A2 licence category motorcycles have become increasingly popular in recent years, and not just with younger riders.
Designed to comply with the licence regulations aimed at providing a stepping stone to bigger bikes for riders aged 19 to 24, these small-to-middleweight machines offer more than enough performance for experienced riders too.
A2 bikes largely fall into two categories: bikes of under 100bhp which can be restricted using a kit, and motorcycles designed specifically to meet the regulations out of the box. Here we’re focussing on the latter and, such is the popularity of the class, we’re seeing a bunch of fantastic new bikes developed specifically to meet these regulations. They tend to be less expensive and more manageable than restricted machines, hitting a sweet spot between price, performance and manageability. With plenty of new models launched this year here, in no particular order, are the five new models we’re most looking forward to riding in 2024.
Honda CB500 Hornet
Honda was the first manufacturer to really embrace the A2 category, with the CB500 range being introduced a decade ago. These machines have been developed specifically to meet the requirements of the category and put out bang on the 35kw/47bhp power allowed under the rules.
The range has been updated for 2024 and although the Hornet is not an all-new model, it’s likely to be one of the best sellers. The £6199 Hornet is an update of the venerable CB500F, but benefitting from aggressive new styling and a host of minor updates, including traction control.
The CB500 range consists of four models, starting with the CL500 we tested last year and going through to the sporty CBR500R – as well as the adventure styled NX500, which is an upgrade to the evergreen CB500X of old, so there’s something for all tastes.
KTM 390 Duke
Austrian brand KTM is renowned for making some of the most extreme road bikes of any motorcycle manufacturer, with the Duke range delivering some of the lairiest bikes you can buy.
The 390 Duke (as well as the faired, supersport styled, RC 390 and the dual sport 390 Adventure) are their offerings in the A2 class and have been given a major overhaul for 2024, with a new chassis said to improve handling. KTM themselves dub the 390 Duke as the ‘corner rocket’ and while we’ve yet to taste the new model for ourselves, their track record would suggest it is unlikely to disappoint.
It's a youthful choice which, at £5699, is one of the more affordable premium A2 bikes on the market.
Royal Enfield Himalayan
Royal Enfield has been making real waves in the motorcycle industry in recent years, and the all-new Himalayan marks another new chapter in the company’s history.
The original ‘Himmy’ has been a successful model for the brand since its introduction in 2016 and the 2024 iteration looks to build on that. It’s still a simple and rugged adventure bike, but the new liquid-cooled, 451cc single cylinder engine now delivers 39.5bhp, around double of the old unit’s output, while the overall spec is much higher.
It’s still a practical budget ADV, with the 21” front wheel giving it real presence and some genuine off-road capability – after all it was developed to tackle the massive mountain range after which it is named – and we think it will have a much wider appeal when it goes on sale at £6250 later this year.
Triumph Speed 400/Scrambler 400 X
It’s a double entry for Triumph’s non-identical twins, the Speed 400 and Scrambler 400X.
These 39.5bhp single cylinder machines are both ground up new designs from Britain’s biggest motorcycle manufacturer, and they are primed to take on the huge Indian and Brazilian markets as well as A2 riders closer to home.
Both are based around the same platform but take the styling and ergonomics in different directions: the Speed 400 is a classically styled roadster in the vein of the bigger Speed Twin models while the Scrambler is, as the name suggests, a more rugged machine in the style of classic off-roaders.
They’re very competitively priced, with the lighter and more agile Speed 400 coming in at £4995. We’ve ridden both and were very impressed. You can read our review of the 2024 Triumph Speed 400 here, and the Scrambler 400X here.
Aprilia RS 457
Italian company Aprilia has been making class leading sports bikes since the 1980s, and the all-new RS 457 aims to carry on that rich tradition.
It’s the missing piece in Aprilia’s sports bike range, sitting in between the learner legal RS 125 and the middleweight RS 660. It’s been built specifically to meet the A2 licence class regulations, meaning the parallel-twin motor is right on the 47bhp limit, while the claimed 159kg dry weight gives it the best power to weight ratio in class.
It’s highly specified in the chassis and electronics departments too. We’ve yet to find out the price or exactly when it will hit showrooms, but in terms of desirability its right up there for sportsbike loving young riders – just like those first Aprilias from the 1980s.
Not taken by these five models? Here’s four more new-for-2024 A2 bikes you might like to consider…
Kawasaki 500 Ninja/Z500/Interceptor: Kawasaki’s hugely popular 400 range get bigger engines and general updates for 2024. Ninja is the sporty faired version, while the Z500 is a trendy naked. Interceptor 500 cruiser is an all-new model for this year.
Husqvarna Svartpilen/Vitpilen 401: KTM off-spin brand Husqvarna updates its hip roadsters. The technical platform is the same as the aforementioned KTM 390 Duke but it’s a more chilled ride, with a unique neo-retro, Scandi-cool, twist.
CFMOTO 450SR S: Chinese brand CFMOTO challenges Aprilia in the stakes to deliver the sportiest A2 model. They may not have much of a racing heritage (yet) but with close links to KTM, CFMOTO has big ambitions for the future. The 450SR S looks like a mini Ducati Panigale and has a big spec for an A2 machine.
Zero SR/DSR: Fancy an electric alternative? American company Zero has been making electric motorcycles for over a decade and the SR and DSR are their latest offering. The SR is a roadster style, while the DSR is a road-focussed adventure bike. They are A2 compliant, but the massive torque means they perform to a higher level than petrol equivalents. It comes at a price though. £16,200 for the cheaper SR is over three times the cost of some of the bikes mentioned here.