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  • Greetings all! Newbie looking for advice.

    Greetings all. I'm 28, 5'5", 150lb, and looking to get my first sportbike. I don't have any prior riding experience. A buddy has a GSXR 600 and I'd like to think I would upgrade to one/CBR someday. I am currently enrolled in an MSF course which I plan to complete within the month.

    I've done quite a bit of research and decided that a gixxer6 would be a little too motto for me to start off with and I've decided to take it slow, be humble, and master the basics first. I plan to buy new as I prefer the peace of mind that it offers and I'd prefer to finance rather than pay a big lump sum on a used bike. I plan on using this as my primary mode of transportation and will probably do quite a bit of freeway driving (at least 80%). I plan on keeping this bike for at least 3 years.

    For my needs, much of the research seemed to point me towards a Ninja 250R or 650R/SV650SF. Could you guys advise me towards one or another?

    My main concerns are:

    Will the 250R be able to handle the freeways well? I typically do 75-80mph if traffic is moving fast, 70 if not.

    Will I be satisfied riding the 250R for 3 years or will I outgrow that quickly? I'm concerned about not having the power to speed out of trouble when needed.

    Will the 250R handle the occasional longer freeway trips (400 miles from Socal to the Bay Area)? Or will the 650R/SV650SF handle that better?

    Will a 650R/SV650SF be a good beginner bike? Is it more forgiving than a gixxer6 to learn on?

    Does the 650R/SV650SF handle wind better than the 250R or is it about the same?

    While I was originally planning on going for a 250R, evaluating my needs of 3 years use and a lot of freeway riding has me now leaning towards a 650R/SV650SF. My main concern with the 650R/SV650SF is whether it is not a good beginner bike and more comparable in that respect to a gixxer6.

    I appreciate any help!

  • #2
    Welcome. I'll try to give you a little bit of info on the 250.

    Will it do freeway speed? Most definitely. A decent amount of my commute in Atlanta was freeway and I had no trouble keeping up.

    Power to get you out of trouble? You might be looking at it the wrong way. Power isn't what gets you out of trouble, awareness is. That said, the 250 can be considered sluggish, compared to other bikes. It still could run a 14 mile only a few seconds off of my brother's 'Vette. Just a comparison. Also, being aware of your gearing and RPM, etc. will help you make the most of power delivery.

    New vs. used. I still would say go used. You don't take the depreciation hit of a new ride and if you really want to finance, there should be dealers around who have a few used 250's. And really, $3-4k is about the biggest lump sum you're looking at. Not small, but not too bad.

    Long trips, the SV may be more comfortable, but it depends on how you fit the bike. Also remember to look at the GS500F and Ninja 500. The 500s and the 250 are all easier to learn on than an SV.

    Wind... I think its a matter of the rider. I got blown around on the 250 until I figured out to relax.

    That said, all of the bikes discussed are better to learn with than a Gixxer.
    '05 Blue Kawi EX250 - RIP 6/17/10
    Still in the market. Free is good.
    motorcycle4amonth.blogspot.com

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    • #3
      Originally posted by dave... View Post
      Greetings all. I'm 28, 5'5", 150lb, and looking to get my first sportbike. I don't have any prior riding experience. A buddy has a GSXR 600 and I'd like to think I would upgrade to one/CBR someday. I am currently enrolled in an MSF course which I plan to complete within the month.
      Welcome. MSF is a good start. Post MSF however, your attitude towards riding and general demeaner will also factor into bike choice. If you're an aggressive testosterone driven young male chances of riding a Gixxer600 (or any middleweight supersport) and wrecking it is high. Make sure you are ATGATT and approach this in a conservative manner. Riding whatever bike, even a 250 with a bunch of other speed hungry supersport riders the pack mentality takes hold and it doesn't matter what you ride.

      I've done quite a bit of research and decided that a gixxer6 would be a little too motto for me to start off with and I've decided to take it slow, be humble, and master the basics first. I plan to buy new as I prefer the peace of mind that it offers and I'd prefer to finance rather than pay a big lump sum on a used bike. I plan on using this as my primary mode of transportation and will probably do quite a bit of freeway driving (at least 80%). I plan on keeping this bike for at least 3 years.

      For my needs, much of the research seemed to point me towards a Ninja 250R or 650R/SV650SF. Could you guys advise me towards one or another?
      If you can afford to buy new then by all means it's your money. Bear in mind that 2006 and up Ninja 250s are unchanged and low mileage used examples can be found for pretty low prices (some under $3K here). Not to digress about "oh you should ride a Ninja 500, or a Rebel etc" - I'm sure others will chime in that way, I will address your specific bikes:

      Will the 250R be able to handle the freeways well? I typically do 75-80mph if traffic is moving fast, 70 if not.

      Will I be satisfied riding the 250R for 3 years or will I outgrow that quickly? I'm concerned about not having the power to speed out of trouble when needed.
      At 5'5" / 150lbs you are a lightweight. The Ninja 250 will have plenty of power to do 80mph. Unless you are going up a long steep grade or live at 5000ft, the power at sea level is plenty for a beginner. You may have to plan your passes and really twist that throttle, but that is the nature of a 250. Some folks never grow out of the Ninja 250, they convert them to race bikes. So don't believe other people who say a 250 isn't a real sports bike. They own the twisties, a good rider on a 250 can ride circles around a mediocre 600 rider, I've seen it happen on track days.

      Will the 250R handle the occasional longer freeway trips (400 miles from Socal to the Bay Area)? Or will the 650R/SV650SF handle that better?
      If you're going to compare, then the answer is yes. Of course the 650 will be more comfortable on long trips, less buzzy and better suspension. 400mi is nothing, I've known a person who rode his 250 from Denver to Idaho and back.

      Will a 650R/SV650SF be a good beginner bike? Is it more forgiving than a gixxer6 to learn on?
      I've ridden all three so I believe I am qualified to answer. Both 650s are more forgiving than a Gixxer 600. My current 08 and my 03 track bike both put out more than 25% more power than the 650s and weigh less. The 650R is a parallel twin with a more forgiving power curve than the SV650, which due to the V-twin arrangement is a bit more torquey on and off throttle.

      Does the 650R/SV650SF handle wind better than the 250R or is it about the same?
      Being slightly heavier and having wider tires, the 650s are less prone to being affected by crosswinds. All bikes are sensitive to crosswinds, you learn to adjust for it and not fight against it.

      While I was originally planning on going for a 250R, evaluating my needs of 3 years use and a lot of freeway riding has me now leaning towards a 650R/SV650SF. My main concern with the 650R/SV650SF is whether it is not a good beginner bike and more comparable in that respect to a gixxer6.
      See above.

      I owned an SV650N for 4 seasons, before that I had a Ninja 500R for one season. I tested a Ninja 650R and I would put it squarely between the Ninja 500 and the SV650 in terms of newb friendliness.

      In the canyons of SoCal, like Mullholland, or ACH, or any other twisty road, the 250 would be great fun to learn and ride. On the 405 or 5 superslab a 650 will be "nicer" to have, but not a requirement.
      Last edited by asp125; 04-06-2011, 04:23 PM.
      When life throws you curves, aim for the apex
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      • #4
        You may be correct in assuming the Ninja 250R won't like that amount of hiway riding...it works fine and will do the speeds, but if you are serious about keeping it for three years...I would maybe look for a Ninja 500R...there are probably still some new ones in the showrooms, or even a Suzuki GS500F...they have a little less power than the 650's that you are considering, but are still fun to ride...the 650's are nice bikes too, so don't be too put off but they are 15-20 more Hp than the 500's I am suggesting. As a new rider, you really don't want a high horse power bike...it will bite you in the a$$, but the 500's have enough power to easily do the hiway speeds you are talking about.

        The Suzuki GS500F has around 45Hp, the Ninja 500R has around 50Hp, the Ninja 650R has around 63Hp and the SV650SF has around 70Hp...the Gixxer6 has about 110Hp and very little torque...

        It seems like it is gutless until you hit around 5k rpm, then it starts to go...then hits around 7k rpm and trys to pull itself out from under you and at that point your shorts are full and you want your mommie...(as a beginner of course...once you have a few thousand miles under your belt, the shorts and mommie part go away)...

        That's kind of the nature of a tuned inline 4...nothing, nothing, noth...WAAAAAA...real fun once you have built up your skills, but no fun to learn on...

        All the other bikes are twins (two cylinder bikes) all but the SV are parallel twins (SV is a V-twin...kinda like a cruiser, but not really)...twins have larger bores and pistons to make the same displacement, which produces more torque...torque=good, Hp=bad...(okay, maybe that's a little simplistic)

        I would say if you are a real beginner (never been on a bike in your life) I would go no higher than 50Hp...when you first get on a bike with 30Hp or more, you will think it is a rocket...I know 30Hp sounds lame, but don't forget we are talking about vehicles that weigh around 400lbs...so power to weight is very high...the 500's will give a Honda Civic Si a run for its money in a race...the 650's will be in Corvette territory...the 250's will be faster than most non-performance cars...the Gixxer, well lets just say Lamborghini would like to have the performance specs...

        Really, it's up to you what you buy...the 250cc bikes are the best to learn on and will do the hiway speeds, but if you are going to be doing mostly hiway I would suggest the next step up to the 500cc bikes...they should keep you happy for quite a while...if you do decide to go with the 650cc bike, I would suggest the Ninja...not because of the Hp, but it is just more comfortable...handle bars give you a more upright position, as opposed to the SV's clip on bars that put you into race mode...vision isn't as good...

        Good Luck...

        Later.
        **Remember...if you're not having fun, you're doing it WRONG!! **

        Riding since May 2010

        2006 Yamaha MT-01 (repaired and ready to ride!!)
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        • #5
          twins have larger bores and pistons to make the same displacement, which produces more torque...torque=good, Hp=bad
          Torque=bad, Hp=bad

          For a newb, torque is what makes the bike "jumpy" on application of the throttle and also rolling off it.
          When life throws you curves, aim for the apex
          sigpic
          08 Spyder RS SM5 "big Bird" \ 12 S'TtripleR "stripper" \ 02 VFR800 "big red" \ 09 KLX250-S
          Sold: 97 Ninja 500R / 03 SV650N / 01 Ducati 750SS / 73 CB350-Four / 03 BMWF650GS / 08 Gixxer600 / 09 KLX250S "Gumby" / 06 Thruxton "crumpet" / 91 VFR750 /03 Gixxer6 the bass boat
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          • #6
            My initial gut reaction is always, it depends on you.

            My second reaction is always, if you ace the BRC and have absolutely zero problems or issues, a 650 is probably okay. A 600 would be asking for big, major, buku trouble at this stage of the game.

            I will read the thread in a bit...
            2009 Yamaha FZ-1 The Hematoma*
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            Originally posted by mz33
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            • #7
              I am 6'3 and 200 lbs. and my Ninja 250R does perfectly fine on the highway.

              Actually, when cruising at abt 70-75 mph, you are just coming into the power band of 6th gear and it pulls up to 85-90 rather nicely.

              I find it has plenty of pep to get me out of trouble though.

              Crosswinds are kinda rough on the 250, as it will be with any lighter bike.

              I take my Ninjette to the Mountains almost every weekend and have no problem keeping up with some 600 sport bikes through the twisties.

              I also take a 300+ mile trip to SC every month and do just fine with the 250. Seats a little stiff, but you get used to it. Never took anything else on a long trip to compare it to though
              All in all, it is an amazing bike to learn on. Very beginner freindly and easy to handle.

              I would recomend picking up a used 250 for 1000-1500 bucks, riding it for a season or two, and sell it for close to if not more than you have in it. then upgrade to something larger such as your GSXR and get it financed.
              SPC Lee
              U.S. Army National Guard


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              • #8
                At your size and weight, the Ninja 250 would be a rocket ship. This is especially true if you are at lower altitude or live in a flatter part of the country.

                I am 270 and my old 250, while sluggish on acceleration (especially the hills...ugh), had no problem holding 80 mph all day long. I rode it several weekend days for 150-200 miles, all of it carving up back-roads, and I was perfectly comfortable. You really can't go wrong with the pre-gen or new-gen (08-up). I have only ridden the new-gen, but the bikes are very similar. The newer ones have more mid-range torque (if you can call it torque) and the older ones are faster top end. My '09 was an absolute blast to ride and I would still have it if I didn't have to trade it in on my new ride.
                Borrowed from Deadstick - Although I can handle the bike under normal circumstances, I am no longer confident that I can handle it in all circumstances. I think that is where the idea of a "beginner" bike really lies. It's not that a beginner can't ride it if he/she does everything correctly, it's that he/she should be able to ride it with a margin of safety even if he/she does something wrong or conditions exceed his/her skill level.

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                • #9
                  Oh, one other thing. If you keep a 250 at highway speed all day, the mpg will suck. You'll drop down to 60-65 mpg.
                  '05 Blue Kawi EX250 - RIP 6/17/10
                  Still in the market. Free is good.
                  motorcycle4amonth.blogspot.com

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                  • #10
                    Hi Dave!

                    I rode a Ninja 250 all last summer and into the fall, and loved every minute of it. I did some pretty long rides on it (250+ miles in a day) and it was comfy and cozy (I'm 5'6"). I bought an SV650 in the fall, and although I love it too, i actually miss the 250 a lot. The Ninja was, for me, a lot more comfortable on long rides (dunno if it was the seat or the seating position or the softer suspension) and easy as pie around town and in traffic. I'd get close to 70 mpg most of the time, 60 if I were pretending to be a hooligan and doing over 80 a lot. And yes, the little Ninja will do 100. It just won't do it in 0.6 seconds. (For which I was grateful on several occasions.)

                    If you get a Ninja and DO get bored, I can't imagine you'd have any trouble selling it and putting the money into something else.

                    I also hear that there is a new Honda CBR250 that's getting some good reviews.

                    Happy bike shopping!
                    ************************************************** ************************
                    Nobody makes these adventures come true for you. You just have to make up your mind and GO. You'll never regret it. -JD
                    **************
                    M.I.T.G.C. # 53

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                    • #11
                      Thanks for all the replies!

                      Right now, I am heavily leaning toward the SV650SF (even the non S models are strangely attractive). Maybe it's my untrusting nature but I'm just not comfortable shelling out 3k for a used 08+ 250R. I'd rather finance a new bike and keep it for at least 3 years.

                      I will however make a more informed decision after I take the MSF course. Can't wait!

                      On a side note, do dealerships even stock any new 08/09 SV650SFs?

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by dave... View Post
                        Right now, I am heavily leaning toward the SV650SF (even the non S models are strangely attractive). Maybe it's my untrusting nature but I'm just not comfortable shelling out 3k for a used 08+ 250R. I'd rather finance a new bike and keep it for at least 3 years.

                        ...

                        On a side note, do dealerships even stock any new 08/09 SV650SFs?
                        I'm guessing that if you want that specific year, you'll have to buy it used. Or else it will take a LOT of digging to find a dealer who still has that specific bike on the floor.

                        What do you see on Craigslist? Sometimes dealers put brand-new but older bikes on there.
                        ************************************************** ************************
                        Nobody makes these adventures come true for you. You just have to make up your mind and GO. You'll never regret it. -JD
                        **************
                        M.I.T.G.C. # 53

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by dave... View Post
                          Thanks for all the replies!

                          Right now, I am heavily leaning toward the SV650SF (even the non S models are strangely attractive). Maybe it's my untrusting nature but I'm just not comfortable shelling out 3k for a used 08+ 250R. I'd rather finance a new bike and keep it for at least 3 years.

                          I will however make a more informed decision after I take the MSF course. Can't wait!

                          On a side note, do dealerships even stock any new 08/09 SV650SFs?
                          I don't want to rain on your parade, but I think that is a bad decision.

                          Let's look at it logically:

                          1) You have never ridden before.
                          2) You don't want to pay less for a used bike, but are willing to spend more for a new(er) bike and then finance it.
                          3) You will be paying considerably more for insurance, especially if you have to have full coverage (whether you want it or not) due to financing the bike.
                          4) You will pay more for everything else; brakes, tires, gas, typical maintenance like oil changes and chain lubes and the list goes on.
                          5) You are trying to buy your first bike like it is your last. It isn't. Sure, you aren't getting the GSX-R or the CBR, but for a new rider there really isn't any difference between those two and the SV.

                          I could go on and on with the above list, but I think you get the point. I too was looking at SV650S/SF models last year as a potential first bike. I too wanted to upgrade to a supersport, as I am one of those sportbike/sports car kind of people. I am extremely glad I started on my Ninja 250. It taught me so much, and I know I could have still learned from her. The people on this forum, books like Keith Code's Twist of the Wrist II (among many others), and videos like those of CaptCrash also helped me become a competent rider.

                          That SV is a great bike, but it isn't a beginner bike. It will do what you tell it to, and the problem is you won't know what you are telling it to do.

                          I am going to repeat again what I mentioned earlier in my other post: I weigh 270, that means I am almost TWO of you. My '09 Ninja 250 was as quick to 60 as my '07 GTI, which is to say roughly 6-6.5 seconds. That is quick, especially for a new rider still learning the controls. I will say again, it cruises at 80 mph like that is where it belongs. After running through twisties all day long, putting on 200 miles I was feeling absolutely no discomfort (this in spite of me being slightly crunched on the bike).

                          You came on here asking for sound advice and had a great plan: start small and work your way up. It seems like you didn't get the answers you wanted about the SV and you are now just going to do what you are going to do. You are making excuses (you don't want to spend $3k or less on a decent used Ninja 250). If you really think the 250 is going to be that bad, well then I am sorry. It was a great bike for me and even though I love my new ride even more, I will always have fond memories of that 250 because it made ME a BETTER rider, and at this stage in your riding career, that should be your only concern.

                          If you absolutely feel like you just can't do a 250, then look at the Ninja 500 and the GS500/GS500F. The GS500F can be found at dealers in my area for around $3500-$4000 OTD for new '09 models. They just don't sell here in the area of Georgia I am in.
                          Borrowed from Deadstick - Although I can handle the bike under normal circumstances, I am no longer confident that I can handle it in all circumstances. I think that is where the idea of a "beginner" bike really lies. It's not that a beginner can't ride it if he/she does everything correctly, it's that he/she should be able to ride it with a margin of safety even if he/she does something wrong or conditions exceed his/her skill level.

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by dave... View Post
                            . Maybe it's my untrusting nature but I'm just not comfortable shelling out 3k for a used 08+ 250R. I'd rather finance a new bike and keep it for at least 3 years.
                            Why? I'd rather learn on a bike I didn't risk my credit rating for. I've bought three bikes so far, all used, all still on the road AFAIK (the GZ-250 is the only one I've lost track of, sold the Savage to a friend and I still have the Vulcan), and paid for all of them in full. Never paid more than $2300, either, and none of them had over 10K miles when they were purchased. While it'd be nice to have a spandy-new bike, used bikes from a reputable dealer are a great option, and unless I hit the lottery or find my sugar daddy, will continue to be my best option.
                            2004 Kawasaki Vulcan 500 -- Boudicca
                            2002 Suzuki GZ250 -- Friday (sold)
                            1987 Kawasaki KZ305
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                            • #15
                              Asp mentioned it before... one issue with the SV is that it's torquey, so even if as a beginner you are trying to be good and keep the rpms down low in the range, it's going to be "jumpier" in response to throttle input. Whether that input is intentional or not.

                              Tom
                              In the end, regrets rarely come from things done, but from things not even tried.
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