10 Yamaha Motorcycles You Can Likely Afford

With roots at the turn of the 20th century, Yamaha has a long and proud tradition of building finely crafted products for world markets. According to the manufacturer, Yamaha produced propellers and other aircraft parts during WWII. After the final peace treaty was signed in 1952, the company chose to put the dormant machining equipment to use for a new product, and a motorcycle was chosen for this new venture. Its first model went on sale in 1955 and Yamaha has grown exponentially ever since, establishing itself as a world leader in the field, diversifying its offerings to include ATVs and watercraft.

The reputation Yamaha built in the post-war period is that of a producer of innovative and reliable machines.  Its dirt bikes often introduce new technology to the market and are ridden by winning teams worldwide. Furthermore, its street bikes are as competitive as anything else coming out of Asia or Europe. Yamaha shed the perception that Japanese manufacturing equated to cheap products decades ago and some of its models are now among the most expensive on the market. Yet, like other Japanese manufacturers, it retains affordable products in its lineup and the reliability translates into continued affordable ownership for years to come. Because of the high quality of Yamaha motorcycles, used models can also represent a considerable bargain. Considering the bikes that will be durable and reliable for years to come, here are 10 Yamaha motorcycles you can likely afford.

2023 Yamaha MT-03 - $4,999

For an entry-level bike with a bit more power and technology along with a lot more style, Yamaha offers its MT-03. Sitting at the far end of the spectrum from the V Star, the MT-03 is closer in style to a superbike in naked format. This bike is for the more technologically-minded rider who wants something that can be flipped around on backroads or zip through traffic while shaving a few dollars off the payment.

The Yamaha MT-03 is an aggressive-looking machine powered by a liquid-cooled twin with a displacement of 321cc and uses dual overhead cams to operate its four valves per cylinder. Power is sent through a 6-speed transmission and a chain drive while braking is handled by discs on the front and rear. It is essentially a starter version of a naked sport bike that, despite the smaller engine, still provides a sprightly riding experience with excellent handling.

The best part about the MT-03 is its price. While the ancient V Star 250 runs $4,699, this bike is just $300 more at $4,999. For such a giant step up in technology with a significant power boost and incomparably better handling, the MT-03 is the best combination of style, performance, and value offered by Yamaha right now.

2023 Yamaha TW200 - $4,899

For fun and affordable adventure on dirt and pavement, the TW200 is hard to beat. With a reliable 196cc 4-stroke engine and big and fat knobby tires, this one can hit the trails and commute back home. This one has been in production since 1997 and remains in the lineup because its simplicity is the foundation for its durability. It still comes with a carburetor, making it the epitome of the adage, "if it ain't broke, don't fix it." What sets this one apart from other bikes is the same thing that makes it so perfectly suited for trail riding, its tires. The tires on this are extra fat, offering a huge contact patch to grip the dirt and mud encountered off the road. The engine is low-revving and full of torque to keep you sure-footed at low speeds.

Perhaps the best feature of the TW200 is the ability to affix a license plate to the back. This gives it endless opportunities to go trail riding on the weekend and get close parking on campus. With production nearing 25 years, there are scores available to buy used, but the suggested retail price of $4,899 puts it easily within reach of many looking for affordable transportation.

2023 Yamaha V Star 250 - $4,699

While Yamaha no longer offers any big V-twin cruisers, it did not abandon the segment completely. One of the cruisers retained is a beginner-level V-twin that still bears the V Star name, although it is no longer hyphenated. The styling of the V Star 250 is similar to a Harley-Davidson Sportster and it is derivative of the Yamaha Virago introduced back in the '80s. As a result, the mechanics of this bike have remained largely unchanged over the years, but the Yamaha build quality remains.

The V Star 250 is a beginner bike, and, for the American market, cruisers are typical of this market segment. The V Star is an air-cooled V-twin that is still fed by a Mikuni carburetor and the rear brake is still a drum. These are specs typical of a bike from the '80s, but they are still perfectly functional for this model. This bike is still a great bike for beginners and the archaic technology does not detract from the experience. It is light and has adequate torque to get it to highway speeds and its low center of gravity keeps it agile in traffic. For a no-frills beginner bike, this one is kind of hard to beat. With a price tag of $4,699, it is something you can probably afford.

2000-2007 Yamaha V-Max - $4,500 to $6,000

The Yamaha V-Max first entered the street bikes scene and continued mostly unchanged until 2007. It was a bit of a sensation in the motorcycle world when it first came out and was well-received by the motoring press at the time. What Yamaha did with this bike was clever, as it combined the best qualities of the American-style cruiser with a sensible Japanese aesthetic and stellar engineering. Its liquid-cooled V4 engine with quad carbs meant it was good for 145 horsepower, exceeding most bikes available at the time. Furthermore, the addition of twin air induction horns – they are actually non-functional decorations – on either side of the bike gives clear cues that this was not just made for leisurely cruises on the back roads, but was a real performance machine that could keep up with the best of them.

While the first generation V-Max left production in 2007, it remains an attractive machine. It is clearly a cruiser, but is not too big and unwieldy, although its healthy amount of power can get away from you if you are not careful. These models sold well and among the later year models, plenty can be picked up rather affordably. Smart Cycle Guide nationwide listings result in a price range of about $4,500 to $6,000, but the best local results are likely found on Facebook Marketplace with similar prices.

2023 Yamaha Zuma 125 - $3,699

The compact and stylish Zuma 125 is one of the lowest-priced street vehicles offered by Yamaha currently. It is a no-frills experience, but it packs an efficient and utterly reliable engine under the seat and will take you down just about any city street you want. Yamaha has been making scooters for decades and they are as good as anything else you can get, although the selection imported to the U.S. is limited compared to other markets.

The current model of Zuma is powered by a 125cc fuel-injected and liquid-cooled engine with a fully automatic transmission. The power output is only 8 horsepower but is still plenty to zip down city streets. The styling could be considered a bit galvanizing as it is distinctly modern and angular. It is also of a size to make it feel big enough to be comfortable in traffic while retaining excellent agility for getting through congested traffic. The Zuma is also extremely affordable at $3,699 and is one of the lowest-priced street-legal machines Yamaha offers right now.

2006-2016 Yamaha FZ1 FAZER - $3,000 to $6,000

For the past 20+ years, Yamaha has been producing its R1 sport bike as the ultimate performance machine to come out of its factories. The R1 is not an impressive machine, but it is also an expensive one and it's built with high-speed driving in mind. But for those who appreciate the performance of the R1 but prefer a more relaxed riding style and need a bike that represents good value, the Yamaha FZ1 Fazer is a good choice.

The FZ1 takes bits from the R1 and applies them to a more versatile bike. It has a partial fairing that leaves most of the engine and frame exposed, and the riding position is pushed forward a bit for a more natural riding position. Bike Social claims that this bike is a comfortable ride that still retains an abundance of power from its R1-derived inline 4-cylinder liquid-cooled engine of either 600cc or 1000cc displacement, although both are detuned a bit from the donor bike. The result of all this is a good general-purpose bike that comes with Yamaha quality. Depending on year and mileage, a Cycle Trader listing search results in a price range of a surprisingly affordable range of $3,000 to $6,000.

1999-2011 Yamaha V-Star 1100 Classic - $3,000 to $5,000

While Yamaha made inroads into the American market with dirt bikes and capable medium-sized street bikes, it began to dip its toes in the V-twin cruiser market in the '80s. By the late '90s, the company was producing competent competitors to other big V-twins on the market. One example is the V-Star 1100 Classic, a large displacement air-cooled V-twin cruiser with styling that aped classic Indian motorcycles. These bikes are broad and comfortable with fat tires and deep fenders that look as good as any other cruiser on the market, but with Yamaha reliability.

The Yamaha machines differ from their American counterparts by using four-valve heads and overhead cams as a good modern engine should. The 1999 model showed up at dealers with a retail price of $7799, which put it at the bottom of the scale for comparable bikes. It was a very good value for a machine that would hold its own against any of the competition. The V-Star 1100, which was sold under the Star Motorcycle brand from 2006 to 2016, was retired in 2011, and Yamaha got out of the big cruiser market altogether shortly after retiring the Star Motorcycles brand.

Today, a V-Star 1100 represents what is probably the best bargain around for a V-twin cruiser on the used market. Nationwide listings on Cycle Trader show plenty listed with a price range of $3,000 to $5,000, which is about half of the price of an equivalent Fat Boy.

2023 Yamaha XSR155 - $2,965

While the bikes offered in the States include some excellent choices, such as the XSR700, they are often priced out of reach for those who just want a decent ride around town. Furthermore, while the XSR700 is a cool bike, the XSR155 overseas is a retro delight we cannot obtain but may want anyway. The XSR155 is built to primarily service the markets in Southeast Asia where bikes under 200cc are the norm and serve as primary transportation for millions. That's too bad for us in the States, as it is a great-looking retro bike that could probably sell for the right price.

The XSR155 is built with a delta box frame and it holds a 155cc liquid-cooled engine with variable valve actuation. The engine connects to a 6-speed transmission with a slipper clutch that mitigates the effects of engine braking through downshifts and deceleration. Dual disc brakes with ABS and an inverted front fork round out the thoroughly modern features of this vintage-inspired bike and it is topped off with an LCD digital gauge cluster. It is probably the perfect all-around commuter for some of the crowded sites in the markets for which it is built. The Yamaha Philippines model is listed with a suggested price of 162,000 pesos, which translates to about $2,965. At that price, it would be hard to pass up.

2023 Yamaha PW50 - $1,699

Every motorcycle rider has at some time had their first experience climbing on top of some gas-powered two-wheeler and twisting the grip to get the exhilaration that only a motorcycle can provide. For scores of adult riders, that experience came very young atop a Yamaha PW50. In production for decades, the point-sized Yamaha has barely changed in the 40 years it has been made since then. Today's PW50 is clad in the Yamaha blue and white with durable plastic covers and gas tank, but the basic frame, engine, and suspension are the same as they have ever been.

The little PW50 is equipped with a 50cc 2-stroke engine coupled with an automatic transmission. The power output is low, but it is plenty to get it moving, even with a relatively heavy rider on it. Of course, it is meant for a much lighter rider on it as it is a common model on which to learn for kids as young as five years old. The first PW50 arrived in 1981 and that the age range for riders is generally four to six. Another feature unique to this bike is a throttle stop screw that allows the engine to be set not to accelerate past a set speed. That should give moms at least a bit of peace of mind. While it is wholly impractical for pretty much all adults, it is the most affordable product currently offered by Yamaha with a retail price of just $1,699.

2023 Yamaha Fascino 125 Fi Hybrid - ₹77,100 ($934.67)

Yamaha is a global corporation with manufacturing and sales in multiple countries. It also produces dozens of products tailored for the different markets in which it sells, and that sometimes leaves Americans missing out on some interesting offerings. India's Yamaha models include several interesting choices, including the Fascino 125 Hybrid.

The Fascino is built with a fuel-injected 125cc air-cooled engine with an electric motor pancaked between the engine and CVT transmission, a clever and small hybrid drive system. Yamaha calls this the Smart Motor Generator. It works differently from a hybrid car. The SMG allows the engine to completely shut down at stops and will restart the engine immediately upon twisting the throttle. The primary benefit of the electric drive is to provide a boost of power from a standstill, reducing the need for throttle input to the engine. It shuts off after a few seconds of motion. Despite this modest engagement, it provides better fuel economy and lower overall emissions, and it also eliminates the need for a starter. The SMG is ready to engage any time the key is on.

Aside from the ingenious drivetrain, the Fascino has all the modern features you expect including a digital gauge cluster and USB charging. But most of all, it uses fantastic retro styling and is one of the most attractive modern scooters available anywhere. Sadly for American scooter fans, this one is in the Indian market only. Even sadder is that its suggested retail price is ₹77,100, which is just $934.67 at current exchange rates, making it one you can afford but cannot buy.