“I’m really not trying to overpower myself with my first bike, but I’m not trying to underpower myself either. I’ve sat on the Ninja 250 – I really dont see how people that are 6′ tall claim it fits them well and is comfortable. It feels like a mini-bike to me (no offense to anyone who owns one, I’m merely talking about the comfort that a couple more inches of seat height offer).”
You say that about a 250, but have you sat on a 600?
The ZZR600 is one of the most comfortable 600cc sport bikes (technically a sport-touring) out there. I’m 6′ and compared to my 250, it puts my knees in an awful bend. Sitting on a full-on supersport is nothing resembling comfortable for me. Sure the bike doesn’t feel tiny underneath me, instead it feels small and cramped wrapped around me.
Both the Ninja 650 and SV650 (faired) feel bigger because the tank comes up into your chest, but are no more comfortable for my legs.
What I’ve found after a year of owning my ZZR-250 is that the small size of it, while feeling slightly conspicuous at first, is actually a really good thing in city riding. That feeling like the bike is small and I can just toss it around makes a big psychological difference. Adding a tall tank bag raises the “tank” up to the same position as an SV650’s tank, making the bike feel a bit more substantial (and definitely took some getting used to once I started commuting with it on).
I’ve found that after long rides (4+ hours) my knees still hurt on the 250, and so I’ll likely be adding a custom seat next spring that raises my seat up an additional inch. All of the 600/650s I’ve sat on I’d still need to do that.
The bike you have your eyes on the FZ6R, the new steel framed 600cc UJM that looks like a sport bike.
Have you looked at the stats on it carefully?
The power and braking have all been talked about, but I skipped over if anyone talked about this beast’s weight.
470 pounds is a LOT.
You won’t notice it on the highway, and you won’t notice it in city driving much. But you will when you are trying low speed (less than 10 mph) riding – like when you are parking it. My previous bike as 420pounds dry, and getting it on to its centre stand was HARD. More than once I damn near dropped it on its side when parking. Moving down to a 330pound bike made a huge difference. Remember, not all parking spots will be on level smooth pavement. Some will be on hills (and you need to push that sucker up it), some will be on soft dirt.
The FZ6R does no service to you as a starting bike. It has more power than you need or want, it expects you to already have muscle memory you don’t yet, and it will make you pay for all mistakes with a hundred pounds more consequence than other starting bikes (150 pounds more than some).
It is a lot to pay for a bike that doesn’t look small under you. (Truth be told, most bikes look small under their riders anyways)
“These are not the superbikes of the 600 class I’m talking about. I dont think either one of them are going to win any races unless they are against they’re next of kin”
You are dead wrong in this. You don’t seem to understand just how high up the performance ladder their kin are. The new GSX650F (the FZ6Rs closest competitor) is stat for stat almost identical to the 1988 GSX-R 600. A modern super sport? Absolutely not. But in the hands of a capable rider, it can absolutely keep up with a modern super sport on real (potholed, bumpy, dirty) roads. And on the track it will do everything that a late 80s early 90s 600cc super sport will do.
Which by the way, can be summed up as “embarrass anything short of a super car”.
Powerful motorcycles are one of those things that simply have to be experienced first hand. No one can tell you what a “fast bike”, or even a “mild sporting bike” feels like with words or comparisons. It is like describing colour to a blind man, no matter how many times someone says “It is faster than most any car” (not that many people have truly experienced being in a genuinely fast car either, they think they can imagine it, but it is always more than they expected) you’ll never understand until you do it.
And that is the hard part of all this. You have no way to judge what you are getting into with any motorcycle. You ask for descriptions and comparisons, but in the end they aren’t worth much. And everyone has a different tolerance. To hear an experienced rider talk, we can all start on 650-twins. Talk to an MSF instructor, and they’ll tell you how many brave and otherwise competent people can’t handle a 250 properly.
My advice to you is this: The FZ6R looks like a great second bike. There is nothing it won’t do on the roads. And for someone with the muscle memory and skill, it will only take extra effort in when the bike is moving very slowly or you need to man-handle it around in a parking / service situation. But it will make learning very hard.
Forget about whether or not a bike looks or feels like a toy under you, ultimately that line of thought ends up with “what will people think of me on my bike?”
Instead, get something that is physically comfortable, meets your needs, and is as learning friendly as possible. The more friendly it is, the faster you’ll be able to move up to the FZ6R/GSX650F/etc confidently and safely.
We don’t have a lot of choice for bikes that fit that bill in North America, but the ones we do have are very good. The Ninja 500 and GS500 are incredibly capable bikes despite being forgiving. Both have a large but quiet following who love them as sport-touring bikes.
“The two seconds between ‘Oh S**!’ and the crash isn’t a lot of practice time.”