Motorcycle Forums banner

Best First Bike: We Need Your Help!

24883 Views 114 Replies 84 Participants Last post by  Nightshift
Alright, First Post!! So today's cover story on the SV vs. Ninja 650 wasn't enough?

Well, my personal recommendation any time someone asks is a Honda Nighthawk. 250 if they're young and/or smallish, 750 if they're older and/or largest. Dirt cheap used and will teach you all the basics.
1 - 20 of 115 Posts
i learned on a 1981 kawasaki 440, so my vote is for any 80s ujm. i know it's not in the holy trinity, but since you WILL drop your first bike (and most likely your second, third, fourth, etc), you should be on something not worth repairing. i'd be happy to provide a review of the bike, along with how i almost rode it off a cliff, slid through numerous red lights, and learned to push-start it since the starter was fried. nothing will teach you to appreciate modern bikes like experiencing the old ones...
Used, under 500 cc unless a V-Twin then under 650..Standard no plastic fairing. Cheap tires and maintenance. Ride it a year or two then get your dream bike. Full face helmet, proper jacket and pants, gloves and boots..Take the MSF and go to a track school after a year or two. Then get a GSXR1000 just kidding.. After a year or two get your dream bike.
I'm 24 6 ft 195pounds. I bought my first bike, a 1998 honda nighthawk a year ago and I love it.
I can't believe I forgot to mention gear. I've seen a lot of people blow their wad on a bike and forget to lay aside some cash for at least a decent lid and jacket.

By the way, I don't really like arbitrary displacement restrictions (one reason I'll never support incremental licensing). If someone is more mature there's nothing wrong with going bigger as long as you're not talking GSXR-1000 or even R6. I learned on one of the new Triumph Bonnies at about 850cc and have managed not to drop a bike yet [knocks on wood]. If I had started under 500cc like most people say, I think I would have been wanting for a new bike in 2 months rather than 2 years.
I think the Kawasaki 500's are the best, that being the Ninja or Vulcan. Enough engine to get on the highway, but easy to handle, light weight, durable and cheap, new or used.
Some things to consider:

You can take the Motorcycle Safety Foundation Beginning Rider Course and they will provide a small bike (125-250cc). Once you've taken this two-day course, you will have enough familiarity with a bike that size alone will be less intimidating.

If you have the upper body strength and inseam length to make your first bike a larger-displacement bike (maybe 500-750cc), you can avoid quickly outgrowing your first bike.

Assuming that you've taken the MSF course and passed, making a midsized bike (rather than a small bike) your first bike will allow you to enjoy it for a year or two while you further develop you skills and confidence.

A midsized bike won't overwhelm you, but you will be able to enjoy it on highways and interstates, places where little bikes are overstressed and will fatigue you.

Because it's not limited to slow speeds, a midsized bike will allow you to ride with more-experienced riders and benefit from their riding tips.

It's very important, however, to take the MSF beginner course. This course will squeeze into two days a lot of riding knowledge and hands-on experience; it would probably take you weeks or months to reach that level of proficiency while wobbling around you subdivision, unsure of what you're doing right or wrong and just being scared of the whole experience.
See less See more
Excellent Point

Yep I agree I learned on my new at the time 2001 Ninja ZX-6R Supersport. But I was over 30 married etc. I am assuming most newbies are younger and less mature. Even so I have a few speeding tickets :)... Your 2 month comment is a good one. I bought my bike with a stock bonus i.e kind of one shot deal in the family budget so I thought I better buy the most performance for my dollar...i.e I wouldn't have a second shot for funding for awhile.
Re: Excellent Point

I thought you were rich.
These are all good advice. First bike depends a lot on the person who is learning. Their age, size, experience level, pain threshold and money to spend on a bike. The first bike should be a used bike, about 250cc and not feel too intimidating to the new rider. The new rider should consider a basic rider course mandatory. Don't feel like it is a waste of money to buy a used bike because when you drop it (trust me, you will) the entire cost of the bike will be less than the repairs of a new bike. Besides, the used bike will always bring some resale value. Along with the first bike goes the (should be required) personal gear like helmet, gloves, jacket, boots, & chaps. I know that it costs a lot but like the used bike, the gear will be cheaper to repair/replace than your skin, bones, face. I would also suggest reading some of the excellent books like "Proficient Motorcycling". You will get riding tips you never thought of. Lastly, avoid the urge to impress other people when riding because the only thing they will be impressed of is "what a fool!" After all this, all I can say is becoming a proficient rider is one of the most rewarding feelings one can get. Happy riding! Rodger Hopp

See less See more
Great first bikes: 1999-2002 Suzuki SV650, 2000-2005 Suzuki GS500, 2000-2006 Suzuki Katana 600 & 750, Any Suzuki Bandit, Honda's 599, Honda's VLX600 Shadow, Yamaha's V-Star 650, Kawasaki's NEW Ninja 650, Vulcan 500 & 800, Kawasaki KLR series, Suzuki's DR series. All in all, any one of these bike will not scare the crap out of you as a first ride. They are also easy to insure and easy to take a road skills test on. There are also many maxi-scooters out there that will fit the bill form Honda's Silverwing to Piaggio's B9. None of them will disappoint for a newbie.

Thanks- Kirk Harrington you friendly neighborhood insurance guy (with 24 yrs of riding exp)
I took the MSF last fall and have been eyeing a bike ever since. I just found out that I'll be getting quite a nice tax refund, and my wife, of all people, knowing my desire for a bike, suggested that I use part of the refund to pay down on the bike.

I posted the question here about the bike I'm looking at, read everything here and on other motorcycle forums I could find about "starter" bikes.

What I will be doing in the next couple of days follows most advice read except for buying a used bike. I know I'm not going to be able to trade bikes every time I outgrow them or get tired of them.

For that reason, I will be buying a new V-Strom 650 (Wee-strom). Everything I've read indicates it should accelerate like a sports car to about 80mph, and after that, I don't have much interest for now. I know it will be a bike that I can hold onto for a while.

Kevin Moran
See less See more
Any Bandit but the 1200 I assume you meant.
fabulous choice, the swiss army knife of bikes. Handles great, good power and bags are an option. Play, tour, commute, whatever...
Speed Triple!
Same place all our surveys are posted: On the right column of the main news page.
without a doubt it's the Honda CB250 Nighthawk.
My first bike was a Honda XR75.

Does that count?
1 - 20 of 115 Posts
This is an older thread, you may not receive a response, and could be reviving an old thread. Please consider creating a new thread.