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Which beginner bike?

Joined
11 July 2002
Messages
2,420
Location
Orange County, CA
I'm taking Basic Motorcycle Training at a local college in late summer. Don't know much about bikes other than I want to start riding one. Not really into sportbikes. Looking mainly at a cruiser or standard bike. Speed is not particularly important to me as much as the feeling of riding open air.

I'm looking to start at the beginner level (read: cheap). Anything less than $5k will do. A quick search of Honda bikes and I came up with these:

Honda Rebel ($3099 MSRP)
Rebel.jpg


Honda Nighthawk ($3599 MSRP)
Nighthawk.jpg


Nighthawk doesn't come with a fuel gauge? :confused: Am I reading this right?

If you know of any others from other manufacturers, please feel free to chime in. :smile:
 
Why would you buy a new bike to learn on?

I think you would be better served by a cheap 400 cc bike from the mid 80s that you can drop with impunity and sell for what you paid for it after you learn.

(I am not a motorcycle person, but I have known several people that did what I describe above).
 
brahtw8 said:
Why would you buy a new bike to learn on?

I think you would be better served by a cheap 400 cc bike from the mid 80s that you can drop with impunity and sell for what you paid for it after you learn.

(I am not a motorcycle person, but I have known several people that did what I describe above).
Good Choice! :biggrin: However, if you choose to go that route, make sure the bike is in great mechanical condition. Otherwise, your toy might spend more time in the shop.
 
A LOT of bikes dont have fuel guages. Just a low fuel light. If this is going to be your first bike and you know youre going to sell it after you build some confidence and gain some experience....Id go with a used bike. Some beginner bikes are so popular they dont depreciate much if at all.

The ex and I purchased a ninja 250 for under two grand and ended up selling it a year later for the same amount. Being such a popular beginner bike theyre always in demand. I think the rebel 250 is probably the cruiser equivalent of the ninja 250 as far as being a popular beginner.


My advice...and this is just my opinion...
get a ninja 250. It will teach you what you need to know. Has great resale value and has the best of both worlds...the body position isnt agressive like a bigger sportsbike so its comfy. Its sporty enough that with the right rider you can take on the big bikes in the twisties. It will teach you what you need to learn for both cruisers AND sportsbikes.

Even the cruiser people will agree that riding through the twisties is one of the most fun experiences you can have on two wheels. You never know if youll get bit and maybe want a sportbike instead....or BOTH!

David
2002 Yamaha R1
 
For your purpose, as some already said, a small, used bike is probably best. You may want to even consider borrowing one for a while if you know someone who has one. The test, at least here in Illinois, is not easy like an auto driving test. I had a Honda 750 at the time, and took it three times to pass. I saw an experienced person dump a Harley twice during the test before me. It is very compact and there is no way I could have done it on my current bike, an older Goldwing. Something small and maneuverable is the way to go. There are very tight turns and it is all about slow, compact turns and control. There is a reason classes use 250 cc and smaller bikes to train folks, other than the cost factor.

That being said, when you start riding more, you will probably want something bigger. I am by no means a speed demon, but a bigger bike has more stability, bigger tires, more torque, and less vibration. A 250 CC bike will easily do 60 mph, but you will probably be doing 4000-5000 RPM to do it. A larger bike will do 60 at 3000-3500 RPM. I'm guessing at the exact numbers, but you get the idea. Guess which one has more vibration? Bigger bikes are usually more comfortable, too.

Anyway, safe motorcycling is special, and you'll love it!
 
I would also suggest a pre owned bike as they depreciate so badly. However, I would stay away from too old of a bike as they simple do not have sophisticated enough suspension, brakes, or a balanced frame.

When you take your rider course you will learn how to emergency brake while you are mid corner. Once you are taught this procedure you will understand why excellent brakes and a chassis that is rigid, but has predictable flex, is important.

It is hard for me to suggest a cruiser style motorcycle as many do not have very good brakes or suspension. If a naked (open bike) was something I was looking for I think I would suggest either the Ducati monster or the Buell lightning/firebolt.

Follow the links.

Ducati Monster

Buell Firebolt

One thing, spend some time looking for your bike. A common mistake that is made is people buy to little of a bike at first, and then quickly upgrade to another bike. Listen to many opnions and take your time.

Good luck and be safe :smile:
 
Banshee Wail said:
One thing, spend some time looking for your bike. A common mistake that is made is people buy to little of a bike at first, and then quickly upgrade to another bike. Listen to many opnions and take your time.

well said....


anyways, how about an Yamaha V-Star Classic (649cc)?...under $6K OTD for a brand new one...my buddy just picked one up and it's his first bike also...there's a special Yamaha offer on it at 6.9%apr/up to 72months & $300-cashback.. :smile: :cool:

2005_2_vstarclas-rav.jpg
 
Joel,
I'd have to agree with most of the advice given.
Go for a mechanically sound used bike. 500cc or less.
It won't have enough power to get into trouble quickly.
Pick something you feel comfortable on. Build your confidence and skill.
Go for the new bike after a year or so.
ALWAYS wear all the safety gear: Boots, Jacket, Gloves, Helmet, eye protection.

Drop me a line when you get you bike. We'll go for a ride!
Good Luck and be safe.
---
2002 Honda VFR 800
 
I agree it's a typical scenario to go too small initially, yet it is good advice until you can gain experience of handling.
For that reasaon I would endorse the suggestion to buy a used beginner bike, that you can likely re-sell at little loss to your initial investment. Something like a Nighthawk would be a great starter.
On the naked bike front, rumour has it that Triumph (currently being perceived by the media as King of the Naked's in the litre class) will have a "baby" Speed Triple in the 600 class (680cc I believe) which might be a good step-up.
Other good mid-range bikes to consider when you graduate to next level would be a Suzuki SV650 or Kawasaki Z750S.
 
Have you tried the Buell Blast. It is a great bike to learn on and not really considered a sportsbike. Buell is a division of Harley Davidson. Good luck and keep the sticky side down!
 
what they said:

* buy used, late 80's+ is fine
* <500 cc, honda, yam, slow-zuki oughta work fine
* cruiser type w/low slung seating so you can easily plant your feet

relatively easy to maintain, easy to sell when you're done with it and ready to move up.

ride safe & pay attention to everything - cagers are everywhere and trying to kill you! (help, the paranoids are after me)
 
If you are interested in a cruiser style bike I would not recommend a 250 it is just way to small, you will be bored in a month. I would also recommend a Yamaha v-star 650 or a Honda Shadow 750 Ace. I know these sound big but they are a good all around bike for a beginner but you will enjoy driving it for years to come until you want something bigger. Plus there are alot of these around used, they hold their value well and they really look good.
 
First of all, good idea with the MSF course. It's a great intro into riding.

I would like to echo many of the thoughts you've already heard here and add my own two cents.

1) Buy used. The odds are you're going to drop your first bike. Better to do it on something cheaper and used where depreciation has already helped you than new and shiny.
2) A 250 is too small, IMO. You're going to outgrow that very, very quickly.
3) My first bike was a Kawasaki Ninja 500R. It's basically the same thing as the tried and true EX500. Cheap to buy, cheap to own, and easy to sell. I owned it a little over a year and sold it for $100 less than I bought it. It looks like a proper sport bike, is easy to ride and has enough power to keep even a more experienced rider entertained but a smooth and easy powerband that isn't intimidating. The SV650 is another good choice and there's another older Suzuki 500 for about the same price. Another good choice is a Honda Nighthawk 750. It's got more displacement than the others but less power and a very easy to ride bike.
4) Don't spend all your money on the bike. Be smart and put the money where it counts, ie your safety equipment. I am constantly shocked by how many squids I see with the best and baddest R1 or Hayabusa with an absolute shitpot helmet on their noggin. Stuipd.

Good luck and be careful.
 
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