Three of the best first ‘big’ bikes

Binning the L-plates is a momentous occasion. Now, you’ll want a bike that’ll let you take advantage of your new-found motorway entitlement, longer trips, and your first taste of power and speed…

We’ve chosen bikes that meet the 47bhp limit (and the 286.2bhp/ton power-to-weight ratio cap) in their natural state. You can restrict bikes with a max output of 94bhp, but A2-legal bikes tend to be of a weight and design that suits their power output better than a more powerful bike that has been strangled.

Alternatively, if you’re not quite ready take a look at our article on motorbikes for beginners.

KTM Duke 390 – USED: £3500-5000

Insure from – £368.39*

KTM’s mini-streetfighter is a blast for riders of all ages

The 390 Duke is everything you’d expect from a KTM – sharphandling, high-spec, with as much
attitude as a bike with 44bhp can have. There’s a whiff of supermotoabout it, with plenty of leverage from the wide bars and a firm, sporty ride. The motor is revvy, though the 2017 revisions brought more torque lower in the rev range.


  • The dash has ‘Myride’ Bluetooth connection as standard, but it won’t work with older Android OS versions.
  • Owners complain of exhaust heat making life uncomfortable around town. There is no fix.
  • The 390’s many digital parts aren’t always reliable. Minor running gripes can take a while to trace among the many sensors, etc.

Honda CB500X – NEW: £6699

Insure from – £273.21*

Perky, frugal and comfortable: the ideal first adventure bike

Honda’s CB500 family has been one of our favourite underdog bikes since the first incarnation appeared in the 1990s. The current range (CB500F naked, CBR500R sportsbike as well as the 500X) doesn’t share anything mechanically with the pre-2016 models (and they’ve been updated
twice since), but they offer a tempting mix of miserly running costs, usability that’ll cosset the
greenest of new riders and a naughty streak that’ll entertain any rider regardless of experience.
No A2 legal bike is more versatile than the CB500X, in our opinion.


  • The CB500X will handle a bit of green-laning, but standard tyres won’t. You’ll need to switch to dualpurpose rubber for properly dirty days out.
  • The Comfort Pack (£645) comes with heated grips, hand guards and a centrestand. They’re high-quality and enhance both practicality and future resale value.
  • Too high? The CB500F is much lower (785mm), or an aftermarket lowering kit from Lust Racing (£69.95) takes a significant 30mm off the CB500X’s seat height.

Royal Enfield Himalayan – USED: £2800-4700

Insure from – £234.83*

True global adventure potential on a seriously small budget

The Himalayan is simple, robust and built to chug over rough roads day after day laden with everything a traveller needs. That means it’s not well suited to fast motorway or A-road riding, but if you’re going to spend a lot of time on more minor, variable surface roads, it’s great, and doesn’t cost much to buy or run.


  • 3000-mile valve check intervals are a pain, though simple and not too costly. Home servicing is easy with basic tools and knowledge.
  •  Major failure is rare, but they’re built in India to a price. Most owners experience niggles and faulty parts. 
  • Build quality demands protection and regular cleaning/maintenance if you want to use through winter and avoid components rotting/seizing, as well as finishes failing.

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*Insurance policy quote taken from average credentials of MCN Compare customer.