Learning on a small bike -- when to upgrade?

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

  1. SloMo228

    SloMo228 World Class Cheapass

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    :dunno

    I've been riding over a decade now and the only (assembled) bike I own now is a 350, and I love it. However, I don't ride 2-up, and freeways are a struggle. There's just no getting around those limitations of a small-engined bike, so if that is what you want to be doing, then yeah, you'll need to "upgrade."

    But like others in this thread have posted, I don't necessarily see a bigger and faster bike to be an "upgrade" and lighter, smaller, slower bikes as something to be discarded and left behind forever as one's riding skills improve.
    #21
  2. quux

    quux n00b

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    You must decide if it is time to get a bigger bike. As people here have said bigger isn't an upgrade it just does different things. How often do you plan to go two up? What type of riding do you do? What are the roads like where you are? With the number of miles you have done you have probably progressed past the fastest learning curve that a small bike is most important for. That is not to say that it doesn't do some things better than anything larger. Coming from the ninja 250 some bikes to check out would be the ninja 650, the sv650, the fz 09, and if going two up most of the time i'd probably go with the ninja 1000.
    #22
  3. JohnCW

    JohnCW Long timer

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    Great bike, but that's a big step up from a Ninja 250. Could someone do it, no doubt. I ride with a lot of guys who've gone to their dream bike without 'serving their apprenticeship' and I definitely reckon its held many of them back.
    #23
  4. Max L

    Max L Duct Tape

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    SPEND SOME DIRT BIKE TIME IF YOU HAVE OR HAVE NOT. DIRT SKILLS ARE WONDERFUL TO HAVE ON ANY STREET . THEY OFFER DIRT SCHOOLS IN MOST AREAS. ONE FULL DAY OF FUN AND YOU LEARN OR REFRESH ON SOFT DIRT. QUOTE=opticalmace;24746957]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.[/QUOTE]
    #24
  5. shelion

    shelion Goddess of Fire

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    I started on a 750 cruiser, 'upgraded' to an 1150 sporty standard, and now very happily ride a 650 dual sport. If I had it to do over again, I would have gone straight to the dual sport without the big bike in between. The 1150 had way more power than I needed and wasn't very well-suited to the riding that I actually do.

    Consider how you ride 80-90% of the time and get a bike that does that well. It makes no sense to buy a big heavy bike for 2-up riding when you'll only have an occasional passenger.

    At highway speeds, 150-200 lbs of more motorcycle isn't too noticeable. At low speeds and while parking, 150-200 lbs of more motorcycle is really, really noticeable.

    And as others have said, as long as you keep riding, your skills will continue to develop. There will be a learning curve when you get a new bike because there is always a learning curve with any bike that's new to a rider-it's bike they haven't ridden before. The steepness of the curve is dependent upon the rider themselves and gets flatter as they gain seat time.
    #25
  6. dazeedmonds

    dazeedmonds Been here awhile

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    +a whole bunch.

    If the bike won't do what you want, and let you enjoy doing it, you've wasted money. Like a helmet two sizes too small won't do you any good no matter how nice it is.
    #26
  7. jgiacobbe

    jgiacobbe Long timer

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    Started myself on an 07 ninjette. Bought a DL650 in 09. It was a decent move but much more top heavy. Dropped it within the first mile. I had also considered a versus and a ninja 650. Versus was a no go because of the small pillion seat for the Mrs.The ninja or sv650 might be easier transitions due to similar ergos and lack of top heaviness.

    I do miss my 250. Might get another one or one of the new 300s one day.
    #27
  8. SmithSwede

    SmithSwede Been here awhile

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    Careful with the logic of "upgrade." Getting a different bike will be a change, but don't assume that bigger is necessarily better or an "upgrade."

    I've been riding 35 years--my little Ninja 250 is one of my all time favorite bikes. Just stupid fun.

    But, it's not the best choice for two-up. I'd suggest keeping the 250 for all your solo rides, and get whatever you want for the two up duty.
    #28
  9. markk53

    markk53 jack of all trades...

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    I'd say when you don't need to ask a question like that it is time - aka you actually can ride the bike well enough to start/stop, accerate, brake, and turn/corner with confidence and know it is time for the change.

    Key point here, I'm talking riding skills, not confidence that you can handle traffic.

    I'm not sure any good rider has full confidence that they can easily handle all traffic situations, and thus are constantly on guard and observant while in/around traffic.
    #29
  10. atomicalex

    atomicalex silly aluminum boxes

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    Due to some engine issues with my F650, I ended up with a CBR250R. Going back and forth between the two gave me a lot of perspective.

    The big bike is great. I love it to death. But that 250 was motorcycling crack. It was kind of useless as a tourer or anything the big bike was great at, but for pure joy in riding, OMG, nothing compared to that baby CBR. Total gigglefest. And I would hop on it and marvel about how it just went where I looked.

    Can you keep both? At 13K kms in two seasons, you are surely ready to move up. You don't have to, but you can.
    #30
  11. Prettyboy

    Prettyboy BFLB

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    Bigger bikes are overrated. There's nothing you need to do in the road that a 250 can't do.
    #31
  12. 4PawsHacienda

    4PawsHacienda Been here awhile

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    No need to break the bank if you want to try a larger or different bike, plenty of used bikes at reasonable prices. No rule says only one bike at a time. Don't make the mistake of developing an emotional attachment to an inanimate object (or a particular brand name). Save your money for fuel and good gear. Wee strom a nice bike.
    #32
  13. High Country Herb

    High Country Herb Adventure Connoiseur

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    I understand the attraction of a 250, but is there really one out there that could carry rider+passenger+luggage at 80 mph? Loaded like that, even my 750 is taxed a bit.

    If I'm exploring the forest, I still prefer my wife's DR350, though.
    #33
  14. Alexander B

    Alexander B Been here awhile

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    The way I see it, motorbikes are far more "specialized" than cars. A modern, medium sized (european sizes, that is...), and not overly expensive car, like a Golf really covers a LOT of ground, so to say. It is easy to fit roof racks, the back seat folds, you could tow a 1400-1500 kg trailer etc. Works well in both desert and arctic climate. You do not give up much, at least not beyond the obvious size/performance/mpg factors etc.

    My XT660R, which is by MANY people to be a very "diversified" commuter/dual sport/adventure still has very limited performace in some areas, especially for the highway. Another highly regarded top seller like the VFR750/800 will not be so enjoyable once you leave the tarmac and get on some gravel roads and I doubt many owners (here in Sweden) would even think of taking it down a bumpy, wet two track...

    So moving up from the 250, I personally think the importent thing is to consider what one is weilling to give up, not just what to aim for.

    Rant over...
    #34
  15. barko1

    barko1 barko1

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    Well I have a need for speed, kind of leaves the 250 out of the picture.
    #35
  16. LuciferMutt

    LuciferMutt Rides slow bike slow

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    Except go up hills at altitude at the speed limit, pass authoritatively on two lane roads, maintain speed against high headwinds, and carry lots of stuff and be comfortable while doing it.

    Don't get me wrong -- I love small bikes. I put 16K miles on an 07 Ninja 250 and keep lusting heavily over bikes like the TU250, etc.

    They are not, however, ideal for some situations on the road. Here in the SW, it is usually necessary to get a on a road with a 75 MPH speed limit to get anywhere interesting. My 250, at this altitude, with my tall frame on it acting like a sail, could just about maintain 65-70 MPH on a an absolutely flat road. However, it's always windy here, and there are lots of hills. It was not a good bike for that kind of riding. And then everyone says "well just take the backroads." Even the backroads around here are high enough speed limits to be a problem on that thing.
    #36
  17. Sause

    Sause Never tell me the odds

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    learned on an LC4 400. 70% offroad.

    Graduated to my dream bike at the time, a Ducati Monster M750 that was marginally faster. I also had an EXC 250 for offroad duties. After a trip to Deals gap in 09 the tranny started making noise. Engine swapped to a 900. Awesome! 2010 I had a very bad off on the EXC, lost my nerve and sold it. 2011 I sold the monster which was becoming an unreliable money pit and was without a motorcycle until this year.

    Now have a 990 Superduke which is as good as it gets in my eyes.
    #37
  18. NJ-Brett

    NJ-Brett Brett

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    It all depends on what you want to do with a bike.
    It makes almost no sense for me to have a big bike.
    I ride for fun only, so I do not need to ride places that are no fun (traffic jams), most of my rides are short, 30 to 80 miles, at speeds up to 70 or 80 mph, but I can do all day rides on nice roads without needing to do much interstate, just a bit around some jammed up city type stuff, and get to 3 different states.

    I get to race the smaller bike like you would race a big bike on a track, I still get 80 mpg, the tires cost $40.00 and last a long time, service is very minimal, initial cost was low, insurance is low, and a 320 pound bike is so easy to move around and deal with, you can hop on for very short rides.

    Big hills, large distances, high winds, I would want something larger, but not huge.

    When I was younger and there were less police around, and fines were smaller, a bigger bike was a lot of fun, and a lot of trouble with the law even then.
    #38
  19. Corbeau

    Corbeau Been here awhile

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    My first bike was what was then the Ninjette, the EX500. Rode it for two seasons, then figured out what I wanted was to cover long distances comfortably in search of twisty roads.
    The answer -- for me, maybe not for you -- was the 6th gen VFR.
    How did I know I was ready? The EX, while great for commuting, a great, forgiving learning bike, just wasn't doing it for me anymore.
    Stayed on the VFR for 10 years before getting my dual sport earlier this summer. (And now, I'm a beginner all over again, and I love it!)
    #39