- This topic has 30 replies, 11 voices, and was last updated 14 years, 2 months ago by Dagger.
First Bike: Which 250?
January 20, 2009 at 3:10 pm #15852DKGuest
Have you looked around to see the availability of used bikes in your area? I admit I enjoyed wandering through the dealerships and sitting on shiny new bikes, but when it came down to opening my wallet I felt like it was a waste of money to buy new as my first bike. Plus, this helps free up more of your budget for quality gear.
If you really must have a new bike, there are a couple new options out there this year that I haven’t seen mentioned yet. Two notables are the TU250 and WR250X. Suzuki released the TU250. It has a retro look if you like that, and fuel injection. If you like the off-road look of a dual sport there are multiple options out there, but Yamaha is releasing a WR250X which is going to have a supermoto look and feel. This looks like a fairly high tech bike for a 250. Both fuel injected and liquid cooled, with disc brakes front and rear. Unfortunately the price tag on that one is pretty steep.
As for my first bike decision I went with a 2002 Ninja 250. To be honest I think I would have been happy with any 250 as a learner bike, but there were a few things that put me over the top with choosing the ninja. These were my biases that I had when making my decision. Reputation. I strongly considered a few of the lesser known manufacturers, but ultimately I was not willing to deal with any potential unknowns that may or may not pop up. Brakes. The ninja has disc brakes front and rear. The better to stop my 240 lbs (dry weight) body. Liquid Cooling. I live in Florida. It tends to get warm here. Air cooled can work fine, but I am pretty hot blooded, and did not want to be sitting still in a traffic jam and be forced to ponder which feels hotter, the sun beating down on me or the heat rising up from beneath me. Athleticism. Not based on any real data, but the ninja looks and feels more athletic to me. Fuel Capacity. My bike has a 4.5 gallon capacity. The mileage is probably comparable across the board for a 250 bike, this comes down to how frequently you end up at the gas station. Color. The ninja has come a variety of colors over the years. I would prefer to have a black bike, but I can’t deny that rolling down the road looking like an oversized canary is much more noticable to the seemingly high percentage of ‘older’ drivers in my area. Intangibles. The ninja comes highly recommended from almost all who have ever ridden one. The only complaints I ever read are styling (corrected as of 2008) and lack of power.
Ok, I’ll shut up now. Sorry but I have a tendency to ramble…January 20, 2009 at 6:38 pm #15857
Another question: how do people feel about the riding position on the Ninja? I have been mostly thinking cruiser. While I understand the Ninja is designed as a sport bike, the riders in the pictures on their web site don’t seem to have to sit/lay forward as they do on some sport bikes, but are mostly upright. Would all of you (who have owned one or sat on one) agree? Thanks.January 20, 2009 at 6:56 pm #15856
I have to admit, I have mostly been looking at new bikes but mainly as a matter of convience–it’s easier to sit on several bikes at the dealers than it is to ask private parties if I can sit on their bikes. Even so, I have been looking on Craigslist too, and in my area I would say there are some decent deals.
By the way, I am new to this (I guess that is why they call it the best beginner site) so I didn’t know about the TU250, so I’ll have to do more research on it. Thanks. I just found out about the Buell brand a few days ago–had never heard of it before.
The Ninja 250 gets an awful lot of praise in this forum and on other sites as well, so it just may be the right bike for me. I too am around 240 lbs, so I imagine the quality of the braking system should be important to me. Thank you for mentioning this. And the liquid cooling is also a very good point. It seems to me that in my brief research so far that most bikes in this range are air cooled–at least I have had this impression. Although I have been giving the Ninja short shrift in my thinking mainly because I feel I am more of a cruiser guy (funny how a guy who doesn’t even ride a motorcycle can come to such a conclusion) but the praise for this machine is overwhelming. While I do like the cruiser styling from the ’60’s and ’70’s, etc, the retro look, I also like the Ninja’s modern look as well. I’ve got to go and sit on one of those bikes. It is obvious that I am missing something if I don’t. Besides, I have read a great deal about what a nimble handling bike it is and that will help a lot when you are just learning to ride, let’s face it. Obviously, the Ninja has to move up on my list.
I have also been considering some of the lesser known brands, Hyosung, for example. While I don’t have any true favorite at this time, I am also thinking about the need for local dealer support–I am not a mechanic and want to have one close by for when the bike needs servicing, etc. There are several dealers for Kawasaki in my area, so it wouldn’t be an issue choosing the Ninja if this is the way I wind up.
Thank you for mentioning some of the finer points of why you made your decisions–this is very helpful to a newbie like me.January 20, 2009 at 7:26 pm #15860megaspazParticipant
if you’re referring to the ninja 250/500/650r, yes, the seating position is more upright.January 21, 2009 at 1:23 am #15870
While I like the look of the sport bikes, I wasn’t dead-set on getting one when I started looking. But I have an extensive background in road racing bicycles, and I’m very comfortable in that body position for long periods of time.
But the real deciding factor was when I sat on them. Every time I got on a cruiser, or anything with forward controls, I was searching for the pegs when I tried to put my feet on them. Every time. On the sports and standards, my feet found them every time without looking. It was just a natural fit, much like getting my feet on the pedals of my road bikes. You may have similar feelings when you sit on various bikes.
But one thing to consider — on cruisers, with your feet in front of you, all your body weight is on your backside. Every bump goes up your spine, and you can’t lift yourself with your feet to take some of the jarring. May or may not be an issue for you.
And the Ninjas are more “faired standards” than sport bikes. FJR’s would be in the same category.January 21, 2009 at 8:05 am #15875
Thank you–I went to visit the Kawasaki/Honda dealer today and I sat on the Ninja 250, the Honda Rebel 250, and the Kawasaki Vulcan 500, the latter two being cruisers. All of them were nice bikes and I spoke to a woman racer who rides Kawasaki Ninja 500’s normally (for racing), she said she had extensive experience on the Ninja 250 for training herself on the finer points of handling, I guess, and she had nothing but praise for this bike, she said the 2008 version was especially sought after, but I forgot to ask about 2009. Regardless, I did sit on the Ninja and felt it might be uncomfortable for my back, at least if we are talking a longer ride (1 hour or so, I suppose). The Rebel and the Kawasaki Vulcan 500 were more immediately comfortable for me, but obviously, I was just sitting in the showroom which is probably not a fair test, as you have pointed out. It was nice to see these bikes and I appreciate you letting me know about this issue, so thanks. Obviously, I need all the help I can get. I also inquired about availability of the Rebel once production has shifted exclusively to Japan and the guy said that although in some parts of the country they were having difficulty with supply, here in Seattle they had been OK so far. He said he wasn’t worried about an interruption.
Oh, I should mention that the foot brake on the Honda appeared somewhat flimsy to me, almost too “extended”. Has there been a problem with this breaking? Maybe not, I was just wondering.January 21, 2009 at 8:16 am #15876megaspazParticipant
an hour long ride isn’t a long ride. ;-P
but sitting on the bike in the showroom’s fine as long and will give you an idea of how it’ll feel on the road. if it’s uncomfortable from the start, it’s just uncomfortable from the start. if you can get the sales person to hold the bike upright for you to sit on, even better.
And one of the first things I do when I get a new bike (sprotsbile rider here) is to change the rear sets to either sato or vortex rear sets with pedals and add on frame sliders. I’ve never liked the stock rear sets of any of the bikes I’ve owned or sat on.January 21, 2009 at 1:58 pm #15878
I’d almost forgotten that one. When I was looking around, I was doing the one-leg thing, trying to hold the bike up and get an idea of how it would feel on the road. And I kept coming back to the GS500 and the like, with the more upright position. Then I tried one that had a center stand. THAT was an eye-opener. Once I could get both feet on the pegs, I realized that I was still very comfortable with the bars lower because I could use my legs and core to supprt myself. With one foot on the floor, I couldn’t do that.
YMMV.January 21, 2009 at 6:45 pm #15880DaggerParticipant
Street bike or cruiser is just a matter of opinion.. You need to find what feels good for you.. I grew up riding dirt bikes which are more of a standard riding position.. And although a street bike probably would have been closer to the same riding position and style, I knew I wanted a cruiser.. Took me a little while to get used to having my feet forward instead of below me or behind me, but you get used to it quick.. I started out on a V-Star 650 Custom since I had had some riding experience as a kid and I wasn’t concerned with a bike being too powerful.. My main concern was the bike weight.. I know I could probably handle an 1100, but that extra 200lbs of machine was more than I wanted to deal with while still relearning to ride.. The main things to consider are your height, weight and strength when learning.. You want a bike that you can easily control. Not a bike that’s going to control you.. Meaning if it starts to lean, you want to be able to stop it from falling hopefully.. That’s not going to happen on an 800lb cruiser.. But being 6’1″, starting out on a 250 cruiser was not an option for me.. Every one I sat on my knees were to my chest..
So what am I trying to say? Find a bike that’s big enough for your frame yet light enough for you to control and you’ll be set..
DaggerJanuary 21, 2009 at 9:55 pm #15882
I am increasingly moving in this direction–I don’t need too much power or weight, but I do want to learn well. The Kawasaki 500 Vulcan Cruiser is starting to look like my bike of choice. As far as speed is concerned, the 250 is fine. But I am guessing that once I learn and start using the bike everyday, I will want one which I can take everywhere–on highways and freeways and around town. Sure, I can sell on 250 on Craigslist after I have outgrown it, but I am mulling over skipping this step and getting a bike which will last me several years. I am not particularly a speed demon, but I do understand how a 250 might be better to start with in order to learn the skills needed. On the other hand, the Vulcan seems about the right weight, etc., and is perhaps more flexible and will last me longer. We’ll have to see, I guess. I will say that I am more comfortable on the cruiser style bikes, at least for now. Fortunately, I have some time before I need to decide.January 23, 2009 at 3:58 pm #15938AmorylParticipant
yeah, not to mention you got an amazingly sweet deal on that 650January 24, 2009 at 5:50 pm #15977
Dagger–This is some good advice and it makes me feel a little better about potentially choosing the Kawasaki 500 cruiser (Vulcan) as a first bike. I think it is reasonable enough in weight to control but powerful enough to forestall any need to buy another bigger bike in short order after 6 months or so. Thanks.January 24, 2009 at 9:33 pm #15979wbsprudelsParticipant
you wrote: “At the same time, I am thinking just moving to a little “higher” powered bike might save me money becuase I won’t outgrow it so fast. Lots of people seem to want a bigger bike at 6 months or so…”
I think some people misinterpret outgrowing a bike and wanting another with the fact that many riders claim that the perfect bike is the next bike. Part of the fun of motorcycling is dreaming about the next bike.January 25, 2009 at 4:15 pm #15989
…about a mathematical formula that determines the proper number of bikes to own. It goes like this:
Where X is the proper number of bikes to own, and N is the number of bikes you currently own.
Kind of explains why I have 9 bikes… Funny thing is, all the bikes (motorcycles) I’ve been looking at as my “next” bike are 250’s to make into a project rat bike/streetfighter.January 27, 2009 at 6:44 pm #16067JimParticipant
LOL…oversized canary….thanks for that laugh. (see pic above) HAHAH
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