Best Cheap Motorbikes Under £1000 [Find a Bargain!]

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Cheap doesn’t necessarily mean bad. There are many budget-friendly secondhand bikes out there with lots of fun and life left in them. The best starting point is to pick a bike known for reliability. 

From there, you need to find one with reasonably low mileage and look it over for obvious signs of wear and tear.

We thought we’d make a list of some quality, cheaper bike models to help people out when looking through listings. 

Kawasaki ER-5

Kawasaki ER5

Specs

Engine – Four-stroke, parallel twin
Capacity – 498cc
Cooling System – Liquid-cooled
Max Power – 50hp
Dry Weight – 180kg

The ER-5 is a commuting stalwart and many people’s introduction to A2 motorcycling. A well-proven parallel twin and simple roadster chassis form the backbone of a forgiving and fun riding experience. 

The suspension feels a little bouncy on these at first. But when you factor in the bike’s overall low weight, it’s tuned just right. The ER-5 feels nimble in traffic and has more than enough grunt and structural stiffness for motorway riding. 

And while these won’t win the swimsuit section of our contest for their beauty, they’re far from ugly.

The popularity of the ER-5 as a low-cost commuter has inevitably led to an army of customisation enthusiasts capable of turning your bike into a flat tracker, brat, cafe racer, or whatever else you can imagine.

Apart from their often sub-1000 GBP price point, ER-5s offer another attractive budget feature. You’ll easily get 60mpg on one of these – pretty decent for a 500cc.

A low upfront cost, cheap insurance, and cheap running costs make these a solid option for anyone looking for a budget bike on an A2 license. 


Suzuki SV 650

Suzuki SV650

Specs (2005-2006 model)

Engine – Four-stroke, V-twin
Capacity – 645cc
Cooling System – Liquid -cooled
Max Power – 73.4hp
Dry Weight – 167kg

Widely recognised as some of the best bang per buck in the world of motorcycling, the SV 650 is a cheap V-twin classic. Lots of people call this their favourite bike ever. Strong torque and a wide powerband are two results of its beautiful engine design. And thankfully, handling is equally crisp and agile. 

The seating position is surprisingly comfortable, too, with two models available. The naked version is slightly longer and more relaxed, while the fairing model is slightly shorter and more aggressive. But not even this one veers into the hyper-aggressive, full-sports bike seating position.

The SV 650 is built around power but has also factored in commuter comfort. 

Older models of this bike can be found in the sub 1000GBP category regularly. You’ll struggle to find more bang for your buck than the SV 650. It has the performance of a mid-weight sports bike but all the functionality of a commuter. 


Honda CB 500

Honda CB500

Specs:

Engine – 2 cylinder, four-stroke
Capacity – 499cc
Cooling System – Liquid-cooled
Max Power – 57.1hp
Dry Weight – 177kg

The bulletproof engines of the CB 500 can easily pass the 100k mark if looked after correctly. This makes them an attractive option in the secondhand market. A CB 500 with lots of mileage that’s been treated well can be picked up for peanuts and still have a lot of life left. 

Bikes don’t get much more reliable than this. Honda’s legendary quality is on full display here, with the CB 500’s parallel-twin engine delivering smooth performance mile after mile. And it’s not only faithful. There’s also some power. People even do track days on these things (don’t buy one that’s been raced).

The family of CB500 we’re specifically referencing here are those from ’93 to 2003. They were a favourite of couriers and delivery drivers during this period who loved their handling, low cost, and reliability. Those same factors make the CB 500 a great budget choice for commuters motorbikes today.


Suzuki GN 125

Suzuki GN 125

Specs:

Engine – Single-cylinder, four-stroke
Capacity – 125cc
Cooling System – Air-cooled
Max Power – 11hp
Dry Weight – 107kg

You’ve almost certainly seen the GN 125 before. They are cheaper, small-displacement bikes offered by the big three and a staple of delivery drivers and commuters in cities. 

The low upfront cost and super-low running costs are the main appeals here. But the basic, retro looks and similarly basic-but-reliable urban performance are also factors. Like many other bikes on this list, the popularity of this model has made them one of the most commonly modified bikes on earth. 

The only black mark here is given for the brakes. They are pretty bad. But with such a low weight and not that much power, this is much less of a factor than it might be on a bigger, more powerful bike. 


Honda CBF 250

Honda CBF 250

Specs:

Engine – Single Cylinder
Capacity – 249cc
Cooling System – Air-cooled
Max Power – 22hp
Weight – 138.5kg

The CBF 250 is a fairly plain-looking machine. And truthfully, its performance is fairly average too. However, it excels in its reliability, seating position, and agile handling. 

The powerband here is easy to find, and there’s enough grunt to get you out of trouble in a pinch. But the low running costs are more likely to be what appeals here. That said, city driving can be fun on the CBF 250 with its narrow bars and lively low end. 

Mechanically, these tend to develop few problems. The four-stroke, single-cylinder engine is tuned pretty low and isn’t put under any great stress. With cheap insurance, good miles per gallon, and better brakes than many bikes on this list, the CBF 250 makes a good budget bike. 


Honda CBR 125

Honda CBR 125

Specs:

Engine – Four-stroke, Single Cylinder
Capacity – 125cc
Cooling System – Air-cooled
Max Power – 11.3hp
Weight – 115kg

Not a head-turner by any means, the CBR 125 is still a sound option for someone on an A1 license. It’s ultra-lightweight, agile, and feels like it’s been well-thought-out for urban and suburban riding. 

Apart from the GN 125, this might be the most popular delivery vehicle on this list. And that’s saying something – nearly all these bikes (especially the smaller ones) are popular with food deliveries. 

This means parts are easy to find, and many mechanics have experience maintaining these machines. For under a grand, and with really low insurance and running costs, you won’t find many better budget options than this. 


Yamaha YBR 125

Yamaha YBR 125

Specs:

Engine – Four-stroke, single-cylinder
Capacity – 125cc
Cooling System – Air-cooled
Max Power – 10.7hp
Weight – 114kg

Introduced in 2007 to replace the much cooler looking (in my opinion) SR 125, the YBR is a compelling commuter. These are highly manoeuvrable, super cheap to insure and run, and are available for peanuts on the secondary market. 

These probably won’t appeal to teenagers looking for something aggressive. But look under the slightly nerdy exterior, and there’s a reliable urban workhorse here. It won’t give you blistering top speeds or acceleration, but handling and braking are excellent for this class. 

The fuel economy is also exceptional, with riders often reporting 100-120 mpg. Parts are generally cheap and easy to come by. The YBR would be a good option for someone who wants to get their hands dirty with their first bike. It’s easy to take everything apart, learn where it goes, and develop your servicing skills as you go. 


Image Credits

No machine-readable author provided. Mfrutos assumed (based on copyright claims)., CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons
lorenzo bolla, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons