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2018 Kawasaki NINJA 650 ABS KRT
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Welcome from the Missouri Ozarks!

Lots of GREAT, thoughtful questions, and lots of good advice here!(y) One thing I will take issue with a little bit is gear selection. I'm a RiderCoach; I recommend that my students buy the best gear that their budget will allow. With the motorcycling budget you've presented here, I would suggest spending a little less on a first bike (Your first bike won't be your last bike, trust us!!:D) and a little more on higher quality gear, especially your helmet. Yes, a $300 DOT/ECE helmet made by a reputable manufacturer will do its job in the event of a crash, but a helmet with a Snell rating will offer you even more protection. I tipped over on my bike while wearing a $300-400 reputable helmet, smacked the back of my head on the parking lot, and suffered a mild concussion for two weeks; the bike wasn't even running. Conversely, I came up on the losing end of a Honda Pilot at 30-35 mph, high-sided 30 feet (flew and landed in front of the bike--you'll learn more about that in class) and landed on my left side. The full-face Arai helmet I was wearing did its job and I suffered absolutely no head injuries. I was also wearing Motoport jacket and pants which left me unscathed and were able to be repaired by the company. The only injury I had was some overall stiffness for a couple days.
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Every crash is different. But there's a reason that racers wear what they do. Sure, you won't be doing 200mph on the street, but you really do get what you pay for when it comes to motorcycle gear. The "Big Box" motorcycle stores will carry a wide variety of helmets, but you have to dig a little deeper for higher quality jackets and pants, such as Motoport and Aerostitch. This gear is custom made and is truly an investment; it's understandable to want to make sure motorcycling is really for you before doing so (The Motoport is so good that they'll let me wear it at the track for street skills--not racing-- schools so I don't have to rent leathers(y)). Just a note, you won't need to have all of your street gear for your class, except for a helmet (if your site doesn't provide loaners). You'll also need eye protection if your helmet lacks a face shield (prescription eyewear or sunglasses are fine for class), long sleeves, long sturdy pants, full-fingered gloves (not necessarily motorcycle gloves), and sturdy over-the-ankle boots (hiking boots are a good choice). So you can really take your time to explore all the options out there.

In what state will you be taking your class? MSF is in the process of transitioning to all online classroom content so I'm curious as to where you're at so I might be able to clue you in on what to expect (if I can find out what each state is currently offering). Were you instructed to complete an E-course prior to your class?
 

Premium Member
2018 Kawasaki NINJA 650 ABS KRT
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While the latest ECE cert seems to be a little better than DOT (and a Snell cert is over and above either of those, so if you see Snell, it will also be DOT and/or ECE), state helmet laws often specify DOT helmets. I actually have a Shark modular that I use for teaching classes and commuting to and from class. It came from Germany (It's the only way I could get a GREEN one!!:D:ROFLMAO:) and is certified ECE. The DVD manual that came with it made a big deal of making it perfectly clear that it doesn't comply with United States' helmet laws. There are no stickers on the helmet for either DOT or ECE (It's not Snell, and not the quality of my Arai, so quite honestly I'm not as confident in its protection as I am my Arai. Fortunately, I ride with it in relatively low risk environments i.e. not in the twisties). Missouri no longer has a helmet requirement for riders age 26 and over, and since it's unlikely to get worn out of state, I shouldn't have a problem. I see that Louisiana doesn't have a DOT helmet specification.

I also looked at the Louisiana motorcycle safety program website and I can infer from it that you'll be using the same curriculum that Missouri has been using, meaning that your classroom content will be in person, assuming you're in an early June class (They'll have to transition by July 1 in order for their coaches to get credit for teaching courses, and probably to keep their testing waivers in effect). Fair warning: You're in Louisiana. In June. It's going to be freaking hot and humid in the parking lot!!!!! 馃サ馃サ馃サ Wear the lightest weight clothing that you can, such as a long sleeve wicking shirt, or a wicking short-sleeve or tank top under a mesh jacket while you're on the bike. Drink LOTS AND LOTS of water, starting the day before, along with an electrolyte beverage or electrolyte supplements ( I use these Trace Minerals Electrolyte Stamina 300 Tabs - Swanson庐). I assume since you're living there, you know how easy it is to get heat exhaustion, but the risk is amplified in a parking lot especially if it's asphalt.
 

Premium Member
2018 Kawasaki NINJA 650 ABS KRT
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1,557 Posts
I would have to agree especially with the ABS in selecting a bike. Its a total game changer in an emergency braking situation or wet pavement.
It is indeed, but it's no substitute for being able to execute a proper quick stop. You'll learn how to do them in class at 15mph. Once you get the hang of it, gradually find safe places to practice them at higher speeds. The technique is the same, but the faster you're traveling, the more time and space it takes to stop so it feels a little different. It will also take you multiple presses on the gear shift lever to get down into first gear, rather than just the single shift from second to first that you'll practice in class. You'll also learn how to stop quickly in a curve. Standard ABS is designed for straight line stops only and is what is found on most bikes. More sophisticated systems will help in corners.
Cornering ABS/IMU explained + List of All Motorcycles (2022)
Just make sure you know what you're buying.(y)
 

Premium Member
2018 Kawasaki NINJA 650 ABS KRT
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Thank you for the great information. I will be taking the class in Louisiana. I haven't been notified to take any online courses at this time. This is where everything gets so confusing. Large, respected YouTubers like FortNine seem to suggest that ECE is a better overall certification...if I interpreted that video correctly. You are saying to go with a Snell certified helmet for the increased impact resistant rating. This is great information to know. So, I should start with somewhat decent protective gear and then possibly get more expensive gear when I am sure that the hobby suits me? I really appreciate your time and input.

Also, I have taken some aforementioned advice to heart and have been searching cycletrader/FB marketplace/classified for possibly a more affordable/less powerful starter bike - around the $3,000-$4,500 range. It's hard right now to find bikes for less that aren't complete beaters.
Looks like you'll need to furnish a helmet for your class. That's the one thing I wouldn't skimp on. While most classes are incident-free or have minor drops and such, students do make mistakes and I've seen some doozies over the years. Having said that, I can pretty safely say that the incidents occurring in my classes involved students wearing DOT (not Snell) helmets, often the inexpensive ones we provide for class. I'm not aware of anyone having any lingering head injury issues beyond maybe a headache or something short term, but it's not my job to follow up later so I don't know. It's all about risk management. If you're reasonably sure that you'll pass the class and go on to enjoy motorcycling for a long time, then buy the dream helmet. If you're not so sure, then a less expensive DOT model (full face or 3/4) will likely suffice for class, given that the prescribed exercise speeds do not exceed 25mph. This is another reason that full street gear is not required in the training environment. If it turns out that motorcycling isn't for you, then you're only out a couple hundred dollars or so on an entry level helmet, plus your course fee.

Bike prices are really screwed up, just like car prices. I've been trolling for a used NINJA 400 as second bike for awhile, specifically a certain 2018 model. You would think that I could find a decent specimen in the $3000-4000 range. But one of the used bike dealers that had one with 12,000+ miles on it (kinda high mileage on a 400), an aftermarket slip-on muffler, and a few scratches, wanted $6200 for it. That's completely insane. I've seen some reasonable deals on FB Marketplace since then, but I've decided to wait until I have cash in hand (a much stronger bargaining chip with my husband..) and hope that prices will continue to come down on a now-five year-old bike. The nice thing about going through a dealer for your first bike, especially if you're not mechanically inclined, is that the fluids will be fresh, the tires will be safe, and you'll have some reasonable assurance that it's roadworthy. If you can find something for $3500-5000, you should be in good shape. (y)
 

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2018 Kawasaki NINJA 650 ABS KRT
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Oh, trust me. I will have plenty of Powerade Zero with me when I do my riding instruction. So, helmet is something on which I should not skimp. Snell rated preferably.

Also, I should go with a slightly smaller engine/bike with ABS if possible since I won't be on the highway much at all. Honestly, I would love something like a used MT-03, but I just don't see many fairly priced used ones in my area. I will keep looking.

Use good, fairly bright and effective protective gear and a white helmet. I was personally leaning toward brighter gear anyway in order to attempt to make myself more visible. Thank you guys for all of your help.

One more question. What do you guys think of modular helmets?
Plenty of time to have fun shopping, given that your course isn't until June.

Modulars are great at the gas station and such. For me, it's a must-have when teaching classes so my students can understand me better on the range. Some companies make Snell modulars, but Arai does not. If they ever do, I'll be the first in line to get one! :D Be sure you try on a helmet before you buy it. Some of us have more round heads, others more oval. Different manufacturers' helmets fit heads differently. The staff at the motorcycle shop will be able to help you make sure a helmet fits your head right.(y)
 

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2018 Kawasaki NINJA 650 ABS KRT
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Yes, we have to furnish a helmet, gloves (not specifically riding gloves), long sleeve shirt, pants, and boots/shoes that go over the ankle.

As far as the pricing, I know exactly what you are talking about. On FB marketplace near me a guy was trying to sell a 2005 CRF 250 that was in OK condition but obviously heavily used for $4,500. Other sellers are attempting to sell very old bikes not even in running condition without a key or title for $1,500-$2,000. It's crazy out there. Hopefully, when I am ready to purchase, things will be a bit more reasonable. At the moment, however, it's not uncommon for me to see a low mileage used bike for sale for $500 OVER MSRP. That's the only reason my first inclination was to buy new, but I think I will just keep looking for a reasonable deal. The only problem I have is I don't really know what I am looking for. I wish a could pay someone more knowledgeable than me like $50-$100 around buying time to go over the bike for me. Then I would be scared of getting robbed though because the person would know I had the money on person to purchase the bike. What makes me even more cautious is that a friend of mine bought a used bike a few years ago not knowing what to look out for and apparently purchased a used bike from a private seller with a bent a-frame. He got ripped off and couldn't even really ride it.
Along those same lines, a deer totaled our Prius shortly before Christmas, 2021. So we had the joy of having to purchase a new car in the post-COVID nonsense world. We got lucky and found a 2022 Corolla Hybrid that we liked that was already built, scheduled to be delivered locally in February, and, miraculously, did not have anyone else's name on it already!!(y)(y) My husband really wanted to drive one before we shelled out the money for it. We got lucky and the dealer had a 2021 rental return there with 18,000 miles on it that was identical except for color. He drove it and really liked it. We could've driven it home that day if we had wanted--for $3000 OVER MSRP.:eek::eek::eek: For $3000, we could make do with my Bug and our truck for a couple months, thank you very much...

It's possible you could find a killer deal on new vs used right now, but as another poster mentioned, you have to factor in all that freight and setup they stick you for. I was ogling a brand new NINJA 400 ABS KRT at my local dealer, but when you factored in all the extra **** plus all the must-have farkles (sportbike word for accessories) I would have to put on it, I was looking at over $8K for a bike that wouldn't get ridden all that much (track, rides where I don't have to haul anything--pretty rare, and a second bike for when the 650 is down for some reason). I need to keep it in the $5K or less range or I won't do it. Insurance is going to be higher on a newer bike, too, because, well, it's new, plus it's likely to have more gizmos that are expensive to fix. The dash on my 2017 NINJA 300 ABS KRT got melted inside somehow (I think the sun bounced off a car and hit my windscreen just wrong in a parking lot) so that the analog tach needle wouldn't sweep (it had a digital speedo). The part alone would have been over $700!! Instead, I spent an hour tearing it out of my bike (Whatever bike you end up with, be sure to invest in a service manual for it), my husband spent an hour at the most working his magic on it to fix it, and I spent another two hours putting it all back together. My point is that those fancy TFT digital color dashes look cool, but I hate to think how expensive it would be to replace one. All that higher tech stuff raises insurance premiums; we've seen that BIG TIME on our new car.馃槨
 

Premium Member
2018 Kawasaki NINJA 650 ABS KRT
Joined
1,557 Posts

Premium Member
2018 Kawasaki NINJA 650 ABS KRT
Joined
1,557 Posts
Thank you all for your input over the past 2 weeks. It's very cool for the community to support a new rider. I have moved up my MSF class, and I am currently looking for a helmet for the class that I can also use in the future when I get my bike/endorsement. As far as a bike goes, I like so many models, but I think I will listen to most on here and start with a smaller bike like an MT03, G 310GS, z400, Versys 300, CB300R, or maybe even a Rebel 300.
We're happy to help!! Once you have your endorsement, you're more likely to be able to get test rides, but not all dealers will do that unfortunately. Good luck, have fun in class! (y)
 
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