Top 5 Low-Cost Cruiser Motorcycles For Beginners. A Helpful Guide


honda rebel, cruiser motorcycle, black cruiser motorcycle

Cruiser motorcycles epitomize the biker culture and have received almost iconic status in the motorcycling world and non-motorcycling world.

These bikes are often large machines with big engines and a price tag that makes you swallow hard and re-think your bike choice! Don’t give up your dream to own a cruiser yet, however. First, take a look at my selection of the best low-cost cruiser motorcycles for beginners.

Here are my Top 5 low-cost cruiser motorcycles for beginners:

  • Honda Rebel 300 – $4600
  • Yamaha V Star 250 – $4499
  • Suzuki  Boulevard S40 – $5799
  • Honda Rebel 500 – $6299
  • Kawasaki Vulcan S – $7199

In my opinion, motorcycles for beginners need to fit within a certain feature range:

  1. They need to be easy bikes to learn to ride on.
  2. The new rider will be able to quickly gain comfort and confidence while out on the road.

My article how long to get comfortable riding a motorcycle will give you an excellent overview.

Just because you are beginning your journey into the world of motorcycling does not mean that you can’t ride a cool-looking cruiser motorcycle. These low-cost cruiser motorcycles, which I have selected, tick all the boxes for beginners and make a good first vehicle.

What Makes The Ideal Beginner Cruiser Motorcycle?

Motorcycles can be a little intimidating for new riders. Some are big, heavy, and difficult to maneuver. The power on some of the bigger machines will most certainly be too much for a beginner to handle.

So what criteria make a particular motorcycle a good bike for a beginner?

Generally, motorcycles that have engines in the mid to lower displacement range make for good beginner bikes. These usually range between 200cc to about 650cc. However, if you’re new to biking, you will need to bear in mind the type of motorcycle as some 600cc – 650cc bikes can be much too powerful for a beginner.

If you are unsure of what engine sizes are currently available for motorcycles, you can see all the engine sizes in my article What are the current motorcycle engine sizes?

Modern smaller-engined motorcycles are no slouches in the power department, so you can be sure the bikes I have recommended will have enough power to make for a comfortable ride, but not so much as to be intimidating.

The bikes with small to mid-range motors are generally lighter and more maneuverable, especially at lower speeds, making an ideal fit for any person who is just starting in the motorcycling world.

Honda Rebel 300

The Honda Rebel series design has been around for a good few decades now, and the fact that this style of bike is still being produced is a testament to the popularity of the design and combination of the package.

The styling has changed somewhat over the years to the modern cruiser-typical styling that we see in this bike today.

This bike looks mean on the streets, and nobody will take you for a beginner if they see you astride this stunning machine!

The Honda Rebel 300 is certainly an excellent low-cost cruiser motorcycle.

The seat height is a comfortable 27.2 inches which means that you will be able to reach the ground comfortably on either side of the bike. Tall bikes often pose a difficulty for beginner riders when stopping and pulling off if they struggle to reach the ground easily.

The Honda Rebel 300 weighs in at approximately 370 pounds with a full tank of fuel and all other fluids included. Thus, compared to many other motorcycles, this bike is lightweight and will be easy to maneuver in and out of traffic and parking the bike.

The fat wheels on the front and back of the bike add to the fierce street appeal of the bike’s looks. You certainly won’t feel out of place parking this bike next to a bigger bike.

So lets look at this bike in a bite more detail.

The Honda Rebel 300cc Specifications:

  1. Engine: 286cc liquid-cooled 20º single-cylinder four-stroke
  2. Valve train: DOHC: four valves per cylinder
  3. Bore X Stroke: 76.0 mm x 63.0 mm
  4. Compression Ratio: 10.7:1
  5. Induction: PGM-FI; 38 mm throttle bodies
  6. Ignition: Computer-controlled digital transistorized w/ electronic advance
  7. Starter: Electric
  8. Transmission: 6-speed manual
  9. Clutch: Multiplate wet
  10. Front suspension: 41 mm telescopic fork; 4.8 in. travel
  11. Rear suspension: Twin shock; 3.8 in. travel
  12. Seat height: 27.2 inches
  13. Fuel capacity: 2.95 gal. (0.6 gal. reserve)
  14. Ground clearance: 5.9 inches
  15. Wet weight: 370Lbs (ABS Model)

Suggested retail price: $4600.

Yamaha V Star 250

The ideal low-cost cruiser bike from beginners from Yamaha is styled more like the retro-style cruisers from the 1960s and 70s. The classic look does not stop with the design of the bike, but the retro style is carried through with the styling of the chrome exhaust and the V-twin motor.

The seat height on the Yamaha V Star 250 is a low 27 inches which makes this bike suitable for beginners and riders of smaller stature.

The little 250cc V-twin motor does not lack in power and offers a great, smooth throttle response which ideal for beginner riders that are learning clutch and throttle control on a motorcycle. The engine is designed to be robust and low maintenance which is another plus for this bike for the beginner rider.

The Yamaha V Star 250 tips the scales at a very manageable 326 pounds, all fluids on board, and a full tank. This makes this bike light and nimble and tons of fun, even in heavy city traffic!

Lets look at this bike in a bit more detail.

Yamaha V Star 250 Specifications:

  1. Engine: 60-degree V-twin 249cc
  2. Valvetrain: SOHC, 2 vpc
  3. Bore X Stroke: 49 x 66mm
  4. Compression Ratio: 10.0.1
  5. Engine type: 60-degree V-twin
  6. Final drive: chain
  7. Transmission: 5-speed manual
  8. Front suspension: Non-adjustable 33mm fork; 5.5 inches
  9. Rear suspension: Spring-preload adjustable shocks; 3.9 inches
  10. Seat height: 27 inches
  11. Fuel capacity: 2.5 gals
  12. Fuel economy estimate: 78 mpg
  13. Wet weight: 326Lbs

Suggested retail price: $4499

Suzuki Boulevard S40

If you are looking for a low-cost beginners cruiser-style motorcycle with a bit more beef to it, the Suzuki Boulevard can deliver. Like the Yamaha, this Suzuki cruiser has the retro-styling that made cruising bikes popular. Its classic looks with the almost chopper-style front forks increase the cruiser-style appeal of the bike.

As expected, with a slightly bigger bike, the seat height on the Suzuki is 27.6 inches. This height is still within the easily accessible range for beginners and provides the comfort and stability to have the option of having both feet on the ground when stationary.

The motor on the Suzuki is where the extra helping of beef comes in. The engine size is a 650cc single-cylinder motor which has a distinctive thumping sound to it.

The extra capacity in the motor pushes the weight on this bike up to 381 pounds. While the Boulevard is heavier than some of the smaller engine bikes I have suggested, the weight is still easily manageable by a beginner rider.

Lets look at this bike in a bit more detail.

Suzuki Boulevard S40 Specifications:

  1. Engine type: Single cylinder
  2. Engine Stroke: 4 stroke
  3. Compression Ratio: 8.5.1
  4. Cooling: Air
  5. Final drive: Belt
  6. Transmission: 5-speed manual
  7. Front suspension: Telescopic Fork
  8. Rear suspension: Twin-sided spring arm
  9. Rear suspension type: Twin-sided swing arm
  10. Fuel capacity: 2.8 gals
  11. Front brake type: Hydraulic disk
  12. Rear brake type: Drum
  13. Wet weight: 381Lbs

Suggested retail price $5799

Honda Rebel 500 (My Top Pick)

The Honda Rebel is the big brother of the Honda Rebel 300. The styling is very similar to the 300, and it is definitely a more modern cruiser-style bike visually. It comes in only two colors, a pearl white, or my favorite, the matte metallic gray, which gives it that mean street machine look.

The seat height on the 500 version is 27.2 inches which is a nice size for a slightly bigger bike. This seat height is exactly the same as that of the 300, so if you are comfortable on the 300 and want to upgrade to a motor with a bit more power, you will still be comfortable on this machine.

The motor on this bike is a 500cc parallel-twin four-stroke motor that is reliable and efficient and delivers very user-friendly smooth power on acceleration, making it an ideal cruiser motorcycle for a beginner.

This motorcycle is somewhat heavier at an approximate weight of 414 pounds compared to the 300, which is 370 pounds. Despite the weight difference, the 500 is still easy to handle for a beginner rider as most of the weight on this bike is low down, so it is not noticeable when riding.

Lets look at this bike in a bit more detail.

The Honda Rebel 500cc Specifications:

  1. Engine: 471cc liquid-cooled 20º single-cylinder four-stroke
  2. Valvetrain: DOHC: four valves per cylinder
  3. Bore X Stroke: 67.0 mm x 66.8 mm
  4. Compression Ratio: 10.7:1
  5. Induction: PGM-FI; 34 mm throttle bodies
  6. Ignition: Computer-controlled digital transistorized w/ electronic advance
  7. Starter: Electric
  8. Transmission: 6-speed manual
  9. Clutch: Multiplate wet
  10. Front suspension: 41 mm telescopic fork; 4.8 in. travel
  11. Rear suspension: Twin shock; 3.8 in. travel
  12. Seat height: 27.2 inches
  13. Fuel capacity: 2.95 gal. (0.6 gal. reserve)
  14. Ground clearance: 5.3 inches
  15. Wet weight: 414Lbs (ABS Model)

Suggested retail price: $6299

The suggested retail price of $6299 is Honda’s recommended price, but after I have had a look on the internet and phoned around, I have found out that there are deals to be had, so make sure you negotiate when purchasing.

Kawasaki Vulcan S

The Kawasaki Vulcan S offers a bike with an aggressive yet vintage cruiser styling which makes this bike look at home on any urban street! An added advantage of this bike is that the riding position is adjustable, which could be a great feature for a beginner rider.

This bike allows you to choose the most comfortable riding position according to your height and can be adjusted as you gain riding confidence on the motorcycle.

The seat height on the Kawasaki is 27.8 inches making it the tallest seat height of the cruiser bikes I have showcased. This slightly taller seat height should pose no additional problems with the reach for a new rider.

The Kawasaki motor is a smooth-riding 650cc liquid-cooled motor that delivers a satisfying amount of power that is easy to control. Again, excellent for a newbie!

The Vulcan is also the heaviest of the cruisers in my top 5 choices, with a wet weight of approximately 491pounds. This may sound like a fair bit of weight to push around, but this is still a lightweight bike in the world of motorcycles.

The bike’s extra weight will require a little more muscle to manhandle the bike into parking spaces, but it is not beyond the scope of a beginner motorcycle rider.

At $7199, this is the most expensive of the low-cost cruiser motorcycles I have chosen but is still an excellent price.

Lets look at this bike in a bit more detail.

Kawasaki Vulcan S Specifications:

  1. Engine:  Parallel-twin
  2. Displacement: 649cc
  3. Bore X Stroke: 83.0 mm x 60 mm
  4. Compression Ratio: 10.8:1
  5. Final Drive: Chain
  6. Cooling: Liquid
  7. Transmission: 6-speed manual
  8. Front Tier: 120/70 x 18
  9. Rear Tire: 160/60 x 17
  10. Front suspension: Non-adjustable 41mm fork; 5.1 inches travel
  11. Rear suspension: Spring-preload adjustment shock; 3.1 inches. travel
  12. Seat height: 27.8 inches
  13. Fuel capacity: 3.7 gal.
  14. ABS: Standard
  15. Wet weight: 491Lbs (S Cafe 503 Ibs)

Suggested retail price: $7199

Conclusion

The cruiser-type styling of these motorcycles makes them all timelessly classic in their design features. As a beginner wanting to learn to ride but still look the part of a seasoned biker, the cruiser-style motorcycles in this lighter range are the ideal choice.

Even though some of the bikes I’ve mentioned have smaller engines, I specifically chose bikes that gave sufficient power for many years of riding in various traffic conditions. You should easily be able to use any of these motorcycles as a daily commuter and have great fun on them at the weekends as well!

As with myself, a long time ago… once a new rider builds up their confidence and skill riding a lighter and smaller-engined motorcycle, they will want to buy a bigger more powerful one.

With that being said, the popularity of these cruiser-style motorcycles means that these bikes retain their value pretty well as they are in height demand from other riders who are starting their motorcycle journeys. Should you wish to upgrade at some point in your riding progression, you will easily find a market for these low-cost cruiser motorcycles.

Happy Riding!

Robert Blake

Hi, I'm Robert and I've been riding motorcycles for nearly 2 decades. The intention of this blog is to give reliable up to date information to other motorcyclists who are looking for answers about all different aspects of motorcycling. All the information is either from my personal experience or investigational work I have carried out myself. Happy Riding!

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