The reality of riding motorcycles in the United States is that they are generally considered to be fun machines rather than utility vehicles. It is highly likely that you live in an area where you are not going to be able to ride a motorcycle for the entire year (hello, winter) or that you are simply going to need a vehicle that has actual cargo carrying capacity (a benefit of The Cage).
With this being the general status of motorcycles, many people believe that you need to have a lot of expendable income in order to purchase and maintain one. While it is true that owning a motorcycle is generally more expensive compared to not owning a motorcycle, it is untrue that you need to have tens of thousands of dollars in extra cash laying around to own one.
There is a lot to be said about cheap motorcycles. Many of them are perfectly good rides, and the good news is that a lot of the cheapies also tend to be excellent for new riders as they usually have fewer CCs as compared to more expensive machines. So if you are looking for a great motorcycle for a great price, keep reading.
What’s the Cheapest Motorcycle?
Unfortunately, this is not a simple question to answer. A lot of this depends on what is available in your immediate area and what you define as cheap. However, a good rule of thumb to keep in mind is that if you want to minimize your cost, this means that you are probably going to end up with a Japanese bike. Japanese manufacturers tend to produce the most affordable machines. Essentially, if you are dreaming of getting a Ducati under $2,000, you may want to adjust your expectations a bit. Very few bikes produced in the US or Europe are going to have price points around the $2,000 mark, even if they are a decade or so old.
However, just because the majority of affordable machines are going to be Japanese ones does not mean that they are inherently inferior. Again, many of these rides are perfect for beginners and even if you have years in the saddle, a zippy Kawasaki Ninja is a lot of fun for anybody to ride.
However, there are always exceptions to any rule. You may also want to keep your eye open for higher mileage bikes that are very well cared for. Many potential motorcycle buyers are run off by high mileage machines, but depending on who was riding the machine and maintaining it, some higher mileage options may still be in their prime.
Best Motorcycles Under $2000
Keep in mind that these are going to be general estimates for price. We cannot guarantee you that this specific bike is going to be available in your area for under $2,000, but it is likely that you can find something comparable to it.
This is a great option for those who want to have maximum fun riding with minimal expenditure. Considering what you get when you purchase the Yamaha FZ6, they are often worth much more than their low price tags, or at least feel that way. Fuel injection is a big winner on the FZ6, considering it means that you won’t have to deal with dreaded carb cleaning. The tires on these bikes are easy to find and replace, and the positioning of the exhaust is great if you want to throw on some saddlebags and take it for a longer ride.
Yamaha Seca II
The Seca is the older cousin of the Yamaha FZ6. You can typically find these for a bit cheaper than the FZ6 due to the fact that they are generally 5 to 10 years older, but this is a great bike to pick up on the cheap (it is typically found for well below $2,000) and is a fantastic bike for beginners. While this bike admittedly is not going to give you a lot of street cred, it gives you a perfectly decent ride for a very fair price.
Kawasaki Ninja 500
The Kawasaki Ninja has wormed its way into the hearts of thousands of bikers. This is a great, peppy little bike with a fair amount of power and is generally on the lighter side, particularly if you are looking at the older versions of it. We recommend going with a Ninja from 1994 or later. This allows you to purchase and use new, modern tires. It is likely that this bike is going to be a bit more on the expensive side as compared to the others on this list, but it is a lot of fun to ride and you do get a lot of bang for your buck with a Ninja. Particularly if you are a more experienced rider, you are likely to enjoy the tang of the Ninja more than others.
This is another good contender for beginners if you can find one in good shape. You can find them either with chain drive or belt drive, but it is probably better to see if you can find one with chain drive, given that the belts can be hard to replace. These don’t come up on the market as commonly as some other models on this list, but when they do they tend to have lower mileage given that they are city commuters rather than racers or cruisers. Even better, you can find them for below $1,000 even with lower mileage. If you see this one on the market and are looking to introduce somebody to the wonderful world of motorcycling, this is a great option to snap up.
Searching for a bike that cost less than $2,000 doesn’t have to be a Herculean endeavor. There are perfectly drivable specimens out there on the used Market that can satiate your desire to ride and your limited budget. Particularly if you aren’t afraid of providing a little bit of elbow grease, you might be surprised what you can grab for cheap.