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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi all,
I am just looking into getting my first bike and after lots of ready and research I am considering either a Ninja 400 or Rebel 500. Yes two completely different styles of bike but I like them both and if money wasn`t an object I would get one of each.... and maybe will in future. I am planning to use the bike for fun, fair weather weekend rides.
I can see pros and cons for each so I would like to hear some expert opinions of these or similar bikes for a beginner rider.
The Ninja gets great reviews and seems to be highly recommended as a starter bike. I have sat on it and it fits me well, I am a short-ass (5`10 / 177cm) but I can comfortably flat-foot both feet over the bike. It is also very light so should be easy to maneuver at low speed and less risk of a beginner dropping it. With it being a sports bike I would also be planning of wearing full safety gear (racing leathers) when riding it.
The Rebel feel super comfortable to sit on and looks great, I do wish it sounded a bit more `Harley` though and I`m sure I would get tempted to modify/bobber it over time. However I understand that with this riding position and the extra weight it might not be so easy to maneuver at low speed so might not be so easy for a beginner. Also I would probably look a tit wearing full racing leathers on this style of bike but am concerned that riding jeans and leather jacket (i.e. typical cruiser style gear) will not be as safe to wear so this would also be a considering factor.

So what are your opinions? Would a bobber be too much more tricky to handle than a small sports bike? Can you be as safe wearing cruiser style gear as racing leathers?
 

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Foist off. It is a good idea to include your location so it will appear at the left.
Riding gear and safety, and issues like Brexit, all register differently in different folks brains. So too does appearance. These will guide you in what you buy. It is really hard to function if your head or chest is scrambled. A wonky knee, and or other leg and arm parts are not as critical. Start with a decent helmet and jacket, decent boots and gloves, and rain pants to cover whatever you are wearing.
Oily greasy jeans are traditional according to the ton up boys.
In your other post you said you were a Brit in Switzerland. If that featured in your notes at left, it will remind me which language to use.

UK
 

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I don't like the idea of choosing riding gear based on the "style" of the bike. You should get the most protection that you feel comfortable wearing regardless of the bike. You mention getting "racing leathers" if you buy the Ninja. If you mean a one-piece suit, be aware that it is pretty impractical for daily street riding. No pockets, no ability to take the jacket off if going in a store or restaurant, and strange appearance like knee sliders and even potentially, a hump. Best choice for both bikes would be either a two piece leather or a two piece textile outfit, or even a combination of those two.
 

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If you go used you can potentially get two "first" bikes. I had a Buell Blast (500 single) and a Honda Rebel (250cc parallel twin) as my firsts.

I think either the Ninja 400 or the Rebel 500 would suit a beginner well. The Rebel 500 is a bike that's good enough for experienced riders and beginners alike. The new generation Rebels also have a lot of improvements on the old ones as well.

The Ninja 400 is definitely more of a beginner than a bike you'll hold onto forever, but it should have enough grunt to put a smile on your face for at least a season. Though if I'm honest, I don't see much incentive to getting a new low end Ninja when used ones are so cheap and plentiful.

As for your gear, you can do what those with multiple bikes do and get gear that looks and works good with different disciplines. :)
 

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Kevlar jeans and a well rated textile or leather jacket will look good on either style bike. I started on a Ninja 300 and, by 6 months in, I was craving more power. Did I need more power? No, so I rode it another 6 months before upgrading. If I had started with a 400, I probably would have been inclined to keep it longer. Regardless, I'd say to choose the one that you think will be better for you over the long haul...
 

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I've had my license for almost 2 years. I'm 5' 11", with 30" leg inseam. I initially bought a 2005 Yamaha 1100CC V-Star (USD $4200) then about a year ago, I added a 2002 Kawasaki 250CC Ninja (USD $2600). I like them both. The ninja gets 60 miles per gallon, the V-Star gets about 42 miles per gallon. The Ninja is about 325 pounds, the V-Star is about 625 pounds. The Ninja is like the alpine skier, and carves turns, the V-Star you have to coax it into turns, not so much a carver of turns. The Cruisers have a lot of cargo space, the saddlebags carry a lot of groceries from the market, or camping gear for a weekend of camping. The Ninja is lighter, and more maneuverable at lower speeds. The cruiser is easier to tip at low speeds, until you get accustomed to technique; power is what keeps you up when making u-turns and such, because the centrifugal force of the spinning wheels will want to keep you upright. Make good decisions, motorcycle, safety gear, riding instruction, check out the MCRIDER channel on YouTube. The guy is a professional motorcycle instructor who publishes YouTube videos once a week, very informative, he gives you the "why" behind the techniques he shows. Buy the first one of choice, then follow up with the 2nd one as a used, street then cruiser, or creuiser then street. You'll find that you'll like them both for different reasons. To me, I've demoed some of the more powerful crotch rockets, and they felt like too much engine for the size of the motorcycle, they feel like they want to leave you on the pavement as they scoot right out from under you..... Oh, and Moose Racing makes a great pair of safety undergarment that works great with jeans. It has a chamois crotch pad like bicycling shorts, and 6 pieces of armor strategically placed should you crash.... Moose Racing XC1 Base Armor Shorts
 

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So what are your opinions?
Again I'd buy the Ninja 400 or a similar used bike, but I've always owned standard or sports bikes. I have a CB500F (basically same engine as Rebel) and after 3 years of ownership (15,000 miles) it's been fairly reliable (needed water pump) but is the most boring engine I ever owned. It just seems like it's being choked of air or something. I even put a full new exhaust and a fuel tuner on it which helped some but still not a free revving like my other bikes.

Would a bobber be too much more tricky to handle than a small sports bike?
Having ridden in your part of the world through tight alpine mountain passes, I would rather be in a more upright riding position that a ninja provides over a more laid back position of the rebel.

Can you be as safe wearing cruiser style gear as racing leathers?
Yes, you can get safe riding gear for either style of bike. I have a two piece leather suit and I have a Dianese two piece combination leather/textile suit which combines the best of both worlds (protection and comfort).
 

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Weight really isn't going to be much of a factor with the OP. The Rebel is a really friendly, nimble, and forgiving cruiser (the previous gens remain a staple of MSF courses around the country). The new gens continue that trend but with an all new look and better engines. The 500cc version appears to get 61 mpg (not bad, my 250 Rebel got about 75). And at about 408 pounds wet, it's only 30 pounds heavier than a Ninja 400.

But yeah, at the end of the day it's still a cruiser, even if it is a sporty one.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Hi all,

Thanks for the information and advise. All very useful and interesting. I`m glad to hear that both these bikes sound like good options for a beginner but that I also shouldn`t grow out of quickly.

As I`ve mentioned I am planning to use the bike for fair weather fun day trips so I`m not too concerned about the practicality of the bike or the gear. Hopefully either bike will have enough power to cope fine with the step mountain roads and be easy enough to maneuver of tight bends and also during the Swiss driving test.

I had previously considered the Shadow 600 or Drag Star 650 but it sounds like these are not recommended for the Swiss driving test due to the weight and lack of ABS. Maybe in the future these would make a nice project bike for a bobber conversion.

I know I am being vain worrying about the style of the riding gear but I would like to know if you have any advice for retro bobber style gear that would offer high safety? How comfortable is wearing Kevlar jeans and leather jacket over protective padding? Even this wouldn't be as safe as modern style leathers but is there anything that would suit the cruiser/bobber style while still offering similar safety and comfort?
 
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