It’s significant that a 300cc motorcycle is at the top of this list, ahead of some of the most successful and iconic motorcycles on the market.
For those looking for a super approachable first motorcycle, it’s hard to argue with machines that look like barnstorming superbikes but have none of the drawbacks that come with owning a land missile.
300s are also an attractive proposition over 250cc bikes with their noticeable increase in performance.
The Yamaha YZF-R3’s 321cc inline two-cylinder engine features four valves per-cylinder and makes 42 horsepower and 36.7 pound-feet of torque. Small numbers, sure, but when the bike only weighs 368 pounds, both acceleration and braking are brisk and crisp.
Yamaha blessed the R3 with several premium features include aluminum wheels, a slipper clutch, and available ABS. Prices start at $4,999 and rise to $5,299, making the R3 an even more attractive option.
Kawasaki Ninja 300
*See the above for information on 300cc bikes* Promise I wasn’t lying about 300s being popular!
Kawasaki’s Ninja 300 is a direct competitor to the Yamaha R3 and does an equally effective job of aping the looks of a superbike while delivering solid entry level performance.
The Ninja’s utilizes a two-cylinder, 40 horsepower engine that features fuel injection, aluminum cylinders, and a clever air management device that sends hot air from the radiator out the bottom of the bike and away from the rider.
Kawi’s lightweight bike was first introduced for the 2013 model year and is slated to be replaced by the forthcoming Ninja 400 for 2018. Get your Ninja 300 now while they’re hot.
The Yamaha R6 is a perennial contender for essentially any competition it enters be it a ‘Most Popular’ list, a superbike shootout, or the top step of the podium.
We actually wrote about the 2017 R6 a few months ago and detailed the updates Yamaha gave it for 2017.
Some of those updates include a stronger, more responsive braking system, the YZF-R1’s suspension system, and a whole host of electronic rider aides.
Power output is 122 horsepower from the same inline four-cylinder engine as the last generation R6. Regardless of color choice, Yamaha’s dominant middleweight will run you $12,199.
Kawasaki Z125 PRO
The fact that a mini-bike made it onto this list is genuinely impressive.
What’s more impressive is that the bike isn’t named ‘Grom’. The Kawasaki Z125 is a sweet little machine that provides new riders, mini-bike enthusiasts, and anyone wanting something besides the Honda Grom with a great riding experience.
It has a surprisingly large two-gallon gas tank and excellent fuel economy so it’ll make for a perfect city bike.
Kawasaki also imbued the Z125 with plenty of hooligan-y DNA so seasoned riders will have a blast on it too. To top it all off, it’s less money than the Grom to ringing in at only $2,999.
The sensational R1 got a major refresh back in 2015 and the king of Yamaha’s stable is still a world class motorcycle and a popular machine.
Like the R6, the R1 is always near the top of any list, particularly superbike comparisons – it’s taken top honors at Cycle World’s Superbike Shootout three years running now.
At the heart of the experience is Yamaha’s flat-plane crank four-cylinder engine that shells out a stonking 190 horsepower.
Read any review of this newest generation bike and recurring themes begin to appear – it’s one of the most complete, firm, fast, and effective literbikes you can find.
If you’re feeling particularly brave, you can opt for the super hardcore R1M and attempt your best Rossi impression. Prices range from $16,699 to $22,499.
In an effort not to repeat myself – again – I’m going to skip talking about what 300cc motorcycles are all about.
Instead, we’re going to discuss Honda’s entry into the 300cc game, the CBR300R.
Unlike the other bikes on this list, the baby CBR has a single-cylinder engine that combined with a 3.4 gallon gas tank and an estimated 71 miles per gallon, means you can literally ride for days without stopping to fill up.
Don’t think all performance has been thrown out in favor of economy, however, the bikes rear shock has preload adjustability, and it can be equipped with optional ABS.
Interested? It’s $4,499 for the standard bike and $4,999 for the ABS model.