With a little help from my friends..
After a few months of doing web based research and taking my safety course I'm just about ready to buy my first bike! I have narrowed it down to a used Ninja 250 or a used GS500F. But let me quickly list what I know and don't know really about riding:
I Do Know:
How to drive a car fast (SCAA licensed driver =) ), but also that equals jack squat on a bike
How to handle a bicycle a high speeds (triathlete), but i'm assuming that also equals jack squat on a motorcycle
I have a need for speed, so no 600 or above bikes for me to learn on, I will fail miserably to resist the temptation of W.O.T.
This bike will probably end up on the pavement at least once, just hoping its in a parking lot and not the road
I need to be able to drive comfortably at 75-80mph (with some power left in reserve for hill climbs and passing) for a few hours
I'm 5'9" @ 145lbs, with a tall torso and short legs (i hate genetics)
I will be buying all brand new safety gear (helmet, jacket, gloves, and some nice steel toed boots)
That I can kill myself just as aptly on either of these 2 bikes as I can some 600 supersport if I'm being stupid/irresponsible/etc..
I Don't Know
How much trouble jumping from 250 to 500 could get me into
Would either bike be particularly cheaper to repair in case of laydown
Would either bike not fulfill any of those needs above
Would either bike have trouble in the twisties @ altitude? (favorite road I used to take my car at has massive altitude gains and is mostly uphill, but I won't go out there on the bike for a good few months =) )
How well either bikes works as a good daily commuter bike (gas for tacoma = )
I think that about sums it up, I really appreciate your opinions and advice. Just about all that I uncovered on searching for similar topics was that both are recommended newb bikes but I had a hard time digging up distinct differences/advantages/disadvantes of them.
Last edited by somedude; 04-30-2007 at 09:59 AM.
Crotch Rocket Scientist
Buy real motorcycle boots....someone told me that steel toed boots are a bad idea on the motorcycle...
Quoted from a different website:
"Steel toed boots are the best way to chop off your toes in a fall. Just ask any emergency room doc whose had to inform his motorcycle patient that he now sports a shoe size two sizes smaller. "
Plus those boots generally are too big for sportbike shifters, aren't they?
Anyways - test drive the bikes before you buy. Then you'll know which one is for you. My gut would suggest the 500 - but you can get yourself into trouble on either of them....
Buy a used bike for a first bike, go with the 500, the 250 won't last you very long.
I second not getting the steel toed boots, get proper riding boots.
Volvo Snow Plow Driver
I'd agree that considering your other experiences you will soon outgrow the 250. Remember the bike only goes as fast as you twist the throttle... Good choice starting small rather than a race replica.
i went steel toe before.... doesn't work man, it's just too fat headed. the whole trip.... to school, i went in either first or second gear all the way
to change gear, you kinda had to "stand up"
There are arguments for both.
Instead of the Ninja 250, try the ZZR250 - aluminum frame instead of steel, larger rims (I think) and adjustable preload on the rear suspension. Pretty sure it has lower bars too. I own one and have put almost 13000km on it. Here's my take on the whole 250 thing:
1) It'll take care of your need for speed through simulation. Redlining at 13k rpm is fun - especially when you can do it 3 times before hitting highway speed. It doesn't hit the limiter until around 14k.
2) It is ego-limiting. When you get too confident, you can still only go so fast (which is still much faster than you should ride on the street).
3) It's an awesome gas sipper - I get about 310km before hitting reserve on an 18L tank - even when riding hard.
4) It's comfortable, but would be way better with shorter legs (5'11" with long legs)
5) It'll run at 80mph all day long, and it likes to. Still a little power to spare for passing.
6) It'll keep up with almost any streetbike in the twisties (and is fine at altitude), and an experienced rider can usually outrun bigger bikes in a tight technical section. (I think the 'official' Deals Gap record was set on a 250)
7) Despite it's "lack" of performance (0-100 in 5 seconds, top speed 105mph - although both are probably downhill in a hurricane force tailwind), I still have a blast every time I ride.
1) If you get one, CHANGE THE STOCK TIRES. I can't emphasize this enough. They SUCK. I put Bridgestone Battlax BT-045s on mine and they are much more stable, smooth and predictable for both braking and cornering - especially in the wet. Had I known, I would have done it at -km.
2) You will get made fun of by other riders for riding a "girls" bike. I've heard none of this in BC - not even once - used to all the time in southwestern ON where riders can only go fast in straight lines.
3) Some days (especially on group rides), you'll wish you had a little more power to keep up in the straights.
4) A 500 isn't that much more expensive.
Personally, I think if you're wanting a starter bike for one season, the 250 is the way to go. If you're wanting a starter bike for a couple seasons, go with the 500.
My first bike was a GS500. It was excellent to learn on, being light, and nimble enough through the corners. You're doing a good thing learning on the smaller bike, knowing that you wont resist the urges to open it up a lot when you're starting out. That said though, the GS can still hit some good speeds. The engine is pretty much 15 years old, so its quite cheap to maintain and there's always parts around for it. Plus its simple, and that can save you some cash too. I went with the fairing verison of the GS though just for the added wind protection on the highway. Its 20l tank helps too. Change the tires, like the stock tires on the zzr they're not the best.
My First Road bike was my nice old 1975 CB125S (great for the small MST test ) after that it was a 1991 ZX6 D1 Which was a great bike very forgiving.. yes it had more power than i probally needed however with a lil bit of a brain you stay out of trouble... I have to disagree with Mcdoogz on tire choice, but i have my expirence from a heavier bike with more power. with the Battleax 045's on my bike it would consistantly spin up the rear tire coming out of corners (wet or dry) I would recommend a good set of Pilot Powers....
license to chill
Same. Good bike to start learning mechanics with (centre stand, and you can see the spark plugs!). I searched long and hard for an '89, which is the only year for clip-on handlebars. This makes it look and feel much sportier.
Originally Posted by vanmonkeee
Find a good one, clean it up, and you'll love it.
thanks for all the responses guys, the GS500 seems to be favorite and to honest it was I kinda hoping to hear. But in response to the numerous boot recommendations, arn't true riding boots a pain to walk around in? Cause I'll have a full day on my feet after I park the bike.
There's not a lot of difference between the 250's and the 500's. There's a huge jump in moving to the newer 650 twins and 600 supersports.
The 250's and 500's from Kawi and Suzuki are two decade old engine designs. They're great learner bikes, but you'll reach their limits about equally, an extra 20km/h top speed difference isn't a lot.
Cycle Canada did a nice comparo a few years back between the ZZR 250 and the GS500, and found them about equal in terms of performance in the real world.
You can't go wrong with a used version of either the ZZR 250, the GS500, or the EX500. They're all old designs, therefore bulletproof and there's a wealth of knowledge about them out there.
a 500 is probably a better idea. i bought a 2006 250 ninja for my first bike and i've already outgrown it. It's a great bike to start on definitely and I'm glad i did and it has been super cheap on gas too (10$ gets me 300+ kms). If you are looking for a more longterm bike, go with a 500. My bike tops out at 160... when theres no more throttle left in a big wide open area with no one around, its kind of disappointing
I guess it might depend on which boots you get but I have spent all day on my feet in my Sidi Champions and Vertigos before without any discomfort. The street riding boots seem to be much more comfortable for walking around in than the flashy racing ones though. You can also bring a change of footwear or keep a pair at work.
Originally Posted by somedude
Dude, I was a total wimpy wimp girl when I started riding and I thought I'd never outgrow my 500. I haven't even had it a full season yet, and I wish I could upgrade. The 250 sounds and rides likes a lawnmower. Very bad idea. Can't stress this enough.
I'm going to throw another bike out here for you to chew on - the Suzuki SV650. It's a little less aggressive in terms of seating position but it has plenty of power in reserve without being a full out inline 4 like a true sportbike. Many people have learned on this machine, and for some others, it will be their upgrade bike. They're priced decently, too.
Whatever you do, don't sell yourself too short like I did. I really wish I would have seen how quickly I'd adjust to riding and make a purchase that could have lasted me through a couple seasons.
Oh, I should also mention that you don't have to get a full sport boot, either. They are a pain in the ass to walk around in. I just bought a pair of the shorter style Pumas. My friend bought one of their higher styles and he says they're really comfy compared to most sport boots. They make it easy to get into them too (zipper goes right down and velcros over).
Nice boots, but they ain't cheap. These'll run you $300