500 vs 600
November 26, 2008 at 7:34 pm #15051
If the bike you’re looking at is an older (late 1990s) fz, then it might be a good starter bike to start on. If you look on the net, then general consensus for recent fz is that they do not make good first bikes. They make good first big bikes if you have riding experience.
If there’s anything more important than my ego
around, I want it caught and shot now…November 26, 2008 at 8:01 pm #15052
What is the difference between a telescopic fork and an inverted fork?November 26, 2008 at 11:49 pm #15055MattParticipant
“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.”November 27, 2008 at 1:45 am #15056MunchParticipant
I would like to say after reading through all this your first post seemed overly analytical and almost like a computer needing justification…. then you somewhat seemed rocked back on your heals and turn almost defensive in response….. NOW… you are truly starting your steps towards a safer rider. You are starting to ask questions about motorcycles in general to understand the beast you are about to saddle up on. For that… congratulations. The few steps you took in one thread is a difference between a squid and a safer rider.
Advertisements are great, fun and sexy to look at. Take them for their word and your likely to become a statistic. Asking people of same experience, some more some less… all trying to contribute to the safety of friends and the “sport” (still not sure how it got that term) will help you better you future in riding . The more informed you become the safer you become and the more intelligent decision you can make.
I hope you stick with that train of thought and let the faster more powerful be a goal rather then a leap of faith.
Yesterday is a memory, tomorrow is a prediction, but today…… is a Bi**hNovember 27, 2008 at 2:31 pm #15060
Well to tell you the truth so far this is has been a huge help to me (psychologically anyway).
It’s best to shatter my dreams early rather than allow it to manifest so far into reality where I wake up one morning and find my crotch straddling a wild wicked beast.
Of course the cycle shops around here dont have much to offer much right now so I really have not been able to sit on many machines other than the super-bikes.
In January they should start to filter in and I’ll be able to fall in love with a more mild mannered woman. I’ve had enough relationships to know not to let my emotions overtake me to the point where I straddle myself with the baddest girl I can get my hands on.
But you may have read my earlier comments a little off. I was not getting defensive. I was just trying to pull out more information. Many peoples first response is to just to say (no no no, that bike is WAY too much for you, rather than explain WHY). And I’m finding by probing more and more I’m beginning to understand the WHY.
So it’s all good. But you have to admit. She’s damn sexy!
Adam: “Eve, what are you DOING?!!”
Eve: “Back off A-HOLE, I’m frikkon’ starving!!!”November 27, 2008 at 3:57 pm #15061briderdtParticipant
With the “riding season” coming to an end for a lot of people, many bikes are being off-loaded to the used bike parket. Nothing wrong with that. Figure out what you want, then keep your eyes out for it in craigslist, local ads, postings on various ‘net BB’s, etc.
When I was looking, I’d narrowed it down to three I’d be pretty much equally happy with — the SV650, the Ninja 650, and the FZ6 (it was worth the price difference to me to not have to deal with a choke). The bike I found was on craigslist, and I answered the ad within 5 minutes of it being posted. I bought the bike the next day, after meeting the owner at a mutually agreed-on location (he rode the bike there, so I knew it ran well).
In any case, don’t feel that you have to buy new. You can find one that’s already gone through the “break-in” period, and has been maintained well, and save you a bundle of money.December 2, 2008 at 7:33 am #15106rayngefinderParticipant
A lot of larger displacement bikes are fine for beginners, and manufacturers DO make (and design!) larger displacement bikes for the beginner market. You’ve done the research and you came up with a list of three bikes that are considered good beginner bikes. I know I did the same research and found the same bikes. It seems that you like the sport bike styling. I prefer a naked standard, so the bike I got didn’t make your list. I really wanted an SV 650, which from all my research and interviews with owners, is probably one of the best beginner bikes ever made (discontinued now, but see the Gladius). I ended up on a 865 cc, 450 lb Bonneville, and I couldn’t be happier.
I think it’s really important to get a bike that fits you both physically (ergonomically) and psychologically. Do not wedge yourself onto a 250cc bike if it doesn’t fit you—no matter what anyone says. By the same token, if you’re a beginner, don’t strap yourself onto a 130hp 350lb rocket either.
Get the bike that fits both you and the purpose. You don’t want power to get out of trouble, you want power to keep you out of trouble. For example, If you’re planning on commuting on freeways, you need the power. You need the power to merge, you need the power to pass, you need the power to keep up in traffic, and you need power in reserve. If you’re commuting for distance, you need all of the above + comfort and protection. The _very_first_time I decided to take my bike on the freeway in morning commute traffic. I ended up on the on ramp behind a big rig and in the slow lane of the freeway coming right up beside me was another big rig going about 50 MPH. I was boxed in before I could even get on the freeway. I had to slow down, get in behind the big-rig in the slow lane and wait for an opening in the 65 MPH flow to pop into traffic and blast past both trucks. Make no mistake about it, I needed to get out of both those trucks blind spots and wind turbulence asap, and I needed power and speed to do that.
I’m 6′ 200 lbs. Maybe the Ninja 250 (that didn’t fit me) could have handled that situation. I’ll never know, because I’m not going to ride a bike that doesn’t fit me on a California freeway. However, I know the 250 I rode in the MSF couldn’t have gotten out of that.
Also, It seems bad advice to say that because you are going to have lots of bikes in your lifetime, get a 250 now and ride it for the next two years even though you might be commuting on a California freeway for a 60 mile round trip at a constant maxed-out 75 – 80 mph. There’s good advice here, but it’s not blanket advice. I started my bike search here and took the advice to heart, trying to abide by it, but I assessed pretty quickly that a 250 wasn’t going to meet my needs. Evaluate all your needs and yourself, take your time, be smart, and you’ll end up on the right bike.December 2, 2008 at 11:53 pm #15109
Well it’s good to hear from someone who doesnt box the beginner into the train of thought that the only way to possibly learn how to ride is on the 250. I’ve really dug into information on the Ninja for example and I just cant see the sense in starting that small especially when I know I’ll need the power on the highway. I drive for a living and I’ve actually seen some bikes stuggle out there and really push to keep up when they need to make a move. Most riders seem to be of the train of thought that these bikes outperform most cars. While that may be true, when we are dealing with legal highway speeds and the ability to keep up, I do believe that cars today have very much caught up with many of the motorcycles (which is probably why they keep upping the ante by producing more and more power on the higher end super-bikes).
The 250cc’s are definately out for me. I’m probably going to end up with the FZ6R. I’ve been researching the previous FZR’s and hadnt realized until now how popular they were/are. I actually thought the FZ6R was going to be a rather new bike but I’m finding out that it’s a re-release of what used to be a very popular first bike for many which stopped production in ’99.
The one thing that kinda disappoints about these forums is that everyone seems to group all 600cc bikes into one lump category. But then when you read professional reviews they do not put these machines down at all. In fact most infatically state they consider them to be more entry level machines.
I do respect everyones opinions but it seems the advice of either or just doesnt agree with me.December 3, 2008 at 1:34 am #15110AnonymousGuest
I made a big boo boo by buying the bike I wanted, a harley heritage classic, and then taking the MSF classes. I wish I had waited and got something smaller. It’s got a displacement of over 1400. I’ve ridden it a few times and can sure tell the difference from the 250’s I rode in the class. The problem now is I’m stuck with this big, but beautiful bike. Do I just keep training with it or try to sell it? I thought about calling the dealer and seeing if I could trade it for something else.
Any comments?December 3, 2008 at 1:45 am #15111
Again, any early 1990’s 600cc sports bike would make better first beginner bikes than recent 600cc sports bikes. But it’s your decision, so make it and forget about trying to get confirmation about making a good choice and being disappointed at not getting it. Just take the time to get to know your bike in an empty parking lot and take it slow. Learn your friction zone and go easy on the throttle.
If there’s anything more important than my ego
around, I want it caught and shot now…December 3, 2008 at 5:15 am #15113
I believe what most are looking for when it comes to the age old argument – to 600cc or not to 600cc – is not validation, but a solid argument that is fully rounded and takes many things into account. For example, other than the post above who decided to buy a semi-truck on two wheels (no offense and I hope all goes well but I’ll leave it to others to go there)- how come I cant seem to find posts of experienced riders coming forth saying – ” I started out on a 600cc and omg was that a mistake, and here are the reasons why and what horrible things I experienced…”
Instead what newbies (like myself) read is “I started out on a 250cc bike and I can tell you right now that you cant learn on a 600, how do I know? I just know that the little Ninja kicked my butt from NY to Cali so I cant imagine having ridden the big bore when I started. Today I’m riding a Yamaha R6 and man I’m tellin’ ya youre not gonna be able to handle it.” (well what about the other bikes with the same displacement that are NOT tuned to be a super-rocket at high revs? there’s simply no mention at all about this)
Or how about the fact that the phrase 600cc doesnt always mean 160hp engine tuned at the high end for absolute max power output for a racetrack. What about the other machines that put out 70hp that are tuned so they can usuable at normal street riding?
It’s all about that magic word “600cc” that seems to captivate the entire crowd to hold it up as a symbol of the upmost awesome power imaginable never taking into account the entire range of this class of engine size.
So for me and I’m sure for many others, validation is not what we seek. It is a solid debate with solid arguments grounded on solid advice rather than misty airy fairy phrases such as – “that there bikes gonna kick yer arse newbie, go with the mini”
Does anyone see what I’m saying? Can anyone point me to a spot where these tidbits from experienced riders is set forth in a tactful and comprehensible fullfilling manner? Give us some goods folks! I know ya got em and youre all holding back on us! Give us some MEAT to chew on!! Were NEW. Were hungry!!December 3, 2008 at 5:28 am #15114
I actually have a post somewhere on this site where I actually did say I wish I started on a ninja 250. The first day I rode my sv650 I dropped it coming to a stop. The second week, I dropped it again. I rode my buddy’s ninja 250 that first day and it was really more comfortable and more manageable for a noob doing going in and out of parking lots. It took me a while to get comfortable at parking lot with lots of people speed on the sv650 as well as slow speed tight right handers and uturns. This is just my experience starting on an 650cc bike and riding a ninja 250. Granted I’m in the physically average range of 5’8″ and 160 lbs. so I don’t have the cramped issues with tall/heavy persons on sports bikes. And my experience doesn’t necessarily reflect other’s experience. There’s a few people that have learned on a 600cc bike just fine, but they’re probably in the minority… but that’s just my feeling.
Your posts do smack of wanting validation though, imo.
Edit: ben started on a gs500f and he’s said in a post also that he would start on a ninja 250 if he had to start all over again.
If there’s anything more important than my ego
around, I want it caught and shot now…December 3, 2008 at 5:53 am #15115
No really it’s not a validation thing for me. I mean just because Al Gore (and I really admire Al Gore) comes out and says the planets in paril, I tend to side with him for his clout, however I always, always listen very closely to the other side about Global Warming with a total open mind and have found myself in the midpoint of the argument because both sides have very valid points.
I’m not one to make a conclusion so quickly and to tell you the truth I side with the people who say start with a 250 or no more than a 500 more than I do with the 600 folks because the argument is on their side, but I still seek to find – ok, validation. Validation through experiences others have had.
I’ve always been a debater and think it’s a healthy thing. I find that the reasons posted are the right ones in favor of a noob starting out on a smaller motorcycle and I think that the efforts to advise new people (like me) are noble and very much needed. However I think the efforts fall short when so few details are given over the internet and I think it doesnt help dissuade many who look for the information.
I love this forum. I think it’s packed with useful stuff and food for thought.
I totally am into possibly giving my own perspective once I begin riding to help others.
But again, I’m searching and seeking and coming up empty handed most of the time as I’m sure many do in the begining.
The start of something is the absolute most exciting time of any venture. To tell you the truth the reason why I became interested in motorcycling was because I wanted an inexpensive way to motor 2 hours to Monticello NY so I can learn how to hang-glide. I’ve become more fascinated with the motorcycle than my original idea of jumping off a hill and flying through the air (for now).
Validation: yes. Youre right.
I do seek the best reasons available to make the right decision while trying to outweigh my first impressions of this sport which led me to believe that this was going to be a lot easier than I think it may be at this point. I’m spending a lot of money. To me $7700 cash is a lot of money. I want it spent wisely. I dont want to waste it.
But man do I love the debate and the thrill of being new at this. It’s always the best.December 3, 2008 at 7:20 am #15116eonParticipant
I am not sure if this is the best site for what you seek then. Most of the people on this site started small (either sport bike or cruiser) with a few folks in the 650 range and even fewer on larger bikes. Almost to a man (and woman) we are all beginners though. I think there are maybe 3 or 4 folks on here with many years and bikes behind them. Most of us will not be able to your questions.
Having said that, if you trawl through the posts I know there were threads that talk about the pros/cons of inline 4 engines, V-twins and single cylinder engines. I know not all 600cc bikes are the same but I cannot tell you what makes one good and one bad.
I can tell you there was some advice I ignored before buying that I ignored that I now know to be true.
Your first bike will not be your last
This is oh so true. I have only had my bike 4 months and I love it but I am still drooling over and planning what my next purchase will be. It’s like a crazy addiction.
Don’t analyze your purchase to death, just do it
Based on the first point, this one makes more sense. If you accept you will be buying multiple bikes then trying to find one bike that fits all your needs becomes irrelevant. Give yourself over to the fact you will be starting an expensive bike habitDecember 3, 2008 at 3:12 pm #15117MattParticipant
As I said in my post above- I started on a nearly 70hp 500cc Interceptor.
Actually, the first bike I did any real time on after the MSF was a 40hp Suzuki GS450 – My Dad’s.
Then I purchased a 68hp Interceptor 500.
I then moved on to a ZZR-250, not because the 500 was too much power, but because the 500 died in the arms of a dealership mechanic, and the 250 was all I could replace it with from that dealership (so I could lose several thousands of dollars and look elsewhere, or I could take a showroom condition ZZR-250 for wholesale value… not a hard choice)
In the case of the Interceptor, the horsepower wasn’t really an issue, it was manageable because it came on midway through the revs and the bike still had sufficient torque in the low band, so you didn’t have to stray into the powerband if you didn’t want to.
One big issue with the bike (similar issue with the GS450) was that it was more than 400 pounds dry. Weight (and weight distribution) is a big deal on parking lot maneuvers.
I initially found the GS450 to be (and I still do) annoying at slow speeds because of the way it tips in (high centre of gravity).
The Interceptor was much better (better weight distribution for me).
A 450 dry pound Shadow VLX (600cc cruiser) is incredibly easy to hold up (very low centre of gravity) but I find unnerving how it tips in at low speeds.
All three bikes are a comparative pain to move/push about once off the bike, or in a tight parking situation (especially on dirt/gravel parking lots).
Compared to all three, the ZZR-250 is a godsend in any slow speed, parking, or pushing/maneuvering situation.
The Interceptor (a very similar bike in many ways to a modern sporting bike like a Bandit, 599, or FZ6R) did have one draw back, and that was over confidence. I took an hour long ride through some 40mph twisties second day on that bike, and the entire time I was sitting just below the power band. The bike was just begging me to open it up. I have no question that bike could have done the entire route at 80mph or more. But the simple fact was, even if the bike could, I couldn’t.
A competent friendly bike like the Ninja 250/500, GS500, and yes, most the 650s will allow you to get away with some mistakes. It’ll cover or you. The problem comes when you pass what the bike can make-up. Then you are in trouble, beyond your comfort zone, and something is very very wrong. If that happens on a slower bike, you have more time to react (With human reactions typically between 0.1 and 0.2 seconds, every tenth of a second helps), and the consequences are less. If that happens on a lighter bike, it is easier to recover. When you have both speed and weight working against you (as is the case with a 450 pound 70 horespower bike) it is much harder to recover, and you have less time to do so. Some people say “I’ll respect the bike”. But true respect is hard on a bike that provides confidence the way that Interceptor did. And that argument totally ignores the simple fact that people fatigue and make mistakes.
As an aside, I did that same route six months later on my 250. I did it at much the same speed, and the bike didn’t “egg me on” (though is capable of doing it at significant speeds). At the very end I was taking a long sweeper with lots of tar snakes. My focus was on the exit of the corner, and I was tired. I hit a tar snake at 40mph and both wheels skipped sideways. Not much, but it bounced me, and BOTH my left hand and left foot came off the bar and the peg. I was going through a left hander without any contact to the left side of my bike.
I was able to quickly get settled back on the bike and carry with nothing more than a scare and a good lesson learned.
I am not confident things would have gone so smoothly had I been on the Interceptor. I think it would have been a close call at the same speed, let alone going faster.
I also think that had I been on something more aggressive that I would have gone off.
In the debate about 250s, I will say right off the bat, if you’ve seen a Ninja 250 struggling on the freeway than simply put- you are either imagining the rider wants to be going faster than he does, or the rider is a bit clueless. I own a 220hp V6 family sedan (Mazda 6), and it simply cannot keep up with my 250 up until the 90mph mark (at which point the bike starts its slow crawl to a top speed of 100mph). Given that 95mph will land me a $2000 – $10000 (yes, four zeros) fine, suspension of lisence, and impoundment of the vehicle, I don’t really play up there.
The only times I’ve found I wasn’t accelerating as quickly as I wanted on the freeways, I was in top gear when I should have (just like driving a car) dropped it down a gear or two first. I have no problems taking my bike onto crowded freeways with traffic traveling 75mph.
Now, I think this debate has kind of moved off course. You started with the question of 500 vs 600, yet all the stuff I’ve read recently is talk between a 250 and a (mild) 600.
My last paragraph included.
Indeed, great pains are made to distinguish the FZ6R 600 from a super-sport 600, yet the arguments seem to be targeted at 250s instead of 500s (which are a far closer competitor to the FZ6R than the 250s are).
In the case against a Ninja/GS 500, I really don’t think there is any reason beyond style to chose a 600/650 as a first bike. Both make 50+ hp, will do zero to 60 in under 4 seconds (More than a second faster than any stock Camero ever sold, faster than almost any Corvette on the road). Both can cruise long distances comfortably with frugal fuel economy. Both handle well, though slower and more forgiving than a “more sporting” bike. Both weight under 400 pounds dry. Both have long standing histories as cheap and easy to maintain.
So the question is- why don’t they sell more 500s? The simple answer is that they do, but only in Europe and Asia. Kawasaki and Honda makes a full line of 500s for Britain. We don’t get them because in North America cubic centimetres sell.
So, my question to you is this:
Given that the Ninja 250 doesn’t fit you, what advantages does the FZ6R actually have over a 500cc Ninja or GS? What beyond the sales pitch makes it a better place to start? Heck, what IN the sales pitch makes it a better way to enter the world of motorcycles?
“The two seconds between ‘Oh S**!’ and the crash isn’t a lot of practice time.”
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