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Motorcycles That Will Leave Your Balance In The Black

© Kawasaki

By Byron Wilson, Motorcyclist


Get on the road without breaking the bank with this selection of best motorcycles.

© Yamaha

As with lots of things these days, motorcycles seem to get more and more expensive every year. And that’s to be expected, with the advances in electronics and materials (did you see the Superleggera V4?). Thankfully, a trend at the opposite end of the spectrum has also taken hold, with several manufacturers filling out their lines with affordable, enjoyable bikes that won’t leave you in the financial lurch. These aren’t the highest-tech, fastest, or most farkled machines available, but these are the best motorcycles you’ll find under $5,000.


2020 Yamaha MT-03: $4,599

© Yamaha

The 2020 Yamaha MT-03 joins the MT-07, MT-09, and MT-10 in North America, and considering its lineage it promises to be a fantastic machine for both new and experienced riders. The 321cc parallel twin has proven its mettle in the YZF-R3, while the more upright ride position, light 373-pound curb weight, and slim design indicate this bike will be both comfortable as a commuter and nimble in the curves. The small-bore naked segment is rife with affordable, fun motorcycles and the MT-03 stands to challenge for top ranks among its peers this year.


2020 Honda CB300R: $4,949

© Honda

For 2019, Honda gave its CB300R a thorough makeover. It took the place of the CB300F, got an updated look, and dropped 35 pounds of weight. For 2020, the ABS version still sits at a diminutive 317 pounds, ready to ride. In the cockpit, it feels more like a full-size bike than it might appear on a spec sheet, and though its 286cc single leaves a little to be desired, this is a well-styled, perfectly capable motorcycle for riders in urban settings and those who like to take a quick ride through the hills on a totally flickable machine.


2020 Kawasaki Ninja 400 (non-ABS): $4,999

© Kawasaki

Kawasaki’s Ninja 400 just makes the cut at its starting MSRP for the non-ABS version. And that is great news because this is a great bike. Even without ABS, you’ll get a snappy, high-revving 399cc parallel-twin-engined machine that looks right at home with Kawi’s more powerful and expensive Ninjas. Its sport styling belies its comfort though, and in the perch you can expect a well-apportioned motorcycle suited to shorter and taller riders alike. It’s a blast in the canyons, great as a commuter, and can even be a really great trackday bike.


2020 Kawasaki Z125 Pro: $3,199

© Kawasaki

Let’s stick with Kawasaki a moment longer. For the 2017 model year, Kawasaki got on the minibike train following the massive success of Honda’s Grom and introduced the Z125 Pro. To be sure, it’s a compact machine and not ideal for riders with a long inseam or sensitive egos. But if you can fit comfortably on the 125cc single, you’re in for a treat. This little bike is light as a feather at 225 pounds, has a high-revving playful engine, and will allow you to zip around surface streets with ease.


2020 Suzuki DR200S: $4,649

© Suzuki

For those who like to get off the beaten path, the Suzuki DR200S will fit the budget with some coin to spare. It’s a simple machine, with a 199cc air-cooled single, five-speed transmission, and Mikuni carburetor. But it’s packing fully grown 21-inch front and 18-inch wheels that are ideal for trudging up a mountain trail. The dual sport may not be the fanciest bike of the bunch, but it opens a lot of doors that the other bikes on this list don’t.


2020 Royal Enfield Himalayan: $4,749

© Nathan May

The Royal Enfield Himalayan is likely to be one of the most distinctive bikes you’ll see in the coffee shop parking lot thanks to its rugged, utilitarian styling. The 411cc air-cooled single is also a little retro, but gets the job done on the road and off. Plus it provides a comfortable ride and some carrying capacity. We were surprised when we got our hands on one back in 2018 and expect you will be too, as you spend the money you’ve saved on an expedition through the Rockies.


The BMW G 310 R provides high-quality build at a palatable price.

© BMW

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Autos Magazine: Motorcycles That Will Leave Your Balance In The Black
Motorcycles That Will Leave Your Balance In The Black
These aren’t the highest-tech, fastest, or most farkled machines available, but these are the best motorcycles you’ll find under $5,000.
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