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Buying my first bike for my 18th birthday: Best options under Rs 3 lakh

I have shortlisted bikes like the Honda CB350 H'ness, Royal Enfield Meteor 350 & Yezdi Scrambler; among others.

BHPian W16rocks recently shared this with other enthusiasts.

Hey guys, I searched through the forum and could not exactly find a thread with this question.

I am turning 18 in Jan 2023, and the biking bug has bitten me, my family has two cars in our garage but no two-wheeler since 2004 as my father has since upgraded to cars.

But my father is also a bike lover he had a Yezdi and a bullet during his army days, so even today he loves to talk about them, and throughout my childhood, he has told me about bikes.

Now coming to the present situation, on my 18th birthday I was thinking of getting a bike, this will be my first motored two-wheeler, as I am also a cyclist and love cycling.

I and my father both love the retro-themed bikes and have always craved for those, even booking a Harley Davidson Street Rod 750 in 2014 while on a Walk(yup that’s the love my father has for bikes and me ) but then my mother stepped in and bought us both to the reality that the bike will just be kept at home as a white elephant and not be used as I was small, and my father too busy with his office, So we cancelled the booking.

Even though I have always been more of a car guy but the constant talks about how bikes are the first step to motoring have somehow given me a craving for bikes.

The question is which bike is right for a beginner as well as for after a year or two when I become an experienced rider. Also, I would like to ask the experts here whether I should just leave bikes altogether and continue with cars only, also is getting a bike a good idea If I can just learn to drive a car?

As this bike would stay with us for quite a while(5 years at least) I would like a bike that is a keeper and also has some style and Snob value.

The requirements are pretty general:

  • I am a 70 kg 5.10 boy so would like a bike fitting for my height.
  • I nor my father want a bike with a sporty design we both love the laid-back designs of retro-themed bikes.
  • Please suggest bikes which are reliable and also whose service centres are accessible in most places.
  • The bike has to be new as it will stay with us for a long.
  • The bike has to be relevant 5 years from now too as it will probably stay with us for that long.

Budget: Not a rigid budget but bikes around Rs 3 lakhs are preferable.

As I am still a newbie around the bikes scene I have very little idea about bikes and their drivability so the suggestion of the experts and riders would be welcome.

My basic list of bikes that I prepared with my limited knowledge is as follows:

  1. Honda CB350 H'ness/RS300: From what I have heard about the Honda motorcycles is that they are refined and reliable, now that is the perfect combo ain’t it, but am still a little reluctant with BigWing, also don’t know whether these bikes have the road presence of the RE bikes.
  2. Royal Enfield Meteor/Scrambler/Himalayan: The RE stable is the best selling of the lot with a lot of variety available nowadays, from classic to scrambler. I feel the Classic is very common, I have more interest in Scrambler and Himalayan, but I am worried about the reliability as I have read in the forum that there have been many reliability concerns in the Himalayan. The 650 twins are great but want to ask you guys can they be considered for beginners like me, as they are Great otherwise.
  3. Jawa 42: recently saw it at the showroom, had a mediocre experience at the showroom, and worried about aftersales service as the brand is new and has low sales.
  4. Yezdi Scrambler: Looks smashing and great but the reluctance over after sales and also low sales of the brand, but considered as my father had the Yezdi during his army days so the nomenclature brings back a lot of memories to him, want to know if it is worth going for.
  5. Suzuki V-Strom 250: The newbie in the list, has great reviews and Looks great from the front but don’t like the back design of the bike looks as it is pretty common, also Suzuki does not feel so special and is not retro-themed so will only consider if the bike is really great.

Looking forward to hearing from you guys.

Here's what GTO had to say on the matter:

As I frequently advise 18-year-olds on cars, be sure to get something with ordinary levels of power (or even something that's underpowered). A fast car/bike is too dangerous for a newbie driver/rider. I started driving in an underpowered Maruti 800 & Premier Padmini, while I started riding on a Kinetic Honda (more noise than progress from 0 - 30). No better way to hone your skills than with a slow vehicle.

Here's what BHPian antz.bin had to say on the matter:

Turning 18 and going to college, right?

For the next 3/4 years, college is the only place the bike will probably regularly go to. The max it will go to the hangout places or to one of the forts in and around Pune. You don't need 3 lakhs worth of machine to be able to do that.

Steer clear of anything heavier than 160-165kg. Ideally, this should have been 150 kg but modern bikes are much heavier than they used to be and Light bikes are FUN!! Lighter the better. Heavy bikes are for old people like me (I am 2x your age) whose reflexes are slower.

All Apache RTRs are really nice. If you are feeling more ambitious, pick up the Yamaha MT-15 / R15. You absolutely do not need anything more powerful than KTM 200s / Suzuki 250s.

Ideally, if I were recommending a bike to my own nephew who is 1 inch taller than you and will turn 18 in Jan 2024, I would have him stick to 125cc. The TVS Raider 125 is *THE BEST* 125cc bike to ride even though I don't find it particularly pretty. This is for his own safety.

The weight criteria effectively exclude all the Royal Enfields, Jawas, Honda 350 and any of the bigger motorcycles which you don't need anyway.

Whatever you pick, take an oath to always wear a helmet *before* you start the engine. Doesn't matter if you are just moving the bike in the parking lot.

Godspeed & ride safe.

Here's what BHPian Axe77 had to say on the matter:

I think the CB 350 RS is a good bet. (Alternately other similar models from the Honda ~300/350 cc segment).

Great design, retro looks, utterly reliable, will be cheap to run and cheap to maintain (always nice features for a youngster/student), smooth, not overwhelming to drive for a newbie etc. It will not call upon needless mechanical intervention which you may not be experienced enough yet to have. Truly a fill-it-shut-it kind of machine. Test ride to see if it appeals to you.

It will have decent levels of components as well from a safety perspective in terms of dual-channel ABS and Honda selectable torque control (traction control in plain speak) - all handy features, especially for a newbie rider. The thing with going too far down on the power quotient on bike purchases is that they correspondingly also have lower segment components/safety assist features. I feel the CB 350 RS strikes a good balance of going up the CC segment a bit and getting the benefit of the superior-tech but in a bike that will not “bite” and will be easy to adapt to.

Riding gear

I would say when you’re setting the budget for a bike, work towards choosing one which will leave you a decent-sized budget for good quality gear. At a minimum that means a full-face helmet, riding pants, riding jacket, gloves and some riding boots if possible.

Training

Invest in good quality riding training. I’ve been riding for 27 years now and I am still up for learning and training sessions on how to be a better rider.

Speak to folks like Top Gun (Vikrant, now based in Pune). He has great one-day sessions where he teaches street riding techniques. I can’t recommend the value of that enough. I’m sure if you investigate you will find other options too. Feel free to DM me if you need his contact details.

Here's what BHPian neil.jericho had to say on the matter:

W16rocks, it's good to see young enthusiasts like you are keen to dip their toes into the motorcycling pool after they get their license. First things first, there are people who learnt riding on litre-class sports bikes and there are others who started on 100cc commuters. Given our Indian conditions, it's always best to work your way up the ladder. One thing to keep in mind is that your time frame of 5 years will involve a degree and a job or a degree and a post-graduation. This might take you to different cities and states. So keep a long-term practical outlook on ownership.

As I look through your post, I believe that there isn't a single bike that meets all your requirements. You will have to compromise on something or the other. Your final decision will come down to what you are willing to compromise on.

  • Jawa 42 / Yezdi Scrambler, Roadster, Adventure: Avoid. They won't age well and the service network isn't good.
  • Honda CB350 / RS - On paper, this is one of the few bikes that meet your requirements the best. The limited reach of the Big Wing dealership makes it a hard recommendation for your use case. What if there isn't a Big Wing dealership in the city where your college is?
  • Royal Enfield Meteor 350 / Classic 350 - Equipped with the J series engine, these offerings are a good bet. You also get a fantastic pan-India service network. Once you start touring when you are in college, you will appreciate the fact that there are SVCs in every town along the way. The weight is an issue though.
  • Suzuki Gixxer 250 - If you replace the OEM headlight, you will get yourself a retro-looking motorcycle. The engine is a gem. It's friendly and fun. A near 160 kg weight will make it easier to ride around town and learn. Mileage should be in the mid-30s. It's super cheap to service and runs. The service network is wide. Prices for the Gixxer 250 are surprisingly competitive, especially when you consider that Suzuki dealerships are throwing in discounts on leftover 2021 stocks, and even on 2022 stocks.

You can't go wrong with the Meteor 350 or the CB350. However, the Gixxer 250 is probably the more sensible option for you, as you start off your motorcycling journey.

Check out BHPian comments for more insights and information.

 
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