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5 best AM bikes for new riders

So, you're a new rider. Let us help you pick your first bike.

Sweet 16 is the magic number when it comes to getting on the road for the first time on two wheels in the UK.
At that age, providing you pass your CBT, theory test and practical test, you qualify to ride on the road for the first time under what is called the AM licence classification, which restricts holders to mopeds (ie no more than 50cc) with a maximum speed of 45kph. Or, in pounds and pence, 30mph. OK, so that might not sound that exciting but it opens up two whole worlds of possibilities. First, getting your own wheels gives freedom like never before and it doesn’t really make that much difference whether that’s at 30 mph or 300. And second, don’t be too quick to dismiss what kind of machinery may be available to you just because 50 and 30 aren’t the largest of numbers. For those after a true sportsbike, despite the 30mph restriction, the potential is every bit as mouthwatering as with A1/125cc licence holders with Aprilia again offering a version of its delectable RS4 mini-superbike. If your taste veers more into the upright trailie or supermoto style of machine, Aprilia, among others, has something simply gorgeous on offer there as well with its aggressive-looking SX50. While if you decide pursuing performance on a mere 50 is a pointless and your preference instead is for something with more style than substance or with the sort of affordable practicality only a scooter can offer, there’s plenty of choice for you here, too. Peugeot’s Django 50 has enough retro-inspired style combined with decent practicality and value to be our reigning AM Bike of the Year. While those with a more youthful or sporting outlook can do far worse than Yamaha’s enduringly popular and effective Aerox. Here are our picks of the crop.
Aprilia RS4 50
Aprilia RS4 50 – the race-replica one
Aprilia RS4 50 – the race-replica one
It could be argued that rarely has there been a bike with so much show and yet so little ‘go’, but that doesn’t stop the 50cc version of Aprilia’s glorious RS4 ‘mini-superbike’ being any less desirable.
Based around the same, full-size, high specification rolling chassis as its RS4 125 bigger brother, complete with genuine aluminium twin spar frame, inverted race style front forks along with a monoshock rear and all dressed in the same, RSV4 superbike-inspired bodywork, the RS4 50 doesn’t just look like a mini-superbike, it has much of the quality to back that up. And although the engine this time is only 49cc, being a liquid-cooled two stroke in place of the 125’s four-stroke means it has plenty of ‘old school’ GP500 character, too. Fifties simply don’t get any sportier.
Aprilia SX50
Aprilia SX50 – the hooligan one
Aprilia SX50 – the hooligan one
If sports bike aren’t your style, but sports performance and aggressive, upright, supermoto style is, Aprilia also has the 50 for you. The Italian specialists' SX50 is a true, rip-snorting, hooligan-tempting supermoto. At its heart is the same liquid-cooled, 49cc two stroke engine as the RS4 50 but this time held in a unique, steel perimeter frame which braces longer travel, conventional Marzocchi forks at the front, a longer travel monoshock at the rear and, despite its MX-er bodywork, street, sports wheels and tyres at each end. The result is upright and familiar but also narrow, twitchy, demanding (to keep the little engine ion song through all its six gears) and, although £3K+ pricey… great fun.
Yamaha Aerox R
Yamaha Aerox R – the scooter one
Yamaha Aerox R – the scooter one
The Aerox R has long been Japanese giant Yamaha’s leading 50cc sports scooter and the latest version is no exception – and more popular than ever. It’s a doddle to ride, has sharp yet easy handling and, with a proven liquid-cooled, two-stroke, 50cc engine and CVT automatic transmission is sporty yet undemanding and novice-friendly at the same time. Better still, this latest version has a flash LCD instrument panel, great styling and you can honestly claim it’s the same as Valentino Rossi rides. Albeit around the paddock. Which 50cc sports scooter has more? Instant 16-er cool for a little over £2K.
Peugeot Django 50
Peugeot Django 50 – the chic one
Peugeot Django 50 – the chic one
Usually, scooters or bikes that are more sedate and chic don’t come in such small capacities – not so with the Peugeot Django. The Django is a family of retro-inspired scooters that, using the same stylish, ‘50s influenced bodywork and full-sized chassis comes, usefully, in 50cc, 125cc and 150cc capacities. It’s good-looking, easy to ride, reasonable value and, with a lockable glove box and a 12-volt socket to charge your smart phone on the go, practical as well. It even has a two-year, unlimited mileage warranty for extra peace of mind. All enough reason to make it our reigning AM Bike of the Year.
Rieju RS3 50LC NKD
Rieju RS3 50LC NKD - the nifty ‘naked’
Rieju RS3 50LC NKD - the nifty ‘naked’
Spanish marque Rieju is no newcomer or fly-by-night having been established way back in 1934. But its range of performance lightweights (the biggest bike it makes is only 200cc) means its still little known in the UK. That’s a shame as its RS3 125 and 50cc sportsters can give Aprilia a run for their money, as can its MRT 50 and 125 supermotos. What sets it apart though are the naked versions of its RS3s, the 125 and 50cc NKD. Both have screaming, liquid-cooled two-stroke engines, decent chassis and components including inverted forks and yet, being upright roadsters, are less daunting and more manageable than their sportster siblings. With the NKD, you CAN have your cake and eat it.

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