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ReverendDexter
ReverendDexter Reader
2/9/09 12:06 a.m.

Okay, I don't ride a motorcycle, never have.

Interested in learning, my thoughts were to take the permit test, take the motorcycle safety course, and then pray to "Bob" for an '08 Ninja 250R to fall slightly to the left of my lap.

For me personally, I have no problems picking up a 250 and selling it after a few months if it's not enough bike. I'd rather do that than pick up a 650 and get intimate with an oak the first time I get off balance and pin it wide open (or some other rookie move). Plus, I've heard nothing but good things for the '08 and up 250R (and almost all bad for the '07 and earlier bike). I like the thought of a sportbike as it fits more my riding position for how I ride bicycles and snowmobiles, i.e. leaned forward. Assuming I did go through with this, my totally uneducated dream bike would be the Suzuki B-King; I've always had a thing for the sheer power of the 'busa, but I love the looks of a naked bike.

Intersted in hearing people's opinions on the matter, stories from learning to ride, things that no one else told you that you really wish you knew from the beginning, and the like.

EvanB
EvanB Reader
2/9/09 12:27 a.m.

I don't know what you could have heard bad about an '07 or earlier 250. I had a 2000 as my first bike and it was great. Comfortable, 60-70mpg, enough power to have fun, handled decently. I have never heard anything bad about them. I bought mine for $1000 and sold it the next year for $1400.

milkmandan
milkmandan New Reader
2/9/09 12:33 a.m.

Considering the '89-'07 and '08+ ninja 250's are almost identical mechanically, I can't imagine what you could have heard was so bad about the 1st generation. They share the same frame, mostly the same engine (1st gens make slightly more power due to less stringent emissions), very similar suspension, very similar brakes, etc. Aside from looks, I think you'd be hard pressed to find a significant difference, especially as a beginner. Except for the $1500+ difference in price. 250's are fantastic all around motorcycles, not just beginner bikes. You can commute, you can tour, you can drag knees at the track, it's a genuine do anything motorcycle. Dirt simple to repair and maintain, consumables are very cheap as well.

Osterizer
Osterizer HalfDork
2/9/09 12:42 a.m.

A quick survey around Town shows that the vast majority of new riders choose the GSX-R 600...

Grtechguy
Grtechguy SuperDork
2/9/09 6:43 a.m.
Osterizer wrote: A quick survey around down shows that the vast majority of new riders choose the GSX-R 600...

scary. I started riding last year again (13years previous in H.S. was the last time)

got a little Ex-500, which is the Big Bro to the NInja 250. plenty of power for commuting, great gas mileage, and will out corner most 600cc+ bikes. :)

Xceler8x
Xceler8x HalfDork
2/9/09 7:44 a.m.

Get Good Gear.

The best you can afford. Budget about $500 for the clothing alone. A helmet can be had for around $200. Gear is your last resort insurance. I know it's expensive but it's cheaper than skin grafts and long term disability.

Don't ride with crazy jack arses. Find someone who's been riding a long time and who rides in a reasonable fashion. Learn their habits.

Try to develop Street Presence. Cars are like dogs. They smell fear.

Always sit at light in gear. Also, plan your escape route. Then, at the light, don't sit and daydream. While you're sitting in line waiting for the light to change you are in extreme danger. Rear end collisions are what you're worried about. At a light be alert and have an escape route planned so that you can move away from any danger. They realize this danger in Europe and allow riders to go to the front of the "queue" at a stoplight. It makes sense as instead of being a fly speck on the rear end of the car in front of you, you are now sandwiched between two 3000lb objects. Side impacts would hit the cars on either side of you while another car would only smash into the rear of the same cars you are between.

minimac
minimac Dork
2/9/09 7:49 a.m.

Mrs. Mini learned on a '84- 450 Honda BK(before kids). The kids are now on their own and she went shopping last year.Came home with a 77' KZ 400 with 8k for $400! Pretty old school, but comfortable, great on gas, plenty of power, and re sale is good. I suggest anything in the 250 - 500cc range. The CX 500 Hondas are liquid cooled, run forever, decent power and easy to ride. Did I mention cheap? Fitted with a rack for a trunk(you'll want to carry some stuff at some point), this low investment should be good for years of enjoyment, even with two up.

Grtechguy
Grtechguy SuperDork
2/9/09 8:10 a.m.
Xceler8x wrote: Always sit at light in gear. Also, plan your escape route. Then, at the light, don't sit and daydream.

That's one on the 1st things the MSF class will tell you as well.

It's also the reason that 1st Gear is below neutral.

CrackMonkey
CrackMonkey Reader
2/9/09 9:05 a.m.
ReverendDexter wrote: Interested in learning, my thoughts were to take the permit test, take the motorcycle safety course, and then pray to "Bob" for an '08 Ninja 250R to fall slightly to the left of my lap.

You don't usually need a permit to take the MSF safety course. And in most states, successful completion of the MFS basic course exempts you from the testing at the DMV (just show up, show certificate of completion, and you're done).

As for first bike, there are tons of choices... - =08 Ninja 250 - cheap (for new), a bit nicer than the earlier bike - Older Ninja 500, GS500 - similar in concept to the baby Ninja, but with a bit more engine - SV650 - a bit sportier and more modern - hodge-podge of 250-650cc dual-sports - good low gearing, fun around town, and off road - might be hard to find used, depending on area. - Harley Sportster - more grunt than most of the above, plentiful, a bit top-heavy, cruiser (you either like it or don't). This is what I own. Good little bike. Very customizable (and you can either sport it up with rearsets and a small flyscreen, of dress it up with forwards and hard bags).

2.0dohc
2.0dohc New Reader
2/9/09 11:35 a.m.

I have ridden everything from little xr100 to 600cc crotchrockets to full on touring bikes and the ones I enjoy the most are 250 to 350cc dual sport bikes. they are easy to ride(ie not scary fast) but have enough power for normal people.

on the stop light safety notes from above, dont pretend that you are at the drag races and launch like a mad man......there are a lot of people that like to run red lights...and they are bigger then you

suprf1y
suprf1y New Reader
2/9/09 11:43 a.m.

Small dualsport, for sure. Not only are they fun to ride, but they also give you the offroad option, which, IMO, is the best way to learn.

MadScientistMatt
MadScientistMatt HalfDork
2/9/09 12:52 p.m.

Can't go wrong with a Ninja 250. I ride a GS500F myself and that's another sport bike I wouldn't hesitate to recommend to a beginner. Dual sports are also great if you can flat foot them. I'd sit on as many of them as possible and see what's comfortable for you personally.

Mental
Mental SuperDork
2/9/09 2:53 p.m.

I am going with the 1st Gen Ninja 250s, or a good sub 600 old school Honda/Yama/Suzk/Kawai standard. a GS, CB etc etc etc. They have reached the bottom of their depreciation curve, are dead solid relable and cheap to own, cheap to fix.

Also, a 2nd on good gear. If $200 for a helmet stings a bit, look on line for closeout deals on last years models. A good rule of thumb for the brand is if you haven't heard of them, don't get it. The exception being a name brand maker who makes great auto racing helmets (and hence will remain nameless here ) but has $30 motorcycle helmets availible at Wall Mart. Stay away from those. You can also get good pre-owned jackets and the like on craigslist.

Xceler8x
Xceler8x HalfDork
2/9/09 3:20 p.m.

I like HJC helmets. Comfortable, well built, and a good value. The shells are huge as they make the same shell for Small to Large as opposes to Shoei or Arai who make shells for each size head. HJC just makes the liners different sizes.

xci_ed6
xci_ed6 New Reader
2/9/09 4:41 p.m.

I started on a CT70, but my first street bike was an '88 Ninja 250. Great little bike, reliable, fun, everything. Sometimes I wish I had kept it. I bought it for $1000, put on 3,000 miles and cleaned it up a bit, then sold it for $1000 1 year later.

Bobzilla
Bobzilla Reader
2/9/09 5:06 p.m.

My first streetbike was a 1993 CB750 Nighthawk. I never "grew out of it". 10 years later I still have it. Good power, dependable, needs minimal maintenance and runs like a champ.

RussellH
RussellH Reader
2/9/09 5:17 p.m.

x2 on safety gear...just do it, don't even bother analyzing it.

I was in your shoes just 3 months ago. Search for "Sprockets" and you'll find my two posts, one about which bike and the other about my 1982 NightHawk 450SC.

While I think the 450SC is the perfect combination of speed and manuverability for me especially where every street has 50-55mph speed limit and people usually drive 5mph over that, sometimes more. The only thing I don't like about it is the fact that I paid too much for it with all the maintenance etc I already put into it. I bought it for $1400, did the tune up (spark plugs, filters etc), chain, brake pads/shoes. I just ordered a set of new tires since I noticed the sidwall cracks are getting bigger, a windshield since 45+mph feels scary for a new rider and things I probably will need as I ride it more.

So, had my initial budget been a few more hundered I could've gotten a much newer (mid 90s) bike around $2- $2.5k.

I don't have any first hand experience with the Ninja 250 but from what I've read you've got to rev it pretty hard to get speed out of it. At least the review on Pashnit said so and with 14k redline I'd believe it. My friend who started a few months before me started with a 2006 Ninja 600 ($4k) which was a great bike but he's a big guy so he sold it after 3k miles and bought a BMW K1200S ($14k)...wow! what a bike!...but we're getting off topic here :)

Toolpen
Toolpen New Reader
2/9/09 5:27 p.m.

I rode a Yamaha XJ600 Seca II for a few years and loved it (wish I still had it)--model years 1992-1998. It's a typical air-cooled UJM with disc brakes (single up front) and very easy to maintain and service. I put about 18,000 miles on it with some long trips and never had a problem with it. It has controllable/usable power for in town and on the road use, though not in the same power class as a pure 600 sportbike, which is probably something you don't want at this time.

xci_ed6
xci_ed6 New Reader
2/9/09 10:14 p.m.
I don't have any first hand experience with the Ninja 250 but from what I've read you've got to rev it pretty hard to get speed out of it. At least the review on Pashnit said so and with 14k redline I'd believe it. My friend who started a few months before me started with a 2006 Ninja 600 ($4k) which was a great bike but he's a big guy so he sold it after 3k miles and bought a BMW K1200S ($14k)...wow! what a bike!...but we're getting off topic here :)

Any small engine needs revved. IIRC my baby Ninja's power band started around 10krpm, which is right around where it starts on my 599. The new 250 makes less power, but more torque, with a lower redline, so I'm thinking it will start in the 8-9krpm range.

skierd
skierd Dork
2/10/09 1:27 a.m.

Another vote for the dual sport option, my DRZ's been mostly great so far.

The tall ride height is half good and half bad. The bad is it can get a bit tricky to find your footing when coming to a stop, but that goes away rather quickly. Or at least it did for me. The good half is the visibility: I can see over just about every car seated on the bike, and above nearly every SUV or pickup standing up.

All dual sports tend to be kinda torquey but not too overpowering and can do just about everything you could want a motorcycle to do, and then modify it to fit your riding style as you move along. Long distance touring? Add bags and a better seat, maybe wind protection. Canyon carving and track days? Add 17" wheels with street rubber, change the sprocket, add power, etc. Dirt riding with enough streetability to get to it? Add knobbies, adjust the suspension, regear it, etc. Or add a little from every flavor and keep it a solid all-around compromise bike in order to only have to keep and maintain one bike.

Speaking of gear, shop around as there are several good closeout sites and used gear o'plenty on the various moto forums. Try to be honest with what your actual riding will be most of the time. Be prepared to find that everything you researched for weeks and then bought 6 months ago turned out to be off the mark somewhat in meeting the demands of what, where, and how you ride. I like HJC helmets as well (just ordered a CL-SP), Olympia for riding apparel, Alpinestars for boots. Buy based more on fitment than price.

Xceler8x
Xceler8x HalfDork
2/10/09 7:56 a.m.

I've heard good things about Oxtar boots as well.

suprf1y
suprf1y New Reader
2/10/09 8:47 a.m.

If you are considering the dualsport route, there are some very beginner friendly, shorter ride height bikes out there. The XT225/DR200 are nice little bikes, and a quick search on the Kenda website shows some nice street bias rubber for the right price

96DXCivic
96DXCivic Reader
2/10/09 12:43 p.m.

I have also been considering a bike. But I need something super cheap and easy to work on. I would also like good looks (I like old school, not big into plastic clad bikes or dual sports), plenty of aftermarket parts so I can play with it a bit, and good gas economy. This is mainly to ride around campus. Oh yeah, I am 6'3".

CrackMonkey
CrackMonkey Reader
2/10/09 2:24 p.m.
96DXCivic wrote: I have also been considering a bike. But I need something super cheap and easy to work on. I would also like good looks (I like old school, not big into plastic clad bikes or dual sports), plenty of aftermarket parts so I can play with it a bit, and good gas economy. This is mainly to ride around campus. Oh yeah, I am 6'3".

Any of the Honda CBxxx standards fit that description. CB750 had a long run. The smaller CBs had shorter production lives, but are still good bikes.

That, or an old Harley Sportster (XL).

CrackMonkey
CrackMonkey Reader
2/10/09 2:26 p.m.
Xceler8x wrote: I've heard good things about Oxtar boots as well.

Oxtar doesn't exist anymore. They were replaced by TCX (I think it's the same company, they just re-branded themselves for legal reasons).

Sidi is also good.

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