Best beginner bike.... Once and for all
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Thread: Best beginner bike.... Once and for all

  1. #1
    Moderator Array TeeTee's Avatar
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    Feb 2002
    Out to pasture in the 'Wack
    04 Kawi Z1000,

    Best beginner bike.... Once and for all

    This Article/thread is an older item that has spent some time in the Articles area. I've deleted the stuff that didn't belong and present it here for the new rider community. It's still open if anyone with thoughts wants to update it as the first 3 pages are over two years old now. Be warned though that silly stuff will be deleted to keep the intent and flow pertinent.

    OK folks. I'm going to put you all to work. This is your chance to see your name in the Articles forum. The basic "what bike do I buy" has been done to death but each one seems to have it's own special curve that makes it less than suitable for a basic article. I'ts time for you all to offer your complete opinion once and for all on the time honored classic question....

    "Hi my name is Squidly Skruluze and I'm want to buy my very first bike. Do you think I'll have enough power if I get a GSXR 1000? Oh, and I fall down a lot when I ride a bicycle. But this won't be a problem 'cause my good riding buddies tell me I can just gas it when I get into trouble.....".

    Se let's tell Squidly what our thoughts are on the right choice for a beginner bike. I want it all. The 250 faithful. The Ninja 500 owners group. The 600 believers. And that rare group of plastic surgery survivors that say a liter scoot is safe. Old or new. Plastic or no. Lets have it.
    Last edited by TeeTee; 08-24-2005 at 08:27 PM.
    A backyard mechanic without a service manual is just like a hooker without a lamp pole.... they are both in the dark.

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  3. #2
    Mmm bubble gum Array SRAD's Avatar
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    Aug 2002
    '07 GSX-R 750
    My first bike was a 92 FZR touring. 520lbs...too big for me to handle. I was rushing into the whole sportbike thing. December rolls around, and I sell my bike and within 2 weeks, end up buyin the bike of my dreams..a 97 Suzuki GSX-R 600. Beautiful bike. Extremely fast acceleration, very responsive, nice and light. Still had to learn to harness the power as it was more responsive and explosive than my stalky FZR.

    When I didnt know anything about riding bikes, I didnt care what CC i long as it was 600 or over. Now, Im in my 6th month of riding, and I can tell you, I'd be happy with a 500 CC RGV-R. Its light, fast, and looks like a bullet. My 600 is light, yet still learning to control it. So if I could go back and do it all over again, the only 600 id get, would be a CBR F4i. Suzuki's are purebred race bikes for experienced riders. R6, same story...Kawis and the CBR's are more forgiving, yet still hold the power desired by most speed demons. I dont think I'd start with a 250 though. I'll say 500 CC would be my starter...if I could do it all over again. Right now..if given the option between my bike, or an 03 R1...i'll happily keep my bike. 600 cc is all i need. Fun in the corners...light, super quick..and good on gas...well better than litre bikes.

    Also easier on the wallet. Wow...its amazing how much difference there is between a guy with 40% discount payin WAAAAY more for his 03 litre bike than I do with 15% on my 600. So to you newbies...dont go over 600 to start with.

    Hope this is what you're looking for Tee Tee..and to all you new riders.
    25,000 feet is my own little piece of heaven

  4. #3
    I might be dangerous! Array Manic's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2002
    Get a dirt bike! Learn how to balance a two-wheeler on soft ground first and then pavement will seem like a breeze. Dirtbikes are meant for dropping so feel free. After you have mastered the offroad, and have some self control!!!, you can make the leap to even a plastic litre bike quite safely.
    Last edited by TeeTee; 08-24-2005 at 08:13 PM.

  5. #4
    Registered User Array Jumby's Avatar
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    May 2002
    North Van
    Zx6 07, Crf 450r, Yz250f
    I am with Manic on this one, a dirtbike is by FAR the best way to learn how to ride a bike, braking, turning, body position. I know this is not a streetbike, but the question was what do I buy for my first bike? XR250 thats the bike. I know alot of people won't agree, but show me a guy with a dirtbike background and I will show you a good street rider.

    If a streetbike is all that can be had, any 250 4stroke will do for there first year, they will get the feel for a bike with out the chance of there EGO killing them. I know alot of guys who have ridden street bike for years and they are good riders, but there are times that a dirtbike background could save there ass.

  6. #5
    Moderator Array Harps's Avatar
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    Mar 2002
    A couple of Suzukis

    /Harps waits for Jayson, boone, slipknot...

    Very good idea Bruce...

    THE BEST beginner bike to start out on is: 1) cheap 2) naked 3) small (no, I'm not talking about a strung out 80lb crack-whore)

    There are a few ways you can go with this...but here's what I think is the best option:

    Get an old dual-sport for like $2000. You can probably pick up an early '90s DR225 or XT250 or maybe even a DR350 in that price range. It's cheap, and most of the depreciation has already been taken out of it. Depending on what time of year you buy, you may even be able to sell it at a profit when you're ready to step-up a few months down the road. On this bike you can get all your stupidity out of the know, dropping it in the drive-way, slipping on the rain, falling over in the parking lot. You can do all these things while causing minimal damage to the bike. And congruent to what jumby and manic can still go play in the dirt! Have some fun, feel your rear wheel slide, slip around a bit...drop it, pick it up, and keep going. Loads of fun!

    If you're short (like me) then the dual sport might not be the best idea, as they usually a have fairly tall saddle. In this case a small cruiser, or better yet a standard, would probably do the job. Suzuki GS400-500, Honda CB400, Yamaha Maxim, get the idea.

    /Harps calls Marco for his standardized response...
    Maybe Mediocre
    BCSB - I hate you

  7. #6
    1L Duck Eater
    Disregard all other post and read this !!!

    Ok, if your really sure you want to get into the sport and then spending some money shouldn't be a problem, go buy a Suzuki SV 650. First of all the v-twin offers up a great power curve for a learner, not jumpy just a smooth pull from bottom to top. The SV has no lower plastics you have to worry about if you do drop your bike, and most likely you will drop your bike it happens, and when you think it can't it does. This bike gives you the oportunity to dicover every aspect of the sport from touring to track days, without intimidating the rider to much. These are very well like motorcycles and are in demand so after a few years when you feel as though you could handle a larger bike, it will be moderatly easy to sell. The one thing I can say is, if your getting into the sport and you are serious about it, buy some quality gear!!! I cannot stress this enough, it doesn't have to be leather, there are many quality textile products out now, always wear jeans at the least and get the best leather gloves you can afford, your hands don't work well when you have no skin on them!!!! And of course in Canada we have to wear helmets, thank god, so protect you brain with a quality product as you may need to use it later.This last part is in my opinion is going to save you weather your on a moped or a Busa, good gear saves lives. Remember that, when its a new bike and no gear or a used bike and good gear!!! This in my opinion is what a newbie as we call you, needs to know, and what a good first SPORTBIKE for you the SV could be.


  8. #7
    Deer magnet Array Prez's Avatar
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    Jun 2002
    sold - borrowing my wife's CBR
    I've never ridden the SV650 or EX500, but I agree with the above post. A twin with minimal plastic is a great way for a beginner to go. If your on a budget, an older EX would do nicely, but if you want to spend a bit more, the SV 650.

    I do have first hand experience with the Honda CBR 600, and they are fairly easy to handle if you don't go over 7000 rpm. They do have 100hp, but it's hiding past 7000, so once you have more experience, twist more, and hold the gas on longer, and you'll see the mean side of this bike.

    My wife has one and she went from a Ninja 250 to that one in one year. She loves the bike, and went all the way to California and back on it. However, since she has trouble touching the ground flat footed, it's tipped over a couple of times. (SV = No lower plastic)

    I cannot stress the importance of good gear enough. Buy that first, then buy a bike with what's left of your budget. If you run out of money to buy a bike after buying your gear, it won't "hurt" to wait a while longer. If you use up all your money buying the bike, and then can't afford good gear, it might "hurt" a lot more.....
    Last edited by Prez; 10-18-2003 at 03:28 PM.
    Every day I break my previous record of consecutive days still alive.

  9. #8
    Ridin Dirrty Array Double R's Avatar
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    Jun 2002
    97 Blade
    I'll have to go with the other dirt riders on this. Start off on dirt and you can't go wrong. BUT if you must get a sportbike then I would recommend a CBR 600 (1st choice) or ZX6 (2nd choice). The cheaper, the better!
    Ass, Gas, or Grass. Nobody rides for free.

  10. #9
    Registered User Array
    Join Date
    May 2002
    West Vancouver
    '79 Honda 500SE<- Joke, I have a nice bike
    It all depends on the type of person buying the bike.

    1) Do you have any experiance with life-or-death activities? (rock-climbing, sailing, tightrope walking)

    2)Are you unafraid of heavy tools? (chainsaws, jackhammers, outboard engines)

    3) Can you drive a stickshift?

    Yes to all three = 600s and/or VFR-types.
    Yes to two of three = 600s.
    No to two of three = sub 600s, ie 250s.

    No to all three = Don't buy a bike, it's not for you.
    Last edited by Sandworm; 02-11-2003 at 08:11 AM.

  11. #10
    Moderator Array CG's Avatar
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    Feb 2002
    any old beater bike is good.

    but myvote is for the....

    Suzuki gs500
    500cc Parallel Twin

    Honda CB1 (CB400)
    400cc Inline4
    55 HP
    BCSB- Moderator

  12. #11
    Herb Lipschnitz
    I agree with the above. Nothing beats the GS500 for a beginner street bike. Light; low seat height; high bars; relaxed steering angle; the parallel twin does not produce the intimidating torque or engine brake that may be found by a newbie on an SV; they're dirt cheap; no plastic; air cooled so even easier to wrench on and maintain if that's your style. All of this adds up to a very unintimidating (is that a word?) package for a beginner.

    Good luck finding a CB-1 and one for a reasonable price at that. They're pretty much collectors now and fetch over $5k if in decent shape. I remember Honda dealerships were selling those and Hawk 650's around '91 for $3995. That was a huge reduction as they just did not sell.

  13. #12
    Registered User Array
    Join Date
    Feb 2002
    I'm not telling, but Atom isn't allowed near it.
    I may or may not be the best person to answer this. I bouhgt a bike before I started asking questions on the Internet.

    My first bike was a ZX-9R. I realize now it was a mistake. If I had to do it again, I'd buy an SV650. That's not to say the SV is the "be all and end all" starter bike. I would not recommend a 600 SS to anyone. Anyone who tells me that they are "easy to learn on" hasn't tried learning on anything else.

    With riding, and many other things in life, there is a learning curve. The bike you learn on will directly affect your learning curve. Consider 2 novice riders, one has an EX250, one has an R1. This is an extreme example, but I'll make my point. Given the same amount of riding, in the same environment, the rider on the 250 WILL learn faster.

    The rider on the 250 will become more comfortable, and start to learn the limits of the machine. The 250 is more forgiving, and will allow the rider to make mistakes and learn from them, after all this is how the majority of us learn.

    The rider on the R1 won't have that comfort zone. A small mistake could bite them hard. It will take them longer to learn and get comfortable with their bike.

    I'm living proof of this. I started on a litre bike. I took my time learning, I was lucky I didn't make any big mistakes.

    My second 'school of thought' takes into consideration that a new rider realistically doesn't know what they want. Without much riding experience, can a new rider really understand what makes a good bike? No.

    I had a guy tell me recently (who hasn't ridden a street bike) that the CBR954RR was THE bike for him. I asked him why. He said "because it looks great, and it's fast." HOW does that make the bike the BEST bike for him? He had no idea what the throttle responce was like, no idea how the suspension felt, no idea how it handled in corners. He had nothing to compare it to, he didn't even have a baseline to estimate it.

    A good baseline is a bike that runs well and is very forgiving. A super sport, is not a good first bike. Something a person can learn on, something they can really flog and learn how it reacts.

    Now lets take some facts and statistics into consideration. Most (90%) of new riders drop their bikes, usually in a parking lot, or forgetting to put the kickstand down, etc. Who really wants to pay for new fairings on a new Super Sport? I sure as hell don't. Get a Naked, or Half-faired bike, at least something light that you have a better chance of saving.

    A responsible, informed new rider will take all this into consideratoin and will check their ego at the door. Realistically do any of us really need superbikes? No. Do we want them? Yes. We all have different reasons, but they revolve around the 'appeal' to us (as individuals). I'm guilty of this. I love the way my bike looks and sounds. It's the way I want it. I sure as hell don't need it. If you're afraid of looking like a goof on a mid 80's GS500 while you learn, you're probably getting into riding for the wrong reason. If you're getting into riding because YOU enjoy it, or because it's great transportation, you shouldn't need to worry what anyone else thinks. If you buy a bike to impress other people, please keep it parked in front of the local coffee shop and stay off the major roads.

    Dependnig on the persons size, maturity, experience, I reccomend either the EX250/500, the GS500, or the SV650.

    The EX250 and 500 are full faired, sportbikes. They are very forgivving though.

    The GS500 is a great starter bike, and is naked, less things to fix when it's dropped.

    The SV650S is my choice. It may be a 600cc bike, but it's a V-twin with very reasonable, predictable power. Not very many people actually outgrow these bikes, and those who do tend to use them as track bikes. These are very versatile bikes.

    Just my $0.02.


  14. #13
    Got Hammer? Array gixxstar's Avatar
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    Sep 2002
    The Mighty One
    My first bike was an XR200 that I bought with paper route money. I then moved up to 125 and 250 2-strokes. The experience gained by riding those was invaluable. I couldn't really say what a good first bike is though. I started off with my 750. It took a few rides to get used to the new riding position but I found it to be an easy bike to learn on. I even took the skills test on it. Passed the second time. As long as you can practice self restraint, it's not a dangerous bike, I'm not really sure that it would be the first bike to be throwing a leg over and learning from scratch.

  15. #14
    Herb Lipschnitz
    Damn, Big Jim, that was good.

  16. #15
    Registered User Array Jager's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2002
    2006 GSXR 750
    I started last summer on an SV650 and I am very happy with my decision. I originally intended to get a 600cc sportbike, but believe it or not, a bike salesman talked me out of the more expensive bike and told me to buy the SV (almost $3K less) because it is more forgiving on the throttle and easier to lean. Although I don't have anything to compare it with, I did feel very comfortable on it right from day one. I'm in the 200 lb range, and the only time I feel a lack of power is when I'm going up a steep hill (S2S or cypress). I will likely move into one of the 600cc bikes either this season or the next but I would highly recommend the SV.

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