When it comes to rider safety, the most dangerous factor is the rider, not the bike. Even a Honda Shadow 750 is dangerous in the hands of a reckless rider, and an inexperienced-but-conservative new rider can probably do pretty well on some incredibly powerful bikes.
Learning to ride motorcycles isn’t just about what’s possible to handle while everything is going right, however, and unfortunately, even new riders with their egos in check don’t have the experience to avoid making mistakes. On a forgiving bike, it can be bad enough, but on a bike built for expert riders, making mistakes can be disastrous.
While there are certainly more than a few bikes new riders should avoid, RideApart put together a list of 5 bikes that it considers the worst ones for new riders.
5. 2002-2003 Honda CBR954RR
As the precursor to the Honda CBR1000RR, the CBR954RR was a serious performer in its own right and is a serious bargain on the used market. With little in the way of driver aids, though, inexperienced riders could easily end up in over their heads. Plenty of low-end power and a short wheelbase mean it’s easy to unintentionally lift the front wheel off the ground, and without anti-lock brakes, it’s easy to lock up the front wheel during a panic stop.
New riders need to be able to learn on their first bikes, and as unforgiving as the CBR954RR is, it’s best to stay away until you have a little more experience. It might not necessarily be impossible to handle, but there are many more approachable bikes with a few more rider aids that will make the learning process go much more smoothly.
4. 2004-2005 Kawasaki ZX-10R
If you have the skills to ride the ZX10R well, it will light your soul on fire in the best way possible. If you don’t have the experience needed to do more than hope you can handle it, however, the ZX10R will be the one taking you for a wild ride instead of the other way around. With more power and less weight than its competition, the 10R is extremely fast, and the smaller brake discs aren’t necessarily up to the task of slowing down such a quick machine.
This Kawasaki also holds the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety’s distinction as being the bike with the worst collision loss rate, with losses nine times higher than average. It’s a very desirable bike, but just like new drivers should stay away from an AMG Mercedes, new riders should stay away from the Kawasaki ZX-10R.
3. 2009-Present Ducati Streetfighter 1098
The Ducati Streetfighter actually offers a host of rider aids, but while that might make it sound more appealing than some of the other bikes on this list, it shouldn’t. The engine is essentially straight out of the a race bike, and with 155 horsepower and 85 pound-feet of torque, the Streetfighter is absolutely wild. Wild is fun, of course, but it’s also quite dangerous if you make a mistake.
The Streetfighter also lacks a windshield, which means riders will have to bear the full brunt of the wind, which will make them tire more easily. New riders make mistakes, but tired riders make even more mistakes, and the Streetfighter is too pretty to wreck. Even a Monster 696 would be a better choice.
2. 1999 Suzuki Hayabusa GSX1300R
New riders should certainly stay away from the Hayabusa as their first bike, but the 1999 Hayabusa is an exceptionally poor choice. Without a limiter, its top speed is around 200 miles per hour. Only a few, exceptionally reckless riders will ever see 200 miles per hour on public roads, but the kind of power that will get you there is also available at lower speeds, which is where the trouble comes.
The Hayabusa is a spectacular bike for drag races, and no matter what its top speed is limited to, it will reach it very quickly. The bike itself is also heavy and not the easiest to steer, which can quickly get new riders into trouble on its own. With exceptional power as well, it sets new riders up for failure. Hopefully it’s common sense, but don’t buy a Hayabusa as your first bike.
1. 2005-2006 Suzuki GSX-R1000
A used GSX-R can still hold its own against most of the best brand new sport bikes, thanks largely to is 175 horsepower engine and razor-sharp handling. Pretty much every motorcycle-related buzzword you can think of applies to the GSX-R, and it’s earned every bit of praise that’s ever been directed its way.
Run a Google search for “dealership motorcycle crash,” though, one of the first results is a video of a rider crashing a GSX-R. Anyone familiar with the bike should find that just as unsurprising as hearing someone giving it more praise. The GSX-R1000 is the very definition of too much bike for a beginner.
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