10 Smallest V-Twin Engine Motorcycles Beginners Will Enjoy


The V-twin engine configuration is one of the most recognizable for motorcycles, and the idling ‘potato potato’ sound of a long-stroke, high-torque V-twin has been the soundtrack of the American motorcycling landscape for over a century. It is understandable if, as a beginner, you want to skip the single-cylinder motorcycles and get to the good stuff instantly. After all, a V-twin engine will give you better torque spread, sound better, will be smoother in most cases, you won’t tire of its power as easily as you would with a single, and learning to set off from a standing start will be much easier with a twin.




However, more and more manufacturers are eschewing the V-Twin format for the more cost-effective parallel twin, especially at the budget end, where beginners usually shop for their motorcycles. However, if a parallel twin with a 270-degree firing order still doesn’t do it for you, and you want only a V-Twin, what are your options? We’ve listed a number of motorcycles powered by this loved format, and we’ve focused on a low seat height, beginner-friendly power delivery, and manageable running and maintenance costs as much as possible. Here are the 10 smallest V-Twin engine motorcycles we feel beginners will enjoy.

In order to bring you the most up-to-date information, the data used to compile this article was sourced from the various manufacturers featured here, as well as other authoritative sources, such as Motorcyclenews.com, and Cycleworld. The motorcycles on this list were arranged based on their displacement. From lowest to highest.

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10 Yamaha V-Star 250

Black 2022 Yamaha V-Star 250 cruising on the road
Yamaha


If you’re a beginner but don’t want a single, the Yamaha V-Star 250 should be at the top of your list. It is a dinky 249 cc cruiser that weighs a mere 324 pounds and the seat height is a low 27 inches. It has an air-cooled, carbureted engine, so if you’re also looking to learn how to work on your first motorcycle, it doesn’t get much simpler than that.


A five-speed transmission and chain drive complete the driveline. Braking is taken care of with a disc at the front and a drum at the rear, and the twin rear shock absorbers are adjustable for preload – that’s the only suspension adjustment on offer. The all-analog instrumentation includes a speedometer, an odometer, and a trip meter. The fact that it is a cruiser means that it is stable and learning to steer will be easier. This is one of our favorite beginner motorcycles, V-twin or not.


Engine type

60-degree V-twin

Displacement

249 cc

Power

21 HP @ 8,000 RPM

Torque

15.2 LB-FT @ 6,000 RPM

Weight

324 LBS

Seat height

27 inches

9 H-D Street 500

Harley-Davidson Street 500
Harley Davidson Street 500


The Street 500 and 750 were conceived and developed to cater to a global audience, especially in Southeast Asia, where motorcycles like these are considered premium motorcycles. They needed to be accessible to populations where the average height is a lot less than we’re used to in the USA or most of Europe, and that means that the Street 500 is light, the seat height is low, and the powerband is accessible.


That is proven by the peak torque being achieved at a low 3,500 RPM, and peak power is manageable at just over 33 horsepower. The gearbox is a six-speeder that drives the rear wheel via Harley’s traditional belt drive, eliminating the headache of chain maintenance for a beginner. Couple all of this with a low seat height, decent curb weight, and great ground clearance that means it will never ground on a hump, and you’ve got yourself a great beginner motorcycle.


Engine type

60-degree V-twin

Displacement

494 cc

Power

33.5 HP @ NA RPM

Torque

29.5 LB-FT @ 3,500 RPM

Weight

489 LBS

Seat height

25.7 inches

8 Suzuki V-Strom 650

Suzuki V-Strom 650XT
Suzuki


Pretty much everyone will tell you to stay away from an adventure touring motorcycle as a beginner, because they’re tall, and usually heavy, because their chassis has to be built to carry the rider, a pillion, and luggage. This is good advice, but if you are bullheaded and still want to learn on a V-twin ADV, the V-Strom 650 would be our pick.


If you look carefully, its curb weight isn’t all that much compared to some of the other vehicles here, and the seat height is within an inch of the two street bikes in this article, so it isn’t as intimidating as you’d expect it to be. Plus, you get a decent suite of electronics and the freedom to explore off the beaten path as well.


Engine type

90-degree V-twin

Displacement

645 cc

Power

70 HP @ 8,800 RPM

Torque

45.7 LB-FT @ 6,300 RPM

Weight

476 LBS

Seat height

32.8 inches

4:52

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7 Moto Guzzi V7

Black 2023 Moto Guzzi V7 Stone parked on a plaza
Moto Guzzi


If you prefer your beginner motorcycle as a street bike rather than a cruiser, here’s a quirky choice for you: the Moto Guzzi V7. It has a longitudinal 90-degree V-twin engine, and since the cylinders stick out to the sides, they take advantage of their positioning and use air to cool themselves. And since the engine is mounted longitudinally, Moto Guzzi uses a shaft to send power to the rear wheel.


The V7 weighs a significant amount less than some of the cruisers on here, but it trades in that usability with a higher seat height. There’s also the question of the smaller numbers and support network for a brand such as Moto Guzzi, and the fact that it is European means that it is slightly behind the curve in terms of maintenance costs.


Engine type

90-degree longitudinal V-twin

Displacement

744 cc

Power

51 HP @ 6,200 RPM

Torque

40.3 LB-FT @ 5,000 RPM

Weight

436 LBS

Seat height

31.7 inches

6 Honda Shadow


The Shadow has been a Honda brand since 1983, and has had many displacements. The relevant one here is the 745 cc Shadow with the liquid-cooled V-twin engine. It sports three valves per cylinder (two for the intake) and Honda’s acclaimed PGM-FI fuel injection to put out 45 horsepower and 47.9 LB-FT of torque.


The torque peak is at a low 3,500 RPM, which means not only will it be fuel efficient, but you also won’t have to shift through its five-speed gearbox much. Added to its fuss-free nature is the shaft drive, which requires no maintenance other than an oil change at regular intervals. Instrumentation consists of an analog tank-mounted speedo, and a digital odometer/trip meter/clock that can display one field at a time.


Engine type

52-degree V-twin

Displacement

745 cc

Power

45 HP @ 5,500 RPM

Torque

47.9 LB-FT @ 3,500 RPM

Weight

543 LBS

Seat height

25.8 inches

5 Suzuki Boulevard C50T

Black 2019 Suzuki Boulevard C50T parked
Suzuki


The Boulevard is usually known for the big, 1800 cc model, but the C50T is the smaller sibling with a mid-sized 805 cc (50 cubic inch) V-twin that has a fantastically flexible torque band – nearly 3000 RPM separates the torque peak from the power peak. This bodes well for a beginner because you won’t have to do a lot of shifting.


The shaft drive also reduces maintenance, and it looks like a lovely vintage cruiser, complete with chrome, wire-spoke wheels, and a hardtail look. However, we aren’t too sure about that rear drum brake and its ability to contribute towards stopping the 611-pound curb weight of the Boulevard C50T – but all else points to this being a wise choice for a beginner.


Engine type

45-degree V-twin

Displacement

805 cc

Power

52 HP @ 6,000 RPM

Torque

51 LB-FT @ 3,200 RPM

Weight

611 LBS

Seat height

27.6 inches

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4 Kawasaki Vulcan 900 Classic

Black 2023 Kawasaki Vulcan 900 Classic cruising through town
Kawasaki


The Vulcan is one of the real heavyweights here – the seat height might be really low, but at 620 LBS it isn’t for the weak-kneed among us. It makes a relatively lazy 50 horsepower from 903 cc, and torque peaks at a really low 3500 RPM. We love its vintage hardtail looks, replete with spoked rims and whitewall tires.


If you want a classic or vintage-looking motorcycle and have the hours in the gym to handle the Vulcan’s curb weight, we can’t think of many motorcycles that you’ll enjoy for a long time, not just because of the torque-laden engine, but for its reliability. Plus, you can’t deny the cool factor of telling your friends that you are riding something named after the god of fire and volcanoes – not to mention all the Trekkies that will instantly high-five you with the Vulcan salute.


Engine type

55-degree V-twin

Displacement

903 cc

Power

50 HP @ 5,700 RPM

Torque

58.2 LB-FT @ 3,500 RPM

Weight

620 LBS

Seat height

26.8 inches

3 Ducati Monster

Red 2024 Ducati Monster 937 Plus parked curbside
Ducati


The current generation of the Ducati Monster was launched two years ago, and the focus was on reducing weight and offering better torque delivery for city riding from the engine – both parameters which also coincidentally will help a beginner get confidence quickly. The Monster looks aggressive, but the seating position is actually quite comfortable, and the seat height can be dropped from over 32 inches to 30.5 inches with an accessory low seat and suspension kit.


Since it is a Ducati, you can expect the full suite of electronics to help you keep the rubber side down – also music to the ears of a beginner. You can dial the electronic nannies back as you gain experience and confidence. Of course, being a Ducati, it probably won’t be cheap to maintain over a long period of time, but heck, you only live once.


Engine type

90-degree V-twin

Displacement

937 cc

Power

111 HP @ 9,250 RPM

Torque

69 LB-FT @ 6,500 RPM

Weight

414 LBS

Seat height

30.5-32.3 inches

2 Harley-Davidson Nightster

Harley-Davidson Nightster
Harley-Davidson 


The Nightster is a strange breed of motorcycle that looks like a cruiser at first glance, but when you go through the spec sheet, it gets quite confusing. The engine is a stressed member of the frame, the liquid-cooled engine is a high-revving gem, and the seat height is higher than almost all the other cruisers here.


The Nightster then is part street bike, part cruiser, and we love it. It will offer the stability of a cruiser with the fun of a street bike’s power delivery, and you’ll own a piece of American Iron that belongs to this millennium with modern tech and conveniences. The weight is quite good for what it is, and you won’t get bored with it once you get beyond beginner levels of riding competence.


Engine type

60-degree V-twin

Displacement

975 cc

Power

90 HP @ 7,500 RPM

Torque

70 LB-FT @ 5,000 RPM

Weight

481 LBS

Seat height

27.8 inches

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1 Indian Scout Sixty


Yes, we know that it’s a whole 1,000 cc we’re talking about here, and the max power and torque figures creep up into intermediate rider levels. However, you’ll also notice that they’re formed quite high up in the rev range, as would befit a short-stroke engine with four valves per cylinder. That means that down low in the rev range it is quite manageable, and with the low seat height and great mass centralization, it is quite easy to ride if you remember to keep it in the lower reaches of the rev range.


The large engine means that freeway jaunts are going to be relaxed, especially given the Scout Sixty’s six-speed gearbox. It stays true to the cruiser aesthetic with an analog speedometer, and digital readouts for everything else. We can safely say that you won’t get bored with the Scout Sixty as a beginner – there is enough performance here to satisfy most motorcyclists as long as you respect the right grip during your learning stages. Plus, this is a true slice of Americana.


Engine type

60-degree V-twin

Displacement

1,000 cc

Power

78 HP @ 7,300 RPM

Torque

65 LB-FT @ 5,800 RPM

Weight

565 LBS

Seat height

25.3 inches



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