6’1″ 180 male looking for a first bike
March 15, 2009 at 2:24 pm #2607
So far, this site is awesome with providing information for us newbies. I am going to a dealership this week to start looking at bikes, but I want to have some in mind to stay focused on. I am confident that the one I will be going to tries to find the best bike for the rider, but salesman are saleman and need to make money, so I just want to make sure I don’t get steered wrong.
Like the topic says, I am 6’1″ and about 180 pounds looking for a first bike. I am leaning towards the ninja 250, but I am not sure if it is too small for me (framewise not cc wise). I would love to save the money and buy a used one, but I think I would feel safer buying a new one knowing that the bike is how it should be. I like the sport bikes, mostly for looks and price. I saw that 600 cc’s are too much for beginners, but if the 600 fit me better, would it really be that bad of an option.
I do plan on taking some type of riding course. I want something that will fit me and is easy to learn. Also, I only drove manual transmission twice in my life, so I have a bit of a learning curve ahead of me.
Thanks for the help. If anyone has the 250 and is about my size, could you please send me pics of you on it so that I can see how it looks.March 15, 2009 at 3:19 pm #17058Jon D.Participant
Welcome to the site, you will find a lot of support here. From what I have read the Ninja 250 will fit you fine, just going to the dealership and taking a seat on one will help make up your mind on it. The suzuki dual sport that is reviewed on this site will also be an excellent choice. It posesses the higher seat height and may be more comfortable for you. Keep in mind, your first bike is for learning on, as you gain practical experience ( shifting,braking,steering,quick stops), then movement up to the bike that meets your desires will not be problematic. Aim low, get the experience, and then move up to your dream ride. Ride safe and God bless. Jon D.March 15, 2009 at 5:24 pm #17061SantaCruzRiderParticipant
It’s great that you’ve got a good dealer in your area. I’ve seen good and bad. But keep in mind that even the most well intentioned dealer is still there to sell you a bike — it may be the best one on his lot for you, but it’s still most likely focused on what he has in stock or can get his hands on.
One bit of advice: Don’t be rushed. Sit on lots of bikes — including a couple that may not be in your immediate sights (dual sports, a cruisers or two, maybe even something with 600ccs). Sitting on one will give you some perspective on how the 250 really fits.
Also, I’ve had great experience with used bike and would not be afraid of them. A bike that’s just a few years old can be just as reliable as a new one and there’s no issue getting parts/service for something that’s been built in the last 10+ years (I ride a ’94). As long as it hasn’t been crashed — and that’s usually pretty apparent — a used bike can be a real bargain and you can often sell a year or two later for close to what you paid.March 16, 2009 at 2:42 pm #17077
If a 600cc sport bike will fit you, frankly, so will the Ninja 250. The ninja is a more relaxed position than most modern 600cc sport bikes.
The answer is of course, sit on as many bikes as possible. When sitting on sport bikes, remember: Your hands are NOT supposed to support your weight. Your back/abs and wind have to support your weight. So think about that when sitting on them.
At 6’1″, you are an inch taller than me. I have a 32″ inseam and I find the cut out of the *new* Ninja 250 to be too low for my legs. Sit on it, see if you can comfortably grip the tank with your knees. If you can, you won’t regret that bike at all. Failing that, the 500 has more room for longer legs in the tank cut out, but still has fairly bent knees due to peg position (if your goal is a sport bike, no problem, that is relaxed compared to any 600cc sport bike). The older (far less sexy – and less expensive) Ninja 250 is also an option.
In regards to the SV650 Naked. I just took mine for a 30km ride yesterday (I’m moving up from a ZZR-250, very similar to a Ninja 250). The different in power and throttle response is HUGE. A small turn of the throttle produces a very abrupt increase in speed. Letting off on the throttle, even a little, produces pretty heavy engine braking. The 250 is a WAY easier bike to learn throttle control on.
Some people think the SV650 is a fine first bike. My experience says I would have learned much slower on that bike – it would not have been any more fun than the 250 for my first year. (Don’t get me wrong, I’m looking forward to it for my second year, but I have much better control than I did this time last year).
Don’t look down on the 250cc dual sports / super motos. They have a lower top speed, and smaller fuel tank (so less range), but they’l fit you very well, and are plenty fun. And despite the odd looks, they handle in a manner much like a proper sport bike (due to the high centre of gravity) which makes them a good learning ground for future supersport riders. The fact that you can ride down any road, of over medians and across the neighbours lawn is just icing on the cake
The MSF is a GREAT course. You’ll enjoy it. Don’t worry to much about shifting, you’ll pick it up pretty fast at the MSF.
Ride safe and have fun,
MattMarch 16, 2009 at 2:52 pm #17079briderdtParticipant
“When sitting on sport bikes, remember: Your hands are NOT supposed to support your weight. “
And this is something that I had some trouble with when I was looking at bikes. I’d done a LOT of bicycle road racing in my life, so I’m REALLY comfortable in a forward lean. But when I was looking at the sport bikes, I kept having trouble with the whole weight-forward thing sitting on the bikes in the dealership. Until one thing happened that really opened my eyes — I sat on one with a center stand. At that point I could actually sit on the bike as I would when riding (both feet on the pegs), and was able to use my core to hold me up rather than having to hold much of my weight on my hands. And I found that comfort level that I figured I would have given my background. Quite the epiphany.
So make sure when you’re sitting on those bikes in the showroom that you’re doing it as you would when riding. Make it an apples-to-apples comparison.March 16, 2009 at 6:53 pm #17089
Good point about the centre stand!
Many new bikes do not have a centre stand, but you can still sit on them as you would riding, it just takes the help of an experienced salesman. A good salesman can hold the outsides of the handlebars from the front and help balance the bike. I’m not sure I’d want to have both feet on the pegs like that, but certainly one at a time is far better than sitting on the bike with both feet flat on the ground.
On a side note, if you ever have to park on asphalt in the sun, or worse a dirt/sand parking lot, a centre stand is worth its weight in gold.March 17, 2009 at 12:06 am #17098
Thanks for the comments and the great review by Matt. My inseam is 34, so I have a feeling that might be a problem. The more I read about the 250 ninja the more I want it. It sounds like a fun first bike to learn on. Don’t get me wrong, my male ego is saying go for the 600, but my intelligence and bank account are saying get the 250 and have fun. If the 500 fits better, would that be too much for a beginner? Also, how are my legs supposed to fit with the fuel tank? I am afraid I am going to really like this bike but my height will make it look like a clown riding a mini bike.March 17, 2009 at 2:38 am #17102KellisanthParticipant
Dropped by Home Depot, picked up one of those covers for those electric box thingamajigs… If that’s not available, other cheap alternatives are flattened out aluminum beer cans, some wooden panels, et al. As long as it’s solid and won’t deform too terribly much, right?
Plan to use that plate to set the kickstand on. Cheap (less than a buck) so I’m not out too much if I forget it (which I doubt).
Then again, the 500 has a centre stand as well, but not sure if I’ll use it too much – yet.March 17, 2009 at 2:44 am #17103KellisanthParticipant
My inseam is about 30 or so, and I’m 1.5m (about 5’5″). The 250/500 are 30.5″. I have some slight problems, but not too terribly much in that the twins are squished and crying.
Guess it depends on what I wear pant wise too, if I can fit properly.
Initially, my thinking is that my 500 is too much for me to begin with, especially with the crazy drivers here in the city (Chicago). Thus I’ve been second guessing myself at times. But in the end, I ended up getting the 500. In the short term, it’s a bit rash, but looking at it in the long term it will be fine for what I plan to do (tour about with it, long commutes).
I do not think you’ll look too odd on the bike really. There was an article in a UK mag (“Performance Bike”) recently, with a tall bloke on the 250R and he enjoyed it. Didn’t look odd to me, when I saw the pics.March 17, 2009 at 12:04 pm #17108
The tank has a cut out where your leg “should” go. It helps you hug the tank better with your knees. For me, the top edge of the cut out is right in the middle of my leg, so squeexing the tank is uncomfortable. You may actually find that if your lower leg is long enough it’ll raise your leg above that edge, and you can grip the tank comfortably above it. I dunno, you’ll have to try.
I do know that I’ve seen some fairly tall guys (6’4″ish) on 250Rs and they didn’t look like clowns. Really, very few people will ever actually notice how you look on the bike, or its size in relation to you. Frankly, if you never point it out, most people won’t think twice about it.
As for the power of the Ninja 500. I haven’t ridden one. I can’t comment on its power delivery or throttle control. I’ve ridden an Interceptor 500, which made more power, but was still forgiving with the throttle control. It had other issues, the biggest one from a learner’s perspective being the confidence it instilled. My ZZR-250 was happy doing slightly more than the speed limit. The Interceptor wasn’t happy until it was laughing in the face of the law… The ZZR-250 was certainly a better bike for the longevity of my license.
If you are concerned about the power, consider a Suzuki GS500 as well. It makes slightly less power than the Ninja 500.
The new ones look pretty hot in full fairing (imo). I haven’t ridden a GS500, but I’ve spent a lot of time on its ancestor, the GS450 (which made abotu 10 less horsepower). The 450 is quicker than it looks, but incredibly easy to manage the power on. I *think* the GS500 also has more leg room than the Ninja 500- but again, I haven’t sat on one.
It really should be on your list of bikes to sit on if the 250R doesn’t work out for you.March 21, 2009 at 7:12 pm #17211
So I tried out, by tried out I mean sat on, the 09 250 ninjas. They look sweet, didn’t fit well at all. The inside of my thighs were where the lip of the cowling was on the gas tank and the foot shifters were too small for my feet. It was a no win situation unfortunately because I really wanted to buy one. The older ninjas actually fit better because there wasn’t that curved lip on it, but it was still small for me. I though people were joking about how the older ninjas looked, they definately weren’t.
Next I tried the ninja 500. It didn’t fit too bad, definately fit better than the 250. It was more cosmetically appealing than the older 250’s, but I still felt like the fit wasn’t there even though the price was.
After that I tried the ninja 600 I think. I am not going to lie, it felt big and heavy. It looked fast, and all I could think about was how this bike was going to kill me. It fit alright, I was able to fit to the bike if that makes sense.
I then tried the suzuki gs500. This bike felt good. The price was actually pretty decent for it. It didn’t have that many miles on it, but for some reason I could smell the scent of gasoline when I was on it. I am not sure if it had a small gas leak or what, but that still made me hesitant. To be honest, I might have actually just bought it if almost every article said it was a pain to start and the brakes suck on it. With a newbie like me, I really need a decent pair of brakes.
Lastly, I tried out the SV650. All I can say is WOW. The bike felt awesome when I was sitting on it and since it is a V-twin, it is still considered a beginner’s bike. I saw both the naked and with fairings on it. I actually liked the way it looked with and without the fairings. Price was a little steeper on this bike, but as of right now I am leaning towards this bike. There weren’t many of these bikes around where I live. Hopefully more will show up since an 07 is going for about 5500 with 5k miles on it.
I really wanted the new 250’s, but no way is it going to be comfortable for me to ride. Out of the above listed bikes should I focus on for a beginner? I saw the versy’s, it looked awkward and felt weird to sit on. But then again I haven’t sat on many cruiser styles.March 22, 2009 at 12:27 am #17214SantaCruzRiderParticipant
If you feel WOW from the SV6560, then that sounds like the right bike. You sound like you understand that you’re hopscotching over the 250 class-power, but in my experience, this is entirely manageable for many riders. It’s an awesome bike — which lead to what I think is it’s worst trait, it retains it’s value and is a relatively expensive used bike.
One note on the GS500 — that’s a really nice bike and used ones can often be picked up pretty cheap. Not sure about the gas smell, but it may have been an earlier spill. You definately are closer to engine smells on a bike, which is something many of us like.March 22, 2009 at 2:42 pm #17216
After thinking about it and looking at some pictures, I think I meant the ZX6, not the 600. As for the 650, i just saw the new one online and it looks awesome. Just like the SV650, it’s a v-twin, which to my understanding is better for a beginner than the inline 4. The inline four just sounds awesome though, but I know the sound would make heads turn as I end up popping a wheelie at an intersection and flip over backwards:oops:
I really like the SV650, but think it might be too much bike and more than I wanted to spend on my first bike. I am well aware I will be dropping this bike at some point.
So I think I narrowed it down to the GS500 by Suzuki and the Ninja 500. I think they both fit me about the same, maybe the GS500 was a tad better. But the ninja is liquid cooled, has better brakes, and everybody recommends it. I think it comes down to more of a personal choice, the orange ninja or kiwi one. I like the kiwi color, but with the 80’s look I think the orange might be the way to go.March 22, 2009 at 9:50 pm #17225
As an owner of the SV650… I think going with a 500 is the right choice.
If you haven’t taken the MSF and feel very comfortable controlling a bike, I really think the SV650, while a great bike, will hinder your learning. It is a far more reactive bike than the smaller ones, and it takes more care/attention to ride (attention that you will need to be spending on other parts of learning to ride for now).
Have fun and ride safe.March 23, 2009 at 1:23 am #17234BouncingRadicalParticipant
I am about your size, 6.0 and 150, and I went with a dual sport. The DRZ-400 and the KLX250s both fit well and keep me stretched out. Shifting is real forgiving too on the KLX, if you pop it into 2nd, unless you are leaning way back, you won’t wheelie yourself on accident. It won’t have the top end as a 250 ninja, but it will get up and go, with plenty of gear to wind out with.
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