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The Toad
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This is an easy one. Pick up a Dual Purpose bike like the KX250 or a used Sherpa. Take the MSF safety course. Ride the DP until you are competent. You might just decide to stick with a DP. It's just as stupid to start with a rice rocket on the street is it would be to start with a CR500 on the dirt.

For gear you need a good jacket with armor pads, textile is fine. Ankle high boots, jump boots are good and cheaper than all the stuff labelled "motorcycle". Armored pants are good too, once again textile is fine. And most of all a helmet that fits. Gloves, mx gloves are fine and you already have those.
 

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The Toad
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17,461 Posts
Unlike some others here I have personal real experience on some DP bikes. The brakes on both the DRZ400 and Suzuki's DR200 are more than adequate. Do not believe the myths about brakes from people with no experience. DPs DO handle well on the street.

Some people give deadly and dangerous advice to new riders and are about to be banned.
 

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The Toad
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17,461 Posts
You are looking at a pretty even match here. Insurance might be more of a problem with the GS500F and the EX500 since they have fairings. Depends on the insurance company. Any of those bikes are a good choice. All have good seating positions.

A friend of mine bought the GS500F but she didn't like the handling at 65-75 mph on the interstate. too much buffeting. She traded it for Ninja 650.
 

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The Toad
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17,461 Posts
You are a bit big for a 250, but since money is a serious issue I would suggest the Kawasaki Ninja 250 instead. It is the absolute best performing 250 around. A used Ninja500 or Suzuki500 would be better. Maybe you can find one not too far away and go get it in a pickup.

"Growing out" of a bike refers to the practice of using a smaller easier to learn on bike for a few months and then moving to a bike you decide you want more. Some people are very happy with a bike like a Ninja250.

A 250 is going to be marginal for two-up riding since you weigh 200lbs to start with. The manual will give you maximum loading for any bike.

MO tested three 250s a few years back. The bikes are still the same except for the Kawasaki which was improved this year. http://www.motorcycle.com/shoot-outs/25-caliber-shootout-12930.html

The only "standard" 650s are either the Kawasaki 650s (Ninja or Versys), Suzuki (SV650 or V-strom650) or the Hyosung 650. All are okay for a learner who has a lot of self-discipline. These bikes are universes better than bikes of the past and crank around 70 hp and can kill you in a hurry. Of course, any bike can kill you in a hurry but these modern 650s are faster than just about any car you can buy. The SV650 does 0-60 in about 3.6 seconds which easily shreds 99% of cars.
 

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The Toad
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17,461 Posts
So people don't literally need to upgrade as soon as they understand how to ride? I see the reference used so often that it's hard to tell.

I "grew out of" my 1990 Nissan Sentra when I realized how much more enjoyable a sporty convertible was, but more technically I "grew out of" a basic one-speed bicycle when I realized the purpose of gears.

At any rate, are there any popular bike-auction sites I'm overlooking? I've checked mostly on Ebay, Cycletrader.com, and local classifieds. The best I can find locally is an old 125cc Honda for $900 that looks like it's seen better days.
Considering your size I'd guess that you won't last long on the 250. Have you sat on one?

Old 125cc Hondas went for about $400 new. Don't fall for these crooks who ask the moon for old junk that there are no parts for any more. People will lie like rugs to sucker the uninitiated.

There are slim picking this time of year. Around March the ads will start picking up again. Be advised that most bike owners will ask ridiculously unreasonable prices for used bikes because of the spike in gas prices. Kelly Blue Book listings are especially bogus. NADA will give you a better idea because that's the book that is used to calculate loan amounts.

You are in for a real experience. Old rat bikes that were crappy and unpopular even when new are often listed as "rare, collector's" bikes and listed for insane sums. Stick with the NADA guide.
 

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The Toad
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17,461 Posts
+1...

Dont forget to add about a grand for gear to the loan. Though with good shopping you could be decked out for about $500 and still have some decent gear. But factor it in!!! If thats too much money, price a skin graft.
... on getting gear. Full face helmet, armored riding jacket ,pants, boots, gloves. Save up and buy a mesh jacket for the summer. Wear the gear all the time. Don't listen to anyone who says you don't have to. Anyone who says that is either a fool or someone who hates you. Maybe after you become proficient you can decide what not to wear, but while you are learning wearing the stuff is beyond important. It's double secret important!
 

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The Toad
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17,461 Posts
My apologies longride.

Hell if a dude can take a Shovel around the world, I bet the Knuck can make it around the country. Sounds like a good MO story eh?
I spoke too soon. I forgot that with the availability of trailers that you can tow behind a motorcycle you now have the ability to carry all the spares, lathes, boring machines, etc. needed to circumnavigate the greatest country on god's green Earth on a Knucklehead. You can even pull the 50 gallon drum of oil you'll need.

As a Harley owner I'm sure you've learned that oil is much cheaper in bulk.
 

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The Toad
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Suzukis are sooo boring. Ain't it grand?
Eight years and 70K miles on the ol' GSX110G and no repairs beyond the usual seals, replacing wheel bearings and rebuilding the seat. Bought for $2800 and sold for $1800. Definitely stay away from air-oil cooled Zookers if you like to wrench. Looks like the SV1000 engines are on the same path.
 

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The Toad
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17,461 Posts
NO 'crotch rocket' would be the perfect starter bike. I won't help you commit suicide. Try the Kawasaki KZ500. That should be sufficient for a year or two.

Motorcycling has to be approached very seriously or you will likely end up dead or severely injured.
 

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The Toad
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17,461 Posts
This is your first bike, right? If so I won't help you buy a 600SS. Period. They are terrible bikes for new riders. It would be analogous to advising a new pilot to buy a P-51. Kill yourself on your own.
 

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The Toad
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You are correct in considering the Nighthawk 750. A good learner if you have the self-discipline to keep off the throttle at first. Also an excellent all-rounder that is very low maintenance and reliable as a stone.

Also, +1 on the DP bike. You can't go wrong either way.
 

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The Toad
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17,461 Posts
Thanks for all the opinions. It seems everyone recommends a dual sport. I do kind of sort of appreciate the DRZ400SM (I sat on one at a dealership once), but I can't really picture myself riding any of the more dirt-bike like rides. Are there any small displacement standards good for someone my height?

(BTW, that Triumph looks really cool)
Not really. About the best you could do would be a used Suzuki GS500E, the unfaired one. There just aren't many standards at all, much less small displacement ones. At 6'6" your choices become limited. The 650 V-Strom is a good suggestion, though it isn't a small displacement bike. Maybe the 650 Versys would do too. Both are full sized with plenty of go but quite user friendly with excellent seating and ability to see all around you.
 

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The Toad
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17,461 Posts
I'd get the Suzuki. The Yamaha is real bargain basement and Honda just pi$$es me off.
 

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The Toad
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17,461 Posts
You poor [email protected]

works better that way all right. I just bought a $400 dollar two tone leather seat from Corbin for the Dyna, it's nice not to hear any sh*t about spending my own money.
The solution is to find a woman who likes to ride as much as you do. My wife is doing all the planning for our bike vacation this summer. All I have to do is provide the bike and ride. LOL!

Now if I can just get that dammed air bubble out that GL1100's dammed front brake system... mumble curse mumble.
 

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The Toad
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17,461 Posts
On second thought Hyosung sells a 650cc cruiser at a decent price. It's also got pretty decent brakes for a cruiser.
 

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The Toad
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I used to use flipups but I changed to the lightest helmet I can find (Arai Astral) and just put on the glasses after putting on the helmet. The lighter helmet is more comfortable and fits better than any flipup I've tried. Comfort and fit are most important with other features coming in a very poor second.
 

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The Toad
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17,461 Posts
You might also check out the neat Hyosung 250 Vtwin.
 

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The Toad
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Isn't that why they came out with the Ninja 650? to replace the 500?
I think they came out with it to pursue the lucrative SV650 market. The Ninja500's a different animal entirely and is a big seller in markets with restrictions on bikes above 500cc.
 

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The Toad
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17,461 Posts
Either of those are good choices. The 650 only if you have a decent level of maturity. It's 70 horsepower is plenty for any level of sane riding.

The ninja 250 can be had used cheaply, learned on, and then resold at virtually no monetary loss.
 

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The Toad
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17,461 Posts
Well, you seem to be someone with with a decent level of maturity and restraint (2 characteristics most of us on MO sadly lack) so I say that an SV650 would be just fine for you. Though I would recommend the plain SV650 over the S. Simply because I think that clipon handlebars are a scourge for street riding and newbies. Hopefully after some experience you will lose that unfortunate sense of restraint and buy a Boss Hoss, dual turbo. Or you might just keep the SV because no one ever really grows out of one... they just think they do.
 
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