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King of the Hopeless
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Well, it happened. After watching me ride for his entire life, my son is now telling me that he wants to learn to ride and wants a motorcycle. Motorcycles are dangerous - and everything that my parents felt when I ride is now being karmically dumped right on my head.

He has zero experience on any type of motorcycle - dirt or street. I really don't have access to a dirtbike or even a place to ride by virtue of where we live, life circumstances, etc. My preference would be to have him learn on a dirtbike but that isn't really going to be happening.

Therefore I am asking the hivemind for recommendations regarding a pure learner bike. Frankly, I am aware of the Ninja 250 - etc. I would much rather get him a dual sport and I would want to keep it something simple like a thumper - something 450cc or less. I have been riding sportbikes my whole life, so I am not well schooled on enduro / dirt bikes. I am looking for something that is tough, very inexpensive and totally unintimidating and that can be dropped and pounded on by a kid. Your ideas are welcome.

Basically I want to get him in the fraternity without getting himself in hospital or killed. I have to say that as a father I am very worried. As we all know, it isn't about us, it is about the sixteen year old girl in a civic texting on her iphone who doesn't see us.

Thanks all.
 

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Ask him what he'd like. Lots of little 250cc bikes to choose from, there are even 150cc bike-looking scooters. Yamuka makes a little cruiser look alike, and Honda has the Rebel. Heck, the kid might even like a Vespa.

All these things are available in the used market. You want worry, my best buddy just bought himself a Sporty 1200 with no experience of any kind. Rode the thing the other day, I take back some of what I said about Harleys. That thing had some grunt! Way too much for my utterly inexperienced buddy.

All that said, send the lad through an MSF course. Get him trained right.
 

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Ninja 300, CBR500?

Dirtbikes are a little deceiving too, some of those 250CC dirtbikes will not be beginner friendly whatsoever.
 

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There is the KLR250 if your can find one. However I agree seat height is intimidating for a new rider unless he's really tall. A cruiser like a Rebel, or Vulcan would be a great way to get his feet wet.

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Forever the Man
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250 Virago. I have a 125cc Suzuki dirtbike sitting around I bought for my grandkids around seven years ago. Don't know if Suzuki or any of the others makes an endure that size but it's a fun little bike to mess around with.
 

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How tall is the kid? Honda, kawasaki, and yamaha, all make good dual sports. The yamaha is the most powerful by far. Also the most reliable, most off road worthy, best handling etc... but costs the most (new). I would put kawi next and honda last. I don't trust the honda, it's not made in japan and it's very much made to a price point. A very low price point. The kawk is cheap too but it's cheap because it's a slightly older design and carbed.
None of the above are very intimidating if you can touch the ground. Slap some sliders on and they are pretty damage proof. My WR got knocked over twice in parking lots and only ever needed $30 bars to be new again. They're also very easy to see as you sit high and upright and are super cheap to insure.
 

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I grew up riding, on and off the road, from age 5.

From 8 to 16 y/o, I was riding a CB100, even on the street. So don't be afraid of a small bike, it's do-able. Heck, at 16 i was a big kid and riding 2 up on that CB100.

I then went to a CB450, but I had a lot of experience by then
 

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King of the Hopeless
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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
The issue is also insurance. I have a strong suspicion that the ninja will have quite a bump in price because it is a "sportbike."
 

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It took me 10 years to finally have one because I remember wanting a scooter in high school so I didn't have to wait in the traffic going in and out of the school parking lot. Had to arrive 30 minutes ahead of time just to wait in traffic, so that does not include the time to get there to wait in the traffic. If I had a scooter at the time, I could have just went around that traffic and not have to wait in that horrible line full of cagers. Parents were too lame at the time to realize the time savings outweighed the danger factor, which in fact was low because the cars aren't even moving.

Plus, there's not enough parking for all the high school students, but having a scooter you could park it in the bike rack. Saw one kid have one and he beat the traffic all the time.

Just shut up and let your son the bike or he will hate you for the rest of your life. Do you really want to be a lame dad for the rest of your life and have a son who will hate seeing you everyday? I support your son to bug you on a constant basis for the next 5 years until you break down. Plus being on a bike, you don't have to speed to have fun on a bike, going 60-70mph already feels fast. If he has no experience, scooters will probably be good. Maybe a Honda Reflex so it still has that big bike size to handle b***** roads when needed. Or if new, a Honda Forza or PCX150 would be awesome.
 

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Around here their are lots of what are called "irrigation bikes". Small, inexpensive, cheep dual sports.

Honda crf 250, Kawasaki klr 250, yamaha tx 250, yamaha tw200, and various Chinese bikes.

All of these will tool around town just fine. most of them are geared really low. any of them would probably be fine for a kid wandering around town. None of them will do interstate speeds, at least not willingly.

a few notes on chinese bikes. chinese bikes are not light, fast, reliable, or powerful. They are however very easy to work on, cheep, have cheep parts, and will tolerate hamfisted 16 year old mechanicing.
 

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FWIW I started right after I turned 17. My younger brother started at 17 as well and my youngest brother just completed the MSF Sunday and he's 16.

while I won't say all 16/17 year olds will be find on a bike, I also won't say they shouldn't learn to ride and have one.

250,300 or 500 is the way to go.

as far as insurance my GS500F was not considered a sportbike by my insurance. it was like 400 a year full coverage with me as the only rider on the policy when I just started out.

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I took the MSF right after my 14th birthday and rode a Ninja 250 for two years before getting a 600. FWIW, it's really impossible to tell if someone my age will be a safe rider, but having a good rider role model to putt around with for the first 18 months (my 5'0" mom on a Harley 1200) actually helped a lot. It really curbed the hormonal hooliganism that I had. What she did, and I think that looking back this was the best thing, was after I took the course and was bought the motorcycle, she kept the keys with her at all times and I was only allowed to ride for the first six months with her and her boyfriend so I could learn. I think honestly him wanting to ride is fantastic! But being a 17 year old, you definitely should start him out on a rather not torquey and forgiving bike and monitor how he learns on it. That's what worked for me! Hope that's helpful.


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Giant on a Motorcycle
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I fear I will be in the exact same situation when my son grows up. Hell I dont even want my wife to ride!
 

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A guy on a scruffy bike
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I got my wife an old used Honda 250 Nighthawk; she took the MSF and rode it around for a couple years, then moved up to a Ducati Monster; she's happy and is a good rider.

The 250 then went to our daughter, who also had to take the MSF course and wear full safety gear every time. We went riding together as a family, which is good for developing awareness and good habits. She has also become a good rider, and got into scooters; she's got a couple vintage Vespas, plus an old Honda CB450 she's turning into a café racer. She does her own wrenching.

I think it's kind of hypocritical to be a rider and expect everyone else to deal with it, but then turn around and not want them to ride and make you worry you about it.

PhilB
 
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Mexican Hard Shell Taco
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IMO dirt bikes are more intimidating than small streetbikes due to the seat height. Get him a ninja 250.
Dirt bikes have more low end torque, are lighter and taller, they make for pretty awfull first bikes.

That is, unless you're considering something like a chinese 250cc dirt bike, or a Honda CRL 250, which is basically a naked CBR 250.
 
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