Learning on a small bike -- when to upgrade?

Discussion in 'The Perfect Line and Other Riding Myths' started by opticalmace, Jul 31, 2014.

  1. opticalmace

    opticalmace Been here awhile

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    Hi all,

    I have a new-gen Ninja 250R. This is my second season, and I have about 13000km on it. I enjoy the bike and I think that I am learning a lot. I have definitely made some mistakes but it seems quite forgiving. I'm certainly nowhere near the skill ceiling fn the bike.

    I have heard some people say that it's easier to increase your technical proficiency as a new rider on a smaller bike than a bigger bike. Now, I would like a bike better suited to 2-up riding, with better comfort than my Ninja. However, I don't want to retard my skill development. For the most part I am fine with the power of the 250, though at highway speeds (or from a dead stop) it can be tiresome. In fact I test rode some fast bikes and I really don't want an inline 4.

    I'm a little split between sticking with my 250 to try to sharpen my skills or going to something a bit bigger that is perhaps more suitable to my needs. Ideally I would have one of each bike, but that is not practical now.

    Any advice? Thanks.
    #1
  2. barko1

    barko1 barko1

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    Go ahead and move up. You got your experience on the smaller machine now enjoy more power and carrying comfort. You can still hone your skills, how about something like a Wee strom?
    #2
  3. henshao

    henshao Bained

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    There's nothing saying you have to upgrade but having enough power to get out of your own way can be an asset.

    Also, don't think that just because a bike weighs more than a roller skate your skills will somehow stop developing, it is a constant process for the rest of your life and there is always some improvement to make. In reality it is usually more difficult to ride a heavier bike, so if you ever do go back down to a 250 you'll probably be able to to do things with it you wouldn't have dreamed of before. After riding my big Buell Cyclone for a few months and going back to my Buell Blast I was able to make u-turns in a single parking spot with it, or at least that's what it seemed like :D
    #3
  4. doxiedog

    doxiedog Been here awhile

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    Find a nice used sv650.
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  5. JohnCW

    JohnCW Long timer

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    Good suggestion, I was thinking a 650 Versys if he wants a more comfortable ride.
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  6. catweasel67

    catweasel67 RD04

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    I'd echo most of what the others have said except to say that, pound for pound, nothing beats the value of training. Whether it be a track day with a trainer or an off-road course, it'll help bridge the gap between where you are now and where you want to be.

    As for "when" - I've tended to upgrade when my current bike didn't/couldn't do what I wanted it to do in the manner I wanted it to do. That could be dealing with long distance, at speed, motorway journeys, flicking around a local racetrack on a trackday, bumbling down a country lane, coping with a pillion etc etc.

    Once you know what it is your want the most from a bike, you'll be able to start narrowing down your choices - and then your budget will narrow it down even further (unless you're extremely lucky).
    #6
  7. DudeClone

    DudeClone Long timer

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    so long as you aren't changing your riding environment (rural to city, for instance) i think you are fine to upgrade to a middleweight sort of bike, whatever it is

    coming from a Ninja 250 a sport / street / standard bike would be good imo. doesn't need be an I4 if a sport bike. an adventure bike style ride is also nice

    pretty sure you can handle it if you feel you can. confident enough, familar enough, and you have rode (at least test rode) other bikes. comfy on them? yes?

    go for it! :clap
    #7
  8. JustKip

    JustKip Long timer

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    You've already received some very good advice. You said you don't want an inline 4, and there's no reason you should feel like you have to. A couple of people have mentioned SV650 and 650 Verseys; both twin cylinder bikes, as is a Ninja 650. A little heavier bike will perform better at highway speeds, and give a higher degree of comfort for longer trips, assuming it fits your body, of course (That's accomplished with aftermarket seats, peg relocation kits, bar risers and windscreens).
    To me, the fact that you're already looking pretty much indicates that you're ready. There are LOTS of mid-sized bikes out there, and to me a good second bike would be anything from a 400cc thumper to an 800 twin or triple like the Triumph Tiger 800 or BMW F800ST/F800GS.
    What do you want? And remember; form over function. By "what do you want", I mean what do you want it to DO? to feel? where to go? THEN consider looks.
    #8
  9. dazeedmonds

    dazeedmonds Been here awhile

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    I recently upgraded my bike. Went from a 250 cruiser to an I4 sport tourer. I'm certainly learning a lot still. The I4 may have been a bit much, a bike that actually MOVES when I twist the throttle is a change for certain. I like mine, but I would have been just as happy on something in the 650-800 range I think, this bike was just right place right time, the type of bike I wanted (long-ish range sport tourer) and in my price point (cheap) so I bought it. I think as someone else stated, if you're looking you're probably ready to move, just because you're not wringing every ounce out of it on a track doesn't mean you can't move up. I would say move up, and put a some serious saddle time in before adding a passenger. Mine has scared me a few times, glad I didn't have my daughter on it then.

    If you move to something much heavier remember to practice your low speed turns and clutch control too. The big bikes don't weigh much more at speed, but you really feel it in a parking lot or a drive way. Especially when it decides it's time for a nap....:muutt
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  10. catweasel67

    catweasel67 RD04

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    I wouldn't get too sucked into the cliché that is bike progression - ie 125, then a 250 followed by something in the 500-750 range and finally a litre plus bike - that a lot of folks spout off.

    I'd not saying leap onto a hyper-sportsbike - although a lot do, and neither am I saying that "mid-sized" bikes are bad, some of them are truly excellent but these days progression is best measured by bike capability rather than engine size. There's a lot of 1000cc+ bikes out there and the HP range is huge - almost 100hp end to end. Whilst the HP range shrinks as you go down in engine size, it's still significant.

    FWIW I went from a 125 that I rented onto a 400 "cafe racer" that I bought cheap from a friend, then onto a 750 HD clone, then an 1110 "sports-tourer" and now I'm on a dual sport 750. My progression wasn't by design, or even my own capability, by rather it was driven by availability, budget and my own desires at the time.

    As long as you exercise a modicum of common sense (and many don't), then there's really no bike that's so beyond your capabilities that it's unrideable. Whether you'd get value from it, or have fun on it is another question.
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  11. NJ-Brett

    NJ-Brett Brett

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    Now wait a minute, are you thinking about racing for money at some point?

    Sharpen your skills, in what way?
    If you mean going really fast, a big bike at this point might help.

    Or do you mean keeping safe on the road and having fun riding?
    If its safe and fun it need not involve a bigger bike.

    Since you have two years under your belt (but not many miles) and want to ride 2 up, a larger bike might be nice if you are big.

    A large heavy fast bike, or any one of those three things makes riding less safe, and unless you want to go really fast, does not add to the fun.

    Many people who have/had larger bikes hop on the small bikes and rediscover how much silly fun they are.
    Maybe not the best tool for 2 up cross country, but people do that also, and it costs very little money.

    There is the fun to $ ratio, and the HP to kill yourself ratio, and the HP to points on your licence ratio.

    Have you checked out the rocket 3 yet?

    But really, you might look at the new 300's, the power is less demanding, its a broader powerband that needs less tap dancing on the shifter.

    Maybe sit on all the bikes and see what fits.
    There are lots to choose from.
    Various Triumphs, Moto Guzzi's, the nc700, plus all the usual Japanese suspects new and used, or you could become a pirate.
    #11
  12. Domiken

    Domiken Been here awhile

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    Just get the bigger bike, you'll be fine. With two years of experience, and the fact that you are actually asking about this tells me you are somewhat of a responsible rider. I have an SV1000, and I ride it no different than my GT250, you will adapt to the weight, power, and hopefully respect it.

    I also second the SV650 option, great bike to upgrade to, cheap, reliable, good looking, etc.. If you really want to know how to ride a motorcycle, go do some track days, you won't regret it.
    #12
  13. McAninch35

    McAninch35 Adventurer

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    You mentioned 2-up comfort- the importance of this will be a huge deciding factor in your upgrade. If you're going to be doing a lot of 2up riding, make sure your passenger is happy with their accommodations, or you may find yourself looking for another upgrade fairly quickly.
    #13
  14. daveinva

    daveinva Been here awhile

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    Shame you can't keep the 250, too. After a few years of not owning a bike, I picked up an old Ninja 250 this summer just to give me two wheels to ride.

    I wouldn't want one anymore as my daily rider, but it's been great fun to putter around on a 250 again. :D
    #14
  15. opticalmace

    opticalmace Been here awhile

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    Thanks for all the feedback and suggestions, it helps a lot. I think I am going to go sit on an SV650 today. :evil
    #15
  16. Jim Moore

    Jim Moore Long timer

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    Here is when to move up. Turn onto an interstate onramp. Run it up to redline at full throttle in second, third, fourth, and fifth. Move up when you do that and think, "Meh."
    #16
  17. Human Ills

    Human Ills Useful Idiom

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    I see no reason to get a middleweight unless that's what you want.
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  18. High Country Herb

    High Country Herb Adventure Connoiseur

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    You said you didn't think you want an I4, but you weren't clear as to why. Power too peaky? Throttle too sensitive? You just don't get excited by the sound of the motor?

    I think you will need at 600cc for highway 2-up riding. Something else to keep in mind is passenger comfort. A 600 sportbike will not have comfortable seating for a passenger taller than about 5' 2".

    The SV650 is a great sporty choice that would meet most of what you want to do. I am not familiar with passenger seating, so maybe someone else could comment on that. The DL650 has a similar motor, but probably more passenger comfort, but will be a lot less sporty. Better luggage options, though.

    Depending on how much you have to spend, and availability in your area, you might also consider an Aprilia Shiver 750. They have adjustable throttle response/horsepower, so are very versatile. Also pretty decent passenger comfort for such a sporty bike. New prices are a couple thousand more than Japanese, but they can be had for about the same used.
    #18
  19. hardtarge

    hardtarge Adventurer

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    this riding season is just about over. . . .

    Don't do anything other then window shop. what do you and the pillion fit on?

    2up?? how serious is the pillion partner?

    Do you have gear for both of you?

    how serious of 2up do you intend?? ever leaving greater Metro area?? plan on heading east to Newfoundland? or west?

    if you are really serious about moving up.

    hit the bike show up in March you'll probably find a 500 dollar coupon apply this coupon to a left over bit 2012/13/14 of choosing.

    REASONING: I watched a guy pickup a brand new 2013 KLR for 4800 bucks Leftover kawi discount plus bike show voucher/coupon this last april about 15 min before i bought my own 2013 klr
    #19
  20. riverflow

    riverflow Project P̶r̶o̶c̶r̶a̶s̶t̶i̶n̶a̶t̶o̶r̶ Finisher

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    And it very well may be. My 650 thumper is quite a bit of bike, and other 600's have double the ponies that I have. Most people's riding ability will never outgrow the capabilities of a good 600ish bike. Liter bikes start to distinguish themselves at interstate speeds.

    In addition to the SV, I'd try an FZ6 and a VFR 800 if you have any around.
    #20