Is a 250cc a Good Starter Bike?

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Key Takeaways

  • Safety is the most crucial concern to a new biker, and a 250cc engine allows better learning for safer riding habits.
  • A smaller engine will cost less. The initial investment should be low to allow for an off-ramp if the hobby is not for you.
  • The enjoyment of a 250cc engine is not compromised because of its size. The performance is still a thrilling part of motorcycle ownership.
  • The incremental nature of progressing to larger engines helps the biker appreciate the journey leading to a more fulfilling and satisfying motorcycle experience.

When choosing your first motorcycle, a small 250cc engine produces less horsepower, torque, and excitement, but is it still a good entry bike?

The 250cc engine is the perfect entry-level bike. The priority for a quality bike experience must be safety and then building good riding habits without compromising performance, comfort, or excitement. It will also save you a lot of money when investing in this new hobby.

When I started riding right out of high school my first bike was a 450cc engined Honda, and I ended up almost flying through the living room window of my next-door neighbor’s house. A smaller engine would not only have been safer but more fun as well. While this is pure opinion, many motorcycle blogs back me up. My thirty years of twisting a throttle give me some bike cred on this subject, and the statistical data concerning first-time failures will prove my point concerning safety.

In this article...


The Safety Of A 250cc Engine

The most important aspect in deciding what size engine to start with is always safety. Without exception, the motorcycle hobby loses its charm in a hospital bed. I realize that risk is a part of the fun, but mitigating that risk must be a priority for the long-term sustainability of bike riding. It’s only a matter of time for riskier riders to enter a turn too quickly, misread traffic, get cut off while speeding, and possibly dump their ride.

Of the 8.6 million registered bikers in the U.S. in 2018, 87,000 accidents occurred involving injury or death. The odds of getting into a serious accident are one in one hundred, and those odds increase when you add risky or novice behavior. Because of the nature of riding without the safety of a buckled-in, steel-encased, airbag-equipped vehicle, the motorcyclist is twenty-eight times more likely to die in an accident than in a car or truck. Almost 5,000 bikers died that year in an accident making the odds of fatality a scary 17% of all accidents. This shouldn’t stop the new biker from embarking on this fulfilling and thrilling journey, but learning on a smaller engine will lead to a more skillful biker and better riding habits.

The Ability To Learn Is Easier On A 250cc Engine

When progressing through the gears and learning left-hand clutch, left-foot toe-kick, right-hand throttle control, and body balance, all lead to muscle memory, and it’s easier to learn on a smaller engine. A larger one will not allow progression through the gears as quickly since the bike is faster in lower gears. The fundamentals of proper bike riding that will inform your future habits are formed best with a smaller engine. It forces you to shift more quickly through the gears and is more forgiving when you make a mistake.

The weight of a 250cc bike averages around 400lbs. Compare that to a 700 to 900lb touring bike. Just getting it out of the garage can be a chore. As you learn to ride, making a mistake on a bigger bike means bigger consequences. Balancing an oversized bike when moving slowly or making right-hand turns is unnecessary. Learning on a smaller bike is much less awkward especially when you’re trying to lift a half-ton beast after you accidentally laid it down.

The Less Expensive Costs Of A 250cc Engine

Less Initial Investment For A Smaller Engine

When beginning a new venture, there is no guarantee that it will be right for you. Investing heavily in something that may not be in your future is obviously unwise. The average high-end bike in the upper CCs will run you between $20,000 to $30,000. That’s a lot compared to just $4,000 to $6,000 for a new 250cc bike.

Easier To Resell A Smaller Engine

Re-sale value depends upon the condition, mileage, and location, but it also depends on the market. The amount of people looking for a less-expensive, first-time, smaller-engined bike is vast. The higher-end bikes are more difficult to sell because the demand is less. You’ll easily get the most value for a 250cc bike.

Better Fuel Economy For A Smaller Engine

While the range may be limited to around 125 miles because of smaller tanks on smaller bikes, the miles per gallon can be 70 to 85 miles. This compares well to a 1000cc engine which can be around 45 to 50 MPG. With gas prices at all-time crazy high prices these days, this can be quite a savings.

Fewer Insurance Costs For A Smaller Engine

The average motorcycle is $780 a year, but depending on location, your driving record, and the type of insurance you want, a smaller bike will cost you less. Saving about $20 a month over larger engine motorcycles, this adds up month after month to big savings.

The Enjoyable Riding Experience Of A 250cc Engine

The Performance Of A Smaller Engine

When you combine a better, more comfortable turning radius with a lighter bike, you have a more controllable, more comfortable ride. The performance is directly related to the physics of the motorcycle, and you will find a 250cc bike to perform amazingly. The speed is fast enough to be exhilarating during highway travel, but the weight is light enough to control while moving slowly or braking into a turn.

The Comfortability Of A Smaller Engine

Some might assume that a smaller bike will be less comfortable because of a narrower seat, less padding, and cramped riding position. This is not necessarily true and will depend on the style and model of the bike. For instance, the Honda Rebel, The Yamaha YZF-R3, and Suzuki GW250 have larger frames that will fit larger people. Some of the motorcycle components that one might find to be too small or uncomfortable can be upgraded to aftermarket parts that fit the individual’s needs.

Without the weight of a large engine, you also have less vibration. Some of the biggest complaints of new riders are dealing with the shaking that can rattle you to your bones. A lighter bike doesn’t have that issue, and the control will build confidence. Nothing is more comfortable than knowing you have control of your ride. This comes through learning on a smaller CC engine.

The Excitement Of A Smaller Engine

All the motorcycle forums concur with my premise. An overwhelming majority of the comments are pro 250cc as a beginning bike experience. Quora, Reddit, Motorcycleforum, and Totalmotorcycle forums all agree: a smaller engine for beginners is just as exciting and enjoyable as a larger one. They almost unanimously agree that starting smaller is better.

Many forum bikers comment that riding slower on a high-speed, faster engine is just not as fun as going the exact same speed on a smaller engined bike. The sound, the feel, and the gear progression are more exciting when you use the bike to its optimal capacity instead of wasting CCs on a trip that doesn’t use the engine to its fullest potential.

After all, a 250cc bike like a Suzuki GSX250R or a Yamaha V-Star 250 will still go 85 to 90 MPH which is fast. Very fast! Especially when cruising in the open air for the first time on the highway. It will feel like the wind will lift you right off the bike. On a light bike under 400lbs, the feel and excitement multiply. You will be amazed at the adrenaline rush that a 250cc engine delivers. There’s just nothing like that first bike ride experience on the open road.

The Incremental Nature Of Enjoying The Motorcycle Experience

While it is in our nature to always want more, to want bigger, better, and faster immediately, it’s also true that showing constraint and disciplining our nature will allow for a delayed gratification that is more meaningful and satisfying over the course of time. Purchasing a smaller bike with fewer CCs will give the new biker something to look forward to. This process is a marathon of enjoyment. It’s not a sprint. So taking your time moving up the CC ladder will add value to your motorcycle journey.

When taking your children to an amusement park, most parents know to start them off on the smaller rides like the merry-go-round or bounce house before graduating to the smaller roller-coasters. Towards the afternoon, smart parents will then introduce their kids to the bigger rides to give them something to look forward to. This simple concept is true in life including purchasing your first motorcycle as well.  When my son began looking for his first bike, I counseled him to look for a 250cc. He knew that my philosophy of waiting for something bigger was better, and right now, he absolutely loves his new motorcycle.

Timing in life is everything. Waiting until you are more skilled and have enjoyed the smaller engine will help you appreciate the process of progression far more than getting everything at once. Incremental enjoyment of a hobby allows nuance to your activity that can only be appreciated little by little. It’s human nature, and showing constraint is always rewarded.