Buying your first big bike: MCN's guide to the best A2 friendly motorbikes in 2023

A2 motorbikes may exist to fulfil a licence category, but they can also be a lightweight, simple and budget-friendly option for any level of rider – and great fun to ride, too.

Once you’ve passed your A2 motorcycle test, you have two options; pick an A2 motorbike that makes 47bhp or less or restrict something more powerful that makes no more than 94bhp.

To start off with, we’ve taken a look at the best motorbikes that satisfy A2 licence rules straight out of the crate but you can see which A2 restrictable bikes we recommend further down the page.

Best A2 motorbikes

Benelli TRK 502

499cc | 47bhp | 235kg | 840mm seat height | £5999

Riding the Benelli TRK502

The Benelli TRK 502 is a Chinese-built motorbike that draws on the famous heritage of its Italian badge. Like a few of the bikes in this list, the TRK has adventure bike styling but isn’t really designed to do any off roading.

Honda CRF 300 Rally

286cc | 27bhp | 153kg | 885mm seat height | £6499

Honda CRF300 Rally off road

The Honda CRF300 Rally is by far and away the most capable off roader in this list but should probably be avoided if you do a lot of road riding. Its long travel suspension and 27bhp power output make it hard work for long spells on the tarmac but it’s the ideal weapon for a weekend of green laning or an off road camping trip.

Kawasaki Ninja 400

399cc | 44bhp | 168kg | 785mm seat height | £6099

Kawasaki Ninja 400 review on MCN

The Kawasaki Ninja 400 may have sportsbike styling cues but it’s actually got quite a laid-back riding position, more like a sports tourer. It’s a little down on power compared to some of the others in this list but its revvy little parallel-twin engine has bags of character.

Kawasaki Z400

399cc | 44bhp | 167kg | 785mm seat height | £5799

Cornering on the Kawasaki Z400

The Kawasaki Z400 is the naked roadster version of the Ninja above. Both of these bikes were discontinued briefly when Euro5 emissions regulations came into force in 2019 but have since been reintroduced.

KTM 390 Adventure

373cc | 44bhp | 158kg | 855mm seat height | £6299

Riding the KTM 390 Adventure on English trails

The first of a trio of orange bikes on the list, the KTM 390 Adventure is the off road variant. Unlike the TRK above, the 390 Adventure can handle a bit of  the dirty stuff and it’s got more power than the CRF300 Rally for road riding, too.


373cc | 44bhp | 155kg | 824mm seat height | £5699

Riding the 2022 KTM RC390 on track

The KTM RC390 is the sportsbike variant of the Austrian firm’s 373cc parallel-twin platform and – in keeping with KTM’s ‘ready to race’ motto – it’s a genuinely sporty offering. The low weight and capable chassis componentry make up for the 44bhp power output for a finished product that’s an absolute hoot to ride.

KTM 390 Duke

373cc | 44bhp | 149kg | 830mm seat height | £5499

2020 KTM 390 Duke review on MCN

The KTM 390 Duke is the supermoto-inspired roadster of the family and so has wide bars and an upright riding position. For 2024, there’s a new generation of the 390 Duke so keep an eye out for our new review once we’ve ridden it.

Royal Enfield Interceptor 650

648cc | 47bhp | 202kg | 806mm seat height | £6599

The new K-Tech kit will fit Royal Enfield 650 twins

The Royal Enfield Interceptor 650 took the biking world by storm when it was released in 2018 alongside its sister bike, the Royal Enfield Continental GT 650. The bikes were cheap, charming, simple and easy to ride and came along at a time when modern retros were much less common in the marketplace.

Yamaha R3

321cc | 41bhp | 169kg | 780mm seat height | £6405

2019 Yamaha R3

The Yamaha R3 is a supersport style A2 model that apes the look of the R6 Race, R7, R1 and even M1 MotoGP bike for a pocket rocket with genuine street cred. It’s not the cheapest option on this list but the performance and spec level speaks for itself.

Yamaha MT-03

321cc | 41bhp | 168kg | 780mm seat height | £6005

2020 Yamaha MT-03 turning left

The Yamaha MT-03 is the naked roadster version of the R3 above. MT stands for ‘Maximum Torque’ and all the models in the range have an emphasis on fun and low-down grunt to unlock your inner hooligan.

Honourable mentions

There are a few maxi-scooters that fit in the A2 licence category, too. The Yamaha TMAX 560 makes 47bhp (more than some of the bikes in the list) and is equipped to a spec level that puts some flagship superbikes to shame.

The Suzuki Burgman 400 also fits the bill with its 29bhp engine but it’s harder to justify its £6999 price tag given its lesser spec level.

Best motorbikes that can be restricted to A2

Aprilia Tuono 660

659cc | 94bhp | 183kg | 820mm seat height | £9050

Aprilia Tuono 660 right side cornering

The Aprilia Tuono 660 takes the excellent RS660 sportsbike platform and strips away the front fairing and clip-ons in favour of wide bars and an upright riding position. We’re big fans of the middleweight Aprilia’s light weight and excellent handling.

Ducati Monster (depowered)

937cc | 47bhp | 166kg | 820mm seat height | £11,295

2021 Ducati Monster riding

The Ducati Monster makes 109bhp in standard trim, which is obviously above the threshold for A2 restriction. To get around the problem, Ducati make a lower power version of the bike so that it can be legally restricted. The disadvantage of this is that you don’t get a full-power Monster when you remove the restriction and it’s a very expensive model to buy in restricted form.

What you do get is a pretty, lightweight, beautiful-handling sporty roadster that’ll make you smile every time you open the garage.

Other Ducati models available in special restricted versions:

Harley-Davidson Nightster

975cc | 89bhp | 218kg | 705mm seat height | £14,195

Harley-Davidson Nightster right side

The Harley-Davidson Nightster may have almost a litre of displacement but in standard trim it makes just 89bhp, putting it well into the A2 licence category. The Nightster replaced the Sportster 883 as Harley’s entry-level model and if you were inspired to get biking by watching Sons of Anarchy, it may be the option for you. As first big bikes go, it’s not the cheapest though.

Kawasaki Z650RS

649cc | 67bhp | 187kg | 820mm seat height | £7689

Kawasaki Z650RS on the road right hand bend

The Kawasaki Z650RS is a modern retro built on the Japanese firm’s 650 platform. As with the 400s above, there are several different bikes built around the same basic chassis and engine combination and the RS is styled to look like a baby version of the popular Z900RS.

Other models on Kawaski’s 650 platform:

KTM 790 Adventure

799cc | 94bhp | 218kg | 860mm seat height | £9999

2023 KTM 790 Adventure right side

The KTM 790 Adventure was superseded by the 890 Adventure but for 2023, the model was reintroduced to the line-up with one slight difference – it’s now built in China. The good news is that the resultant model is cheaper than the new bike and there doesn’t seem to have been a drop in build quality. The Austrian firm have also done a similar trick with the KTM 790 Duke, offering a cheaper and A2 restrictable Chinese-built alternative to the 890 version.

Moto Guzzi V7 Stone

853cc | 64bhp | 233kg | 780mm seat height | £8200

Cornering in town on a Moto Guzzi V7

The Moto Guzzi V7 Stone is a plod-along retro roadster that’s brimming with charm and character. Perfect for A2 licence holders that aren’t bothered about performance and aggression or full licence holders looking for a fun bike to bimble to the pub on, the Guzzi is sometimes an overlooked model. If you fancied something in the same ball park with more of an adventure bike feel, the excellent Moto Guzzi V85 TT is also available in A2 form.

Moto Morini X-Cape

649cc | 59bhp | 232kg | 845mm seat height | £6995

Stood up on the Moto Morini X-Cape 650

The Moto Morini X-Cape is another Italian/Chinese collaboration that combines a modest old parallel-twin (with the DNA of an ER-6 motor) with a capable chassis and good looks. The X-Cape won’t be winning the Dakar any time soon but it’s a fun bike to ride all the same.

Triumph Tiger Sport 660

660cc | 80bhp | 206kg | 835mm seat height | £8945

Triumph Tiger Sport 660 on the road

The Triumph Tiger Sport 660 has more cylinders than any other bike on this list thanks to its triple configuration. That also makes it smoother than the rest with slightly more to give at the top of its rev range. The Tiger Sport is a basic model that offers an affordable entry point to Triumph’s generally more premium model line-up but is a joy to ride and still very well put-together. If the Tiger’s styling isn’t for you, the retro-infused Triumph Trident 660 uses the same engine and frame in a roadster format.

Suzuki GSX-S950

999cc | 94bhp | 214kg | 810mm seat height | £10,299

Suzuki GSX-S950 on the road

The Suzuki GSX-S950 is actually a GSX-S1000 that’s been depowered to meet A2 restriction laws. As such, you get a smooth and grunty litre engine that’s been loitering in Suzuki’s model line-up since 2005, just with the wick turned down. It’s far from the most modern machine in this list but is a joy to ride, even without full power.

Yamaha MT-07

689cc | 72bhp | 184kg | 805mm seat height | £7510

Cornering on the Yamaha MT-07 with Dunlop tyres

The Yamaha MT-07 may have been left behind a little in the middleweight naked arms race but we still absolutely love it. A peach of an engine, smile-inducing riding experience and propensity to send its front wheel skyward at the drop of a hat make it a hoot to ride. If you want a slightly sportier version, the Yamaha R7 shares much of the same architecture but in a sportsbike package.

How does restriction work?

If you opt for restricting a more powerful bike then you can simply convert it to full power once you have the appropriate licence. They cost more up front but often haqve more grunt low down than smaller bikes and you don’t have to sell up or trade in to get more power down the line.

Back in the days of carburettors, restrictions were achieved by putting a washer into the inlet manifold to restrict the air flow into the combustion chamber. These days, it’s usually done with software or a revised throttle map by a dealer and can be put in place or removed quickly and easily for a small fee.