Hello from MI and the bikes I am looking at.
September 2, 2008 at 12:12 am #2011gr8johnsonParticipant
I live in the Detroit are, Clinton Township. I am 41, 5’8″ 185. I am looking at getting a bike after years of wanting one. I think the gas prices will get my wife on board. I am looking at spring for my safety class and purchase. I will start looking in Nov. though because my car will be paid off. And I think people will be unloading their bikes before spring to get new ones. I drive 45-60 minutes to work most of it freeway driving. That is where the gas is killing. My car get s about 25 mpg. I can cut that in half with a bike. My main concern is the freeway drive. I am not against a 250cc bike. I like the Ninja 250. It can be had for $2000 for a good one. But how is it on the freeway. Some guys at work who ride a lot say it is too small for freeway driving. Too light and not enough “get out of trouble” power. I am not looking at going 80mph all the way to work, but I don not want the throttle twisted 90% just to go 65-70 either. So if the 250 is too small, I will be looking at one of the following, Suzuki Bandit 600, Suzuki SV650, Suzuki GS500F, Ninja 500r. I have always wanted a Ninja. I would like to spend $3000 max including helmet and jacket and maybe boots. I might spend more if I find one in a shop and finance it over a longer period of time. I think I can get into a good first bike for that price.
How is the Ninja 250cc on the freeway?September 2, 2008 at 3:00 am #11530fotobitsParticipant
I’ll probably get flamed for saying this, but you won’t be happy with the little Ninjette on the freeway. You will have it screaming at 8,000 RPM keeping up with freeway traffic. If I had to pick among your other choices for your intended use and experience I’d go for the Ninja 500. It has plenty of power for freeway cruising, but not so much that it will get a beginner in trouble. The SV650 is a good bike too bike, but the extra power may be too much for someone new to motorcycles. I’d scratch the Bandit 600 and GS500F from your list because it is air cooled and the maintenance, if you follow the factory schedule, will be much more expensive than the Ninja 500. Valve adjustments alone will negate any fuel savings.
If $3,000 is your budget I’d suggest you start buying gear now. There are plenty of threads here on riding gear. If you look around and buy closeouts from online retailers (newenough.com is excellent) you can get good gloves, helmet, jacket and pants for $500. Don’t forget eBay. I just got a pair of like-new Held gloves for $60 including shipping. Not bad for a pair of gloves that retailed for $280.September 2, 2008 at 3:29 am #11534BuddParticipant
I drive 70-80mph on my commute (except when stuck in traffic), You can wind it past that. It is pretty suprising. I get about 65-70mpg at those speeds too. I would say that the Ninja 250 is an excellent commuter. I have found that by paying attention and expecting the dumbest thing possible will keep you out of trouble and no need for escaping acceleration. I have only experienced on escape with speed situation and that was on the secondaries.
“I am the best there is at what I do, and what I do ain’t nice.”-WolverineSeptember 2, 2008 at 6:16 am #11536nau_lax21Participant
Ive done a little riding on the freeway (<40mi, so not much) on my gs500f, and it's fine.. however I don't think I'd want anything less powerful (or worse, lighter) than that.
My knowledge is (very) limited, but IMO, I wouldn’t want a 250 if I was doing a lot of freeway riding.
Another thing tho, I currently live above 7000ft altitude, and everything with a motor likes to go faster at lower elevation. So maybe a 250 on the beach could outrun a 500 up in Flagstaff.September 12, 2008 at 1:53 pm #12054WeaponZeroParticipant
The bottom line when it comes to motorcycles is that the things that make a bike handle better at lower speeds and fun in the twisties (low weight, short wheelbase) work against you when travelling at highway speeds. It’s why bikes that are badged as “touring” and “sport touring” bikes weigh in excess of 500 lbs and have longer wheelbases. Any bike you get (short of a 250cc cruiser or possibly the nighthawk) will be ABLE to do freeway miles at 80mph with headroom to spare, it’s just a question of how comfortably and how effortlessly they can. Long wheelbase equates to better straight line stability at the cost of handling prowess. Weight helps the bike ignore the effects of wind gusts which can be pretty treacherous at highway speeds.
I have an unusual stance on motorcycle weight, being a big guy. You’re always told lighter is better throughout your learning years, but I have discovered that there IS a point where it’s too light. And when the rider is as heavy as or heavier than the bike, that point has been reached. I ride a bike that weighs only a little more than I do and it creates a very “top heavy” bike. This no doubt contributes to why the bike feels unstable and unsafe at highway speeds due to the effects of wind.September 12, 2008 at 5:24 pm #12062MattParticipant
First off, Weapon, have you gotten your rear suspension setup yet? I’d hold off comments on how unstable the bike is until that gets sorted out. A slightly off suspension setup can really soil the entire feel of a bike. This is true on top end sport bikes and lowly mountain bikes.
I’ve heard of 300 pound guys on SVs who love ’em to death. And with a wet weight of over 400 pounds, I don’t think you out-weigh your bike just yet
Next, I’m going to chime in on the Ninja 250. On the freeway (under an hour at a time) the buzzing doesn’t bother me. The 8000rpm engine speed is barely audible above the wind noise (with ear plugs).
If you are paying attention there is absolutely no shortage of power. It’ll get to “do not pass go do not collect $200” speeds faster than most cars. If you can get in a camry, jetta, or focus and feel they are fast enough on the free way not to be a danger, well, the ninja is faster.
But, longer than an hour, especially if you are riding twisty highways at above posted speed (only 15% above in my case… but fast for me), you have to keep the engine on the boil – which means 7000rpm+ and 8k-9k if there are any uphills in the corners.
And hour of 8-9k and a sporting tuck, THAT gets buzzy. My hands were always fine, but my feet buzzed quickly.
For that reason alone I can see myself moving up to a 500 or a 650.
And as for gear:
Yes, start buying now, because it’ll cost you more than you think. The cheapest helmet I *personally* can wear is close to $200. The one I do wear is closer to $500. Over all I’ve spent way more than $1000 on gear. And the money spent on good fitting gear makes the experience so much more enjoyable. I’d rather have a cheap bike and good gear than a good bike and cheap gear.
Only buy a NEW helmet. Don’t save money buying used (even if the guy says it has never been dropped, you are putting your life in your trust of his statement). And make sure you try it on for awhile before buying it (visit a shop, wear all their helmets, find hte ones you like, then wear those for 20 minutes or more to make sure no pressure points build up).
Frankly, with all your gear, you should at least try on something from that company locally to make sure it fits. I’ve learned that only Icon makes glvoes that fit my hands. Almost no others are comfortable. Just like jeans, no two companies use identical measurments, buy online if you like, but try ’em on someplace first!
“The two seconds between ‘Oh S**!’ and the crash isn’t a lot of practice time.”September 15, 2008 at 3:16 am #12165dcJohnParticipant
Ok, with a whopping 1 weekend/70 miles under my belt, I’m a complete noob weighing in. But, since the more the merrier, here’s the perspective of a new rider on a new Ninja 250:
So far the Ninja 250 has been a joy to learn on. The transmission is a breeze and forgiving. It’s nimble but still feels very stable to me at higher speeds (well, just 55mph so far, since as a brand new rider I’m not spending much time at highway speed). In two days I went from never riding a bike to comfortably doing slow-speed, tight figure eights and medium-speed (30-50mph) driving through faster, twisty back roads. I don’t think there’s anyway I’d be learning as quickly on a more powerful bike. Moreover, I can see where constantly trying to be careful of a larger bike’s power would already be leading me into all sorts of bad habits. No matter if/when I might move up to a more powerful bike, I’m confident I won’t ever regret that this is the bike I’m learning on.
As for gear, I’d recommend visiting several local stores until you find a place that has a good selection you can try out and has someone knowledgeable to help you. If I’d just ordered online, or gone with the advice of the first store I walked into (young kid who didn’t want to spend more than 5 minutes with anybody), I’d have ended up with a helmet that was both the wrong size and that wasn’t a good match to my head size.September 16, 2008 at 1:22 am #12216bob250Participant
I have an 08 ninja 250 and had it up to 65mph with my wife on the back and with just myself. I don’t think speed is the problem, I think the 250 just does not feel super stable in the wind. You will still have quite a bit of throttle left at 65-70. I don’t have alot of experience, but I would get a 500 over a 250 any day of the week for freeway driving. If not for the added power then for the added weight of the bike. Whatever you end up getting be safe and enjoy!
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