ADVrider

Go Back   ADVrider > Bikes > Road warriors
User Name
Password
Register Inmates Photos Site Rules Search Today's Posts Mark Forums Read

Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes
Old 05-08-2013, 02:35 PM   #1
CJ5K OP
Adventurer
 
Joined: May 2013
Location: Poulsbo, Washington
Oddometer: 28
Question Good engine size for first bike? Mint or pavement freindly?

Hi everyone,

I'm wondering what a good engine for a first bike is. I was thinking of getting a Nighthawk 250, but when I took the MSF basic rider course, the instructor recommended 400-600cc, reason being that the 250's would be too slow for taking on the highway, or if you wanted to carry something/someone.

I'm sure this gets asked a lot, and I'm reading all the threads I can find, but I'm not finding quite the right answer, or at least the answer explained in a way that makes sense to me.

If it makes any difference, I'm thinking I want something more along the lines of a cruiser, but I could live with a standard for a while.

Also, am I right in thinking that for my first bike, I should buy something that I'm not going to get heartbroken if it gets dropped or laid down a couple times? Or should just buy the one I want (There's a really nice BMW R75 for sale in my area...) Like I said, I'm sure these kind of questions get asked a lot, so thanks for taking the time to help out new rider.

Stay safe guys,
CJ5k
CJ5K is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-08-2013, 03:15 PM   #2
Randy
Beastly Adventurer
 
Randy's Avatar
 
Joined: Sep 2002
Location: Newnan, GA USA
Oddometer: 2,191
Good questions. But a little hard to answer without knowing what type of riding you plan to do.... any interstate travel involved, or all inner city? Commuting or just joy riding in the countryside? Carrying a passenger? How much money you wanna spend? Would you be willing to pick up a good used learner, ride it a few months and then sell it, get most if not all of your money back and get what you really want? How big are you? Short, tall, light, heavy?

There are lots of good starter bikes available but it depends on what you're looking to do with it.

Personally I'd recommend a good used bike that is "dropable". If seat height isn't an issue, personally I like a good used DS type machine. Light, flickable, tractable power delivery and dropable with little to no damage. But then again, it just depends on your own personal needs and wants.

Take a look at the Ninja 300 thread to see that a small displacement bike can offer a lot for a new rider. But, if your heart is set on a cruiser I'd go bigger in the engine department since none of them are really overwhelming and are easy enough to ride for those short of inseam.

Tell us some more specifics of what you want and need and I'm sure you'll get recommendations all over the board.

__________________
"some might call it a 'midlife crisis', I prefer to call it a renaissance of thought and action"... "Life is too short to do anything other than that about which you are absolutely passionate."..."Adventure is a frame of mind, set upon by action, not defined by equipment."..."It all boils down to your ability to say "SCREW IT" and really mean it"....Randy
Randy is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-08-2013, 03:30 PM   #3
CJ5K OP
Adventurer
 
Joined: May 2013
Location: Poulsbo, Washington
Oddometer: 28
Thanks Randy!

I live in a small town, and the only road out of my neighborhood is marked at 45mph. I'd probably use it for a little bit of everything, and as far as interstate travel goes, well, I just took an old bicycle on a 150+ mile two day trip, so I guess everything is still on the table.

I think I'd mostly ride the bike on backroads, but I'll probably do a good bit of highway or 55+ to get there. I'm not going to make it my every day commuter, more of a just for fun and the occasional ride to work. I guess my biggest concern is that something like a Nighthawk 250 might not be well suited enough for the highway that I'd end up stuck in my small town... for ever... (I dunno, maybe not riding over in Seattle would be a good thing...)


I'm about 5'7, and weigh around 160. Let me know if there's any other info I can give up that will help y'all to help me.

-CJ5k
CJ5K is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-08-2013, 03:37 PM   #4
IronJackWhitton
Gnarly Adventurer
 
IronJackWhitton's Avatar
 
Joined: Apr 2013
Oddometer: 112
For what it's worth, I was in the same position about a month ago -- which bike? But, my desire to own any bike at all stemmed from how cool I thought the Triumph Tiger 800 XC was after watching Scott Brady's comparison vid on Expo.

So, conventional wisdom was buy a smaller bike to learn to ride then work my way up. The type of riding I want to do is both on and off road, so I was definitely quite firm in the Dual Sport category.

The thing is, I'm not made of cash -- so I had to make a financial decision. For me, it was cheaper to buy the bike I wanted (and pray I don't wreck it!) right away then to constantly buy, farkle trade, buy, re-farkle, etc. (I'm learning the "Farkle" part would have been far more then I imagined!)

So, I ended up getting a reasonable deal on a used Triumph, and I don't anticipate needing to upgrade/trade it until it rattles to the ground. Which it won't, because that triple is smoooooooth ;)

So, good luck in your search -- My take: Do what you need to to be happy with how you've spent your money.

Cheers
Craig
IronJackWhitton is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-08-2013, 03:55 PM   #5
muskieken
Gnarly Adventurer
 
Joined: Jun 2010
Location: Buffalo NY
Oddometer: 172
i bought a 1982 piece of junk overprice needed work Suzuki gs750e
but that was in the 90's before the internet.
( I new nothing about motorcycles at the time,, bought the bike to learn how to ride and get my license )

all I'll say,, is a min of 500 cc so as you can go anywhere. because you will want to travel once you get a bike. my 220 cc dirt bike is no fun on the highway,,yes it will go 65 mph , but it's maxed and don't think it will last long doing it. so i have a road bike too.
good luck with finding a bike,,
but don't waste a summer of riding
looking for a great deal..
__________________
crf230l
st1300
muskieken is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-08-2013, 04:00 PM   #6
Unstable Rider
Beans n brats
 
Unstable Rider's Avatar
 
Joined: Jul 2010
Location: 10,000 Lakes
Oddometer: 2,304
A "650" something hard to beat.

Kawasaki KLR 650 or the wonderfully ignored 650 Versys, GS650 Beamer, Suzuki Vee Strom 650, DR650 Suzuki.

The dang little beamer (injected) can deliver staggering fuel economy. The KLR carries enough fuel for you and all your friends bikes...and you can improve it with a rock and some haywire. Versys great in the twisties. Vee Strom just "handy" at everything, or up to any task with moderation.

All possibles with great aftermarkets avail. If I can't farkle it, I would not want it.

Others indeed may apply. Think of something common as hell and utterly reliable, even to the point of being boring if need be. Like the 650 Vee Strom that pulled the KTm half way cross Australia.

No right or wrong answers. Heck, a Honda Pacific Coast tough to beat and quite versatile as a trip or weekender or commuter bike. Or a Ural....

Let us know what you went with. Pics or it did not happen.

__________________
.
Unstable Rider is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-08-2013, 04:02 PM   #7
Navin
Unwounding
 
Navin's Avatar
 
Joined: Sep 2009
Oddometer: 6,672
Kawi's Ninja 300 is a true standard bike that just looks like a sport, but does an honest 100 MPH too. Cruise at 85 all day long if you wanted, easy to ride for a beginner.

That is the smallest engine power wise that actually does anything you might need up to 100 MPH. 39 HP to the crank. 2 up and any legal road speed are easily within its limits, even loaded.
Navin is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-08-2013, 04:06 PM   #8
Randy
Beastly Adventurer
 
Randy's Avatar
 
Joined: Sep 2002
Location: Newnan, GA USA
Oddometer: 2,191
Well, I'm 5'7", weigh around 145 and ride everthing between my R1150GS, my KTM 640, Buell S1, and my H-D Sportster, so, I'd say that size isn't an issue for you. You're probably small enough to not be too cramped on a smaller bike, and big enough to not be overwhelmed with a big bike.

With that said, until you get some experience I'd stick with a smaller to mid-size machine since a tall bike like my GS and KTM can be difficult until you get your groove on with riding in general.

I know nothing about the Nighthawk 250 so I can't comment on its capabilities. But in general, unless you plan to set the road on fire it would probably be fine for a first bike for the types of riding you describe. Probably wouldn't want to spend much time on the interstate on a bike of that size, but for backroad highways, most street legal bike larger than a Yamaha TW200 is more than capable of 55+ speeds. Not being too large helps too.

As I said earlier, I really enjoy riding a dualsport bike. One reason is that they are dropable so you don't have to worry about damage from the inevitable first timer uh-ohs. Another is that they open a whole new world of backroad riding that may not be as readily available on a strictly street oriented bike. This is especially true if you like to explore and live somewhere rural with a lot of bad, or even gravel roads. They're light and flickable and easy to manage and turn around when your explorations end up at a dead end road somewhere. If this sounds of interest at all, I'd recommend you spend some time over on the "Thumpers" subforum to seem what's available.

Or, if you want to stick strictly to asphalt another good choice could be an older Ninja 250 since they handle well and have enough juice to be fun. You can pick up a good used one cheap too. Then you can ride it for a while, and sell it without a huge loss. Of course that can be said of a lot of used bikes.

If you really want to stick with a cruiser style bike, you may want to consider something like the Suzuki 650 Savage. Cruiser style, reasonably light, and shares the same basic engine as the DR650, so they're dependable and have decent power, and an easy to ride powerband.

But, don't let engine size trip you up. There is a huge difference between something like the 650 savage (single cylinder) and 600 class sportbike in terms of power output. With that in mind, there are a lot of bikes in the 600-650 class that make very good bikes for a newer rider. The Kawasaki Versy comes to mind, a used SV650 is another. And then there's the new ones coming from Honda and Kawasaki, like the CBR500 and the Ninja 300.

Sorry that I can't offer more in terms of the smaller cruiser market, but until recently I've never been a cruiser guy. My first one was my 1200 Sportster, but in reality, I don't see any reason that it wouldn't make an excellent first bike. Good torquey, easy to ride engine output, low seat to help with the whole balance thing in the early going. And surprisingly to me, fun to ride! And you can pick up really nice used ones for $5-$6K.

But, like I said, it's really hard to recommend a "first bike" for anyone unless you know them and what buttons really trips their trigger and what their ability is.

Just do some research and reading, be honest with yourself and don't overstep, thinking that you have to have the latest, greatest right out of the gate. With Craigslist it's really easy to ride and flip a bike nowadays, so don't be afraid to just start with something reasonable, and then if it's not what suits your needs, just sell it and move on.

Above all be safe and smart out there!

Good luck!

__________________
"some might call it a 'midlife crisis', I prefer to call it a renaissance of thought and action"... "Life is too short to do anything other than that about which you are absolutely passionate."..."Adventure is a frame of mind, set upon by action, not defined by equipment."..."It all boils down to your ability to say "SCREW IT" and really mean it"....Randy
Randy is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-08-2013, 04:22 PM   #9
AviatorTroy
Beastly Adventurer
 
AviatorTroy's Avatar
 
Joined: Oct 2007
Location: Cincinnati OH/Stuart FL
Oddometer: 1,535
I'm sure to be flamed for this, but for the street a 250 is completely impractical and borderline unsafe. It doesn't matter if a Ninja 250 will go 90 if it takes 5 minutes to get there. Torque is what is needed for the street. You always need a reserve bit of "oomph" to bump yourself ahead of a blind merging car, etc. Additionally, why would you want to buy a bike that you will grow comfortable with and then outgrow within a week or so? (I DO however think those Suzuki TU250s are exceedingly cool, altho one does not reside in my garage for the above reasons.) There is a perfect engine size for almost every situation, and its a 650. 650 dual sports are not too big to have fun with within reason off road, and still have enough juice for street riding. 650 street bikes like GSX650, SV, Versys and such are a great balance of adequate power combined with light weight enough to be comfortable for a beginner to handle at parking lot speeds. I still have a '99 SV650 I bought new that was my first "real" modern bike, and many others have come and gone, but it stays. The perfect motorcycle.

The great thing about riding is that whatever floats your boat, you are likely to find around somewhere.
AviatorTroy is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-08-2013, 04:25 PM   #10
CJ5K OP
Adventurer
 
Joined: May 2013
Location: Poulsbo, Washington
Oddometer: 28
Hmm, the more I read, the more I come to realize three things:
1) The Nighthawk 250 may be a little too small for the highway (IF anyone has experience with it, please let me know)
2) Because of where I live, there is a very good chance I may need to ride the bike home on the highway
3) It appears that I should just stay away from the CR500... something about too much power...

Also, I shot a text to a guy with a suzuki 650 savage for sale, and emailed someone with a CB650... we'll see what happens..

CJ5K screwed with this post 05-08-2013 at 04:33 PM
CJ5K is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-08-2013, 04:33 PM   #11
Navin
Unwounding
 
Navin's Avatar
 
Joined: Sep 2009
Oddometer: 6,672
Quote:
Originally Posted by AviatorTroy View Post
I'm sure to be flamed for this, but for the street a 250 is completely impractical and borderline unsafe. It doesn't matter if a Ninja 250 will go 90 if it takes 5 minutes to get there. Torque is what is needed for the street. You always need a reserve bit of "oomph" to bump yourself ahead of a blind merging car, etc. Additionally, why would you want to buy a bike that you will grow comfortable with and then outgrow within a week or so? (I DO however think those Suzuki TU250s are exceedingly cool, altho one does not reside in my garage for the above reasons.) There is a perfect engine size for almost every situation, and its a 650. 650 dual sports are not too big to have fun with within reason off road, and still have enough juice for street riding. 650 street bikes like GSX650, SV, Versys and such are a great balance of adequate power combined with light weight enough to be comfortable for a beginner to handle at parking lot speeds. I still have a '99 SV650 I bought new that was my first "real" modern bike, and many others have come and gone, but it stays. The perfect motorcycle.

The great thing about riding is that whatever floats your boat, you are likely to find around somewhere.

I ride regularly with a buddy who has a ER6n, 650cc twin engine in the Ninja 650 and the other variations. Great bikes. I'm on a Ninja 300. When he decides to open it up on a straight he never pulls more than 2-3 bike lengths on me. He shuts off around 90ish. If I anticipate his intentions we are dead even.

Every day riding is a 6-7k RPM shift and you still walk away from traffic. The gap from the 250 to the 300 is a big one. The days of zero power till 7,000 RPM are over.

Make a point to ride a CR500 one day before you die. Everyone should!
Navin is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-08-2013, 04:38 PM   #12
Unstable Rider
Beans n brats
 
Unstable Rider's Avatar
 
Joined: Jul 2010
Location: 10,000 Lakes
Oddometer: 2,304
Quote:
Originally Posted by AviatorTroy View Post
I'm sure to be flamed for this, but for the street a 250 is completely impractical and borderline unsafe. It doesn't matter if a Ninja 250 will go 90 if it takes 5 minutes to get there. Torque is what is needed for the street. You always need a reserve bit of "oomph" to bump yourself ahead of a blind merging car, etc. Additionally, why would you want to buy a bike that you will grow comfortable with and then outgrow within a week or so? (I DO however think those Suzuki TU250s are exceedingly cool, altho one does not reside in my garage for the above reasons.) There is a perfect engine size for almost every situation, and its a 650. 650 dual sports are not too big to have fun with within reason off road, and still have enough juice for street riding. 650 street bikes like GSX650, SV, Versys and such are a great balance of adequate power combined with light weight enough to be comfortable for a beginner to handle at parking lot speeds. I still have a '99 SV650 I bought new that was my first "real" modern bike, and many others have come and gone, but it stays. The perfect motorcycle.

The great thing about riding is that whatever floats your boat, you are likely to find around somewhere.

Well stated brother !

Unstable Rider is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-08-2013, 04:48 PM   #13
Maytag Repairman
Gnarly Adventurer
 
Maytag Repairman's Avatar
 
Joined: Jun 2010
Location: Kingston, Washington
Oddometer: 136
The Nighthawk 250 is not that much different than a Rebel 250. I commuted to work for about 11 months on city streets with the Rebel. It was given to me to borrow for free and I was hurting for money to buy anything bigger.

I was tired of it after 2-3 weeks. It couldn't reliably maintain a speed say above about 42-45 mph unless it was flat or downhill ground but I weighed about 240 lbs with gear on. Forget highway speeds for a guy with my weight. I think the fastest I saw on it was 62 and the odometer tended to read 10% high. The front tire was also too skinny for highway speeds. It would hit the slightest rut and wobble. If there was a car in the lane next to me at a stop light it almost always passed me until I hit at least 3rd gear.

There are plenty of bikes I'd rather see you on. For example, if you fancy Honda, the Shadow has been made for years. Save yourself some money and find a used one.
Maytag Repairman is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-08-2013, 04:50 PM   #14
Randy
Beastly Adventurer
 
Randy's Avatar
 
Joined: Sep 2002
Location: Newnan, GA USA
Oddometer: 2,191
Quote:
Originally Posted by CJ5K View Post
Hmm, the more I read, the more I come to realize three things:
1) The Nighthawk 250 may be a little too small for the highway (IF anyone has experience with it, please let me know)
2) Because of where I live, there is a very good chance I may need to ride the bike home on the highway
3) It appears that I should just stay away from the CR500... something about too much power...

Also, I shot a text to a guy with a suzuki 650 savage for sale... we'll see what happens..
LOL! Yeah, the CR500 is NOT a bike for a beginner! Or did you perhaps mean the CBR500? Completely different animals.

The term, "the highway" can have different meanings to different people and under different circumstances. On some highways for example, as AviatorTroy says, most 250 class machines may be a little slow. But, definitely NOT all. Except for the interstate system, around where I live, there are tons of backroads and smaller "highways" where a smaller bike is just fine. We're talking rural areas here, not inner city hustle and bustle type riding. Merging traffic isn't a consideration in the areas I'm talking about. The types of roads I'm talking about are two lane blacktop with max speed limits of 55mph and a lot are posted lower than that. Again, it really depends on the reality of where you live and how you plan to ride.

With that said, in most cases I really don't see any advantage to a bike that small for the street excepting maybe for the Ninja 300 where someone just likes a small, nimble sporty bike for corner carving. Not when there are so many bikes available that will broaden the scope of your riding. The 650 class breed of twins are capable of going anywhere you wanna go. If you do want a dualsport type of bike, the the DR650 is an excellent choice for a very flexible machine for that type of riding.

But, then again, are we talking about a bike that you want to use to get your feet wet and not worry about dropping, so you can just enjoy the learning process? Or are we talking about a bike that you plan to keep for a good while and use as your main bike? A bike isn't like a wife. No messy divorce necessary if you pick one and then want another in a few months. Just stay reasonable, get whatever tickles your fancy. Then, after a bit of riding you'll feel more confident, and have a better idea, first hand, what exactly it is that you need for the way you REALLY ride.

As an example, for years I had a thing about wanting a really light, nimble, corner carving machine for the mountains in N. GA. Then, after a few years it hit me. I don't live close enough to really ride those roads all that often. In fact, the vast majority of my riding was, and is, done closer around my home, and generally doesn't involve huge miles. No, most of my REAL WORLD riding wasn't what my mind fantasized about, so my taste in motorcycles changed a bit as this thought settled in. Odds are, you'll be similar. You just won't know exactly what you want to do until after you've gotten out there and done it for a while so you can see what aspect of motorcycling it is that you enjoy most, and what it is that fits into your lifestyle and schedule.

__________________
"some might call it a 'midlife crisis', I prefer to call it a renaissance of thought and action"... "Life is too short to do anything other than that about which you are absolutely passionate."..."Adventure is a frame of mind, set upon by action, not defined by equipment."..."It all boils down to your ability to say "SCREW IT" and really mean it"....Randy
Randy is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-08-2013, 05:21 PM   #15
MiniBike
Gnarly Adventurer
 
Joined: Oct 2010
Oddometer: 142
You said something that I always ask new riders and that is your bicycle experience. That puts you head and shoulders above most new riders. You've already developed 80% of what you need to survive out there.

Just go out there and find something that fits your body and speaks to your soul. It won't be your last bike anyway.
MiniBike is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply

Share

Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

.
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is On

Forum Jump


Times are GMT -7.   It's 02:36 PM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.5
Copyright ©2000 - 2014, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.
Copyright ADVrider 2011-2014