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Is a 400cc motorcycle too big to start on for beginners?

Too big so go home, or go big or go home?

400cc Motorcycles for Beginners

There are certain things that you must consider before swinging a leg over a motorcycle. The first is whether you want to in the first place. Given enough dedication, you can learn a lot of things, riding included. 

Although, you may want to be a little more cautious especially since motorcycling can be quite dangerous. You might have researched a lot about motorcycles and come across several western media outlets recommending bikes around the 300 to 400cc displacement class for beginners. However, do take note that their context is different. Still, the question remains: Is a 400cc bike too big for a beginner rider? Well, both yes and no. 

Why it’s not a good idea to start on a 400cc

Motorcycle Accident

Given how much traffic there is in the Metro and perhaps even beyond, it would be unwise to start on a bike that is taller than your average scooter or underbone. More power also means more weight, so you will have to lug all that weight around in traffic if you ever hit it. Also, if you plan to take your bike to work on a daily basis, you might struggle a lot getting used to working the clutch and maneuvering without tipping over. 

On top of that, bigger-displacement motorcycles will often produce more heat, leading to an uncomfortable ride at the very least. If not, you even run the risk of overheating while stuck between two cars. Bigger bikes can stay cool, but not for long. 

There’s also the cost of a 400cc motorcycle. It’s more expensive to fix if you drop the bike, and it’s also a little more painful if your bike drops, even more so than a small bike. On top of that, the maintenance of a bigger motorcycle will definitely cost more than a standard 100 to 150cc bike. 

It also helps to start on a light bike that won’t really intimidate you. For most seasoned riders, a 400cc bike is very easy to get used to, but as a beginner, you have a higher hill to climb while starting out. Throttle control, balance, counter steering, and low-speed maneuvers are all-important skills to develop on a motorcycle. As a beginner, it will be easier to learn on a small-displacement bike rather than a big and tall one. If you mess up on a small bike, you can pick it up or save it from falling easier than a big bike. Also, it’s highly recommended that you get better protective gear. Not only will you have a bike that can achieve higher speeds, you may also run the risk of dropping the bike on top of you, and that’s not going to be a walk in the park for your legs if it does happen. 

Why it’s a good idea to start on a 400cc motorcycle

Husqvarna Vitpilen 401

Here’s the thing though, if you are willing to put up with the quirks of a bigger motorcycle and are willing to learn the ropes with all the tropes, then you can consider a 400cc. It can be done. Some riders have even started on 600s or even literbikes to some success. 

A bike that is also light enough, but with enough displacement can be optimal. Motorcycles like the KTM 390 Duke or the Husqvarna Svartpilen 401 make excellent entry-level highway-legal motorcycles even for beginners. The low weight makes them very approachable for many. Meanwhile, you can also get into a bike like the Kawasaki Ninja 400 or Z400s. The biggest draw of the Kawasakis would be their low seat height and manageable weight. Meanwhile, affordable bikes like the CFMOTO 400 NK may push the limit in terms of manageability, but that doesn’t mean that it cannot be done. If you’re just starting out, we don’t recommend that you get an adventure bike as your first motorcycle, unless you’re really daring and want to head straight into that class. Though, if you’re tall, no need to worry about anything. 

After you decide to invest in a big bike right away, you won’t have to worry about getting bored or trading up for a while. Instead of going through a few steps, you might want to get into a bigger bike right away to save you the hassle of having to sell the smaller bike first then buy the next bike after. 

In closing


While there is a steeper learning curve, buying a big bike right away will allow you to get used to weight and other things like heavier clutches and heavier chassis. The real issue is whether you can afford the other things associated with a big bike like more expensive tires and more expensive maintenance intervals. 

Just remember to be responsible on the road and make sure you spend as much time familiarizing yourself with riding a motorcycle. You’d want to make sure that you spend more time rubber-side-down and not on your sliders. On that note, protect your investment as well with some crashguards.

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