Riding on two wheels proves intimidating enough for some but a significant roadblock for others who desire to take up motorcycling comes from the weight of the bike.
Though hardly an automobile, motorcycles can weigh nearly 1,000 pounds and when stopped you support all that with your legs. It's a balancing act for sure and those with a shorter stature, less strength or just not confident in their ability to hold up a motorbike often benefit from a lightweight motorcycle.
Lightweight motorcycles typically have smaller engines, and in fact, you just might hear some enthusiasts refer to lightweight motorcycles as those with smaller bore engines. And though lightweight in that circumstance refers to the lighter powered engine, the total weight of the bike is far less than some of its bigger two-wheeled brothers.
Most small bore motorcycles, those with 500cc engine sizes and smaller, weigh between 300 and 350 pounds and shorter riders, beginners and the fast growing segment of women riders find these types of bikes easier to ride and manage. Once accustomed to riding a lighter motorcycle, riders then wade into the heavier touring and cruiser motorcycles because their confidence on the small bike helps stretch them to try the bigger rides.
Mid-range engine sized bikes, those with the popular 600cc to 750cc engines, come in a bit heavier than the small bore but still offer a manageable weight for those who wish for something a bit more powerful without the excess mass. Sport bikes, naked and classic motorcycles generally fill in the blanks for those looking for lightweight bikes so we rounded up the more popular ones to give you an idea of what to expect when shopping for motorcycles without all the heaviness attached.
Lightweight Small Bore Motorcycles
Kawasaki Eliminator 125
A classy motorcycle weighing in around 300 pounds, the Kawasaki Eliminator sits less than 30 inches from the ground. The small 125cc engine has enough oomph to jet this lightweight around without overpowering the rider. Though production stopped some time ago you can still find a used one and many beginners chose this motorcycle for their first time out.
Those looking to buy a used bike should look no further than the Honda CB250. First introduced in the 1960s, this standard lightweight motorcycle has seen various modifications and became known as the Nighthawk but all the while weighed in less than 300 pounds with an engine size just shy of 250cc. If you take a motorcycle endorsement or training class, don't be surprised if you throw a leg over this one.
Honda Rebel 300
The Honda Rebel 300 offers a modern take on the classic look of a motorcycle and weighs around 350 pounds with a 286cc engine. The 27-inch seat height provides solid footing while the engine gives a crisp response without overpowering the rider.
Kawasaki Ninja 300
A slick sport bike, the Kawasaki Ninja 300 weighs 360 pounds and easily handled by the 296cc engine. Those looking for a bit more power and speed without the rapid throttle response find this lightweight motorcycle fills in all the blanks. The Ninja 300 still provides some punch if you need excitement just not enough to knock you down.
Yamaha V Star 250
The Yamaha V Star 250 represents a lightweight Cruiser for those wishing to stick with that style but without all the load common with the heavier versions. The V Star weighs in around 325 pounds with a 27-inch seat height. The nimble 250cc engine offers easy control but with a top speed of 85 mph beginners won't expect any hair-raising rides.
Mid-Size Lightweight Motorcycles
A larger engine (600cc) and bigger overall bike pushes the Yamaha R6 past 400 pounds, still a manageable weight, but the quickness and torque might prove too much for beginner riders. A seat height of 32 inches requires longer legs than the smaller bore bikes but those used to riding should find these lighter mid-size motorcycles quite manageable.
The Honda CBR600 also features a fast 600cc engine with a total bike weight just above 400 pounds. You likely won't see these bikes on the race track but around town don't be surprised to see them racing around. A popular bike for those with experience on two-wheels, the Honda CBR600 will get your heart rate up but nothing you probably can't handle.
Considered a great, all-around bike riders enjoy commuting during the week on and the occasional track day, the Suzuki SV650 has great handling, a moderate seat height at 31-inches and a 645cc engine weighing in at 436 pounds. It was first introduced in 1999 as a budget bike for the naked class and today remains well under $10,000.
Kawasaki Versys 650
On the heavier side of light, the Kawasaki Versys 650 comes in at 475 pounds with a seat height a touch above 33 inches. You get style and performance for under $10,000 that beginners with some riding experience can manage but with enough horsepower and torque to challenge veterans of the road who enjoy canyon carving.
Lightweight motorcycles generally have more relaxed seating and thanks to the low- and mid-range torque, owners use them primarily for commuting and getting around town. They get great gas mileage, offer reliability and broadly considered a great first motorcycle not only because of the engine size and overall weight, but the affordable price tag that comes in well below $10,000.