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A few questions from a soon to be first time rider
March 26, 2008 at 6:01 pm #1250mrathbunParticipant
Hello everyone, thank you for taking the time to comment on my post. I am a soon to be rider looking for some advice on bikes and gear…
I am 28. I live in the DC Metro area. I am scheduled to take the VA rider safety training course in mid April. I want a bike to help me get into, out of, and parked easily and quickly in the District and something that I can use to do a bit of weekend riding with a friend around VA once the weather gets nicer.
My initial impulse, after reading posts here and doing some Google searching, was to get a Ninja 250. However, friends of mine have indicated that the 250 is “fast enough to get into trouble, but not fast enough to get out of trouble.” I take that to mean that they think I could have fun with the bike, but that they are afraid in traffic I might not have enough acceleration to be able to get out of the way of inattentive drivers. They recommend that I go for a 500cc bike. (Note: I am 6′ tall, 145 lbs) Are they correct? Is a 250 going to put me in more danger?
If a 250 is still a reasonable choice, I have a question about the 2008 vs older model 250s. I understand that the normal logic is never buy a new bike for your first ride. I will probably drop it, and that will be much more depressing with a new bike. However, it seems that the upgrades to the 2008 model might be worth the extra 1k I would spend vs a used in this area, even given the danger of dropping. Would you recommend going for the new bike, assuming I can afford it and understand the risks, or stick to the old mantra and just get something well used?
Since I am focusing on Ninjas, which have farings, and I am a new rider, so I will likely drop it, what can I do to help limit the potential damage of drops to the bike? I have read elsewhere about frame rails? How do those work, how expensive are they, etc?
Moving on to gear. The articles here did a good job of selling me on the Shift Racing series of jackets. Unfortunately, they don’t seem to be sold on this coast. Are bike jackets close enough in sizing that I could figure out what size I would need in say a Joe Rocket, and then just order the same size in a Shift Racing jacket online? Same question for gloves.
Pants. Overpants seem like a good idea. Any recommendations on brands etc? Doe is make any sense to consider the riding jeans with leather reinforcements like what shift racing sells?
MattApril 2, 2008 at 12:54 am #5409AnonymousGuest
I wont comment on the other questions you have, but will have a go at the jacket one.
I’m a pretty small guy, “small” sizes are generally too big for me, yet I wear a “medium” Shift jacket.
Best bet is to go off your measurements (chest/waist) I’m pretty sure they have a sizing chart on the Shift website that will tell you what size you need.April 2, 2008 at 7:53 am #5416SuperMotoRiderParticipant
” However, friends of mine have indicated that the 250 is “fast enough to get into trouble, but not fast enough to get out of trouble.” (Note: I am 6′ tall, 145 lbs) Are they correct? Is a 250 going to put me in more danger? “
Most motorcycles collisions are frontal impacts. The non-collision crashes consist of one or both of your wheels loosing traction. So out of those crashes, tell me which ones of those you would want to “accelerated yourself out of trouble.” Neither of course, you’re going to want your motorcycle to stop faster… (Examples= Collision: Brake faster before you hit whatever is in front of you. Non-Collision: Going too fast into a turn? Brake faster before you lean to turn.” Now ask yourself, “does braking make a lot more sense than accelerating?”
Since you weigh 145lb, and the ninja 250 weighs about 300lbs stocked, you’re gonna stop a lot faster than with a 400lb bike. That’s only if you know how to stop the bike. Learning how to stop a bike on a 250cc is more forgiving than a 600cc bike.
Don’t get me wrong, you can start higher bike. Just take the time to practice and get to know the bike. And don’t use the senario where you ticked off some guy on the freeway and he’s trying to run you over and your bike can’t get you out of his way, cause that’s your fault to begin with…
Ride Safe, See you out on the road.April 2, 2008 at 4:02 pm #5422BenParticipant
Fantastic points SuperMotoRider, I would also like to ad that the breaks on the 08 ninja 250 are vastly improved over the old version. The ninja 250 is going to beat most cars off the line, and the excuse that they aren’t fast enough to get out of trouble is ridiculous. I’ve ridden 250’s, 500’s, 600’s and even 1000cc motorcycles and I don’t think i’ve ever needed to open up the throttle and jet out of a situation at top speed. A good rider will see and anticipate problems before they even arrise.
The only situations I can think of where speeding up might be a viable escape plane is if someone is road raging on you and trying to knock you down (VERY unlikely unless you are an asshole rider), or if someone were to merge into you. Even the merging one is a big stretch for me, whenever someone has not seen me and started to pull into my lane I usually brake/check/swerve. I brake first (because its not safe to swerve while you brake) and as I’m doing so I’m checking the lane next to me for any cars (although usually i’m in the fast lane, so I would be checking the shoulder for obsticals), and then I swerve out of the way of the car. I do this because its MUCH quicker to slow down in a motorcycle than speed up, even if you ride a 600cc+.
If I were to try and speed up to avoid the merging car then I would have to Drop it a gear (normally I cruise in 6th), rev the engine and hope to make it out before the car can run into me. I can speak from experience, even though my bike still pulls at triple digits, it is much faster to make room at 75mph by braking than by trying to speed up.
~Best Beginner Motorcycles AdminApril 2, 2008 at 4:06 pm #5423BenParticipant
I understand that the normal logic is never buy a new bike for your first ride. I will probably drop it, and that will be much more depressing with a new bike. However, it seems that the upgrades to the 2008 model might be worth the extra 1k I would spend vs a used in this area, even given the danger of dropping.
and I would have to say that the 1k extra is DEFINITELY worth it. The new 08 is a much more solid bike than the older ninja, so much so that I think it really is worth the extra money. The bike has gobs more midrange, feels a lot more solid, is very roomy, and brakes on a dime. The older ninja by contrast feels ‘rickity’, and not very stable, although you wouldn’t be able to tell unless you have ridden both the old and the new. That being said, the old ninja is still good, but I really think that all the improvements made to the new ninja justify the price. Plus if you choose to sell it to get a bigger bike, I bet you will be able to get most of your money back.
~Best Beginner Motorcycles AdminApril 6, 2008 at 1:49 am #5476AnonymousGuest
I’ve never ridden one, but by all accounts the Ninja 250 is a good beginner bike as it can be ridden moderately if desired, or, when you have more experience, ridden fast by revving the engine higher in the rev range in each gear.
I started out on a 250 Nighthawk, which is a fantastic learner bike and general runabout, and although freeway capable (will do ~80 mph flat-out), runs out of steam a little in strong head-winds and/or going uphill (necessitating a down-shift to get you back up to ~65 mph). BTW I’m 6′ and ~180.
Whatever bike you start out on, you’re probably going to want a different bike after a little while anyway, as you’ll want to see what you might be missing in a bigger, faster bike (which is more weight, expense (and danger in a sport-bike) mostly!).
Re. protective clothing, the Tourmaster Transition II jacket is a real bargain for Winter, Spring and Autumn riding if you like the touring style of jacket (I have a bright red one for commuting). Although vented and with a detachable thermal liner jacket, it’s probably not so good for hot Summer weather though as the vents don’t go through the internal (to the outer shell) waterproof liner.
I also like my Olympia Motosport Airglide jacket (bomber style) and matching pants which I’ve had for a couple of years now.
The beauty of the Airglide gear is that, like the Tourmaster, it’s also two-piece (liner and outer shell), but it incorporates mesh in it’s construction. The outer shell (both jacket and pants) is Cordura with ballistic nylon mesh, and is worn without the liners in the Summer. For Spring, Autumn, and Winter, you wear the waterproof and thermally insulated liner jacket and pants underneath the outer shells. I prefer the Tourmaster Transition jacket for the (Norcal) Winter though, as it’s longer for better rain protection and a bit warmer than the Airglide jacket. Luckily for me, the Airglide pants waist-zip also fits the Tourmaster jacket zip, so they can be zipped together too (to minimize ride-up of the jacket in an accident). The outer pants and liner pants both zip all the way up to your thigh for easy in and out. The Airglide stuff looks pretty cool too IMHO (http://www.olympiamotosports.com/home.html).
Leather motorcycle-grade jackets are cool too and the ultimate in protection (if armoured) but they need to be covered with a PVC or similar rain jacket in rainy weather. Check out the Tourmaster Coaster 2 jacket (a great value and much more substantial than it looks in photographs). Also have a look at http://www.leatherup.com. BTW – don’t bother looking for any leather jacket if, like me, you have a beer-gut, as, due to the cut of leather motorcycle jackets and the material, you’ll look like you’ve got breasts when you’re on the bike. As your name’s Matt, you probably wouldn’t like to look like that
Whatever, good luck and be safe.
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