In this blog we're going to be looking at some of the best A2 licence compliant motorcycles on the market in 2020. Just because these bikes are suitable for A2 riders however, doesn't mean you should rule them out if you have a full licence - these bikes have a lot to offer and can be great choices for anyone looking for a quality machine on a budget!
So what is an A2 motorcycle?
Well the A2 licence is a kind of intermediate motorcycle licence. Only people aged 24 or over can proceed directly to their full bike licence so if you are aged 19-24 you will first have to obtain your A2. The A2 offers essentially the same benefits as the full category A but with one exception, it limits the rider to bikes with a power output of no more than 35kW (47bhp).
The market for these A2 compatible bikes has really boomed in recent years with a range of fun, affordable and stylish bikes on offer and many manufacturers are now offering excellent A2 variations in their popular model ranges. As the quality and performance of these bikes have increased they have become popular choices for all kinds of riders, not just A2 holders.
It is possible to get almost any bike restricted to meet A2 requirements but in this list I am focusing on bikes designed for it as standard. So with no further delay let's look at my top 10 A2 motorcycles in 2020 (in no particular order)...
10. Honda CBR500R
The CBR500R has been given an overhaul for 2019 with improvements to both its performance and visuals, as well as a bunch of new high quality components.
The 471cc engine has been revised for more low and mid range torque, making the bike more responsive with faster acceleration. The power is right on the limit of the A2 category at 47bhp to make sure you get the most out of the bike. On top of that it's been given a slipper clutch and fully adjustable suspension.
One thing that a lot of these A2 sport bikes are getting now is a more mellow ride position. Honda have managed to find a nice sweet spot where the bars are high enough that you can cruise in comfort, but the tucked race position is there if you want it, giving a lot more versatility than the traditional supersport.
A lot of attention to detail has been given to the CBR500R's new looks as well to give it a real big bike feel. In fact when I first saw this new model on display back at the NEC show, it was sat next to a Fireblade and did not look out of place, which is high praise indeed!
The price of a new Honda CBR500R starts at £6,099 which is towards the top of the price bracket on this list but you are getting a lot of bike for the money and Honda's famous reliability and build quality.
9. Ducati Scrambler Sixty2
Ducati's Scrambler range has been hugely popular since it's launch in 2015 and helped usher in the current retro revival trend we're seeing all across the industry. In 2016 Ducati launched the Scrambler Sixty2, an A2 compliant version aimed at newer riders who were attracted by this trendy new genre of motorcycle.
The Sixty2 has that unmistakeable Scrambler styling and in fact shares many of the same components of it's larger siblings in the range (LED lights, Showa forks and Kayaba rear shock for starters), resulting in a very premium A2 bike.
The wide bars and comfy seat make this a great little commuter you can easily do long rides on. The engine is a 400cc air-cooled twin with a 30 kW power output (40bhp), so expect a nice mellow ride that is perfect for beginners.
I mentioned earlier the premium quality of this bike but the downside to that is the premium price tag, starting at £6,750. However, this is still the cheapest you will find a brand new Ducati!
8. Yamaha MT-03
Similar to retro models, middle weight naked bikes have also been enjoying a large boom in recent years and one of the big catalysts for that has been Yamaha's game changing MT series. A series that now comes in a lightweight A2 package as well: the MT-03.
The MT-03 has that great MT range styling and a real big bike feel to it but where its larger counter parts are famous for their aggressive torque, the 03 is a much more forgiving bike. This makes it a great choice for new riders still honing their throttle control, although having said that, this bike only weighs 168 kilos so a lot of fun can be squeezed out of the 321cc engine by more experienced hands.
The bike has a nice comfortable upright riding position which makes for a great versatile machine and the low 780mm seat height is a good choice for shorter riders too. There isn't a ton of cutting edge features here, you get ABS as standard and LED lighting and of course Yamaha's great build quality and reliability. You also get a very nice price tag - starting at £4,999, there's a lot to like about this bike.
7. BMW G 310 R
For a long time, BMW had an A2 shaped hole in its model range but in 2016 they remedied this with the G 310 R. Although it has seen no major updates for 2019, it remains a decent contender in the A2 market and the cheapest you're going to get a brand new Beamer!
The price of this bike starts at £4,670 and it will do near 100 mpg so it's a great economical option with authentic BMW styling based on the S 1000 R. In fact, the looks are a stand out feature with everything looking polished and high quality. To make this price point, the bike has been stripped down on features, the only real concessions being the ABS that comes as standard.
The engine is a 313cc single cylinder and at 34 bhp it isn't going to set pulses pounding but it will cruise at speed limits with no problem. It has a low weight of just 158 kilos with a full tank and the relatively low seat height could make it another good motorcycle for shorter riders.
6. Royal Enfield Interceptor
The 2019 Interceptor is something of a departure for Royal Enfield who usually specialise in stripped down, low powered motorcycles with equally low price tags.
The Interceptor retains the gorgeous retro styling that Enfield have become known for with a whole range of finishes available, but it has been beefed up with a brand new 648cc engine. The bike is still A2 compliant, putting out 46bhp but the performance of this model is more inline with it's rivals offering a surprising amount of grunt.
On top of that it's been loaded up with high quality parts - Bybre brakes (a subsidiary of Brembo), Bosch ABS, Pirelli tyres and a slipper clutch all come as standard.
Despite the fancy features, Royal Enfield have still kept the price extremely low, starting at £5,500, this is a very competitive A2 motorcycle. And did I mention how good it looks?
5. Yamaha R3
Yamaha's sporty A2 offering has been freshly updated for 2019 and features a number of improvements over the previous version.
For starters, as seems to be the trend on these A2 sport bikes, the ride position has been adjusted to find a nice sweet spot between comfort and aggression. The clip on bars are now slightly lower which allows for a nice tuck position if you want to give it some, but are still higher than a traditional supersport, creating a much improved level of comfort. The result is a more versatile machine that will eat up any type of riding you want to throw at it.
Those aren't the only changes though, the fairing has been redesigned based on the current MotoGP bike, which not only looks fantastic but offers a greater level of aerodynamics. The suspension has also been tuned to give more feedback and the new KYB USD forks are finished in gold which further adds to the big bike look and feel.
Despite being a faired bike it's actually only 1 kilo heavier than the current naked version, weighing in at 169kg with a full tank. The R3 retains the same single cylinder 321cc engine and produces 41.4bhp.
Surprisingly, the bike also retains its previous price of £5,299 despite the improvements so there's great value for money here. Yamaha's R3 makes a good choice for beginners who want to get into sport bikes or any rider that wants a more well-rounded sport motorcycle without breaking the bank.
4. Honda CMX500 Rebel
Now for something completely different - the CMX500 Rebel from Honda. A2 cruisers are something of a rarity already but this bike has a very unique style all of its own.
The CMX500 is sporting the same 471cc engine as the CBR500R but it has been remapped to give the bike a different character, more suitable to a cruiser than a sports machine. There's a healthy 45bhp output and the Rebel is extremely light for a cruiser weighing in at only 198 kilos. All this results in a surprisingly agile and responsive bike and the low ride height makes it once again great for shorter riders.
It won't be everyone's cup of tea but if you fancy a quirky little low rider this bike has a lot going for it. The price tag is right in the middle of the list at around £5,699 and you get Honda's bullet proof reliability along with it.
3. KTM 390 DUKE
This isn't the first time I've talked about the 390 Duke and I doubt it will be the last, it seems to have made it's way into a lot of top 10 lists which is testament to how great this bike was when it arrived in 2017.
In 2019 the Duke's A2 rivals have started to catch up but it still remains a solid option that is great value for money. Let's talk about that value - this is a £4,699 motorcycle that comes with BOSCH ABS, adjustable suspension, USD forks, ride-by-wire technology, a slipper clutch, Brembo brakes and a colour TFT display with multimedia connectivity.
The looks are based on KTM's Superduke and give it an aggressive Supermoto vibe. The engine is KTM's 373cc single cylinder with 43hp output and the extremely light weight (just 149kg dry) makes for a very responsive ride that will please beginners and veterans alike.
2. Kawasaki NINJA 400
I may be a bit bias here as a lover of the iconic Ninja series from Kawasaki but the latest A2 addition to the line-up is a huge step forward for the brand - the Ninja 400!
This is the first A2 compliant model that truly looks and feels like a Ninja, in fact at a glance you can barely tell the latest Ninja 400 and the 2019 ZX-6R apart, which is a good thing since they are both real beauties.
On closer inspection the differences start to become more apparent, the air intake on the front is missing, the clip on bars are higher and the 400 is generally less bulky. Some of these differences may actually be a good thing, depending on what you're after. As is the fashion with A2 sport bikes, the higher bars result in a more comfortable riding position which gives these models a bit more versatility and the fact that this bike has an economical riding indicator speaks volumes.
The Ninja 400 is sporting a new and improved 44.3bhp, 399cc engine that can put out 38Nm of torque, weighing just 168kg with a full tank of fuel this is an A2 bike that can put a smile on your face.
The Ninja 400 is a real looker, comes with ABS, LED lights at front and back and a slipper clutch as standard and has a budget friendly price of £5,499. What's not to like?
1. Zontes T310
For the final bike on the list, I've gone with something a bit different - a low budget offering from China: the Zontes T310.
Now, before you run a mile - Chinese bikes have come a long way in the last few years and although you won't find any class leading specs here, this bike isn't half bad. Especially when you factor in that it only costs £3,999. That's cheaper than some 125's out there!
The T310 has been decked out with great looking 'adventure bike' styling and a lot of attention to detail has been paid to this bike's looks. I'm not sure how much actual adventuring you will be doing on this but as a commuter and beginner friendly motorcycle it does the job just fine.
The engine is a 312cc single cylinder with 34bhp, so as I said earlier it's not exactly class leading performance but it's not sluggish either and will comfortably cruise at motorway speed limits and beyond.
There is a surprising amount of gadgetry here too with keyless ignition, Bosh ABS, ride modes, LCD display, USB charger and an electric screen. Not bad for an A2 bike that costs less than 4 grand.
Brett has given this bike a good going over and covered everything you might want to know in his Zontes T310 review and road test.