September 23, 2008 at 3:49 am #2134
I know everyone on the internet says that a 600cc bike is not for beginners but they always reference relatively new bikes. And I’ve heard that the newer bikes are even more like race bikes then ever before. With that said, for a first bike what are your opinions on older (91-02) 600cc bikes. You guys will probably tell me to get a 250 or a 500 (which I understand) but I was just wondering if the age of a bike would make a difference allowing a less experienced rider get a more powerful bike. Thanks.September 23, 2008 at 2:45 pm #12560
An ’02 is still a twitchy powerful beast.
Frankly, so is a ’97.
If you want a 600, I’d look back to ’92 and previous (dependant on model). The 1988 GSX-R was darned close to the new GSX-650F (not a totally newb friendly bike, but far better than any 600).
If you look back, the 600s of 1990 were still often making 100hp – which is frankly far more than you want. Ideally I’d say try to stick to half of that. Which as you guessed, puts you in the 500cc bikes for the most part.
Now, there is a definite hole in your logic. You want a powerful bike, but hope that age will make is safer. Power is dangerous, period. Even a rebel with its 16hp can kill you if you don’t use your brain. It is all a matter of risk management. The more power, the more risk. And unless you have experience with motorcycles, you really aren’t in a position to judge just how much risk a given amount of power is to you.
Don’t ask “How much power can I get?”, instead ask “What is it I want to do?”
If you simply want to have fun on the road, a Ninja 250 is sufficient.
If you want to be able to accelerate like a bat out of hell and pass any car, a Ninja 500 is sufficient.
If you want to be able to out accelerate other race-type bike, and pretty much only then, do you need to look super sport bikes.
What else do you want out of your bike?
I would suggest something that is:
Comfortable, good looking to you, makes a sound you like, feels “fun”, accelerates fast enough to beat traffic and give you a rush, doesn’t intimidate you, is mistake tolerant, handles corners well and allows mid-corner corrections.
A Ninja 250 will fit a lot of those. The looks and sound are completely personal, and some people won’t find it fast enough in the straight. I personally find it adequate unless I’m playing in not-entirely-legal speeds.
A Ninja 500 will fit all of those save possibly the look and sound.
An old (15 year old, but still in good mechanical shape) 600cc sport bike will fit less of those. It may or maynot be comfortable, looks and sounds are personal again. It WILL accelerate fast enough, but so much that is very well might intimidate you, and its mistake tolerance will be somewhat there. Not as tolerant as the 500, but far more than a newer bike.
A newer (10 year or younger) sport bike will fit very few of these. It may be comfortable, but it should intimidate you (if it doesn’t you don’t have a healthy enough sense of self-preservation ). It won’t be mistake tolerant. And it won’t like you making changes to your line mid corner. That is the part the scares em the most, as I am constantly making corrections to my line. Having to “get it right the first time” when I’m learning – not such a great plan in my books.
“The two seconds between ‘Oh S**!’ and the crash isn’t a lot of practice time.”September 23, 2008 at 4:01 pm #12564
I’m going to be the devil’s advocate here only because I know quite a lot of people who started out on old 600s from the mid 90s and older and turned out to be fine. Are they twitchy? Yes. Are they harder to control? Yes, mostly due to the fact that their powerband essentially begins halfway through the rev range. You’re minding your own business cruising along when the tach needle hits the 50% mark and it’s like somebody just switched on the turbo or hit a nitrous oxide button. If you aren’t prepared for it, it will make things very…interesting, to say the least.
But none of this means you CAN’T. Most of the riders I know started out on old honda CBR600F2s and F3s from the early-mid 90s, and Suzuki Katana 600s. It’s still not as wise as starting out on, say, a 500, but they can be manageable for a beginner once you become accustomed to the peaky characteristics of the engine. But a newer one, such as a CBR600RR or a GSX-R600, no, they are suicide for a beginner.September 23, 2008 at 10:36 pm #12591
Most of even the older 600’s are just STILL too much HP many are STILL near 100HP out of the box and IMO thats too much..there are a few exceptions like say the older Ducati 620’s they were under 75hp I believe and I think in the 60’s…but most of the “other” even older 600’s were still near 100(or over) HP.September 24, 2008 at 1:44 am #12613
can you talk more about how larger sport bikes are less tolerant and don’t like corning changes? what is it about them exactly that gives them those characteristics or is it how the rider typically rides them (too? fast!)?September 24, 2008 at 1:58 am #12615
Thanks for info guys. Yeah I was (key word) looking at the cbr f2 and f3’s, but won’t go down that route. Now I’m thinking the GS500F but I would really want a sv650.September 24, 2008 at 3:43 am #12626
Not being a mechanical engineer there is only so much I can say about the tolerance of bikes. I’ll try to explain it as best I can, but I hope Fotobits or someone more knowledgeable on this subject can chime in and correct me.
Tolerance to rider inputs is actually a slowness to respond. The bike takes a deliberate effort to turn in. On a faster bike, it responds to every minute input. Great if you have subtle control and finesse, but trouble if you haven’t yet mastered it. Basically, if you look at a new driver, they tend to wander across the lane and over correct ever change in direction. As they get better the corrections become smaller and smoother until they drive in smooth consistent lines.
The same is true of riders. But on a super sport, those over corrections, or other unintentional inputs (and the over corrections against them) make the bike a handful, because it responds to them instantly.
Make no mistake, even a tolerant bike like a Ninja 250 is a fast handling bike, but it isn’t razor edged.
Then you also have tolerance to road surfaces. And this comes down to suspension and frame rigidity. The stiffer the frame, the less it bends, and the more bumps in the road cause it to bounce around (just like a stiff suspension sports car). The odd thing is that for a bike to be friendly, you want it to have some lateral flex, that is, you want the bike to bend from side to side.
Think of if this way, when the bike is upright and you go over a bump, the suspension travels up absorbing the bump. If there wasn’t suspension you’d be bounced around all of hells half acres. Now, when you lean the bike over, the suspension only travels in line with the bike. So it can’t absorb all of the bump. If the frame can flex side ways, then the frame can bend a bit to help absorb the bump. This keeps the wheels in contact with the ground and the bike going where you want it.
A modern super-sport (frankly, any of the aluminum framed super sports) is a very stiff beast. It is meant for much smoother surfaces than “real roads”. And so, you have to be that much better of a rider to handle the bike hitting bumps when leaned over. Steel flexes much more, and so an older steel framed sport bike will be “nicer” in this respect. But some aluminum framed bikes are still friendly.
My ZZR-250 is a friendly aluminum framed bike. I had it leaned over in a corner and hit a tar snake (patches crack in the road). The bike jumped a bit, slid slightly towards the outside of the corner (in this case towards the double yellow). But more importantly, I wasn’t in any way ready for it. My left hand came off the bar and my left foot came off the peg! I was able to get myself reseated properly and get through the corner with no ill effect because the bike just kept on doing its thing. I’m certain if that learning experience had happened on a stiffer bike or faster reacting bike, I’d be sharing a story about how I slid down the pavement at 40mph…
Now, as for the cornering changes, I can’t speak on that bit very well. I’ve only ever ridden bikes that are tolerant to mid corner corrections. I only know of it from reading reviews of super sports. My understanding of it is this:
Once the bike is leaned into a corner and the speed is set, it is balanced. Any changes to that balance unsettle the bike. Adding throttle, brake, or even extra or less pressure to the lean can cause the bike to become unsettled (shake, skip, slid, etc) and you have to control it.
I wish I had a better answer for you. Again, maybe Ben, Fotobits, or Spaz could chime in here.
“The two seconds between ‘Oh S**!’ and the crash isn’t a lot of practice time.”September 24, 2008 at 4:47 am #12630
There’s lots of things you can do to change your line. although, imo, changing your line in any point of the turn still gets sketchy. That’s why S.E.E., slow-in-fast-out, hanging off, *late apexing, and looking as far into the turn as possible are important on the twisties. You want to get all your inputs settled before the turn. The MSF tells you about the easiest avoidance technique in the turn, which quite frankly isn’t all that appealing on right handed turns, which is to stand the bike up and try to brake before the obstacle. Trying to swerve in the middle of the turn would be a crap shoot… you’re more likely to run across the DY or off the road. And on a sharp right hander, standing the bike up to try to emergency brake will more likely lead you over the DY. If there isn’t obstacle avoidance involved and you’re running wide of the turn, there’s a few techniques you can do, but you have to be smooth as possible while in the turn. All these have bad consequences if not done close to perfect. I’ve actually done all of these at one time or another. Haven’t binned it yet.
** 1. roll on more throttle and lean more. I see this suggested all the time as a first resort. not sure what the second or third resort would be if this doesn’t work.
*** 2. trail brake with the front brakes to scrub speed and slowly and smoothly as possible release the front brakes while rolling on the throttle at the same time.
**** 3. Trail brake with the rear brakes. Advantage of trail braking with the rear brake is you get a subtler #4 as well as a subtler braking response which could be all you need. Disadvantage is that the bike might want to stand up as well as decreasing contact patch of the rear wheel or locking the rear brake which can lead to a high side.
**** 4. engage the rear brake with the throttle rolled on. this causes the front wheel to rotate faster than the rear wheel causing the bike to slide in the rear to a new line and exit point. release the rear brake when you’ve got the line you want.
IMO, anything done while in any process of a turn is sketchy at best. I personally think of any of the choices as last resorts since you’re in split second reaction mode and not hitting any of them pretty much means you’ve run out of any time to correct your failed corrections. All of these oh shit recoveries also require that the rider not target fixate. High sides and low sides are a very real possibility with any of the above. The one thing about super sport bikes are that they are now lighter than before and are easier to throw around at speed. So even if you do the unrecommended standing the bike up to change your line (not stopping) you can do it and flick the bike into the lean of your new line (most likely to be done in an early apex). The best advice I can give you is to go slow on new roads you’ve never ridden or just take it slow in general and get your speed fix on the track.
FYI, if you find yourself running into dirt/gravel on the side of the road, stand the bike up and use your rear brakes only. I’ve had a few experienced dirt riders tell me that.
* late apexing in general needs you to have control of your bike. You need to flick the bike quicker into the lean. the advantages you get are 1) you can see further into the turn and 2) less time spent in the lean. Advantage 2 depends on your control of the bike because you need to initiate (flick) the bike into the lean quicker. Also, late apexing into blind right turns isn’t all that great because you’re spending more time closer to the DY which puts you in danger from other vehicles in the other direction who can’t stay between their lines. The only other alternatives being take the inside line which sucks because you can’t see further into the turn and you can’t determine vanishing points as easily.
** this especially works if you hang off properly because when you hang off correctly, your bike is more upright and you have extra lean angle to play with.
*** The best i’ve figured out with this is when you’re engaging the front brake to roll off the throttle while engaging the front brakes as you don’t want to chop the throttle at all in a turn. When you’re at the speed you think you can control, continue with the brake releasing/throttle rolling described above. combine with #1 and hanging off if needed.
**** The least recommended solutions due to misuse of the rear brakes by riders in general.
If there’s anything more important than my ego
around, I want it caught and shot now…September 24, 2008 at 1:51 pm #12643
Thanks guys! That seemed helpful. Not sure if I got everything spaz is saying, but I’ll read it over a couple more timesSeptember 24, 2008 at 3:37 pm #12650
The SV650 is sort of straddling the line between what is and what isn’t a beginner bike. You’re going to find a lot of people who tell you that a beginner has no business on one, and you’re going to find a lot of people who tell you the exact opposite. Me, I fall in with the latter because I started out on one myself and I don’t regret it. If you want one, go for it, just don’t get the faired one or else you’re going to cry when you drop itSeptember 24, 2008 at 3:45 pm #12653
Or you could get a smaller lighter bike that you can hold up that is faired and not worry about dropping it, because you have control of it.
“I am the best there is at what I do, and what I do ain’t nice.”-WolverineOctober 3, 2008 at 1:54 pm #13235
I am definitely a “newbie”. I’ve taken the MSF course and have gotten my license. I was pretty good at the MSF course and felt confident on a 250cc Nigthhawk. I was thinking about moving up to a 600cc…..
I’ve read alot of reviews on the Honda CBR600 F4i (2001-2005). Not the RR, which I know stands for race ready. Most of the reviews both professional and personal (owners) said it was a good bike for beginners. What do you guys think? Do I need more experience on something smaller or can I start with the F4i?
Thanks.October 3, 2008 at 3:09 pm #13238
Me personally, I would say no way. That thing makes close to 100 horsepower at the rear wheel. If you REALLY insist on going for a 600, which is not adviseable, here’s a list of bikes that are doable.
1. Suzuki Katana 600 (discontinued 2007)
2. Suzuki Bandit 600 (discontinued 2004 i think)
3. Honda CBR600F3 (made 1995-1998-raciest and fastest bike on this list, least beginner-friendly)
4. Honda CBR600F2 (made 1991-1994-1994)
5. Kawasaki ZX-6(E) Ninja (made from 1991-2004. in 2002 they changed the name to ZZR600 but the bike remained the same.)
All of these bikes (except for the bandit, which is a Katana engine in a standard-style bike, detuned slightly) were once top-of-the-line race bikes that each won their share of championships (except for the Katana, which was a joke on the track even when it was brand new but great for the street).
Personally if it were me I would go with the Bandit out of all those bikes because it’s the one with the most comfortable riding position, being more of a standard than a sportbike.October 3, 2008 at 3:31 pm #13243
Have you looked at the GS500 or the Ninja 500?
“I am the best there is at what I do, and what I do ain’t nice.”-Wolverine
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