9 Best Budget Motorcycles
So look, you are looking for a relatively affordable, middleweight naked motorcycle in the sort of six to 700 cc capacity range, but you’re not quite sure which one to go for because of the dazzling array of choices on the market in 2024.
Well up because here’s our complete guide to the best bikes in the category from each of the major manufacturers, and along the way we’ll tell you which one is best for which kind of rider. Now we’ll gain in price order ascending.
we’ll start at the most affordable and that’s the Kawasaki Z650 at 7,139 pounds in the most basic paint option. It’s a decent amount of bike for the money, but it has to be said it doesn’t really stand out in any one field.
It’s the least powerful bike on this list at 67 horsepower peak, the character of the engine is a little bit flat given the 180-degree crank, and while it does handle perfectly fine owing to its relatively slender way, it’s still not exactly gonna knock your socks off.
Now they have updated the styling recently and also added the TFT display, which brings a few connectivity features so you can hook it up to your phone, but ultimately this is one of the simplest bikes on the list and that’s reflected in the price.
This is only the best option if you’re a hugely dedicated lover of the Kawasaki brand and styling.
Suzuki SV 650
You see just 60 quid more we’ll get you a bike. That’s far superior in my opinion, and that’s the SV 650 from Suzuki.
This thing has seen very modest development since it was launched just before the turn of the century with many parts of the bike.
Still highly similar to the original, but I think for a lot of people that’s actually a good thing with a peachy 650 V twin that makes decent power at 72 horses and has that beautiful V twin tone and feel that really didn’t need messing with All of the other two cylinder bikes on this list are parallel twins and they simply use an offset crank to imitate the sound and feel of a true 90-degree v twin.
And so while this might not be the most bleeding edge bike on the list in terms of tech, and again, it’s pretty simple in terms of the chassis, if you’re keen to sample the delights of a genuine V twin, then this one is your only option.
CB 750 Hornet
That said, it’s really difficult to recommend either of those first two bikes against what has to be one of the best value motorcycles on the market.
Full stop and that’s the Honda CB 750 Hornet. This is a relatively recent development having only been on the market for a year or so, and it’s a brand new parallel twin from Honda.
So the result is a brilliant bike with lots of snappy power, a well-spec chassis, and also the tech is bang up to date with a TFT dash in three weeks. You can manage a bunch of modes and settings as well as phone connectivity.
Now originally this bike launched at 6,999 pounds and as a result, it’s been selling like hotcakes ever since, regularly featuring amongst the bestselling bikes in the UK month in month out.
And while it has crept up by 300 quid or so for 2024, I think it’s still very hard to argue that it’s anything but exceptional value for money.
I mean, perhaps the looks won’t be to everyone’s taste and they’re typically conservative of Honda.
And I’d also say the seat height is a little bit on the low side at 795 millimeters so taller or maybe looking for something that feels a bit sporty, then this might not do the trick.
But for everyone else, I think this is going to be an excellent purchase. In fact, it’s kind of hard to believe that it’s still less money.
The Yamaha MT 07, is still a fantastic motorcycle that’s earned its place as a great seller over the years with a solid reputation.
But the update since its launch of been largely superficial and so by now it’s starting to look a little bit dated versus the competition.
Now the snarling 72 horsepower CP two parallel twin that powers this bike is largely responsible for its considerable fandom and it gets a really snappy throttle response.
That means the front end will popup easily without having to dip the clutch, and it’s also one of the lightest bikes on this list at 184 kilograms wet, which only contributes to the lively riding experience, but otherwise there’s not much in the way of electronics and rider aids and modes apart from ABS, the suspension is fairly basic and soft, and so it doesn’t really look like such great value next to a bike like the Hornet.
Still, if you want something that loves to wheelie and also you like the super modern and angular looks of the Yamaha empty family, then this is still a proven performer that’s unlikely to disappoint.
CB 650 R
Now next up we’ve got another bike from Honda and this time is the CB 650 R, which has been in their lineup for some time and straight off the bat, I can recommend this to anyone who loves the ravy how of an Inline four.
In fact, it’s the only four cylinder bike on this list and while it might not have the mid-range guts of a twin, it’s super smooth and has plenty of fun at the top end with 94 horsepower peak.
I’d also say the Stalin on this bike is one of the nicest on the market with a very nice blend of classic shapes and modern design and the rest of the chassis is specked up to scratch, so it handles pretty nicely too.
But on top of that, there’s another reason that you might want to consider one in 2024, and that’s because it’s one of the first bikes in the Honda lineup to get their new E clutch Tech.
The idea here is that you can simply twist and go, and while you do still have to use the shifter to move through the gears, there’s absolutely no need to feather or touch the clutch unless you want to for something like low-speed maneuvers.
So look, this could make it a real joy for stop-start city riding. And so if that makes up a decent share of your motorcycle usage, then I’d certainly think about taking one of these out for a spin on a demo ride.
Another bike with a unique engine configuration in this market is the Triumph Trident 660, which uses an inline triple that’s roughly derived from the 675 triple that was previously used in the street Triple and Daytona.
Now triumph for always saying in their marketing materials that a triple is the perfect balance of mid-range and torque, yet with some of the top end smoothness and Reviness of an inline four.
And while it might sound a little light spin when you take one out for a ride, it really is difficult to disagree.
The Trident makes lots of usable power right in the mid range, which makes it perfect for zippy road riding.
And while the chassis components are not top-of-the-line bling, triumph note exactly what they’re doing with setting a bike up sweetly to get it to handle. And this one is no exception.
Now like the CB 650 R, it also aims to blend a couple of classic styling cues like the round headlight and speedo with elsewhere a fairly contemporary aesthetic and I think they’ve done it quite well here.
And in fact, I actually owned this particular bike for a year or so and thoroughly enjoyed every moment.
So definitely check this one out if you like the idea of a triple and also to sample the delights of triumphs handling.
KTM 790 Duke
So look, there are some genuinely excellent bikes on this list, but one that really blew me away when I rode it last year is the 790 Duke from KTM.
Now, this is a bike that used to exist in their lineup until it was updated with more capacity and became the 890 Duke, but then a couple of years later, KTM decided to bring it back as a more budget-friendly option.
And so effectively what you’re getting here is they’re top of the line middleweight naked from a few years back, just a much more tent in price point.
Now, one of the things they’ve done to achieve this is build it out in China in partnership with CF Moto.
But honestly, having borrowed one of these bikes for a couple of weeks and seen it side by side with one of the original Austrian built 790 Dukes, it really is difficult to see anywhere that looks like corners are being cut and the finish appears to be almost identical.
But more importantly than that, from a riding perspective, this has to be right up there with the best bikes on the list with 94 horsepower peak from the free-revving parallel twin, another lightweight package at 188 kilograms and an 825 mil seat height, which feels genuinely sporty as opposed to some of the other bikes on this list that are a touch on the low side to keep them beginner friendly.
Then the suspension from their in-house brand WP is always on point. Braking is absolutely up to spec, and so it’s really difficult to see any weakness providing you don’t mind the Chinese build, although I will say the garish angular looks dripping with orange paint might not be to everyone’s taste.
Now the Suzuki GSX-8S test was new for 2023 and I think if you look at it on paper, it might not stand out from the crowd at just over eight grand.
It’s nearly a thousand pounds more than the Hornet, for example, and yet it makes 10 less horsepower and weighs 10 more kilograms, and it’s still 200 quid more than the 790 jute we just talked about, which beats it pretty much everywhere on the spec sheet.
The thing is, I will say having borrowed this one for a few weeks last year, I was pleasantly surprised primarily by the engine, which is really nice and smooth and has an extremely pleasant throttle delivery.
There’s also a lot of talk in the mid range, which gives it a fairly quick feel at road speeds, and although it’s not the lightest bike on the list, it still does go round corners quite nicely. Then you’ve got a very clearly designed TFT display, which makes it
Super easy to use and although there’s no preset riding modes as such, the individual traction control and power settings are simple to understand. So do demo this one if you prefer mid-range torque over top end rush.
we’ve got the TUONO 660A and I fear I might get a couple of objections on this one. Firstly, because of the price at 9,700 pounds, which does make it a little above what you might consider to be mid price or affordable.
And then also the fact that this is a list of naked bikes and this one quite clearly has a half fairing. So let’s deal with the price first.
You see, I’m not quite sure what APRILLA exact pricing strategy is, but you regularly see these bikes, especially these middle weights discounted by one to one and a half thousand pounds and literally five seconds of Googling this bike reveals dealers listing them for 8,599.
So realistically, this one isn’t out of reach financially for anyone considering a bike like the Suzuki, for example.
And yes, it does have that half faring, but the riding position with the flat bars, I would argue is far more akin to the other bikes on this list than it is a sports bike, and they already have its sibling, the RS 660 to fulfill that role.
Now again, you’re getting around 95 horsepower from the parallel twin here, and this engine is super playful with plenty of fun at the top.
There’s also a great chassis with the lightest wet weight on this list at 183 kilograms along with decent KYB suspension and brembo brakes.
Then you’ve got the tech package, which is everything you’d expect from the bike with the highest price on the list with a few fancy features like wheelie control, cruise control, and engine braking management.
Then to top it all off, you’ve got the typically draw worthy apprila styling, and so this is definitely the one to go for if you want some Italian exotica in both the brand and design combined with pretty much the best performance on the list.