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Thread: Best beginner motorcycle

  1. #1
    DonTom
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    Best beginner motorcycle

    I replied to a post here about the best motorcycle for a beginner. The original post as well as my reply ended up somewhere in cyberspace ( Eric can explain).

    Anyway, I own a DR200SE and believe it's a great street legal bike that can legally go anywhere and gets about 80 MPG.

    More info here:

    http://www.bestbeginnermotorcycles.c...dr200se-review

    -Don-


    I will "amen" what Don says.

    I believe a small cc dual sport (street legal but capable of being ridden on trails) is the ideal learner bike, for three main reasons:

    * Such a bike is light, not intimidating and easy to control; small cc street bikes (for example, a Honda Nighthawk 250) are also the above - but the dual sport has two other advantages -

    * When you drop it (and you will drop your first bike) it won't matter nearly as much. Won't ruin the bike; and if you do it on dirt as opposed to the street, it won't hurt you nearly as much, either.

    * You won't quickly outgrow it. Buy something like a Nighthawk 250 as your first bike and within six months you want to trade up. That's equally true of the dual sport 250 - but you can keep the dual sport and use it for fun on trails, or as a dirt cheap "rat bike." The small cc street bike becomes useless once you learn how to ride. That's why you see so many barely used examples glutting up the used bike classified ads!


  2. #2
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    Re: Best beginner motorcycle

    Y'all,

    I'm not in the dual-sport camp for a first bike. I've been riding off and on for 40 years, mostly "on" for the past 16. I'm also elevationally challenged: 5'5" with a 27" inseam, certainly "short" by modern American standards but I'd bet within the first standard deviation for men and certainly not overly short considering all humans (adding in the generally shorter women). My dual-sport is a Yamaha XT-350 which was one of the shortest on the market and it's still a stretch at traffic lights or dabbing through streams. My riding buddy traded a KTM 640 away because it was too tall for him --- and he's 6'3" tall!!! Modern dual-sport bikes are too tall for most riders.

    I always encourage new riders to buy short, low-powered, and used. The short helps with maneuvering. The low-powered helps with avoiding speed-related crashes. And the used just saves money. Ride for a year or two, build some skills, then sell for almost what you paid, then buy something you'll want to keep and own for years.

    Yesterday, I rode 200 miles on a gorgeous mid-Appalachian day. About 30 miles into the ride, I passed a gaggle of riders going well slower than I wanted to and was capable of going. But by the end of the day, when I parked the Hawk GT, I failed to push the kickstand into place and "lowered" the bike onto its side on the driveway. Even when you get some experience, little tip-overs occasionally happen. At least they do to me.

    Michael

  3. #3
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Re: Best beginner motorcycle

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael
    Y'all,

    I'm not in the dual-sport camp for a first bike. I've been riding off and on for 40 years, mostly "on" for the past 16. I'm also elevationally challenged: 5'5" with a 27" inseam, certainly "short" by modern American standards but I'd bet within the first standard deviation for men and certainly not overly short considering all humans (adding in the generally shorter women). My dual-sport is a Yamaha XT-350 which was one of the shortest on the market and it's still a stretch at traffic lights or dabbing through streams. My riding buddy traded a KTM 640 away because it was too tall for him --- and he's 6'3" tall!!! Modern dual-sport bikes are too tall for most riders.

    I always encourage new riders to buy short, low-powered, and used. The short helps with maneuvering. The low-powered helps with avoiding speed-related crashes. And the used just saves money. Ride for a year or two, build some skills, then sell for almost what you paid, then buy something you'll want to keep and own for years.

    Yesterday, I rode 200 miles on a gorgeous mid-Appalachian day. About 30 miles into the ride, I passed a gaggle of riders going well slower than I wanted to and was capable of going. But by the end of the day, when I parked the Hawk GT, I failed to push the kickstand into place and "lowered" the bike onto its side on the driveway. Even when you get some experience, little tip-overs occasionally happen. At least they do to me.

    Michael
    Hey Mike,

    Goof counterpoint; I sometimes forget that not everyone is a tall monkey like me!

    PS - Sorry to hear you dropped your Hawk; I "almost" do this at least twice a year with my ZRX because of its wobbly side-stand, which likes to tuck under at the least provocation.... :P

  4. #4
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    Re: Best beginner motorcycle

    I am the same exact height as Michael. One more question - what type of bikes are good for shorter individuals?


  5. #5
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Re: Best beginner motorcycle

    Quote Originally Posted by Henry
    I am the same exact height as Michael. One more question - what type of bikes are good for shorter individuals?

    The NT Hawk that Mike has is one; another (it's a "standard" - so not as sporty and hunched over) is the Nighthawk 250. A cruiser-type is the Rebel 250.... .

    The only thing that kinda sucks is these bikes are also small cc and most riders will outgrow them, in terms of performance, pretty quickly - and as you move up to larger cc bikes, they tend to get taller.

    Still, many of the more aggressive 600-1,000 cc sport bikes are more suited to shorter riders; I am way too tall for a CBR, for example. The thing to do is hit a big (and ideally, mult-make) store and just sit on a bunch of bikes to find one that fits you right....



  6. #6
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    Re: Best beginner motorcycle

    Y'all,

    As I said before, I always encourage new riders to buy short, low-powered, and used. Instead of buying a new Rebel 250 which many people will outgrow rapidly, how about a 1970s era CB-350 or 450 or Suz-Yam-Kaw equivalent? There are lots of good specimens around , many for reasonable prices, surely much less than a new Rebel. And when you outgrow it, you won't lose much money when you sell it for something larger.

    I would never encourage a new rider of any size to start with a CBR or equivalent. These bikes are seriously fast and beyond the capabilities of most folks, even those who have been riding for awhile.

    Michael

  7. #7
    Senior Member Ken's Avatar
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    Re: Best beginner motorcycle

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael
    Y'all,

    As I said before, I always encourage new riders to buy short, low-powered, and used. Instead of buying a new Rebel 250 which many people will outgrow rapidly, how about a 1970s era CB-350 or 450 or Suz-Yam-Kaw equivalent? There are lots of good specimens around , many for reasonable prices, surely much less than a new Rebel. And when you outgrow it, you won't lose much money when you sell it for something larger.

    I would never encourage a new rider of any size to start with a CBR or equivalent. These bikes are seriously fast and beyond the capabilities of most folks, even those who have been riding for awhile.

    Michael
    One of the best 'learner'/'first couple of years' bikes over here, if looking for a road, rather than off-road or dual sport, is the Suzuki SV650S. This bike has become very popular over recent years and, as people move up to CBRs, ZXRs etc., are often available in good condition for a reasonable sum. I have pasted a copy of the broad specification below. At 805mm the seat height will suit most people but, I understand that, for those who are sseriously 'elevationally' challenged that a good seat company can resculpt and lower the height quite a lot. Hope this helps, at least go and sit on one and see for yourself.

    SV650 SPECIFICATIONS

    MSRP*: $5,749 (This may be out of date now)
    Engine: 645 cc, four-stroke, liquid cooled, 90 V-twin, DOHC, 8-valves, TSCC
    Bore/Stroke: 81.0 x 61.6 mm
    Compression Ratio: 11.5:1
    Carburetor: Mikuni BDSR39
    Lubrication: Wet Sump
    Ignition: Digital/Transistorized
    Starter: Electric
    Transmission: 6-speed
    Final Drive: #525 chain
    Overall Length: 2070 mm (81.5 in.)
    Overall Width: 750 mm (29.5 in.)
    Overall Height: 1060 mm (41.7 in.)
    Seat Height: 805 mm (31.7 in.)
    Ground Clearance: 140 mm (5.5 in.)
    Wheelbase: 1430 mm (56.3 in.)
    Dry Weight: 165 kg (363 lbs.)
    Suspension:
    FRONT: Telescopic, coil spring, oil damped
    REAR: Link-type, 7-way adjustable spring preload
    Brakes:
    FRONT: Dual hydraulic disc
    REAR: Single hydraulic disc
    Tires:
    FRONT: 120/60-ZR17
    REAR: 160/60-ZR17
    Fuel Tank Capacity: 16 liter (4.2 gal.)
    15 liter (4.0 gal.) CA model

    Die dulci fruimini!
    Ken.
    Wolds Bikers, Lincolnshire, England.

  8. #8
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Re: Best beginner motorcycle

    I like this one a lot; also the 1,000 cc "big brother"... but then I am a big fan of nakeds and super standards to begin with!

  9. #9
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Re: Best beginner motorcycle

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael
    Y'all,

    As I said before, I always encourage new riders to buy short, low-powered, and used. Instead of buying a new Rebel 250 which many people will outgrow rapidly, how about a 1970s era CB-350 or 450 or Suz-Yam-Kaw equivalent? There are lots of good specimens around , many for reasonable prices, surely much less than a new Rebel. And when you outgrow it, you won't lose much money when you sell it for something larger.

    I would never encourage a new rider of any size to start with a CBR or equivalent. These bikes are seriously fast and beyond the capabilities of most folks, even those who have been riding for awhile.

    Michael
    I don't see those CB350s (and the like) around much anymore. These are seriously old bikes - more than 30 years old now - and the ones left are typically either show-type restos or complete pieces of shit that are unreliable, unsafe (or both) and need a lot of work. Most shops will not touch bikes this old, either - and that is no small thing for a person who lacks the know-how to tune and fix a bike.

    For this reason, I would not recommend a bike older than ten years (unless you happen to find a really cherry example with low miles - and a ow price... and even then I'd be reluctant).

  10. #10
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    Re: Best beginner motorcycle

    Question -

    What are the relative advantages and disadvantages of sport versus cruiser bikes? Which one is better for a beginner?

  11. #11
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Re: Best beginner motorcycle

    Quote Originally Posted by Henry
    Question -

    What are the relative advantages and disadvantages of sport versus cruiser bikes? Which one is better for a beginner?
    These are two very different types of bikes - both looks-wise and functionally. The cruiser bike will have a more relaxed riding position - either back upright or slightly leaned back - with the foot controls (shifter, rear brake) and pegs set relatively far forward. A sport bike will have a more "hunched over" riding position, with the foot controls farther back - which means your legs are more bent. The handlebars on most sport bikes are also shorter and canted inward in a sharp "v" - these are called clip-ons. The point of all this is to enhance the bike's handling/cornering capability. Sport bikes are generally built for aggressive (fast) riding over shorter distances; cruiser type bikes are built for a slower pace over greater distances. They are optimized for comfort - while the sport bike is optimized for high-speed/high-performance riding.

    Neither (in my opinion) is a good beginner bike. Most sport bikes are too powerful and "twitchy" for the novice; very easy to get into trouble on. The typical cruiser will be too heavy (and their handling & braking performance is often sub-par).

    A good starter bike is a "universal" or "standard" - for example, the Honda Nighthawk series (250 - 750 cc). These have ergos (seating position and controls) that are neither too aggressive nor too laid back; aren't too heavy - and typically have mildly tuned (but still adequately powerful ) engines that are very tractable (some full-on sport bikes have very peaky powerbands)... and also handle/brake very predictably.

    They are aso very affordable and cost the least to insure....

  12. #12
    Senior Member Ken's Avatar
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    Re: Best beginner motorcycle

    Eris posted;
    A good starter bike is a "universal" or "standard" - for example, the Honda Nighthawk series (250 - 750 cc). These have ergos (seating position and controls) that are neither too aggressive nor too laid back; aren't too heavy - and typically have mildly tuned (but still adequately powerful ) engines that are very tractable (some full-on sport bikes have very peaky powerbands)... and also handle/brake very predictably.

    They are aso very affordable and cost the least to insure....
    Some of my suggestions would be;

    BMW; - BMW650GS, reasonable price, adequate performance and should suit beginners perfectly.

    Honda;- CBF250, low purchase price and running costs. Air cooled simplicity. Six speed. A lightweight 138kg.

    Honda; - CB600F Hornet, Nice looker, crisp handling, good performance. Traditionally styled all rounder.

    Honda; - CB500F, as for the 250 but heavier at 186kg and with extra performance from 499cc liquid cooled engine.

    Yahama; - FZ6 Fazer, A good all rounder with excellent handling and performance.

    Yahama; - XT125S, a real lightweight learner's machine.

    Yahama; - YBR125 Custom, a lightweight semi-cruiser but not too extreme. Learner friendly.

    Kawasaki; - Ninja 250R, lightweight 151kg, modern semi-sports styling but not too aggressive. Good performance and relativiely cheap.

    Ken.
    Die dulci fruimini!
    Ken.
    Wolds Bikers, Lincolnshire, England.

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