H-D Sportster, Ducati Mini Monster, BMW 800(sport-touring)
July 7, 2008 at 12:24 am #1684
Just curious. I have seen each of these recommended for beginners. I confess, I like the feel of a standard better. I haven’t seen any of these mentioned here. Does anyone know much about any of these bikes, other than that one would hate to scratch the BMW.July 7, 2008 at 1:11 am #8448
In my opinion, none of these are suitable first bikes for a new MSF Basic Rider Course graduate. Second bikes, yes, perhaps.
Do yourself a favour and learn on a used 250 or 500 c.c. bike (depending on your height and weight). You’ll get plenty of fun and experience on one of those. Six months later, sell it for what you bought it for and then get the bike you want.
You’ll be a better (and safer) rider for it…July 7, 2008 at 3:39 am #8462
If I understand you, then, the light weight is the key. The Sportster is far slower 0-60, than the Ninja 500, and has a lower top speed. It is heavier, and lower. Is maneuverability the key?
I am 6 feet/ 190 lbs, 32 inseam. I feel a little scrunched on the nighthawk 250. Can’t get a new Ninja 250. Guess that leaves cruisers, but I really prefer to have my feet centered rather than forward.
On the ninja 500, my knees can come up a little above the indentation in the gas tank (at least that is sitting in the showroom). Still, that is the current frontrunner as best choice. Can anyone tell me if I am ok with the 500R if my knees are positioned as described?July 7, 2008 at 12:35 pm #8477MattParticipant
Gah, stupid IE lost my post…
I have ridden the F650GS, same engine as the F800ST but detuned. You can find my thoughts on it in this forum. My Dad rode the F800ST. It is NOT a beginner friendly bike. I don’t care what anyone else says. It has a lot of power, the brakes take a very light touch, and it totally belays the speed you are going. You can cruise at a 100mph without noticing. Not god for riders still learning to judge speeds coming into corners. Great bike, awesome SECOND bike. Not a good starting bike.
Ducati and Sportster both have threads on here.
Sportster costs more to buy, repair, and insure than a 600/650 cruiser, with similar performance and handling. LOADS of personality. Good starting bike if you want it and money is not a concern.
Ducati is as good as a 650 twin (SV650, Ninja650R). But costs more to buy, much more to repair, and requires more frequent maintenance. Not really an ideal starter bike.
My 2 centsJuly 7, 2008 at 9:30 pm #8528
Yes, the weight thing is a big factor, but I personally don’t think a Ninja 500 is a good starter bike either (too much power). I only meant consider a 500 c.c. if you are extremely over-weight, but I definitely think a 250 is the way to go in a first bike.
I’m 6′, weight ~200 lbs, 31″ inseam and a Nighthawk 250 was just fine for me for learning. Nice and light and it won’t throw you off the bike if you accidentally grab a handful of throttle when you hit a pot-hole or hurl you over the handlebar if you panic and grab a handful of brake. You’ll also be able to hold it up if you over-balance when you stop with the front wheel not pointing straight.July 8, 2008 at 1:46 am #8546
Rab seems to be fairly similar in body type to me, slightly shorter legs, slightly heavier. Still, looks like I’m going with the 500R over the Nighthawk. The 650 was way more comfortable (as was the Versys [sic?] frankly), but I thought the 500R was supposed to be OK. Actually, if weight is the factor (cruisers are heavier) why wouldn’t the H-D 883 be OK, except that it probably handles poorly and vibrates? Matt, you may not be the most conservative person on this site.
I can, however, personally attest (from day 1 of MSF) that it is possible to gently lower a NIghthawk 250 to that it reclines while its rider stands after having stopped with the front wheel not quite straight.
I suppose it might have been nice if the 500cc qualification in the first response had said “500cc cruiser”. Is the Ninja 500 any less suitable than a Suzuki 500 (sport style)? Is there anything at 500cc that doesn’t leave your feet sticking out in front of you which is an OK beginner bike?
Which raises another interesting point: the Suzuki 650SV is, if not recommended on this site for beginners, at least thoroughly condoned. A sales person, who said I should stick with a 500, said that the 650R Ninja has essentially the same engine as the SV650. Is that true? Just curious, have decided to stick at 500 or below. But hell, I was going to put my money on the 500 in the morning—lost my DSL for a few hours, and then I saw this thread. Speaking of indecision.July 8, 2008 at 2:24 am #8551megaspazParticipant
A sales person, who said I should stick with a 500, said that the 650R Ninja has essentially the same engine as the SV650. Is that true?
From your perspective as a new motorcyle rider, it’s basically the same (P-twin vs. V-twin). Mechanically, they are very different with different characteristics. There are advantages and disadvantages to each design. Would you notice these differences? Probably not.
I’m quoting what I’ve read on the internet, so take this with a grain of salt…
P-twins provide higher rpms, higher top speed, supposedly better fuel efficiency, less vibration and are easier to cool.
V-twins provide more torque in the power band and especially in the lower rpm range, lighter than the same displacement P-twin engine, and are more common.
I’ve heard differing opinions on the less vibration part and with liquid cooling, cooling differences are kinda negligible. Not sure on the fuel efficiency either. But either way, if you’re set on a 650, either the sv650 or the ninja 650r will be fine.
If there’s anything more important than my ego
around, I want it caught and shot now…July 8, 2008 at 12:21 pm #8557
I was trying to establish a baseline of opinion on this site. I had thought that the general consensus was that a 250 or 500 were generally appropriate as beginning motorcycles. The Suzuki 650s have generated more debate, but are included in the “approved list”.
On the smaller end, Rab’s comment seemed to suggest an even more conservative opinion: 250 (although I wonder if the new Ninja 650R is included), or 500, but not the Ninja 500R. So the 500s Rab would sanction, must be cruisers. It sounded, to me, as if Rab would really prefer 250s, with a strong preference for a Nighthawk or cruiser (which is a fairly limited selection in the US).
I’m not looking for acceleration or top speed. Looks don’t really matter to me, but seat and leg position do. I thought going with the Ninja 500 would be conservative (and only after having failed to obtain a NInja 250). I would get a Nighthawk if it were a seriously better choice than the 500. I did wonder about the bikes I talked about at the beginning of this thread, because they seemed lower in both power and acceleration, and because the complete idiot’s guide had mentioned them as beginner bikes.
I asked about the 650R, only because I was curious about why the Suzuki 650 was OK, but the Kawasaki might not be. Personally, I have already decided to stay at 500. In any event, no one here can find a Suzuki naked 650 with ABS (which I confess did appeal to me).
Basically, I just wanted to know if others agreed that even the Ninja 500 was too much (yes, it can accelerate), and if the only real choice other than a cruiser was the Nighthawk 250, being both light and low powered. If so, Is Rab in the minority on that opinion?July 8, 2008 at 1:34 pm #8561acidpopeParticipant
When someone is saying a bike is a good beginner bike, they’re generally just saying there is a reasonable chance it can be used safely as a learning bike. This shouldn’t be misunderstood though as it will be a good beginner bike for you personally. Obviously there is a large list of factors involved. Weight, height, need, desired speed, desired torque, mpg, sound, look… the list goes on for a ways including intangible things nobody can give you an answer too, like your own confidence riding. Also keep in mind when 125cc thru 650cc (excluding 600cc in-line four engines) are all considered as a beginner bike somewhere or by someone that in itself is a large margin to go by. After all, how can a 650cc not be tougher to learn on than say a 250 or 125? It is. And that is what you need to look at. The easy things you can do yourself. You can find a bike that looks good, or feels good by simply going down and sitting on the bike. However this is prolly the least important thing when it comes to learning, since it has basically nothing to do with the actual learning process. If you’re looking for a bike to learn on, there is only one thing to remember. Smaller cc are going to be easier. However if you’re being influenced by other things then there really isn’t much anyone can give you, because you will end up buying the bike you want with any advice being pushed to the back burner. I did! Will I enjoy my bike? Sure, eventually. But if I had gotten a smaller one I know I’d be out there enjoying it more and spending less time practicing things I would have prolly already been past feeling comfortable with on a smaller bike.July 8, 2008 at 5:35 pm #8570
there must also be some general rules. I have pushed all of the bikes that I might ultimately want to second or even third bike in future. Now it’s down to trade offs, not for looks, but for best experience. Neither of the bikes I’m considering, is actually one that I want to own for long. (Nighthawk 250 or Ninja 500R). The peg/gear configuration on these (especially with my knees bent) is tight. With all due respect, feeling good (to the extent it means movement, balance, and flexibility) is not the least important thing.
I sat on a Kawasaki 500 cruiser because it is another bike recommended on this site-I am not psychologically fond of having my feet in front of me, but if it were the best all around to learn on, I would consider it.
According to everything I have read here, size is not the only factor. Weight is a factor. Position is a factor. Light weight and a more upright or forward position make maneuvering easier. But light weight is faster, and easier to flip if you grab the brakes. Cruisers are tougher to lean, but are more stable in a straight line. etc. etc.
I live around Boston. I plan to practice on side roads in the suburbs. But I worry about taking a Nighthawk 250 on a major highway. The 500R is a little heavier, might be a bit more maneuverable, but there is more danger from grabbing brakes and throttle. Neither is ideally suited to my body. The price difference is not material to me. If I thought a 650R would be a good first bike, I would buy it, but I know that I am conservative and am not ready for that one.
So, I would feel more mentally comfortable with a smaller bike. I would like the flexibility to learn. I was under the impression that both of these bikes were smaller. Rab suggests, I believe, that the Ninja 500 is not a good bike for a beginner. For what it’s worth, I am more than capable of controlling my desire to go fast (I really prefer control and precision to speed). I do worry about inadvertent mistakes (e.g. brakes with throttle) and want a “forgiving” bike.
Prior to this thread, I thought both the 500R and the Nighthawk pretty much met these qualifications. If one is way more suitable for the real world, I will listen (I have listened-the 650’s and others are out of the picture). I’d like to get it. So maybe just a list of pros and cons between the two bikes for me. Bluntly, if it’s easier to learn on a 500cc cruiser, fine, too.
Thanks. Again, I’m not looking for permission to get my dream bike, just the best of the available, reasonable choices. I have tried to provide enough information about myself to receive more personalized advice. Finally, I sincerely appreciate all of the comments that I have received non this and related topics. I have taken the lessons of practice and full gear to heart. Now for the bike. I await any comments.July 8, 2008 at 8:50 pm #8574
In a nutshell, you can learn on pretty much *any* size bike. You may, however, fall-off more often on some bikes than others.
As I said, I believe a 250 c.c. is the ideal size bike for beginners to learn on and this is generally what MSF instructors will also tell you. I’m about the same height/weight as you and my Nighthawk 250 topped-out at 80 m.p.h. on the freeway but going up hills and/or into a headwind slowed it down and required a down-change to get it back up to 65+. Certainly freeway capable but no, not ideal.
The Ninja 250 may be your ideal bike as I believe it can be ridden mildly if you so choose, or, go fast if you rev it higher in each gear (can do ~100 m.p.h. I believe). I don’t know if it will fit you for size though.
Remember, as the graduate of an MSF Basic Rider Course, all you are qualified to do right now, is to ride at less than 18 m.p.h. in an empty parking lot; that’s all. You have a lot to learn about riding a motorcycle in traffic, cornering at speed, hill starts, sharp left and right turns from a stop (junctions) and same turns on up-hill gradients and on down-hill gradients, negotiating poor road surfaces, etc, etc.
This experience is all more easily acquired on a smaller engined, lighter bike. The faster you go, the more danger you are in.
Like I said, you can learn on any bike. As you’ve said yourself that you’ll want another bike in 6 months anyway, why not just bite the bullet and set aside six months as a continuance of your MSF BRC before you “join the club” on the bike you really want. If you buy used, you can sell it in six months for what you paid for it.
Remember that most folks who say a 650 c.c. bike is “a good beginner bike”, have forgotten their shaky mistake-ridden beginnings.
Anyway, I’ve said my piece (at length) and I’m sure you’ll be fine with whatever bike you choose if you take your time and realize that the development of motorcycling skills takes time.July 9, 2008 at 12:38 am #8579megaspazParticipant
I always try to steer all new riders to a 250… I haven’t forgotten any of my mistakes starting on a 650cc nor do I think I ever will… Especially with the 2 drops… I don’t think it’s something you forget. If you’re really, really got your heart set on bigger than 500cc bike, I will recommend an SV650 because I ride one and it’s a joy to ride once you learn how to control it… And then a 650r second… I only recommend these bikes because of the even power distribution on the throttle (v-twin/p-twin characteristics). I don’t know much about standard or cruiser 650s, but most everyone I’ve come across are more interested in the sport style bikes anyways (natch). But anyhoo, just get a ninja 250. Get an old one. Basically, from 1989(???)-2007, they’re pretty much the same machine. Build your confidence, coordination, and experience and just do it… or not…
Just saying since I think I remember you not really crossing it off your list for anything except availability, which I still think you should be able to find something out there used. YMMV.
If there’s anything more important than my ego
around, I want it caught and shot now…July 9, 2008 at 2:01 am #8583AndrewParticipant
The Ninja 250 seems easy enough to come by used around here. Well easier than finding a Rebel, Virago or GZ250.
AndrewJuly 9, 2008 at 2:26 am #8586BuddParticipant
The guy across the street told me not to get a 250 Ninja. He said I would out grow it in a couple of months. His first bike was an R6 and he said that a 600cc bike would be fine. I told him about the gas mileage and he asked me how far I was going to be riding it. I told him it was a 25 minute commute. His response was that 25 miles is too far to ride a motorcycle, anything over 10 would wear me out. Yeah, If I am hanging on for dear life on an R6. Sure I catch myself having a death grip on the Ninja at times. Especially on the interstate, in the rain, when I am getting blown all over the road, or a combination of those, but I am pretty sure I could go on a longer ride. That guy sold his bike because he didn’t ride it much.
“I am the best I am at what I do, and what I do ain’t nice.”-WolverineJuly 9, 2008 at 12:37 pm #8591
No, I listened to the comments on this site. It’s down to the Ninja 500R or the Nighthawk 250. Cannot get a Ninja 250 where I am, or at least can’t find one new or from someone I know to be reliable. I am going to wait for anything bigger than a 500. But is the 500 not a great idea?
Many say the 500R is a great beginner, some don’t. Looking for pros and cons. For example “250 better in parking lot but the thing is too freaking light for a highway in Massachusetts (home of good roads and polite, predictable drivers . If all riders should get a 250 for 3 months, fine. But if the 500 has plusses, I’d like to know.
The only reasons I mentioned the 650R is because if someone recommends the SV650, why wouldn’t the same person (not you, not me) recommend the 650R. That’s just curiosity. I’m sticking at 500 or less, but I prefer standard/upright to cruiser.
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