Benelli is an old name producing economic well-specified bikes. It has three machines in its current LAMS line-up, the four-cylinder BN600S and BN600GTS and the twin cylinder BN302. At $5590 the BN302 features modern styling thanks to its trestle frame, side-mounted single shock, underslung pipe, USD forks and twin petal discs. The BN600 models are both priced at $8990. The GTS is the touring model with a frame-mounted half fairing and panniers, while the 600S is you naked/streetfighter style with high underseat pipes, a banana-shaped swingarm and Metzeler Sportec tyres.
BMW only has one machine currently LAMS-approved, the forthcoming G 310 R naked streetfighter. The new G 310 R is priced at $5,790 plus on-roads, and is expected to arrive at BMW dealerships very soon. BMW has certainly nailed what is arguably the three most important features the LAMS market is looking at – it’s priced well, plus it features ABS brakes and killer looks evoked from the S 1000 R.
With four bikes from 150cc to 650cc in its all-LAMS range, CFMoto is one of the most interesting of the new manufacturers from Asia. At just $3290 and available in a few different colour options, the fuel-injected 150NK is small, light, very economic and would be perfect for a student or apprentice wanting to get away from public transport. The 400 NK is a step-up, with naked streetfighter styling wrapped around it’s liquid-cooled fuel-injected twin cylinder engine. With optional ABS, two colour schemes and a price of just $5490, it’s got value written all over it. The 650NK and 650TK are the biggest Cfmoto machines, still LAMS, but physically bigger machines with more power, torque and road prescence. The NK is the naked, the TK the fully-faired and pannier-equipped touring model.
Tested in the last issue of Cycle Torque, Ducati’s Sixty2 looks like the rest of the Scrambler family but gets by with a 400cc V-twin LAMS-sized engine. With its classic style, classy finish, racing heritage and Italian pedigree, the Sixty2 may be one of the highest-priced LAMS bikes available but it’s also one of the best.
Harley-Davidson calls itself a manufacturer of heavy-weight motorcycles, although the Street 500 isn’t that heavy – and it’s proven to be a very, very popular machine. There’s something about the brand which resonates with Australians, and the Street 500 has really resonated with the market. The current model received a few updates from the first version and it’s a better bike for it, resale values look good and the build quality is solid.
Harley-Davidson Australia’s website | Cycle Torque Test: Street 500
Here at Cycle Torque we haven’t had the chance to ride many Hondas in recent years, current management at Honda Australia making test bikes very thin on the ground – which is a shame, because the range of machine Honda offers to learners is large, and we’d love to be able to tell you about them. Apart from the inexpensive CB125E commuter, Honda’s range is 300-650cc in singles, twins and fours. They are solid machines, although somehow lack some of the excitement Honda once brought to it’s smaller bikes.
Honda Australia’s website | Cycle Torque Test: CB500X
Hunter motorcycles are small capacity custom-style bikes – four of the range look like customs, while the fifth is called the Café Racer. Built around a concept of bikes the owners of the brand would have liked to have learnt to ride on, the Hunter machines are light, easy to ride and inexpensive. If you’re looking for somewhere to start and you’re keen on having a customised LAMS machine, especially a cruiser, check out the Hunter range.
Hunter Australia’s website
Kawasaki has possibly the widest range of learner bikes available today. There’s the undeniably fun Z125 Pro we’ve tested elsewhere in the issue, to lightweight naked machines like the Z250SL, trail bikes like the KLX150 and 250 and then on up to the Vulcan cruisers, ER-6nL, Versys 650L ABS, Ninja 650L ABS and one of our favourite LAMS machines, the top-selling sporty Ninja 300. The Z125 Pro is Kawasaki’s entry into the minibike category – 12-inch wheels offer sharp city-handling, while the air-cooled single-cylinder engine with fuel-injection has enough performance to get you out in front of the traffic. Great for the city living rider who may not have the space for a full-sized motorcycle, or even as an inexpensive commuter the experienced trackday warrior, who may jeopardise their licence on anything else. Cycle Torque took the small-capacity Ninja to a trackday training school – to push the bike a bit further than we could on the road and it came up trumps, lap after lap. After investing in some quality safety gear, the next most important thing you can do is work on your riding skills. The Ninja 300 has the ability to see you through your restricted licencing phase and the capability for your riding skills to skyrocket in a controlled environment. With ABS and the ability to take on less-than-perfect roads, the Versys 650L is almost an adventure bike, but if its off-road abilities aren’t quite good enough compared to Kawasaki’s KLR650 – which is also LAMS approved. The Versys features a parallel-twin engine, while the KLR is a single cylinder design. The bigger bore and stoke of the KLR – plus spoke wheels and longer travel suspension – really makes the KLR more at home in the dirt.
Kawasaki Motor Australia’s website | Z125 PRO Test
If it’s orange, it’s probably a KTM. The Austrian brand so well-known in the dirt bike world is also huge in road bikes, with a number of road bikes from 390cc to 1290cc available in Australia. The two road-going LAMS machines from KTM are the 390 Duke and RC390. The Duke is an impressive-looking naked machine. It’s single cylinder motor produces excellent performance and the styling, trestle frame and WP suspension make it handle well, too.
The RC390 is a supersport machine. Fully faired at home in the twisties, the RC390 really reflects KTM’s racing heritage of building incredible single cylinder bikes as home on the track as they are on the street.
Cycle Torque went to the world launches of both these machines, so follow the links to the videos and full tests for their full stories. The 2017 range of EXC enduro machines is hitting the stores, so if getting dirty is more your style KTM has a lot to offer. The 250EXC and 250EXC-F are light, powerful machines at the top-end of the off-road performance stakes that we might recommend for the learner. For youngsters with experience off-road before getting their licence, perfect! If you don’t have quite the skills required for an enduro bike but still want to get dirty, the KTM Freeride – 350cc four-stroke – is a versatile, non-threatening but remarkably capable machine. Inspired by trials and built for people who want to have fun without entering races, the Freeride is one of the most under-rated machines out there. KTM Australia’s website
Produced in India for decades, Royal Enfield was stuck in a time-warp, making bikes which were retro before retro was a ‘thing’. Some of the models still are very old in their style and execution, but in recent times management has moved on and is now building bikes which still carry the classic Royal Enfield style, but with more modern touches. The Continental GT is the pick of the bunch, but if you want a bike you can work on and learn with, as well as know it’ll be as modern in 10 years as it was a decade ago, there are quite a few Royal Enfield models to choose from.
Royal Enfield Australia’s website
We counted around 13 Suzuki LAMS bikes on its webpage, not including scooters, which means Suzuki has plenty to choose from for Learners. There’s a bunch of 650s to choose from – road (GSX650F, SV650), Adventure Touring (V-Stroms in ABS and non-ABS versions) and Trail (DR650E). The SV650 was introduced ages ago and discontinued, but re-introduced this year. It runs a V-twin motor like the V-Strom, one of the most popular middleweight machines you could buy over the last decade or so. Suzuki also has faired, naked, retro and cruiser 250s, the DR-Z400E and DR-Z250 trail bikes and the DR-Z400SM, the only supermoto LAMS machine we’ve found while researching this article. Suzuki Motorcycles Australia website
Another manufacturer importing inexpensive small capacity machines from Asia, Torino has scooters, a V-Twin café racer and a couple of cruisers in its line-up.
Torino Australia’s website
The Street Triple 660 is the only LAMS-approved Triumph, and it’s a cracker. Offering the highest-level of performance and still being LAMS-approved, the Street Triple 660 is a streetfighter-style naked machine with enough attitude to be tough, yet it’s not intimidating to learn on. A full-sized bike, the Street Triple 660 is likely to appeal to those who have completed their teens, partly because it’s at the premium end of the market. For that price you do get an excellet level of fit & finish, a good warranty, ABS, great suspension and a lot more performance than you might expect. This is the sort of LAMS bike many might choose to keep even after a full licence is obtained.
Triumph Motorcycles Australia website
Yamaha understands many of its fans started on its smaller bikes and have stayed loyal, with Cycle Torque’s own Nigel Paterson a good example – he waxes lyrical way to often about the Old Days riding, racing and crashing the two-stroke twin Yamahas he had in his teens and early 20s. Those two-stroke twins are now banned from learner’s hands and they aren’t being made anyway, but that doesn’t mean there’s much to choose from – Yamaha has a huge range of LAMS bikes. The small-capacity sportsbike category is now filled with the YZF-R3 and YZF-R15 v2.0. 320 and 150cc respectively, these small, light, fully-faired machines are incredible, offering lap times which will shock for such small bikes. Many a rider on large-capacity machines has been surprised when one of these little machines has whipped past. The 655cc engine Yamaha adapted for the Australian LAMS market in the XSR700 and MT-07LA is a gem, and one of the reasons the MT-07LA quickly became one of the best-selling machines in the country. We love the MT-07LA and we’re sure we will love the XSR too, when we get a chance to ride one – that’s a test which is coming soon. The MT-07LA video is one of our most popular and features stunt riding with Dave McKenna. Similar to the MT-07 but smaller is the MT-03, offering naked good looks, even less weight and a lower price, without compromising on fit too much. A versatile bike which will fit most, the MT-03 looks good and works really well. While the XSR700 is a modern retro, the SR400 really is retro, right down to its kickstart-only and decompression lever, and it’s absolutely fine for any learner wanting to learn the way Dad – or maybe Granddad – did. One pot, air-cooled, laced wheels… it doesn’t get more genuine than this. Yamaha’s venerable 250 and 650 V-twin cruisers are still very popular, thanks to their bulletproof reliability, value and low seats. For the off-road riders the XT250 and WR250R are great starting points, while the WR250F is the LAMS-approved off-road weapon for those with a bit of dirt riding experience. And if you want to go Adventure Touring, the Tenere 600 is forgiving, capable and ready to lap the country.
Yamaha Motor Australia’s website