For riders aged between 19 and 24, who have passed their CBT, Theory test, MOD1 and MOD2 tests are entitled to their A2 licence. People often get confused, the A2 licence is classed as a Full UK motorcycle licence. This entitles riders with an A2 licence to ride a bike with no more than 47hp without L plates. This 47hp does have some limitations, the minimum weight of the bike must be 175kg, but the bike can be more powerful and restricted down to 47hp with either a throttle restrictor kit for cable operated bikes, an intake restrictor kit, or on modern bikes this can be done through the ECU with a revised engine map.
It can be a hard decision whether to buy a purpose-built A2 machine, or buy a larger bike and restrict it down to A2. Equally as hard is whether to buy new or buy a used machine as there are some really good used A2 bikes on the market. We have a used section at the bottom of the list too!
Despite some popular A2 bikes being dropped from the manufacturer line up’s due to the new Euro5 rules and regulations, there are still plenty of used versions on the market, and these days A2 riders are almost spoilt for choice on modern new machinery. The possibilities grow even larger when taking into consideration larger cc bikes which can be restricted down to meet A2 regulations. This gives a good thinking point for riders, do you keep hold of bikes for a long time to de-restrict the bike when eligible, or do you buy a smaller cc bike that doesn’t need restricting and sell once you pass your A licence? Tough call. Here is a randomly cobbled together list of some of the best A2 bikes on the market.
Best new A2 bikes
Probably the biggest breath of fresh air to the motorcycle to happen for years. A smaller cc bike with all the toys and tricks of the 1000cc superbikes. Effectively using half the engine of the superb V4 found in the RSV and Tuono. While this is definitely not the cheapest A2 option, with a £10,150 new price, however, you can easily save money from a slightly used private sale, but despite the price tag, you get so much tech. It looks like an RSV4, and rides like a mini RSV4, and is actually comfy enough to ride. Adjustable rider modes, traction control engine maps and braking are all features plus even more to list. Is this the proper rival to Yamaha’s R7?
Aprilia Tuono 660
As it’s common practice these days for manufacturers to share engines and or chassis through different platforms, the same happened on the RS660 and the Tuono 660. Sure the Tuono is more expensive than an MT07 (Almost 3k more), but I feel that Aprilia aimed firmly at the orange people and the 890 Duke in particular. £450 cheaper than the RS660 stablemate, with the biggest changes being slightly shorter gearing and a comfier riding position. Power is reduced slightly from 99 to 94hp in full power models, but if restricted both make the 47hp limit. The Tuono doesn’t get a quickshifter as standard which is slightly disappointing for a bike of this price tag though.
The German manufacturer with eyes on complete domination on the motorcycle market had never built a motorcycle with a small engine, until a partnership with Indian firm TVS in 2016. The latest 2021 model sees the single-cylinder engine make 34hp, but the bikes mas most of the mod cons expected with a modern bike. Styled to look like a smaller version of its bigger brother S1000RR, the bike comes with LED lighting, and a surprising number of rider aids, inspiring confidence for new riders. A G310GS model also gives a more rugged off-road look styled like the larger R1250GS.
At the opposite end of the spectrum, BMW’s F900XR can be restricted down to A2 level, providing the ideal starter bike, for those looking to de-restrict the bike when old enough, and possessing a full A licence. Designed as its own standalone bike, to fit nicely into the BMW range, as a pure road bike, the F900XR features a higher more upright riding position for comfort on long rides. The starting price of just under 10 grand with used models being available for around 7K is also a really attractive point.
The engine and chassis are perfectly mated and in either A2 or full power mode, the bike will be a joy to ride. Developed from the F850 (also A2 eligible) which was famed for being reliable, there should be no reliability or serious problems. The spec is very good for the price, with all of the expected mod cons, arguably beating other more expensive bikes.
Ducati Multistrada V2
The Multistrada V2 replaces the outgoing 950 and is available in base and S specifications. Much like the Panigale range, Ducati has replaced the engine size denotation with purely V2 or V4, showing which engine, either the Twin or V4. The new model features revised styling and upgraded tech, with the ‘S’ model gaining the electronic Skyhook suspension. This is an odd one on the list, the £12,500 base price of the base model without any options is expensive compared to other models. However, Ducati normally tends to hold onto their value better.
The bikes with the same 950 twin engines in the Ducati range are all A2 restrictable, Hypermotard, Monster and Supersport.
Harley Davidson & Indian A2
The majority of Indian and Harley Davidson bikes can be restricted to A2.
Honda CRF300 Rally
After an A2 bike which is happier on dirt, or down a Greenlane? Look no further than the Honda CRF300 Rally. You may know it better than the CRF250, but the new version for 2021 bores out the single cylinder to 300cc, and the Rally version features a big 10-litre tank, a windscreen and a slightly bigger fairing, making it better on the road. The new 300cc engine brings 27hp, less than most other machines on the list, however, 27hp is still plenty enough for a good green lane, chuck some knobbly tyres on for added grip, and this will sing. If you are looking for a road bike though, there are much better alternatives.
If you want something capable of doing a Greenlane, but then also need to ride the 100 miles to get there the CB500X could be the answer. Not so off-road-focused to be useless on road, like the CRF300, the CB500X is happy in both. Sharing the 47hp 500cc engine with the CMX500 rebel cruiser model, CB500F naked and CBR500R sporty bike, Honda are using this engine across all platforms, to cater to all A2 riders. The engine is old school. Introduced in 2013, but revisions and performance improvements keep it relevant, with the latest coming in 2019. A new larger diameter Front-wheel (19in) and the longer suspension keeps the bike firmly in the adventure segment, although a good choice for a touring machine too.
With the CBR600RR getting the cut due to not making the latest Euro emissions, the CBR500R comes in as a new entry-level sports bike for new riders. The CBR500R is suitable for A2 riders and the CBR650R is aimed at full A licence holders. The CBR500R shares the same engine as the CB500X above but adds a full fairing, an agile chassis and a more sporty riding position. Built in Asia the components and spec is of value, but basic.
KTM 390 Duke & KTM 390 Adventure
Yet another European manufacturer wanting to top the top-selling list is the orange army, KTM. With knowledge and experience from building lightweight sharp handling MX and Supermoto off-road bikes, the new A2 390 engine and Duke and Adventure chassis mate perfectly.
With more ground clearance and longer travel suspension, the Adventure is a good option for those who want the more rugged roads, while the Duke adds to the playful, hooligan side. The 373cc single-cylinder meets Euro5 regulations and powers the lightweight, fun chassis with is 43hp, plenty enough to have fun. If you are of a taller or bigger build the Adventure will give more space and rider comfort than the smaller Duke.
KTM 890 Duke
The 390’s bigger brother comes in and allows mapping to A2 regs from its 889cc parallel twin. The orange seems the more out-there choice compared to an MT07 or a Triumph Street Triple, as the orange styling is quite the acquired taste. The chassis is sharp hence KTM’s Scalpel nickname, however, it does seem expensive for the spec, but overall a good bike that is good fun to ride no matter what road or conditions.
Royal Enfield Interceptor 650
It looks like an old bike, but under the skin, the Royal Enfield has all the modern comforts and technology expected. The roadster and Continental GT’s have sold immensely well, due to the quality name, simplicity and extremely attractive price tag. The Indian owner firm took direct aim at Triumph’s Bonneville range, beating it on value for money, and accessibility. Keeping the power to a level where it is restrictable to A2 licence holders, adds a whole new segment of riders, genuinely making it one of the best, most tempting bikes on the list. The interceptor saves £200 over the Continental, however baring the looks, there isn’t much difference between the two, they are almost identical. A great alternative to a Triumph Bonnie?
Suzuki’s latest A2 bike and comes in the form of a GSX, a larger cc engine restricted down to make the A2 numbers. Based on the GSX-s1000, and even sharing the same 1000cc engine, but with a large de-tune to make 95 horsepower in full power mode, or suitable for A2 restriction down to the 47hp limit. The bike the GSX-S950 is based on is a fantastic bike, cheap, with a huge spec, it’s genuinely great value for money.
KYB forks and Dunlop tyres and a £10k price tag what’s not to like? This once again gives riders the option of taking the restriction off once passed the full A category. With attractive 3 years, PCP offers too, this gives riders another incentive to go bigger.
Suzuki V-Strom 650
Suzuki’s long-standing successful beginner adventure bike can do it all, from touring on the tarmac to smashing through gravel or mud roads. The 645cc engine has been around for a long time but is constantly evolving to become better each time. The latest revision increased mid-range torque without sacrificing top end. Last year we say the bigger DL get a bigger engine to 1050cc, so it would be nice to see the 650 get an upgrade to 700cc, and a few more ponies. As always with Suzuki, there is a huge number of genuine accessories, some of which would be nice as standard, but not including them keeps the base price low, something Suzuki is really good at. Read more about the DL650 here, when I took it out for a few days. Read my thoughts on the older version here.
Triumph Street Triple S
Triumph has been adding to their A2 range of bikes steadily over the past few years, adding the Street Triple S, the A2 compliant model of the Street Triple range. It uses the 660cc triple-cylinder engine, with a chassis loosely based on the bigger Street Triple RS, minus the powerful engine, saucy suspension and tasty brakes. The Triumph lineup is slightly confusing as there is also the Trident 660, which as far as I can see does the same kind of thing as the Street Triple S. If it’s anything like the bigger, faster 765RS, the chassis will be sublime, but for me, there was a really annoying inlet wine.
Triumph Trident 660
It’s cheaper than the above Street Triple S, and with 80hp on tap in full power mode makes it lively enough to be fun without silly. It has less power than the Street Triple S, but the price is cheaper too. It has a good spec for the money, with touches and details which make the bike look and feel more expensive and give the bike real character. Arguably the best value for money bike on the list, and a great ‘Beginner Triumph’ perfect for the new rider and new Triumph owner.
Good enough for youngsters, on track in the Yamaha BluCru R3 cup, and following the trend of brands utilising the same engine in multiple platforms, the R3 and the MT03 (below) share the same engine. Using a 321cc twin engine which makes 41hp, the R3 is built in Asia, Indonesia to be more specific, which keeps the costs low relative to the spec. 2019 brought a large update to the R3 bringing upgraded suspension, brakes and LCD dash and barring the Aprilia RS660, its arguably the fastest and sportiest on the list of A2 bikes. Despite being 41hp and less powerful than other bikes, it still handles itself well and will be a fun bike for every rider.
Sharing the same platform as its sports-focused stablemate, the Yamaha MT03 had a big update in 2019 and 2020. The 321cc engine share with the R3 makes 41hp, and even has an LCD dash, and with the updates came a more comfortable riding position and an upgrade to the chassis giving riders more front end feel. Trouble is, while it is cheaper, I think you get more bike and spec for your money restricting down from an R7/MT07.
Yamaha’s MT07 is a great bike, I should know, I spent a long, saucy week in the sun on one to pass me A test, many years ago. The MT07 can be restricted down for A2 riders to enjoy aswell as Full A riders. In reality, it will gain a few HP over the MT03, 6 in fact but gains a few kg’s also. Dual front discs help with braking, as does the increased specification and rider aids over the cheaper MT-03.
The new 2021/2022 model uses Michelin’s Road 5 tyre, the new tyres are well-proven. Visually the bike has had a restyle over the old model to the more modern ‘Cyclops’ look. Overall the MT07 is a solid choice for A2 and novice A riders. The twin-engine is a peach, it sounds great, has bucket loads of torque, but is still good on fuel, with an average in the high 50’s to the gallon easy. A price tag of under £7k (2021) gives mega value for money, but the bike does have some strong rivals like the Triumph Trident, and the Kawasaki Z650.
Since cutting the R6 from the range due to Euro emissions regulations, Yamaha has put many eggs in the R7’s basket. A bulletproof, fun torquey engine, with a good chassis suitable for riders young and old and even those in between. The same engine as the MT07 makes 72 horsepower in full power trim, but subtle refinements to the frame add slightly more rigidity and small geometry changes, with adjustable forks added to the front end. Changes at the rear end should make the bike feel more sporty over the MT07.
Bridgestone S22 hoops replace the Michelin’s off the MT07 adding a sportier feel. Sized with a 120/70 front and 190/55 rear size, the same rear size as bikes with 200hp. The Yamaha R7 weighs 4kg heavier despite a smaller fuel tank and lightweight battery, the fairings, wider wheel and tyre does add up. You’ll struggle to notice it though. £8,299 price will leave people scratching their heads whether to pay the extra for the R7, me the adjustability on the suspension and the sporty styling does it for me.
Electric A2 alternative?
It’s not only petrol-powered bikes which can be run on an A2 licence but with the popularity, accessibility and availability of electric bikes increasing it’s worth noting of the possible options. Zero’s FXE, DSR and FXS range can all be rode on an A2 licence. As always with electric, the cost can be prohibitive compared to petrol-powered, but for some it suits, and the cost is only coming down!
What are the best used A2 bikes?
The used A2 bike market is full of cracking bikes, at bargain prices. Shopping used you can sometimes get even more value for money. It makes some financial sense to buy used, as in theory the bike has already taken a big hit in value by the first owner(s), so future resale value losses should be minimal. Some bikes you might even get back what you paid for it, we can all dream!
Suzuki still makes the SV650, however, the best looking and arguably the best engine was the 2006ish shape ‘pointy’ when Suzuki made the switch to fuel injection from carbs. This shape SV650 uses a throttle stop restrictor which only allows the throttle to move to the maximum 47hp limit. The SV650 is a great bike for beginners, it’s fast enough to be fun without getting you into trouble, the chassis is dependable and there is a horde of used and aftermarket parts available. Older models suspension is non-adjustable, and could probably do with a rebuild however certain GSXR forks and shocks fit, which provide an upgrade in performance and also adjustability. This is common for other parts like brake calipers too.
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