Best Used Motorcycles For College Students In 2020

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So, you’re at college now and decided that a motorcycle would be better for commuting than a car. Excellent choice! Motorcycles are more fun to drive and much more practical than cars!

With that said, you’ll quickly discover that choosing the best motorcycle for college can be a daunting task. There are so many motorcycles to choose from. Where to start? How to pick an option that suits your needs?

The goal of this guide is to free you from the stress associated with shopping a used motorcycle by simplifying the process and even make it enjoyable. Let’s get started!

Criteria used in this guide

Given that the main purpose of the motorcycle is (presumably) commuting to and from college, it is safe assuming that:

  • You won’t need an ultra-hi-performance motorcycle, but a reasonably fast bike
  • You are most likely still learning to drive, so only “beginner type” bikes have been chosen
  • You’re on a budget, so only reasonably priced motorcycles with low maintenance costs have been included

In order to meet the premises listed above, we used the following criteria to filter motorcycles options:

  • Mileage. The higher the mileage the more likely you will have to spend hundreds in costly repairs. That’s why we limited the options to relatively new bikes.
  • Brand. We only included the top 4 most reliable brands according to Consumer Report (Yamaha, Honda, Kawasaki, Suzuki) since a reliable bike offers lower maintenance costs
  • Engine. The general consensus is that novice drivers should not ride motorcycles with engines larger than 600 cc, so we stick to that advice.
  • Price. The price of second-hand motorcycles can vary a lot. To keep the guide as accurate as possible we used the NAPA guides since they offer an excellent average retail price.
  • Cool Factor. Let’s face it, being cool is part of the college experience. Otherwise, there’s no reason to get a cruiser or sport bike right?

Best Used Motorcycles Under $5,000

The first three motorcycles in this guide range from $5,000 to $3,000. Probably a bit expensive considering that you may find a Toyota Camry for about the same price. However, where is the fun of driving a Camry?

2020 HONDA REBEL 300 ABS – $4,799 (new)

2020 HONDA REBEL 300 ABS
2020 HONDA REBEL 300 ABS
What We Loved
  • Has a perfect balance of features for entry-level and experienced riders alike
  • Lots of customization options
  • Unsurpassed driving experience
What We Disliked
  • Pricey (when compared with other bikes on this list)
  • Could feel a bit heavy for some

You might be wondering, isn’t this a used bike guide? Well, yes, it is. However, since you’re willing to spend $5,000 on a bike why not including one of the best options currently available at this price range?

It’s hard to say anything but good things about this amazing bike. The HONDA REBEL 300 ABS is fun to drive, has outstanding handling on the highway, it’s light for a cruiser (only 364 lbs), has a comfortable low height seat, and has interesting options like passenger seat, synthetic leather saddlebags, and rear carrier. On top all that, this is a new bike from a top manufacturer. Expect all tech goodies like ABS brakes, fuel injection, electric starter, slipper/assist clutch, and many cool options including LED headlights.

Summary

2020 HONDA REBEL 300 ABS – Cruiser

Cool Factor
Performance
Handling
Value

Specification

Engine: 286cc liquid-cooled single-cylinder engine
Transmission: 6-speed with slipper clutch
Weight: 364 lbs
Fuel system: electronic fuel injection
Seat height: 27.2 inches
Fuel consumption: 78 mpg
Fuel capacity: 2.96 gallons
Starter type: electric

4.3

2015 KAWASAKI NINJA 300 ABS – From $3,885 (2015)

2015 KAWASAKI NINJA 300 ABS
2015 KAWASAKI NINJA 300 ABS
What We Loved
  • Outstanding mid-range power
  • ABS and slipper clutch
  • Comfortable riding posture
What We Disliked
  • Fuel efficiency
  • Price may vary depending on options included

The KAWASAKI NINJA 300 ABS is hands down the main reference when it comes to the 300cc sport-bike segment. If you like speed then you’ll love the NINJA 300. It has excellent acceleration and superb handling. Not that it is a racing bike, but the KAWASAKI NINJA 300 ABS is not for the faint of heart either. As a bonus, NINJA 300 striking looks will definitely serve you well in the college to stand out from the rest.

Although the NINJA 300  it’s a great option for beginners, there are a few drawbacks to consider. Neither fuel consumption nor luggage storage is on its list of strengths. Also, given the NINJA is a sport-bike, it’s not designed with passengers’ comfort in mind. This is more a bike for someone who likes to ride alone while driving a relatively fast speed during the commute.

Summary

2015 KAWASAKI NINJA 300 ABS – SportBike

Cool Factor
Performance
Handling
Value

Specification

Engine: 296cc liquid-cooled twin-cylinder engine
Transmission: 6-speed
Weight: 383.7 lbs
Fuel system: electronic fuel injection
Seat height: 30.9 inches
Fuel consumption: 54.1 mpg
Fuel capacity: 4.5 gal
Starter type: electric

4.8

2016 YAMAHA YZF-R3 – From $3,525 (2016)

2016 YAMAHA YZF R3
2016 YAMAHA YZF R3
What We Loved
  • Good overall performance
  • Light and relatively easy to handle
  • Sporty eye-popping look
What We Disliked
  • Somewhat expensive when considering what is offering
  • No slipper clutches
  • Not very comfortable nor fuel-efficient

Yamaha introduced in 2015 this awesome model to compete in the 300cc sportbike segment against tough rivals like the KAWASAKI NINJA 300. Although the specifications of the YAMAHA YZF-R3 are almost identical to the NINJA 300, the R3 is still among the most popular entry-level bikes around. It has a sporty look, and it’s friendly to drive despite the fact of not counting with a slipper clutch like the NINJA 300. Nevertheless, the R3 compensates it by being lighter, having a bigger engine, and performing a bit better than the NINJA 300 at certain speeds.

Why including two motorcycles so similar? Simply put, you can’t go wrong with either of them. Depending on the area where you live, you could find better offers (and availability) of one brand over the other, and it would be a shame not to take advantage of it.

Summary

2016 YAMAHA YZF-R3 – SportBike

Cool Factor
Performance
Handling
Value

Specification

Engine: 321cc liquid-cooled twin-cylinder engine
Transmission: 6-speed
Weight: 368 lbs
Fuel system: electronic fuel injection
Seat height: 30.7 inches
Fuel consumption: 56 mpg
Fuel capacity: 3.7 gal
Starter type: electric

5

Best Used Motorcycles Under $3,000

Arguably, it is in this range where you can find the best price-performance ratio. The motorcycles are older, however, this is compensated by the greater number of available options.

2009 SUZUKI BURGMAN 400 ABS – From $2,440 (2009)

2009 SUZUKI BURGMAN 400 ABS
2009 SUZUKI BURGMAN 400 ABS
What We Loved
  • Automatic transmission
  • ABS anti-lock brakes
  • Comfortable and spacious
What We Disliked
  • Fuel consumption
  • Somewhat heavy
  • Ok performance

The 2009 SUZUKI BURGMAN 400 ABS is the perfect choice for anyone living near the campus that doesn’t feel attracted by sport bikes, but rather is looking for a functional, comfortable, well made, and convenient motorcycle. Unlike the R3 and the NINJA, the SUZUKI BURGMAN 400 can comfortably accommodate a passenger plus luggage. After all, it was designed with that purpose in mind. The SUZUKI BURGMAN 400 is meant to be practical and extremely easy to ride, that’s it. Ideal for beginners, this bike is fully automatic, just start it and go.

The standard ABS anti-lock brakes complete the novice-friendly design wonderfully. Perhaps our only complaint has to do with the weight of the SUZUKI BURGMAN 400 ABS. The bike feels a little slow in acceleration at times, however, the convenience of having an automatic transmission makes up for it.

Summary

2009 SUZUKI BURGMAN 400 ABS – Touring Scooter

Cool Factor
Performance
Handling
Value

Specification

Engine: 400cc liquid-cooled single-cylinder engine
Transmission: fully automatic
Weight: 593 lbs
Fuel system: electronic fuel injection
Seat height: 28 inches
Fuel consumption: 60 mpg
Fuel capacity: 3.96 gal
Starter type: electric

3

2007 KAWASAKI NINJA 500R – From $1,645 (2007)

2007 KAWASAKI NINJA 500R
2007 KAWASAKI NINJA 500R
What We Loved
  • High-performance
  • Iconic design
  • Easy to handle
What We Disliked
  • Fuel consumption
  • Carbureted
  • No ABS nor slipper clutch

You can think of the 2007 KAWASAKI NINJA 500R as a bike aimed at beginners getting more serious about performance. This is a 500 cc twin-cylinder engine, meaning a snappier, faster feeling than the NINJA 300 or the R3. Fortunately, despite the enthusiastic performance of the 500R, it’s very stable and friendly for new riders. It is also a larger motorcycle, making it easier to transport a passenger.

Simply put, if you like sportbikes, the 2007 KAWASAKI NINJA 500R won’t disappoint you. Take into account though, that the KAWASAKI 500R isn’t fuel-injected but carbureted, which means shorter service intervals.

Summary

2007 KAWASAKI NINJA 500R – SportBike

Cool Factor
Performance
Handling
Value

Specification

Engine: 498.0 cc liquid-cooled twin-cylinder engine
Transmission: 6-speed
Weight: 388 lbs
Fuel system: Carburetor. Keihin CVK34 x 2
Seat height: 31 inches
Fuel consumption: 48.5mpg
Fuel capacity: 4.8 gal
Starter type: electric

4

2009 KAWASAKI VULCAN 500 LTD – From $1,960 (2009)

2009 KAWASAKI VULCAN 500 LTD
2009 KAWASAKI VULCAN 500 LTD
What We Loved
  • Nice looking cruiser
  • Comfortable for both driver and passenger
  • Low seat cruiser style
What We Disliked
  • Carbureted fuel system
  • No ABS nor slipper clutch

Enough of sportbikes, (for now) it’s time for a good cruiser motorcycle. The 2009 KAWASAKI VULCAN 500 LTD is hands down the ideal bike for anyone loving cruiser lifestyle. It has it all. A low seat, a powerful yet friendly 500 cc twin-cylinder engine, and an unsurpassed balance between comfort and handling. Also, as you might expect from a cruiser, the KAWASAKI VULCAN 500 LTD can comfortably seat a passenger back.

In short, you get the whole cruiser experience at an affordable price. That said, please take into account cruiser motorcycles are heavier. Although the 2009 KAWASAKI VULCAN 500 LTD is considered an excellent option for beginners, it would require a slightly more experienced rider than other bikes on this list.

Summary

2009 KAWASAKI VULCAN 500 LTD – Cruiser

Cool Factor
Performance
Handling
Value

Summary

Engine: 498.0 cc liquid-cooled twin-cylinder engine
Transmission: 6-speed
Weight: 471 lbs
Fuel system: Carburetor. Keihin CVK32 x 2
Seat height: 28.1 inches
Fuel consumption: 51.9mpg
Fuel capacity: 4.0 gal
Starter type: electric

4.3

Best Used Motorcycles Under $1,500

The last three motorcycles on this list belong to the price range where you need to be more careful. The closer you get to $ 1,000, the greater the chances of being tricked by motorcycles in deplorable mechanical conditions.

2013 Honda PCX150 – From $1,480 (2013)

2013 Honda PCX150
2013 Honda PCX150
What We Loved
  • Automatic transmission
  • Capable of carrying a passenger
  • Awesome fuel economy
What We Disliked
  • Not ideal for traveling long distances
  • Somewhat lacking acceleration

While it is true that the 2013 HONDA PCX150 is smaller than the SUZUKI BURGMAN 400 is also true that it weighs half as much and delivers the same level of functionality. It’s comfortable, practical, fun to drive, and since its very light the handling at low speeds is superb. Moreover, the HONDA PCX150 put into shame the BURGMAN when it comes to fuel efficiency.

Keep in mind though, this is a 150 cc scooter, it’s designed mainly for inner-city driving. The 2013 HONDA PCX150 is capable of carrying a passenger on the highway but don’t expect much more besides that. This is not the best bike for traveling long distances. All in all a great choice if you don’t need a powerful motorcycle, and your commute distance is relatively short.

Summary

2013 Honda PCX150 – Scooter

Cool Factor
Performance
Handling
Value

Specification

Engine: 153.0 cc liquid-cooled twin-cylinder engine
Transmission: automatic
Weight: 286 lbs
Fuel system: electronic fuel injection
Seat height: 29.91 inches
Fuel consumption: 102mpg
Fuel capacity: 1.6 gal
Starter type: electric

2.3

2009 HONDA Rebel 250 – From $1,320 (2009)

2009 HONDA Rebel 250
2009 HONDA Rebel 250
What We Loved
  • Vintage styling
  • Comfortable accommodations
  • Incredible easy to handle
What We Disliked
  • Low capacity fuel tank
  • Relatively old SOHC engine
  • Air-cooled

The 2009 HONDA Rebel is the perfect example of how you can be creative with your budget. For less than $1,500 you can get an incredible cruiser motorcycle that you can later customize to your liking. Better than a scooter? It depends on what are your priorities. Rebel’s chromed accents definitely give it a bolder appearance. Besides its classic look, you get a cruiser. A full-sized bike that is able to comfortably take you (and your companion) virtually anywhere.

In short, the Rebel is bigger, faster, and easy to drive. The deciding factor would be whether the fuel economy and automatic transmission are more important to you. In any case, the 2009 HONDA Rebel is an awesome entry-level cruiser, that won’t let you down.

Summary

2009 HONDA Rebel 250 – Cruiser

Cool Factor
Performance
Handling
Value

Specification

Engine: 234.0 cc air-cooled V2-cylinder engine
Transmission: 5-speed
Weight: 331 lbs
Fuel system: single CV carburetor
Seat height: 26.6 inches
Fuel consumption: 52mpg
Fuel capacity: 2.6 gal
Starter type: electric

3.8

2014 YAMAHA Vino Classic – From $985 (2014)

2014 YAMAHA Vino Classic
2014 YAMAHA Vino Classic
What We Loved
  • Classic scooter retro styling
  • Super easy to park
  • Best for inner-city driving
What We Disliked
  • Not for everyone
  • Scooter-level performance

The 2014 YAMAHA Vino Classic is definitely the right choice for anyone that doesn’t need to travel long distances. If you’re looking for an extremely fuel-efficient and easy to drive bike then the 2014 YAMAHA Vino Classic is for you. Matter of fact, this motorcycle is efficient in all aspects. It’s cheap, light, easy to park, and offers a pleasant ride.

However, as you may expect, it also has a few drawbacks. Most notably its power output. It’s not that the 2014 YAMAHA Vino Classic is underpowered, its 49 cc engine delivers what it should for its displacement. The problem is it was designed as a city scooter. It can fit your transportation needs as long as you don’t exceed its limitations. It’s recommended for a long commute? Definitely not. But as other options in this guide, it a good choice for anyone living near the campus.

Summary

2014 YAMAHA Vino Classic – Scooter

Cool Factor
Performance
Handling
Value

Specification

Engine: 49.0 cc liquid-cooled single-cylinder engine
Transmission: automatic
Weight: 179 lbs
Fuel system: electronic fuel injection
Seat height: 28.2 inches
Fuel consumption: 130mpg
Fuel capacity: 1.2 gal
Starter type: electric

2.5

What is the best motorcycle for me?

Throughout this guide, you have been presented with diverse options that cover different needs. We suggest that you start by defining the key aspects such as what is your budget, or how far you need to travel. Is an automatic transmission important to you? Are you passionate about speed? Those are the questions that will assist you in deciding.

Unlike cars, motorcycles are connected to the driver’s personality in a more intimate way. So, take your time to find which type of bike defines you. Above all, pay attention to how you feel while riding. Remember, your bike will become your best buddy during the exciting experience of college. Do not forget to do a motorcycle vin check before buying one!