Rebel 250 or the GZ250, the CRF250L offers a different kind of riding experience, one that’s geared more toward those who crave adventure and exploration. For those who have always wanted a taste of both on-road and off-road riding without breaking the bank, the Honda CRF250L is a commendable choice.

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