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Discussion Starter #1
I'm 16 and a sophomore in high school. My daily commute is a 3 mile somewhat densely populated suburb avenue. I'm looking for a 250cc (300 max) motorcycle that can get my to school and back. I live in Southern California so it's riding season year round. Here are a list of needs for my bike

Good MPGs
Reliable
Easy to ride
Beginner friendly (i've never ridden a bike before)
Able to take on a highway occasionally
Cheap

Here are some concerns.
It's very hot here most of the year so I am more aimed toward a water cooled system. Would an air cooled system be ok? Are ABS brakes a must have for a new rider?

Here are some bikes I've looked at

Ninja 250
Honda CBR 250r
Honda Rebel
Suzuki GW250
 

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Female Rider
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Welcome to the Forum. All of those bikes would work. If you haven't already, do take the Beginning Rider Course (BRC). Since you say you've never ridden, this would be a great place to start. They will teach you most of the basics you will need to ride. Also, this might help you determine if you will even want to ride.

Good Luck to you.
 

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The course also gets you a break on insurance. Every 16-year-old, especially on a motorcycle, can appreciate that.

We had Rebels and Suzuki 250s in the course I took. All air cooled. We ran them all day. Longer than a three mile commute would take. They didn't overheat. Liquid cooling is about running better, cleaner, longer. Police depts all over the country have used air cooled bikes for decades. They hold up to the heat and last for 10s of thousands of miles. There's HDs out there with over 100,000.
 

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Air cooled would be fine. They have been making them for a long, long time.

I wouldn't say ABS is a must have. It's more important to have the skills to brake effectively and more important yet to be able to identify problems before they happen.
 

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I agree, learning to brake effectively is a must-have skill, and ABS brakes can camouflage that.

If you see yourself evolving into a sportbike rider, then l would go with a Ninja 250. Find one in the 2000-2007 range in good running condition, for under $2000. Don't worry if it has been lightly scraped up...you will almost certainly drop it yourself.

If you see yourself on a cruiser down the road, l would look for a nice little Honda Rebel.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
I agree, learning to brake effectively is a must-have skill, and ABS brakes can camouflage that.

If you see yourself evolving into a sportbike rider, then l would go with a Ninja 250. Find one in the 2000-2007 range in good running condition, for under $2000. Don't worry if it has been lightly scraped up...you will almost certainly drop it yourself.

If you see yourself on a cruiser down the road, l would look for a nice little Honda Rebel.
I was thinking about that. Here are my concerns

Does a 2000-2007 ninja have a carb or fuel injection? I have a little knowledge with carbs (i built a motorized bike in auto shop). What are some key things to look for when buying a used bike? I also dont want to ride a new bike i just got home. Is it possible to get a used bike off craigslist shipped? When i get a bike ill most likely cruise in my suburbs for a good month before even thinking about going kn the highway.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Welcome to the Forum. All of those bikes would work. If you haven't already, do take the Beginning Rider Course (BRC). Since you say you've never ridden, this would be a great place to start. They will teach you most of the basics you will need to ride. Also, this might help you determine if you will even want to ride.

Good Luck to you.
Yea, i plan on getting some more road expirience first before i jump on my m1 permit. Are those courses large classes? Do you just ride around in roads to get a feel for the bike?
 

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The BRC is usually just like 12 riders to a class, atleast here in CT. You never leave the parking lot. But what they teach you, is skills you will take with you throughout your life. I highly recommend the course to any beginner.

I would stay away from ABS or linked brakes while you are learning. Braking is one of the top skills you need to learn. You need to learn how to perform an emergency stop quick. Cages pull out in front of bikes all the time. Swerving and stopping, and knowing when to do either or, are essential to save your life. And I know what you are thinking right now, how hard is it to stop a bike? Let me tell you, it's not as easy as one thinks. It's really easy to grab too much front brake and have that front wheel lock up on you. You need to know what to do if it does.
 

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Ya know Zippy, I think some us old farts actually had an advantage when it came to braking. Back then brakes were about as good as dragging your feet. Today's brakes are so much better. So yes, you really can get into trouble real quick braking too hard now. Twisting the throttle is easier. Although that too scared the heck out of me. The basic riding course is just a smart thing to do today even if it didn't have insurance benefits.
 

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I drove my grammas nova for a few months back in the early 90's. Not sure what year it was, but no power steering, no power anything. Rolling, it wasn't bad to steer, but holy hell, you had to litterly lay on the steering wheel steering from a stop. Stopping that sucker wasn't an easy thing to do neither. Man, have we become lazy!! But, when the power steering went on my beast, I was glad I had knowledge of driving a non power steered car.......
 

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Six months or a year on a used Rebel is my vote, THEN you'll know what bike you REALLY want. And you can generally sell a used Rebel for exactly what you paid for it, more if you clean it up, new tires, etc. It's a cheap way to get started in motorcycling and an easy bike to learn on. You ARE going to drop it at some point, and a nice new Ninja with all that Tupperware (body moulding) will cost a lot more to fix. Rebels are VERY Easy to work on.

The Ninja300 is fuel injected, all US-spec 250's were carbureted.

The trick is taking someone along to look at bikes & test drive them who has a LOT of motorcycle experience so you don't buy a bike that's been neglected --- worn chain & sprockets, for instance. Tell seller you want engine COLD when you arrive so you can see how well the choke works, etc. My 750 Ninja (the white beast you see in my avatar) needed a full 10 minutes warm-up to run properly even on a warm day. That's longer than your commute!

That was AFTER completely rebuilding 3 carburetors so it would run properly!

Accept the fact that you're a beginner, have a lot to learn, and a high power bike is NOT where you will learn the fastest. It's also easier to pass the test on an upright like a Rebel.
 

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Hi Gabriel, you should sign up for a riding school course immediately if you're interested in getting into motorcycling.

You don't need your own motorcycle, they provide one. And yes all the training takes place in a parking lot. GREAT way to get started! My wife took the course around this time last year, it was a 2.5 day course and I think the first 1/2 day you don't even get to start the engine! You take turns "pushing" eachother around the parking lot :D hey it's important to FIRST learn proper balance and proper braking BEFORE learning to use the throttle.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Ya know Zippy, I think some us old farts actually had an advantage when it came to braking. Back then brakes were about as good as dragging your feet. Today's brakes are so much better. So yes, you really can get into trouble real quick braking too hard now. Twisting the throttle is easier. Although that too scared the heck out of me. The basic riding course is just a smart thing to do today even if it didn't have insurance benefits.
The BRC is usually just like 12 riders to a class, atleast here in CT. You never leave the parking lot. But what they teach you, is skills you will take with you throughout your life. I highly recommend the course to any beginner.

I would stay away from ABS or linked brakes while you are learning. Braking is one of the top skills you need to learn. You need to learn how to perform an emergency stop quick. Cages pull out in front of bikes all the time. Swerving and stopping, and knowing when to do either or, are essential to save your life. And I know what you are thinking right now, how hard is it to stop a bike? Let me tell you, it's not as easy as one thinks. It's really easy to grab too much front brake and have that front wheel lock up on you. You need to know what to do if it does.
Wow, thanks for the info. My parents were concerned with not having ABS, but they see this point of view as well (it'll also save some $$!). I'll almost certainly take that course, it'll boost my confidence. Thank god i have autoshop as one of my classes, i've been able to sit on ninjas, dirtbikes, adventure bikes and choppers, so im somewhat familiar with the controls and positions.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Six months or a year on a used Rebel is my vote, THEN you'll know what bike you REALLY want. And you can generally sell a used Rebel for exactly what you paid for it, more if you clean it up, new tires, etc. It's a cheap way to get started in motorcycling and an easy bike to learn on. You ARE going to drop it at some point, and a nice new Ninja with all that Tupperware (body moulding) will cost a lot more to fix. Rebels are VERY Easy to work on.

The Ninja300 is fuel injected, all US-spec 250's were carbureted.

The trick is taking someone along to look at bikes & test drive them who has a LOT of motorcycle experience so you don't buy a bike that's been neglected --- worn chain & sprockets, for instance. Tell seller you want engine COLD when you arrive so you can see how well the choke works, etc. My 750 Ninja (the white beast you see in my avatar) needed a full 10 minutes warm-up to run properly even on a warm day. That's longer than your commute!

That was AFTER completely rebuilding 3 carburetors so it would run properly!

Accept the fact that you're a beginner, have a lot to learn, and a high power bike is NOT where you will learn the fastest. It's also easier to pass the test on an upright like a Rebel.
Anything over 400ccs would be off my list. Id rather keep my life. I plan on just using my m1 permit for a year or so before getting my license.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Six months or a year on a used Rebel is my vote, THEN you'll know what bike you REALLY want. And you can generally sell a used Rebel for exactly what you paid for it, more if you clean it up, new tires, etc. It's a cheap way to get started in motorcycling and an easy bike to learn on. You ARE going to drop it at some point, and a nice new Ninja with all that Tupperware (body moulding) will cost a lot more to fix. Rebels are VERY Easy to work on.

The Ninja300 is fuel injected, all US-spec 250's were carbureted.

The trick is taking someone along to look at bikes & test drive them who has a LOT of motorcycle experience so you don't buy a bike that's been neglected --- worn chain & sprockets, for instance. Tell seller you want engine COLD when you arrive so you can see how well the choke works, etc. My 750 Ninja (the white beast you see in my avatar) needed a full 10 minutes warm-up to run properly even on a warm day. That's longer than your commute!

That was AFTER completely rebuilding 3 carburetors so it would run properly!

Accept the fact that you're a beginner, have a lot to learn, and a high power bike is NOT where you will learn the fastest. It's also easier to pass the test on an upright like a Rebel.
Question about gear. I plan on getting a nice helmet (no duh), gloves, but what kind of jacket is better, leather or textile?
 

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leather protects the skin better, but a textile jacket made for motorcycles is the next best choice. You also want over the ankle boots, no sneakers, something with good traction, as your foot will be what holds the bike upright at stop lights, so you don't want your foot slipping out on you.
 

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Gabriel, if you take the BRC and pass, in most states you can take the card to the DMV, take the written test and if you pass that you get your license.

As others said, you will learn how to brake, swerve, turn and a lot of other necessary maneuvers. But more importantly, to me, you will also learn how to think ahead and watch other vehicles and your surroundings to be prepared to react to things.

If you are riding down a street and a car turns left in front of you, what do you do? Riding down the street and you see a pick up truck waiting to turn onto the same street, he pulls out in front of you (because he didn't see you), what do you do? How far down the road do you look? Did you know that when doing slow maneuvers like looking for a parking spot at Wal Mart, if you look down you are really likely to end up on the ground? Did you know that you will go where you look?

Yep, the course is a great place to start. By all means take advantage of it. As said, they supply the bike for you to start learning on. Good Luck to you and let us know how you progress.
 

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The TU250x is a great bike, but I don't believe it is sold in CA due to emissions. Plus, owning one, I don't think I'd want to take it on the freeway. I've heard they drive kind of fast out there. To keep up, you'd need the throttle wide open most of the time.

I don't know what your budget is, but I'd be more inclined toward the CB500 if you want to take it on the freeway, once you've ramped up your skill set.
 
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