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Sonic
Sonic New Reader
6/5/08 7:11 p.m.

I've recently broken up with my longterm girlfriend who didn't want me to have a bike, so now I'm going to get one. I'm looking for something beginner friendly, but that I won't immediately get tired of. I'd like something that can possibly carry a passenger without it being completely punishing, with a good parts availability and good online knowledge base.

I'm looking to spend under $2k to have room left in the budget for proper safety equipment and MSF course.

I used to ride a Honda CT70 around the woods and whatnot when I was younger, so I have a little tiny bit of riding experience.

I'd be using it for general riding around, some highway stuff, whatnot.

Here are my first thoughts, but I'm completely open to suggestions:

Yamaha Seca II Ninja 500 CBR 600 (not f4i or RR or whatever)

Ideas?

Nashco
Nashco Dork
6/5/08 7:41 p.m.

"Sport bike" is a seemingly relative term. In their day they might have been sporty, but a Seca II and Ninja 500 aren't really that fun to ride IMO. As a starter, it'll be fun, but pretty much any bike is fun when you start out. I started with a Ninja 500 and was bored in about three weeks, upgraded to a '97 F3 (CBR 600) in short order and was MUCH MUCH happier. In comparison, the EX500 was downright scary, the suspension geometry on the F3 was lightyears beyond the EX500, the bike was much safer because it actually did what you wanted it to naturally without having to fight it.

I would highly recommend the F3 as a good beginner's sportbike after having ridden many bikes (from cruisers to crotch rockets). It was a fantastic bike, very reliable, handled well, cheap to maintain, and the later ones still look modern if well maintained (mine was a '97 with the Erion graphics and a full Yoshimura stainless/carbon exhaust). Also, while some people say they're horrible for learners, I disagree. Yes, it's got some power..however, on that older Honda it was quite controllable and the torque was near nill at low rpms, which is good for a beginner-intermediate bike. With the average rider (I'm about 180 with gear) the power to weight ratio at lower RPMs is definitely not going to get you into trouble, and even at higher RPMs it's not going to be nearly as crazy as a smaller guy on a new 600cc bike. I bought mine for $4200 and sold it for $3700, IIRC, after putting 10k+ miles on it and after selling off some spare parts that came with it, even including tires, insurance, and maintenance it cost me less than a grand to own for a year. It was my only vehicle. Mine looked very similar to this except for the Yosh exhaust and a carbon fiber tank cover/crotch rubber:

http://cgi.ebay.com/ebaymotors/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=270240363856

Bryce

ProDarwin
ProDarwin Dork
6/5/08 7:58 p.m.

Ninja 250R!

If not, I'll second the vote for an old 600. I bought my Yamaha YZF600R for $2500 with some spare gear about a year ago. I've only ridden it like 7k miles on it, but I'd bet I could get almost $2k for the bike. Sure, it's not as fast as the new 600s, but still good for 11 second quarters, 50mpg, and can get you in just as much trouble. With that in mind, I hope you have at least some experience when you start riding one. Even old sportbikes will get you to jail-time speeds with a quickness, even at part throttle.

PHeller
PHeller New Reader
6/5/08 8:05 p.m.

Whoa, the 250R looks cool.

Ugh, even doing the lowest payments is out of my realm. Damn this student life!

grtechguy
grtechguy Dork
6/5/08 8:54 p.m.

I bough an EX500 a few weeks ago. great for commuting.

Xceler8x
Xceler8x GRM+ Memberand Reader
6/5/08 9:20 p.m.

SV650.

They're so versatile you can ride as a beginner. Then, once you're completely jaded you can convert it to a track bike. The swiss army knife of beginner bikes.

CrackMonkey
CrackMonkey Reader
6/6/08 9:21 a.m.

I started out looking for a $2000ish sporty bike (though not an actual crotch-rocket). Ended up with a new bike instead - I wanted something reliable and most of the used bikes in that price range were rode hard and put away wet. Yes, the new bike was three times the original budget.

The new 2008 Ninja 250 is a sweet bike. I almost bought one. The older style Ninja 250 is a solid bike - cheap to buy, reliable, cheap to insure. For a college student, it's probably as good a choice as any.

I also considered the SV650. It was a fine bike, but other than being faster and more expensive than the Ninja, it didn't do a whole lot for me. Kind of like comparing a Miata and a Corvette. The Vette is nice, but for toodling around town, the Miata does a fine job for much less money.

I ended up with a H-D Sportster (XL883). Financing through H-D was below 6% on a 60-month simple interest loan. And yearly insurance is less than half of the SV650 and baby Ninja. It's more "standard" than "cruiser" and is plenty fast enough for normal riding. Plus, the after-market for Harleys can't be touched, the dealer network is huge, and people like them (well, except those that don't, but they don't count).

MadScientistMatt
MadScientistMatt HalfDork
6/6/08 11:01 a.m.

I ride a Suzuki GS500F. Sure, it's not exactly the most up to date bike, but it's still faster off the line than my Corvette. I don't recommend trying to deal with a 120 hp, 11 second rocket while trying to get the hang of controlling a street bike in traffic - you'll have a much easier time with a forgiving and predictable bike. I'd recommend avoiding all but a few of the older 600s for a first bike (the Seca II is on the short list of exceptions).

Here's a sort of car analogy with sport bikes.

Ninja 250 - Miata

Ninja 500 or Suzuki GS500F - C4 Corvette

SV650 - Viper

CBR600, or other modern 4 cylinder 600 - Hennesy supercharged Viper, or something equally crazy

I've owned my GS500F for over a year now - only reason I've even considered getting something different is my wife doesn't like the idea of getting on its passenger seat but might be more comfortable with a different style of bike.

Mental
Mental SuperDork
6/6/08 11:34 a.m.

The new 250 Ninja is an amazing bike, guy in the cube next to me just ditched his old school FZR 600 and got one. The 08 may be way out of your budget, but the previous generation dates back to 1989. It is a great starter bike, rev happy, gear driven balancer for high speed stability and will be be surprisingly quick on twisties. Kawasaki will tell you the avergage ownership of that bike is 6-24 months. So you can get a good price on a pre-owned one. I see them going here for less that 2K all the time. It was my first bike, and as much as I love my Bimmer, I do find myself missing it.

Furthermore, good on ya for budgeting for gear and the class. Another co-worker showed up on his new to him VFR with a Bell Helmet that had an SCAA Solo sticker from 2001 on it and Carhart feild gloves. After a morning of razing, he bought a new Icon Alliance on a closeout website.

Jay_W
Jay_W HalfDork
6/6/08 11:38 a.m.

Another vote for an older (cheaper) cbr600. That bike really has no faults. Just don't get anything bigger than that, a 600 will startle you wide awake more than enough. At the same time it can be just cruised around on. If you get the bug real bad, you can start saving pennies and trade that bike in on a literbike crotchrocket if you're so inclined to ride singlestage to orbit.

GameboyRMH
GameboyRMH GRM+ Memberand Dork
6/6/08 1:16 p.m.
MadScientistMatt wrote: Here's a sort of car analogy with sport bikes. Ninja 250 - Miata Ninja 500 or Suzuki GS500F - C4 Corvette SV650 - Viper CBR600, or other modern 4 cylinder 600 - Hennesy supercharged Viper, or something equally crazy

Continued...

Yamaha R1 - Caparo T1

Hayabusa - Chrysler ME Four-Twelve (I know it got killed off but it fits well)

ZX14 - Bugatti Veyron

Oh and I just read up on the 2008 250R, it seems like a good fit for what you want.

slefain
slefain Dork
6/6/08 2:25 p.m.

Gonna have to give a +1 on the Ninja 250. Good starter bike. Light, alright power, not enough top speed to get you in jail, but enough power to cruise on the highway at decent rpm. Proven design, and just a hoot on a curvy road.

JG Pasterjak
JG Pasterjak Production/Art Director
6/6/08 2:31 p.m.

I'm getting tired of not having a streetbike. I've had darn near everything, Classic UJMs, cruisers, 600 Sports, 900 Sports, 650 V twin sports, and a Bimmer. I'm really, really tempted by the new Ninja 250R, though.

Really tempted.

jg

mistanfo
mistanfo Dork
6/6/08 3:36 p.m.

I'm on the hunt for a 2nd bike. It'll be used for around town commuting and for (licensed) friends to ride when they're in town. So, cheap is near the top of the list of priorities. As is a low seat height. My DL650 (same block as the SV650) is just to high for those who don't ride often to be comfortable. A used SV is possible, though the Ninja 250 is also being looked at. I'd consider an 883 Sportster, but I want something that if someone wads it up, won't cost them an arm and a leg to buy from me.

ClemSparks
ClemSparks SuperDork
6/6/08 4:16 p.m.

From someone else who's also looking at getting something modern (relatively) and reliable in a streetbike for cheap...it seems like the long run of the pre-07 ninja would make a good choice from a parts-availability stanpoint. I'm also assuming it must be a pretty good bike to survive for such a long production run.

I'd love to find a sub $1K early Ninja 250. Hopefully one comes along soon.

Clem

Mental
Mental SuperDork
6/6/08 5:12 p.m.
JG Pasterjak wrote: I'm getting tired of not having a streetbike. I've had darn near everything, Classic UJMs, cruisers, 600 Sports, 900 Sports, 650 V twin sports, and a Bimmer. I'm really, really tempted by the new Ninja 250R, though. Really tempted. jg

My buddy got his for $3400 out the door, including TTT. Finally got delivered yesterday. Good looking bike, and the aftermarket is already there. Granted you don't drive guzzlers, but the 70 or 80 MPG doesn't hurt either

stuart in mn
stuart in mn Dork
6/6/08 6:38 p.m.
Yamaha R1 - Caparo T1 Hayabusa - Chrysler ME Four-Twelve (I know it got killed off but it fits well) ZX14 - Bugatti Veyron

In the July issue of Cycle World they did 0-180mph testing of the various big bore bikes. For one example, the Haybusa did 0-180 in just 18.25 seconds.

The splits were:

0-60 in 2.58 seconds

0-100 in 4.99 seconds

100-150 in 5.19 seconds

100-180 in 13.43 seconds

The quarter mile time was 9.90 seconds (at 147.94mph.) It's amazes me that you can walk in off the street and buy a vehicle that performs like that.

Woodyhfd
Woodyhfd GRM+ Memberand HalfDork
6/6/08 8:11 p.m.

Sonic,

I've tried to send you an e-mail but it keeps bouncing back to me. Is your address listed correctly?

Sonic
Sonic New Reader
6/6/08 8:30 p.m.

I thought it was, but now I'm looking around my profile and can't find it listed to check it.

Anyway, it is abbottcd at gmail dot com

sorry for any confusion. I guess I need to email Baxter.

Nashco
Nashco Dork
6/7/08 1:19 a.m.

I'm not feelin' the Ninja 250 you guys are throwing out there, I rode one for a bit when I had my EX500. Maybe it's because I'm a bigger guy, but for me they're fun to about 25 mph (talk about tossable!) but after that it just feels silly, kind of like riding on a toddler's tricycle. Plus, the powertrain is setup to rev the piss out of the thing at highway speeds, I want to say it was something like 13k at 80 mph. The new ones do look a hell of a lot better, but I'd still rather have an older 600 than a new 250. Considering how wimpy the 250 is, it really doesn't get mileage that is that great. Heck, my big honkin' Buell will do over 60 mpg, I get 45 mpg riding 2 up with a full set of bags and tall windshield, so 70 mpg on the tricycle doesn't seem that great. Sorry to be a buzzkill.

It is pretty insane that you can literally walk into a dealership with a small wad of cash (less than many family cars cost) and ride out on a 10 second death machine. BLESS THE EXCESS OF IT!!!

Bryce

mistanfo
mistanfo Dork
6/9/08 9:21 a.m.

I have the issue in my desk drawer. Considering that the most expensive bike in the test was $15,995 (admittedly, they didn't give a price on the MV Agusta), and the next most expensive $11,999, I'd say that theyt are significantly LESS than most family cars. Motorcycle performance is nothing short of amazing. And I'll bet that each bike tested gets at least 35 in normal riding, most over 40.

Jason

Nashco wrote: It is pretty insane that you can literally walk into a dealership with a small wad of cash (less than many family cars cost) and ride out on a 10 second death machine. BLESS THE EXCESS OF IT!!! Bryce
Jay_W
Jay_W HalfDork
6/9/08 10:44 a.m.

I think it was car and driver that did a comparison and "what-if" article, looking at the '72 honda CB bike and the '72 Z and showing what the current Z car would be like if it developed to the same extent the bike did. IIRC it would weigh less than 2000lb, put out somewhere around 500hp, and cost no more than 15 grand....

ProDarwin
ProDarwin Dork
6/9/08 11:57 a.m.
Nashco wrote: I'm not feelin' the Ninja 250 you guys are throwing out there, I rode one for a bit when I had my EX500. Maybe it's because I'm a bigger guy, but for me they're fun to about 25 mph (talk about tossable!) but after that it just feels silly, kind of like riding on a toddler's tricycle. Plus, the powertrain is setup to rev the piss out of the thing at highway speeds, I want to say it was something like 13k at 80 mph.

Do you like Miatas, or any other slow, 4 cylinder cars?

The Ninja 250 is the equivalent. I had one, and it was a blast. Who cares if its spinning 10k @ 80mph?

neon4891
neon4891 HalfDork
6/9/08 1:42 p.m.

I miss the UJMs, they were a good middle ground between sports and cruisers. Good ergo, some crome, an overall balance. Now the closest thing is the "naked" bike class for ergonomics, as for styling, that middle ground is gone

CrackMonkey
CrackMonkey Reader
6/9/08 2:02 p.m.
neon4891 wrote: I miss the UJMs, they were a good middle ground between sports and cruisers. Good ergo, some crome, an overall balance. Now the closest thing is the "naked" bike class for ergonomics, as for styling, that middle ground is gone

Yeah, no more UJMs, but you can still buy a "UAM" (Sportster 883). Or a "UBM" (Triumph Bonneville). Or a "UIM" (Royal Enfield Bullet).

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