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Motivation for 600ss and 1000 for first bike

This is a discussion on Motivation for 600ss and 1000 for first bike within the Motorcycle Discussion forums, part of the General category; Well most of you have read about the guy that died on the 401 by now. My understanding of the ...


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Old 12-15-2008   #1
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Join Date: Dec 2008
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Default Motivation for 600ss and 1000 for first bike

Well most of you have read about the guy that died on the 401 by now.
My understanding of the facts so far
1. 21 yrs old
2. no license,insurance,or plate
3. seemed to just get the R1 last September
4. riding fast during rush hour on the 401
5. riding on cold roads
6. did anyone tell this guy it was not a good idea to get on the bike or stop him and say cut the crap out and slow it down, this is not the time or place....

Feel free to correct anything.
My points are the following:
1. Why do ppl on this board and other boards encourage new riders starting on a 600ss or litre bike?

2. Does anyone ever try to push them towards a smaller cc bike, invest in gear, take a fast course?

3. Don't spend your money blinging out your bike until you have invested in yourself i.e. gear, tires, steering damper, fast course. A nice slip on will do nothing for you.

4. It does not matter what anyone will say but a 250 cc or 500 cc bike takes a hell of a lot longer to get to 150kmh vs. a 600ss+

I won't name a few ppl from this site that I spoke to but they wanted to start on a 600ss. All of them were under 21 and for the most part just starting driving or do not drive a car. I did my best to have a logical explanation from experience that they will gain more skills by doing the above. The bottom line, they can make their own decision but I would have done my part to provide them real world information. For 1 person I kept it simple. I said for the most part, we all drop our first bike. THe cost for a 600cc tank and plastics $2500-3k...their responce...I did not know it was so expensive. That repair cost caused them to think about it some more.

In closing, I will share when I went to buy my first bike. I walked in fully knowing that a bike can kill you in less than 3 seconds. I spoke to Micheal Bryce and he steered me to a 500cc ninja. I did not ask for a bigger cc bike cuz at that time I did not know the differences in power because I never rode a bike. He looked right at me and said that I will probably get bored of this bike in a few months BUT I will look back and realise just what I had gained by starting on the 500.

I am a fairly competitive person but this was an area that I knew I could be the looser before the game starts.

I made 3 mistakes that I remember to this day on the 500. Looking back, if I had a bigger bike those mistakes could/would have been very serious.

The 500 did not have the power to accelerate as quickly as a 600ss therefore I was able to recover. It was not about speeding or going fast when I started. It was about technique. Speed naturally follows with good technique.

You think you look cool on a 600ss but you look like a fool when you can't ride it. I have way more respect for people that can RIDE a 500cc bike. There are some of you that I have seen on your smaller cc bikes and say, wow they are pretty good.

Why would you start on a machine that you have no understanding of the physics involved?

I suggest that you truly stop and consider, have you invested in your gear, your tires, your steering damper, your skills. Did you talk to other more experienced riders.

At the end of the day you will be the only one that will have to pay.
Take the first year and learn how to ride. The money you would have spent on the 600ss alone will get you a hell of a lot more with an older 250 or 500cc with gear, fast course, and track days.

Look around this board, have you seen anyone ever admit they F'd up.
All I see are some people that promote 600ss+ bikes to new riders.
There are some really knowledgeable ppl on this site, take advantage and pm them.

Some of you will disagree and even start flaming but I have done my part to try and educate the new people starting in this sport, what have you done to help?

edit---Bored=good
It meant that you are comfortable and your confidence and skills are up to par because you are not scaring yourself and you are in control just don't become complacent on any bike.
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Old 12-16-2008   #2
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Default Motivation for 600ss and 1000 for first bike

I agree. Its better to look like an idiot on a 500cc than f*ck up a 600+cc and prove it.

quote from the below article
http://www.chuckhawks.com/good_first_motorcycles.htm
Recommending 600cc and larger bikes to beginners is like sending children out to play on the freeway, and the results are both predictable and (often) tragic.

GOOD FIRST MOTORCYCLES

By Chuck Hawks

In a strong motorcycle market, when motorcycles for the street are more specialized than ever, better than ever, and selling better than ever, there is one category of motorcycle that is under represented compared to, say, thirty years ago. That category is the motorcycles best suited to the beginning rider.

When I started riding, there were many new and used street bikes in the 80-125cc and 150-200cc classes perfectly suited to beginning riders. All of the big four Japanese manufacturers (Honda, Yamaha, Suzuki, and Kawasaki) offered such bikes new, as did several smaller Japanese and Italian makers. Triumph had their 200cc Cub, and even Harley-Davidson, through their Aermacchi subsidiary, offered small displacement motorcycles for the beginning rider.

In the 1960's and 1970's, 50cc to 125cc motorcycles were considered "small," the 150-200cc motorcycles were intermediate, the 250cc to 500cc motorcycles were midsize bikes, and 650cc and larger motorcycles were "big" bikes. Today, a 250cc motorcycle is considered small, and a 650cc motorcycle mid-size. Even a liter bike (1000cc) is no longer considered "big" in a world of 1400-1800cc heavyweight motorcycles. I have read articles in the motorcycle press about the Yamaha V-Star 1100's, calling them "middleweight" cruisers!

This escalation toward bigger motorcycles has benefited older and more experienced riders, who now make up the largest share of the market, but it has left the beginning rider seeking to purchase his or her first motorcycle with fewer and fewer choices. An illustration of the problem is that, until the Y2K introduction of the Buell Blast, the lightest weight and smallest displacement motorcycle Harley-Davidson made was the (approximately) 500 pound, 883cc Sportster. It is still the smallest motorcycle bearing the Harley-Davidson name, and still purchased by many entry level riders.

When I started riding, the 883cc Sportster was the hottest motorcycle you could buy, the ultimate ride for the experienced rider. This illustrates how skewed the market has become. While there are many faster and more powerful motorcycles today, I assure you that an inexperienced rider can get into big trouble very quickly on an 883 Sportster. Recommending 600cc and larger bikes to beginners is like sending children out to play on the freeway, and the results are both predictable and (often) tragic.

But there are still motorcycles that are suitable for the beginning rider, and I am going to take a look at some of them in this article. Cruisers and standards are usually a better choice for the beginning rider than sport bikes. Modern sport bikes do what they do extremely well (which is go around corners--or a racetrack--at high speed), but they are often not very good for much else. Cruisers and standards are more versatile, at home on city streets, country lanes, and the interstate. They are equally suitable for commuting, weekend rides, the occasional longer trip, are generally easier to maneuver at low speed (where a tip-over is most likely), and are a little less likely to encourage overly aggressive riding.

Low maintenance shaft or belt drives are advantageous on any motorcycle. Cast aluminum wheels, tubeless tires, front and rear disc brakes, and self-adjusting valves are other worthwhile features found on some of the motorcycles discussed below. Self-canceling turn signals and anti-lock braking systems (ABS) are important safety features that should be standard on all street bikes; unfortunately, neither is offered on most entry level motorcycles. I will try to mention the above features where applicable. Halogen headlights, electronic ignition, and disc brakes are also very worthwhile, and they are found on almost all new bikes today.

My opinion is that small to medium displacement (125-250cc) motorcycles are most appropriate for new riders. They are generally lighter and easier to maneuver, easier to balance, cheaper to repair if damaged in a spill, and less likely to get the beginning rider into trouble. It might be worthwhile to pay attention to the seat height figures given for the motorcycles below, as it is reassuring for most inexperienced (also experienced!) riders to be able to put both feet on the ground when stopped. Light weight is an advantage, as is a low center of gravity, particularly for low speed maneuvering. Unless otherwise noted, all of the motorcycle specifications below are taken from the Cycle World 2000 Buyer's Guide. More detailed specifications on most of the bikes discussed below are available on the various "Motorcycle Comparison Charts" on my Motorcycle Page.

125cc Class

A beginning pilot would not expect to learn to fly in an F-16 fighter or a wide body jetliner, so why do beginning motorcyclists expect to learn to ride on a 600cc sport bike or a heavyweight cruiser? Ideally, I would like to see beginning riders buy a standard 125cc motorcycle for their first street bike. There is a reason that so many Motorcycle Safety Foundation courses maintain their aging fleets of 125cc Hondas for their entry level classes.

These bikes are especially well suited to beginning riders of smaller than average stature, limited upper body strength, or limited confidence in their ability to master this new activity. Even very experienced riders find use for a small bike. One good friend of mine owns (at last count) seven motorcycles, including a couple of Harleys and a couple of hot sport bikes, but his daily "in town" ride remains a 20 year old Honda 90.

A 125cc street bike can accelerate briskly off the line, is fast enough to keep up with traffic, will cruise at 50 mph, and handles like a "real" motorcycle, not a scooter or a trail bike. If it falls onto its side, most riders can right it without assistance. In military aviation terms, a 125 makes an ideal primary trainer.

Of course, few riders will be satisfied with a 125cc machine in the long run. But, for the new motorcyclist's first few thousand miles, one of these lightweight machines will make a fine commuter and primary trainer. And, no matter what motorcycle a new rider buys first, within a year or two he or she will want to try something different. Most riders own several motorcycles before they find the bike they like best. Burn those last two sentences into your brain. Your first motorcycle is a trainer, not a "keeper," no matter what you buy!

The discontinued Honda CB 125S was just about the perfect first motorcycle. The CB 125S was produced for many years. A friend of mine used to let me ride hers, which was a late 1970's model. This lightweight standard looked and handled like a real motorcycle, which it was. It was powered by a 124cc four-stroke single cylinder engine, and the final drive was by chain. The wheels were laced. Stopping power was provided by a front disc and rear drum brakes. There was even a helmet lock. Top speed was about 67 mph. The last year I can find it catalogued in the Motorcycle Price Guide was 1984. That year it cost $898 brand new. Now, a decent used one should sell for around $400.

Unfortunately, only Kawasaki (with their Kawasaki Eliminator cruiser) among the Japanese "Big Four" now sees fit to import a 125cc street bike into the U.S. (It is no secret that the big profits are in big bikes.) The Eliminator's decent suspension allows it to handle and corner well. It is powered by a 124cc air cooled, single cylinder motor. There is a 5 speed transmission and chain final drive. The brakes consist of a disc in front and drum for the rear. The seat seight is 26.8 inches, and the dry weight is 290 pounds. Top speed is about 60-65 MPH. The gas tank holds 3.4 gallons, enough to go a long way on this motorcycle. MSRP in 2002 is $2500.

Harley-Davidson, Buell, BMW, and Triumph offer nothing in this class. A person with the good judgment to want such a machine for their first motorcycle will have to buy the new Kawasaki ($2500) or search the used market.

250cc Class

With the demise of the 150-200cc class, the next step up in displacement is now the 250cc class (15 cubic inches). Today a 250 is considered a "small" motorcycle, but I am old enough to see them as "middleweights," which they truly are. Ideally, a 250cc class motorcycle is what the rider who has learned primary riding skills on a 125 should move up to. In military aviation terms, a 250 is your basic trainer.

A 250 is a versatile machine, fairly powerful, moderate in weight, acceptably fast. If necessary, it can cruise on the freeway at 65 mph for reasonable periods of time. A 250 is not a touring bike, although I once rode one from Eugene, Oregon to Los Angeles, California (a round trip of nearly 2,000 miles). A person can get into a lot of trouble on a 250, but for the beginning rider of average size, strength, and confidence it can be an excellent trainer. A 250 is just about the ideal size commuter bike for any rider, regardless of experience, fast enough to stay out of trouble, and easy to handle and park.

The major American and European makers no longer offer any street bikes in this class, but the Japanese do. Kawasaki has the Ninja 250 sport bike. Honda has the Nighthawk 250 standard, and the CMX250C Rebel cruiser. Suzuki offers the GZ250 cruiser. And Yamaha has their sharp looking Virago 250 cruiser. All of these 250's have four-stroke motors, and all rely on conventional telescopic front forks and chain final drive. The average weight of these bikes is about 300 pounds. The price range for new 250's in 2002 is about $3000 to $3500.

For the aspiring sport bike rider, the Kawasaki Ninja 250 is the obvious, and only, choice. It has a high revving, sophisticated, 248cc dohc inline twin engine, and a six-speed transmission. The rear suspension is provided by a mono-shock. (All of the other 250's discussed here have conventional twin rear shocks.) It also comes with cast wheels, disc brakes front and rear, and a full sport fairing. The gas tank holds a whopping 4.8 gallons. The Ninja's dry weight is 304 pounds. It is the fastest and best handling of today's 250's, with a top speed of about 100 mph. It's 29.3 inch seat height and sport bike ergonomics will be the main drawbacks for some riders. The price is reasonable, only $50 more than the economical Suzuki GZ250, and the same as the basic Honda Rebel.

For the person who wants the versatility of a standard motorcycle, the Honda Nighthawk 250 is the only choice. The Nighthawk is attractive and practical. Its 234cc sohc parallel-twin engine and 5-speed transmission gives it adequate performance. Its laced wheels and drum brakes front and rear should make it economical, but its list price is actually somewhat higher than the other 250's, $100 more than the Virago, and $400 more than the Ninja. The gas tank holds 4.3 gallons, enough to go a long way on a 250. The Nighthawk's seat height is the same as the Ninja's, and taller than the other 250's, at 29.3 inches. It weighs 287 pounds.

The best selling motorcycles today are cruisers, which explains why there are three cruisers in the 250cc class. The Honda Rebel is that company's entry. The same engine and transmission that powers the Nighthawk powers this mini cruiser. Strangely, the Rebel cruiser has a shorter wheelbase than the standard Nighthawk, but weighs in 19 pounds heavier (at 306). It gets a disc brake in front, which is a real improvement, and laced wheels. Fuel capacity is 2.6 gallons. The seat height is only 26.6 inches, and the center of gravity is lower than the Nighthawk's. For reasons known only to Honda, the Rebel lists for $200 to $400 less than a Nighthawk.

The Suzuki GZ250's 249cc sohc single cylinder motor gives it a reported top speed of 76 mph; I would expect a little more horsepower from the Honda 234cc inline twins, and the Yamaha 249cc V-twin. But there is no denying that singles are fun. A disc in front and a drum in back provide braking, and the wheels are laced. The GZ250 cruiser weighs 301 pounds, and has a generous 3.7 gallon gas tank. Seat height is 27.8 inches. The Suzuki has the lowest list price of any of the 250's, $50 less than the Ninja or the cheapest Rebel.

To my eyes, the Yamaha Yirago 250 is the best looking of the 250 cruisers. The overall visual impression is of a true middleweight motorcycle. Its 60 degree sohc V-twin motor and five speed transmission provides adequate thrust, and a little more character than the Honda and Kawasaki inline twins do. A V-twin usually has a lower center of gravity than a vertical twin does. The Yamaha comes with laced wheels and a disc brake in front; like the other cruisers, it has a rear drum brake. The Virago's gas tank holds 2.5 gallons, and the bike weighs 301 pounds. The seat height is 27 inches. Its list price is $400 more than a Rebel, making it the most expensive 250 cruiser. I would say that it is money well spent.

500cc Class

With the nearly complete demise of the 350-400cc class, 500cc (30 cubic inch) bikes are now the next common step up in displacement from the 250's. To again put it in military aviation terms, a 500 is analogous to an advanced trainer. A 500cc street bike used to be a large middleweight motorcycle. Marlon Brando rode a 500cc Triumph Speed Twin in the seminal motorcycle movie The Wild Ones, which was inspired by the Hollister incident back in the 1950's. Not many outlaws today ride sweet 500 twins!

Once the most competitive class in sporting street bikes (much as the 600cc class is today), the 500cc class has become sort of a sales backwater. Nevertheless, there is a reasonable selection of new bikes available.

The typical 500 has most of the same advantages possessed by the 250's, only more so. A 500cc bike offers more of everything compared to a 250, including greater weight. The adult beginning rider of average or larger than average size, strength, and confidence will be well served by a 500cc machine as long as he or she has a reasonable amount of self-control. The average weight of the 500's discussed below is 388 pounds, 88 pounds more than our average 250.

A 500cc bike is fast enough to run with the big boys, although it will be working harder at any given speed than a larger displacement motorcycle. This is very attractive to most prospective buyers, but bear in mind that a beginner can also get into trouble more quickly than he or she would on a 250. Until 2001, 500cc was the maximum displacement allowed in Gran Prix racing (there are also 250cc and 125cc classes). So while a 500 can be among the most versatile of motorcycles for the solo street rider, it can also be a very high performance motorcycle.

A typical 500cc street bike probably has a top speed of around 100 mph, and can cruise for extended periods of time above the legal speed limit on the highway. It is still light enough to be a good commuter bike in the city, and easy to park. Most 500's have enough acceleration to blow away all but the quickest cars in an impromptu "stoplight Grand Prix." 500's traditionally have the handling and brakes to back up their acceleration and speed.

500cc class bikes are available from Kawasaki, Suzuki, and Yamaha in Japan, as well as from Buell (a subsidiary of Harley-Davidson) in the United States, and Royal Enfield in India (formerly of the UK). The major European manufacturers no longer offer entry level 500cc street bikes, which is a pity. (500cc Grand Prix race replicas are not good first bikes!) As I write this in 2002, most new 500cc class bikes are selling between $4500 and $5500.

Perhaps the standout in the 500cc class, at least from the perspective of the first time buyer, is the Buell Blast. The Blast was designed as a sport-standard specifically for the adult entry level buyer. It has an ohv 492cc single cylinder motor designed to be as maintenance free as possible. The transmission is a rugged five-speed. In fact, the whole motorcycle is designed to be as maintenance free as possible. Valves never need adjusting, there is a single 40mm CV carburetor, the choke is automatic, the final drive belt never needs adjusting, the 16" cast alloy wheels run sticky tubeless tires, and so on.

Everything about this motorcycle is designed to be fun and unintimidating, including the price, which is only $100 more than the Suzuki GS500E. Included for the reasonable price are disc brakes front and rear with two piston calipers, optional seat heights of 25.5 inches or 27.5 inches, a dry weight of only 360 pounds, and a 2.8 gallon gas tank (sufficient since the mileage approaches 70 miles/gallon). The primary load bearing frame member is a rectangular steel backbone, which also carries the oil supply for the dry sump engine. Suspension is by conventional telescopic front forks and a rear mono-shock.

The Blast's reported top speed is 95 mph. Stability is good, and the handling is quick and razor sharp. As delivered, the Blast is so quiet and smooth that it almost does not seem like the big single that it is. However, a Vance & Hines replacement header/muffler, maybe coupled with a low restriction air filter and a re-jetted carb, will fix that.

The Kawasaki Vulcan 500 LTD is a typically styled middleweight cruiser that sells for about $200 more than the Buell Blast. It shares the same basic 498cc dohc inline twin as the Kawasaki 500cc sport bike, but the Vulcan's motor is tuned for more midrange torque and less high RPM horsepower. The transmission has six-speeds. Fuel/air mixture gets to the engine through two 32mm carburetors. The frame is a conventional mild steel cradle. Suspension duties are handled by telescopic front forks and twin rear shocks. The wheels are laced, and the brakes consist of a disc in front and a drum in back. The Vulcan 500 has a teardrop shaped gas tank that holds 4 gallons of gas, and a tank mounted speedometer. Seat height is 28.1 inches. Claimed dry weight is 439 pounds.

Suzuki's 500cc offering is the long running Suzuki GS500E sport-standard. It is powered by a 487cc dohc inline twin fed by two 33mm carburetors. There is a six-speed transmission and chain final drive. The frame is a perimeter type, and conventional telescopic forks and a rear mono-shock handle suspension duties. Disc brakes front and rear stop the three spoke cast aluminum wheels and tubeless tires. The gas tank holds 4 gallons. Seat height is a rather tall 31.1 inches. Claimed dry weight is 372 pounds, and the wheelbase is 55.5 inches. The Suzuki GS500E is one of the best equipped bikes in the class, and it is priced at the bottom of the range.

Yamaha's Virago 535 cruiser, discontinued after the 2001 model year, is more radical looking than the Kawasaki Vulcan 500. A smooth 70-degree sohc V-twin engine that displaces 535cc powers the chopper-esque Virago. This engine is fed by two 34mm carburetors. Power reaches the rear wheel through a five-speed transmission and shaft final drive, the only shaft drive in the 500cc class, a big plus. The backbone type frame uses the engine as a stressed member. The raked front forks share suspension chores with dual rear shocks. A disc brake in front and a drum brake in the rear stop the laced wheels. Self-canceling turn signals are both a convenience and a safety feature. Dual shorty slash cut mufflers enhance the chopper image. The 28.3 inch seat height allows most riders to reach the ground with both feet. The 401 pound dry weight is average for the class, and the low center of gravity makes low speed maneuvers less stressful.

All of this sophistication and style once put the Virago 535 at the top of the 500cc cruiser class. It remains one of the best beginner bikes in the class, and is still available on the used market.

600cc Class and larger

The question here becomes whether these powerful machines are ever good first bikes, and if so, under what circumstances? To use my military aviation analogy for the last time, starting with one of these machines is like trying to learn to fly in a combat aircraft. The most typical accident for the beginner on a new 600cc sport bike is caused by a loss of control the very first time the bike is ridden, usually within a couple miles of the dealership from which he or she bought the bike. This is not an encouraging statistic. These are not machines for the youthful or immature rider. The lure of power and speed represented by such machines will almost certainly overcome the self-control of such riders, often with tragic results. If you are not over thirty, a mature and responsible thirty, do yourself and your loved ones a favor and learn on a lighter, less powerful motorcycle.

A 600-650cc machine (650cc equals 40 cubic inches) does give the heavy rider, the new street rider who has previous experience on dirt bikes, or the person who anticipates doing a lot of two-up riding (couples, for instance), a more powerful alternative to the bikes previously discussed. Motorcycles of this size will generally be heavier and more difficult to maneuver at low speed. They can be a handful in conditions of reduced traction (like gravel or dirt roads). They will cruise at high speeds for extended periods of time, and can be used for touring with appropriate accessories. Because they generally cost more than the bikes previously discussed, they may have more features, and more accessories may be available. The dry weight of the bikes profiled below varies from 350 to 495 pounds, and averages 423 pounds. Prices in 2002 for these motorcycles runs from a startlingly low $4299 for the Suzuki Savage 650 on up.

Even more powerful 750cc and larger motorcycles are, in my opinion, suitable for very few beginning riders, and I regard them as beyond the scope of this article. They may be suitable for adult riders returning to the sport after a long layoff, but such riders are not first time buyers, and usually have a good idea of what sort of bike they want. I will mention a few 600-650cc class motorcycles with this warning: FOR MATURE ADULTS ONLY!

The 600cc class Honda Shadow VLX is that company's middleweight cruiser. It is the smallest bike in this group in displacement. The base VLX costs $700 more than a Suzuki Savage, but it is still reasonably priced. There is a standard model and a somewhat spiffier Deluxe model. The latter has chromed cases and cylinder heads, two-tone paint, and costs an additional $300. The VLX is powered by a 583cc sohc V-twin engine, which delivers its power though a five-speed transmission and chain final drive. The wheels are laced. The front brake is a disc, and the rear brake is a drum. The gas tank holds only 2.9 gallons. The height of the comfortable seat is a low 25.6 inches, excellent for those of short stature. Wheelbase is 63.2 inches. Dry weight is given as 445 pounds. In keeping with its reasonable price, the VLX is handsome and practical but not lavishly equipped.

The Yamaha V-Star 650 is available in two models. There is the more aggressive looking V-Star Custom, and (for an additional $300) the more retro appearing V-Star Classic. Both are well appointed and handsome bikes, priced $300 and $600 (respectively) above the Honda VLX Deluxe. These are large machines for middleweights, and they share the following specifications. Power comes from an air-cooled sohc V-twin displacing 649cc. There is a smooth five-speed transmission. The wheelbase of both is 64 inches. Both are built on the same Softail-looking frame with concealed rear shocks. The fuel capacity of the attractive teardrop tank is 4.3 gallons, with the instruments mounted on top a-la H-D. The front brakes are discs, and the rear brakes are drums. The wheels are laced, and the back tire is wide. Features of both include chrome engine/transmission cases and cylinder heads, shaft final drive, and self-canceling turn signals. But there are also significant differences between the two.

The Classic, particularly, looks like a heavyweight motorcycle. The Classic's chrome headlight is larger, the seat is thicker, and the fenders are longer and wider than the Custom's. The front forks are fully shrouded by chrome covers, and the laced front wheel is fatter and smaller in diameter. Seat height is 28 inches. Dry weight of the Classic is a portly 495 pounds, very heavy for a 650.

The Custom is, to my eyes, the most attractive of the middleweight cruisers. It looks a lot like a chromed-out Harley Softail Standard. The dry weight of the Custom is 460 pounds, so it is also a heavy 650. It features a slim "cycle" style front fender and a bobbed rear fender. The laced front wheel is larger in diameter and narrower, and held between conventional (un-shrouded) forks. The seat is thinner and lower; seat height is only 25.6 inches. The principle drawback to these excellent V-Stars from the beginner's standpoint is their considerable weight.

The Suzuki Savage 650 is an unusual midsize cruiser in that it is powered by an air-cooled, 652cc sohc single, rather than a twin. It is also unusual for its very low price, much cheaper than other 650's. This big thumper is very light in weight, at only 350 pounds dry. The wheelbase is 58.3 inches. This is a true 650 at a 500's size, weight, and price. The seat height is a reasonable 27.6 inches. The belt final drive should be virtually maintenance free. Other specifications are more mundane. The transmission has five speeds, the slender gas tank holds only 2.8 gallons, the suspension is by telescopic forks in front and conventional dual shocks in back, the wheels are laced, and the brakes consist of a disc in front and a drum in the back.

The Savage comes with a low sissy bar and passenger backrest, buckhorn handlebars, and a bobbed rear fender. These are features that many riders purchase as accessories for other bikes. The Savage 650 is clearly one of the best buys in motorcycling.

The Kawasaki W650 is a different kind of retro bike, a standard easy to mistake for a late 1960's Triumph Bonneville. Kawasaki claims that the W650 was inspired by their own 1960's vintage W1 twin (itself a knockoff of a pre-unit construction BSA 650), but anyone who has seen a W1 knows the W650 looks nothing like that, and very much like the vastly more popular Bonneville. The tank, tank badges, rubber knee pads, rubber fork gaiters, cases, exhaust system, seat, fenders, headlight, and paint job all reek of Triumph influence. This is not bad thing, as the 1968-1970 Triumph Bonnevilles are widely regarded as some of the most beautiful motorcycles ever built.

Whatever its heritage, the W650 is a versatile all-around motorcycle, and one of my personal favorites. It is not a typical first bike. It is more likely to be purchased by a canny old pro than an inexperienced beginner. It is the kind of bike discriminating riders settle down with after owning several previous machines.

The W650 offers classic styling and modern reliability, without oil leaks. An air-cooled vertical twin with a 360-degree crankshaft powers it, again like a classic Triumph. However, this Kawasaki twin has a sohc, and displaces 676cc. The slick shifting transmission has five speeds, and final drive is by chain. There is a kick starter, as well as electric starting. The gas tank holds 4 gallons. A W650 weighs 430 pounds, quite a bit more than a 650 Bonneville's 386 pounds. That includes the weight of a front disc brake, although the rear still has to make do with a drum brake. The W650's seat height is 31.5 inches, but the bike is narrow, which helps the rider's feet reach the ground.

At $800 more than a V-Star 650 Custom, it is not a particularly cheap 650. But it is an easy to ride, good handling, well equipped motorcycle, and one of the top choices for a rider returning to motorcycling after a long lay-off.
Furry Guy is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-16-2008   #3
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Default Motivation for 600ss and 1000 for first bike

to be honest, i find this site very well in terms of discouraging new riders to stay away from 600+SS's .... this site helped me a lot in deciding what first bike to get.

I wanted to get the 03 CBR600RR as my 1st bike but then i came to my senses after readin all the other noob posts who get flamed for wanting to get a SS for their 1st bike. Hence i got the "wimpy" sv6fiddy but i am loving it and learning a lot from ppl i ride w/ on this forum (who encourage proper/safe riding methods).

the 401 is a tragedy which could have been avoided. It all comes down to the individual. Warn them or not, they will exercise whats on their mind - weather its for "coolness", speed, etc...
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Old 12-17-2008   #4
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Default Motivation for 600ss and 1000 for first bike

"I won't name a few ppl from this site that I spoke to but they wanted to start on a 600ss. All of them were under 21 and for the most part just starting driving or do not drive a car"

Hes talking about people like me.
Thanks bro! Your advice might have saved my life.
Thinking of going for an ex500.
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Old 12-17-2008   #5
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Default Motivation for 600ss and 1000 for first bike

If those same people who are driving like asses and running into Semi's had to use smaller, less powerful, more primitive bikes, they would. And they would still drive like asses and run into semi's. The problem is not what you ride, it's how you ride.


The other problem is that the big, pretty, fast bikes appeal to those who are inclined to drive into McDonald's parking curbs, or do 100 in a school zone, or wheelie on the 401. Doesn't matter what the ride, they will still do those things. And any accidents that they have will always be "the other guys fault"

Interesting to note

CB125 had 12 hp
CB 250 had 27 HP
CB 500 had 48 HP
CB 750 had 67 HP

The Big Daddy Goldwing had 82 HP. I don't dispute todays bike have more zoot, but I really don't think the big problem is the size of people's bikes. I would argue it's the size of their brain.

I would also say if those old bikes actually had the power of todays bikes they would be frighteningly unsafe, look at the rest of the technology, it doesn't hold a candle to todays stuff. Suspension, fuel management, brakes, and so on are far superior. Todays manufacturers deliver far superior product.

Look at cars, a 1981 V8 Mustang had 120 HP, a 1990 V8 Mustang had about 225 HP and a 2005 V8 Mustang has somewhere in the order of 300 HP. Todays market demands performance. Comparing to what was considered fast in yesteryears does a disservice to todays consumer.


Don't blame stupidity on a product. :roll:
Edward F is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-18-2008   #6
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Default Motivation for 600ss and 1000 for first bike

I am not blaming the stupidity on the product.
It is common knolwedge and fact that a 250 will not get up to speed as fast as a 600ss.

People WILL make mistakes when they are learning.
Anyone that rode a bicycle or learned to ice skate has fallen at some point and probably moreso the first few days of learning.

People make mistakes when they are learning, they don't need a bike that will further complicate those moments of correcting the mistake.

How do you know what a bike will do if you have never ridden one?
How do you know what you will do if you are just starting to learn?
Theo is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-19-2008   #7
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Default Motivation for 600ss and 1000 for first bike

I am not blaming the stupidity on the product.
It is common knolwedge and fact that a 250 will not get up to speed as fast as a 600ss.

People WILL make mistakes when they are learning.
Anyone that rode a bicycle or learned to ice skate has fallen at some point and probably moreso the first few days of learning.

People make mistakes when they are learning, they don't need a bike that will further complicate those moments of correcting the mistake.

How do you know what a bike will do if you have never ridden one?
How do you know what you will do if you are just starting to learn?

You raise good points. Don't get me wrong, I'm a big proponent of things like learning to drive before going out to buy some supersport.

To address your points, I think many people on the board DO encourage new riders to get a smaller bike. Those who encourage them to "get what you want" tend to be those who already have a fast bike and/or are fixated on being cool. I don't have any illusions of being cool, but even I admit that riding a bike is cool.

I you look at the posts, you will often see comments like "get gear" " learn to drive" " take a course"

It does take time to get to 150 KM/h on a 250, the point you make here though seems to ignore that fact that this particular incident was fueled by cold, immaturity and ignorance. For those who will slam me about that comment, it is solely based on the lack of plate and insurance of a person riding on the 401 on a cold March day. I highly doubt the 150km/h report, but even doing 80 and piledriving a slow moving truck will put a very quick end to your ride.

As for mistakes, I've made em, everyone has.
I CHOSE to ride what is currently considered a small bike. I learned to ride on a classic 1981 GL 500. It was not fast, it was top heavy, and it slowed like a truck. When I was ready I moved up, when I feel ready I will move up again.

About good advice, I think it's great that people provide wise guidance. I would suggest that in the case of yahoo's like the young man in this incident, all the guidance in the world wouldn't matter. HE chose to ride the 401 in March, with no insurance or plate, and CH=hose to drive too fast for conditions, In my opinion, his choice of bike is irrelevant, he was travelling to quickly for conditions, whether he was doing 60 or 150 isn't a function of his ride, he hit a slow moving truck at a high rate of speed, based on his apparent character, a 250 or 500 would have gotten him the exact same results.
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Old 12-20-2008   #8
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Default Motivation for 600ss and 1000 for first bike

my thread was not intended to support or defend the guy that crashed.
you are correct he did what he did.
If I wrote this when things were quiet, ppl would just scan over it and ignore it but now due to this incident it may just make someone really pause and reconsider.

I don't think he would have tried "racing" or weaving on a 250 or 500cc because as we both know that once you hit the brakes on those it takes a bit of road/distance to get back up to speed to keep the "thrill" going where as the R1 requires 1/3rd to 1/2 of the distance a 250 or 500 would need to hit 100km.

I have ridden a 250 and let me tell you, it takes a loooooooooooong time to get to the right of the speedo vs a R6 that was there almost instantly vs. a litre bike which in 1st gear will hit 150 in the blink of an eye.

What's done is done, it's what others may do.

It's all good as I view this as a productive thread so far...
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Old 12-21-2008   #9
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Default Motivation for 600ss and 1000 for first bike

I look at it this way (since I'm in this position at the moment): If your wife/husband/son/daughter/sister/brother wanted to learn how to ride, what would you do to help them?

I think advising new riders to get on a supersport bike is extremely negligent, if not outright unethical.

I'm all for personal responsibility, but at the same time, I want those around me to be be safe, and to learn the ropes before they get to experience a modern supersport bike. I think that's only common sense.

So flame me (and those who share our opinion) all you want, but at the end of the day, you have to acknowledge that a supersport bike is an extremely dangerous proposition to a new rider.

Except as a joke, I don't think anybody here would recommend a SS bike for a first ride. As many posers as there are on this site, nobody here wants to see people get hurt.
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Old 12-21-2008   #10
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Default Motivation for 600ss and 1000 for first bike

I totally agree D, learn on something small, then move up.
I know i've made a ton of mistakes in my first year, which could have been much much worse had i been riding a more powerful bike.
At times, i've regretted getting the 250, but then i realize that i'm probably a better rider for it, and i'm still around to move up. The same probably could not be said if i started on something faster.
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