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AWSX1686 New Reader
12/26/14 8:35 a.m.

I'm kinda interested in starting to ride, what do you guys suggest for a good starter bike keeping in mind low cost.

Appleseed MegaDork
12/26/14 9:34 a.m.

Ninja 250. Any running Japanese bike from the 80s as long as its under a $1000.

Ian F
Ian F MegaDork
12/26/14 9:40 a.m.

First a bit of clarification is required. In general:

"road bike" = bicycle meant for road use (skinny tires; not a mtn bike).

"street bike" = motorcycle designed for road use.

If the former and not the latter, then fit is more important than anything else. Otherwise, Appleseed's suggestion is popular.

BoxheadTim UltimaDork
12/26/14 9:48 a.m.

First, define "low cost".

HappyAndy UltraDork
12/26/14 10:00 a.m.

In reply to AWSX1686: Do you have any motorcycle experience at all? If so, what?

How tall are you, and are your legs relatively long or short?

What kind of ridding do you have in mind? Just around town, or will highways and longer distances be on the menu too?

Appleseed's suggestions were good, but more information is needed to fine tune the answer, and more importantly, steer you away from a miss match.

914Driver MegaDork
12/26/14 3:02 p.m.

UJM = Used Japanese Motorcycle.

Buy something that runs with good tires and drive it. Find someone to tag along with and think about the MSF Course. Do all your dumb stuff like stalling at a light, stepping off while forgetting to put the side stand down, running out of gas; do that with a UJM, then go for the crotch rocket, Harley or whatever turns your head.

Dropping a $500 bike due to too much front brake in a gravel driveway makes you say Aw Nuts! Do it with your dream bike? Bigger nuts.


Oh yeah, pics are a must.

bastomatic SuperDork
12/26/14 4:34 p.m.

UJM is never wrong.

92dxman Dork
12/27/14 1:39 p.m.

The most maintained bike you can get for a grand.

Trans_Maro UberDork
12/27/14 1:43 p.m.

Water cooled, shaft-drive Honda.

It'll still be running when the cockroaches take over.

ddavidv PowerDork
12/27/14 2:12 p.m.

I second the little Ninja. Nimble, light, easy to ride and cheap to buy/fix. I would avoid getting anything really old; stay at least in the 1990s. Older than that can be parts problems coupled with trouble selling when you get tired of it.

pinchvalve MegaDork
12/27/14 3:28 p.m.

If there is a better starter bike...scratch that, there is no better starter bike.

Trans_Maro UberDork
12/27/14 5:31 p.m.

If you're considering a 250, think about how big you are.

I started on a CX500 but I weigh 260lbs. I like to be able to pass other vehicles and pull out into traffic safely.

yamaha MegaDork
12/28/14 6:13 a.m.

In reply to Trans_Maro:

I'm 220lbs and I cracked triple digits on a '08 ninja 250r. They make about the same power as an 883 sportster while weighing 1-150lbs less.

ddavidv PowerDork
12/28/14 6:20 a.m.

Yeah, you can't dismiss based on engine displacement. Gearing and where the power band is matter also. Back in the day with cars we often said that you could never evenly compare a 1 litre Italian car to a British or American car of the same capacity; the Italians always got more power from less engine.

Trans_Maro UberDork
12/28/14 9:51 a.m.

In reply to yamaha:

I'd never suggest anyone ride an 883.. Ever...

The school bikes we used were Rebel 250's and they were adequate for around town stuff, just not something I'd feel comfortable taking on the highway for any length of time.

Nick_Comstock PowerDork
12/28/14 10:50 a.m.
yamaha wrote: In reply to Trans_Maro: I'm 220lbs and I cracked triple digits on a '08 ninja 250r. They make about the same power as an 883 sportster while weighing 1-150lbs less.

All geared up I'm about the same weight. I hit an indicated 105 on the 883, it just took a looooong time to get there.

On topic though, I kinda have a feeling IanF was correct an the OP could be talking about a different kind of bike.

yamaha MegaDork
12/28/14 2:39 p.m.

In reply to Nick_Comstock:

I ran out of road too....I'll bet in full tuck and more than a mile I could wring 115+ out of that little ninja.

As far as motorcycle vs bicycle.....probably should have specified. Generic assumption is motorized.

octavious HalfDork
12/29/14 7:25 p.m.

Late to the party, but if he is talking motorcycle, I have had a good newb experience with my Ninja 650r. I can putter around on it at low RPMs and it is very forgiving of newb mistakes. I also know I have power there when I need it for passing, etc. I've really enjoyed it so far.

If talking road pedal bike, wow brave man. No way I would pedal a bike on the roads around me...

GPz11 New Reader
1/1/15 6:50 a.m.

I'd consider a SV650. They have been around a decent amount of time so there are lots of them out there. Fun bike to ride and very versatile.

carbon Dork
1/2/15 11:33 a.m.

+1 sv650.

But…IMHO every ones first bike should be a dual sport, that way you learn to ride before dealing with idiots on the road. It also keeps speeds down, and allows a better exit strategy in emergency situations.

Moparman Dork
1/4/15 11:19 p.m.

In reply to Trans_Maro: I weigh 245 and I can do it on my GT380 and CB400T. I can even do it on my T250 on level ground. Of course it is easier on my 750 Katana, but the little bikes are fun.

Flight Service
Flight Service MegaDork
1/5/15 6:41 a.m.

Bikes are as much about fit as anything.

Find a Japanese bike (in this category they dominate) that you fit on for about a grand.

Do not buy a sport bike as your first bike.

The only downside to the CX500 is if you drop it you can damage the cylinder heads so be sure that it comes with, or you add immediately, crash guards.

Do not buy a sport bike as your first bike.

The little 250 ninja is a great choice, not a sport bike like the rest of the Ninja lineup but it looks like one. Be sure you fit.

Do not buy a sport bike as your first bike.

There are lots of 250~500cc bikes out there, I would even put the SV650 in there if you fit. It is a good UJM (it actually is a class of bike called Universal Japanese Motorcycle. Not Used.) There is the SV650S which has a more forward leaning riding position, but it is still the same reliable SV650 underneath.

Do not buy a sport bike.

Nighthawk 250, Ninja 250, VTR 250 Interceptor, VT500 Ascot, CX500, CB350/500, GS500, SV650, If you are shorter The Rebel 250/450, Suzuki Savage 600.

This is by far not a comprehensive list, but it gives you a good starting point.
There are four real rules for your first bike.
1. You fit comfortably.
2. Cheap. You will make mistakes and out grow it, so don't dump alot of money into something you will wreck/want to trade in a year.
3. Lite is right. If you think weight makes a big difference in cars, cut the number of tires in half. Lighter bikes usually are more responsive and easier to handle for first timers.
4. Don't buy a sport bike as your first bike.

Most people don't follow rule 4.

Oh yeah, don't buy a sport bike. Before you buy, I would invest in a motorcycle safety class. You can ride their bikes and if you drop them, no biggie. Great way to get your feet wet and learn how to ride proper.

Giant Purple Snorklewacker
Giant Purple Snorklewacker MegaDork
1/5/15 6:49 a.m.

In reply to Flight Service:

Why rule 4? What is wrong with a good handling, light, nimble bike with superb brakes as a 1st bike? My first bike (back in holy-farkin'-shyte! 1986) was an '83 Suzuki GR 650 Tempter I bought for $500 and it was infinitely more horrible and terrifying than the much faster and capable FZR 600 that replaced it. I'd revise that to "Don't buy a crap bike just because it's cheap".

On the "Go to a motorcycle safety class and drop their bikes first" we agree 100%.

EDIT: If I was doing it all over again with some thought into it... like say if one of my sons professed an interest in riding I's say buy a dual sport or supermoto. Say ... 250 to 650 from fine japanese purveyors of such things. Light, simple, easy to maneuver in tight spaces, fast enough for traffic and forgiving of noob throttle chop type errors. Bonus that a bit of gravel driveway or muddy stretch of country road won't be as terrifying as any low slung canyon carver on DOT slicks.

carknut New Reader
1/5/15 9:29 a.m.

I dunno I learned on a GPZ 750, and have never owned a bike any smaller than 1000cc. I agree that a gixxer is too much temptation for a noob, but a liter bike can be very smooth and torquey to ride. Its nice to have a bike that can pull from under 1000rpm to about 12000 rpm in 2nd gear in traffic. Shifting is just one less distraction when you should be focusing on lane placement, and the driving of others. (Not that I'd wind my bike out to 12k rpm in traffic :evil )

yamaha MegaDork
1/5/15 9:59 a.m.

In reply to Flight Service:

To be fair, I'm all for a 04-5 zx-10r as a first bike.....it'll either make you learn or IT WILL KILL YOU.

I know a few who started on them, and they're doing just fine. I went 6 years between a sv650 and my '04 10r without an issue. Also, berkeley the sv......I hated mine and will recommend everyone buy something else when possible.

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