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600cc Confusion

45929 Views 69 Replies 49 Participants Last post by  newagetwotone
Not all 600''''s are equal

If you dig a bit through your back issues of Motorcyclist, you'll see they did a semi-scientific study of how the whole equation of rider skill + bike prowess.

Here's the nickle summary: increasing rider skill makes the bike go way faster around the track than changes to horse power, torque, or anthing else. However, the difference between lap times from bike to bike varied more for unskilled riders than skilled. Got that? So if your goal is to go fast, it is critical that you choose the right bike if you're unskilled. If you've got the skills, you can ride around the bikes faults.

That said, unless you're at the track, speed isn't that important so look for something that is comfy, affordable (insurance too), and can do all the jobs you want to do (backroads, commuting, sport touring, etc).
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I personally feel that a 600cc sportbike is WAY too much bike to start on... I'd suggest a Suzuki GS500, a Kawasaki EX500, or maybe a Suzuki SV-650S, if you must have one that's new-ish... Thought I think that an even better choice is to find yourself a 10 year old bike in the paper, flog it until you're tired of it, sell it for EXACTLY as much as you paid for it, and use the money as a down-payment on a bike you really want. By then you'll have a better idea of what you want, anyhow. Also, the previous poster is entirely correct, you WILL drop it at least once, and you'll kick yourself much harder over a new bike than you will over a used one.
How about the Suzuki Savage 650 Single?
From the responses I've read so far, you are getting good advice. Although in terms of really being ready for street riding, get an old dirt bike and go nuts in the weeds for several hundred riding hours. The street is loaded with idiots in cages that generally have no right to carry a license. The least you need is to have to concentrate on the motions and reactions required to control the bike, re: braking, shifting and steering. They're also alot lighter and dirt is softer that asphalt/concrete.

ONce you feel comfortable on a dirt bike, you should be ready for any other bike. Although I do agree with alot of the other readers that most late model 600cc sport bikes have far more capability than can be used by most non licensed road racers.
Can't agree with you on your the rear tire theory. Honda, Suzuki, Yamaha, etc spend a lot of time setting up the tire/suspension combination for your. Changing one or the other will change the handling characteristics of the bike. Maybe for the better but more likely not. Understand ride height and suspension sag settings and learn how to tune the suspension for your size, weight and riding style. Lastly, if you are depending on your rear tire to save your bacon you are doing something wrong.

Good tires...YES, fat tires...not always.
Dual-Sports offer you the opportunity to hone your defensive driving on the road, and then practice really challenging stuff in the dirt within a more tame performance envelope.

They're cheap, tough, forgiving, and easy to fix.

Their only real drawback is range.

I thought it was well said.

You've got issues squid.
Also remember to look at something that raises you temp. just a wee bit. The current crop of 600's should do that with room to spare.

Also to reiterate what has been said here, know you limitations and embrace the fact that you will fall at some point......and have fun!
Listen to the guy that recomended the lessons. I tried to teach my friend to ride and he couldn't pass the test. After 3 weekends with a pro instructor he passed with ease and is a very good street rider now. Lessons are a must!!!!
I'm in agreement with this assessment, and would add one caveat.... spend some of the money you save on a track school, such as CLASS. The skills you gain will make riding much more fun, and possibly save your life as well. Your BEST motorcycle investment is training.
Back Issues

If I've got my ducks in a row, you can check out the July 1999 issue. Alternatively you could check out that other motorcycle website I visit ( The website article is really poorly written and not nearly as good as the mag, but you take what you can get.

Mmmm... UJM. 1975 Honda CL 350, you were my friend.
You're getting great advice on bikes, so I won't belabor that any more. Here's the 3 most important things you can do as a new rider:

1. Buy a comfortable full face helmet and wear it EVERY time you ride. You'll also quickly discover the importance of other good protective gear: jacket, gloves, boots, and pants.

2. Take the MSF RiderCourse for beginners (see

3. Don't drink and ride, period.
Another mark for the EX500

...they're excellent race bikes. Yes, I said race bikes. They don't run in the same class as the supersport 600's, but they're excellent for those who plan on taking up roadracing (cheap too). So get an EX500 now, and when you graduate to a BiggerFaster street bike, make your EX into a trackday/raceday scoot and go drag some knee :)

-anomalous squid-
Ugh, don't get a Nighthawk 750...the things are HEAVY. Find something with a few less pounds and you'll be better off, especially in tighter maneuvering. I work at a Honda dealer, and the 750 is a pig next to my Kawi ZR550, which has about the same power but a bunch less weight. The advantage to the Nighthawk however, is that the thing is almost bulletproof. They'll run forever, given regular oil changes.
I hear dude. Do you perfer the synthetic or blends or you a natural. Actually If you do your prescribe turn signal drain routine under the glow of a black light images of jimi will swirl around you like giant puffs of bong smoke.
You''re (Mostly) Idiots!!

Yes, it's me, the commie-loving, tree-hugging, Gore-votin' possible homosexual who wants to tell all of you how to run your lives.

Today's topic is how amazed I am with the bad advice you are giving this poor guy, but also how interesting all of this is from a sociological perspective.

First, let's examine what this (I presume) guy is asking. He is a NOVICE "sportrider". He wants to know what the best post-'97 600 is.

What does that mean? He knows enough about "sportbiking" to know he wants a 600 built after 1997, but not enough to know which is best. Huh?

Obviously, this guy, (and I assume it's a guy- a woman would be prudent enough to not get a 600 superbike as her first ride) has been told by enough of his "friends" (who probably want him dead, for some reason- maybe they owe him money?)told him he needs a 600 for a first sportbike. Why does he need a 600? "You'll grow out of it." "You'll get bored." Whatever.

ANY bike properly ridden at it's limits will be enough to excite the average human being. EX250, EX500, KLR650, Savage, whatever. Who on this board thinks racing a 70 HP flattracker would be boring? That's 25 less HP than any post-'97 600 makes.

But if a novice tries to ride a 600 at it's limits, he will, sooner or (not much) later, be in a horrible accident. I've seen a lot of them in my 7 years of sportriding and racing. I've actually had 5 of them this year myself. On nothing bigger than an SV650.

"Ho, ho!" You say. "You stupid liberal fruitcake! You just proved my point! It's just as easy to get in a crash on a small bike as a big one!"

Well, true. And my crashing and hurting myself has reminded me what a serious, and I mean heart-attack serious a sport this is. It's not something to be taken lightly, because it can kill you in a blink of an eye. You hear me? Kill you.

So when you answer a question like this, the best reponse is not which kind of bike to buy. That's just like telling a suicidal person which kinds of sleeping pills mix best with bourbon. What you should say is that one does not become a sportbiker with the simple purchase of a motorcycle. First you have to learn how to ride- the basics. That's the MSF. Then you have to ride, ride, ride in everyday situations so the control, balance and feeling of riding becomes second nature. That's thousands of miles of commuting, touring, and going on long rides with your girlfriend. Then, you can think about taking a track day to learn about sportbiking.

Until that day, don't worry about "sportbikes." You don't need one. Get the bike that will fit the purposes of learning how to ride. Any bike will do here- Seca II, KLR, EX500, old BMW, whatever. It should be cheap, light, reliable, comfortable and fun. Big sportbikes don't usually fit those categories. There is no "best" bike in any category. It's all up to your preferences, but you won't know what those preferences are until you learn to ride. Get it?

In our culture, we are taught that you can "become" anything you want if you spend enough money on the right accoutrements. That's fine for stuff that isn't life threatening. Pretend to be a French Chef, physicist, Wizard or Beekeeper. But don't pretend to be a jet pilot, scuba diver, helicopter pilot or sportbiker. 'Cause your vanity will kill you.
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I feel like the Savage is a bad idea especially if you buy one new. It will be real hard to resell once you find out it handles like every other cruiser. Harley guys laugh at Japanese cruisers and they laugh at the Savage the most. It will be very difficult to learn anything about riding a motorcycle on a Savage other than how to go in a straight line. This is one of the least functional bikes made, it dose not even do what cruisers ar good at doing, making a great sound. This bike is a girlie bike supreme!

An inline four sounds better than a twin? Where did you get that from? And I guess that you think that an inline four has more character too? You got any other dillusions for us?
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