Needing Advice on Buying My First Motorbike

I'm looking for a decent & reliable bike for commuting from suburb to Brisbane. This will be my first bike so don't really want to spend a fortune, but need to be reliable. I prefer naked bike as I'm a small-built type & like upright riding posture.

Budget: $3500 max
Year: 2011 onward
KM: Less than 40,000kms
Registered: Yes
Engine: 250-500cc


Poll Options

  • 2
    Honda CBR250R
  • 3
    Kawasaki Ninja 250R
  • 3
    Kawasaki Z300
  • 12
    Suzuki GS500
  • 22
    Other (please mention in your comment)
  • 25
    Kawasaki Ninja 300
  • 37
    Honda CBR300


  • +6

    This KTM Duke 390?

    Naked, single cylinder, has some grunt and is fun to ride.

    • I'd go the KTM as well.

    • My only gripe with that bike was the fuel tank was relatively small wasn't it? Mightn't be an issue for OP if the commute is short

      • I believe it is stated to have a 200km range, which should be more than fine for commuting, but might mean an extra stop on long group rides.

        • And if commuting daily and extra stop every other week or more

    • If it was buying a learner now, I'd look at the Duke 390.

      I got a VTR250 around 10 years ago, and still have it…. great bike, but they are a bit more expensive second hand, tend to hold their value. I'd easily give it up for the larger engine Duke.

      I would just make sure the thing is fuel injected….. no carby…. which I'm pretty sure all modern bikes are!!

    • It's made in India and junk, get one of the Thailand made little sports bikes, way more reliable

    • Don't get a Duke 390, absolute rubbish. Made in India and built like crap. They're gutless and cramped. Mate had one and had to take it back to the dealer multiple times to repair the head gasket and fork seal leaks. Get a nice Japanese bike, don't fall for the team pumpkin hype.

  • +27

    For someone who wants a naked bike, you've listed a lot with full fairings.

  • +13

    I was in the same boat as you a few months ago. Ozbargainers have been mighty helpful, check out the thread here. I was looking for a bike under 3k, had low mileage and either a sport or naked. In the end, I got a CBR250R and I love it to bits. I had considered the CBR125 earlier but after riding for a bit, I think the CBR250R lacks power. You need to shift up to 4th gear to maintain steady revs at 60kmph.

    I'd got for a 300cc if it's within your budget. Also don't skimp on safety gear. Honda's are single cylinders so if you're going on the freeway or fast, it'll be much shakier compared to a twin cylinder like the Kawasaki Ninja. If it comes down to reliability, go for a Honda or Kawasaki bike.

    Happy riding! Good luck with bike hunting. In the end, all bikers look out for each other.

    • +1

      +1 for not skimping on safety gear! Although it can be uncomfortable wearing full gear in summer, you'll be thankful if something bad happens.

      For a learner a CBR250R 2011+ (MC41) is a good bike, and common enough that you can get parts easily. You should be pretty confident on it quickly enough.
      I prefer the Ninja 300 if you can find one within your budget; a fair bit more grunt than the Honda, and they're a lot more common if you decide to go on track, which means there are plenty of racing bits to put on there.

      • +1

        I was in full gear during the early stages of autumn. I was sweating like crazy when I was riding. You have a little compartment under the bike seat. @OP Do yourself a favour and have a torch and small water bottle in there. I've repurposed my vodka flask to store water and a nitecore flashlight which can be threaded through the latch thingo.

        I also used gumtree, facebook and bikesales to look for my bike. Facebook tends to have more quality bikes for sale at a decent price IMO. But do have a look around everywhere and sometimes you might snatch a really good deal.

  • +7

    My first bike was a 1992 CBR250rr, while not the ideal first bike. Nothing beats sounding like a f1 car at 30km/h. The inline 4's are just so much fun.

    Realistically maybe check out a vtr250? Bulletproof engines and a naked bike. Ideal for learners.

    • mine was a MC19 CBR250R. I learnt a lot on that bike in the 5 years Ive had it

      Those bikes sound like they are going 100 kph when it is just 60kph

    • That is what I am thinking about as well. I just got my L and looking for 3 1st bike. Prefer naked or even cafe rider. The VTR 250 looks good.

    • I had a 250RR as my first bikes too. Still miss that sound. Love my Aprilia though.

      • +1

        I sold mine in a moment of weakness. Haven't gotten another bike yet :(

        Although I've seen some pretty well priced 600s that look mighty tempting.

  • +6


    • +9

      We're now creating them. The circle of life : )

  • MC22 CBR250RR (if you want a nice 250 racing bike)

    VTR 250

    • The MC22 is too old for OP, the VTR is a good option though.

      • It is but they still go well. Stock fairings they look pretty ugly, but aftermarket fairing kits can be purchased to update the look. If I can buy a MC22 for peanuts, I wont mind getting one. However they are not good riding upride. VTR will be more suitable.

  • -2

    2017 Yamaha YZF-R1

    • +3

      2020 bmw s1000rr

      • -1

        Aprilia RSV4 RF?

  • +2

    How tall are you OP?
    Based on that I would pick a VTR250 or GS500 - also depends on how big a bike you are prepared to start on. The GS500 is close to being full sized, has quite a bit of torque and weight which smaller riders may not want. On the other hand the VTR250 although has similar power output, it would be a bit small for riders over 5'10" and it would likely struggle a little if you're over 80kgs

    The KTM Duke 390 or RC390 is also a good option, a friend has one and loves it, though I've heard about their questionable reliability (friend has had no issues)

    I will mention most of the new 250/300s are made to a price point (and in Thailand or India as opposed to Japan), and you really do notice the difference from this.

    • I'm 5'6" & less than 70kgs. Didn't think the GS500 is that heavy as a naked bike

      • +1

        GS500 (174kg)
        VTR250 (139kg)
        It does make a difference to new and smaller riders whose legs aren't used to holding a bike up

        It's almost getting into litre bike weight - the new R1 is around 175ish kg and my 600 supersport (non Lams) only weighs 165kg

        OP - A good point others are making below, is to consider a model with ABS. Personally I've never needed it but sure for a new rider, in the wet, or in unexpected circumstances (SMIDSY) it would be a lifesaver

      • +1

        VTR 250 will suite your requirements. Super reliable also.

  • upright riding posture = trail bike, of which there are many to choose from.

    • +1

      I always recommend trail bikes as first bikes. They are easy to ride, have an upright seating position, you won't do $2k of damage if you drop them in the driveway, they are normally cheap to register, cheaper on fuel, etc.

      The problem I see for the OP is their height, (s)he might struggle to get onto many dirt bikes comfortably. Perhaps a Kawasaki KL250 - they are light with a low seat height.

      • +2

        light and low - Yamaha DT175 - ning a ning ning

        Having said that, I am same height & weight as OP and have no problem with my 200kg KTM 990ADV (one foot stops).

        Recently re registered my Suzuki DR350 and it makes traffic a breeze (filtering is now legal in SA), 100km/h is buzzy though (road legal knobbies)

        • I'm a bit taller and a lot heavier than the OP. I have had a KTM 620, and not have a BMW G650X. The ktm was a real climb (and kick start to boot), the BMW is ok, but takes some getting used to. I've forgotten what it's like to put both feat down at a stop.

      • I always recommend trail bikes as first bikes. They are easy to ride, have an upright seating position, you won't do $2k of damage if you drop them in the driveway, they are normally cheap to register, cheaper on fuel, etc.

        Definitely. And you can take them off road which will improve your on road skills.

    • They get stolen like crazy and made into farm bikes, little learner sports bike much less likely to get stolen, they make much money getting parted out and arent made into track bikes

  • +6

    Literally just buy whichever one comes up that is the best value. Look for one with low KMs, recent model and well maintained and your laughing.

    They are near enough all the same and to be brutally honest you won't be able to tell the difference between them anyway for at least the first 3 months of your riding career. They are all more than capable bikes, anyone who tells you otherwise probably has a touch of bias. I would go the newer 300s if you twisted my arm and I had to choose if the difference in price isn't massive, as you are getting a more modern bike and perhaps stronger resale.

    • +2

      I disagree. There's certain brands that should be avoided. Megelli is one. They're beautiful bikes and they have many advanced features but the parts are cheap and they're unreliable.

      My mate had one. Sometimes it wouldn't start and parts wear out very quickly.

      You also want a bike that rides well. I don't think you can go wrong with ninjas. Honda's are also good but the lower CC bikes don't fare well at high speeds. Yamaha's might feel a bit rigid/stuff.

      • +3

        Whichever one out the options put forward was what I meant, point taken Hyosung, Megelli etc. have a reputation for being unreliable.

  • +6

    Posty bike

    • +1

      Honda CT-110 if anyone is curious.

    • As long as you don't need to go faster than 80km/h..

      • +1

        Downhill… with a tailwind

      • Added a led spotlight so i could see at night as well.

  • Ninja 300

    • +15

      You do not need to speed $2000 on gear. Not everyone needs Shoei/Arai helmets and Dainese racing leathers to commute to work.

      Conan, despite his barbaric tendencies, gives some reasonable estimates above for costs. You can get away with a full set of decent new gear for around $800. Less if you piece together some used stuff or hit the sales.

      • +3

        Yeah, a 'lesser' brand of helmet will be just as safe (they all comply with the same standards) but cost 1/3 the price of a Shoei/Arai.

        The Aldi gear isn't that bad even. I've got one of their jackets and it's at least as protective as my previous (much more expensive) mid-tier brand stuff.

        It's much better to wear Aldi gear than not wear the high-end because you can't afford it and then ride around in a singlet and thongs…

        • +1


          Make sure you also scour gumtree aswell because there's quite alot of bargains to be had - from people that took up riding then realised after a few rides that it wasn't for them.

          I'd recommend Alpinestars gear if you can afford it.

        • -10

          That is just what poor people tell themselves. Im sure your 59 dollar aldi helmet will be fine. once they scrape your head out of it. and smoosh it all back together you have made a great investment.

        • +1

          @edwardsajl: Do you have any objective data showing the measures by which a $1200 AGV or a $900 Arai/Shoei helmet is safer than a $500 Shark helmet, or a $300 HJC one?

          Even the cheapest helmet must comply with the Australian standards. (I wouldn't buy the cheapest one personally, for comfort/style/noise reasons, but I would feel perfectly safe wearing one)

          Also I disagree with montorola about second-hand, helmets are single-use items and I wouldn't buy a second-hand one unless it was from a trustworthy friend.

          edit: some data on price vs safety performance, it's a bit erratic.

        • +1


          second hand jackets is fine. second hand helmet, not so. However I did buy a limited edition shoei helmet second hand.

        • +2


          Correction - I'm not advocating the use of second hand helmets, rather second-hand jackets/boots etc that are in good condition (i.e. not been lowsided in)

        • +4


          Here's one - (select full face helmets)

          A $1000 Shoei X-Spirit 3 has the same score as a $350 AGV Grid, or a $300 HJC for example.

          While some may question the validity of the testing methods, if you stick with the mid range brands you'll have the standards compliance of the higher helmets, and concede some features, some extra weight, a bit less quality control etc. Shark, AGV, HJC are all ok.

          Get the Shoei or the Arai if you want (I have a Shoei NXR), but you don't need to, especially when starting out. It's more important that it fits your head properly.

        • +2

          @iforgotmysocks: That's a brilliant resource, thanks. I'm probably due for a new helmet, looks like Shark has pretty good bang for the buck.

        • +1


          +1 for Shark, best bang for buck brand I reckon.

          I was shocked to find Arai quite a fair bit down on the list, given that they portray themselves as a premium brand.

        • +1

          @iforgotmysocks: and PLEASE get a helmet that FITS properly. Even if it's a cheaper helmet, it's better to have a cheap helmet that stays on your head in a crash than a pricier helmet that'll fly off in a crash.

          There's no need to get a shoei or arai unless they're the only brands that fit your head. I know a friend who got one because that's the only one that fitted him.

        • @abb: Try this as well. UK site.

      • +1

        also, how are you riding? are you a highway racer? or a city commuter? and what are you riding?

        if you're riding a bike in peak hour to get from home to work and back are you going to need $2000 leather gear?

        if I'm on my 1967 suzuki 70cc then I think I'm adequately protecting myself as best as possible wearing aldi gear. I'm not going to be getting up to 100kmh.

        interesting test regarding "kevlar" jeans

  • +4

    My first bike was old and secondhand. The engine blew up after two months of riding and I spent a fortune getting it rebuilt only so I could sell it for nearly what I paid for it to be fixed.

    My second bike was a nearly new Kawasaki GPX250 that had 4,000 km on it. I rode the GPX for two years, thoroughly enjoyed the ride and extra safety features it had. It was reliable and never cost anything in the way of repairs, and here's the best bit: the market for secondhand bikes is so strong that I sold it for what I bought it for. Buy a near new bike, enjoy it and move it on after you're done. It'll probably save you money in the long run.

    From memory, the Kawasakis were a smoother ride than the new fairinged Hondas. Hondas were cheaper but seem to have been made for the Indian market with only one cylinder or something to keep the cost down. Revved like crazy and didn't feel like they'd last long.

    • +1

      After reading a few other posts, I still stand by buy something near new but, the CB400 is a hell of a real bike. I recommend them highly. If you want something without fairings, look no further.

  • +1

    If it's your first bike you'd best of stick with a cheap CBF250.

    You want minimal fairings with a bike that gives you good upright position and good control.

    Yes the other bikes will look nice and have lots of power but it sounds like you're doing suburban rides anyway. Yes the VTR250 is a good traditional stayer but at its age now I'd go with something newer with a little bit less ongoing maintenance.

    For something cheap and new you can look at the CFmotos150 ($1-$2k for what you're after) or Honda CBF250 under $2.5k like this one even comes with RWC:

    • CBFs are single cylinder, all carburettored.

      VTR250s, since 2010, come with EFI and the V-twin means it makes more torque meaning easier to ride

  • +1

    Ninja 300s are popular for a reason. Any of the ones you've listed are fine though, I had a CBR250R personally.

  • +7

    Consider spending an extra $1500 on a CB400. Top quality bike. They aren't selling them in Australia anymore so it should hold it's resale fairly well, and you'll appreciate the premium features.

    • Didn't see this until I posted my response, but THIS!!!

    • Didn't know cb400s were around the $5k mark. Get one of these :-)

      Sound better than 95% of lams bikes, look fantastic, built in Japan, and go hard. Also more than enough power to last you beyond your lams period, especially if you're a smaller rider.

    • I didn recommend the CB400 because I didnt know how much they were going for. They used to be almost 10k new.

      nice commuter bike.

    • Came here to say this. I got my cb400 for$3000. If you look around that can be had for around OP's budget. Great bike, eat too ride and virtually bulletproof. The only bike I have had that was easier to ride was a supermotard.

      • Agree with all of the above. Bought a second hand '08 cb400 for about 7.8k about 6 years ago now as my first bike. Haven't felt the itch to buy a bigger bike.

        I'd save up the extra money and stretch for the cb400 if you can. Haven't had any problems whatsoever. Only money spent was on regular maintenance and repairs after a few offs.

        Please whatever you do DONT SKIMP ON GEAR! All the gear all the time. ATGATT!!!

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