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Discussion Starter #1
I'd like to start off by saying thank you to all the senior members of this forum from whos experience I'd like to benefit in the near future, and I'm sorry for the really long thread! I'd also like to preface my comments by sharing with you that I am a medical resident and I get to see firsthand the dangers of motorcycle riding, so its something that I take very seriously, and would like to begin the sport the right way.

A little more about myself first, I'm a relatively short guy, 5'5 and weigh about 145lbs and am 27. I originally began considering getting a sport bike approximately 4 months ago. Work (80 plus hours a week) and my new wife kept me from doing so (not b/c she wouldn't allow me to get one, but more of wanting to spend time with her). We've just now settled into our new home, and I feel its the time to get one. I've had relatively little experience on a bike. I did make a newbie mistake early when I began considering bikes. This was prior to researching the issue at depth and reading many of things I have on this and other forum. My friend was looking to get rid of a 1997 Katana 600 with only 9000 miles on it, in extremely good shape (never dropped, rode relatively responsibly, regularly serviced) He said that if I wanted it, he'd give it to me for $3000. My thinking at that time was hey, I'll buy it, take the MSF course, and then start to learn on it. I rode it around the apartment complex that we used to live in and learned the most rudimentary mechanics/operation. I never took it out on the street. One month later I sold the bike for the same price to prepare for our move to our new home. Since that time I began researching more and more about bikes and come across this site and others. Almost all experienced riders recommended against getting a 600cc class race rep or otherwise sportbike. I have taken that warning seriously, and since then greatly revised my thinking. Therefore at the time I'm leaning most towards the Ninja 500R. Most say that this the ideal beginners bike. I have not ridden one to date, but am extremely curious about its performance/mechanics.

Honestly though, there are A LOT of varying opinions out there. Invariably whatever dealership I go to (and I always tell them that most ppl don't recommend 600cc race reps first) say that one would be fine on one of the new race rep 600s. If not one of the race reps, they then recommend either the Honda 600 F4i, Yamaha FZ6 or YZF600r, Katana 600, SV650S, or the Kawasaki ZZR600. They all tell me how they started on 600s and were fine. I also proceed to tell them what others have advised me and they dismiss bikes like the Ninja 250r/500r or the Buell blast as being way too underpowered "to get out of the way of other cars." I do understand that they are biased because there is financial incentive for them to sell the more expensive bike. But I have often spent hours with them personally, and most still say I'd be ok with a 600 "because I seem to be a responsible person." So this is why I am thankful to the many others out there who have presented the other side.

I've tried to read everything I can get my hands to get the most accurate picture on riding. The most recent book I read was Twist of the Wrist 2, by keith code. I have to say that this is an excellent book, though somewhat advanced for a begginer. However I do feel I have a rudimentary understanding of the forces involved in riding. The section on throttle control I felt was very good in providing an explanation on weight transfer and stability.

At this point, I'm looking for others' input as to what I've said so far, and i would like honest remarks on the following bikes all brand new, but as i've said, I'm almost 100% decided on the Kawasaki Ninja 500R, and then trading up once I've mastered it.

1. Yamaha YZF600R
2. Suzuki Katana 600
3. Kawasaki ZZR600

These three were just recently tested by Cycleworld's sportbike, and called the "B" Team. The article writers stated that the Katana is a good beginner bike due to its low HP and overall ridability. The YZF600R won that competition however not surprisingly.

However I'd like comments on the following as well:

4. Suzuki SV650S
5. Buell Lightning XB9S

Also, Suzuki has reintroduced its 500cc class, which I jsut saw the other day..looks very sharp and might be a good competitor for the Ninja 500R. Any comments on this bike would also be appreciated. I think I'm set for my MSF course!

Thanks for lending all the advice you guys have, and again sorry for the really long post!!
 

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MSF course and if you are comphy on the 250's I'd say go with the Suzuki 500. A dealership is just there to make money, they could really careless if you live or die. They'd sell you a Busa if they could b/c thats a big $$$ bike. I mean just ask your MSF course instructor they'll tell you to start on a 250/500 depending on how well you learn on the 250's during the course. I get sportbike crazed students all the time, I've even had a couple of students that have already bought their litre bike w/o any riding experience, then take the MSF course after purchase, bragged to the class I was teaching about their bike and then less than a week later I see the kids lethal accident in the paper... With FL being a no helmet state and newbies buying litre bikes it doesn't make for a good combo. I don't know if you have taken the MSF course or not, but I highly recommend. I wish you the best with whatever bike you chose:D!!!
Have fun and speed safe,
Courtney
 

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MY OPINION.... Katana 600

I started on a 88' Katana 600 and still think it was a great choice for me. While it was a 600cc bike, the Katana has never been regarded as a "sportbike". It's been described as more of a sport touring type of bike. Meaning, it won't have the SCARY response of todays 600cc supersport bikes like a Honda CBR600RR... a little more user friendly for the new rider.

I haven't riden the Ninja 250, or the Ninja 500, but ALL the articles and posts I've read highly recommend either of the bikes for new riders.

Whatever you buy, just buy a USED bike. I see so many posts of new riders buying a new bike. Most people get bored with their first bike after a year or so, so don't put big money into a starter. My Katana was a 88' with 28,000 miles. Bought it for $1,275, road it for a year, and sold it for $1,500. How can you complain about that?

You won't go wrong with ANY of the choices you offered. The Ninja 250 isn't a bike I would start on though, I would be bored after a week.

Take care... and wear your riding gear!!

Tom
 

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Ninja 500R is the way to go. I got mine and it feels like it has plenty of go, but it's tame enough not to throw you off after twisting the throttle too much (did it yesterday).

Suzuki looks good, but it lost to Kawasaki in almost every category during the MCN comparison (even in looks)
 

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Of the ones you listed, definately stay away from The Lightning. It is in no way, shape, or form a beginner's bike. I also recommend you stay away from an SV650.

Actually, none of the bikes you listed are what I consider good starter bikes. You are better off on a 500 or 250.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Another quick question here, but is the Ninja 500r worth the extra 2 grand in terms of performance over the 250r? The other added advantage the 250r has over the 500 is the lower seat height and weight.
 

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Well, the 500 makes about 20 extra horsepower and more torque. Top speed is "only" 10 mph higer, but acceleration is a lot better, like 1 second less in the 1/4 of mile! (Thinking low 13s for the 500 and low 14s for the 250, wich is more or less realistic).

The bike is not all about speed, but better response at various speeds and better rideability.


By the way, the GS500 is not competitive with the 500R in performance, it would be more or less comparable to the 250, a little bit more acceleration and more torque, but the GS500 is all about looks, not performance.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Susser, anyway to read that article by MCN? I went to their website, and I see the cover of teh magazine but cant' seem to find the exact article. Thanks
 
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