Beginner Motorcycle Guide

It's a hot summers day, and your hanging out at Starbucks getting an iced double mocha non-fat low-soy grande frappaccinio when you hear something in the distance. Is it the pounding of thunder...? No, it's the high pitched roar of a sport bike revving before it speeds off in the distance. You practically drop your frappaccinio , because it's love at first sight. Not the guy in the leathers and armor, but the machine below him with the crisp paint job, exotic looks, and menacing sound....

Well, I may be exaggerating, but somehow or another you've decided that you like motorcycles and you want to ride them! Congrats on picking one of the best hobbies out there, now you just need to know how to get started! Here are a few basic tips that will help you get your feet wet in the world of motorcycles.

Research, Research, Research!!!

If you're at this website then you are in the right place! Be sure to check out all the reviews of motorcycles on this website, I would recommend some of our more popular motorcycles like the Kawasaki Ninja 250 or the Suzuki GS500.Right now you may be saying "wait a minute, what is all this 500, or 250 nonsense? My friends all have 600's and 1000's!!!" That brings me to my next point.


What does that whole CC thing mean???

Maybe I'm getting a little ahead of myself, when we talk about CC's we are referring to how many cubic centimeters the cylinders in the the engine are. Basically it breaks down to this: The more CC's something has, the more powerful the motorcycle is and the more horsepower it can generate. This isn't always true as it depends on the engine type (Inline-Fours VS V-twins etc...) but that isn't important right now, as a general rule CC = Power. For reference your basic moped is less than 50ccs and an average scooter is 80-150ccs. The Ninja 250 that has about 250cc's (they round it up, I think its really 248cc) will have roughly 5 times the power of a moped, and 2-3 times the power of a scooter.

That being said, don't think that learning to ride will be as easy as eating pancakes, because its not. Almost all motorcycles have manual transmissions so if you don't know how to drive stick in car, I would recommend learning that before you jump onto a motorcycle. Throttle control is also a major issue because to make the motorcycle accelerate you must twist the right handle towards you. This can be a definite problem because if you twist it too much the g-forces pull you back, but you are hanging on to the accelerator and will have a tendency to twist it even MORE as you try and hang on!!! If that same throttle system was transferred to a car, a 250cc motorcycle would be the equivalent to a fairly sporty car like the Subaru WRX or Nissan 350z. A 600cc motorcycle is basically like a Ferrari or a Lamborghini, so just a slight twist of the throttle is going to shoot you to the moon! Add into that the balancing act you have to maintain with 2 wheels and you have a recipe for disaster!!


If you want to live, start on a smaller motorcycle!!!

Now I'm being a little facetious, you won't die if you learn to ride on a 600cc motorcycle, but it will make the process of learning everything much harder. I realize that one of the reasons you probably got into motorcycles was because of the image enhancing it will do for you. I have to admit there is a definite 'cool' factor that is present when riding a motorcycle, but nothing says amateur like accelerating too hard and then stopping too quickly resulting in a low speed crash. That type of situation is commonplace for new riders, especially those that start on machines that are too powerful for their skill set.


In a recent study, 5 out of 5 motorcyclists have crashed!!!

Haha, ok ok, there wasn't any formal research done, but it is a well known saying in the motorcycle community that there are riders that have crashed, and riders that haven't crashed yet. Personally I've crashed my motorcycle once at 15 miles per hour, and I've dropped it 3-4 times while at a standstill. At first this may seem like a lot, but drops and low speed crashes can happen if you aren't 100% focused on the task at hand. Even if your mind is in the game, there are forces outside your control (like pedestrians darting across the street!) that will force you to make snap judgments that may result in a crash.

In another study, 9 out of 10 people prefer a hot room to a belt sander across their forearms.

This imagery may be a little graphic, but I hope it gets the point across. When you are in a car you are protected by airbags and steel, on a motorcycle when you crash there is nothing between you and the pavement except your t-shirt and flip flops. Road rash is just like taking a belt sander to large portions of your flesh, and that CAN'T feel good. To hedge the bets in your favor you should wear motorcycle protective gear. This includes things like leather jackets, leather gloves, leather or textile pants, a full face helmet, and motorcycle boots. All this getup may make you a little hot during the summer, but it's better to sweat than to bleed.

Why all the leather??

Leather is great at abrasion resistance, much better than jeans. I can't find the website with the actual statistics, but I believe in a crash jeans will only last about 5-10 feet before your skin meets the pavement. Leather on the other hand lasts around 90 feet if memory serves ( if anyone finds the actual statistics please leave a comment so I can make this article more accurate). Regardless the bare bones of it is you are going to slide more than 5 feet, and would you rather be sliding on your bare ass, or a nice comfy leather padded posterior. I hope I didn't scare you off of wanting to ride a motorcycle, it really is a lot of fun, but like a lot of things it can be dangerous. The trick is to protect yourself with skills, knowledge, and leather.


Thanks I'm actually buying a 500r today.

Awesome! The 500 is a great motorcycle :) Keep the ruper side down!

hi im a 5"1 young lady that just got into motorcycles and now trying to learn as much as i can before i get one but just wanted to know what kind of bikes would you prefer for a beginner like me i know a 250cc but what name do you suggest?

what are you into? you into sports, standards, cruisers, motards? what kind of riding you want to do? fast on the twisties, mellow cruising, offroad?

If there's anything more important than my ego
around, I want it caught and shot now...

--- AFM #998 If there's anything more important than my ego around, I want it caught and shot now...

Hi Ya'll.

Good article and I hope it helps all of us. I am female 5'5, 145lbs and probably as old as your grandma, but not as old as dirt. I'm nervous and excited, more excityed than nervous I think and a little scared too. I too am a beginner on getting my bike license and trying to take the motorcycle rider's course. I believe the smaller the cc the better for novices and buy used for now. You will get comfortable enough with knowing how to start and stop the engine, accelerating, using front and back brakes, use of clutch, shfiting, cornering. And yes, use protection for those just in case scenarios. I have run anyone over yet, didn't crash or lay the bike down but I need lots of practice in order to achieve my goals.


500r is wonderful, I just bought my cbr 125r this week!

How's the CBR 125?? that's what I'm really looking for; how's it for a beginner?

I'm about 5'7, and female, and it'll be my first bike too.. I'm sooo scared about all this 'small crashes' and 'dropping' business, lol, I do nottt want to do that

Hey Chels
I'm also looking at the cbr 125, but was also researching the ninja 250. I've never ridden motorcycles, just a dirtbike which was years ago. I'll be taking the course, but I'm about 5'8 and 120 pounds, so I want something that is easy to drive, with not much power, and good stability. Did you get your bike yet? Any more thoughts on the cbr 125 or any other good beginner bikes?

Pretty funny article, although it has some good info in it too. Any chance of you writing more on this topic? I think this could use a part 2 and maybe a part 3.

I definitely plan on writing a couple more parts to this. :)

The info is great thanks for taking the the time to write an entertaining article i still wanna zuk gsx 600 though .

Neat beginners guide.. Easy read, entertainin and with some nice info. Thumbs up for this site :D

Cool site. Just looking to get started myself!

Congrats on an excellent website, thanks very much for the helpful info!

Do you recommend buying from a major brand for your first bike? I was checking out ebay and there were quite a few non-major brand bikes in the 125-500cc range, but I was hesitant to buy them just because I hadn't heard anything about them.

Your best bet is to inspect the bike before you even consider buying it. If you have a bike in mind search (Google) for it and see what other people have to say. Find things that people have found wrong with it and see if they turn you away from the bike.

You have to remember that "Generic" bikes will have less parts available, less service centers and may cost more to fix in the event something happens. Find a place that would fix your bike if something happened to it. What does it cost to insure it?

These are just somethings you have to consider

~Not your average hairless monkey

I'm a first time rider and have been reading your website which I've found to be extremely helpful. I'm 5'11 and about 225 lbs. I'm probably going to get a used bike and I've been looking at both the ninja 250 and the ninja 500. I just can't decide which way to go. Any suggestions as to which bike might be a better fit ?

YES I am preaching here but remember that first sharpening your AXE for 15 minutes before you start cutting, can save you several hours of trying to cut down a tree with a DULL axe.. and you will survive another day.
Like you I am a New BIKER, but with the Basic rider course under my belt,
about 500 miles on a Moped(just sold it) and a few hundred on a NEWER KAWASAKI VULCAN.

Like a baby, you gotta learn to crawl before you can walk, etc.

BEAR IN MIND this is a lesson first in safety, then matching a bike to your size.. which will be based
on these safety rules in mind, along with other factors.... read on.....
You will quickly learn that alot of drivers (Even some professional Truck drivers) will pretty much "Ignore" you if you are on a Bike.. Moped or otherwise. NOT BECAUSE THEY DONT WANT TO, but because they just dont take the tme to look for and think that there are Motorcycles on the road too.
They will squeeze into your Lane.. they will tailgate you. they will pull out in front of you. they will FORCE you to slowdown, and if your not thinking "safety", have an ACCIDENT, and in some cases not realize what they did. Ie, Hit and run without knowing what they caused..

THEY DONT SEE IT THAT WAY.. you will need to drive DEFENSIVELY at all times.

THUS, the SEE principle is in effect at all times.
Search, Evaluate, and EXECUTE.( take the Basic rider safety course and learn this and other things)

I my self am 6' 1" AND A BIG BUILD, 300 POUNDS.. at 56, I no longer can Bench 350 pounds. But I now ride a bigger bike, and ride safely.
After a few weeks on my old moped, and the Safety course completed (Now with a Motorcycle license) the 500 miles on the Moped was invaluable to apply the basic rules and safety issues, learned from the BRSC (Basic Rider Safety Course).
Experiencing these 'traps' first at a slow speed is invaluable.
With all that out of the way, ONWARD:

To suggest a bike:

1) Research the bike you want. Take a few weeks to do so.
A couple of months is better. This site is a great place to learn about bikes too. know the 'jargon'.


2) GO to Several Dealers and SIT ON A FEW of them. THAT is the best.
They are like cars.. they are all different. Even in the same model with different sizes.
Your leg length, and upper body strength and EXPERIENCE will dictate the bike size for you.
GUYS, Your first bike should be no bigger than about 500cc, assuming you have a few hundred miles on
a scooter or mini bike.
DOLLS, your first bike should be no bigger than about 400 cc.

Your level of experience, your age, physical stamina, and many other factors
will determine the size of bike you will be comfortable with, NOT LOOK GOOD ON.. that will come later, if you survive using the safety procedures..

After you have purchased a bike you are comfortable with,

THEN GO OVER THE bike with the Manual in hand,
and use TCLOKS before you 'fire it up' .
(SEE the BRSC again).

Take your new toy out for a spin on or in a LARGE EMPTY PARKING LOT,
or seldom used ROAD FIRST. Know the terrain.. know your bike.

Get used to driving it with very little distractions. Do that for a couple of days.
THEN and ONLY THEN take it into a more populated area...
and gradually/safely pickup your speed based on your RISK factors and experience level.

Your first problem will be at an intersection, which is statistically the number ONE spot bikes get into accidents with other vehicles.
USE YOUR HELMIT... almost 60% of BIkers who have accidents DIE because they have no helmit.

Make lots of turns ... hundreds of turns.. look several blocks ahead of you..and SCAN left to right ,to left, etc.

Just because you see them doenst mean they see you...
STAY ALERT AT ALL TIMES with your NEW TOY... other wise someone will take it away from you..

IF you have read all this, CONGRATULATIONS..

You will probably survive your first 6 months with minimum damage to you and your bike.
The first six months of a newbee rider is the most critical..

You can learn the Long way, or the short way..

The LONGway takes more time, but gives you a lot of awareness. And you will probably live to ride again.

The SHORT way is shorter yes, but in just a few short weeks
you may only be aware of the fact that you are in an Emergency room with a preist and your losing lots of blood and maybe a few body parts.

If you dont adhere to this 'wisdom', you can realistically forget about buying that second big bike..
you will probably be buying a wheel chair instead..



Great advice and so true. I have been practicing on a Honda Rebel for about 6 months now. I initially took the MSF course, but as a complete (and I do mean complete!) beginner, I couldn't keep up and quit from sheer embarrassment. So...I went to a parking lot with my boyfriend and practiced and practiced till exhaustion set in. Then I ventured out on short back road trips under the supervision of my b.f. who has been riding for 45+ years as well as my brother with the same amount of experience. That's as much as I have done and will do, (believe me, I know my limits) but now I feel more confident that I can take the MSF class again and focus on the important skills and issues rather than just trying to remember where my controls are. I hold the VERY unpopular position that one should not go into the MSF beginning course totally clueless opinion is: you should at least already be familiar with where the controls are located and how to use them as well as at least being able to travel in a slow straight line before you go onto that range. Do that 50 times or so and you'll be prepared to really absorb all that the instructors have to teach you. Of course, it goes without saying, that you should always be with a sensible licensed driver who can guide you. Why not save yourself the embarrassment of popping your clutch and dropping your bike in front of total strangers, most, it seems who have had dirt bike experience? Practicing in a vacant parking lot with proper clothing, helmet and a veteran rider to get down the most basic of skills is not at all irresponsible as some MSF aficionados would insist. Why would the state give us permits if we are not allowed to use them except under the supervision of MSF instuctors?? Most of the riders I know of my age never took any courses because such courses didn't exist back then and they are excellent riders. But that is neither here nor there. This is a different era. The MSF instructors- excellent as they are- do not have the time to spend one-on-one with a total beginner (unless you sign up for the private lessons). I have read, again and again, of students quitting or failing the course because they just had too much to learn in such a short space of time. They could not absorb it all. I have also read of girls who kept dropping their bikes and yet were nonetheless given a license at the end of the course. At any rate, your advice on how to begin is excellent and that is just what I have done. Also I have read Proficient Motorycling from cover to cover and got Christine Firehock's DVD which is super. Thank you for your comments...

Don't forget your helmet and the signup for the MSF course! MSF is around $200 for a 2 day class (which includes a day and a half on a bike that they provide) Yeah it's pricey, but it's cheaper than a hospital bill (or a funeral)

Had my first crash today sorta! I was backing my bike out of the garage and squeezing between the extra kitchen table at the front of the garage, and the front end of my girlfriends car with the bars cranked all the way over. Super tight sqeeze and ran outta space for my feet and sorta tipped over onto the girlfriends car...oops. Luckily it was A) early in the morning B) bike was not running C) nobody was hurt D) was not my car E) all of the above! Gotta get the girlfriend to leave a little more space for me to squeeze outta the garage in the morning.

You should definitely include MSF training course in your beginners guide. For $200, it was a great investment in knowledge, skills, and just the experience to find out if I really wanted to drop a couple thousand on this new hobby. Not only will you have fun learning stuff, but in NYS the MSF exam they have at the end allows you to waive the NYS road test.

PS - Also, the Ninja 250 is a great bike. For beginners, don't feel the smaller number means you're going to "outgrow" it or nonsense like that. I would definitely buy another - it is really fun to take the machine to its limit.

I forgot to mention that I'm signed up for an MSF course. Any suggestions on helmets, gloves, jackets and pants ? I've seen some of the posted reviews of the various equipment but nothing is a substitute for real life experience and working knowledge of a product. Any guiding info is really appreciated.

billsboy, have fun with the MSF, even if you have never ridden before it will be a blast, so make sure you enjoy yourself
As for gear here are my thoughts
Full face for sure, with a clear faceshield to start (you can always swap it out later for a mirrored, colored, tinted, whatever floats your boat) Good helmet will run you $150+ HJC makes a good helment (I wear one) and they are resonably priced. Shoei, Arai, etc also make good helmets but part of what you are paying for is the name. Look for something DOT and SNELL certified (DOT is the goverment, SNELL is an independent lab). Go to a reputable cycle shop and tell them you are new and they will help you get the fit right. If you plan on sticking with this hobby take note, this will likely not be the last helmet you ever buy, just like your first bike you will graduate on to something else down the road. Get one that you like the looks of and fits and try not to break the bank doing it

Depending on where you live and the weather you'll be riding in you get lots of choices. I'd go with leather, make sure your fingers are comfy, and get gloves with a liner if it's cold where you live. Cold hands on a bike not only sucks, it's dangerous

If you can afford it go for leather, if not textile jackets are great. Armor in the shoulders, elbows and back are typical setup. Joe Rocket, First Gear, Cortech, Shift, ICON are all reputable brands. Most have removable liners so you can make them warmer or cooler. For summer riding nothing beats a mesh jacket.

You can get motorcycle specific jeans woven with Aramid or Kevlar, you can also buy undergarmets with built in armor, all depends on how you plan to ride. Personally I don't want to get off my bike and cruise around in leathers so for around town and commuting to work it's typically jeans, if I am going on a trip, then I have purpose built textile motorcycle pants that are waterproof. Jeans are cool for starters, carharts also work great (a little more heavy duty)

Over the ankle is best, something with a heal is nice, so you can "hang" your foot on the pegs. Tuck in your laces so they don't get hung up on pegs, shifters, frame, etc) Sturdy leather work boots, or hiking boots are good

I appreciate the quick reply. Thanks for all of the advice. I'll definitely keep it in mind.

I have my mind set toward getting a bike and was wondering what the process of getting your motorcycle liscence is like. is the MSF course a required course or more like a beneficial defensive driving like course. An outline of what needs to be done would be greatly appreciated.

-thanks for the great forum

The short answer to your question is its not required, but its recommended.

Here in california there are 2 parts of the motorcycle license test: the written portion and the driving portion. The written part isn't that hard if you read the book, but from what I hear the driving is quite hard and most people don't pass it the first time. The cool thing is if you take the MSF course then you get a waver and you don't have to take the driving portion. This makes getting your license much easier, and it gives you a bunch of skills that you will use on the road.

~Best Beginner Motorcycles Admin

ive road dirt bikes since i was 3 so i can ride but my dad wants me 2 get a lower power bike like a ninja 250r or 500 or gt250r blast (he's a machanic and know's i'm good but not responcible) eny other bikes i could get in the US

I'm a newbie to your site. Lots of good stuff here. I appreciate your dedication to those of us that don't know much about all these things.

I have a 40 mile commute to work every day. Most of it is in the city, but a bit of it is on county roads (all paved and fairly flat). I am looking at getting a new bike to commute on instead of driving my car to help offset the rising cost of gas. I have had an old KZ 440 for years that I play with, but it isn't what I would call reliable. For a daily commutter, I just don't trust it to not breakdown. My question is one of power. A local shop has a used Kawasaki Eliminator at the right price, however, the bike only has 125cc and I weigh 325 lbs. Will this bike be able to drag me around okay or should I look for something in the 250 cc?

I'm in a similar situation as far as the weight goes (300). I am getting ready to buy a bike, but all of the riders I have talked to suggest that I get a higer powered bike because of my size and the fact that I am looking for a cruiser, which is a heavier bike. On the one hand I don't want a bike that is really underpowered for me, but I also want to make the best decision as far as safety and learning to ride go. Any ideas out there on this topic would be appreciated.

Then I would say get a ninja 500. If not and just doing local roads a 250 would whisk you around just fine and be more fun. Maybe even the 125, look up the max weight for the bike.

I've been to MSF and owned a Kawi KLR650 for several years. Riding pavement was spooky. Rough, rocky steep old roads was fun, gravel was no problem. Is there a reason for this or am I weird? I admit I could only touch one toe to the ground at a stop and was afraid of dropping it at a stop sign or gas station.
I think I'm going to buy a Ninja 250, lower, smaller, lighter (cheaper) and I have an urge to ride again. Does that make sense? I still have a high quality 'motocross' helmet with the extended face guard. I'm not sure why it's designed that way, is it OK for the street? And what is the best subtle clothing? Reinforced denim, that protective underwear? There is so much stuff advertised I don't know where to start.

lether dude it good stuff denim not so much. If the helmit is DOT aprooved yes.

My dealer won't even take a deposit on a Ninja 250R, they are so backordered it be could 6 months or more. Alternatives? Since the Ninja 650R is 2 cylinders and not a street rocket would it be too much? No cities or major highways, quiet back highways always.

About that Ninja 650R... Its a great novice bike.. I've read alot about it, and talked to the dealers about it.. They all recommend it.. Being that i'm 5'9 and 235 lbs, I thought to myself would a 250 be enough for me? My main reason for wanting the 650R is for the freeway commute, riding with my dad and his friends, and just having a good time. I recommend taking a saftey course before getting you're liscense. I just got through mine and now i feel very comfortable with myself and riding.. When I do goto purchase my bike i'm going to have my dad ride it home so i can get fimilar with the breaks and the clutch.. remember every bike is different. If you are a novice like myself, i recommend finding the friction zone in the clutch and getting comfortable with the bike before you ride the streets.. but honestly get into a saftey course. you won't regret it. I hope I was able to help. If you have questions you can email me.


Should the fact that a bike is Carb (instead of FI) stop me from purchasing? I heard that one of the downside of carb is that cold start is difficult. But i live in Los Angeles so that won't be a problem? Any other downsides to carbs? If i buy a fuel injection bike, it will probably be a newer model year, with newer technology, but at a higher price. Thanks.

I "come of motorcycle age" this year. I was wondering about what I may be able to handle as my first bike. I can ride a manual 150cc mini bike... Does that make any difference on where I might be able to start??

Nice site and reviews! I am about to get my first bike and I am still collecting info. So far I am thinking of an Aprilia Pegaso Strada, or a Yamaha MT-03. They both have the 45 or so horsepowered 650 cc single cylinder engine from the Yamaha XT 660. Why are you not considering these models? (Maybe they are only sold here in europe? ...dunno) Anyway please share your opinion about a single cylinder bike as a beginner bike!

I deeply appreciate the site. I am just about to get my first cycle at the end of the month, and the advice, both from the column and people responding, is very valuable. Just got credit approved for a Rebel, so I guess I won't start on a Honda Gold Wing. I had not thought about leathers, but after reading the column, will get them before my first ride. I am scheduled to attend a safety course as well BEFORE I get my license and ride. Thank you vor the outstanding column.

Hi Guys,

I just got my learner license and planning to get a new bike. I am new to bikes and just a bit confused about which bike should I go for? I have come across different bikes. However among those, I really like Honda CBR125R, Kawasaki Ninja 250R and Hyosung GT250R. CBR is good however I think, its too small for me and its only 125cc, so I have decided to go for Nina 250R or Hyosung GT250R. Price for both bikes are almost the same in Australia. Hyosung - GT250R is a good looking bike however I have gone through reviews on some websites and it has pros and cons that made my mind to go for Ninja 250R.

Guys, I need your help here. As I am new to bikes, I need your advise - should I go for Hyosung GT250R or should I wait until August and go for Kawasaki Ninja 250R. Your help is much appriciated so please response. Thank you all.

James, from my reading there are some what frequent problems with the Hyosungs - yeah they look great though. I have read if you get them new there isn't as much chance of a problem though (but what about re-sale).
A1 motorcycles told me second week of July for the Ninja 250R 2008 (no gaurantee there tho :S).
I'm thinking quite seriously about the Suzuki GS500F ($100 more) and is more of a touring style but with fairing. It wont be as hot as the Ninja 250R but will keep me amuzed longer and be nicer for longer rides. Feel free to send me an email. Jason.

well done, i donated some $. I'll come back later, since i'm a brand new motor beginner buyer. thanks again

I purchased a 2008 Yamaha V-Star 250 (3) weeks ago. To say I am pleased is an understatement. I already have over 900 miles on it. This has been city and highway mileage.
Mileage has improved from 85mpg to 100 mpg as the motor has had miles put on it. I travel 131.6 miles on 1.311 gallons of Conoco premium unleaded on Sunday, June 1, 2008. The motorcycle looks great. The handling is very precise. Crusing at 65mph is adequate with some reserve power available. I am 5'8" and weigh 190 pounds. Even steep hills are easy without down shifting from 5th gear in to 4th gear.
The fit and finish on the entire motorcycle is excellent. Yamaha has paid attention to the little details everywhere on the motorcycle. I have owned Honda's, Hodaka's, and Suzuki's in the past. This is my first Yamaha, and will be my brand of choice in the future based on the V-Star 250.
Based on these first weeks with this V-Star 250, I would recommend this motorcycle to everyone, especially those who are looking for an affordable and extremely high mile per gallon commuter motorcycle.

I was at oulton park not to long ago watchin the BSB and they had the THINK!! people there and there was a video on saying if you fall off at 30 mph you'll burn through a pair of jeans in a quarter of a second....nice huh im pretty glad i was wearing my full leathers when i fell off

Im 18, leaving for college in less than 2 monthst and i need a vehicle with good gas mileage. i have never driven a motorcycle and they seem like the best buy. Im living 2 hours from home cuz of college so I need good gas mileage. Whats a good bike? and inexpensive would be nice as well. please help. oh and im a big kid also. im 6 ft 2 in and bout 180lbs. so im not little. so now, anyone got advice?

Plenty of reviews of bikes on this site... take a peeksies... ;-)

If there's anything more important than my ego
around, I want it caught and shot now...

--- AFM #998 If there's anything more important than my ego around, I want it caught and shot now...

i am a female standing 5 ft. 5 in at 124 lbs. i am looking for my first bike any suggestions ?

You have to know what type of riding you want to do and then let your pocketbook decide if new or used. Go to a dealer and sit on everything you like. See what "fits" you. Ask all sorts of questions. I just bought a Suzuki and it's the smallest I've ever owned. It has a lot to do with taste too.

I've been looking for bikes also and i'm only 5'. I foundthat no matter what I look for it has to be lowered and not all bikes can be. I'm looking at the Suzuki gs650f right now. They say it can be lowered to what I need. I dont like the Kawasaki 500, and the 250 is just not enough power. I want a stylish bike but something that I can ride on the interstate and not be winding it out. So good luck to ya, I know how you feel.

I purchased a Hyosung GT250R over a month ago and have put 1,800 miles on it with no problems. I hate people who bash Hyosungs, as they are excellent bikes. I live in the Los Angeles area and there are more than enough shops to service them around here that also sell them. I have only gotten compliments about the fit & finish of the bike and people always stare and ask me what brand it is. I would recommend this to anyone. Power is good, gas mileage is excellent, styling is fantasic and reliability has been amazing.

There's more issues than just the finish.

Yes, yes... it is wikipedia, so take it with a grain of salt, but something like known issues isn't too hard to verify. It could either be a case of you being lucky so far (knock on wood) or others being unlucky. It could be that they've ironed out most of these issues in the newer ones. Either way, until they can get a reputation for being as reliable as hondas or kawas, I'd recommend them over the hyosung unless cash is a serious issue.

If there's anything more important than my ego
around, I want it caught and shot now...

--- AFM #998 If there's anything more important than my ego around, I want it caught and shot now...

Hello.. I just recently got my Motorcycle Permit and signed up for the MSF course... I have no experience riding but am going to have some lessons from a friend before I take the course in August... I am definitely getting a sport bike... just need to get the right one... I asked a couple of riders i know and they said nothing more than a 650cc bike.. I am 6 feet tall 200 lbs pound man and I was wondering what might be best for me.. i did read the articles above... and still am not sure if a Kawasaki ninja 250 is too small for me.. I was actually looking at the Suzuki GSX 600 since it caught my eye but dont know much about it.. would that be too much for me? I do like the new 2008 kawasaki ninja 250 but it looks too small...i have also been looking at body armor.. has anybody tried the bohn armor pants advertised at the top of this forum? I will defintely be getting armor, helmets and everything else too protect myself.... I love bikes but want to make sure I am safe too...

hey i am 18 and looking for my first bike, i am 6'3" and 245 lbs. i dont want a cruiser, what bike does anyone recomend, i will probably get a used bike and looking for under 5000$.

I recently bought a GSX650F about a month ago and feel pretty comfortable riding, but I would like to buy frame sliders just in case I should drop it. When I originally bought the bike the sales man said frame sliders were not yet on the market for my bike since this is the first year my bike has come out. Does anyone have any frame sliders for the GSX650F or can others be used for my bike...I don't want to get them too late and have $2,000 of damage?


It strikes me as a really bad idea to take advice from someone who drops their bike from a standstill 4 times. Once is understandable - 4 times that means you're a moron who never learns.

I am a new guy to bikes but even when i was little i wanted to own one. I really dont see me in a 250c or a 500c because im a tall guy but i am intrested in the on and off road bikes that are out there now. Pretty much i have my eyes stuck on the Kawa Versys. The Reviews rave about it and well its not that bad of a looker compaired to the others. Tell me is this a good bike to work with or should i just Trash the i idea?

A versys is beginner to intermediate friendly and with a higher seat height so you can see the traffic ahead over cars. I would have started on one if not for the price point. .

this site clarified so much for me!! thank you guy :D
i've always wanted a motorcycle, and i've just recently started to look into prices and different types (clearly i've never ridden one). This article helped alot!!!!
i'm tired of being the chik that wants to ride on the back, i wanna ride!!!

i'm petite and am a little intimidated to start the learning process because i'm finding most bikes to be on the larger side. Is there any type/brand/make of motorcycle that are usually smaller than the average??

Well you definately dont want anything more than a 250cc....the ninja 250's are a great bike to start with if your into the street bikes, and the virago 250, honda rebel 250 or any of the others in that category are great if u prefer the cruisers. you could also look into the honda cbr 125 if youre REALLY intimidated, but i think you'd be fine with a 250. theyre great for bulding confidence and feeding the itch to ride. and im assuming that you've been on a bike before (according to your comment), so its not like youre going in TOTALLY blind. just check your local craigs list or classifieds for some decent used 250's and see what comes up. hope that helped : )

just a little fyi, the cbr 125's are super hard to find in the US, forgot to mention that (oops)

Take the MSF class. It's fun and they'll teach you all you need to know to get started.


My Oldest daughter who's 15 at the moment want sto get a motorbike i'm not so sure about it but she's said that she'd pay for it herself, which with me is fine. however, i would like to know what would bw the best bike to get her i want the get her a biek that is fairly lite weight and is in asimilar design to the 1965 Harley Sprint; as she is fairly tallish

if any have an idea email me at


I riding a 125 scooter and looking to upgrade and I really find it ridiculous to have something as big as a 600-1000cc. One wud save more petrol with a 250 anyway. Thanks for all your tips on safety and I know this website will help me ride safer on the roads. Two thumbs up!

hey i am 5'11" and about 180 lbs. im getting ready to buy my first 08 ninja 650r. i have riden dirt bikes for a couple years but i am worried the 650r will be to much power for me..what do you recomend?

really helpful; everything
you are saving lifes with this site


Hi. I'm 5'11 and 210 lbs. I'm looking for my first bike and sport bike at that. I live in the burbs of Ft. Lauderdale. Initially, after the training course I plan to stay around my general vicinity until comfortable and progressively ride on slightly larger/busier streets gradually, and for that believe that the Kawasaki Ninja 250 is fine. However, eventually I would like to ride the motorcycle to work in Miami on the highway 25 miles each way. It will save me a ton in gas costs. Can this bike handle a highway commute at 70-75 mph 50 miles a day? Unfortunately, I'm not in a position to buy one bike today and get a slightly larger one in 6-12 months so, I'm looking to hit a happy medium now in which I can learn and enjoy one safely now and have it meet my needs for the longer run as well. Ninja 250, 500 ?? Thanks

Im height challenged male. 5'2'-5'4'' with 30 in inseam. What would be a good first bike?
I'm looking at a Hyosung GT250R , Kawasaki ninja 250r, old (1988-199?) Honda interceptor.
Which would be the best for me to get? I dont mind lowing it be as ive read here its not a good idea.

Can't go wrong with a ninja 250r.

Hey, my best advice to ANYONE who's never driven a sport bike is start with a 250. Again, its just advice... You could always be like me.

Cause: Buy a 2002 GSXR1000(Anyone who knew those bikes knows they were BEASTS) at 14years of age.
Effect: Accident after 3days permanent scars on back

Cause: Stay away from bikes awhile, even when I did ride it was smaller CC bikes
Effect: Unharmed, Safe, most importantly still alive


Cause: Bright Idea To Buy Yet Another GSXR on April 21, 2008 (18years old) except this one is a 2008 GSXR1000
Effect: 3wks later old man turns left in front of me
Totaled Bike
Road rash scars down both arms, legs, torn ligaments in shoulder and knee, AND ankle that didn't set properly

(Ok, so i was one of the lucky ones, it was the old mans fault and the insurance paid EVERYTHING. If you want to see the damage go to

Cause: Learned the HARD way that its too much, so I armored up, got my proper gear, lessons, etc...
Effect: Felt safer getting back on

Cause: Bought YET ANOTHER 2008 GSXR1000
Effect: Due to prior cause and effect this effect yielded positive results. July 21,2008 - ???

So it doesn't mean you will be a statistic starting off on a larger bike but is it worth the risk? Just incase you missed all the negative side effects here were the losses:
2002 GSXR1000
2008 GSXR1000
Another 2008 GSXR1000
19 yrs old with Road Rash scars on BOTH arms and legs
Torn ligaments in knee and shoulder
Ankle that didn't set properly

Don't believe me? Again inspect the damage

P.S. If you want it for the "cool" factor most of the people you'll be impressing won't know the definition of but not limited to:
250, 500, 600, 650, 750, 1000, 1300, 1400, CC, CI(you probably don't know that one either), Suzuki, Kawasaki, Yamaha, Honda, Augusta, Buell, etc. So don't even worry about that

Yours Truly
-Billy Lines

"Honesty Is The Best Policy, Insanity Is The Best Defense"

I'm looking to get my license and get my first bike soon. I'm a female, 5'4 & 145 pounds (around there).
What would t he best beginners bike be?

Hey there! I've been really interested in getting a bike but I'm feeling iffy about what to buy. I've heard so much about Hyosung and how it sucks and how Kawasaki is a stiff ride. I'm 5'4" and 136 lbs. I also want to set straight my priorities: I want to street race, not cruise. I don't expect to start off with a bike as extreme as 600cc because I'm sure I'd throw myself off so I understand I won't be fast until I really understand motorcycles. Do any of you have a suggestion besides these two that would be great starter bikes?

i'm 16 turning 17 and was wondering if the honda cbr125 is really worth it or should i buy something used and a bit more powerful for the same price, like a ninja 250. also wondering average insurance rates on low cc motorcycles because no companies will give me an answer unless i phone directly to an office or sign-up for something.

it really annoys me that here in the USA there is pretty much the kawasaki 250 or the honda nighthawk. i would love the honda 125. it looks great. its a honda. and it definitely doesn't have excessive amounts of power. although now the kawasaki 250 does indeed look like a decent bike. i understand that its not all about the look, but if i'm spending the money it should at least look decent.

I can safely say that this is the most helpful motorcycle website I have seen yet! I am very interested in beginning riding once I get my driver's permit (Right now I am 14 years old; I live in Pennsylvania and I think the law says that as soon as you get a learner's permit, you are allowed to take learner's classes and take the test to get your license)

The article was funny and extremely helpful. There were some things that I knew about, such as the cc thing, but through all of the beginner articles I have learned a lot about it. Sometimes I feel like I wanna put a down payment on one, other times I think I was crazy for even considering it, with all of the stuff about belt sanders, road rash, and skin vacuuming. Oh, and don't forget about death.

Also I am worried that my parents will not agree with my decision if I decide to buy a motorcycle, and I totally understand. If I had a son I wouldn't encourage him to jump on a 2-wheeled death trap. But I think that if I take all of the safety courses and wear proper protection(I will do both) they might feel better about it, and so would I.

So I'm thinking about getting either a Suzuki Hayabusa or maybe a Ninja ZX6R........ Just kidding! I'm considering the Ninja 250R because it gets great gas mileage, doesn't look like a beginner bike, and pretty much every place I look gave it positive reviews.

Again, thanks for the great site!

I agree that smaller bikes are MUCH easier to ride, and to learn to ride. On the same token though, if a person wants a 600cc sportbike, and is short on cash(like I was), I say buy it. It is a lot more power than a 250, but if you go to parking lots for a while before you even think about riding it on the streets, you should be fine. The BIGGEST thing I can suggest is taking an MSF course before trying to jump on that 600cc missile and race every car you see. They train you on smaller bikes, and really get you into a good feel. I used a Yamaha TW-200. They provide the bikes even, and the instruction is INVALUABLE. They teach you things such as swerving, panic braking, tight U-turns, and everything in between. Don't take that as "I took the MSF course, now I am a phenomenal rider." They teach you basics. There are some things that you can only learn with experience.

Overall, I give this article a 9.5/10

From your reading I wonder when a beginner becomes a novice. I rode a few dirt bikes as a kid. In 2000 I put about 20 hours on a Honda 650 Nighthawk. In 2008 I took the beginner motorcycle course on a Honda 250. I also ride bicycles a lot if that means anything. I am 5'10" 168 lbs and 54 years old.

My question...I looked at a Kawasaki Vulcan 900 (2007 model) and wondered if that is a reasonable choice for a bike given my experience. Comments??

I have a 900 Classic LT and I will say that you will probably be better off on the Vulcan 500 for a first.
I am 5' 10" and about 175 lbs. difference is the age. I started on the 500 mostly due to its a shorter (length wise) bike, lighter by about 200 lbs and nimble. With mine I got around 48-51 mpg. The V500 will allow you to learn the quick weaves and bobs and mostly the extremely important part of riding slow speed maneuvers. The power distribution through out all gear ranges is very smooth and beginner friendly. Where as the 900 wether it be a classic, custom or classic lt has alot more torque. For instance....coming off a 2 lane road to an exit ramp on the V500 you can drop down to first gear and just "drop" into the turn for the exit ramp. Try that on the 900 and you'll get a quick skid and grab, something that can scare the bajeebers out of ya for a first time. The V900 is bigger, and noticeably so. The V500 is your better option. It is a good all arounder. Do not be concerned for highway speeds either the V500 is more then capable of doing three digits though you will or should not need to get up there.

****Life's journey is not to arrive at the grave safely in a well preserved body, but, rather to skid in sideways, totally worn out, shouting "Holy Shit....What a ride!!!"****

I live in Knoxville, TN. It is a busy city with alot of downtown traffic and surrounded by interstate. There are also numerous backroads to cruise on, too. I would definitely be considered a beginner. I hear alot of people say, "When I was a beginner, I had only ridden dirtbikes, and I started on a 600+....." Well, that doesn't quite make you a beginner if you had previous riding experience, huh? I am a REAL beginner. I have never ridden anything with 2 wheels besides a bicycle. I have wanted a bike for a while. While in Japan, I had multiple opportunities to get one, but declined because I lost a close friend because of inexperience.

Everyone tells me not to get a 250 because I will want something larger shortly after purchase, and I will feel too big for it in a short amount of time. I am 5'11 and 165 lbs. I am 23 and recently got home from military service. I am not concerned with blistering power/speed/acceleration, and I have no intentions of getting on the interstate or highway until I feel comfortable with backroad/city driving. However, while on the interstate, I also don't want to feel like I am going to get blown around or blow up the motor passing a car. I don't know alot about motorcycles, and as I said before, I have never ridden one. So, any honest scenerio of how it feels to have a 250 on the interstate would be great. How are long distance trips? Lastly, I have been looking on craigslist and have found a few things in Knoxville. Any other sites you would suggest? I'm looking to spend around $2500. This is a new hobby, and I don't want to break the bank! (I'm not concerned about having a new bike. I definitely want something I don't have to be too concerned about laying down as I'm sure it will probably happen. I just don't want to ride an "eyesore".)

Thanks in advance!!!

Read my above reply if your looking for a cruiser type bike. Just because you have dirt bike experience does not make you any less a noob. There is alot of difference between dirt and street. Speed, traction, handling, weight of the bike and more moving obstacles.
The 250's will be more t hen capable for you in the back roads but if you have to hit the highways and you feel you need something a tad substantial to keep you stable I would recommend the Vulcan 500.
Just to add the Vulcan 500 has the same motor that the Ninja 500 has. Just different compression ratios and matched to a slightly different style tranny. It will get up and go with the big boys but very much more smooth in doing it. I imagine around the start of riding season you will find some starting to pop up in the papers or at the dealers. Keep looking. Also the V-star 650 may be an option. Remember the power of cruisers and sport bikes are very different. So a touch over the 600cc mark is not necessarily gonna be life and death difference. Just have to approach it with respect and care.

****Life's journey is not to arrive at the grave safely in a well preserved body, but, rather to skid in sideways, totally worn out, shouting "Holy Shit....What a ride!!!"****

I bought my first bike, an '07 Honda Rebel, April of '08. It had 680 miles and the price was right. It's only a 250 so it wasn't too heavy for me to pick up if I was unfortunate to drop it (i did). I have put over 5,000miles on it since then and I love it. I'm 145lbs, 5'5'' and it's really easy to handle. I'm 24 years old and already knew how to drive a manual. I'm going to get another bike soon, probably a 750 Shadow. The local dealer is keeping his eye out for me. I definitley recomend the protective gear, full helmet, MSF course, and starting small. I had been told to get the biggest bike I could afford to prevent "outgrowing" it, not necessary. I got the 250 bc I didn't want to kill myself... Now I'm very comfortable on it and ready to go bigger. I do some longer trips (about 200 miles) and the Rebel isn't comfortable hitting those interstate speeds. I've never been uncomfortable with the Rebel and the learning process was very smooth. Start small to learn the basics and then try out a few to see what feels right for you. There are a lot of different styles out there because everyone has different tastes. Shop around and be patient. Happy riding :-)

I'm getting back into riding after a long break. Took the MSF course ($200) last weekend here in Colorado Springs and highly recommend it. Small class of 8, professionally instructed, Friday night through Sunday afternoon with written and riding exams. With the MSF card I got my license today for a $2 fee, no testing. I bought a '08 Rebel 250 as a starter and a '99 Star 650 Classic "to grow into," both from Craigslist. Highly recommend checking there. Also have a Scorpion helmet (DOT and Snell approved), armored riding jacket, armored gloves, and over-ankle Red Wing WORX boots. No question, all protective gear is a must! This looks like a good site for us "newbies."

Hey watz up I LOVE this site I'm 5'4" 145 and a dude I finally decided to get a bike I read all the post YES!!!! All of them!!! So I decided I'm defenately getting a ninja 250 I just need sum advice does anyone know where in new jersey I can msf course cuz I'm defenately doing before I get the wheels. Soooo and also would I need to get the 250 lowered cuZ of my height let me kno....thanks

Lay off the caffeine and breathe :) Have a beer!

Hey, I am looking to get a bike sometime in the near future, and my uncle who has been riding his whole life told me the minimum I should get is a 500 cc for the reason that anything less than that is not going to have the acceleration when you need it in a sticky situation. How much harder do you think it is to learn on a 500? I am also a relatively big person (6' 1" 175lbs) , so I don't think a 250 would fit me.

I'm not a great believer in accelerating out of trouble. In my experience, most of the trouble happens in front or at the frontal angles (cars turning into or in front of you, etc...) Adding speed to those situations isn't going to help.
There may be specific exceptions, but I think it's far more typical that additional power creates a whole new set of hazards. Keep in mind that about 1/3 of all MC accidents are solo. I doubt if going faster or accelerating harder would help in any of those.
I'm not arguing against going with 500ccs, but I think the safety argument is unreal.

Comes from knowing how to ride the bike you're on. The only time acceleration is going to save you is when there's something coming up behind you at speed. But the key there is you need to be aware of what's behind you, or coming at you from the side. The awareness of the danger is the hard part. If you were aware, you could get out of those situations on a bicycle as easily as a motorcycle.

Power is useful on the highway, but not essential. Awareness is again the real key to safe riding there. You need to know who's around you and be ready to get out of the way. Brakes work as well as the throttle for changing your relative speed.

Hi Ben,
I read all the articles on this website and have found them very useful.
It'd be really wonderful if you can also add a topic related to motorcycle maintenance here.
Bike maintenance is a very important thing and many of us new riders are not aware of things which need to be taken care of.

All maintenance tips + common points on which mechanics can try to rip you off shall make a great article for all of us.

Thanks a lot.

I'm pretty sure Ben has a thing or two to say on the topic of changing tires at appropriate intervals.

Would a responsible beginner be capable of riding a Suzuki B-King?

If I were to buy a motorcycle, I would rather buy one that looks nice. I don't want a motorcycle for show boasting, but as a means of transport.


great article!!!!!!!!!!

i am looking to get a bike. i have ridden a kawa 125kx dirtbike. but i do want to take classes and all that jazz. but my question is i want something i can ride to work and once in awhile to california. i live in reno so i have a uphill battle and i communte about 15 miles to work. and live on a steep hill. i am also about 275 lbs and 5'6". so what would be a good bike (sports bike). i was looking at a yamaha 600 but am willing and wanting to go to a smaller bike.

I just passed my BRC last night!! I've never owned a bike so now it's the million dollar question...what to get?
I love the look of the more retro bikes and i'm drawn to a Royal Enfield ( I'm not doing night or major highway at this stage...riding to class and back on sec roads and some scenic stuff on weekends) I'm 5'8 and 150lb.
Any obvious reasons why that would be a bad pick...drums all round?
It's just got such a great history and love the look!


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