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Old 02-17-2013, 12:28 PM   #1
dbk23 OP
Joined: Feb 2013
Location: Edmonton
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Ninja 250/300 or 650r?

Hi All
I had posted a while back about a good first sports tourer and I wanted to thank everyone for their valuable input. I wanted to run another scenario by everyone as things have changed dramatically for me in the past few weeks. So as a reminder I am a brand new rider with no previous experience riding bikes. I am 50 years old, weigh 220 lbs and stand 5t10". I of course being a new rider having looked at the Ninja 250/300 and Honda CBR250. When I was at the Kawasaki dealer this weekend, he mentioned I should consider the 650r as well. The reason is that I will be using the bike to commute to work and that involves a good stretch of highway speeds at 100kph. The sales person said the 650r would be more stable on the highway and not get blown around like a 250/300 would. Also I want to do weekend over night trips with buddies from work. This would involve all highway speeds with mountain sections of riding. Again I am not sure of how the smaller 250/300 would handle the mountains?

Here is the kicker, I know reading alot of the questions on the forums about a great beginner bike that a lot of riders say to start on the smaller 250/300 and then trade up in a year or so to a bigger bike. For me unfortunately my wife had cancer and due to the disease we found out she will not be able to return to work ever. So our financial situation has been changed dramatically. Luckily being a Paramedic I make a decent wage to support us. However what ever bike I get will probably have to do me for 5 plus years, as I will not have the luxury financially of starting on a small bike and then trading up to something bigger after a year or so. What ever I get will have to last me quite a while and do what I want of the bike which is commuting and sports touring. So thoughts, should I still go the 250/300 route or consider the 650r? Thanks again as usual for your fantastic advice.
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Old 02-17-2013, 12:40 PM   #2
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They are quite forgiving for new riders, with enough in reserve to grow with your skill.

The 250/300, at least in modern iterations, exist primarily for the European tiered licencing system.

Since you have relatively decent means, the 650 will last you the 5 years at an affordable rate. The 24k service is spendy though, if you have it done at the shop.

But maybe you won't have to factor that for a couple of years.

Or wait a couple of month's and test the new Honda 500cc series, somewhere in the middle.
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Old 02-17-2013, 01:05 PM   #3
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I'm a 300 fan. Both it and the 650 series are budget built bikes. The build level isn't really impressive but with the 300 you can easily and inexpensively improve it in leaps and bounds. Search thru my posts in the 300 thread. I've set mine up as a sports touring bike.

It'll cruise easily at 85 MPH 2 up with taller than stock gearing. I'd recommend a $250 tuner and a $15 sprocket even if you do nothing else. The bike runs fine stock, but a new fuel tune really wakes it up across the entire range of RPMs. Stock gearing has a super low 1st gear, like uselessly low.

It doesn't need to be revved to move faster than traffic and the light feel is a treat on tight roads.

I'm a fan of the 650 too, in fact my buddy owns a ER6-n on my recommendation. I won't tell you that you will get better MPG with the 300, I get anywhere from 53-63. You might get over 70. I will tell you a 250 CBR or Ninja 250 lacks the torque and midrange punch the 300 has. The 250s are fun to ride, sometimes. The 300 has enough steam to actually be useful all the time, not just when you want to wring the bike's neck. I have my son's Ninja 250 parked next to my 300. They are worlds apart even though they share 75% parts. You can ride the 300 and never pass 6 or 7k RPMs and move at a far faster clip than you should.

My history includes most recently a KTM 950SMR, a 950SE, a pair of ZZR1200s, EX500 beater, ZR7s 750, a few KTM 640 Dukes and dualsports and a KLR650 if we don't go back past 2000.

If you are riding "sportily" at speeds of under 90 MPH, the 300 gives up nearly nothing while steering lighter and being more flick-able than any of the 750cc or bigger bikes in my list above. My mods list is excessive for your needs. I've gone thru the bike pretty hard. I've probably spent near the cost of a new 650, but I wouldn't trade it for one.
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Old 02-17-2013, 01:07 PM   #4
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Good luck with either, both are good choices.
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Old 02-17-2013, 02:32 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by dbk23 View Post
I am a brand new rider with no previous experience riding bikes. I am 50 years old, weigh 220 lbs and stand 5t10".
You're a pretty big boy, and will want to be comfortable on longer trips.

I agree with your dealer about being pushed around by wind, and heavier bikes...although I do know a trio of men in thier 50s who crossed the continent from Seattle to Halifax, 2 on 250 Ninjas and one on a Yamaha WR250. One still has the ninja in his 20+ bike stable, but I don't think it gets much time on the road. The other Ninja rider just bought a 300. It don't need to rev nearly as much to make useful power, but I wouldn't cross the continent on it, and I don't think he will either.

The 650, OTOH, has a wider seat and a little better ergos for taller riders like you. And it has enough torque that being in exactly the right gear isn't nearly as important on a hill as it would be on the 300, and the 250?...scratch the 250 off your list. You WILL want bigger soon enough.

There's an old saying about how much more fun it is to ride a slow bike fast, than a fast bike slow. It's true, and an experienced rider would probably have a blast with the 300, extracting every ounce of performance from it. But that still means the 650 is more forgiving, and to an experienced rider, it too is a "slow bike".

Somebody has already mentioned, and I second, the new Honda 500 twins. Definitely worth a look!
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Old 02-17-2013, 02:41 PM   #6
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You might look into the new Honda 500's, they look pretty good and will be on the sales floor soon.
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Old 02-17-2013, 05:42 PM   #7
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Well, you could always buy a used Ninja 250, CBR250, Ninja 500, GS500, Ninja 650 and then see how you like it. That way if you don't like it or even riding you can sell it and not lose much money if any. Or even better if you know someone that actually owns one of the bikes you're looking at or a dealer that allows test rides and then you can get a better idea. You might even find out that you don't care for riding at all, hopefully not though. Have you taken the MSF basic rider's course yet?
My Ninja 250 is my second bike, I've now got over 85k miles on it. I ride it every day, 30 miles to work through mostly rural highways. It's got enough power but yea occasionally there's times I wish I had just a little bit more. However I'm also 5'11" and 240lbs too.
Most likely you'd be fine on any small to midsize bike. One of the guys I work with bought a Ninja 650 as his first bike, it was plenty powerful for him but he handled it pretty good, but wasn't comfortable enough so he traded it in and bought a newer CBR600RR ...
Hope this helps somewhat.
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Old 02-17-2013, 08:36 PM   #8
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I'd say consider one of the new honda 500cc
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Old 02-17-2013, 08:41 PM   #9
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The 250 seems like a good deal, but the 650 is a way better deal than the 300. I can't believe how much they want for that thing. IMO it's just too small to justify the price, especially since it is a bargain basement bike. No high dollar stuff on it, and it's very small compared to the 650.
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Old 02-17-2013, 09:57 PM   #10
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I think the six fiddy would be the way to go considering your situation. However have you looked at the honda 700? Not as sporty as the ninja but would probably be a good choice for what you want in a bike. It's also cheaper than the 650 in the clutch version. I do like the 650 out of the two you mentioned.
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Old 02-18-2013, 08:25 AM   #11
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I'd agree that you're a bit to tall to be comfy on the 250 class ninja.
We have a 2006 model. It's a great commuter and works well for touring. IF you're not too tall. Very reliable, very efficient. It'll go 480km before hitting reserve.

I have no experience with the other bikes you've mentioned.

I might mention the FZ6 and SV650. I have a couple friends that have put lots of miles on them, they're both in the category you're looking at and a used one is a real bargain.

My friends FZ6:

Also, I did a ride on a Versys to Louisiana a couple years ago. It's a brilliant machine that should make your list as well. It uses the same 650 twin as the Kawi 650r that you mentioned. Probably a bit more comfy though. Better for commuting and touring. Again, a used one will be a bargain.
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Old 02-18-2013, 09:51 AM   #12
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Ninja 650R / Yamaha FZ6R

I'd caution that the new 650R does not have the rear grab handle mounts used for aftermarket hard luggage. And the Yamaha has longer service intervals.

Either one would be fantastic for your intended uses.

The CBR500R is a bit of a wildcard, no one has ridden one yet. But the price is right, and it will have ABS available and luggage as an OEM accessory.

Stock against stock, the 650 class bikes will be easier to live with over the long haul.
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Old 02-18-2013, 10:02 AM   #13
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If you like the sound of bees and don't mind living your life above 10k rpms, the Ninja 250 is the way to go.

Otherwise, stick to the 650R style and power area.
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Old 02-18-2013, 10:32 AM   #14
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You can ride the 300 just like the 650. Short shift it everywhere. I ride with my friend on his ER6-n and we can shift at the same points and stay dead even and I'm running a +1 CS. Ride everything you are considering. At 6-01" and 200lbs. I added a set of top notch $175 rear sets that actually just make the pegs and shifter go to a more standard position (they are kinda oddly in front of you stock) and I have plenty of room. The rider weight is a non issue on the 300, I can add a passenger and barely notice it. The 250 suffers from that same load, and again, I'm running taller cogs.

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Old 02-18-2013, 12:19 PM   #15
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650 all the way for many of the reasons already mentioned. Forgiving enough for a noob, and yet still fun for a veteran like me. In fact, after riding all sorts of things for many years I've considered picking up a Versys which shares the engine of the 650R. Nice used, low mileage examples can be had for around $4000 or so too.
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