The Age-Old Debate…
January 18, 2010 at 10:21 pm #3655CTFan3134Participant
…of whether or not a Ninja 250 or 500 is best for a beginner.
I know, I know, there have been numerous topics all over the internet on this very topic, but after reading all of them, some more insight from experts would be great I’m only 18 and headed off to U of M in the Fall (meaning city driving), but I also need to get home on occasion, which requires a 40 mile (or so) stint on the freeway. Yeah, you can take the back roads, but they’re horrendously slow and traffic-ridden.
I’ll be taking the MSF ASAP, but after that, which bike should I focus on more for Craigslist hunting? As stated, I’ll probably be doing a bit of freeway riding, and I might need to ride two-up on occasion after I’m a better rider. I’m 5’8″ and 150lbs, will the 250 be enough bike? Will the 500 be too much? Or should I just buy whichever one I can get the best deal on? Thanks!January 19, 2010 at 1:33 am #24070SpoolParticipant
I have never ridden a Ninja 250 but one of my good friends has a 500 that I have put quite a few miles on. In my opinion it would make an excellent beginner bike. It’s fairly light weight and the power is easily managed. It can be fast, but you really have to run it hard to get the speed out of it. It’s not one of those bikes that will get you in trouble with the flick of the wrist. I’m sure a 250 would be plenty of bike for you at your weight but at the same time the 500 would in no way be too much. So yeah, you would probably do best to grab which ever you can get a good deal on.
BTW my friend bought his 2006 500 with 6,000 miles on it, in nearly mint condition for $2,000 so there are some great deal out there on them.January 19, 2010 at 3:49 pm #24078IBA270Participant
and then find a bike. If you decide you like motorcycling and continue to ride, your tastes will change, I can almost gaurantee it. 500 to 650cc twins make very good beginner bikes. They have linear power delivery, and reasonable weight wise, and depending on the bike, they have good ergonomics. While there’s nothing wrong with a 250 as a beginners bike, I don’t generally recommend them for a couple reasons;
First, they have low horsepower which can be a liability at freeway speeds. Certainly an advantage of a motorcycle is the ability to accelerate quickly. 250’s will struggle a little at highway speed.
Secondly, riders tend to outgrow them quickly. Why are there so many low mileage 250’s out there? One of two things happen; new riders decide they don’t like riding, or they are ready for a more capable machine horsepower wise.
The 500 or 650’s aren’t too much for new riders. If you take the course, you have the skills to practice and to become a skilled rider. They lack the “peaky” power delivery that the supersports have and the more aggresive steering geometry that tends to get riders into trouble.
hope that helps…January 20, 2010 at 3:09 am #24079Sean_DParticipant
.. rule of thumb. But to offer a counter suggestion, you might to at least consider a Triumph Bonneville. Yes it is an 865cc, and yes it weighs 500lbs, but you would never know it to ride it. It is well balanced, agile, forgiving and does nothing unexpected.
Someone gave me the suggestion to try one out in a forum as I was looking for a bike for taller riders. I thought they were crazy suggestion a 865cc 500lb bike to an absolute newbie who had only just finished the MSF course. But I did some more research and came upon a review in Web Bike World from MSF Rider Coach Kenn Stamp.
Ken raved about the Bonneville for new riders, even going as far as saying ” I would love to teach new riders how to ride using the Bonneville SE over ANY of the current crop of training bikes the MSF allows….”
I just had to take one for a test drive after reading that. The dealer set me up on a 7 mile route involving a little urban, highway, throughway, traffic. First bike I had ridden since the Rebel 250. I came back smiling ear to ear and purchased the bike that afternoon. It has been a great bike to learn on. As Kenn says a very “Friendly” bike.
I am sure there will be folks on here that will disagree with me suggesting the Bonneville 865, but I have to say as the first bike I have ever ridden outside of an MSF parking lot, I actually found it much *easier* to ride than the Rebel 250cc and more confidence inspiring to boot..
Edit: I should add that my 5’8″ wife, who took the MSF course with me and is as brand spanking new as I am, has also ridden it extensively, despite the fact she has her own 650cc Twin. She loves the heck out of it.January 20, 2010 at 1:53 pm #24089IBA270Participant
You’re right; displacement generally is NOT a good rule of thumb in choosing a bike. Power to weight ratio, torque and ergonomics are much better in determining whether a bike is good for a beginner or not. The HD 883 Sportster is another example…January 20, 2010 at 2:56 pm #24090Sean_DParticipant
Absolutely. The 883 and the Bonneville are often compared as competitive products. I test road them both and liked them both. I think either one would make a nice first bike to learn on.
The issue I had with the 250 is the frame was too small and I felt cramped. I had issues with muscle spasms on and off in my hips during the two days trying to maintain that cramped seating position. Never a good thing. Luckily we got enough breaks where I could stretch it out, but there is absolutely no way I would ever have considered owning one. If a bike causes you discomfort it will eventually lead to distraction.
Actually I had a couple to deal with during the course. The freaking helmets they give you to use were killing me. Definitely the wrong shape for my head. The pressure point the thing put on my head during the course left a tender spot on my forehead for like 4 days after. I tried the next larger size, but it just rattled around loosely. Choosing the proper helmet for your head size/shape definitely goes a long way toward ergonomics. My current helmet fits me like a glove. I am probably going off-topic now thoughJanuary 20, 2010 at 3:47 pm #24092CBBaronParticipant
Yes the 250r is enough bike and no the 500r is most like not too much bike.
The ninja 250r will do freeway speeds without a problem, it tops out north of 90mph. It easily handles my 6’2″ 220lb frame though the newer model has a minor ergonomic issue for me, it won’t be a problem for someone more average height.
Take the MSF first before deciding what to buy. The class is great and you will be much more comfortable on a bike after the class.
The Ninja 250 felt like a much bigger and more powerful motorcycle than the MSF bikes (TW200, Rebel, Nighthawk) but still light and easy to ride.
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