Top Eight Bikes for under $8,000

Eight budget-built bikes without the budget-built persona

Are you in the market for a new bike but not willing to spend an arm and leg at the dealership? If you answered that question with a definitive “yes,” then congratulations, you are the norm. And if so, you’ll be happy to learn that a recent shift in trends has resulted in a long list of wallet-friendly sportbikes that are practical but also easy to insure and entirely up to snuff. Below are eight models that perfectly exemplify the market’s change in direction, all for under $8,000!

If 180-plus horsepower, a race-derived chassis, and traction control fall somewhere below price and practicality on your list of requirements, then your next bike has probably found a home on the list featured here. Note, of course, that non-ABS models are listed wherever possible, as are the models with standard graphics. Need that extra level of protection or added styling? Be prepared to spend just a few extra hundred dollars, on average.

Honda Grom ($3,199)

Honda

Honda’s loveable little Grom is hard to beat both in terms of price and playfulness; for $3,199 you get a 125cc, air-cooled, single-cylinder engine that’ll run 55 mph all day long and 70 mph assuming you're "tucked in, headed downhill, and skipped lunch," Associate Editor Bradley Adams said in his review on the Grom. An oversized seat is designed to accommodate you and a passenger, plus the two-valve engine has a four-speed tranny with a cherry on top in the form of electronic fuel injection. Thanks to its low price tag, the Grom leaves you with plenty of money to spend on the surplus of parts already available in the aftermarket, too.

Suzuki GW250 ($3,999)

Brian J. Nelson

Suzuki’s GW250 is not only the newest addition to the quarter-liter class; it’s also the least expensive and accommodates taller riders by way of an elongated footpeg-to-seat gap. In a review on the bike, our Associate Editor concluded that, “The bike feels unintimidating and well-suited to entry-level riders. Adding to the bike’s appeal is an engine with tractable power delivery; a smooth transmission that practically falls into neutral when prompted; a clutch lever with great feel and light pull; large mirrors with a great view of what’s behind you; and a smooth on/off throttle transition.” The $3,999 GW250 is pretty damn easy on the savings account, too.

Honda CBR250R ($4,199)

Honda

Honda’s CBR250R has fought valiantly against the larger-displacement Kawasaki Ninja 300 and will continue to do so until the CBR300R is released later this year. In its current trim, the $4,199 CBR250R impresses with its lightweight handling and low-end pep, the former characteristic coming courtesy of its well-balanced chassis and the latter from its single-cylinder engine with great torque. “For around-town riding, it’s hard to beat Honda’s micro sportbike and its remarkable fuel mileage,” says Bradley. Even better is that dealerships will probably be slashing CBR250R prices once the CBR300R is released.

Kawasaki Ninja 300 ($4,999)

Kawasaki’s Ninja 300 is in one word, spectacular. The $4,999 Ninja 3 is marketed toward entry-level riders but packs a punch that’d make it a legitimate option for returning riders and those who want to go racing on the cheap. Brakes, engine performance, and suspension all outshine the similarly displaced—and priced—competition, making Kawasaki’s smallest Ninja one of those entry-level bikes that you don’t need to worry about growing out of right away. Your bank account approves.

Honda CBR500F/R ($5,799/$6,299)

Honda

Honda has placed more emphasis on affordable sportbikes than any other motorcycle manufacturer, and a perfect example of its efforts are the three CBR500 models. The two most idealistic models in this lineup, the CBR500R and CBR500F, vary only in the number of fairings and price tag, with the sportier R model coming in at $6,299 and the naked F at $5,799. Both models make use of a 500cc parallel-twin engine and have a rider-friendly, 30.9-inch seat height. More than that, both models provide a nice middle-ground between the CBR250R and Honda’s CBR600RR (the newly introduced CBR650F will share that responsibility, but at $8,499, it’s a much more expensive option.)

Kawasaki Ninja 650 ($7,699)

With its Ninja 650, Kawasaki proves once again that a “beginner bike” doesn't have to be a associated with words like “dull” or “weak.” Associate Editor Bradley Adams went as far as to turn one into a racebike and picked up a few trophies during the project bike’s maiden voyage to the track. Outside the confines of a racetrack, the Ninja 650 impresses with agile handling traits, comfortable seat cushion, and silky-smooth throttle response.

Yamaha FZ6R ($7,890)

Look up the word practical in a dictionary and chances are you’ll find a picture of Yamaha’s FZ6R. A derivative of the company’s mostly naked, but no-longer-available FZ6, the FZ6R is Yamaha’s entry-level sportbike with low seat height, comfortable ergonomics, and torquey 600cc engine that’s been tuned with around-town riding in mind. Full fairings because naked bikes just aren't for everyone…And well, it looks good.

Yamaha FZ-09 ($7,990)

How in the hell can a bike that’s as much fun as the Yamaha FZ-09 end up on a list of bikes under $8K? Don’t ask; just enjoy the FZ-09 for what it is: an amazingly entertaining three-cylinder that’ll leave you with an ear-to-ear grin and seriously threaten your motorcycle license. Editor-in-Chief Kent Kunitsugu sums Yamaha’s newest naked up best: “Here’s one of those very rare bikes less than $8,000 that doesn't have to make any excuses for its low price.” Update the suspension with the money you've saved and chances are you’ll never want to ride anything else…

For more images of these eight budget-smart sportbikes, check out the gallery of images below.

Honda Grom

Honda Grom

Honda Grom

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Honda Grom

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Honda
Honda

Honda Grom

Honda
Honda

Honda Grom

Honda

Suzuki GW250

Suzuki GW250

Suzuki GW250

Suzuki GW250

Brian J. Nelson

Suzuki GW250

Brian J. Nelson

Suzuki GW250

Brian J. Nelson

Suzuki GW250

Brian J. Nelson

Honda CBR250R

Honda

Honda CBR250R

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Honda CBR250R

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Honda CBR250R

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Honda

Honda CBR250R

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Honda CBR250R

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Honda CBR250R

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Honda CBR250R

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Kawasaki Ninja 300

Kawasaki Ninja 300

Kawasaki Ninja 300

Kawasaki Ninja 300

Kawasaki Ninja 300

Kawasaki Ninja 300

Kawasaki Ninja 300

Kawasaki Ninja 300

Honda CBR500R

Honda CBR500R

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Honda CBR500R

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Honda CBR500R/F/X

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Honda CBR500R

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Honda CBR500R

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Honda CBR500R

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Kawasaki Ninja 650

Kawasaki Ninja 650

Kawasaki Ninja 650

Kawasaki Ninja 650

Kawasaki Ninja 650

Yamaha FZ6R

Yamaha FZ6R

Yamaha FZ6R

Yamaha FZ6R

Yamaha FZ6R

Yamaha FZ6R

Yamaha FZ6R

Yamaha FZ6R

Yamaha FZ-09

Yamaha FZ-09

Yamaha FZ-09

Yamaha FZ-09

Yamaha FZ-09

Yamaha FZ-09

Yamaha FZ-09

Yamaha FZ-09

Yamaha FZ-09