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

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

Rocks BHPian W16 recently shared this with other enthusiasts.

Hi guys, I searched the forum and couldn’t find any thread with this question.

I will be 18 in January 2023 and the bike bug has bitten me, my family has two cars in our garage but no two wheelers since 2004 as my dad has since moved on to cars.

But my dad is also a bike enthusiast, he had a Yezdi and a ball during his military years, so even today he likes to talk about it, and throughout my childhood he told me about bikes.

Now let’s come to the current situation, on my 18th birthday, I was thinking of buying a bicycle, it will be my first motorized two-wheeler, because I am also a cyclist and I love cycling.

My dad and I both love retro-themed bikes and have always dreamed of them, even booking a 2014 Harley Davidson Street Rod 750 on a ride (yes, that’s my dad’s love for the bikes and me), but my mum stepped in and bought us both to the reality that the bike will just be kept at home like a white elephant and not used as I was small, and my dad too busy with his office, so we canceled the reservation.

Even though I’ve always been more of a car enthusiast, the constant talk of bikes being the first step to motoring kind of made me want bikes.

The question is which bike is suitable for a beginner as well as after a year or two when I become an experienced rider. Also, I would like to ask the experts here if I should just leave the bikes and continue with the cars only, is it also a good idea to have a bike 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 style and snobby value.

The requirements are quite general:

  • I am a 70 kg 5.10 boy, so I would like a bike suitable for my height.
  • Me and my dad don’t want a sporty design bike, we both love the laid back designs of retro themed bikes.
  • Please suggest bikes that are reliable and have service centers available in most locations.
  • The bike must be new because it will stay with us for a long time.
  • The bike also needs to be relevant 5 years from now because it will likely stay with us that long.

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

As I am still a newbie in the bike scene, I have very few ideas about bikes and their handling, so suggestion from 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’ve heard about Honda motorcycles is that they’re refined and reliable, now that’s the perfect combo isn’t it, but I’m still a little reluctant with BigWing, I also don’t know if these bikes have the road presence of RE bikes.
  2. Royal Enfield Meteor/Scrambler/Himalayas: The RE stable is the best selling of the lot with a huge variety available these days, from classic to scrambler. I think the Classic is very common, I’m more interested in the Scrambler and the Himalayan, but I’m worried about the reliability because I read on the forum that there have been many reliability issues in the ‘Himalayan. The 650 twins are awesome, but I want to ask if they can be considered for beginners like me, because they’re awesome otherwise.
  3. Java 42: I recently saw it in the showroom, I had a poor experience in the showroom and was worried about the after-sales service because the brand is new and has low sales.
  4. Yezdi Jammer: Sounds smashing and awesome but aftermarket reluctance and also low brand sales but considered my dad had the Yezdi during his army days so the nomenclature brings back a lot of memories for him , I want to know if it’s worth going for.
  5. Suzuki V-Strom 250: The newbie in the list, has great reviews and looks great from the front, but doesn’t like the rear design of the bike, as it’s quite common, plus Suzuki doesn’t feel so special and n Doesn’t have a retro theme, so will only consider if the bike is really awesome.

Nice to hear from you guys.

Here is what GTO should say about it:

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

Here is what BHPian antz.bin should say about it:

Being 18 and going to college, right?

For the next 3/4 years, college is the only place the bike will likely go on a regular basis. At most, he will go to the meeting places or any of the forts in and around Pune. You don’t need 3 lakhs of machine to be able to do this.

Avoid anything that weighs more than 160 to 165 kg. Ideally it should have been 150kg, but modern bikes are much heavier than before and lightweight bikes are FUN!! The lighter the better. Heavy bikes are for older people like me (I’m twice your age) whose reflexes are slower.

All Apache RTRs are really cool. If you’re feeling more ambitious, choose the Yamaha MT-15/R15. You absolutely don’t need anything more powerful than the KTM 200 / Suzuki 250.

Ideally, if I were recommending a bike to my own nephew who is 1 inch taller than you and turns 18 in January 2024, I would ask him to stick to 125cc. The TVS Raider 125 is *THE BEST* 125cc bike to ride although I don’t find it particularly pretty. It’s for his own safety.

The weight criteria effectively excludes all Royal Enfields, Jawas, Honda 350s and any larger bikes that you don’t need anyway.

Whatever you choose, take an oath to always wear a helmet *before* you start the engine. It doesn’t matter if you’re just moving the bike around in the parking lot.

Good speed and safe driving.

Here is what BHPian Axe77 should say about it:

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

Great design, retro look, totally reliable, will be cheap to run and cheap to maintain (still great features for a youngster/student), smooth, not overwhelming to drive for a beginner etc. It will not call for unnecessary mechanical intervention that you may not yet be experienced enough to have. Really a kind of stuffing machine. Give it a try to see if you like it.

It will also have decent levels of components from a safety point of view in terms of dual-channel ABS and Honda Selectable Torque Control (traction control in the clear) – all handy features, especially for a novice rider. The problem with going overboard on horsepower quotient when shopping for bikes is that they also have lower segment components/safety assist features. I think the CB 350 RS strikes a good balance between moving up a bit in the CC segment and taking advantage of superior technology, but in a bike that won’t “bite” and will be easy to adapt to.

Riding equipment

I would say when budgeting for a bike, work on picking one that will leave you with a decent sized budget for good quality gear. At a minimum this means a full face helmet, riding pants, riding jacket, gloves and riding boots if possible.

Coaching

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

Talk to the likes of Top Gun (Vikrant, now based in Pune). He has great one day sessions where he teaches street driving skills. I can’t recommend the value of this enough. I’m sure if you investigate you will find other options as well. Feel free to DM me if you need his contact details.

Here is what BHPian neil.jericho should say about it:

W16rocks, it’s good to see young enthusiasts like you willing to dip their toes in the motorcycle pool after getting their license. First, there are people who learned to ride liter-class sport bikes and there are others who started on 100cc commuters. Considering our Indian conditions, it is always better to move up the ranks. One thing to keep in mind is that your 5 year period will involve a degree and a job or a degree and a post-graduation. It could take you to different cities and states. So keep a practical long-term perspective on the property.

Going through your post, I believe there is not a single bike that meets all of your requirements. You will have to compromise on something or the other. Your final decision will depend on what you are willing to compromise on.

  • Jawa 42 / Yezdi Scrambler, Roadster, Adventure: Avoid. They will not age well, and the service network is not good.
  • Honda CB350/RS – On paper, this is one of the few motorcycles that best meets your requirements. The limited scope of the Big Wing dealership makes it a tough recommendation for your use case. What if there is no Big Wing dealership in the city where your college is located?
  • Royal Enfield Meteor 350 / Classic 350 – Fitted with the J-series engine, these offerings are a good bet. You also get a fantastic pan-India service network. Once you start traveling when you’re in college, you’ll appreciate that there are SVCs in every town along the way. Weight is an issue though.
  • Suzuki Gixxer 250 – If you replace the OEM headlight, you will get a retro looking motorcycle. The engine is a gem. It’s friendly and fun. A weight of nearly 160 kg will facilitate city walks and learning. Mileage should be in the mid 30’s. It’s super cheap to maintain and run. The service network is wide. Prices for the Gixxer 250 are surprisingly competitive, especially considering that Suzuki dealers are offering discounts on remaining 2021 inventory, and even 2022 inventory.

You can’t go wrong with the Meteor 350 or the CB350. However, the Gixxer 250 is probably the most sensible option for you at the start of your motorcycle journey.

Check out BHPian’s comments for more ideas and information.

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