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My name is Marcus, and I'm looking for my first motorcycle. I have taken the MSF safety course and have my license already. I understand that I have no business on a 'busa or an R1 right now; I've been seriously considering a Ninja EX500 or a GS500E/F. I'm in college, so its necessary to find a beater/used bike. I was wondering if these bikes are good choices.

Also, how much gear is really necessary for riding around town? I had planned on helmet/jacket/boots, and I've already bought the jacket & boots. I've seen people on the highway with leather pants and a back-brace but I'm not sure if thats necessary for city riding.

One last question: Is there anything special about expensive helmets? I've been to the gear store several times, and helmets run from $50 to $500. Are the expensive ones worth the extra money?
 

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How about that - an intelligent "first bike" post. Congratulations! Those bikes are excellent first bikes/city bikes. I'd suggest the less faired of the bikes so that if/when it gets dropped there's minimum damage. There are other bikes that are great first bikes, they're listed many times in other posts.

As for the gear, I'd say you've got a good minimum set as long as you add in gloves. Personally, I never ride without a jacket, boots, gloves, and helmet. I prefer to wear either a full suit or pants as well, but I admit that if I'm riding locally I will often just wear jeans. From experience though, they do just about nothing when it comes to protection.

As for helmets, the more expensive ones are generally...more expensive. As long as it's certified by DOT and SNELL (unless you want a flip-up, make sure it's SNELL also) it will be safe. Pricier ones are often lighter, have removable liners, may vent better, and have nicer graphics - but none of those are necessarily true. The most important thing when buying a helmet is fit and comfort.
 

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Good Point

There is some debate on the effectiveness or necessity of Snell certification. "Motorcyclist" magazine has an in depth article on their website. Their conclusion is that the DOT test is closer to real world incidents.

Motorcycle Helmet Design, Helmet Standards and Head Protection - Gear Box - Motorcyclist Online
If that's the article I think it is, they also noted that some helmets that cost a fraction of the typical Shoei etc. were as effective or even more effective in absorbing (and not xmitting) impact force to the skull and brain. Something to do with the plastic they manufacture with rather than fiberglass etc.
 

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Yes, Snell is not the ultimate. If I had a choice I'd try to get a helmet with DOT and BSI ratings. However, the main thing to do when you shop for a helmet is to get one that *fits*! If the helmet is uncomfortable you won't want to wear it.
 

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Learning how to not fall down will work 100 times better than the best helmet in the world. Practice, learn, ask, and then practice some more and you won't have to worry too much about what rating your helmet has.
 

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Parking........ is where you can get-away with it. Some places have no problem with bikes taking-up the (otherwise unusable) striped "dead zones" at the end of parking lanes. Some, you park and it won't be there when you return - just a ticket.

Most of that crap is (IMHO) just some petty little tyrant "enforcing" some real or imagined rule that makes his/her tiny little soul that much more wounded, but they feel better for it (for about 20 seconds).
 
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