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Old 05-08-2013, 11:32 AM   #1
CaliJC OP
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Suzuki GS500 or CBR250 as first bike for a new female rider?

Hi All,

I'm a brand new lady to the riding world and have been researching bikes for the past few months. I recently took the MSF course and just got my M1.

I'm going back and forth between the Suzuki GS500 and a lighter 250, like the CBR. My boyfriend is scared for me since I've never ridden bikes before and thinks the GS would be very heavy for me (approx. 420lbs curb weight) to make slow maneuvers as a 115lb lady, even though I'm 5'8. What do you all think?

My issue with the Ninja and CBR is the aggressive riding position in situations where I want to take some longer than local trips. And also that I'd be maxing it out if I want to do any touring using freeways. I read that the GS500 is fairly beginner friendly (47hp) and has extra power and more neutral riding position which allows for more comfortable touring capabilities.

What do you all think, is it too dangerous for me to learn around town first on the GS500 or do I really need a 250?
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Old 05-08-2013, 12:31 PM   #2
Turbo Ghost
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Personally, I think the Suzuki would be the better bike. The big reason is the lack of fairings (unless you happen to be looking at the faired model). The odds are very high you will drop the bike several times during your initial learning period. The other bikes have expensive plastics that you don't want to have to replace. They are not cheap! The weight is not an issue. I saw an 80 year old little, bitty lady riding a Goldwing at a rally years ago and those aren't exactly light! Holding a bike up requires very little strength. Everything is balanced. It's when you get off-balance that issues arrive. Search youtube for videos on how to properly pick-up a motorcycle. If you are facing the bike, you are doing it wrong and will hurt yourself. I would link you to some videos but, I'm at work and the filters won't let me view videos.
The GS will also be easier to learn how to pull-out as it will be a bit more torquey than the Ninja. The GS's are great, reliable bikes and can take quite a bit of punishment. Find deserted parking lots and work on your low-speed skills and sharp maneuvering.
The most important thing I can tell you though is to RIDE YOUR OWN RIDE!
What this means is NEVER let anyone pressure you into thinking you are too slow or you are holding someone up on a ride! You will eventually ride with others and the natural tendency is to want to keep up. Ride at the pace you feel comfortable and you'll get there alive and in one piece!
If anyone complains, the problem is theirs not yours!
I often ride with very fast groups and we often have slower riders join us. I always tell them what I just told you and let them know if there are turn-offs on the route, one of us will wait for them to catch-up so they never need to feel rushed.
Practice, practice, practice! Watch other riders that you can see ride well (not necessarily fast but, well) and learn from them. Smooth is the way to go. Good luck and ride safe and enjoy your new GS!
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Old 05-08-2013, 01:51 PM   #3
CaliJC OP
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Thanks Turbo Ghost. I appreciate your detailed reply. I plan to tool around in parking lots for quite some time before hitting the open road, and luckily, I have some nice rider friends who enjoy cruising and not speeding around, so when I'm ready, they'll be patient. I'll ride my own ride for sure though.

I'm thinking I'll throw some frame sliders on there no matter what I expect since I anticipate I'll drop it at least once while learning. You mentioned that bikes are balanced and it's when you throw off the balance that you have problems. So do you not think that a heavier bike is harder to handle when you're learning how to slow down and stop while maintaining balance? Really, the weight is the ONLY thing concerning me and holding me back from making a decision.

Thanks again!
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Old 05-08-2013, 02:11 PM   #4
Pigford
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Question

Errrm, isn't this the THUMPER section?
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Old 05-08-2013, 02:27 PM   #5
Turbo Ghost
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Things happen slower on a heavier bike. It will stop slower than a lighter bike and will turn slower. Don't take this as it's not as good because that not what it means. As an example I'll relate something I experienced.
Years ago, I had a 920 Virago which weighed about 530lbs and had about 66HP. A friend had a 250 Ninja. We had been riding when we decided to swap bikes. When we pulled up to the road from the parking lot, I about went over the handlebars because it only took a finger on the brakes of that little 250 to stop and I was used to using a handful of brake. Then, we hit a curvy section of road and we accellerated to a rather brisk pace. I was used to the weight of my Virago and when I hit the first turn, I did my usual hanging-off and nearly went into the other ditch! The 250 turned so quickly and easily compared to my Virago. Of course, it's not just weight. Those are two different bikes with completely different handling characteristics.
The two bikes you are looking at are really quite similar. Either one will be a great bike and you won't go wrong whichever bike you choose. I still think you'll be happier with the GS although, the fairing on the Ninja will actually be a little useful for someone your height. I'm 6'2" so, it doesn't work for me!
Back to the topic though. Both those bikes are known for their handling. I think the 250 will be a bit quicker in the steering which means small mistakes can be amplified whereas the GS will be a little slower-steering and the extra heft will add to that a bit but, not a huge amount. As I said, these bikes are very similar in the way they handle. They just look different. I do think the riding position on the GS is much more comfortable and at your height should fit you very well.
You need to sit on both and get a feel for how things are laid-out. See if one is more comfortable than the other. If you aren't going to test-ride them, get someone to hold the bikes upright so you can get both feet on the pegs and get into riding position so you'll have an idea of what it will feel like on the road.
I almost forgot!! Before you even think about doing any riding at all, buy good gear!! Nothing is more important than protecting yourself! You need a good full-face helmet and I highly recommend one with an internal sunvisor as it make life so much nicer when riding! You need a good jacket preferably with some type of armor. Get a motorcycle-specific jacket so you know it's made for protecting you while riding. Get motorcycle-specific gloves! Not work gloves or driving gloves! For $50 you can get a good pair of gloves with armor and a gauntlet so, if something happens your hands (which WILL hit the ground in a wreck) will be protected. Get good boots for riding! Riding boots have a different sole compound that won't grab like regular boots will. If you touch your boot to the pavement with regular boots they will probably get yanked off the pegs which can lead to bad results!
Get good pants. I'm not opposed to jeans as long as they are good durable denim jeans. However, a good pair of overpants whether they be mesh or solid will have pads in the hips and knees and can make the difference between walking away or limping away from a wreck.
You may notice I say "wreck" and not "accident". That's because if you wreck, it's probably your fault. Yes, other people do stupid, dangerous, reckless things that can impact you but, it's your job to watch out for such things! Every time I've been down, (3 times, the last was almost 25 years ago) it was my fault!
When you ride, always imagine you are invisible because to most of the other drivers, you are.
Anyway, I believe I've rambled way too much so, I'll sign-off now! Keep us updated on what you get and of course, post pics! Ride safe!
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Old 05-08-2013, 02:29 PM   #6
Turbo Ghost
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Originally Posted by Pigford View Post
Errrm, isn't this the THUMPER section?
I didn't even notice! I was scrolling through "new posts". It would probably be good if a mod could move this to the appropriate section.
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Old 05-08-2013, 03:40 PM   #7
Jimmy the Heater
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I only scanned the previous responses so apologies if this was already said.

All but one woman rider that I know was just fine starting out on a bigger bike. Women have a much greater success rate with that than men do I feel. They don't have as much of a need to impress their buddies, go out and see how fast it will go or get impatient and go out in traffic before they are ready.

Women riders that I know and have taught have started out on 650's, 600's, 400's and one 250.

The one that started out on the 250 is really a very very tentative gal in everything she does. She does ok but doesn't have a passion at all for bikes. She just wanted to learn because her wife rides. (Insert lesbian motorcyclist joke here)

I don't think you'd have a bit of problem with a GS500. Don't forget the EX500, SV650, Er6n or any of those.
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Old 05-08-2013, 05:20 PM   #8
CaliJC OP
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Thanks Turbo Ghost & Jimmy the Heater for giving me some more perspective on this topic. I haven't been able to find much info. about lighter women riding these GS500s.

As for my post in the wrong section, sorry :( Tried to contact a moderator to move my post to Thumper, but the "yo" button will only open in Outlook, which I don't have.

Regarding gear, I have not skimpped. I've got a Scorpion EXO1000 helmet with internal sun visor, a stella leather jacket with armor as well as a stella textile with CE armor both that I won bids on half price through ebay. Also won a bid on some armored scorpion pants, and I've got good teknic boots and leather riding gloves. While I'm good on the gear now, I just need to pick up a bike!

I've sat on the CBR and Ninja. Tomorrow I'll go sit on a GS500 and see how I can move that around.

Thanks for the suggestions on the other bikes as well. I'll look into them too.
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Old 05-08-2013, 07:27 PM   #9
Kommando
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CaliJC View Post
Hi All,

I'm a brand new lady to the riding world and have been researching bikes for the past few months. I recently took the MSF course and just got my M1.

I'm going back and forth between the Suzuki GS500 and a lighter 250, like the CBR. My boyfriend is scared for me since I've never ridden bikes before and thinks the GS would be very heavy for me (approx. 420lbs curb weight) to make slow maneuvers as a 115lb lady, even though I'm 5'8. What do you all think?

My issue with the Ninja and CBR is the aggressive riding position in situations where I want to take some longer than local trips. And also that I'd be maxing it out if I want to do any touring using freeways. I read that the GS500 is fairly beginner friendly (47hp) and has extra power and more neutral riding position which allows for more comfortable touring capabilities.

What do you all think, is it too dangerous for me to learn around town first on the GS500 or do I really need a 250?
You may not need a 250, but they can make things a bit more fun if they suit your riding. If you're not doing much high-speed slab riding, a 250 could be the bike of choice. I'd also look at 250cc supermotos or dualsports. A CRF250L uses the same basic engine as the CBR250, but it only weighs around 320lb curb. This can be easily lightened up to come in below 300lb curb. The dualsports/SMs tend to have a visible and comfortable upright riding position. They also tend to be pretty forgiving of rough pavement.

Another benefit of a 250 dualsport is that you can develop your riding skills offroad, and get comfortable with handling a moto while dealing with varying traction conditions, before having to deal with traffic. By the time you venture out into serious traffic, you could be a pretty competent rider. Dualspots and SMs also generally tolerate drops a lot better than most streetbikes.

Check out some other 250-500cc thumpers. There is also the TU250X, if you like a classic-looking EFI thumper standard streetbike. At your height, a WR250R or X, or a DR-Z400S probably wouldn't be too tall for you. Try sitting a few before you buy something. Find a good deal on a used moto. If it doesn't work well for you, you can probably sell it without really losing money.
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Old 05-09-2013, 03:51 AM   #10
Turbo Ghost
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Kommando makes a good point! Dual-sport bikes offer you so many more options! They have a more comfortable riding position. They have more suspension travel. You sit higher so you can see over the traffic which is safer and it makes you more visible. You have the option of practicing in a safer environment (if it's available in your area) as trees never pull out in front of you! Slap some sticky tires on them and you've got a supermoto which is a lot of fun!
Right now, I ride a KLR650 and when I ride on the street, I ride with the sportbikers and I'm usually one of the front-runners so, they're not slow if you know how to ride them. They ARE top-heavy BUT, if you get a 250 or 350 dual-sport, they are still so light it doesn't matter.
A husband and wife I know ride together. She started out on a DR200 and later moved up to a matching DRZ400SM (supermoto if you don't know) and rides the hell out of it!
Another thing about dual-sports is as we mentioned before, you will probably drop your bike several times while learning. Dual-sports don't care! They consider it a nap! They are great learning tools and great fun! Not trying to turn you away from your original choices. Just offering an alternative. Also, if you learn on the dirt, you don't get freaked-out just because your rear (or front) tire slides a bit. On dirt, that's normal and that translates to better control on the street! Good luck and ride safe!
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Old 05-09-2013, 05:23 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by Kommando View Post
Check out some other 250-500cc thumpers. There is also the TU250X, if you like a classic-looking EFI thumper standard streetbike. At your height, a WR250R or X, or a DR-Z400S probably wouldn't be too tall for you. Try sitting a few before you buy something. Find a good deal on a used moto. If it doesn't work well for you, you can probably sell it without really losing money.
Interesting idea about the dualsports, Kommando. I never really considered wanting to do dirt riding, and wasn't familiar with the idea of slapping street tires on them. Thanks for the additional info. and analysis!
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Old 05-23-2013, 04:00 PM   #12
CaliJC OP
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Riding my new GS500!

My new (old) GS500!

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Old 05-24-2013, 04:24 AM   #13
plugeye
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Congratulations
After you get some seat time on it let us know your thoughts
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Old 05-25-2013, 07:39 AM   #14
Turbo Ghost
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Originally Posted by CaliJC View Post
My new (old) GS500!

CONGRATULATIONS! Now, I know this picture is not representative of what you will be wearing when you ride is it? We've raised you better than that in this thread!
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