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These intro 250/300 bikes, along with the new Honda CBR500R and Ninja 650/Versys and SV/Wee Strom are where the action is. "Real" sport bikes have gotten so expensive and intense that they are not a good choice for most riders.

The EX500 Ninja is probably Kawasaki's best selling model over the years. There are tons of those out there used as a result for dirt cheap. Lots of SV650s too. A friend had an SV with a Leo Vince can on it and I spent some time riding it. Really liked that bike. It is compact and easy to handle, sounded s great, had easy torque and did sweet wheelies! Was mid wheelie on the SV when the neighbor's cat ran out. Being the dirt biker I am, I stayed on the gas and hoped for the best. The cat ran right under the bike, missed it by inches. SVs are versatile bikes capable of just putting along, or flying down the road in hooligan mode, creating cat stories. Depending on who is doing the buying, the used market is full of good candidates.

Luching back to the point, another valid beginner bike is the crop of 250cc dual sports. Honda has done a great job of bringing a modern and yet affordable 250cc dual sport to the market as well. Kawi has been there forever with their KLX and Yam with their very good but a bit expensive WRR. Advantage of these bikes is their greater versatility, and the fact the mild trail riding is a great way to learn how to handle a bike. Plus they don't break things when you drop them :)

Agree on the Hyosong too. Like Kia/Hyundai before them, they need to compete on the quality of the product. Hyundai and Kia used to be "cheap" but not any more. Recent models compete at full price, on their own merits, and they are very good vehicles.
 
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