Best bikes for the vertically challenged beginner?
April 10, 2009 at 9:24 pm #2690Shorty22Participant
I am just getting into the world of motorcycles, and I am completely torn between the following bikes: 2009 Ninja 250, Honda Rebel, and the Buell Blast. I feel that my options should be somewhat limited to these bikes because I’m a beginner (I just passed the MSF course, and have no other real experience). I also should mention that I am a young girl who is barely over 5 feet tall, and 120 pounds. I originally had my heart set on a Ninja 250, but after taking the MSF course on a Kawasaki Eliminator, I find that being able to reach the ground with both feet flat, is a real confidence booster as it makes me more comfortable.
On a 250 Ninja, I can barely “tippy-toe” it. The guy at the dealer told me it would be possible to take 2 inches out, which would make the seat about 28 inches. I’m not sure that this would help a whole lot.
I sat on a Honda Rebel, and my feet are almost totally flat.
I also sat on a new Buell Blast, and my feet were definitely flat. I have concerns about the Blast though, because I have heard that they are not the most reliable bikes, and that as a result, they don’t hold their re-sale value. I know that the Ninja 250 and the Honda Rebel are both tried and true.
I guess my main question is: is it really that important to be able to have your feet flat when beginning riding? Appearance wise, the Ninja 250 is definitely sleeker looking, and more trendy, but I still do like the classic look of the Rebel. I am a bit of a “girly, girl” and my friends, many of whom ride and have sport bikes, seem to think that I will look funny on a Rebel, and that it will be difficult for us to ride together because they all have sport bikes. My boyfriend, who also rides, (he has a Honda Superhawk) seems to think that it wont affect our ability to ride together, but that one foreseeable problem down the road with a Rebel is that I will get sick of the bike quickly, and will likely want to upgrade. I am a little uncertain of the idea that I will “outgrow” the bike just based on my nature. I am quite cautious, (though I do like to have fun) and I see going excessively over highway speeds as being nothing more than an unnecessary show of bravery (for no important or reason), other than a threat to life both physically and monetarily. I mainly want the bike to go for rides around town, as well as some scenic rides…But mainly I was looking for a fun new hobby. Anyhow, now that I have written an essay, (sorry) any advice based on the above mentioned factors would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!April 10, 2009 at 9:36 pm #17674Jay TParticipant
My friend is “petite” as yourself. We did start her off on a Rebel (1986 $1350, and she will get that money back when she resells it). After that there will be things like a Suzuki Savage L650. After you have some saddle time, you will probably be ok with getting the balls or your feet on the ground.April 10, 2009 at 11:42 pm #17677briderdtParticipant
The Blast and the Ninja might be somewhat close in rider compartment, but the Rebel is gonna be a horse of a different color altogether. I’d say go sit on all three and see which one feels more natural and “speaks” to you saying “mine”.
Flat feet isn’t such a big concern. Being able to keep the bike upright at a stop is.April 11, 2009 at 12:31 am #17679MunchParticipant
Being that your starting out.. I would be more towards “flat footing” then not. Your gonna need and want all the traction at your disposal as your adjusting to balancing the bike and learning the ropes on intersections and hazards and training your brain what to look for. As far as riding with folks on sport bikes… only difficulty you would had is maybe living up to their idea of what looks cool. It’s like I tell guys at work when they start talking horse power and torque and all the nice gear headed junk they immerse themselves in ..”Yea its got X amount of horses and can run the 1/4 in X amount of time… but it will still get you to your destination in the same amount of time as something more affordable and skill accurate due to speed limit laws” …lol..sometimes quicker as you wave at them as you pass by with the LEO handing them a ticket.
As Brider did so though… .go sit on all your prospects and try and find one that feels natural..or close to it.April 11, 2009 at 6:58 am #17689Shorty22Participant
I have already sat on all three bikes, and I have found that the Blast and the Rebel were both comfortable for me; I was able to be flat footed. On the Ninja I could only touch the ground on my tip toes, (barely) but the dealer insisted that I could get it lowered 2 inches. I am not sure how much of a difference that would really make for me, though.
I think I am definitely leaning toward the Rebel, but my only reservation is that the Ninja is definitely a sexier looking machine. lol. I know I need to push that crap out of my head, because there is nothing sexy about a bike that you can’t keep from falling over.April 12, 2009 at 11:05 pm #17698chaiyaParticipant
Don’t worry about having a sexy bike now. Your first bike won’t be your last. I’m about the same size as you (5ft nothing , 105lbs) and the rebel has been a great 1st bike for me. It holds its value ..so you should be able to sell it for almost as much as you bought it for when you are done with it….so don’t worry about out growing it/ wanting to upgrade. It’s been really fun riding my little “piglet” around
Good luck with whatever bike you decide to get!April 13, 2009 at 1:49 pm #17713DKParticipant
The ability to have your feet flat on the gound is not absolutely necessary, but it certainly gives you one less thing to worry about as a new rider.
The new model ninjas add 1.2″ inches to seat height over the previous iteration. I personally would suggest either an older model with the seat lowered or the rebel. Both the Blast and the 09 Ninja are a little bit heavier too. Only you can decide what bike is actually best for you. Everybody has their own biases and past experiences to influence their purchasing decisions.April 13, 2009 at 3:37 pm #17722Clay DowlingParticipant
There’s a certain charm to them. The bike visually says that you’re not about image. You’re not riding it as a status symbol. You’re riding it because you’re a biker and you don’t have time to waste dealing with bullshit and poseurs.April 17, 2009 at 6:02 am #17818Gary856Participant
As a new rider I was often surprised that the ground next to where I stopped was not flat, but slopes down. Could be from a dip in the driveway, could be from a slight incline, could be due to the crown of the road, could be the height difference between pavement and unpaved shoulder, etc. I would realize that after I had stopped. If you could flat foot a bike on flat ground, that gives you some cushion when the ground slopes away. If you have to tip-toe on flat ground, you won’t be able to reach the ground when it slopes away even a little. You’re likely to drop the bike during a stop that way.April 30, 2009 at 3:55 pm #18124Woody33Participant
First off, I’d forget about the ninja 250 because touching the ground flat foot is very important…for anybody, not just beginners. Looking brand new isn’t recommended for starting out either, save your money for now and buy something with a couple years under its belt. Rebels are a decent beginners bike but don’t hold their value anymore then the Buell. I really depends on how you feel about your bike. If your leaning towards the sportier side I’d go with the Buell all day, very easy to manuever and will keep up with your boyfriend. Not to say your going to take anybody on a drag but who does that anyways. If you want something that shifts a little smoother and runs quite with less viberations go with the Rebel, it’s all around a better crusing bike. I’ve recently went through this trying to find a nice beginners bike for my wife who’s 5’4″ and about 115lbs. She decided to go with the Buell so I traded my old magna 700 for an 02′ with 4500 mi. SHE LOVES IT. It’s fun and doesn’t sound like a little girls bike either. She can ride by me on my 900CB Custom all day and have a great time. I’m a Honda fan myself but every chick I’ve talked to loves there Buell. They’re fun, cheap, and easy to maintain.April 30, 2009 at 6:17 pm #18125egypt60543Participant
Hi. My partner is 5’2″ and petite as well, she bought a 2008 Honda Rebel 250cc and also used one in the MSF course. She LOVES it! I can’t pry it from her grip, so I had to buy my own bike. BTW I got a honda shadow and it is too much bike for both of us for our first bike. So my opinion is the Rebel. But yes, the cruiser is different then say the GS500F, I am sure, or the other smaller cc bikes. I can say we test drove 2006 Buell Blasts last weekend and they were fun to ride for 20min but very loud, rough, jumpy and shook all to heck. They don’t get the name Thumper for being smooth!!! The Rebel is a sexy bike, it’s petite and cool and cute all at once. Just have to decide if you want a cruiser or a sportier bike. Me too! I haven’t decided yet myself. Looking at the GS500F Saturday…Good luck to you.May 3, 2009 at 6:08 am #18139WendySkeletonParticipant
You, as a beginner, I would recommend getting something where you can flat-foot, just so you can get confidence. But later on, you will find your balance and even tip-toeing will eventually be fine where you won’t feel like you’re going to fall off. To give you an idea, here’s a much larger bike than the ones you mentioned:
This lady here is actually under 5 feet.May 5, 2009 at 12:31 am #18169MedicParticipant
You made a great decision by asking questions and getting your info straight instead of letting impulse or a salesperson make your decision for you. You obviously have concerns about flat-footing, and I will agree that your concerns as a new rider are well founded.
I can’t make your decision for you, but what I can do is share my experience with you. Much like you, I visited this site among others and asked questions regarding my first bike. I too was steered in the direction of the Rebel, and eventually did choose that as my first motorcycle.
Since then, I’ve been a very happy rider and I don’t regret my decision for a bit. Sometimes I envision myself on a 750 Shadow or something similar, but I know I did the right thing with this bike. Not only is the Rebel an inexpensive introduction, its also a very reliable and forgiving machine. With simple routine maintenance, the Rebel will run for many many years, as evidenced by the mid 80’s models still available on the used market. Simple rider errors that may prove more problematic with larger bikes are much more easy to correct and overcome on the lightweight and agile Rebel, making learning more of an enjoyable experience than a teeth grinding nightmare.
The agility of the bike is something you’re not going to find in some other bikes and it is very easy to not only work on, but lightly customize to suit your individual preferences. I’m a bit taller than you at 5’8″, and with a simple adjustment of the handlebars, I’ve found my bike much more comfortable than it came from the dealership. A simple (and free) 5 minute fix, can’t beat that.
So I guess that’s about as much of a plug as I can come up with right now haha but really, I think its a good bike and a great first bike. Good luck with whatever you decide.May 5, 2009 at 7:29 pm #18194AndrewParticipant
I have the 07 Ninja and I’m 5′ 4. I can’t flat foot it with both feet but I can with one. Normally I’m just using the balls of my feet when I’m stopped. Comfort is the big thing in your first bike. If you feel like you need to flat foot it then you do for your own comfort. If the Rebel is the easiest to sit on and the most comfortable then go with that.May 12, 2009 at 7:21 am #18365MadCowParticipant
I’m 5’5″ and I can’t get both feet down completely flat on my 250 without thick soled boots, but I wish that I could.
I know that you’ve already sat on all 3, but try it again and lean the bike about 10-20 degrees to either side. You’ll see a huge difference in stability. Then try the same thing while at the same time manipulating the controls.
I live in a somewhat hilly area, and I have to stop at stop signs and intersections on hills all the time. It’s a huge pain when you can’t get your feet flat. The worst is when you stop on a hill with the upslope on your left and the downslope on your right… and you failed to put the bike into first gear before coming to a stop. All your weight is on your left leg, so you have no way to down shift, you can’t get momentum to get your feet up since you’re in second gear, and if you even think about trying to put your right foot down you can kiss your showroom finish goodbye.
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