A2-friendly bikes have come a long way in recent years, in fact, this lightweight category has swiftly become a very exciting place. An A2 licence permits riding motorcycles up to 47bhp and that may not sound like a lot compared to some of the behemoths out there but realistically, it is more than enough power for all types of UK road riding.
Some of these modern A2 bikes are not only very economical but also a lot of fun to ride, with great features and surprisingly good performance. Fortunately, since we have been enjoying this A2 boom for a few years now, many of these great bikes are becoming available on the used market, making it one of the most affordable and efficient ways to get on two wheels.
Bear in mind one of the advantages to buying used is the ability to haggle. Be respectful and only make sensible offers but most sellers will list their motorcycles knowing full well they are going to end up being talked down a little bit. If you have the cash ready to go, it can be a powerful bargaining tool!
In this list, we are going to look at some of the very best lightweight motorcycles to search for when you are looking to pick up a bargain. The used market is constantly changing and completely dependent upon what is available in your area so there are no guarantees, but these are some of the gems well worth looking out for.
KTM 390 Duke (2015) - £2,999
How often the KTM 390 Duke appears on these top 10 lists speaks volumes about how good this little bike really is. It was first unleashed onto the A2 market in 2014 and really kicked off the revolution that we have seen in this category in recent years. These 2014-2016 models are in plentiful supply on the used market and there are plenty of bargains to be had.
The 390 Duke got a big upgrade in 2017, receiving all the modern gadgetry and cementing itself as the top bike in the category. As a result, these bikes hold their value very well so a 2017 model will usually be going for around the £4,000 mark. One of the best things about buying bikes on the used market is that there is often room for negotiation, so with a bit of haggling, you might be able to get it down a bit. Realistically though, if we are sticking to the £3k limit, it is the 2015/16 model we will be more likely to find and fortunately, it is still an absolute belter!
Yamaha YZF R3 (2015) - £2,900
Another gem of an A2 bike here, the YZF R3 from Yamaha. This one was released in 2015 and that initial model stayed strong all the way until 2018 when it finally received its first major update. That's good news on the used market because it means that the first generation of R3 from 2015 are still about and still excellent.
The R3 has some lovely super-sport styling but it comes with a more laid-back riding position thanks to its slightly raised bars. It means that, unlike traditional super-sports, it is a bit more comfortable for everyday riding. Don't let that fool you though, the R3 is surprisingly nippy with plenty of fun factor!
We are talking Yamaha here, so the reliability of these motorcycles is going to be very high, with plenty of owners' reviews out there to back that up. These bikes are built to last, so finding used models in great condition is relatively easy and there are plenty of bargains to be had. It’s a real winner!
Yamaha MT 03 (2016) - £2,750
A great alternative option to the R3, if you prefer the futuristic street styling of the MT series then this is your bike. There was a much older MT-03 model that featured a 600cc engine but that is not the bike we are talking about here. This new generation of MT-03 was first released in 2016 and makes use of the same A2 compliant 321cc parallel-twin engine as the R3.
We also have the same excellent build quality so once again, there are plenty of these on the used market in excellent condition. They seem to be going for a little bit cheaper than their faired counterpart, too, with plenty of examples from 2016-17 falling under the £3k mark. As a great fun street naked, it's hard to go wrong with this one. For the finer details, check out our recent road test review.
Kawasaki Z300 (2016) - £2,899
Kawasaki's A2 street naked came out in 2015 and while it was slightly behind its rivals in power, putting out 38bhp, it makes up for it in looks and character. At the time, most of these A2 models had their own designs, it's only recently the manufacturers have recognised that people want a nice-looking A2 bike that fits in with the rest of the range. Kawasaki understood this from the start so even the first generation of Z300 looks just like its larger siblings in the range.
As I said earlier, not quite as much power as some of the other top-spec A2 motorcycles but still plenty of go for UK road riding. It also has a good amount of fun factor thanks to its high revving nature. Kawasaki like these bikes stripped down in terms of gadgets and technology but it does have a handy eco meter to tell you how well you are doing for fuel consumption. It would make a great budget commuter with plenty about on the used market for under £3k.
Honda CB500F(2016)- £2,800
Honda gave their entire middleweight range a complete overhaul in 2018 and there are a plethora of great A2 Honda bikes out there, but it is unlikely you will find one of the newer models for 3 grand. Fortunately, the previous model of CB500F from 2016 is still a fantastic bike and can be grabbed in our price range if you can find one!
This generation of CB500 was the first to be manufactured in Thailand but it still retains all of Honda's famous build quality and reliability which has once again been backed up by all the rider reviews out there. It is a great all-rounder that is built to last with a slightly larger size than most of the other modern A2 motorcycles here. The extra size doesn't necessarily equate to extra performance but this C500F is certainly no slouch either. Worth a look!
BMW G310 R (2018) - £2,999
This is BMW's budget entry-level middleweight and one of the most recent models you can find on this list. It suffers from a slightly lower power than most of its peers with its 34bhp output but as with most of these A2 offerings, don't let that put you off. It still has all the go you need for a steady commuter and can cruise at national speed limit very easily.
This bike was designed to be affordable but still looks and feels high quality. At the time of its initial release in 2016, it was one of the cheapest among its rivals and that means it's easier to find used models in this sub £3,000 category. I was able to find a BMW G310 R as recent as 2018 in this price range and that means low mileages and very little use!
Royal Enfield Classic 500 (2019) - £2,810
The Royal Enfield Classic 500 is a real beauty and perhaps one of the most authentic retro models out there – it even comes with a kick-start! These motorcycles do look incredible, but they are some of the slowest in the A2 category. Despite having a chunky 500cc engine there is only 27bhp available, so these really are purely for cruising in style.
Pre-COVID, it was easy to get these used for under £3k, considering new models only sold for around £4,000 to start with. Things have changed a bit recently as Euro 5 has put a stop to production, which means they now hold their value very well. I was able to find a single Classic in the required price range so you may need to get lucky and be prepared to travel if you want one of these. Having said that, the brand new RE Continental GT is one of the best A2 bikes on the market currently so with a little bit more time these beauties are going to start appearing used for very reasonable prices too.
Extra budget section
So far, I have focused on modern A2 bikes you can find for bargain prices on the used market but to round out the list I am going to include some old classics that are some of the cheapest options you can find. Because of their age, they are very competitively priced, but you will need to make sure you find a clean example that still runs okay!
Kawasaki ER-6 (2014) £2,500
Before Kawasaki's Z models took over, the middleweight entry bike in their range was the ER-6. It came in two varieties, the ER-6F and the ER-6N – essentially the same bike but one was naked (N).
Then the other had a small fairing on it (F). Both looked great and performed very well too but they do exceed the A2 requirement by default with their 70bhp engines so you will have to get the bike restricted or find one that already is.
I actually did my full motorcycle licence test on one of these and it was a fun bike that was very easy to ride!
Honda CBF500 (2007) £1,200
We looked at the newer CB models earlier, but the older versions are still around and thanks to their excellent build quality, are still going strong. A reliable workhorse, this 500cc engine is again slightly beyond the A2 requirements so you will need to find a restricted version or have it restricted yourself.
I was able to find a restricted CBF500 for just over a grand so these bikes are out there for extremely low prices, but you will have to bear in mind due to their age, they may have some wear and tear. Having said that, Japanese bikes from this era generally tend to hold up well if they have been treated well and these Hondas are famous for their reliability.
Suzuki Bandit 600 (2003) £1,370
The final of our old classics, the Suzuki Bandit, is another tried and true workhorse. Thanks to their great build quality and reliability, it is easy to find Bandits in relatively good condition for very low prices. Even very clean examples from as recent as 2003 can be grabbed for just over a grand and the older models can drop into 3 figures. As with the CBF500, you have to make sure a bike of this age hasn't been too badly abused but the bargains are out there.
Once again, it is a 600cc model so, despite its easy-to-handle nature, you will have to get it restricted for A2 licences but that is going to be the case for most very low-budget bikes of this age. There simply wasn't a focus on the A2 market back then like there is today.
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