Good Used Beginner Bikes
January 20, 2011 at 2:41 am #4318JoeSTLParticipant
I’ve got a couple questions about some used bikes I’m looking at. I’m an absolute beginner that has never ridden any kind of bike, but has wanted to for a long time. For many different reasons, I wasn’t able to get one. Well I’ve decided that this is my year. I’m going to learn how to ride a motorcycle. At 34 years old, I’ve put it off for far too long… I’ve done my extensive research so I know all about taking the MSF course (which I plan on doing in March), the importance of proper gear, and that I should start off on a good used beginner style bike. As much as I would love to go out and purchase a brand new Ninja 250r, I know that’s not a good idea. For one, I’m a big guy, 6’3 235 pounds so it could be a little tight for me. Plus I don’t want to spend 4k on a bike that I may drop in the first few weeks of owning it. Also, if I start riding and hate it, then I don’t want to lose a big investment. So I’m mostly looking for bikes under 2k, but would love to find a good running bike for a few hundred bucks. For those prices, my choices are down to a several early 2000’s Ninja 250’s, some 1990’s GS’s, and lots of bikes in from the 1980’s. What do you all think about a new rider buying a 1980’s bike? I really don’t know much about engines so I’m sure that doesn’t help my case. I’d appreciate some feedback with these listings that have caught my eye:
Or should I just spend a few hundred more and get something like this:
2007 Ninja 250 http://stlouis.craigslist.org/mcy/2156981534.html
Appreciate the help!!
~ JoeSTLJanuary 20, 2011 at 7:56 pm #29112madjak30Participant
You want a used bike that is fairly new. The older they are the more questionable the maintenance schedule can be…also the more likely that the fuel lines, brake lines, etc are getting old and cracked and need replacing. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t buy an older bike, but just realize there could be more work to be done to it to make it road worthy.
If you have never sat on a bike before, the sport type bikes will feel tight to you. You will want to find a standard bike to start on…they are the most neutral seating position…not hunched over the tank and putting pressure on your wrists, and not having your feet and hands out front…they can range from cruiser looking bikes to dual sport bikes to some that are nearly sport bikes…
The only problem is, there is a shortage of choices on newer standard bikes with reasonably sized engines…the GS500 and the Ninja 500 are two popular choices, and you should be able to find on in your area at a reasonable price…you could check out the Honda Nighthawk 250, the 750 would be more of a handful for a beginner due to weight and power…there are more choices in the dual sports, but they tend to have limited comfort in the seat.
You need to go to the dealers and sit on the bikes, that will determine which ones are going to “speak” to you.
Later.January 20, 2011 at 10:20 pm #29115Jeff in KentuckyParticipant
I would spend a few hundred more and get a bike less than 10 years old, unless you are a mechanic or have a special deal with a mechanic friend. If you buy an old bike, it is best to have everything checked by an expert.
Some shops will not work on a bike more than 10 years old, parts get harder to find for old bikes, and it is a safety issue if some hidden wear suddenly causes a big failure while you are going 75 mph and surrounded by cars. I was reading about a guy with an old BMW that crashed while passing a truck from a tank slapper, and the mechanic inspection afterwards found that the steering head bearings were worn and probably caused the crash.
My favorite choices for a beginner are the 250cc and 500cc Kawasaki Ninjas. They have been big sellers for years, a lot of parts are available both new and used, motorcycle mechanics know a lot about them, and they are water cooled for longer engine life.
For a person always planning to ride solo, the 250 Ninja would cost less. For a passenger added (pillion rider), the 500 Ninja is better. Some race tracks have classes for both of these Ninjas, with the Suzuki SV650 or a modified Honda Hawk as the next step above them.January 21, 2011 at 2:02 am #29117TrialsRiderParticipant
Re: “…if I start riding and hate it” lol nobody hates riding motorcycles, it’s better than sex! …well almost;) Yes you will fall while learning from scratch, more likely in the first minutes or hours rather than weeks and months, because the more you ride the better you get at it.
Of course you do realize if learning to ride a motorcycle is the goal, by starting on a Dirt bike you could avoid a number of significant expenses like, bringing a beater bike up to road worthiness, vehicle certification, plates and insurance. Then once you can ride proficiently go out and buy and ride any bike you want with confidence.
…sorry, I had to point that out again guys.
With zero riding experience you should stay clear of 3 and 4 cylinder bikes totally. If you find a bike in nice shape, strip off the signals and mirrors before venturing out to your first parking lot. Find a friend to ride with, preferably with some experience or a desire to learn equal to yours.
If you must go straight to a road legal learner bike on a budget, one with cosmetic dents and scratches is the best deal, nobody is trying to sell a bike with a big dent in the tank for top dollar. What you don’t want is bent bars, controls and pegs, so if those are damaged, factor the replacement parts in to your purchase and replace them immediately. Bars are about 40-140$ depending on type and quality. Signal and brake lenses must be totally free of cracks to pass certification.
Start with the 500-1500 (or your budget limit) bikes, since you’re not great with a wrench you should stay away from fixer uppers, here are the key phrases and parameters you should watch for: runs good, ready to go, recently certified, single or 2 cylinder, 500cc or smaller.
In about 2 minutes on my regions free online classifieds I found some reasonable candidates;
8000 original kms on this 1981 Suzuki 400 GS. Recent carburator cleaning with new parts, new coil, runs like a top. Great beginner bike. Mechanically strong. $1000 obo.
9000km, 1978 400cc Hondamatic. This bike is a classic. 2 speed automatic, great for a starter bike. Was certified 2 yrs ago and hasn’t really gone anywhere. Needs some tlc. This bike was taken apart and put back together, new tire, brakes some cables. $1000 firm
1983 Honda CB 250, starts easily, runs good. Carb recently cleaned, new brakes front and back (still in box, not on bike). Very nice bike needs no work and very little care. Not sure the number of kilometers on it. 1000$
Hope this helps some, & do keep us posted with your progressJanuary 25, 2011 at 2:38 am #29150JoeSTLParticipant
Thanks for the help. Honestly I would love to learn to ride on a dirt bike and then move up to the street, but I just don’t have the ability to do that. None of my friends ride motorcycles and the closest trails from st louis are around 2 hours away.
So I’ll see what kind of money I’m getting back this year and I’ll trash the idea of the 1980’s bikes. I just found a motorcycle shop near me that has lots of different bikes to sit on, so I’ll see what fits me and go from there.
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