New rider tips, guides, and reviews on great starter bikes.

Top 5 Reasons to Start on a 250cc Motorcycle

There are many different reasons to start your motorcycle riding career on a smaller bike. You may not have considered something in a 250cc class before, but by the end of this article you will have a few really solid reasons to consider them for your first bike. Here are few of the BEST reasons that may convince you to pick up that 250cc motorcycle.

1. You'll Learn Faster on a 250cc than a 600cc bike

Riding a motorcycle is hard for most people. Sure, put someone on a motorcycle for a few months or a year and it will eventually become second nature. Until you build the muscle memory that you need to properly operate a bike, you need to stack as much in your favor as you can. One of the easiest ways to do that is by choosing a 250 as a first motorcycle.

With a 250 you don't have to worry too much about twisting the throttle and pulling a power wheelie (although I have seen it done by a pro 250 rider at the track). With a 600 it is quite easy to reach 40 or 50 miles per hour in first gear with just a twist of the wrist, add into that target fixation and you soon become a human missile headed for an oncoming car.

When you take the power out of the equation you can build a solid foundation of skills that you can transfer to a larger motorcycle later.You learn to shift properly, carry your speed into turns, look where you want to go etc... All of it is achievable on a larger motorcycle, but you can learn it quicker and more efficiently on a 250cc.

2. They are Cheap to Buy and Run

You can pick up a brand new Kawasaki Ninja 250 for under $3,500 (maybe a few hundred dollars more or less depending on the dealer), or a 2008 Honda Rebel for about $3,200. By contrast an 08 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-6R is over $9,000 brand new! That's a lot of moola to spend on a bike that you are most likely going to drop at least once during your first year of riding.

250's generally get twice or three times the miles per gallon (MPG) that their larger counterparts do. A smaller engine means less gas is needed to get you where you are going. Add to that the fact that they are usually at least a hundred pounds lighter than a 600 and its going to increase that MPG even further.

If you insure your motorcycle (which is the law in California and most states) then you will also notice a pleasant surprise if you own a 250 versus a 600. Small motorcycles are more inexpensive in every department, plus when you are done with them you can get almost all of your money back when you sell (especially if you buy them used first).

3. They Hold Resale Value

One of the great things about these motorcycles is they really hold their resale value. Tons of new people are getting into motorcycles ever year, and that means a lot of beginner riders that want to buy their first bike. The most sought after motorcycle is of course the 600, and the market is literally flooded with them from new riders who buy them and try to sell them less than a year later because they either crashed, or they found out the hobby wasn't for them.

A lot less people buy 250's for their first bike, but because of the internet the idea of starting on a smaller bike is gaining ground. There is a short supply of 250's and a much greater demand for them, this keeps their resale value extremely high. Check your local and you will see hundreds of advertisements for 600cc bikes, but when you check for 250's they are few and far between.

Bookmark a few of the 600 ads and check them again in a week and you will notice that a lot of them are still there. If you do the same thing with a few of the advertisements selling 250's you will notice that most if not all of them will have been sold already. This is how it is in the California Bay Area, so I would imagine it would be the same in most other parts of the country with a thriving motorcycle community.

4. 2008 Ninja 250

Yes, the 08 Ninja is a great reason to start on a 250 motorcycle. Simply put this bike looks better than some of the 600cc, or 1000cc bikes I have seen! I realize that some people out there might like the 'dated' look of the 2007 models and earlier, but I think those folks are crazy. It's taken the Kawasaki engineers nearly 2 decades to come out with a new version of the 250 and this one takes the cake. This is probably one of the only times in the last 10 years where people are buying a 250cc bike for the looks, and not for the practicality.

The new version of Kawasaki's famous ninjette is also quite a bit more powerful than its predecessors. Most riders feel like they are riding a bike with at least 100 more CC's than they actually are. This is great because it will make the transition to a 500cc or 600cc bike that much easier if you choose to do so. Honestly for the price, and for the looks, this is one bike that makes being a beginner motorcycle rider really cool.

5. You Can Ride Them to Their Limits

Ask anyone with a Yamaha r1 if they have ridden their bike to its limits on the street. If they answer yes, they are lying, unless you happen to be talking to a corpse. The same can almost be said for most 600cc inline-fours as there are very few people that have the balls or the skill to ride a bike that that to its limits on public roads. The reason being is because once you have enough experience to actually take a bike to its limits, you are generally not dumb enough to do so in an area with cars coming the other direction.

The 250cc bike though is a different story. Most of them top out before they reach 100mph which means you won't be smoking any lambo's on the freeway. This makes the ideal terrain for the beginner bike the twisty roads often found in the hills on the outskirts of town.Here you can lean the bike over, crack open the throttle, and carry your speed into turns a lot easier than with a 600cc bike.

For the ninja 250 you'll be shifting out of first before you even hit 20mph, the same cannot be said for its big brother the Kawasaki ZX-6R. While riding the 250 you'll have much more of a racer feel because you will be shifting more to keep the bike in the ideal power range. To get the same feeling with a 600cc bike you would have to be going two to three times the speed.

Honorable Mention: 6. They are Great for Lane Splitting (California Only)

250 bikes are small, and that is a blessing in California! As far as I know we are the only state which allows lane sharing or 'lane splitting'. This means motorcycles can actually ride on the dotted white line that separates the lanes and which allows them to ride through standstill traffic. This is a blessing since it is quite easy for a motorcycle to overheat, especially during California summers. It also helps with traffic congestion because it allows one less vehicle to add to the large line of slowly moving cars.

The tricky thing about lane sharing though is you don't want to hit other cars, especially their mirrors that are sticking out. It's much easier to avoid doing this if you have a small, narrow framed motorcycle like the Honda Rebel or Ninja 250. I've seen riders on big BMW's and Harleys with saddlebags try and lane split before, but they either go extremely slow to avoid hitting anything, or they don't even bother splitting at all. When you ride a ninja 250 in traffic the bike is so skinny that it feels like you have a full lane in between the cars!


WendySkeleton's picture

Submitted by WendySkeleton on
A few things: - "The reason being is because once you have enough experience to actually take a bike to its limits, you are generally not dumb enough to do so in an area with cars coming the other direction." Rofl! That sentence made me laugh for some reason. But you're right, if you have experience on a 250 bike, that should be plenty to make people realise that speeding down any road isn't right. Plus it's just damn noisy! - I must say that 250cc cruisers actually look really cool as well; I mean, ride in front of a crowd that doesn't know a thing about motorbikes and they will most likely mistake it for a Harley or something... until they see the brand on the side of the motorcycle, that is. - I wish lane splitting was legal here! It would be a blessing in areas with heavy traffic, but I still see people doing it anyway.
Anonymous's picture

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on

Lane splitting is dangerous!
Check out YouTube for motorcycle accidents and you're bound to see several where the ninja or bullet bike is T-boning a car or truck that is trying to cut across traffic.

Kickprivate's picture

Submitted by Kickprivate on
Update for you: Texas allows lane splitting. Written into law Sep. 1 2005. " A BILL TO BE ENTITLED AN ACT relating to the operation and movement of motorcycles during periods of traffic congestion. BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF TEXAS: SECTION 1. Section 545.060, Transportation Code, is amended by amending Subsection (a) and adding Subsection (e) to read as follows: (a) An operator on a roadway divided into two or more clearly marked lanes for traffic: (1) shall drive as nearly as practical entirely within a single lane, except as provided by Subsection (e); and (2) may not move from the lane unless that movement can be made safely. (e) The operator of a motorcycle may operate the motorcycle for a safe distance between lanes of traffic moving in the same direction during periods of traffic congestion if the operator: (1) is at least 21 years old; (2) has successfully completed a motorcycle operator training and safety course under Chapter 662; (3) is covered by a health insurance plan providing the operator with at least $10,000 in medical benefits for injuries incurred as a result of an accident while operating a motorcycle; and (4) operates the motorcycle: (A) at a speed not more than five miles per hour over the speed of the other traffic; (B) in traffic that is moving at a speed of 20 miles per hour or less; and (C) in a location other than a school crossing zone or other than a location where the posted speed limit is 20 miles per hour or less. SECTION 2. This Act takes effect September 1, 2005." ~Not your average hairless monkey Kick

~Not your average hairless monkey

Ben's picture

Submitted by Ben on
That rocks! I thought they voted down the law, I didn't know they passed it. :) That rules! Yet another reason why texas and california are the best states in the US. Ben ~Best Beginner Motorcycles Admin


Ben - Editor and Owner of BBM

jkieler's picture

Submitted by jkieler on
I have been to Texas and it wasn't good That state is full of idiots
250learner's picture

Submitted by 250learner (not verified) on

I've been to both. California was far, far worse.

Anonymous's picture

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on

California's don't use their mirrors much. I had a friend nearly killed on the 101 freeway in 10mph traffic.

smokeizfire's picture

Submitted by smokeizfire on

How long was your friend riding? I live in Cali as well and may have to frequent the same freeway when I purchase my cruiser. What kind of bike do they have, too?


Anonymous's picture

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on

the bill was never acted upon, and it was never actually legalized.

i did the research a few days back, and ran across that little tidbit.
apparently it was never even brought to the house floor, because they had to oust it because of some new education budget reform. i dont know the specifics, all that i know was that it was never heard, and never voted on, and never passed.
NJ has also tried and failed apparently.

houston traffic needs it, and after i get my license ill get a ninja 250.

even if it was legalized, all the a**hole houston drivers wouldnt realize it was legal, and they would ram you. i love the idea in theory, but anywhere outside of cali is just dangerous, because in cali, people know its legal cuz all the motorcycles do it, but in texas, with very little motorcycle traffic, would take years for a majority to figure it out.

Brandon99's picture

Submitted by Brandon99 (not verified) on

Texas has all the aggressive drivers as well as the stupid ones who need to retake the drivers test.

Anonymous's picture

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on

Look up 545.060 It is not a law and was not passed.

Mauricio Alarcon's picture

Submitted by Mauricio Alarcon (not verified) on
I had a '89 Ninja 250 around 13 years ago. Back then, I used to say "Kawasaki Ninja 250 rocks!" And I still say so. I am 32 now, and after 12 years not riding a real bike, around 2-3 years on a 90cc scooter on an intermitent basis... I just needed an upgrade and bought a 2005 Ninjette "brand new". It had only 480 miles on it, now I am around the 850 miles and love mi little engine. I am re-learning how to ride motorcycles, and as you wrote, you have to be nuts to ride a 600cc to the limit, not to say about a 1000cc. I rode a 1000cc a decade ago and I never got over 2nd or 3rd gear. Simply there was not enough street to throttle more, neither guts to do so. I am loving my ninjette, and loving my rides every single day! One thank you note: When I decided for a new bigger bike, I first turned my eyes into a Yamaha FZR 400cc or a Honda CBR 600cc. I read here and there, double checked specs, costs, available spare parts, etc. Your articles, among others, made me think twice about the size of my bike. I am not regretful of the decision. I paid $ 3500 USD (I am in Mexico City, a brand new '08 Ninjette goes up to $ 63000 USD!!!) for my bike and I am enjoying every single buck! Thanks, ride safe and keep writing!
Mauricio Alarcon's picture

Submitted by Mauricio Alarcon (not verified) on
I missed the numbers: a brand new '08 Ninja 250 is around $ 6300 USD! I wrote an extra zero! Pretty expensive, ain't it? Maybe some years from now, I will make a trip to the bay area and bring back my own 250 with the new design. Mmm... I will book it since now! Hehehe
paws's picture

Submitted by paws (not verified) on
In Europe, the price for a 250r ranges from 6800$ to 11000$.
Simon's picture

Submitted by Simon (not verified) on
Hey there mate. Great Article. I'm actually from Australia and just got my motorbike learners permit. (Here you have to take a 2 day course and then a formal test to be allowed to ride a motorcycle). In Australia you also are restricted to a 250 cc bike for your first 15 months of riding which is obviously quite a bit different to the US ! :D. I have already put a deposit down on an 08 Ninja and i'm stoked to be getting a 250 which looks absolutely awesome as well . I totally agree with all the points you made here One quick thing, i believe you mistyped in tip number 1 : "All of it is achievable on a larger motorcycle, but you can learn it quicker and more efficiently on a 600cc." I think you meant Quicker and more efficiently on a 250 cc. Great work on the site mate, its been a big help to somebody new to bikes like me :D
Ben's picture

Submitted by Ben on
Haha you are 100% correct! That's the sort of stuff spellcheck can't find :) I'll change it right away, thanks! Ben ~Best Beginner Motorcycles Admin


Ben - Editor and Owner of BBM

Malcontent's picture

Submitted by Malcontent on
I'm sold on getting a 250 as my first bike as I'm pretty darn green, but my commute includes a long steep hill and I'm 235lbs and 6'3". I'm being told that I should go for a V-Star 650 or at the minimum a Buell Blast for the 500cc and torque. To add to the conflict, the owner of a Hyosung GT250 says he's heavier and has no problem going up steep hills at 55mph (50 being my minimum). Do you have any input regarding this situation? I'd appreciate your opinion.
Ben's picture

Submitted by Ben on
I think the 250 could make it depending on the grade, and I can't imagine it being THAT steep if you need to go up at 50mph. The new 250 'feels like' it has nearlt 350cc's instead of just 250 compared to the old ninja. I don't think you'll have a problem, but if your really worried go for the buell blast or the ninja 500 or the vulcan 500. Ben ~Best Beginner Motorcycles Admin


Ben - Editor and Owner of BBM

tran2112's picture

Submitted by tran2112 on
Thanks to this article... I'm going to buy a 2008 Ninja 250! I went to 4 motorcycle shops yesterday and, of course, every salesman tried to up sell me to a 600+cc. I used to have a Honda CBR F2 600 wayyy back when and never really got the hang of riding after a couple of nasty layovers. I'm thinking this bike will be perfect for the short rides to work and school while saving me $$$ in gas! Thanks again!
Ben's picture

Submitted by Ben on
I finally had the opportunity to ride the 08 ninja 250 yesterday and that thing rocks! It's SOOOOOOOOO much better than the older ones, it just feels a lot more solid, and it seems to have a lot more power (especially in the midrange). Plus it just looks badass! One funny thing is the only markings on the bike are "Kawasaki" and "ninja", no where on the bike does it say its a 250! Since it looks like a 600 by itself I bet a lot of people will confuse it for one, especially if you don't know much about motorcycles. Good luck, and let us know when you get the bike! Ben ~Best Beginner Motorcycles Admin


Ben - Editor and Owner of BBM

tran2112's picture

Submitted by tran2112 on
Ben, Those lazy motorcycle dealerships are closed on Mondays here in Oklahoma! So it won't be until this Tuesday before I get my hands on one. I was going to get a Honda Rebel but I don't think I would have been happy in the long run but who knows I just may buy one of those too! HAHA! Now, I can't decide on what color for the Ninja? Black - Classic, easier to sell in the long run, sexy, sleak, Batman like, James Bond-esque... Green - Stands out, Classic Kawasaki, different, its the color that evokes $ex i.e. green M&Ms and green Jello - hahaha! Red - Oklahoma Sooners, Ferraris, Corvettes, Ducatis... Blue - I can't believe I'm not a Yamaha R6 or R1 - hahahah definitely not! Thanks for the response! - David
Ben's picture

Submitted by Ben on
In my opinion if its kawasaki it HAS to be green ;) But that red one looks awesome. I would stay away from black just for visibility purposes. Ben ~Best Beginner Motorcycles Admin


Ben - Editor and Owner of BBM

tran2112's picture

Submitted by tran2112 on
Man, decisions, decisions, decisions... I really want black but maybe I should refer to the Robert De Niro quote from Meet The Parents: Jack Byrnes: I'm just curious, did you pick the color of the car? Greg Focker: Uh no, the guy at the window did, why? Jack Byrnes: Well they say geniuses pick green. Greg Focker: Oh. Jack Byrnes: But you didn't pick it.
Ben's picture

Submitted by Ben on
If you really wanted the black then I say go for it. I mean, all of my gear is black even though that isn't the safest thing. My friend ray makes fun of me because even my 'hot weather' gear is black, which sort of defeats the purpose. I think the main thing is you are starting on the right bike, and the color should make you happy. (plus my first bike a GS500 was black and silver :) Ben ~Best Beginner Motorcycles Admin


Ben - Editor and Owner of BBM

tran2112's picture

Submitted by tran2112 on
Thank for the help. I finally talked to my bank this morning and got approved. Now I have to wait until tomorrow because all of the shops are closed! Geez, patience is a virtue as they say but I think they weren't good shoppers!
Anonymous's picture

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on

You had to go to the bank to get approved for 3,500? Where do you work? At a coffe shop?

Anonymous's picture

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on


Anonymous's picture

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on
Great site! I am planning on buying a '08 Honda Rebel in July. I am taking my permit test next week, and then a BRC the following week. I am truly excited to get my first bike, and I'm glad its a 250.
vikingotter's picture

Submitted by vikingotter on
I have asked people around here, and invariably I am told to get "at least a 500, a 650 would be better". Are 2008 250s really fast enough and powerful enough to operate on freeways with average speed of cars running about 80mph, or should I really be looking at a 500 like the Suzuki Boulevard S40?
Osprey2012's picture

Submitted by Osprey2012 (not verified) on
I'd like to get a cruiser. I've tried out my brother's Shadow 750. I'm a beginner, 5'10", 150 lbs, and I was able to handle that machine, however, I would like to try out a smaller one. My biggest concern (like "vikingotter") is whether or not it will be enough power for me to drive on the freeway at normal speeds. I drive to various family members' homes regularly, anywhere within a 150 mile radius on a freeway of 75mph or 65mph. Would a Honda Rebel be enough? Or should I look at the VLX / Vulcan?
Anonymous's picture

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on
From what I've read on motorcycle forums from new owners of the '08 Ninja 250R, the top speed is near 100MPH, cruise speed ~65MPH @ 8k RPMs. So, it could go on the freeway, but if you want to do 80 keeping up with traffic your engine is going to be screaming a little bit. If that's the case, you might consider moving up to a 500-600cc bike.
Marz's picture

Submitted by Marz (not verified) on
Yes it should handle 70 to 80 with no trouble however like someone else stated your engine would be screaming just alittle lol. I saw a vid on youtube of someone running a stock honda rebel at 83mph constantly for nearly 10 full minutes. My opinion if a honda rebel, which is a cruiser bike can run at that speed constantly then the Ninja 250 sport bike which is alittle lighter should be able to run those speeds better. On a side note I am really looking into this bike as my beginner bike. I have been debating if I wanted to go with a Rebel or equal classed cruiser styled bike, a ninja or a cf moto V3. Driving in Nashville, TN traffic I am thinking towards the cf moto since that model is an automatic tranny. But this ninja is really tempting though.
Adam's picture

Submitted by Adam (not verified) on
What about an "Extreme" Brute 200- do you know about the quality and credibility of this company? Extreme motor sales
cangelm1's picture

Submitted by cangelm1 on
I've read many different sites offering the same advice. I have a few questions though. I will be starting my classes in May and am doing research. I find that I'm am leaning towards a 250 (most likely a Honda), but money-wise I'm trying to see if it really is a good idea to not just go for a 600. Weight wise, I am a hefty girl and i'm only 5'3 so does that play a factor? I also don't really want to waste money on a machine where I will just feel the need to sell it in just a few months. And a bike that doesn't need much touching up is a must. (i am mechanically malfunctioned). If anyone could give me any clues it would be great!
vance wants bike's picture

i havent seen anything about these bikes i'm wondering what people have to say about them? it seems that around where i live in Tampa that they are fairly cheap and wondering whether the 250cc is really better than a 500 vulcan for a new rider?
Anonymous's picture

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on

I just bought a 2008 GZ250, and it suits me fine. Keep in mind that I bought it for GAS MILEAGE! I only use it for commuting 45 miles round trip to and from work. I weight almost 300 pounds, and it carries me along with traffic on back roads 60-65 with no complaint. But I would NOT recommend it for use on interstate highways. While it will go 70+ mph, it is not very happy about it. The little 249 cc single-cylinder engine really has to wind up!

My bottom line: If you want a cheap bike that runs forever on a gallon of $4+ gas, and you are not planning on regularly riding it on interstate highways, go for a GZ250. But if you need something to ride regularly at 70+ mph on the highway, get something larger.

Larry's picture

Submitted by Larry (not verified) on
This message is for all the people out there searching the web trying to find out which beginner model is best for them. This obviously can be an endless task, however, aftrer seriously reading my little message, you should really be heading this way. I am a 36 year old father of two with a real job (for the people out there who have some responsibility). I always wanted to ride but truthfully, was probably to scared to start. I actually had never, seriously never operated a motorcycle or even a stickshift car. I was determined to ride to my job which is about 10 miles away with no highway. This was my goal - back n forth to work for parking reasons (N.Y.C.) and gas prices. After some serious research for a few days, my mouth dropped and eyes opened as I saw the 2008 Kawasaki Ninja 250 online. I seriously got intimidated by the look as it appears large and mean like a true sport bike, resembling a 600 model. I then did some follow up on the bike and came to find out that it was rated very high for a beginner, if not # 1. I bought it. I learned quick as the bike is light, similar to a scooter but with gears. Both feet were flat on the floor as I stood up - I'm about 5' 11". This made me more confident. As I practiced more n more, I became much more comfortable and worked the gears, brakes, turns, etc. with no problem and little effort. The bike responded like a CHAMP and has been forgiving of me being a new rider. People stop me and CANNOT believe it's a 250. This cycle is for real as you will be very happy with this purchase. For $3,499 you cannot go wrong - brand new - are u serious ? I think my wife's coach bag was half that price last X-mas. Anyway, if your about to be a new rider you should consider this Ninja. It will make you smile. It will create a new world for you without scaring you. It can also be a way to begin in preparation for something larger in the future. However, with the shape and style of other sporty bikes, along with the price, you just might keep it for a longer while like me. This bike is a serious confidence builder without looking like a confidence builder. Good luck and be safe !!! Larry
Darthbx's picture

Submitted by Darthbx on

I live in Greenpoint, BK and can't seem to find a listing for a Kawasaki dealer near me.Can someone recommend a dealer? I was hoping to be able to buy a 250 by the 4/4/08. I am planning on taking the MSF course this month. And, where's a good place to try out gear in NYC? I stopped by one shop this week and they were all dicks about answering questions. Yes, I know they have better things to do, but everyone's a beginner at some point.

Judge's picture

Submitted by Judge (not verified) on
I just wen to the kawasaki dealer here in IN and the new 250's have been sold out and they wont get one in until next month. I got on the 500 though and i fell in love. Im 6' 2'' 170 and it felt pretty comfortable. I have never ridin a motorcycle before and I think im gonna get a 500 if the 250 is to short or cramped, plus im also gonna take a msf course beforehand.
Anonymous Rider's picture

Submitted by Anonymous Rider (not verified) on

I'm just wondering if the ninja would be wonderful for some1 5'5 and 120lb?

Gz, its a Suzuki's picture

Submitted by Gz, its a Suzuki (not verified) on

Im your exact height, my friend. Its tricky for us.. I've ridden a Suzuki gz250,for about a year, with absolutely no problems. I've checked out some 600s, and 700s, and some fit, but always check your seat height, versus your leg length. My Suzuki was perfect for me, in every sense. Honda Rebels are perfect fit too. Bigger cc's we can fit onto, but the weight is something else. The 250, has plenty of acceleration for our little butts, but like some of the people have said here, the top end cruising speed is limited if you are taking a longer trip. That thing will be whining, and heating up like an oven. Hope this helps, and keep the ribber side down !!

Gz, its a Suzuki's picture

Submitted by Gz, its a Suzuki (not verified) on

The sport bike, I.e. Ninja's... have a higher seat height, for a more upright position. My GZ felt like a LazyBoy recliner.

steve's picture

Submitted by steve on
steve I am looking to buy a dual sport for 40 mile commute from home to work so 80 miles a day. I live in the counrty (off road) .I thought the Yamaha xt 250 would be a good choice. Now i am not sure. i have been told by the "salesmen" that a 250 dual sport will not cruise at 50-55mph. the next step up seems to be the suzukii dr 400. Any suggestions?


matloik's picture

Submitted by matloik on
I recently purchased a Honda CRF 230 - the 'L', street version. Before a week ago, I'd never been on a bike before. I love it - the bike, too. I wanted an on-off bike, and had been looking on craigslist, etc., for a while. It is true -- good, newer 250's are hard to come by. Then I happened to go to this one dealership, and found my bike -- an '08 with 50 miles on it. I think this is a great bike for a beginner who isn't super tall (I'm 5'10") as it's seat height at just under 32" is 3-4 inches shorter than a lot of street-versioned dirt bikes. -mat
pakrat's picture

Submitted by pakrat (not verified) on
First let me say wonderful site. I am almost completely sold on the 250. The only thing holding me back is the availability of cheaper used bikes. I would not go over a 500cc engine. I know some of the basics to look for in a used bike. How many hidden fees can be found in used bikes? I'm worried about buying a bike from the mid-90s for fairly cheap only to dish out big bucks to get it running properly. Does anyone have any advice?
Ben's picture

Submitted by Ben on
I actually recommend buying Used over new, especially for your first bike. I would stick with bikes that are no older than a decade though, older than that and you start to have more problems than a bike is worth (unless you are a mechanic). Ben ~Best Beginner Motorcycles Admin


Ben - Editor and Owner of BBM

shaggles's picture

Submitted by shaggles on
I bought my bike used from the place I took the MSF course. It was well below book value, well maintained, only had about 400 miles on it and had probably never been riden over 25 mph. Granted it's been dropped a few times and has some battle scars but that's a bonus for me. I don't have to worry about scratching up a shiney new bike.
DC Homer's picture

Submitted by DC Homer (not verified) on
I'm re-entering the beginner world as well (I had a Rebel just for fun when I was a teenager), and I've been back and forth over the "is a 250 enough bike" question many times. One thing that I rarely see addressed is that there seems to be a big difference between a sport bike 250 (like the Ninja) and a cruiser (like the Rebel). Are they really the same thing? It sounds like a sport tuned Ninja is a completely different ballpark than the Rebel. For matters of power and performance, it doesn't sound like a 500-600cc cruiser is going to be any harder to control than the Ninja 250. From my research there seems to be a very consistent theme of those who ride sports bikes say "250's are great to start on" where cruiser guys tell you to stay away from them. Thoughts? I've been to my neighborhood dealer a few times and I've sat on several different bikes, and one thing I've learned is not to buy a bike without sitting in it first. I'm 5'11" 215, 30" inseam and the Honda Rebel was very cramped and uncomfortable. However, the Kawasaki 250 Virago was a designed a little more for a grown up. For me the Honda VLX 600 was a great fit and that's what I'm considering to get me started.
Brendan's picture

Submitted by Brendan (not verified) on
I definitely plan on picking up a ninja 250 as my first bike some time in the future. the 2008 model is supposed to be leaps and bounds better than earlier models and has received glowing reviews from every site out there. Now I agree that those looking to get into sports bikes are probably the ones who would benefit most from the 250, this is the general feeling i get from all the literature I have read on this bike. So some months from now I will take a MSF course and then pick up a Ninja 250. I will try and learn to max that bike out before I upgrade. I am thinking over a year and several thousand miles in all sorts of riding conditions should do it but if it takes longer, so be it. My eventual goal is to get to Ducati's. I have been in love with those bikes for a long time but I'm not going to jump into Ducati world blind. The Ninja 250 can hopefully teach me alot about motorcycles and then I'll get a Ducati Monster 696, a gorgeous bike and considered Ducati's "entry level". one day, years from now, i'll jump on one of their super bikes. That's the plan anyway.
Ben's picture

Submitted by Ben on
Rumour has it that ducati might release the 578 or something like that, which looks like a smaller version of the 996. If it is abuot the same price as a monster I KNOW I will be getting that bike. Ducati's rock! Ben ~Best Beginner Motorcycles Admin


Ben - Editor and Owner of BBM

Brendan's picture

Submitted by Brendan (not verified) on
i hope that rumor is true so that i can continue with the more agressive sports bike position. i hear Monsters actually seat the rider lower unlike their other bikes. my eventual goal would be a 848 or whatever the equivalent is by the time i am ready for one (which could be more than a few years) so i want to be used to sitting up high on a bike when the time comes. A 578 sport model would be great. The 696 sure is sexy though. I hear Kawasaki and Suzuki diehards don't get along too well, i hope i don't draw anyones ire riding on a lil 250 :D
Brandon C.'s picture

Submitted by Brandon C. on
Thanks for this article. I grew up with a dirt bike ('86 Suzuki DR 100), but haven't ridden in about 10 years. I must admit that the thought of starting on a 250 causes me to think of the embarrassement of riding such a small bike. I also know that I would just want to upgrade very shortly after getting it, and with a budget in mind, I don't want to have to deal with all the hassle of buying and selling several times. The Suzuki SV650 is really appealing (thanks for that good article too), as well as the Buell Blast. From what I've read, however, the Blast seems to really be geared toward a short, lighter rider (lots of 5'4 women seem to love them). I'm 5'11, around 165 lbs, so I think that the SV650 would do really well as a reintroduction to riding motorcycles, as well as having the ability to grow with me. This will be my first street bike though. Please feel free to reply to this posting, fellow readers. Ben, I love this site! Thank you so much for bringing all this info together! Excited to start riding!

Excited to start riding!

Jim's picture

Submitted by Jim (not verified) on
I have some experience on a bike ( i rode a dirt bike for about 4 years). I have had many people tell me that i should def start with at least a 650 because of my size ( 6 4 275lbs) I dont have a ton of cash to blow so i dont want to buy a bike thats too small for me.
Anonymous's picture

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on
I'm just comming of age for a motorcycle license. I'm 5'6 and 125lbs. Would the Ninja 250r be okay for me. I've ridden bikes before (150's) but not a road bike.
Anonymous's picture

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on
I love the new 250r but I'm a really big guy at about 6'0 and (literally steps on a scale...) about 290, am I too big for it? If so I'll probably settle for the ninja 500 but it has nothing on the looks of the 250.
Pat's picture

Submitted by Pat (not verified) on
I'm 6' 7" tall and weigh 250 pounds. I just picked up a '98 YZF600R from a buddy for $600. It's a nice bike, plenty of room, etc... The only thing is getting used to the throttle control. I've jumped on it a couple of times and, let me tell you, it's a missile alright. I'm not sure if the Ninja 250 would be too small for me or not. The dealers here in Pa are out of stock so, I can't jump on one and try it out. Anyone else out there facing the same problem?
James's picture

Submitted by James (not verified) on
If you have a YZF600R, why would you want a 250 Ninja? I sat on a 500 Ninja at a dealer and it felt cramped. I'm 6' 2", 160 pounds, with a 34 inch inseam. A buddy in the MSF course with me (also in PA) mentioned wanting a 2008 Ninja 250, but they were out so he went with a 2007. If I read the posts here and hype myself up a bit, I can get excited and realistically consider a 250, but realistically I'd likely prefer a used SV-650, or even a Katana, as they're much more comfortable for taller folks. For those that are taller with longer legs, I find the Suzuki's and Honda's to be most comfortable... Specifically the Suzuki GSX650F, Katana 600, SV-650 (a bit less than the previous two), Honda YZF600R, and Honda CBR600 (again, less than the YZF). The only Yamaha I found to be comfortable was the Yamaha FZ6. The Kawasaki Versys is a unique bike with a riding position ideal for taller folks, but it kind of felt like I was hanging onto the bike instead of riding it. In my experience, sport/touring bikes are ideal. They seem to allow a more upright riding position, while also being sporty and fun. In regards to your situation.. If I could get a YZF600R for under $1k, I highly doubt I would trade down to a Ninja 250. I'd love to get my hands on a reasonably priced bike of the bunch listed above; YZF600R included.
Natasha's picture

Submitted by Natasha (not verified) on
Okay so I keep hearing alot about Ninjas, and the Honda Rebel. I have already come to the conclusion that I do not want a rebel, but what about the GZ250 Suzuki? Is it equal or lesser than the Ninja, pros and cons? I really need a bike that I can add a saddle bag too, a bike that I can carry my books in, something that is good to go back and forth to school, and get around town. Thanks for the help, I do appreciate it.
Anonymous's picture

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on

The choice between a Ninja 250 and a GZ250 is a stark one. One is a mini sport bike. The other is a mini cruiser. For that reason it is hard to compare them. They serve two different markets.

Having said that, the GZ250 is very similar to the Rebel. The main differences (imo) are that the GZ250 is a little bit larger than the Rebel, and that the GZ250 is a single-cylinder thumper while the Rebel is a parallel twin. This means taller riders will have a bit more room on the Suzuki, and the Suzuki will probably get a little bit better mileage.

After reading that you need a bike to commute around town with saddle bags, it sounds to me like the GZ250 would be a better fit for you than the Ninja.

David's picture

Submitted by David (not verified) on
I went to my local dealer yesterday and he said he was getting in his last 250 and it was gonna be green (not what I want). He said if you want a '08 250 you better not be picky cause there aren't many left at all. Is this true? I live in a college town so i wondered if they were just having trouble keeping them here and you could find them better in other places?
the super sherpa dude's picture

Submitted by the super sherp... (not verified) on
"few people that have the balls or the skill to ride a bike that that to its limits on public roads" i think you meant 'ride a bike like that' or something of the sorts, figured i would tell you so you could fix it then delete my comment :) loving my 250 kawi, thanks again BBM.
Anonymous's picture

I HATE dealers, from the moment that you ask to see any 250's, they make the same face and right away start with the, why don't you get this other one?? the reason why they don't order more 250's in general, is because they want to sell bigger, more expensive ones. go to ebay or cragslist, you'll find few and you won't have to deal with anyone anoying, trying to convince you to get something "better" better for them I think. $$$$$$$$
SilverStorm's picture

Submitted by SilverStorm on
I can so imagine them doing that! "Yeah we don't care if you kill yourself on this 600cc bike, as long as your family pays us more money to fix it when you wrap it around a telephone pole." In this day and age, it seems like dealers don't really care what you do with their bike. They just want to suck as much money out of you as they possible can. Personally, if they give me "The Look" when I ask about the 250 (hopefully getting the '08, don't think I'll have much luck on craiglist =/) I will tell them I would be happy to take my time and money elsewhere if they aren't going to give me the service I need. Just give em a little "smack" in the face and they should help you find the bike you're looking for. Good luck finding the bike for you people and have fun riding! Ooooh And our freedom is consuming itself What we will become is contrary to what we want Take a bow ~Muse, Take a Bow (lyrics)

* * * * *
And our freedom is consuming itself
What we will become is contrary to what we want
Take a bow
~Muse, Take a Bow (lyrics)

Dante's picture

Submitted by Dante (not verified) on

Lol, I like that song

Anonymous's picture

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on

Ok guys, so I just told my parents that I want a motorcyclce (08 ninja250r) and my dad was like "well why don't you
get a used one instead" I agree that a used one would be cheaper but I can't find any in my area. I'm a college senior
and plan to stay at the university for awhile so I would like something small to get me from here to there in style.

This morning my dad calls me and tells me he found a 1982 Honda CB750K for 900 dollars. It's a 750 cc bike and I told
him that I was man enough to say that I'm not sure I could handle it, especially as my first bike. He said "don't worry
about it, you'll grow into it and be fine." How do i tell my dad i'm not ready for a bike like that and on a personal not
...i want a sports bike and it's ugly and has dents everywhere.

PS. He made a joke about when I ride it into the woods I can just walk away and not be pissed about losing a grand. I'm like
I'll probably be stuck underneath it somewhere not being able to push it off of me.

Thanks for your responses

megaspaz's picture

Submitted by megaspaz on

Stick to your guns. You're the one going to be riding the bike not him. Tell him your preferences and also think why you want to start with a 250cc bike. There's plenty of good reasons on this site on why. ;-)

While getting the new ninja 250 would be sweet, you'll probably need to search harder for a used one. If you're paying for the bike, just get what you want. At least that's my opinion...

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...

Anonymous's picture

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on

Here is a novel idea, who caes what your dad thinks? You claim to be a college senior, really? Save up the 3K and go buy it yourself. Take a second job and do it. Stop arguing with your dad about what you want and go get it. (the irony here, I am a dad and I write this on Father's Day)

Pat's picture

Submitted by Pat (not verified) on

Ok. So I picked up the YZF600r from a friend for $600 and now I have the chance to get a '95 Honda Shadow ACE 1100. Which of the two is more likely the appropriate bike? I have experience (less than 1 year) but haven't ridden in quite some time. To me the weight difference is negligible. Any suggestions?

Anonymous's picture

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on

I would stay far far away from a 600 sports bike. Sure you could probably handle it and many many people do BUT that is more bike than you should start out with. If you were to purchase a smaller bike you will be able to get all of the important skills down quickly that these people spend years and years (often never mastering) trying to learn. Id also stay away from the Shadow....yes it has less power but it is also a much heavier bike which again impedes in the learning process.

First you need to decide which type of bike you really want. You are comparing two VERY different bikes. Personally I am a cruiser guy but I also enjoy sports bikes. For a first bike you should try looking at a 250 or 500 ninja if you just really want a sports bike. If cruisers are more your style there are quite a few in the 250-600cc range. There is the 250 Rebel, 250 Virago, 535 Virago, 600 Shadow...the list goes on and on.

Trust me though start small and work your way up. You will be a significantly better rider than those who started on larger more powerful bikes.

Basher1209's picture

Submitted by Basher1209 (not verified) on

Yeah, I'll admit that I got sucked into that craze thinking that 600s were okay starter bikes if you had a great deal of respect for the machine. Your article sold me though. Starting now I'm going to go back to looking at a 250 for my first bike. Your arguments are compelling and I would much rather have the confidence to move up later than spend several months gradually trying to learn what I can and can't do on the 600. Thanks!

Anonymous's picture

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on

I am currently looking for a beginner bike and my research has given me two options: the ever popular and hard to come by 08 ninja or The hyosung GT250r. They both have modern body styles and from the reviews they both have more power then traditional 250s. I would normallygo with the proven vet in the ninja but there just so hard to find. Just wondering if anyone had some insight on the situation and could point me in the right direction.

Anonymous's picture

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on

This video sums it up nicely:

In addition, the retail value of the Ninja will be higher than that of hyosung after you're ready to move on to a bigger bike.

Anonymous's picture

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on

yeah i new from the other reviews that Hyosung was poorly assembled but i just attributed that to the dealers but if an expert sayys that they are poorly built then I will go with the Ninja but as I stated earlier they are so damn hard to find and i am extremely impatient but again thanx for the input. I love this board it is so helpful!!!

bam37's picture

Submitted by bam37 on

i had planned on getting bike ever since i was young and finally i was able to do so. I got lucky because i was looking for a ninja 250R for two months. At one of my last ditch efforts i called this place in Grand Rapids call Treads and Sleds and they said( this was almost two weeks ago) that they had one coming in this week, or early the last week of june. :D so i ordered it and im now waiting...and let me tell you...i can barely fall asleep im so anxious...but the wait will be well worth it. ive heard of dealers not being able to get any more 08's for the rest of the i got lucky :D

Commutingfrank's picture

Submitted by Commutingfrank (not verified) on

Great article!

Every day I have to drive 40 miles each way to work from San Francisco to Palo Alto. Right now I have an '07 Honda Civic Si, and it gets about 25-30 mpg (at best) if I drive it easy. Gas prices here are only going up up up, and my car only takes 91 octane.... so basically I'm dropping about $100/week in gas. Thats $2.50/hr off my hourly wage!
So, I've been seriously looking into a Ninja 250R as my primary commuter because of its styling, efficiency, low msrp and overall value... but I was wondering if I should be considering something bigger due to the amount of highway driving I'll be doing, and the amount of annual mileage I'll be putting on it (20,000+)?


Anonymous's picture

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on

I'm from around there also, and yes the ninja will save you a bundle on gas. However, even a reliable bike like a ninja might not make it past 50,000-60,000 miles, so its up to you if the gas savings/lower initial cost justify having to replace your bike every 2-3 years.

SunyJim's picture

Submitted by SunyJim on

I know we've been over this before, but here's another scenario...
I'm 300lbs give or take a pound or two. 5'8", And just feel like i'm straddling a bicycle on the 250 rebels that i've sat on.
So I still don't want to get in over my head, but don't want to bottom out the suspension, or be maxing out the weight limit on the bike either.

I really really want a v-star 650 it's a good size, good weight and the style that I want. But I don't want to get in over my head, or drop it and break it.

So with that concern and financial issues pushing away from that as well I'm looking a little older and a smaller A Suzuki LS650 Savage '86 it's a single cylinder chopper style with 27hp and weighs 377lbs.
Most of what I'm looking at is mid80s and maintenance is a concern so I'd rather stay belt or shaft drive.
The majority of my riding will be back and forth to work, a short in town ride through medium traffic. But i would like to get out on some back roads and do some 90km/h riding. (55mph) (I'm guessing 401 highway at 120km/h (75mph) is pretty much out of the question?)

So what do you think the savage? or still look for a smaller displacement chopper or standard style bike?
p.s I'm looking for the 500 vulcan and can't find one at a good price yet.


Guy with a Rebel's picture

Submitted by Guy with a Rebel (not verified) on

I have a Rebel and trust me, at your weight, it would not be a good fit. I am a buck58 dripping wet and it fits me fine, but I wouldn't urge you in this direction even if I were selling you the bike. Look at a 650 cc or something similar. My only other suggestion and this sounds rude but it is meant in all respect, make a goal to lose 100 lbs before you buy a bike.

SunyJim's picture

Submitted by SunyJim on

I've always been a broad shouldered big guy, seriously i weighed more than 210lbs in high school, and i was skinny then!
Now after a few years of moving furniture and appliances, I figure maybe I could loose 30 lbs of married guy good food and beer gut, but ya can't shed stocky appliance moving muscle that easily. And I've seen just plain old fat dudes on HDs so there's gotta be something good I can start on, for my weight.

jerry's picture

Submitted by jerry (not verified) on

Anyone know where I engine guard highway bars for a yamaha v-star 250?
Need your help..Thanks

ROXXFAN's picture

Submitted by ROXXFAN on

Hey, I am a complete newbie to the motorcycle world, and am getting amped about taking my beginners training in about a month or so. I have been doing some quite extensive research as far as what to get when I get my permit and license. I think I have read enough articles to understand that a 250cc is the smartest way to go for me, regardless of what my friends and coworkers say. After researching for countless days trying to find the right bike as my first, I have narrowed my search down to the following, and I am open to any and all opinions and suggestions on these bikes.

Alpha Sports CV250 Aquila
Johnny Pag Raptor 300
Vento V-thunder 250
Roketa MC-51 250
Kymco Venox 250

Thanks for any insight you may have and kind -)

Side note, I am 6ft 235lbs.



Anonymous's picture

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on

But the Johnny Pag looks like the best choice however I prefer the Barhog to the Raptor 300

AleX's picture

Submitted by AleX (not verified) on

Im looking at buying either a ninja 250 or a hyosung gt250r... any advice on which one to get?
Im going to be making an occasional two hour run on I35 to get home from school. and of course traffic runs around 75 or so. can these bikes handle that? Im pretty small 5.8 145lbs dont know how much of a difference that makes

Anonymous's picture

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on

Both bikes can easily handle those speeds ut the Hyosung is a piece of junk, HANDS DOWN you should go with the Ninja

Anonymous's picture

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on

I am 5' 1-' and 250lbs. I comute about 45 miles round trip in the morning I avoid the hiway traffic and take back roads, but in the evenings I take the hiway home. Would a Kawa 250 be a good bike for me given the amount of Hiway riding I would be doing?

Anonymous's picture

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on

Ok, my parents just got me a Yamaha Maxim XJ650 for my birthday about 3 weeks ago. And I am new to riding motorcycles, and I mean really new... And I am having ALOT of second thoughts about starting out with a 650cc bike and am looking into getting the new 08 Kawasaki Ninja 250R since I have read alot of great things about campared to most of the other 250's.
So I just wanted to ask around to people who have been riding bikes longer then I have.

Here she is;


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