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What is a good starter bike?

Sonic is back
1 July 2020
2019 KIBO 250
10 July 2020
Cover photo by Charles West

By Raju Migwi

W rong question. You're asking what the best starter bike is FOR THEM.
A better question is: "How do I figure out what the best starter bike is FOR ME?"

Here's how I would do it and I invite others to chip in their thoughts on the topic as well.

Body ergonomics first. If you're 5'4" and 28" legs, then a bunch of tall bikes aren't gonna work. If you're 6 foot, 250 lbs, you'll outgrow a Honda rebel 250 the first day you ride it.

Video by Tez Chege

 

Next, pre-existing injuries and medical conditions. If you have a history of carpal tunnel syndrome, a sport bike is gonna be a pain in the wrist.

Photo by Rita Musembi

 

Next, riding style. Street, dirt, city, country roads, what mix, percentages. If you plan to ride 2 hours up to the cottage and bang around the backroads, a 250 dual purpose is a far better choice than a 300 sport bike.

How much time in the saddle? What's realistic, in the context of work, family, other interests, time with significant other, etc. If you're spending ten hours a week commuting in the city and riding secondary highways, a comfy seat, upright position and windshield are assets.


Safety gear. Helmet, jacket, gloves, etc. The first year is expensive and the choices will be informed by the answer to the questions above. Cost it out, BEFORE buying the bike.

Photo by Geoff Orondo
 

Budget for a bike available after all the other monthly stuff is handled, like rent, food, etc.

Now you're down to a type of bike and an amount of money (AFTER safety gear purchases) available to own and operate a machine.

Do you have the cash flow to work your way up through a series of progressively larger and more challenging bikes, or do you need to get something that is uncomfortably big to begin with, but it will take you longer to outgrow it?

Pick a short list of five bikes. YouTube reviews, Craigslist, bike meets, etc. New is more expensive up front, is less maintenance, and more reliable. Older is cheaper to buy, less reliable, with more maintenance surprise

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