First Bike Question
January 15, 2009 at 11:55 pm #2464gojiraParticipant
Finally took MSF course and got my M1. Pretty much decided to try and find a ninja 250 as my first bike. I can’t seem to find any 250’s in my area. I am a total beginner with my only riding experience being in the MSF course. I am not sure if my first ride should be an over the hour long commute involving highways and traffic. I do see some ninja 500s close by as well as a couple of early 90’s Bandit 400s with pretty comparable prices to the 250s. I really do not have my heart set on anyone of the models as I just want to work on being an overall good rider. What are your opinions on those bikes and my overall situation?January 16, 2009 at 12:08 am #15701MunchParticipant
Not much on the sport bikes so I really can’t say much to that other then stick closer to the 250cc range being as green as you are. Definitely would not recommend your first ride being the one to get home. Get someone to ride it there for you or if it can be delivered for you so you can get acquainted with it on your own time and comfort.January 16, 2009 at 12:21 am #15705BouncingRadicalParticipant
I wouldn’t make your first ride the ride from the dealership. I used my brothers truck at first to pick it up. The dealer should have a ramp there and tie downs are cheap from places like autozone. I found it comfortable to have my first several rides in the neighborhood I grew up in. As I got more comfortable I was able to putter around back roads in the city.January 16, 2009 at 1:27 am #15708eonParticipant
You looking to buy new or used?
If used you may be able to get the previous owner to drop it off at your place if you give him a ride back. If new you may be able to negotiate getting it delivered to your home as part of the deal. Whatever you do I would try and hold out to get the bike you want. This is not the best time of year to be riding so if you can be patient it may be worth your while.January 16, 2009 at 1:57 am #15709gojiraParticipant
Looking to buy used for sure. I live in California so the weather here right now is great, if that is what you were meaning by “best time of year”. Thanks!January 16, 2009 at 2:28 am #15712DaggerParticipant
My opinion is to look at finding a used Ninja 250.. It’ll be great to learn on and you can find them fairly cheap.. After 6 months you can sell it for about what you bought it for and move up to a bigger bike from there.. If you’re completely new to motorcycling, your time on the 250 will help you build the confidence to handle your bike and build up your riding skills. What part of Cali are you in? You can look at Craigslist and there’s usually a few 250’s listed there every week..January 16, 2009 at 3:04 am #15715BenParticipant
You can always rent a trailer to get your bike home, I think I rented one from uhaul for around 15 dollars for 8 hours.
-bbm adminJanuary 16, 2009 at 3:10 pm #15723Clay DowlingParticipant
It had the side benefit of him being able to point out any worry points for me. In my case, the Magna really likes to hold a straight line, so you need make sure your lean is very strong when turning. And while I figured it out the first time I took the bike down a twisty road, it was nice being pre-warned.January 17, 2009 at 1:07 am #15732eternal05Participant
Especially if you’re in an economic position such that you’re not scared of the possibility of “needing” a bigger bike later on, I highly recommend the Ninja 250. I know there aren’t any in your area, but there weren’t in mine either. I had to get on a waiting list for a painful three months before mine showed up. There’s no point looking at used bikes (at least not 2008s) as they are in such high demand that used prices are not only no lower than new bike prices, but they are actually over MSRP! Same price and no warranty. Lame.
It’s a sweet-looking bike which, to anybody who doesn’t ride “real” sportsbikes, is indistinguishable from its big-bore buddies. It’s nimble as hell, and perfect for driving around on lower-speed rides. Having a 250 as your first bike will act as a natural speed regulator, and will prevent a lot of the accidents I would have had if I’d jumped onto a super-sport right away. It’ll also give you a lot more practice shifting and holding speed through turns.
Another recommendation I have is that you take additional rider courses if you can afford them. One thing that helped me feel at home on my first bike was to take an additional rider training session once or twice between MSF and when I actually bought my bike. By the time I had purchased the bike, I was more than comfortable on a 250, and had all of those initially impossible bike skills (low-speed, low-radius turning, for instance) down. If you have a friend that has a non-lethal bike and is willing to supervise you doing some exercises in a big parking lot, that might work as well, but just try to get as many hours as possible on a bike before you get your own.January 19, 2009 at 8:47 am #15800smokeizfireParticipant
Should you buy a motorcycle before taking the MSF course? Many have done so. It is best, however, to wait until you are licensed so you can test ride before buying to be sure it suits you. If you do buy early, keep it in the garage until you have passed the course and are licensed. Until you have received proper instruction you are not qualified to do any more than sit on the bike uttering vroom, vroom sounds.
While waiting to take the course you can be doing research to prepare for buying your first bike and properly equipping yourself with safety gear. If you are not yet sure of what style bike you want to ride, this is the time to start learning more about the different types of motorcycles.
Buy smart. Chances are the bike you really want should not be your first bike. It will be too large and/or too powerful for a beginning rider. Keep in mind that this is your first bike, not your ultimate bike. If you buy an inappropriate bike it may well be your last bike.
A common recommendation is that you spend a year of so (3,000 miles) on a 500cc or smaller standard style bike, or a 750cc or smaller cruiser style bike, or if you have long legs, a 650cc or smaller dual sport bike. Think twice and then think again before buying a larger bike. Do believe the mantra: large and heavy or powerful bikes are not for beginners.
Horsepower—A Beginner’s Enemy
By all means, stay away from the high performance bikes (super sport, race replica, street fighter, super bike) like you would the plague. Because they will bring a plague upon you consisting of gobs of horsepower, insane acceleration, a twitchy throttle and deadly serious braking power. These bikes require a practiced, smooth and steady touch to stay out of trouble. As a new rider you will be anything but smooth and steady. Riding such a bike as a beginner is like lighting off fireworks while sitting on a barrel of gasoline. The fact that some new riders select these bikes and live to tell their tales is not a good reason to put yourself in harms way. Some people do stupid things and get away with it. Others are not so lucky.
Beyond the fact that the performance bikes and large, heavy cruisers substantially increase your risk, is the fact that they detract from the joy and fun of your early riding experience. Just controlling the bike and trying to survive will leave little time to truly enjoy the ride. Smaller, less powerful bikes make the job of learning and building your skills so much easier. The smaller bike will be much more maneuverable, agile and provide more pure joy while you are learning. So, should your first bike be a Hayabusa? I don’t think so.
Riding motorcycles is an inherently dangerous activity. Don’t increase the risk by trying to learn on an inappropriate bike. You don’t want your first bike to be your last bike, do you?
New or Used?
A used bike, preferably a model without fairing which is expensive to replace should you drop the bike, is your best investment. This eliminates the large first year depreciation incurred with a new bike. By not investing too much in your first bike, you won’t have to keep it as long to get full value from it. Put the money you save into your second bike savings account. After a year or two of riding, you will be much more knowledgeable about the type of bike you really want and have the experience to handle a larger, higher performance bike.
Also most new riders drop their bike at least once at barely moving speed, while stopped or while parking the bike, So don’t be surprised if it happens to you. It is easier on the ego and wallet if the bike you just dropped has a few dings from prior owners and does not have an expensive-to-replace fairing. If you shop and buy wisely you can resell the bike, after riding it for a year or two, for the same or not much less than you paid for it. Used beginner bikes in good condition are always in demand.
Be extra cautious when buying a bike ten or more years old. Doing so exposes you to outlays of cash to repair the bike and/or make it safe for the street. Rubber, belts, seals, fuel tanks, seats, cables and wiring deteriorate with age. They deteriorate faster if the bike is not ridden and maintained regularly. A bike that has been sitting for years is a bike to skip. It may look like a good bike and good deal at first glance, but may be a money pit in disguise. As a beginner you don’t need the grief. Also, newer model bikes are safer and more enjoyable. Brakes, suspension, handling and reliability are much better on newer model bikes.
This article is one I found from another websiteJanuary 19, 2009 at 9:00 pm #15815RobMParticipant
I searched around in SD for a Ninja 250 for about a month before finding one that I liked and met my criteria. The person I purchased my bike from lived about an hour away on both country roads and a busy superslab. I choose to pickup the bike with a u-haul trailer for ~$15 for the day. It worked great. No problems with loading and unloading the bike using the tailgate as a ramp. Just make sure that you bring 4 tiedown straps.
On the Ninja 250 vs. 500, the girl that I got the 250 from was selling it because she had upgraded to a Ninja 600 after just 6 months. She said that is was very similar to the 250 just a little more power at the top end (highway speeds) and weight for the freeway driving that she does. My experience has been that the 250 is an excellent bike to learn and improve your skills on. I had previous riding experience on dirt as a kid and some street bike riding in college. However, I am really glad that I choose this bike to return to riding on and I’m enjoying the Ninja 250 on both commuting and weekend rides. Mind you my rides don’t include much freeway driving, but the Ninja 250 Riders Club has a ton of information on that bike (Ninja 250 RC FAQ). Many of them ride everyday on freeways.
Good luck in your search.January 30, 2009 at 1:31 am #16132JayGuest
Hello smokeizfire, Good advice, and although I know I should wait until taking a riding class, the itch is screaming to be scratched. I had posted under the Ninja 250 bike review when I should have posted here. However, it looks like you answered my question before I asked it.
I have the opportunity to buy a 1997 Kawasaki Ninja 250 from a dealer for $1700 otd. It only has 3,000 miles on it. According to what the salesman knows (unverified), it was purchased by a husband to learn on, passed on to the wife to learn on, garaged for quite a while, then traded in. He has stated that it went through a thorough maintenance (fluids changed, inspected to be road-worthy, etc.) at the dealership and that it’s ready to ride. It looks to be in mint condition, no scratches or cracks in the fairing, no rust (that I could see). I did not pull the dipstick, etc., to check fluids myself. Also, I have not had the salesman start and ride it to demonstrate it yet.
Besides being a 12 year old bike with only 3,000 miles, another thing that bothers me is the bike has no graphics at all. The fairings have no scratches, dings or cracks, but it also doesn’t have the Kawasaki or Ninja stickers, or the blue strip at the bottom that I’ve seen in pictures of other bikes about the same age. Maybe the previous owner just peeled them off, but maybe they wrecked it and replaced the fairings. I don’t know but it makes me hesitant. Who knows what happened, but I think I’ll pass on the deal.
***JayJanuary 30, 2009 at 2:35 pm #16144Clay DowlingParticipant
1640 is expected retail, but with the various tax & title issues, $1700 is probably okay.
The lack of graphics almost certainly means that the fairings have been replaced, which would intend to imply a crash. My advice is to get an experienced rider to test ride it, see if they can tell anything obvious.January 30, 2009 at 3:12 pm #16146briderdtParticipant
“The lack of graphics almost certainly means that the fairings have been replaced”
Not necessarily. Many people like the “stealth” look of a bike with no graphics or logos. I’m one of them. They could have been removed by the previous owner.January 30, 2009 at 6:53 pm #16153JayGuest
Thank you Clay & briderdt. I know that “first bike” doesn’t mean “last bike”, but I want to make the right decision. Getting a bad bike (damaged, wrecked, etc.) could make learning harder and turn me off the sport altogether, not to mention being possibly hazardous to my health. My wife knows someone who’s husband has a lot of experience, so I may ask him to tag along for a second opinion. If I don’t go for this one, there’s always another one waiting for me somewhere.
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