- This topic has 7 replies, 4 voices, and was last updated 14 years, 8 months ago by Rupmisc.
Several Qs I am hoping to get answers to…
September 28, 2008 at 1:53 pm #2161OggiParticipant
Hi there: For the past two weeks I have been riding a Suzuki 400SM lent to me by a friend. This was my first riding experience and I very much enjoyed it. The bike was just perfect for me and built up confidence in the ability to ride a motorcycle. Well, my friend needed it back and it is time to go out there and get my own first bike. My experience on the 400 left me with a number of Qs that I would love to get your thoughts about:
1. I am a tall (6-2) yet skinny (150lbs) guy. The 400 is also a very light bike. When I took it on a highway to work I felt as if I am going to fly off the bike due to the wind. I felt that I had to grab the bike quite hard in order to make sure that it (and me) stay the course. So: would a heavier bike be any help? How much would a wind shield help to resolve the problem or significantly mitigate it? If I do elect to go for a sport-like bike (say Ninja 250 or 500) would I face the same problem or would their wind shields offer me any protection?
2. Speaking of the 250 and 500: after riding the 400 and feeling comfortable with it, would the Ninja 250 be a ‘down grade’? Should I go for the 500? What are the benefits of going to the newer 250 over the older style 500 (apart from the obvious issue of aesthetics)?
3. While I mentioned the 250 and 500: I am actually looking for a bike that would allow me to sit up relatively straight (too old for crotch rockets). Am I looking in the right direction? Should I consider other possibilities (e.g., Vulcan 500 LTD)?
I am going to be using the motorcycle mainly for commuting purposes (about 30 min. ride) involving both highway and in-town riding + the occasional recreational ride. I would describe myself as a cautious rider (so, no 650s for me please!).
Any thoughts or suggestions would be highly appreciated!September 28, 2008 at 4:20 pm #12883BenParticipant
1. A heavier bike might help a bit, but in general you are going to get blown around a lot when you are on a motorcycle. You just get used to it eventually and you stop trying to ‘fight’ the wind and you become relaxed and sort of flow with it.
From what I understand about wind you will be blown around the more aero dynamic you are if it is a cross wind, and the more ‘boxy’ you are the less you will be effect by cross wind. I can’t remember where I heard that unfortunately, but I’m sure some google research would either prove or disprove that statement pretty quick. A large windscreen will help for wind coming from the front.
2. I don’t know if the Ninja 250 would be a ‘downgrade’ but if I was already comfortable with the 400 I would probably go for the Vulcan 500 or the Ninja 500. The newer Ninja 250’s are great bikes and leaps and bounds better than the older version (at least in my opinion, but a new rider might not be able to feel the difference). Everyone that I know that has ridden the ninja 500 seems to like it quite a bit.
I would also suggest the vulcan just because I REALLY REALLY want that bike lol haha. But from what I understand the Vulcan 500 and the Ninja 500 engines are very similar.
~Best Beginner Motorcycles AdminSeptember 28, 2008 at 4:57 pm #12886
Based on a 20 second check, I think that a 400SM is a one of these:
light weight, relatively tall-dual purpose, kind of thingy. Just want to make sure we are talking about the same bike. If, given the plethora of bike designations, you rode a completely different bike, then “never mind”.
1. The wind. Sitting upright means you get the wind, unless something redirects it. This is true for all cruisers and standards. Windshields and fairings keep wind off the rider. Some people like the wind – they learn to lean into it, or just hang on like many cruiser riders (some back support can help). Riding leaning forward on a sport bike, may feel strange in traffic, but allows the wind to actually help support you at speed. The lightness of the bike is not going to change whether you feel you are going to be blown off.
The lightness of the bike will affect how much the bike gets blown in the wind, or truck generated air flow, on a highway. So will height, a little (broader sail). Streamlining makes some difference with head winds, but bikes aren’t designed to deflect crosswinds or tailwinds. My guess is that, as a practical matter, any bike defined on this site as a beginner bike (and many others) will be affected by moderate winds at speed. I suppose that we all have to learn to deal with it.
If you are worried about being blown off the bike, you might get this feeling less on a ninja 250 or 500 that have small windshields and fairings. They also are shorter.
2) You are asking about going from a tall dirt type bike to a standard (though faired) semi-sport bike. I haven’t ridden the ninjas, but I have ridden a NIghhakw (standard, naked honda 250), and I have sat on both Ninjas. The new 250 is more upright than the old 250 or the 500 (which is unchanged from last year). I am 6′ 190 and felt more comfortable sitting on the 2008 250 than I did on the 500 or an older ninja 250. Downgrade? Depends on that you mean. The 500 will still go 0-60 faster than my M5 (at least on paper). It has both a bigger and faster engine than the Suzuki. I suspect that in terms of acceleration, the Ninja 250 is not a downgrade. But, the 400 was not designed to be a sport bike. Both ninjas are reported to handle well. But I’d be happier taking the 400 on a dirt road. At 6’2″ there is undeniable appeal about a taller bike that is light enough to handle easily. But upgrade/downgrade is apples/oranges, sort of meaningless.
3) I’m a new rider, and I’m 54. I find just sitting on a cruiser with my feet in front of me, to be uncomfortable, and a strain on my back. I’d love less bend in my knee (more distance from seat to peg) but haven’t yet found a bike I liked that wasn’t more powerful and heavy than I like. Moral: do more research and look around. Unless you know what feels comfortable, it isn’t easy to answer your questions. As others have done, I recommend “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Motorcycles (fourth ed).
Although this is a subject where opinions differ, I am of the cc’s are not the only variable. A 650 cc cruiser is not the same as a 650 cc sport bike. 2 cylinders aren’t the same as 4. Do more homework.
Finally, you didn’t mention obtaining any formal training, and said that you had no prior experience. But you took the bike on a highway to work? Perhaps the MSF course? If nothing else, you’ll get to ride a different bike. Good luck.
You need to do some research (and I do too). The Suzuki 400 SM is a one cylinder engine producing 40bhp (I think) , and weighs in at 300 pounds dry.September 28, 2008 at 4:58 pm #12887
Ben’s post was done between the time I started, and the time I posted. He would certainly know more about the Ninja 250 and the Vulcan 250 than I do.September 28, 2008 at 8:59 pm #12905BenParticipant
Don’t sell yourself short Rupmisc, you made a good post as well.
~Best Beginner Motorcycles AdminSeptember 28, 2008 at 11:06 pm #12907OggiParticipant
Thanks Rupmisc and Ben for your thoughtful and helpful posts. Very useful indeed.
Rupmisc: I did take the MSF (BRC course). I would not be riding a bike without it (did I mention being cautious lol). You did identify the correct bike I have been using so your post is useful (thanks for taking the time).
Like you I am a bit concerned about the sitting position on a cruiser (I am 44), but would not like to have a forward reclining, sporty, position either. It does seem that the 250 has a better sitting position than the 500 (one wonders if Kawasaki is going to change that in 2010…).
I have been doing quite a lot of reading online. This might also be the time to say that I very much appreciate this website and have found it extremely helpful
Cheers.September 29, 2008 at 12:09 am #12910MunchParticipant
Concerning cruisers and leg room. You can find great sites like Scootworks.com and be able to find “kits” to relocate you forward controls , well, further in front of you.
I am not a fan of the sitting of sportbikes and standards so I don not know if they offer the same. I have seen a sportbike rider get really stretched out on the bike though, I am assuming he was using the pegs for the passenger though… looked like he was to be superman.
BTW, scootoworks is a local vendor for me, kinda proud we have someone around that lends customizing options for metric cruisers. They even have a Vulcan 500 they dressed up in their project bike section. I think I may take some of their ideas for my 500, I like the drag bar look and definitely gonna get the belt drive conversion.
Yesterday is a memory, tomorrow is a prediction, but today…… is a Bi**hSeptember 29, 2008 at 1:16 am #12913
Thank you Oggi and Ben for the nice words.
The only new bike which is both standard and under 600 cc’s is, I think, the Honda Nighthawk CB250. Take a look in the recommended bikes, there are some 500s pre owned bikes(Suzuki GS500 in various forms) that are upright. Look in the recommendations section. There are also upright 650s (Suzuki SV650 and SV650S) which some on this forum think are beginner bikes (I’m not expressing an opinion having never ridden one). There are Kawasaki R650s from 2008 and earlier which have been mentioned as possibly comparable to the Suzukis. For 2009, available who knows when, there will be 3, count ’em 3, 650s from Kawasaki (upright faired-R650 with some changes, upright naked – [en 650??], and the Versys – same engine, taller, “adventure”?].
You can look them up.
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