Want To Ride? (Alternative Version)

Kawasaki Ninja 500r

Allen posted about how great his bike was and all of that. I decided that rather than commenting on what he had to say, I could say the same thing only much different.

I have always had a fondness for motorcycles, though I had never really ridden one until I was just turning 21. I did have a 50cc Italian scooter, but it didn’t even have a clutch so I don’t really count it as a proper motorcycle. (Though I did love it and would like to fix it up one of these days) My problem was that I didn’t have the slightest clue about how a motorcycle functioned. I found out from Allen that there was a class, and we had gotten a bit of money for Christmas, so I took the MSF class.

MSF was great. If you are thinking about riding, I would highly recommend it. Many people think it isn’t necessary, but there is a lot that is covered, and while you could easily learn how to ride on your own, it is nice to know the other things that you wouldn’t think about. Its isn’t very expensive and often times you can get a discount on your insurance.

Beginner Bikes

Here is what I mean when I say “beginner bike.” I am talking about a bike that is handles nicely, is comfortable. The power is not overwhelming when you smack on the throttle. You are going to be able to ride it safely and still be able to have fun. Some are more bland than others.

I looked long and hard into beginner bikes. There are not a lot of great options, and this is where Allen and I differ significantly. Yes you can start on a large bike, but you are also more likely to take it too fast too soon. Most people don’t understand that a bike is about handling and not about speed. Any bike will go fast, but certain bikes can out-handle even the fastest. Even a Ninja 250. Some sports bikes that make decent first bikes are as follows. Kawasaki Ninja 250, Ninja 500, Suzuki GS500, and probably even the Katana 600.

The Katana is big. Its long and heavy. Its also not got a ton of power comparatively for its engine size. However it is very manageable if you are looking to get started. It isn’t the ideal first bike but its okay.

Kawasaki Ninja 250RThe Ninja 250 is a lot of fun. You can have a lot of fun on it. It is lousy for long trip, but you can fling it any which way you want (except vertical for the most part). It handles very well and it is extremely light. It is not however very well rounded. It makes a great commuter, and a fantastic first bike, but it maxes out fairly quickly and if you want to go on a long trip you are going to have a hard time at highway speeds as your engine will be screaming at 75.

The Suzuki GS500. The one Allen had was air cooled and un-faired. He liked it because it was his, but it was a fairly boring bike to ride. It makes a GREAT first bike. It is light and low (which is great for Allen) and it handles well. You don’t feel like you need to go a million mph on it. And frankly you couldn’t. It topped out fairly early. If you are going to go on group rides then you will be left behind. Great commuter though. When I was in South Africa it was the bike of choice for couriers. I saw tons of them and they got beat up but they were everywhere. Oh and ask Allen how many miles he put on his GS.

My first bike was a 1998 Kawasaki Ninja 500. This bike is extremely outdated now. It is still for sale and it hasn’t changed at all except for the colors. This current model started in 1994 and has been unchanged for the past 14 years. The bike handles nicely and has loads of parts available for upgrading. Mine had a full Muzzy exhaust, and the carbs had been jetted. I picked it up in beautiful shape for $2500 with 19,000 miles (i think). It is a sportbike at heart. It has a 14,500 redline and runs like a champ. It almost can keep up with the faster bikes, unfortunately the brakes aren’t so great so stopping with them is actually a bit hard. The bike is very controllable and nicely balanced. Allen is going to mention that I dropped it, but it was on trolley tracks and unfortunately the small front tire fit right into them. It was a great first bike and I would recommend it to anyone. Oh and it could beat Allen’s any which way to Sunday.

I want to also mention that there are a few newer models out there that would make decent first bikes. I don’t think Allen agrees with these, but if you are concerned that you might want to upgrade quickly into a bigger bike, these are good suggestions.

Suzuki SV650The Suzuki SV650 and Kawasaki Ninja 650 and the new GSX650F (which replaces the Katana this year). These bikes bikes have marginally more power than the prior bikes, and a bit less than the Supersport bikes. I will get into these more on another post, but I would recommend looking into them seriously. Neither has neck-braking power, but they have plenty to have a great time with. I currently own an SV650, as has Allen, and while I like the supersports I find this to be the most reasonable, and confident bike I have ridden. I am going to do a full video review of my 01 SV650 soon. Also we will be contacting Kawasaki and Suzuki about getting some bikes to do some comparisons on. I would love to try out some of their new bikes.

1 comment so far ↓

#1 Allen on 10.25.07 at 11:14 am

First off, I put a little over 4,000 Mi on my GS 1,500 on it before I rebuit the engine, and 2,600 after the rebuild. The riding position was lower then your EX500 but it also was on of the only years with factory clip-ons. Thirdly, it is not boring it is quite fun and capable of keeping up with EX500 but not beating it. Fourthly, I had it up to 115 mph at one point. Finally, I do agree the SV is a great bike to start on and you will never have to upgrade if you don’t want to. But it does have more power then either of the 500s and is not as nimble.

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