picking 1st bike for the girl

Discussion in 'The Perfect Line and Other Riding Myths' started by steveyak, Jan 6, 2013.

  1. yzfcathy

    yzfcathy Weeble

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    Being a woman, being 5-8 and being a past SV 650 and KLR owner......I would lean towards an SV. I would also lean towards a 2003 or newer just so you get the FI. If you're riding in flat terrain (relatively) the older carbureted SV's are great and actually the engines of the carbureted ones are a bit more hearty than the '03 and later FI ones.

    The SV's are a torquey 70+hp with nice power delivery, they also have tons of suspension upgrades since they have been very popular on the racing circuits.

    I rented a Buell Blast once, thinking a 500 would be ok for a little freeway riding. What a mistake that was. I would not recommend the Blast. It is under powered and not very stable at freeway speeds.

    The EX250 and 500's are a good stepping stone too and easy to sell in the used market.

    I would throw in all the dirt riding she can stand too as a great way to become proficient on the street. American Supercamp uses the XR100's.
    #41
  2. LuluOfDenver

    LuluOfDenver The peanut gallery.

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    Definitely listen to yzfcathy. On this forum, looking for a bike for a girl, there are plenty of US to get opinions rather than the guys. I am only 5'3", so my opinion will be a little different. BUT, I went from a 1980 Honda 200 standard type bike to a F650GS. It made me nervous, but I took it slow and figured it out. Less than a year later, I rode her to Alaska with my husband, and then went by myself to an off road riding rally type thing. I'm totally hooked, and lets be honest--I ride like a fucking champ.

    I think there is nothing wrong with you asking for opinions about what kind of bike to find for your girl. Truly, though, have her sit on a couple different bigger bikes and see what is comfortable, ergonomically speaking. She'll figure out the larger engine.

    Btw--Jnich77--Dude, really?. I want to give him the benefit of the doubt, think he is just trying to be funny (and failing miserably), but not sure on that one...
    #42
  3. Fajita Dave

    Fajita Dave Been here awhile

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    With your girlfriend's experience in other things I don't think she would have much of an issue on a 650cc bike. I taught my wife (also 5'8") how to ride for 4 months. She learned on a motocross prepped CR250R two-stroke with a violent power band so it was a bit intimidating for her. She got all of the basics down pretty solid in 3 days. From that point on it was refining proper technique, and then moving to emergency maneuvers. Emergency maneuvers didn't only include hard braking and managing a front wheel lock up but also dealing with sudden patches of gravel dealing with other road hazards. At the end of her 3rd month I taught her log crossings on the dirtbike. After that she got her license through taking the MSF course. Once she got her license I put her straight on my 110hp 08' GSX-R 600 while I followed her on a KLR. She rode flawlessly even after hitting a patch of gravel on her first ride. She tensed up a little for that part but kept a cool head and rolled on the throttle just a little, let the tires slide evenly and she rode through it with no problem. I definitely put her through a fast and rigorous course for 4 months but it payed off in the very first ride and has ever since.

    An SV650 is an excellent bike that she would probably like. The 01' that I rode had very smooth throttle response and was never surprising or sudden at any point in the rev range. It never felt weak but it wasn't violent either like my gsx-r is above 10k RPM. The steering can be pretty aggressive since it does have the same frame and geometry of the gsx-r 600 but it feels stable and pretty neutral through corners. With modern sportbike tires I can't imagine an SV "overpowering" a tire and causing a wreck unless conditions are pretty bad. Bottom line is training though. If she gets good training and understanding of how to ride a motorcycle correctly than she could ride anything. Seat time (lots of it) while pushing the bikes and riders limits is pretty vital in my opinion. Its the only way to really learn how to deal with a motorcycle in less than ideal conditions and proper throttle control which is best learned off-road. And yes, you can teach/learn those things on an XR100.

    I did have quite a few long talks with my wife about the dangers of riding though. She already knew them but I wanted to make it clear that motorcycles can kill you. They could kill her, me, or anyone else the very next time we ride. The biggest deciding factor however is rider skill. Prepare yourself for the worst of situations, not the bare minimum before you actually ride on public roads with traffic and dumbass cagers. The next conversation was riding gear.....

    As far as which bike she wants to get. See if you can get her on a few test rides of some sort. My wife didn't know what she wanted when the only thing was my dirtbike and had no idea what to expect from other motorcycles. She LOVED the sportbike when she rode it and thought that's what she wanted.... until she rode my friends KLR. The sportbike has a very tight, refined, and confident feel that's like nothing else but its only good on street, and the seating position isn't the most comfortable. She rode the KLR and even though it doesn't have that nice refined feel she enjoyed how lazy it was but still pretty decent through corners and handling lean angle. Having the off-road capability and a very comfy seating position put a dual sport over the top so she's been drooling over the DR650 ever since.
    #43
  4. Tepi

    Tepi Been here awhile

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    Thats kinda like saying guns can kill you. Neither can, operator error can kill you but not the bike just by itself.
    #44
  5. Ceri JC

    Ceri JC UK GSer

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    SV650s is a great first bike. At 5'8", it shouldn't need any lowering. It's relatively light and I have known lots of smaller ladies to ride them. It's generally a popular middleweight with females, so much so that it has something of a reputation as a "girl's bike" in the UK. It's as sporty as she'll need as a n00b without the higher consumables costs of a 'full on' sportsbike. The SV650s is very easy/cheap to restrict to 33BHP (and to reverse the procedure afterwards). It also, because it's relatively torquey and light, it doesn't feel castrated when restricted the way some bikes do.

    So, my response would be: get the SV650s and if you/she feels it is a bit too powerful, stick the restrictor on it until she gets more comfortable on it.

    Good luck!
    #45
  6. PeterW

    PeterW Long timer

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    Let her choose !.

    Seriously, new to bikes, the most important thing is that she feels comfortable. There are physical differences between men and women other than the obvious issues, woman are usually shorter and have wider hips/shorter arms - that really messes up the ergos - so a bike that may feel fine for a guy near the same build might be pure hell for your gf.

    I finally got my wife back onto a bike after around 30 years, it's a scooter, but it works for her - take the wins you can ;)

    Pete
    #46
  7. steveyak

    steveyak Adventurer

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    I'm asking here because I've been riding 30 years(since I was six) so I dont really remember what its like to be a new rider, and also I had 12 years riding experience before I got my first street bike. So I feel my judgement may be biased. She is tending to follow my thoughts or guidance here. We both like to be coached at the things we love by people we trust. As I said before she is a national champion skydiver, she is very good about taking the needed steps to be great at something without going to fast.
    So all that said we are going to be deciding between the 250-500 range. she is going to spend some time on the kx125 which has a much scarier power curve than an ex500 and see how she feels on that. it is very light but she will get used to the power. Also as a note she can be on the f800 and flat foot it. She's not riding it just sitting on it.
    #47
  8. steveyak

    steveyak Adventurer

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    If you care to make a comment. you should first read the text on the previous pages.
    #48
  9. steveyak

    steveyak Adventurer

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    You are right pete, and I am letting her choose. taken her to revzilla to try on gear for 5 hours. sat her on loads of bikes and still going to other friends bikes and dealers, and to nyc bike show to sit on loads of bikes. And I am not pushing any direction for her. I would personally like to see her on dr650 but she has no interest in one.
    #49
  10. BanjoBoy

    BanjoBoy Been here awhile

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    Sounds like yer take'in all the right steps. :thumb
    I've helped other newbs; some use a small bike as a stepping stone, 'n some have stuck with the small bikes.
    I've known peeps (Menz 'n wimmenz) who've just started out on big bikes, liked 'em 'n have survived many thousands of miles on 'em.
    Butt, no matter how you slice it, smaller lighter bikes are more "forgiving" and I think better to learn on. I recommended the 500s cuz they're a good compromise of be'in light 'n maneuverable, yet still having enough power to get outta their own way. Plus a good example can be had in your price range. :wink:
    But if'n she said she wanted a Hayabusa I'd say go fer it also. Whatever she feels comfortable with.
    Most of the wimmenz I know are better riders than men cuz they have better judgement. Just look at all the dick waving in this thread! :D

    :thumb :rofl
    #50
  11. CaptnSlo

    CaptnSlo Derelicte

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    It may be useful for her to check out http://www.twowheelfemales.com. It's a terrific forum for women riders and many have shared their experiences on different bikes and on starting out as a new rider.
    #51
  12. feathered

    feathered Been here awhile

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    If she's as level-headed and active as you describe, the sv650 should be fine. Especially if she already has some experience on a tiny bike. Have her sit on the bikes.. not just straddle them, but sit as if she's riding while you stabilize. Get her to think about staying on it for an hour or two. Have her work the bars and controls. If it's got a more agressive riding position, have her wear her helmet.

    My wife started out on a gs500 that we picked because it seemed like it checked the boxes. It was very cheap, it wasn't a 250 (so she could cruise on the highway), it wasn't too powerful. The experience was so-so. She absolutely learned and improved, but was never very comfortable, the engine was a putz, and worst was reliability. Really old and air-cooled, the bike was a bear to start any time but summer and throttle response was mediocre. Riding it eventually became a chore, and her improvement began to stagnate.

    She's since replaced it with a Versys 650 and improved far, far faster than she did on the GS500, not to mention she enjoys it. She actually misses riding it if we're away from home, brings it up without me mentioning it, etc.

    I think my wife probably could have started with the Versys, especially if we'd lowered it (no need at this point). The ideal would have been the gs500 or another small bike for ~2 months, then to the V. The only advantages of the gs500 were confidence-inspiring small size (which quickly became 'my body is all crunched up on this bike') and price.

    It sounds like your girlfriend already has saddle time on a tiny bike. That likely means she shouldn't be overly concerned with getting 'too much bike', especially when you're talking about something reasonable like an sv. If they are an issue, things like comfort and maintenance are going to come to the fore quickly.
    #52
  13. steveyak

    steveyak Adventurer

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    going to have her take a look around this forum
    #53
  14. corndog67

    corndog67 Banned

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    Ok Steve. Lots of opinions coming at you. GS500e. I owned one. Worst carburetion and forks of any bike I've ever owned. I've tuned plenty of carbureted bikes. I couldn't get this one to either (1), not run out of gas going through the gears, (2), flood the bike out with gas because the floats were too high. There was no middle ground, I had them off about 9 times over a weekend, finally left them a pinch high. And I've talked to several people that had the exact same issue. Forks bottomed out going into driveways. Seriously, 1 inch bumps bottomed them out. Absolutely no damping. Wasn't going to send a set of forks off a $900 bike to RaceTech for a $750 fork job. And
    GSTwins banned me forever for telling them what a bunch of yahoos they were, they give out dangerous advise, and if you tell them anything other than what they want to hear, they ban you. And a lot of the GS500Es use oil too. Other than that, they are perfect.

    Someone gave me a Ninja 250 once. I rode it for a while, and then gave it to someone else. An extremely docile, completely non-exciting bike to ride. Oh well, I guess it won't get away from you. I don't like them, not enough substance to them. Like riding a toaster.

    I had an SV650, non S model with regular handlebars. I would turn my wife loose in a minute on one, not very threatening, but when she starts getting with the program, you won't have to buy her another bike.

    That being said, my wife has never had any professional instruction. She's about 5-8, 150 lbs or so, probably stronger than me, too. I taught her how to ride (she did ride a scooter before though, but that doesn't count) on Pismo Beach (the hard pack) on a KTM 500 MX 2 stroke, She couldn't start it, but she figured out the clutch, shifting and braking, with a very small amount of coaching by me, and pretty soon, was having a great time going up and down the beach. I let her putt it around the neighborhood on it, too. You learn throttle respect on a 2stroke 500, a couple of big wheelies taught her about yanking the throttle open on it. Then a YZ250 2 stroke. She could start that, but thought the KTM had better power (no kidding). But she had no issues on a peaky 2 stroke dirt bike. She rode my GS500e, but didn't like it. Like I said, it was a piece of shit. I believe she actually rode my CBR900RR a couple of times, but didn't like the clip-ons. Now, she's riding my Ducati S4. Standard handle bars, it's a pretty comfortable, situp style of bike. It's got a lot of power, but not like an R-1 or something like that. And she is doing just fine on it, she's got a lot of common sense, and a lot more sense of self preservation than I ever had.

    Steve, it's all up to your ole lady. If she's got common sense, probably no issues riding pretty much anything. If she is lacking common sense, maybe you should limit the power so she doesn't kill herself on it. (my ex lacked self control and had no sense of self preservation).
    #54
  15. steveyak

    steveyak Adventurer

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    Corndog thanks for that info. That was exactly the kind of thing I wanted to know. Looks like the gs may be coming off the table. Suspension really bottomed out that easily huh?
    #55
  16. shipwrek12001

    shipwrek12001 Shipwrek

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    may I suggest sherpa 250, good ergo for being aware, good handling, e-start, you can take a curb without distruction, learnig to drive on the road requires another learning curve, not too fast. cheap insurance. you can still take off road. to re-enforce out of control stopping.:huh
    #56
  17. LuluOfDenver

    LuluOfDenver The peanut gallery.

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    Hey, I originally learned to ride on Pismo Beach too. I pretty well stayed on the hard pack, but that was a great place to first learn. My parents still live in SM, so one of these days I'll go back and tackle the dunes.
    #57
  18. Fajita Dave

    Fajita Dave Been here awhile

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    Sitting on bikes isn't the same as riding them. My wife was pretty stuck on a sportbike after riding mine and said she liked the aggressive seating position. She sat on every type of bike you possibly could and dual sports were her 2nd to last pick (just in front of cruisers). She didn't want to have a thing to do with dual sports..... until she actually rode one. Now a DS is all she would consider buying. Sitting on it sort of lets you feel how the size of it fits you but riding it lets you get to know its personality.

    I understand if you can't find anyone that will let her ride their bike but maybe test rides from a dealership after she takes the MSF? If she can't get the chance to ride the different types of motorcycles than its not like any choice would really be "wrong." All of them are fun, especially to a new rider!
    #58
  19. JDK111

    JDK111 Been here awhile

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    #59
  20. Thanantos

    Thanantos Ride hard.

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    I get that this point has been made here with very little tact by some other posters, but I see a lot of problems here.

    "...I am letting her choose."
    "taken her to revzilla"
    "...sat her on loads of bikes..."
    "...I am not pushing her..."
    "I would personally like to see her on dr650 but she has no interest in one."

    Maybe you should back off and let her decide on her own if and what she wants to ride? If she wants advice provide it, but it seems like you are pushing pretty hard here.
    #60