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


  • Well I bought a 150cc Yamaha R15. Was only $1450 with 10,000km. Lacks power but it's more than capable of 110 km/h and it does over 360 km on 10 litres.

    • My 1300 gives me ~350kms on 19L if I lay off the throttle…

  • +1

    Might be a little outside your requirements but I'd recommend the Ninja ZX-14R.

    • +7

      Nah, underpowered, OP needs a Ninja H2R…

  • Any of the bike listed is naked lol ?

    • thought the GS500 is??

      • 1 out of 6 and you said you wanted a naked bike. So i just thought you would list more naked bike as option.

        • Yeah I know lol. But not many naked ones fulfill the specs I'm after, the GS500 is one of a few naked bikes fall into these range.

  • The GS500 has the most torque out of all the bikes you've listed, but it's also my least favourite to look at :D

    If I had my way I'd be pointing you straight to a Honda CB400 but that's going to be out of the budget (but well worth the extra $$$).

    • haha I'm more concerned about the comfort of riding rather than the look of the bike. Yeah the CB400 is a bit over budget

  • +1

    Get a bike with ABS! The 2012-ish CBR250RA (ABS variant) is dirt cheap right now, extremely reliable, and if you weigh under 120kg, should be very suitable for highway use. Use the ~1500 you save to buy durable, safe gear with CE level 2 armour, and maybe a communication system (which also allows you to play music through your helmet). The CBRs hold their resale value as well, so you can easily sell it in 12 - 24 months with no loss of capital.

  • None of the bikes listed could be categorized as really NAKED

  • +1

    2013 Kawasaki Ninja 300 3461km on Bikesales now for $3490 with ABS here in QLD (not sure where dealers located)

    These Kawasaki's have been around since 1983. I had a GPZ 250R years ago and it never missed a beat.
    I still have a Kawasaki Twin (2007 Versys) with 60000 km and it too hasn't had any major issues.
    Should your budget stretch even a Kawasaki ER6N for about $4500 (lams approved)

    +1 Get the Gear

    • I've got an offer for a 2012 Ninja 250, less than 4000kms, with rwc but no rego, asking $3500 - is this a bargain or should I ask for a bit more down?

      • Way too high for a 5 yo Ninja 250, especially if its unregistered. That'll be another $600 off the bat.

  • Royal Enfield. The bikes look nice and isn't too pricey.

    • +1

      they're a piece of sh*t. my mate has 1 and it has never not been broken.

      • As a motorcycle mechanic, I can confirm. Hate when people ring me and start by saying… "I have This Royal Enfield…." I just know the rest is going to be a horror story and is going to cost as much to fix as the bike cost…

        • Thank you for the advice Tom and Pegaxs. I do not have a bike myself, but a friend just brought a Royal Enfield and was recommending it to me as a good bike..

  • +4

    DO NOT skimp on safety gear… Boots & Helmet are a MUST; even if you're just going down the street. Mainly because; You will come off, sooner or later.

    If you don't believe me, ask anyone who owns a bike.

    The biggest problem that you will encounter is OTHER drivers, (of cars).

    They will not see you and cut you off, and even, push you into oncoming traffic.
    Their usual response will be, "Dude, I didn't see ya." (from experience)

    Don't get me wrong; I'm not trying to scare you off getting a bike. I just want you to be aware of those drivers with painted on eyes.

    You WILL see all sorts of crazy antics from these drivers when you are riding; mainly because your senses will be heightened (or better be).

    Always be vigilant for these guys & gals. They will be the ones that are twiddling with a radio, playing EXTRA loud music, putting on their make-up or using a mobile-phone.

    I seem to be a magnet for drivers that pull out from a parking spot.
    This leads to me being wedged UNDER their car, (because self preservation gave me a split second to lay the bike down) one guy even blamed me.
    I don't know how he arrived at that conclusion, but the cops enlightened him.

    Again, Boots & Bash-hat can save your life (and toes).
    The thing is be prepared for (when).

    To enlighten ya about minor injuries over the last 35 years:
    * Right ankle shattered & reconstructed.
    * Both knees… the left one several reconstructions & repairs. (about to have a replacement)
    * 4 broken fingers. (at different times)
    * Fractured neck. (non paralysing, but the ongoing pain is a bitch)
    * Broken left collar-bone, twice.
    * Skin removed from Bum, Right hip, Right hand/wrist.
    I consider these minor, mainly because I lived.

    ALWAYS keep a look-out for the brain-dead dicks, or they WILL get ya.

    • Jeez, sound like I'm gonna get a Disabled Parking Permit after few years of riding bike! Urrhhhh…. But you're right, better be careful upfront!

    • +2

      Boots & Helmet are a MUST; even if you're just going down the street.

      Add gloves to that - when you go down, you'll instinctively put your hand out. Do you want your palm to meet the road or would you prefer there was something covering it?

      • +4

        I rate gloves higher than (motorcycle specific) boots.

        • Unless you want someone else to wipe your backside for 2 months while the scabs on your palms heal. I cringe when I see other riders without gloves.

        • @Peace Maker: That's bad. Losing your fingers is worse.

    • Can you enlighten ME about whether I SHOULD use bold, italics or upper case to highlight my POINT?

      Just giving you a ribbing :P

  • +1

    dont worry too much about your first bike, your going to want to get off it as soon as practical, spend a couple grand on something like a suzuki across (man its amazing how often that boot space comes in handy, one of the big things i miss.

    then upgrade to something with a bit more grunt once your off your restrictions.

  • Vroom Vroom

  • -3

    public transport?

  • Check gumtree, those 6-9k honda scooters that are pretty luxury can go cheap, since you want upright anyway

  • Any good places to go for accessories please? Motorama, bike shops, websites?

    • skip them, nothing really improves riding or safety in the beginning. put the money towards more advanced courses which transfers to any bike

    • +2

      Look at They stock a lot of end of line/season stuff. If comfort is a big factor, go for textile gear over leather. A heap lighter and more flexible but still safe.

  • +1

    VTR250, best learner naked bike. Bigger than other 250's, doesn't break down, and holds it's value well

    • how does this fare in terms of maintenance & parts?

      • It's not particularly complicated, and will put up with a fair bit of neglect. Parts should be plentiful, lot's of legit and grey market versions around. I recommenced them as they can generally carry through the L's, and afterwards a bit, plus you can sell em off pretty easily if you want to trade up to your dream bike.

  • +3

    I commute from North Brisbane to the CBD daily and was in the exact same position as you 6 months ago so feel I am well placed to give you some advice on this.

    I did my test on a 250 and found it to be ok in 60 zones, but through the country roads we did our ride on the bike
    was revving incredibly high doing 80+ km/h. PLus I looked stupid on a 250 because of how small they are.

    Hence I started looking at larger engined LAMS bikes. I did look at a few nakeds as I wanted something with a fairly upright riding position due to a 45 minute+ each way commute.

    Then I came across the Ninja 650L and took one for a test ride. Although it has full fairings, it has a very comfortable upright riding position (for me). And on top of that, it's pretty bloody quick for what it is. I absolutely smoke 250s and below from the lights and it's very comfortable cruising at 110km/h.

    I ended up buying a 2 year old used one with 10,000km for around $5k. I thought this was reasonable.

    All in all, I couldn't be happier with my purchase.

    • Bit too heavy though for a fresh rider I'd imagine? These bikes are really heavy

      • Ah I'm not sure about that. I rode it as a fresh rider but I am a pretty big guy. I think they weigh like 200kg which is pretty heavy.

  • Honda VTR 250

    V-Twin. Easy, predictable power all the way through the rev range. Enough power to keep you happy as you learn things properly.

    Upright position. Naked biked.

    Quite reliable from my experience. Never had any issues personally. I bought myself some oggy knobs/ frame sliders, which paid off when I lowsided at a roundabout in the rain. Stood the bike up, road home.

    Another thing I remember was getting parts for services etc. was fairly easy. I could often find out what needed to be done in a service, buy the parts myself cheaply, and then pay a mechanic for their time only. Can save bits here and there.

    I just loved how darn easy and forgiving it was as a first bike.

      • +3

        Nah. No RWC. Really old too. If you're selling something and don't get a RWC, it's because you're concerned it won't pass.

        If you have the budget, a few others are mentioning a CB400. That is indeed a mighty fine choice..if you have the extra money.
        It's a longer investment, and you're getting a lot of bang for your buck in terms of quality brakes etc.

    • pretty good on fuel too.

  • +2

    Cb400 all the way mate. Inline 4 65bhp and thanks to that inline 4 you will have proper sound if you want new exhaust not fart can like those kid on ninja 300 or r3 or so. Slow enough for beginner and fast enough for good fun

    • +2

      I've been riding bikes for almost 40 years and I own 2 Ducatis, a Harley and a cb400 that I got for about $3000 and the cb is by far a favorite to ride. I always tell people that the engine is just a box filled with angry hornets. It's got plenty of power and it's delivery is very linear. The riding position is very good and allows a new ride to feel confident from the get go. It handles well and I used mine a few timeson track days with my slow cafe racer mates.

      If you want naked, keep searching and try and find one of the cb400's. I even know a lot of guys who kept them after they finished their probation license.

      Only other bike I would recommend is a supermotard, like a xr400 or drz400sm. Very easy to learn on, easy too repair, even short commutes put a smile on your face, you can blast the doors of your mates in the twisties on their litre sports bike… But! The down side is, no good on long commutes and service intervals on some motards can be every other weekend… And it's hard to enjoy sports bikes after owning a super motard :D

      • yoy sir is my hero. You are right. The hornet just got something that you cant resist. I still got my though. Beautif to commute to work shopping and among other things.the r6 is more like weekend ride. And it feels good when yoy blast away from those super sport wanna be 300ish bike with their fart can. The thing isa lot of guys i asked said that the hornet looks kinda old style i guess its partially true but thats what i love about it. Kinda sleeper isnt it. Honda hasnt change the design much at all beaide efi and abs

        • +1

          I bought my CB400 after getting a near $1000 rego bill for my CB1300. The CB400 rides and feels exactly the same as my old CB1300, but 3/4 the size and 1/3rd the rego. :D

    • Was hoping someone had recommended this. Definitely. Leaves a bit of wiggle room when it comes time to upgrade also, won't leave you completely wanting to jump off a 2fiddy as soon as you're legally allowed.

      Better resale too. Although 250s hold their value quite well, the cb will moreso.

      OP should be going for one of these or a vtr 250 IMO. HAPPY HUNTING!

  • +1

    Suzuki GS500 +/- F

    Brilliant learner/P bike. Easy to ride and not too underpowered.

  • +1

    Also bear in mind that naked bikes don't ride as well as faired bikes on the freeway due to obvious aerodynamics. Not sure if your commute involves freeway riding nut I thought I'd mention it.

  • OP get something that is reliable and will hold resale. Ninja 250 / 300 or cbr250. You will only have it for a year before you inevitably upgrade, should be able to pick something up for $2500 and you may even make a profit on it after riding it for a year.

    • In Queensland the probationary period is two years now. A fairly long time

      • Wow I hadn't realised it has been changed from 1 to 2 years, what a shame.

  • I'm surprised no one has mentioned Honda CB500F or CBR500. I can see several on BikeSales asking 4k … can probably haggle them down to your budget.

  • Ok I found the following:

    2012 Suzuki GS500 Mile: 24,000kms Rego: 25/07/2017 RWC: TBC Price:$3,500.00

    2011 Ninja 250 Red (EX250J) Mile: 18,280kms Rego: 1/07/2017 RWC: Yes Price: $2,800.00

    2008 CBF250 Mile: 14,900kms Rego: Dec-17 RWC: Yes Price: $2,290.00

    2011 Ninja 250 SE Mile: 30,000kms Rego: TBC RWC: TBC Price: $2,000.00

    2012 Ninja 250 (EX250J) Mile: 15,800 Rego: 22/06/2017 RWC: Yes Price: $2,900.00

    2011 Suzuki GS500 34,000km Reg: Nov-17 RWC: Yes $3,000.00

    2012 CBR250R 23,000km Reg: 11/10/2017 RWC: TBC $2,800.00

    2011 Ninja 250R Black EX250J 29,013km Reg: Nov-17 RWC: Yes $2,490.00

    2012 CBR250R 14,738km Reg: Sep-17 RWC: TBC $2,700.00

    Obviously I have to test ride and see the condition of each one to feel them but looking at the specs & asking price here which one would be the most bargain please? MANY THANKS!!!

    • +1

      What state are you and we'll help you look.

      • I'm in Brisbane, thank you in advance!

        • How long do you plan on keeping it?

        • @Pizdets: as long as possible, i just need a realiable one to commute to work, not racing or collecting or anything :)

        • @MiaSanMia:

          If that's the case then just go test ride the ones you listed. See which one you like and buy it.

        • +1

          If your budget is a hard $3500 I would suggest the Ninja 300. Made in Japan, solid reputation and spare parts support. Parallel twin is nicer than a single and good resale. They top the sales charts for a good reason. My last 2 bikes have been Kawasaki's for the past 13 years with no major issues.

          There are heaps of good offerings on Gumtree in Brisbane.

          This one is $4k but is a 2015 with only 2650km's. You might do well with a cash offer.

          This one has ABS and is $3750 but again cash offer will help.

          Bikesales have another for $3300 with 17,000km's.

          If you had a bigger budget I agree with the others about the Honda CB400.

          At the end of the day be happy with your choice no matter what you choose and enjoy it. I bought and sold 4 bikes in my first year of motorcycling so don't sweat your choice too much.

          Remember ATGATT (all the gear all the time)

          Have fun and be safe!

    • +1

      No love for Yamaha? Or is it that they are all too expensive? When I bought my first bike I got the R3. I test rode it against all other bikes in its class and it was the clear winner in comfort and performance. When I bought it, it was $7k brand new, but u might be able to find them for around 4k second hand.

      • Yeah found some in year & price range but they all 125cc

  • First bike, get something with safety features like ABS while you build up your skills….. I had the kawasaki ninja 300 but think is a bit underpowered for me, I am 5-9" and 100kg…..sold it and got a yamaha fz6s 2006 with 25k kms…..

  • +2

    Given your criteria, be open minded to a Honda Grom.

    Your criteria ticks:
    - Decent & reliable bike brand
    - Perfect as a commuter (lane splitting / nimble)
    - Light weight for new riders / smaller people
    - Naked look / upright position
    - Year: 2011 onward with < 40,000km's (you can have a new bike with warranty, full rego, no transfer fees, fresh tyres)

    Crosses against your criteria:
    - Budget: $3500 max (I bought one $3950 new). Learn on a learner friendly bike, and sell it off for $3xxx 6-12 months later.
    - Engine: 250-500cc (Give the 125cc a test drive, I comfortably sit in 90km/h zones)


    2nd hand bikes that are learner approved are quite often:
    - Expensive considering their wear
    - Smaller engines are thrashed
    - May have been dropped (e.g. new riders may forget to put down side stand all the way)

    Good luck!

  • I started on a 2011 hyosung gt650r, one of the fastest bikes on LAMS and they are dirt cheap mainly because they tend to have problems (electrical for me)
    go and test ride it. I didnt start on the 250-300cc's because their small tyres seemed too sketchy for me, as for the gt650r bigger tyres, bigger engine you will have no problem overtaking cars plus you can knee drag on them!

    IF you want a upright bike thats faster than the hyosung gt650r, get the kawasaki ninja 650r its quite expensive but they are the most reliable LAMS bike in the long run.

    Also the old cbr250rr is very nice.. best sounding bikes on restricted license hands down (but they're OLD).

    I know you're looking towards a naked bike but if you change your mind those choices are good.

    Now I ride a 2016 BMW S1000RR and I love every bit about it!

    Don't be like those guys that rides a ninja 250r with a yoshi pipe and baffle taken out..

    • You are right sir. I forgot about that korean brand too. And yes dont be 300cc fart can

  • If it were me, I'd stretch the budget a bit and go with a Yamaha MT-03.

    Like this one.

    Doesn't fit your engine requirements though, but is Learner Approved (if that's what you really need)…

  • As long as you can get something that you can afford to lose half the cost of, you'll be fine.

  • +1

    Budget of $3500 just for bike or include protective gear ? My instructor stressed that don't cheap out on protective gear as you will grow out of the bike but stay with the gear (not to mention it'll save your skin/life etc)

    Anyway, 250cc and naked = Honda Nighthawk, super reliable, straight sitting position, light and low for a small frame bloke.

    • $3500 just for bike. I'm gonna spend another grand for jacket, helmet, gloves & possibly pants.

  • GPX 250 / ZZR 250 / VTR 250

    Either of the above 3. I think a budget of $3,500 for a first bike is a tad too much. perhaps look to spend around 2,500 - 3,500.

    If this is your first bike, I can almost guarantee that you would want to upgrade.

    From your preference, it looks like you are into sports bike.

    Go get your sports bike when you are ready to upgrade.

  • +1

    Honda Grom falls under your budget

  • VTR is same as CBR just naked.. I owned a VTR and was great but i had a hard time reselling it as no one wants a 250 on LAMS when you can get a up to 660. If youre not expecting to sell it on or dont mind about the resale guess a 250 is ok but it's pretty pointless for all practical purposes. If i had my time again i would have gone a Yamaha XJ6N

  • OP you're lucky to be petite as you could find the smaller 250s comfy (like MC19/22 Fireblade or better yet an NC30 VFR400). It's been stated already, but these are much older than your 2011> preference. They're also 4 cylinder engines, so usually dearer to service and repair. Of those above, the 400 is actually the better bike, but also risky as they're popular track bikes.

    Be aware the recent Thai built CBR250 is single cylinder. Cheaper to own, but buzzy at highway speeds.

    I voted Z300 as it's a twin and almost naked SF. However, get whatever floats your boat — fairings are easy enough to remove, rendering anything naked/SF. Just be mindful of the headlight area and if front blinkers are attached to fairing.

  • +1

    Was in your situation about 4 years ago.
    Things I wish I would have done.

    • Just sit on every bike I can get my ass on.
    • After I got RE license, test everything that fits my "wants".
    • Spent more time looking for gear, shops, and sites I didn't know about.
      It's very time consuming, of which I didn't have to do so.

    I ended up getting a 2012 Ninja250, with 5000km. Off a friends friend. It's ok, gets the job done, cheap to run 4L/100km, twist it as high rpm as u need.
    Service isn't too bad ~$200 for minor, ~$400 for major from a local shop, dealers will charge more.

    As years got by, better LAMS bikes have come out, especially the 500cc realm.
    I might not have upgraded to an R1, if say I got a honda cb500.

    I commute for 40mins. Yeh, I could have gotten more comfortable bikes, but it what "I" like.

    The final thing would be to stick with Japanese bikes for second hand.
    Ride safe.

  • +1 - the best value for money safety gear to get you started. I bought a 2 piece suit from there (Leather jacket and pants) for $500. I think they had a special on them for $399 recently too. Great protection and very comfy.

    I bought a Ninja 300 2014 ABS for $3850. You might find it hard to get a Ninja 300 for under $3500 but a 250 will fit in that range. Honestly though, from what I've been told the 300 is worth the extra $500 especially if you're a heavier rider or plan on going on 100kmph+ a lot.

  • My first bike was a vt250r, Japanese import. Light, and nimble, comfy all day, quick enough for your needs, decent range and economy, holds it's value quite well, bulletproof, which is just as well as pig to drop the engine out of but if well cared for you shouldn't need to.

  • I own and commute on a Yamaha R3 and I highly urge to try and get something 300cc & above. I've ridden a Honda cbr250r and the power feels significantly less than the r3. You want something with more grunt to take it on the highway, do quick overtakes and to get out of tight spots etc.

    The R3s & Ninja 300s are really upright for 'faired sport bikes', so you'll have not problems commuting on them. From what I heard, the cbr300r seems to underperform in power compared to the latter two 300s.

    And like everyone has already said, buy gear before you buy your bike, because if yo ride, you will eventually come off. You don't have to buy $2,000 worth of gear like me, but get a decent helmet ($260 AGV K3), gauntlet gloves (~$100), Jacket (~$100), kevlar jeans ($50 on clearance), riding sneakers or boots (<$100 Rjays maybe).

  • I've found a 2011 Ninja 250R SE, almost 30k km on the clock, happy with the test ride. $2400 with 6mth rego & rwc. Is this a good deal?

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