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Discussion Starter #1
Hello again.

Sorry to be a bother, but, as you probably already know, buying a first bike is an important decision. Please help me make an informed decision by helping me out with bike specs as they pertain to a new rider:
1) cc size: Now obviously, the bigger the cc's, the more power, right? But then I hear that the Kawasaki Ninja 250 has more acceleration than the Buell Blast!!! When deciding on cc size, should I also take into consideration the torque? Also, does the type of bike (sport versus cruiser, for example) make a difference?;
2) Torque: Should I base my decision on torque? How does torque (high end/low end) affect handling/safety issues?
3) Weight of bike: How/why is that important for a first time rider? Some tell me a lighter bike is better so that I can handle it better at slower speeds. Others tell me you can't manhandle a bike anyway and so a heavier bike is actually more stable at higher speeds. Some say it is difficult to pick up a heavy bike, but others say that even a heavy bike can be balanced easily;
4) Seat height: I am short (5'6"). I would prefer "flatfooting" both feet on the ground while at stops or going slow through a parking lot, but some people tell me that using only one leg is good enough. Isn't that awkward while, say, looking for a parking spot for a long period of time?;
5) Wheelbase: How does wheelbase affect handling for a newbie? I heard I should go with a short wheelbase to make turning easier, but others say a short wheelbase makes the bike TOO responsive.

As you can see, I get a lot of differing opinions on this.

Thanks in advance.
 

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Hello Newbieking. It's no bother at all, that's why we are here. :)

1) CC size is only part of it. For example, a 600cc inline four will produce more maximum horsepower than a 1200cc V-Twin. The two cylinder 250 Ninja may well be quicker than the 500cc single cylinder Blast. Number of cylinders, then displacement is a pretty good rule of thumb. Light bikes with two cylinders are the best to learn on in my opinion.
2.) Torque. Here is where the displacement comes into play. The same 1200 V-Twin will produce a lot more low end torque than the 4 cylinder 600. Again, a light, two cylinder bike is ideal to learn on. High torque at the low end is less of a concern than high horsepower at the high end.
3) Weight. It's true that a heavy bike is more stable at high speeds. But at low speeds, they are a lot less manueverable and do take some skill to keep upright. The hardest part about learning to ride is to be able to control the bike at low speeds, which is why the training classes and testing are all done at less than 20 MPH. It's much easier to become proficient at riding if you can manage low speed like a pro. Lighter bikes are much faster to learn how to operate.
4) Flat-Footing. It's a heck of a lot easier to learn to ride when you can touch the ground with both feet and still be able to move the bike around. It's possible to ride a bike with only one foot touching, but a lot harder. I think it would be a pain to have to jump off the bike every time you wanted to back up.
5) Wheelbase. I never gave much though to this. Extremely short or long bikes would present difficulties, but most "standard" machines out there shoudn't present much of a problem one way or the other.
 

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Well, looks like Dod did a pretty nice job on this one...

I recommend you look into a Motorcycle Safety Foundation course. The course is the best investment you can make in the motorcycle world, especially for a new rider.

What style bikes interest you? knowing what you like will help us guide you in the right direction. Finally, welcome to the forum and keep on posting!
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Thanks.

Thanks for the information. I found it all very useful. To answer some of your questions: I am currently taking the MSF course. I found the 250's easy and fun to ride during the MSF course. I actually had decided on an H-D Sportster 883. My brother says the 883 is a great choice as a first bike, but the MSF instructor told me that he has seen a lot of guys get the 883 because of the low seat, but they get into trouble with the heavy weight (around 560 lbs or so). Is that too much bike for a beginner?

My instructor also said he would not recommend anything over 500cc for a beginner. So I reconsidered and came up with a Buell Blast. Is that a good choice? I heard they vibrate a lot and that the friction zone is hard to find.

Or should I stick with a 250cc (like a Yamaha V-Star Virago 250)? So my choices are the Buell Blast or the Sportster 883 or the 250 Yamaha. I have also thought of the Suzuki Boulevard S40. I am 5'6'' and 170 lbs. (muscle, not fat--I am a fitness fanatic).

Thanks again. This is very helpful to me.

BTW: I look at it this way: If I buy a bike that is too "small" or "weak" for me, the worst that can happen is I get bored of it and I upgrade. But if I buy a bike that is too big or powerful, then the worst thing that can happen is that I get into an accident. What are your thoughts on that?
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Hello Dodsfall,

You said, "Light bikes with two cylinders are the best to learn on in my opinion."

I understand the light-bikes issue, but why are two cylinders better to learn on than one?

Thanks.
 

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Thanks for the information. I found it all very useful. To answer some of your questions: I am currently taking the MSF course. I found the 250's easy and fun to ride during the MSF course. I actually had decided on an H-D Sportster 883. My brother says the 883 is a great choice as a first bike, but the MSF instructor told me that he has seen a lot of guys get the 883 because of the low seat, but they get into trouble with the heavy weight (around 560 lbs or so). Is that too much bike for a beginner?
I'd say the MSF instructor has it right. However, after 2 months of riding, I feel as if I could handle the extra weight of a Sportster. You definitely don't want that much weight until you're to the point where you don't have to think about your controls, because if you do have all that weight, thats just one more thing to think about.

My instructor also said he would not recommend anything over 500cc for a beginner. So I reconsidered and came up with a Buell Blast. Is that a good choice? I heard they vibrate a lot and that the friction zone is hard to find.[/quote[

Well, a thumper (single cylinder) is gonna vibrate, but once you get the engine revved up a little bit its not so bad, at least not on my 250 thumper. I haven't heard about the friction zone issue, though, so I can't help ya there.

Or should I stick with a 250cc (like a Yamaha V-Star Virago 250)? So my choices are the Buell Blast or the Sportster 883 or the 250 Yamaha. I have also thought of the Suzuki Boulevard S40. I am 5'6'' and 170 lbs. (muscle, not fat--I am a fitness fanatic).
Any of those bikes would be suitable power-wise. The 250cc cruisers and the Buell Blast are definitely better starter bikes, though. I guarantee you that if you jump on a Sporster after 6 months or so of riding a 250 or the Buell, you're gonna be able to maneuver that thing a heck of a lot easier than if you'd started with the Sportster right off the bat.

BTW: I look at it this way: If I buy a bike that is too "small" or "weak" for me, the worst that can happen is I get bored of it and I upgrade. But if I buy a bike that is too big or powerful, then the worst thing that can happen is that I get into an accident. What are your thoughts on that?
That's an EXCELLENT way to look at it. Kudos to you for having patience and not wanting the biggest and baddest machine out there as your first bike. :)
 

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Hello Dodsfall,

You said, "Light bikes with two cylinders are the best to learn on in my opinion."

I understand the light-bikes issue, but why are two cylinders better to learn on than one?

Thanks.
I think he's referring to 2-cylinder engines vs 4-cylinder engines. In-line 4 engines, such as those in super sports, are not newb friendly at all. All of the 250cc bikes are probably on equal footing when it comes to newb friendliness, whether it has a single cylinder or two cylinders.
 

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I disagree a bit with the instructor; 500 cc or less for a sport bike but I have seen people start on a 650 cc cruiser with no problem at all. I started on a 750 cc cruiser, a little heavy but otherwise no big deal. Alot depends on the rider's ability, how much you picked up in the MSF, how much time you can practice to gradually build up your skills, and so forth.

That nit picked, I think it's still a good rule of thumb to begin with a "starter bike" such as those you've mentioned and those Dodsfall and others recommended. :cool:
 

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I think he's referring to 2-cylinder engines vs 4-cylinder engines. In-line 4 engines, such as those in super sports, are not newb friendly at all. All of the 250cc bikes are probably on equal footing when it comes to newb friendliness, whether it has a single cylinder or two cylinders.
That's right. The single-cylinder thumpers are fine as well.
 

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Well, sounds to me like your leaning towards the cruiser/standard types. I see a lot of 250's on the road now that I'm riding. When I was "trying on" bikes I sat on all of them I could find between 250 and 900 cc. The two that felt best to me as far as control reach, seat position and balance and weight were the 500 and 800 Vulcans and an 883L. Everyone has a differnent "feel" their looking for, so get out and sit on a few and see what fits.
 

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I disagree a bit with the instructor; 500 cc or less for a sport bike but I have seen people start on a 650 cc cruiser with no problem at all.
I agree. I started on a 650 and I think I could have handled starting on an 800. Although Im sure next year when I upgrade I will look back on this as a good learning experience.
 
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