First Bike; Need Help Choosing!

Discussion in 'Road Warriors' started by Luceid, Jul 6, 2013.

  1. Luceid

    Luceid n00b

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    Hello ADVRiders!
    I need some help choosing my first bike. Just to get this out of the way, yes I have used the search button, and gleaned as much info as possible out of the threads I found. The problem is, everyone's situation is different; what works for someone else might not work for me.

    With that in mind, here's where I am coming from:
    I am a small rider; my weight fluctuates between 125 and 135, and I'm 5'6. I don't know my inseam, but I have a proportionately average build so I should fit most smaller bikes. I'm looking for a lighter road bike that can comfortably travel on highways, and also has decent low end torque for zipping through city traffic and small town back-roads. I'm looking for a bike with the following charactertistics:

    1. 300-600 cc displacement: My father advised me against any bike lower than 300cc as it will not travel comfortably on the highway. More than 600cc is way too much power for a first bike, and decreases fuel efficiency.

    2. MPG: I'm looking for 50-70 mpg (American, not imperial gallons)

    3. Smooth ride: I'd like a bike that feels really smooth on highway driving. If the bike is vibrating like crazy, I've heard that can become exhausting for longer trips. A bike with a quality comfortable seat can't hurt either.

    My top choice is the Honda CBR500(R? F?), but I have also considered the Ninja 300 and used older model bikes. My current budget is around $6000, but if some one makes a really good argument, I could be convinced to save a bit more. Any help narrowing my choice down a bit would be greatly appreciated!

    Thank you for your help!
    -Luceid
    #1
  2. Navin

    Navin Long timer

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    Both those bikes have dedicated threads that will take you a week to read. I think there may even be a test between the two bikes, with the N300 getting the nod as more fun to ride.

    I don't think you could go wrong with either, but be sure to read up on the steering head bearing on the 300 if you choose one. They are junk and there is a better replacement to drop in that takes about 2 hours. Otherwise, it is ready to go tens of thousands of miles.
    #2
  3. Navin

    Navin Long timer

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  4. Navin

    Navin Long timer

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    #4
  5. doc4216

    doc4216 Chronic High Fiver

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    To give you some perspective I am slightly taller (by 1") and a little heavier (not going there).

    I just traded my BMW F800ST which was meets all of your criteria. You can find 08'-newer for around your price budget and it is well worth it. It took me 3 motorcycles to find one that I was comfortable with and really learn from. That bike was light enough to help build confidence, powerful enough to make it fun, and affordable.

    Good luck with finding your first bike.

    [​IMG][/URL][/IMG]
    #5
  6. doorman

    doorman Aimless

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    For a first bike I would buy used. No sense in dropping a nice, shiny new machine, and odds are you will drop it. I started on a gs500. Perfect beginner bike I think, and plenty of power and comfort for the highway. I ride an 01 ninja 250 now and love it. 60 to 70 mpg and I can ride for hours on the interstate no problem. Plus insurance, tires, and repairs are dirt cheap.
    #6
  7. ______

    ______ Been here awhile

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    Although your father claims a bike below 300cc's will not work well on the highway, there is a 250 Ninja running in the Iron Butt Rally (IBR) right now. The IBR riders will cover around 11,000 miles in 11 days.

    As a first bike for a small framed person the little ninja is an awesome and cheap bike. Used ones can be found for under $2000. Ride it for awhile and if you don't like it or feel the need for more bike you can probably get your money back when you resell.
    #7
  8. duke944

    duke944 Adventurer

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    Suzuki GS500E or Kaw Ninja EX500.
    Things you don't want for a first bike: heavy, expensive, fast. Sorry, the F800ST is not a good first bike.
    #8
  9. doc4216

    doc4216 Chronic High Fiver

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    At 37 lbs more, I would certainly not call the F8ST heavy. It was light, nimble, and great gas mileage.

    I was simply giving another option.
    #9
  10. Jedi Apprentice

    Jedi Apprentice Been here awhile

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    Buy a used GS500e. Great first bike. This is a cheap option and should be able to be had for 2k. Expensive option would be a Used triumph bonneville. Both are great first bikes.
    After bike, insurance, and taxes: Take the remaining money and buy good quality gear: helmet, boots, gloves, jacket, pants, back protector, etc.

    Then buy luggage, tank bag, lights, etc.
    #10
  11. doc4216

    doc4216 Chronic High Fiver

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    +1....whatever you get, listen to this!!!
    #11
  12. Luceid

    Luceid n00b

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    Great responses so far! I'll take everything into consideration.

    I must admit, I didn't expect so many responses so fast!
    #12
  13. doc4216

    doc4216 Chronic High Fiver

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    Ha ha! Welcome to ADV.
    #13
  14. Grainbelt

    Grainbelt marginal adventurer Super Moderator

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    Good gear for all seasons and some misc luggage and tools will run you about 2 grand.

    When looking at used bikes, check the tires for dry rot/age, and plan on flushing brake fluid and coolant (if applicable) as people tend not to be as diligent as they should be. Chain and sprockets is a couple hundred bucks should be replaced as a set.

    I started on a Suzuki GS500E, also had a Kawasaki Ninja 650R (twin, not the 4cyl supersport ZX6R). Either are good choices, as are the aforementiond EX500, Ninja 300, and SV650. The Honda CB500F ABS may be the best new beginner bike out there, if you must buy new. Kawasaki made the ER-6N in '08-09 that is unfaired and can be found for about 4 grand. The Yamaha FZ6R is another very nice middlweight; its predecessor the '04-'09 FZ6 is pretty high-strung and has an awful clutch, not a great first bike IMO (I ride one now).
    #14
  15. doogiepooch

    doogiepooch Been here awhile

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    Are you completely new as in never swung a leg over a bike before? Make a friend that has a small dirt bike, XR100 or something similar. Get out in a big field and practice going through the gears making turns etc for a couple days. Many moons ago I to decided I wanted a new bike, my first bike ever, I plonked down $10g's for a brand new ZX6R. Rolled it off the trailer, rode it up the road, back into the driveway and made the turn to go into the basement not really having a clue how to make a turn...laid it down at about 3 mph. Luckily nothing was damaged but a slight fairing scuff and my pride.

    I will second Navin, if you are buying new the 300 is a GREAT choice. The 500 is also a great choice but having a buddy with the NC700 and knowing the 500 is a less powerful version of that bike, the 500 was a big no no for me. The engine is just zero fun with no room to rev. I personally would stay away from a 250, are they fine bikes, sure. But being carb'd and down on power they are screming on the hwy, yes tons of guys do it and it's just fine to do so, still doesn't mean I'd recommend it. A couple highway trips on my 250 had me hanging a for sale sign on it and I really wanted to like it. Again if I'm being honest I'd also stay away from the Suzuki 500, and EX500, having a budget and those bikes being the only bikes you can look at budget wise is one thing but since you do have a good budget, use it. Those bikes are just super old tech. About the only other thing on those lists that I would recommend would be the SV650, I almost went that direction when I was looking at the Ninja but decided I wanted to buy new.
    #15
  16. JerryH

    JerryH Long timer

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    Everybody has an opinion, and they are usually quick to offer it. First, do you plan on taking any long trips on the highway, or mostly under 100 miles. If you are not riding it cross country, don't rule out the Suzuki TU250. It is fully capable of being ridden on the highway. I would avoid the newer Ninjas, they don't really have a seat, and the bars are a bit low. The older style Ninja 250 ('07 and back) is a nice bike, and will definitely keep up with freeway traffic all day. The GS500E is a great bike, but very hard to find. Avoid the GS500F, it is basically a sport bike wannabe, and is far less comfortable than the E model. As the former, and recnt, owner of an EX500, I would definitely stay away from that bike. Mechanically it is an excellent machine, but the riding position is worse than uncomfortable, it's downright painful. For new, the CB500F should be a good choice. The R model is far less comfortable, due to it's much lower bars and more rearset pegs. It's also a great value, especially the non ABS model, which is the only one I recommend.

    I don't get thee $2000 in gear and tools at all. You should be able to get all the high quality tools you need to maintain the bike for no more than $100. My helmet, a nice HJC full face DOT approved, cost under $120. The rest is up to you (I am not ATGATT by any means, but will not recommend against it) but you can get a nice riding suit for under $200. Assuming you are starting with nothing, you should be able to get everything you need for around $500 total. You will collect stuff over the years.


    If you are a brand new rider, I do definitely recommend spending the money for the MSF rider course. It will do more to help save your life than a ton of gear.

    I also recommend learning on a small dirt bike, which it what I did over 40 years ago, if that is an option. Falling on dirt hurts a lot less than going down on the street. And you can get really good at controlling the bike before having to deal with cell phone wielding car drivers. I would recommend a 250 dual sport as a first bike, but you are probably not tall enough to be comfortable on one.
    #16
  17. quasigentrified

    quasigentrified Bikeslut

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    the zook tu250x is a blast to ride and really, really n00b-friendly with a low seat, low center of gravity, and light weight -- and it gets up to 75/80 nicely. it's forgiving, easy to wrench, and super-reliable. plus it looks like a skinny bonnie!
    #17
  18. Crocodile Tears

    Crocodile Tears Anti-Semantic

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    Don't count out a dual sport - a lowered DR650 could fit the bill as well and will be stone simple on maintenance and when you drop it not a whole ton is going to break.

    I owned an EX500 and thought it was uncomfortable and cramped, and I'm only marginally bigger than you (5'8" -9"ish). Mainly hurt my shoulders and wrists after 200 miles at a time. The GS500 felt more roomy.
    #18
  19. The Blue Rider

    The Blue Rider Adventurer

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    You can get a lot of new bike for $6K.

    I'd look for a Ninja 300 (there might even be used ones available already). It's light, cheap, reliable, and unlike the 250, will have the "oomph" for highway riding right out of the box.

    Then ride the crap out of it and figure out what kind of riding you like, before you go spending big $$ on accessories, tuning, and farkles.

    You can always find ways to spend the big bucks later... Trust me :eek1
    #19
  20. Ninjafreak

    Ninjafreak Been here awhile

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    Sounds like a no brainer to me. Ninja 300 would be perfect.
    #20