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Discussion Starter #1
The boards seem to be split on this issue.

I'm 6'3 220, and I'd like a cruiser. I'm scheduled to take the BRC in about 3.5 weeks. The course is conducted on 250cc bikes. I've looked around at the 250's offered by Yamaha and Honda, and I do like them as a starter bike. I've read a lot about the best bikes for beginners, and even the websites are recommending bikes that go anywhere from 250cc's all the way to 883cc's (Harley Sportster). Everyone seems to agree that 250's are great for maneuverability, handling, and having enough power to get you around (without putting you in too much hot water). However, I'm worried about a few things about small bikes:

*Being too big to be comfortable on them
*Outgrowing it in a year or so, and then trading it in or selling it at a loss
*The bike being blown around too easily on the highway

On the other side of the equation, I think I really do prefer the Honda Shadow 600's or the Yamaha V-Star 650's in terms of look and style. Those are bikes that I think I could be happy with for a long time. My biggest concern is going from the 250's at the BRC straight to a bigger bike.

I'm too old to give a crap about impressing people or looking silly on a smaller bike. What I really want more than anything else is a bike that fits my skill set in the beginning. If that means I suck it up early on and get comfortable on a 250cc that I'm not in love with, so be it. I can trade it in and get the 600 or 650cc bike in a year or two. However, if people on here really think that a bigger guy can handle a 600-650cc bike without too much trouble, I would definitely go that way since those are more to my taste. I welcome any thoughts and opinions on this.
 

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Not all bikes are created equal. Engine configuration trumps displacement where horsepower is concerned.


A twin cylinder engine will generally develop a lot less horsepower than a similarly-sized inline four.

For example, a high-revving 600CC inline four can develop upwards of 120 HP where a low-revving 650CC Vtwin or single may be pushing a max 30-40 HP.
 

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My Safety Training course was taught by a local police officer and motorcycle officer riding instructor. His advise was to get nothing less than a 650, even for beginners.
 

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My Safety Training course was taught by a local police officer and motorcycle officer riding instructor. His advise was to get nothing less than a 650, even for beginners.
What was the reasoning behind that?

There is hardly a one size fits all solution to owning a motorcycle. A rider should choose a bike that will fit the type of riding they do. This is not totally dependent on engine size.

It sounds like the guy doesn't know anything about motorcycles.
 

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I think where you live has to be a factor also. You can become a victum real fast on the Inerstate on a 2 fiddy, especially in south florida. People dont care! and 85 is normal speed to and from work with alot of traffic and 4 to 5 lanes. I would not ride anything smaller than a 600 on these roads.
I think your way to big for a 250, unless it was an Enduro
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Yeah, I really think my size may preclude me from getting a 250, so I had pretty much settled on a 600 or better. But then I went to this website and the guy said "Recommending 600cc and larger bikes to beginners is like sending children out to play on the freeway and the results are both predictable and (often) tragic."

And the rest of the website was basically along those same lines with the guy making the comparison "starting with one of these machines [600cc or better] is like trying to learn to fly in a combat aircraft." Being new to motorcycling on paved roads, and about 15 years past the time when I could jump up from a bad spill without hurting much more than my pride. I really wanted some second opinions.

If anyone is interested the web site I referred to in the post is www(dot)chuckhawks(dot)com/good_first_motorcycles(dot)htm
 

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I'm about your size (6'3", 210 lbs) and as far as cruisers are concerned I fit on most anything that is a "full size" frame. Basically no 250 cruisers, but something like a S50 or 883 works just fine. Some bar/controls adjustment might be needed for best comfort but you should be just fine.

I think a bigger factor than engine size should be weight/length. As a newer rider, slow speed maneuvers are some of the most difficult and the heavier/bigger the bike the harder it gets. As long as you are sane you can learn to control your right wrist and have good brake control on almost anything. You don't need to make your learning curve any steeper with a bike that's hard to handle.
 

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In reply do Dodsfall's question about the reason the officer/instructor recommended nothing less than a 650, we must first bear two things in mind: 1), The area we live in (San Francisco Bay Area / Silicon Valley) has an abundance of awesome twisty mountain roads and highways, and 2), The person giving the advise normally rides current police bikes, which can be some pretty nice hardware.

So his reasoning was that anything less than a 650 would be inadequate for most touring in the area, especially if riding two-up.
 

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as far as the 250 goes, I am 165 and 5'10 and I felt like I was crowding it. You would be very cramped on it I would imagination.

I have heard that a sv650 is a good starter bike. Its not a super sport, but is still fast. I personally started on a 600 Super sport. Its defiantly not easy to learn on... but not impossible either.
 

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I just got my first bike and im 130 5'10 and i got a CBR600rr.
Im kinda terrified but i think it will be the perfect bike for me. I do not know anything about bikes.
 

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im not a fan of harleys (883) as starters just because you're likely to pay more than you could for a similar bike. the v-star, shadow, or vulcan are all good starters that you can find used for pretty cheap. i have 2 friends who have started riding in the last 2 months and ride a vulcan 900 and a shadow 600 respectively, and neither have had any issues about having too much power.
 

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I just got my first bike and im 130 5'10 and i got a CBR600rr.
Im kinda terrified but i think it will be the perfect bike for me. I do not know anything about bikes.
Well then you've made a well educated decision, not knowing anything about bikes and buying a 600 Superbike. Learn smart, don't learn the hard way. Superbikes do everything faster than a brand new rider really knows how to handle.
 

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From what I've read, the general consensus among experienced riders (not me yet) is that it is the power delivery of the 600+ cc INLINE 4 CYLINDER engines that is not good for beginners. They have too much power and are too "touchy" for comfort for most beginners. My first test ride was on a 600cc bike, and it was way too fast for me then.

From what I've seen, the experienced guys say that 500 and up TWIN OR SINGLE CYLINDER engines are fine for larger beginners. I'm a short, chubby, 160lb 36 year old that started riding last year on a 650cc twin cylinder bike. The power hasn't hurt me, but it almost did once. Every once in a while that young, dumb kid (I used to be) shows up and gets the best of me.

I think Suzuki makes a single cylinder cruiser that is 500 or 650 cc. There was a peppy Kawasaki Vulcan 500 parallel twin that they stopped making 2 or 3 years ago too.
 

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My starting bike is a Suzuki Marauder. It's an 800cc V-Twin (a middleweight cruiser, as some would say) and it handles my 6'2" frame fine (and I'm on the heavier side). As I was told when picking my first bike, "it's your bike." Go out to a dealer, try sitting on a bunch, see which ones "fit" you and your size, and go from there. Chances are, you'll be able to find a decent bike in the same vein. Just keep focused on comfortable enough for you and your wallet.
 

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When people talk about a bike being "too much power for a beginner" or "being too responsive", are they refering to the literal act of twisting the wrist to get throttle?


As for the OP, I dont think at your size you have to worry too much about having too much power for you. Unless you go for a 1300-1800cc <insert bike here>.

I don't know a whole lot about bikes, I dont even own one yet, but I would guess that a Honda Shadow Spirit 750, or numerous other in the Shadow line would be a great first bike for you. I've heard nothing but great reviews from them. It is also the bike I'm looking to get for my first bike.
 

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my wife started on a vulcan 1500 .she stand 5"3"in boots. IMO it has more to do with control. your brain controls your right hand so dont twist it any harder then you need to to move at a reasonable speed. once again just my thoughts .why spend 2500 to 5000 on a bike you dont realy want to start with ? same money could be used to buy a decent size bike .and all cruisers are not the same .....
 

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600cc+ too big for a beginner? Yes and no. Depends on the type of bike you are talking about. A 600cc cruiser should be perfectly fine for a beginner while a 600cc supersport from all that I've read is not:

Honda Shadow 750 - Acceptable
Honda CBR600RR - Unacceptable

Yamaha V-Star 650 - Acceptable
Yamaha YZF-R6 - Unacceptable

Suzuki Boulevard M50 (800cc) - Acceptable
Suzuki GSX-R 750 - Unacceptable

Kawasaki Vulcan 800 - Acceptable
Kawasaki Ninja ZX-6R - Unacceptable

Of course I'm not saying that it is absolutely positively impossible to learn on a 600cc or even bigger supersport bike but...that is not recommended. I'm sure there are a few 'mature' and very fast learners/skilled riders who learned on those bikes (Valentino Rossi? lol) and had no or little issues. But for the rest of us I think it's wise to give yourself the best learning curve possible and more room for error than not.

Of course, all 250cc are good beginner bikes!
Honda Rebel 250
Honda CBR250R
Kawasaki Ninja 250R
Yamaha Virago 250
Suzuki TU250X
 

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As others have stated, cc doesn't tell you much. Look at power-to-weight ratios.

The biggest engined Harleys are around 1,700cc and weigh 900lbs give or take. They make something like 70hp at the rear wheel. The H-D is almost impossible to wheelie, given the weight.

Contrast a Yamaha liter bike (e.g. R1) with 1,000cc weighing about half of the Harley, putting out 160hp at the rear wheel. It'll weigh less than half of the H-D, ca. 450lbs. The R1 wants to wheelie.

The H-D P:W ratio is 0.08 hp/lb, while the Yamaha is 0.36 hp/lb - i.e. it has a power to weight ratio more than 4X the H-D. That explains why the sportbike will do 0-60 in the low 3 second range while the H-D will likely take closer to 5, and why the top speed of the sportbike is closer to 185mph while the H-D will probably max out at around 120 on a good day.

Moral of the story is that you need to consider the type of bike along with engine size. A 600cc cruiser will be absolutely fine for most beginners - if anything, probably bit too lethargic for most, providing they're comfortable with the weight (low center of gravity of cruisers generally helps with confidence on this front). A 600cc sportbike is generally not a good starter bike.

I personally started on a 650cc standard bike (a Ninja 650R v-twin that made around 60-70hp), then got a 600cc sportbike (inline 4 R6S with around 100hp) and am now on a a liter bike (inline 4 R1 with around 160 hp at the rear wheel). So I went from 650 to 600 to 1000. CCs fluctuated, but power:weight ratios (and hp generally) steadily increased.
 
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