Is a 600cc motorcycle good for a beginner?

A 600cc motorcycle can be good for beginner riders, unless it has a high-performance engine. The displacement of an engine doesn’t determine its performance, but you can identify whether a motorcycle has a high-performance engine by the sound it produces.


In this article, we discuss which 600cc motorcycles are good for beginner riders and how to distinguish beginner-friendly bikes from non-beginner bikes. This will allow you to understand the basic principals for choosing your first motorcycle and the next one when you have gained more riding experience.

We’ll discuss the following:

  • The performance suitable for beginner riders
  • Other factors that contribute to beginner-friendly motorcycles
  • How to hear the difference between beginner and non-beginner bikes
  • The best beginner motorcycles

The performance suitable for beginner riders

Ideally, you want to start on a motorcycle that has around 40 horsepower, but you could go up to 50 horsepower. This would include motorcycles from the Yamaha MT 03 up to the Honda CBR500R which are all mostly single or twin-cylinder engines.

But the displacement doesn’t tell you all that much about how much performance the engine has since you get small engines that produce a lot of power and big engines that produce very little power.

A good example of how a standard-performance engine compares to a high-performance engine is by comparing the Honda CBR600RR and the CBR500R:

CBR600RR118 HP
CBR500R50 HP

As you can see here, the CBR600RR has more than twice the horsepower of the CBR500R even though it only has around 100cc more displacement (128cc to be exact). This is because the CBR500R has a “standard-performance” engine. Obviously, the displacement doesn’t tell us how powerful the engine is.

In another example, you might compare the CBR600RR with the bigger displacement CBR650R:

CBR600RR118 HP
CBR650R94 HP

Again, this comparison is evidence that displacement doesn’t determine engine power output. This means that the CBR650R is a better option for a beginner instead of the CBR600RR, but it still has way more than 50 HP, so it’s not an ideal beginner bike. You could consider the CBR650R as an intermediate bike.

But I would also like to add that while displacement doesn’t determine the overall performance of an engine, it can be a way to determine performance at idle speeds. By this, I mean that a 500cc engine should be less likely to stall than a 300cc engine when pulling away.

On motorcycles, like the Honda Rebel 500 and Rebel 300, where they are almost identical except for the engine, you should find it easier to pull away on the bigger Rebel 500 just because it’s less likely to stall.

New riders might find this bit of extra power, at idle speed, very useful since pulling away with a clutch can be very difficult for someone with zero riding experience.

With that said, my conclusion would be that while you, as a beginner rider, don’t want a motorcycle that has too much power, you also don’t want one with too little power. Generally speaking, these would be motorcycles with around 400cc to 500cc, or between 40 HP and 50 HP, to be more precise.

Other factors that contribute to beginner-friendly motorcycles

Besides the power output of the motorcycle, there are some other factors that make a motorcycle more beginner-friendly. While not all of these factors are necessary for beginner bikes, having some of them can help you learn faster and easier.

The first of these factors is your riding position (or seating position). A more upright riding position is the easiest for a new rider. This is typically when your back is not leaned forward or backwards, your arms are stretched only a bit (as if you were typing on a keyboard), and your feet are positioned almost directly in line under with your knees.

This upright riding position is what you will find on dual-sport bikes, dirt bikes, adventure bikes, standard bikes and, to some degree, naked bikes.

The second factor is the width of the handlebars. Wide handlebars are much easier for steering. Dirtbikes most often have the widest handlebars of any type of motorcycle but among road bikes, you would probably be looking at standard or naked bikes as they inherently have rather wide handlebars.

The third factor is the weight of the motorcycle. Actually, it has more to do with the ratio between weight, centre of mass and how high the handlebars are from the road. While a person can theoretically ride any motorcycle, regardless of the weight, it can get very difficult at low speeds, especially for beginner riders.

There is a whole explanation for how this works which would be an entire article on its own but what you need to remember is that for an easy ride, you want high handlebars and a low centre of mass (like a typical cruiser bike).

The fourth factor is having lazy controls. This means that the controls of the bike are not very sensitive. It could be that you have to turn the throttle much further to get to full-throttle or that the clutch engages very smoothly. This allows a beginner rider to make mistakes without wrecking the bike.

Having lazy controls might not be that crucial since a new rider will get used to what they ride, regardless of how sensitive the controls are.

How to hear the difference between beginner and non-beginner bikes

You will be able to tell the difference between a high-performance motorcycle engine and a standard motorcycle engine just by the sound it makes. This will however require some real-world experience.

My best effort to explain the difference in the sound is that standard motorcycle engines make a “pop” noise and high-performance engines make a bursting noise. The exhaust, or tailpipe, won’t change the type of sound it makes; only the tone of the noise.

In order for you to understand the difference, you need to hear what these engines sound like.

First, we will listen to three different standard motorcycle engines:

Yamaha YFZ-R3
Honda Rebel 500
Kawasaki Vulcan 650

Now, here are three high-performance motorcycle engines:

Ducati Panigale V4
Yamaha YZF-R1
Aprilia RSV4

It might take a while for someone new to motorcycles to hear the difference, but eventually, you will recognise the difference in the sound of these different motorcycles even though they all sound very distinct from one another.

Being able to tell the difference by the sound might not be all that helpful for buying your first motorcycle, but it can assist you in realising what motorcycles you should not try riding as a beginner.

The best beginner motorcycles

Ah… type this phrase into Google and you get a complete mess of answers for the best beginner bikes. It seems that no one can agree on anything.

My opinion is as I said before, 40 Hp to 50 Hp (around 400cc to 500cc, more or less). But you should just choose the motorcycle you like. There’s no point in buying something you don’t like just because someone says that’s what you need.

I do have my recommendations, but consider finding something you like before looking at lists of bikes that don’t really change your opinion.

My recommendations are in the form of starter kits. This means that I recommend a motorcycle for the type of riding you are into (like cruiser, sport, naked, etc.) and then recommend the protective gear that fits with the motorcycle. You’ll get the idea when you have a look at them…

These are my starter kits for beginner riders:

Final words

I hope you found this article useful and informative. If you did, you might consider subscribing to the monthly newsletter. A lot of my content is aimed at beginners, but there is also a bunch of other topics that I cover.

Featured image by cramec_ on Instagram.

I always try to keep my articles interesting and informative. And I’m always thankful when they are shared on social media platforms or Pinterest.

Two Motion

I don’t see myself as an expert in every topic of motorcycling but my articles usually relate to new experiences that are relevant at the time of writing.

Recent Content