January 15, 2011 at 8:39 pm #4313
Well, I am supposed to post here because I don’t want to lurk…
I am a student in Salt Lake City, UT that is considering the purchase of my first Motorcycle.
So, I might as well ask my newbie questions here..
During my initial research into my first bike a friend suggested a Kawasaki Conours. I love traveling long distances on two wheels and my favorite travels have all been self supported bicycle trips. I like the Concours because it seems like it would be nice to commute to work (I will be moving to San Diego this year) and on the weekends throw some bags on and hit the road. I also like that they are inexpensive and from my understanding, reliable.
However, they have 1000cc engines and I am concerned that due to my size (6’1″ 150lbs) and lack of experience it may be too much displacement for me.
I know my limits and drive/ride conservatively, can I pull something like this off?
I don’t really care how it looks or how fast it is, and the ninja 250r and 500s seem nice but I doubt an 8hr day on a Ninja would be a pleasurable experience….
I really appreciate everyone’s wisdom on this.
SamJanuary 16, 2011 at 8:07 am #29057madjak30Participant
First off, the Concourse is not your best choice for a commuter bike…it’s pretty heavy for stop and go traffic and obviously you understand that starting with a “liter” bike is not the best choice…as for touring on the smaller engined bikes, it just depends on the speed at which you want to tour…a Ninja 250 can hit 100mph, and they are more comfortable than you might think (yes, the connie is more comfortable…but that should be bike #2 or 3)…if you are planning lots of hiway riding a better choice might be a Ninja 500 or a GS500F which are also pretty “newbie” friendly bikes…both are older tech, but reliable and decently comfortable…they will go a little faster than the 250, but they don’t have to work so hard to cruise on the hiway while still being light enough to commute and learn on.
You don’t want you first bike to scare the crap out of you within your first month…the connie would have way more accelleration than you might be ready for in the beginning, and as I mentioned before, the weight of the bike will surprise you at the worst times…lots of plastic bits that will definately break if you drop it.
My last suggestion to you is get some training…take a basic riders course so that you understand the basics of the sport…don’t forget to wear protective gear…it’s not just the helmet…
Later.January 16, 2011 at 2:02 pm #29060
Hey Sam, & welcome, sure hope we can help you here. Hmmm at 6-1 & 150 you’re not much bigger than myself and I can tell you, a liter bike is not even going to feel you on there. Before you jump on board something as big as the concours try pushing it around or putting her up on the center stand, that will quickly bring everything into perspective. Big bikes are no problem once you are moving over 20 and terrific at warp speed, but at low speed they are like a lame duck out of water, they must remain balanced 100% of the time or it will tip over and there is no muscling a 670 lb. bike once it starts in the wrong direction.
Sounds like distance is your thing so keep these on your shopping list; Full fairing, shaft drive, liquid cooled. If you can actually find a Concours cheap go for it, but with the money you save get yourself a little beater bike to learn on. If ever there was a candidate to learn on dirt that’s you, dirt technique would relate directly to riding any motorcycle without the extra 400 lbs. and costs associated with having 2 road legal bikes.January 16, 2011 at 6:00 pm #29061eonParticipant
Welcome Sam and congratulations on trying to start out correctly and asking for advice. Good news is you have lots of options out there. I will say you could start out on a Concours but you would be making life very difficult for yourself, and I’m not sure there is a need for that. As the others have mentioned it’s the low speed stuff that will catch you out and as a student I’m not sure you want the expense of fixing a dropped Connie. Not to mention the insurance (might be okay but I kind of doubt it).
To be comfortable on an 8 hour ride I would suggest looking for something with a standard sitting position with a good windshield. Windshields (and bags) can be added so look for a bike with the “standard” seating position. There are a lot of 650cc bikes in this category that are still relatively newbie friendly so this would be a good choice I think. Something like the VStrom 650 or the Versys would be perfect. The 2010 Versys had a facelift but there are still 2009 models out there in dealers selling for $4500 ~ $5000 if you look hard enough. I’m sure this has a knock on effect on the 2nd hand market as well so there should be screaming deals out there. These bikes are also taller which may be a good thing given your height.January 16, 2011 at 11:13 pm #29064
Wow thanks for the comments guys!
This definitely gets me pointed in the right direction. As far as the ninja 250 is concerned, it has ample power for how I ride. But if I am cruising at 70-80mph on I-5, do I need to worry about overheating? From my snooping around the net it seems to be geared pretty high. I really like how the V-strom looks, any other suggestions that are similar to the v-strom or versys? You mentioned that I have “a lot of options”, but I don’t know how to look really…January 17, 2011 at 1:55 am #29065eonParticipant
I’ve never owned the Ninja but I’m pretty certain it could cruise at 70-80 all day long. I own a big heavy maxi scoot with a lower power to weight ratio than the ninja and I can (and have) cruised all day long at those speeds (admittedly mine is 500cc but I’m not sure that is significant).
Hmm, there is BMWs F650GS & G650GS. The link below may give you some ideas.
http://www.oldguy.us/easy-riding/bg-models-standards.phpJanuary 17, 2011 at 4:58 pm #29071
No motorcycle will overheat at 75 mph unless it has a problem with the cooling system- leaking coolant, bad thermostat, bad water pump or oil pump, blocked radiator or cooling fins, etc. Air cooled engines could overheat creeping along in a traffic jam on a hot day, or in a parade, and generally air cooled engines wear out faster, but are lighter and simpler.
The 250cc and 500cc Kawasaki Ninjas are water cooled, and will go 75 mph all day, except for a lot of weight added to the 250 (like a 250 pound + rider) going up a big hill, but you will still probably go up the hills faster than the heaviest trucks with trailers.
The biggest problems with the 250 Ninja is that a passenger is not comfortable, bigger bikes will beat it on a race track with a skilled rider, and if ridden hard all the time (high rpms) the engine often wears out at 60,000 miles. Its 95 mph top speed is fine for the street. Also, many people have too much ego to ride a bike with a narrow back tire like the 250 Ninja has, and the pre-2008 250 Ninja has an older look and fewer tire choices.
See the recommended reading on the right side of this page for more good bike choices for a beginner on the street.January 17, 2011 at 8:09 pm #29072
In my experience the full fairing is a major advantage that pays off nearly as much as some extra cc’s. I’ve ridden my Ascot 500cc single air cooler from Toronto to Detroit near non-stop and the things that made it less than comfortable; the upright riding position and the vibration. Maximum comfortable sustained speed is <120kph (75mph) and if I tuck in as much as the standard bars will allow and shift my feet to the passenger pegs I can pass at 145k (90mph) Wind turbulence blows you all over the place, particularly behind transport trucks.
Fuel economy suffers at anything over 70mph, which is not so much a problem with cost as the reduced range and a lot more vibration relates to chain drive than one would think, chain drive is definitely more efficient for power transfer, but after you ride a shaft drive bike the reduced vibration benefits become very apparent.
I like eon’s BMW suggestion:) too bad they still don’t offer smaller displacement boxer twins, that is a great design for giant riders that see gravel roads on occasion. It was the K100RS aerodynamics that sold me on my Beemer some 25 years ago, sitting upright it is comfortable and actually vibrates less at 145k+ speeds, wind resistance does not increase appreciably as you approach the rev limited 235k mark, but the damn cars and trucks look like they are backing up at youJanuary 17, 2011 at 9:30 pm #29075
The few times I rode over 100mph years ago, what amazed me was the wind and vibration trying to pull my hands off the grips- I have a small National Cycle brand windshield added that helps a lot for a bike with no fairings over 50 mph, with tall handlebars. The quality of the clear or tinted plastic is better from this company, for a reasonable price.
Also, the speed that telephone poles go by on the edge of road compared to a normal speed seems a lot different. I only did this a few times on long straight roads that I knew well in rural areas, with no driveways and no police around and no other traffic.
I was foolish enough to take some smooth corners on my 1978 650 Yamaha until the frame or exhaust pipe scraped the ground, in posted 35 mph corners at 60 mph, and one time in the early 1980s in my 1972 Plymouth Barracuda I slowly built up over several tries to 85 mph in a 35 mph corner so that all 4 wider than stock tires were sliding but I stayed on the road barely, then gave up going this fast. Now, I never go over 85 mph, and only to pass sooner on 4 lane highways when the car in front of me is going 65-70 in a 70 mph zone.January 17, 2011 at 11:38 pm #29076
Well, I don’t care what the Ninja looks like, and I don’t plan on riding it hard or with a passenger over long distnaces. So with that being said, I would be ok on a Ninja? If that is the case, sigh me up, I like how inexpensive they are to buy and operate. Also, what bags would you guys suggest to add a little luggage space on the Ninja?January 18, 2011 at 12:09 am #29077
after some minor research:
http://www.dogodo.org/index.php?p=1_4_Latest-GreatestJanuary 18, 2011 at 12:27 am #29078
You will probably fit well on a 250cc Kawasaki Ninja, but you really need to sit on several bikes for a half hour at a time before buying one.
The retail price for a new 250 Ninja is about $4,000- see the NADA book value for a used one. When the price of gasoline goes up, dealers do not negotiate the price much for their smaller bikes, and negotiate the price more for their gas hogs. I found it is best to call dealers- they will negotiate more over the phone, to get you in the door. Shop around for insurance- the price varies a lot.
You may want to buy the footpeg relocators from cyclecontrol.com and different handlebars for long trips for a 6′-1″ tall person, if you buy a 2008 or newer 250 Ninja. I would also consider adding a gel pad on top of the stock seat, to make it taller and softer for long trips. Shorter people often cut some foam off the bottom of the stock seat foam then put the stock seat cover back on, so their feet reach the pavement easier.
These are good soft saddlebags for a reasonable cost:
http://www.sporttour.com/luggage/cortech/saddle_bags_sport.htmJanuary 18, 2011 at 2:12 am #29079
I’ve visited that beautiful state and Sam you guys sure know wide open roads! Utah Police are Super nice guys too
I don’t actually profess anyone should go so fast, and one of the reasons a hyper sport is Not a good selection for new riders is the ease with which such machines achieve warp speed. Jeff and I got a little carried away with the go fast discussion on your thread, but as I once pointed out, fast is the most exciting thing you can do with a road bike so eventually the urge to ‘see what she’ll do’ can become almost unavoidable. ..never a good thing for an inexperienced rider on a liter bike, but something you Will do very quickly with the 250 Ninja.
Ninja 250 is a very capable bike and excellent to learn on (if dirt holds no appeal for you) yes, but once you add; long distance luggage it’s no longer a wind slippery 250 hauling 150lbs. of rider down some of the fastest roadways in North America.
Hence a dilemma; your parameters are ‘unusual’ for this message board in that distances you expect to travel and the associated speeds are much higher than most, so I could be wrong on this but I’m thinking you still need to saddle test some of the larger displacement bikes and possibly resolve to never exercising more than 60% of it’s power, which is pretty much where I will be when I get my F3
…just my 2 cents worth, but if you can find one:
K75 is like a 3/4 scale Concours with all the right stuff. Those bags are stock issue and large enough to hold a helmet or 50lbs. of stuff.
Haven’t read all of that article in your latest link, but quickly spotted the chapter where he rode the rear tire off and saw how top heavy the luggage is stacked plus comments on wind issues. I don’t think you want to make every trip an odysseyJanuary 18, 2011 at 3:10 am #29080madjak30Participant
The Ninja 500 has a little more power, but I think the GS500F is the nicer looking bike…both will do the speeds that you are after and be fairly comfortable. You will need to sit on the bikes though…one may be more comfortable than the other to you, and that should be the one you choose…don’t necessarily go for the faster one…
Anyway, good luck!!
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