For a newbie the 650 is a better choice, but better than that would be a smaller bike. The ZZR600 is a screamer - I just bought one for my wife. The ZZR is a 2000-2002 ZX6R missing the bracket for the inside of the fairing. Just shy of 100hp at the rear wheel - this is not a good choice for a starter. The 250 ninja is always in demand so if you ride it for a season you wont have a problem getting rid of it next year. Rethink your choices.
As the above post says, neither a ZZR or the Ninja 650 are good first bikes. Ideally you would get a dual sport and spend some time riding off road to learn how to react when a tire slides for the first time. If you want a sporty type street bike, I would recommend a naked bike. Something like a GS500E or possibly a Ninja 500.
The reason for this is simple, you will drop your first bike. You will probably drop it quite a few times. Nothing major just little stuff like stopping leaned over or something similar. If you drop a bike with a full fairing you just did a mimimum of $1000 damage to the plastic.
For a quick story, a friend of mine from work decided to get a bike. He took the MSF course and passed with flying colors. He found a used GS500E last week and I rode it back for him. Saturday he rode the bike around his subdivision for about 2 hours practicing the drills from the MSF class. He dropped the bike 4 times during that first ride. But the good thing is that the bike was light and easy to pick up, and without a fairing the only thing damage was a few scuffs on the bar ends and engine case and his pride.
I wont even go into insurance costs, but I would advise you to check with your insurance company before you buy anything.
I disagree, I think the 650R would be fine for you. I don't know your size, but you seem like a mature 20 yr. old and you are taking the MSF course. If you were to get a 250, I think you would be bored with it within a week. I don't want you hurt either, but unless you can find a cheap begginer bike go with that 650.
This argument is always about grin-inducing power versus learning to handle the bike without the distraction of instantaneous triple-digit speeds.
I vote with the second category. Get yourself a used Ninja 250 or 500 and ride it for a year. You'll be glad you did, and when you do get that shiny new sportbike you'll be able to enjoy it instead of cowering in fear of ("respecting") the throttle. Good luck!
Hmmm...a little concern is raised when you say "I have come down to these 2, based on looks, reveiws, and insurance premiums for a soon to be 20 year old" and LOOKS comes before "reviews" and "insurance premiums". No disrespect to you at all, but this always seems a sure giveaway as to the maturity of a rider looking to buy. Looks should come pretty close to LAST on the list when naming starter bike qualities!! Seems like what youre really asking is "What do you think is the most reasonable unreasonable bike to buy that still looks cool?"
First and foremost, why a NEW bike??? There are TONS of good used bikes out there and used may be the way to go with the new market being relatively thin with "starter bike" candidates. I thought you said you were worried about insurance premiums? Yet you'll plunk down big $$ for a new bike out-the-dealer-door instead of saving decent $ on used? Doesnt make sense.
Another big advantage to used is a dealer will generally have no problem letting you test ride one (with a valid license). Try that with a new bike out of the crate....99 times out of 100, aint happening! At least not any dealers around me. Test riding multiple bikes is SUCH a nice luxury to have. One I bet many new bike buyers wish they had before getting stuck with that nice red Italian torture rack that sits in the garage looking pretty but can barely be ridden more than an hour at a time!
In all honesty, the ZZR and 650R are NOT starters. The true starters out there remain the EX500s and GS500s of the world. Maybe even the naked SV650 is a borderline starter. And there are tons to be found in the want ads or as trade ins at the dealer. I will admit that it does kind of stink that the drop off in technology from the 600 class to the "starter" class is pretty drastic. These bikes generally dont change much over time. But if you're really serious about LEARNING SAFELY and saving a few bucks, at the very least, save the brand new purchase for later down the road.
"you seem like a mature 20 yr. old"????? Dude, you dont know this kid from a hole in the wall and you recommend the 650R because he "seems" mature to you based on the fact he's taking the MSF course???? The fact he's looking new before even TAKING the course seems to me an indication he may be in over his head with those choices.
Buy the Ninja 650R, we added one to our stable four months ago. My wife has put almost 2000 miles on it so far this year in Pa snow and rain. Looks good, runs like a watch you will get a lot of years of riding, learning and enjoyment not found on the more focused ZZR.
With a handle like Blade-Of -Justice, I'd suggest a Duc 999, now there's a blade that will dispense instant justice.
I have a friend about your age who bought the GS500 last year and put 3,000 miles on just putting around the state, no long trips. He's ready for a 600 now and is looking at GSX, R6 etc. If you're willing to take a hit on a trade after a year do it. If not I don't see the 650 as a killer bike. With advice from the MSF instructor and all of your newfound MC buddies you'll figure it out. Nothing wrong with a 599 Honda either.
First of all, I would like to commend you for your choice to take the MSF Basic Rider Course. I wish more folks would do so. Oh, I just remembered, you're 20, so you are mandated to do so! Hope it was your choice to take it though.
The course is an excellent STARTING POINT for learning to ride a motorcycle. It will provide you with the skills for safely riding a motorcycle. However, you must still make a choice as to the way you ride - safely or otherwise.
That being said, I would choose the Ninja650R as your first bike. The bike was designed just for beginning riders. There is nothing that says you need to whack the throttle open wide each time you plan to accelerate. As I said, only you can decide on the type of rider you want to be!
Ignore this guy. If you know what is fun on a motorcycle, the Ninja 250 would be pleny of motorcycle for years. I have been riding a 573cc I-4 for 6-7 years, and I still wish I had a 250 Ninja. They get great gas mileage, are easily faster than any car from light to light, are cheaper than dog drool, and with a few upgrades can be unbeatable little streetbikes.
Another thing, don't listen to the yahoos telling you that you WILL drop your bike a dozen times as soon as you get it. I have yet to drop mine, and I don't plan on going to the parking lot and pushing it over a dozen times any time soon.
Of these two choices, either one is acceptable IMO (If you have the judgement for riding on public roads in the first place...), the 650 is the better starter bike. It is much more user-friendly, and it's a great bike. I have one and I just sold my ZZR about 2 months ago when I finally got my ZX14.
The 650 is a great all-around bike, and it's plenty easy to start out on, if you are at least 5'6", or so, and have the aforementioned judgement. I also have a Ninja 250 (My wife rides our bikes, as well.). It's a great bike, too, but I think you'd want more in pretty short order, unless you're a very moderate, conservative, strictly practical rider.
Go w/the 650. It's the best compromise of starter/do-anything-you-want- for-a-long-time bike. If you're a typical 20 year old enthusiast, you're going to want more too soon, anyway. It's a disease. Just keep it in check, so as not to kill yourself.
Welcome to the world of motorcycles, B-O-J! Sounds like you are going about it the right way. I would echo the remarks of some of my fellow posters that a used bike makes more sense, but if you have the money for a new bike, why not? If you can pay cash for the bike, you can carry only liability insurance, which is WAY cheaper than full coverage. I'm 43 with a clean driving record, and full coverage insurance on some bikes is about $500 a MONTH! If you got a good deal on something like a used SV650, you could save a bundle o'money on insurance. If you paid cash for a brand new ZZR or 650, you would be taking quite a gamble to carry only liability... as previously mentioned, a minor spill could cost big bucks. Don't forget: if you carry full coverage, they'll cover the cost of fixing your scraped-off fiberglass, but then you'll have a comp claim on your insurance, which is worse than a ticket. There are a lot of factors that argue for a good cheap used bike with minimal bodywork. I don't necessarily agree with the folks that say you'll definitely drop your bike... I have probably about 20 years on bikes, with one 35mph low side, and two walking-speed tip-overs. It is NOT inevitable that you will drop your bike. That's where the MSF courses come in really handy-- they give you confidence riding at very low speeds, where you don't have speed and gyroscopic force to keep you up. My advice: go to www.traderonline.com and surf for used bikes in your area. See if you can find one that looks relatively cool to scoot around on for a year or so, then sell it some other lucky kid, and get the bike you really want. Another piece of advice: in my experience it is very hard to judge the riding position of a bike on the showroom floor. I spent hours staring at my present bike (a 2003 Aprilia Falco) and sitting on it in the showroom before I bought it. About two miles from driving it away I realized the riding position was brutal for me. I've learned to live with it, and I'm going to put on some higher bars-- it's not so bad that I would sell it for that reason, but I had no indication until I was actually riding that the position was so stretched-out. Keep in mind: the more "sit up" the position, and the wider the bars, the less likely you are to end up in a wrestling match with the bike where you will lose (such as in a awkward parking lot maneuver).
Drop it, ride the stuffing out of it, learn from it. You can pick up one of these small bikes a lot easier then the bigger ones, and who cares if a used 250 Ninja is scuffed up.
Then go out and get a bigger faster bike.
Having never ridden before you have no idea what you are getting into power wise.
Learning to ride on either a ZZR 600 or Ninja 650R is like learning to drive by starting with a new Corvette or Viper. Yes these bikes are that fast especially for a new rider.
Plus you learn a lot running a small bike really hard. You can learn to ride a used 250 Ninja to it's limits on the street for a couple of months then turn around and sell it for what you paid for it and use the down payment to pick up that new ZZR 600 or Ninja 650R.
Don't let the stigma or ego bashing of riding a 250 or 500 stop you. The really good riders out there will approve and know you are making the right move. The really bad riders won't be able to keep up in the twisties anyway.
I think the 650 is a good way to go if you have the cash. I hate to hear the "get a 250" arguement because it's not really enough bike if you intend to use it as real transportation and not a toy. I've seen plenty of guys get way over their head by buying a 250, riding for a summer, then trading up to a supersport or literbike when they think they know what they're doing. I started on a new Triumph Bonneville after taking the MSF course. I never had a problem with having too much engine and enjoyed the hell out of the bike for three years with no incidents.
However, it is a hard fact that most riders will drop their first bike so you'd probably be better off with a used SV650 or Nighthawk 750. They're not sexy, but they're real bikes that are all anyone really needs on the street.
Welcome to motorcycling, Blade of Justice! The trouble with the ZZR is that, well, you don't plan on doing wheelies and stoppies, but, well, as a beginner you may do them without planning if you're on something like a ZZR.
You can start on something like a 600 cc supersport without killing yourself, true. But you'll be a much better rider, and a safer one too, starting on a less powerful bike. If you want to really learn how to be a good rider, it's better to have a bike that is less likely to scare you and better at building confidence. You may decide you want more power in a year or so, but you'll probably be able to sell your first bike for just a little less than what you paid for it anyway.