First Bike; Need Help Choosing!

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

  1. Dranrab Luap

    Dranrab Luap E-Tarded Super Moderator

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    There really is a lot of good advice trickling in. I am a strong advocate for ABS. Unfortunately not too many of the highway worthy beginner bikes under 6K have it. You are on ADV, so I am assuming you have some visions or dreams of traveling. Most people that find our site do. Is traveling something that you intend to do with your first bike? If so, you'll want to find one that is easy to accessorize.

    You may also want to consider buying a well priced used beginner bike like a Ninja 250. Ride the piss out of the thing until your skills have improved. Sell it for what you paid for it, then get the bike you really want. Dropping a $2500 bike isn't nearly as painful as dropping a $6000 bike. In fact lots of used beginner bikes come pre-dropped along with the accompanying depreciation hit!!!

    $2000 for gear is a big stretch. I have an attic full of retired gear that's barely used. I keep waiting to find someone who wants it for a bargain price. I'd fully outfit someone for $200.
    #21
  2. Retro

    Retro Just the Facts Ma'am Super Moderator

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    Buy a used BMW F650 GS.

    You'll get ABS, great mileage, and a bike that can keep up on the highway.
    #22
  3. Randyincolo

    Randyincolo Adventurer

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    Where do you live? What will you be using the bike for? Do you want to ride solo? Carry luggage? Will your drives be mostly in town or on the highway? Do you have a motorcycle endorsement for your drivers license? Have you taken the MSF basic course?
    #23
  4. kpmsprtd

    kpmsprtd Been here awhile

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    Your Honda CB500 idea is solid. When others mention the Suzuki GS500, they are right, but the CB500 available now is what the GS500 was when it was being sold. I would love to have one myself.
    #24
  5. Dranrab Luap

    Dranrab Luap E-Tarded Super Moderator

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    And one that drops cheaply!
    #25
  6. BikePilot

    BikePilot Long timer

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    The CB500 isn't a bad option at all.

    One thing I'd advise is to focus less on engine displacement and more on power, power curve, chassis, ergonomics, etc. Some large displacement engines are very mild and make relatively little power (e.g., an aircooled harley) while some smaller engines are very powerful and somewhat hard to use (any current 600cc I4 supersport).

    The suzuki and kawasaki 650cc twins are very good bikes. Mild enough to be very reasonable first street bikes and quick enough to keep up with traffic and last you awhile.

    You can run the ninja 250 or 300 on the highway but imho it's not much fun.

    I'd advise against any streetbike for a true first bike. It's really hard to learn how to ride well on the street. You'll learn more, faster, off road (and have more fun). My advice would be to get an inexpensive dirt bike and ride for at least a year before getting onto the street. That way you don't have to learn basic bike handling while simultaneously dodging cars.

    As far as street riding gear, here's what I consider necessary to get an acceptable level of risk and comfort (and of course everyone has different preferences).

    • ($200-$700) Quality full-face helmet (non-plastic shell, I like the Bell Star quite a bit)
      ($200-$400) Mid-range or better boots, sport or sport touring style
      (~$100) Mid-range or better sport-style gloves (great protection and bike feel)
      ($~300 ea)Sturdy riding jacket and pants (details really depend on weather, but something that will take a lot of abrasion and has quality armor to help absorb impacts. Leather with CE rated armor would generally be a safe bet)
    #26
  7. JerryH

    JerryH Long timer

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    I would first focus on what type of bike you want. They vary widely. Do you want a cruiser, standard, sport bike, or dual sport? All three are totally different. You can also get a fully highway capable scooter for that price, with no shifting and a comfortable riding position, and underseat storage.

    You also need to decide new or used. Used gives you a lot more options, but no warranty. If this is your first bike, you will not likely wear it out, unless you get a real piece of junk. A Ninja 250 can last 100,000 miles with proper maintenance. And dropping a used bike will not hurt as much emotionally as dropping a shiny new one.

    If you are a true beginner, I would concentrate on learning to ride before even considering something for the freeway. Get a $1500 used Honda Rebel, learn to ride it, get real comfortable (but not complacent) on it, then sell it for almost as much as you paid for it, and find a bike you really want.
    #27
  8. Luceid

    Luceid n00b

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    First of all, thanks for the great responses!

    This is a really good point that I hadn't thought to address. I live in Massachusetts and I am planning on doing a road trip to florida next summer when I have a lot more experience riding. In, the meantime the bike I purchase will be for commuting to work and riding for fun!

    Ideally, I would prefer a sporty commuter bike that CAN be used for long distance rides. I don't want a touring bike (I hate how they look to be honest). Dual sport is also out, as they are usually single cylinder. Despite more advanced counter balancing, all reviews I've read say they still vibrate a lot at highway speeds, but please correct me if I'm wrong about this. Either way, I do not intend to ride off-road anyway.

    I also forgot to mention that I drive a manual transmission car, I race on a road bike (not the same thing I know, but it helps), and I will be taking a safety course before I get started. I think I should safely be able to go straight to a motorcycle rather than a dirt bike.

    Anyway, I hope that helps any further posts narrow down the choices a bit more. Thanks guys! :clap
    -Luceid
    #28
  9. JerryH

    JerryH Long timer

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    From your last post, and your price range, I would definitely go with the Honda CB500F. It is basically a sporty standard that can handle long trips on the highway, and commuting, and should also be great on curvy roads. It should be more comfortable than any Ninja, less highly stressed than the Ninja 300, and still handle great.
    #29
  10. Luceid

    Luceid n00b

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    Thanks, you basically confirmed what my research was indicating. But I'd like to ask why you chose the F out of the three models. I saw an article detailing the differences between the three and I was still left a bit confused!

    I still haven't fully decided obviously, so if anyone has any additional input I will continue to monitor the thread!

    Thanks,
    -Patrick
    #30
  11. Jedi Apprentice

    Jedi Apprentice Been here awhile

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    R, X, and F all have the same engines.

    R is going to be more sport oriented, mainly in the way of looks with the full fairing. Another inmate mentioned that it has more rearset pegs, I am unsure if this is true. I sat on it and it has a lot of knee room. Felt like a lot more than the ninja 650.

    F is naked, with an upright seating position with a slight lean.

    X is the adventure/touring version, and like the R, this is mainly in looks. It will be more upright than the F. I am unsure if the suspension differs.

    These bikes start at 6k, but after dealer fees, tax, tags, and insurance you are getting near 8k, 30% greater than your budget.
    #31
  12. duke944

    duke944 Adventurer

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    Why would you want to buy a new $6k CB500 when a $2500 or less used GS500e or Kaw 500R does the same thing? ride the CB for a year and it's worth about $4k, ride the crap out of the used bike for a couple years and it's worth within $500 what you paid. Try to think of your first bike as a tool not only to learn on, but also to let you know if riding is for you.
    #32
  13. 131unlimited

    131unlimited Been here awhile

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    Um, expected more from this site... forget getting a street bike as your first bike. Get a 250 to 450 cc dual sport bike and learn to ride on road and off road. Take the MSF course and practice a hell of a lot both on and off road.
    The skills you will learn off road will translate onto the street and help you tremendously.
    #33
  14. Navin

    Navin Long timer

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    The OP understands a clutch/trans, races road bicycles and could probably start on anything and not fall over. Get a good instructor then practice, practice, practice.

    Read the two threads I linked for the 300 & 500. I have a N300, I'm 6-01" and 210 lbs. At your weight it will be a rocket.

    Try them all on, get a feel for the fit and weight. The 500 is a good bit heavier than the 300.
    #34
  15. Cakeeater

    Cakeeater Long timer

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    Yes....what he said. Offroad is great to teach about balance, braking, sliding, etc.

    Cakeeater
    #35
  16. ka5ysy

    ka5ysy Doug

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    First, remember it is your FIRST bike, not the last. Most of us change bikes around every 4 years unless you become a bike collector like some of us.

    You absolutely will drop your bike at some point. We all do at some point, and it is much easier to repair a good used bike without all kinds of plastic fairings that cost more than gold bars to replace if you break them (you will !).

    A good used 250-350 cc bike, preferably a standard naked, will do wonders for helping you learn to ride in the combat zone of idiots on cellphones. They are plentiful and cheap to buy, and when your confidence tell you that you want something a little bigger, you can always get your money out of the starter bike. New bikes depreciate horribly, so unless you are independently wealthy, start with a used bike.

    As suggested, a good dual sport bike is a good choice as you can do a little dirt riding, as well as using it as a street bike. Just be aware that if you are vertically challenged, dual sport bikes tend to be tall and can be intimidating to a new rider. Most used dual sports tend to have stuff like crash bars on them which makes drops a lot less stressful on the rider and his wallet.


    DO NOT get on any kind of sport bike. Race bike replicas are not beginner bikes simply because you cannot use the power they have, and things can get out of hand very, very quickly because their power band is narrow and comes on hard and fast as they have to be revved up into their power bands. They are not really good street bikes for those reasons. They are a lot of fun on the track, AFTER you have a year or two under you to learn how to ride a motorcycle on something smaller and a lot safer for a newbie, and do some track days for proper instruction of technique. If dirt or off road riding catches your fancy, the BMW/RawHyde off road academy in California or the BMW Performance center in North Carolina offer awesome training on the big BMW dual sports you can rent at each.

    Always ATGATT, and remember that you are invisible and everyone on the street is out to kill you. Act accordingly and you will do fine. Good luck on your choice.
    #36
  17. Jnich77

    Jnich77 Been here awhile

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    Buy a Ninja 250:
    1. They are very affordable
    2. They are extremely reliable
    3. When you drop it, they are easy to pick up (frame sliders will be your best friend)
    4. Despite what your father days, they do just fine on the HW (they make great track bikes too)
    5. Go to cycle gear, catch a sale, buy gear you can afford



    Three things to know:
    You will drop a bike, do it on a cheap one
    You will wreck a bike, do it on a cheap one
    You will make novice mistakes, do it on a cheap one

    Most importantly, learn how to ride slow. Any jack ass can do 100mph and cut off cars on the highway... it takes skill to ride slow ;-)
    #37
  18. Jnich77

    Jnich77 Been here awhile

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    While true, it doesn't teach about traffic, wet pavement, or picking up chicks at a local bike night.
    #38
  19. jimhaleyscomet

    jimhaleyscomet Adventurer

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    A newbie needs something light and maneuverable. Bikes can be light and maneuverable for commuting and learning OR comfortable on the highway but rarely both. Therefore I would agree with the others that say go with a used cheap (2-3K) 250/300cc light bike to learn on. Then if need be replace it in a year or two. OR go with a bigger bike and hope you don't break something when it lands on you or carries you into a left turner or off a curve.

    CycleGear.com has stores nationwide and an online presence. They often run sales on most of their house brands plus you can try stuff on in the store. CompetitionAccessories.com has some nice mail order "sliders" jeans and pants for a reasonable price.

    Do your body a favor. Begin with a MSF course, start with a smaller bike, ATGATT, and comfortable riding conditions (temperature, distance, daytime). Keep your speeds down (like below 40mph) whenever possible for a decent while (5000 miles?). Read ALL the safe riding books (one is Proficient Motorcycling) and implement the strategies you find relevant.
    #39
  20. GREY.HOUND

    GREY.HOUND Been here awhile

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    I was in a similar position a little over a year ago. Never ridden a motorbike, ever. Got the itch, did tons of internet research and didn't listen to my buddies who said don't start on a 250. After 8 months of riding, I'm very glad I started on a 250. That's not to say in 1 year, 2 years or whatever I won't move up to something bigger but for learning it's perfect. Hell, after a few months of looking, reading, thinking and researching all kinds of 250cc bikes I ended up on a 250cc scooter because it made sense for me.

    I took the MSF course and read Proficient Motorcycling before buying my bike. I still wiped out on gravel in a turn. Not what I had planned, survived; but lucky not to break my hip. I do ride ATGATT. Good luck.
    GH

    P.S. Even my scooter travels at a steady 65-70 mph GPS.

    P.P.S. When thinking about bigger, heavier, more powerful bikes consider this: going fast in a straight line is easy, coming in just a little too hot for a turn (on any size bike) and you could end up 18 inches over the center line and that may not end well.
    #40