"Friendly" bike for a new (female) DS rider

Discussion in 'Thumpers' started by smm, Apr 6, 2011.

  1. smm

    smm Adventurer

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    OK, the nest is almost empty and a steady diet of ADV trip reports has quickened the desire for some first-hand ADV and all that stands in our way is that my wife needs a bike. She's a new rider so a 250 (or something light, short, and relatively low powered) is probably called for, and we're based in San Francisco so there's a hefty dose of pavement (er, actually freeway) between us and dirt roads.

    Well none of that seems unsurmountable, but in looking at bikes there is a particular aesthetic challenge: namely she finds most of them really angry and hostile looking. Even my beloved f800, which evidently looks hostile in a bill-the-cat sort of way. I've tried to explain that hostile is actually rebellious and this look is part of a general biker aesthetic of nonconformity, not caring what other people think and saying "fuck" in everyday conversation, not an actual personal hostility to others, well except people who drive cars. OK, I can see her point. We've been married 23 years so I'm good at seeing her point, but I digress. Anyway, the bike that she likes the best is Triumph Bonneville. In fact, at the Austin Vince night at Hattar, she walked right past the Diavel (and the Tiger 800) to check out the Bonnevilles. Women are inexplicable. A Diavel! Fuck!

    OK, the Bonnie is a great bike, probably short enough, but we're talking 500 pounds and 65 hp. Seems a bit much for a beginner and it doesn't look like it will drop well. And dirt... meh. We've been to the Mystery School. Those bikes were great, the f800 is more than a little intimidating, and I can't really imagine doing much of anything in the dirt with a bike that is 100 lbs heavier.

    The best alternative I can come up with is starting with a WR250X and adding a round headlight (one of these?) and a larger gas tank and perhaps a "friendly" front fender or a bud vase or something. 300 pounds and 40 hp.

    So help me out you FFs, particularly those of you who find the current DS aesthetic angry or hostile.

    -Scott
    #1
  2. Fireball

    Fireball Ancient Astronaut Theorist

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    Glad to help

    That is, right after you post some pictures of "she"
    #2
  3. aim2kill

    aim2kill Been here awhile

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    I feel you, my wife 'allowed' the purchase of our 08 XT250 because "its silver and pretty" caring none what so ever about performace, price, features, height weight ect.... :rofl
    #3
  4. Dotbond

    Dotbond Africa, Africa

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    How tall is she who must be obeyed?
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  5. tofire409

    tofire409 Geared up and ready.

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  6. Yankee Dog

    Yankee Dog Long timer

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    TW200. About as not threatening as you can get. And very good for a beginner dual sporter as well.

    Yankee Dog
    #6
  7. Buckskin

    Buckskin Adventurer

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    This is my second year of motorcycling.

    I understand her love for the Bonnie. I wanted one. Everyone told me how much better off I'd be with a dual sport but DS do indeed look "mean" while Bonnie looks so friendly. She even has a friendly name.

    I love my BMW650GS. Love it. Adore it. And wish it looked like a Bonnie.

    Oh well. I'm over it. My bike is more comfortable, more versatile and more forgiving than Bonnie. Lighter, too. And the biker community that's available to me with my BMW DS is completely different than would be with a Bonnie. Bonnie is a street bike. A beautiful street bike.

    I wouldn't go bike shopping just yet. Instead, I'd suggest that she take the MSF dirt bike course (much better newbie course than the foundations class sanctioned for licensing purposes). Standing on the pegs and doing all the marvelous things possible on a dirt bike may bring her around to the DS. After all, it's function and fun that drives design. If she wants to be a street biker after all, Bonnie is a good option (add a fairing and windshield, change the seat for a woman's bottom...)

    Get her in touch with me if she wants to talk about it.
    #7
  8. BikePilot

    BikePilot Long timer

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    A WR250 sounds good. If you are aiming for dirt and not planning on wearing out kneepucks on the road the WR250R would be better than the Sumo'd X. Have the suspension lowered and put on a Boatman 7" round headlight and she'll probably be happy with its looks. A DR350SE might also be an option. More a classic enduro look, a touch shorter than most full size bikes and very user friendly. Decent power (about the same as the WR250R, but revs slower and is located at lower rpm) and a 6spd gearbox make them surprising good on the road. Chassis isn't as good for hard/fast off roading, but more than capable of standard dual sport stuff and off roading at a casual pace.

    FYI A WR250X or R has about 25hp. Maybe with a turbo you could see 40hp

    A TW200 would royally suck for riding on freeway :lol3

    For what its worth I also don't like the current pointy/origami aesthetic that's running rampant in Japanese and Austrian circles. I think its fugly and shows a lack of actual design skill. Don't know about angry though.
    #8
  9. underkill

    underkill Horsepower Junkie

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    What about the older BMW F650s? They're round and cute looking, come in bright, pretty colors (yellow? baby blue?), also have a variety of seat heights depending on how tall she is, get outstanding gas mileage, will go on the highway just fine... Show her a picture of one!

    I wouldn't do a Bonneville.. They always seem so heavy to me and they dont look very droppable! :eek1

    This mostly depends on how tall she is.. if she's 5'1" you have a tall order to fill, if she's 5'7" she'll have a larger selection of bikes...

    That being said, have you tried the xt250? it's a GREAT beginner bike, and apparently a little better on the highway than the XT225... looks different than the "motocross racer" type dual sports....
    #9
  10. trailrider383

    trailrider383 867-5309

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    This is pretty non-threatening. Suzuki TU250. Fuel injected, 30.2 inch seat height. But you said dirt riding. But then you said Bonneville? :scratch

    [​IMG]
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  11. trailrider383

    trailrider383 867-5309

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    For dual purpose, this looks pretty friendly. DR200SE. And no I'm not a Suzuki salesman. :wink:

    [​IMG]
    #11
  12. freeflow

    freeflow get in or go in Supporter

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    :nod. I have fun on it and wife likes it...

    [​IMG]
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  13. jessepitt

    jessepitt Ride More

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    I really like the XT225 for a starter bike. Wont do freeway but neither will any of the other "friendly" bikes (TW,CRF230L,Super Sherpa,KLR250, etc.) BMW's are great bikes but way to heavy to learn on. You may want to fore go the freeway until she is skilled enough to ride a 650. It is always better and safer to learn on dirt roads on a little bike anyway. I wouldn't let my baby on the road until she is completely in control of the bike.
    #13
  14. kvsoldseca

    kvsoldseca Been here awhile

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    specs on those tires? I like the look of those on there.. :deal
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  15. smm

    smm Adventurer

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    She's 5' 6" but if you have to ask about who must be obeyed I'm going to take your suggestions with a grain of salt.
    #15
  16. tbirdsp

    tbirdsp REMF

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    You have several conflicting requirements that you won't be able to meet all at once, at least without some mods.

    KLX250S (or sumo KLX250SF) too angry looking? Less power than the WR but lower seat and nice 6 speed tranny.

    I have a Bonneville but it's definitely NOT a "dirt" bike, especially for a noob. Among other things the stock suspension is crap.
    #16
  17. smm

    smm Adventurer

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    Thanks for all the suggestions. A smaller dirt bike would be a no-brainer if we lived near dirt but we're going to need something that will work on the highway.

    FWIW, I think that the "friendly" issue isn't that she finds the bike intimidating, it just isn't how she wants to appear to the world.

    I like everything about the BMW F650 idea except the power. I think that issue is likely to be power management on dirt with ds tires. The F800 is quite a handfull in this regard (F650 basically the same bike) and for a smaller rider I could see muddy ruts turning into a frustrating nightmare.

    I gravitated to the WR250X because the platform has a huge fan base here and the sumo version is an inch lower and street or DS tires are a better match for the riding that we'd actually do - for a day ride, at least 80% pavement. But the cosmetic issues are a challenge.

    Upcoming MSF will serve as a test drive on a standard 250 so we'll see where things go.
    #17
  18. devo2002

    devo2002 Long timer

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    I'd say XT225 because it can handle highway speed with 6th gear, you can wind it up to 65-70 and it won't rattle your arms off.

    If you aren't doing highwya any of the others mentioned will work.
    #18
  19. jessepitt

    jessepitt Ride More

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    I find with new riders that weight is a bigger issue than power. I taught my brother to ride on my DR650. He is a pretty big strong guy but he dumped it more times than I could count due to the weight. Always at a stop when attempting to turn around. Once it got leaned a little the weight would get away from him and down it went. Its more a matter of balance and technique, than strength. He had never ridden before but had no trouble handling the power. I really think she would have more fun and be less likely to give up learning on a light bike. You can always sell it next spring and upgrade.
    #19
  20. Yankee Dog

    Yankee Dog Long timer

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    if the only reason to ride the highway is to get to dirt maybe you should invest in a trailer.

    Yankee Dog
    #20