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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
After a lot of digging through this and other internet Biking resources as well as conversations with experienced Riders, I've decided to take a Beginners MSF course after my upcoming re-location to Las Vegas. My heart is set on a Sportbike and I've narrowed my options down to two Bikes which fit a $4000 cash budget:

'09 Ninja 250r or '04-'06 SV650

I'm 5' 10", 135lbs, and confident in my ability to ride responsibly after the proper training & gear has been established. It will be my primary mode of transportation for at least 1 year, making occasional 3 1/2 hour trips to Los Angeles & the twisties of the southern California coast line. I definitely see track days in my future as well. That being said:

My Debate

The 250cc vs. 650cc issue is of less importance to me than their comparable differences in Usability and Cost Effectiveness. The Ninja is new, under warranty, and should theoretically be less costly to maintain during the first year of ownership and wouldn't present the risk of purchasing a mistreated bike with damage or wear that as a novice rider I'd be unable to detect or repair.

The SV in my opinion although it has enough power to scare (and injure) me, it sounds better, looks better, and I'll eventually be able to grow into it's performance envelope on future track days. Plus its Cool, unlike the 250.

There are many other aspects taken into consideration but my primary concern with a seasoned SV650 are its foreseeable & unforeseeable maintenance requirements in the short & long term as a daily commuter. My only concern related to choosing the Kawasaki are possible inadequate/boring power at moderate revs on the freeway (i don't want a bike that I have to rail on all of the time)

My Question

HP vs. Experience implications aside, should I start with in small shoe then replace it or buy a half size too big and grow into it? Either way im on a small budget. I'd appreciate any new perspective you Guys & Girls have time to throw my way. Thanks!
 

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I started with a GS500e, then after a few years hiatus, bought my SV. So I generally like the "start small" doctrine.

I don't think starting with the SV would be a bad idea, but it's definitely easier to learn on a smaller bike. you can make more mistakes with less consequences and all that.

I don't think the SV would be bad to maintain, just read the FAQ thread about what to look for buying a used bike, and you can find a good one.

However...I still bet the 250 would be a blast to ride, especially to commute. maybe not so much fun on the highway, but 75 mph is plenty (don't they max out around 80 or something?)

I don't really think you can go wrong either way. sit on both, test ride if you can. see what you can get cheaper, and make a decision.
 

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After a lot of digging through this and other internet Biking resources as well as conversations with experienced Riders, I've decided to take a Beginners MSF course after my upcoming re-location to Las Vegas. My heart is set on a Sportbike and I've narrowed my options down to two Bikes which fit a $4000 cash budget:

'09 Ninja 250r or '04-'06 SV650

I'm 5' 10", 135lbs, and confident in my ability to ride responsibly after the proper training & gear has been established. With this said buy whatever bike you want. I feel that if you are confident on a zx-14 then get that. I see no need to start on a bike that you will grow out of in a year if you are a responsible and compitent driver.It will be my primary mode of transportation for at least 1 year, making occasional 3 1/2 hour trips to Los Angeles & the twisties of the southern California coast line. I definitely see track days in my future as well. That being said:

My Debate

The 250cc vs. 650cc issue is of less importance to me than their comparable differences in Usability and Cost Effectiveness. The Ninja is new, under warranty, and should theoretically be less costly to maintain during the first year of ownership and wouldn't present the risk of purchasing a mistreated bike It is easy to determine if a bike has been mistreated. DOn't automaticaly assume that a used bike will be mistreated. Mine was a 5 year old gem when I bought itwith damage or wear that as a novice rider I'd be unable to detect or repair.Just check for the obvious things (stratches dents, dings). If it has alot of aftermarket it has a better chance of being pushed hard. Try a carfax history report

The SV in my opinion although it has enough power to scare (and injure) me, it sounds better, looks better, and I'll eventually be able to grow into it's performance envolope on future track days. Plus its Cool, unlike the 250.Now your talking

There are many other aspects taken into consideration but my primary concern with a seasoned SV650 are its foreseeable & unforeseeable maintenance requirements The SV is a tried and true motorcycle with little maintannece issues.in the short & long term as a daily commuter. My only concern related to choosing the Kawasaki are possible inadequate/boring power at moderate revs on the freeway (i dont want a bike that I have to rail on the time)Dont buy a 250 then.

My Question

HP vs. Experience implications aside, should I start with in small shoe then replace it or buy a half size too big and grow into it? Either way im on a small budget. I'd appreciate any new perspective you Guys & Girls have time to throw my way. Thanks!
My opinion would be to buy the sv650, after taking the safety course and buying the proper gear. Then you need to take it easy for a while until you build your skills and comfort with the bike.

On the maintenance side, buy a manual and some basic tools. You common maintenance items are a no brainer to fix. If you have any problems more that your typical maintenance, realize that sh1t happens and take it to a shop.

Hope this helps.
 

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I'd take option "C", which would be to buy a used Ninja 250 that's just a couple of years old and in good shape. An '05-'07 with less than 3000 miles, maybe with some scuffs from a parking lot tipover would be perfect. Cost should be in the $2000-$2400 range, a lot less than the new Ninja. Ride it for a year and then sell it for very close to what you paid for it.
 

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I agree with option "C" especially if it is your first time riding. I rode an old Yamaha RD350 for years before getting an SV. I realized I felt much more confident on the bike than other recent bikers.
 

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My heart is set on a Sportbike and I've narrowed my options down to two Bikes which fit a $4000 cash budget:

'09 Ninja 250r or '04-'06 SV650

I'm 5' 10", 135lbs, and confident in my ability to ride responsibly after the proper training & gear has been established. It will be my primary mode of transportation for at least 1 year, making occasional 3 1/2 hour trips to Los Angeles & the twisties of the southern California coast line. I definitely see track days in my future as well. That being said:


The SV in my opinion although it has enough power to scare (and injure) me, it sounds better, looks better, and I'll eventually be able to grow into it's performance envolope on future track days. Plus its Cool, unlike the 250.

I'd appreciate any new perspective you Guys & Girls have time to throw my way. Thanks!
What neemeth said. IMHO the Ninja 250 is very uncomfortable and buzzy, but regarding the cost, there are usually lots of used Ninja 250's around because it is a true beginner bike so you can probably find a good, low mileage used one for a lot less than a good used SV. However, the SV, especially the naked version (most people find its riding position more comfortable for daily commuting than the S version), will be MUCH better overall for what you want to do and it is a bike that you might just want to keep forever, even if you succumb to the gotta have a fully faired race replica fever later on.
 

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You're at the exact predicament I was a year ago. :) I had these questions, then did a couple butt-loads of research about motorcycles and motorcycle safety.

250-500cc standard bikes don't have a ton of torque, nor do they feel as stiff as a larger bike, and weight comes in to play significantly for newbies, who are just now getting used to getting to speed and slowing down on two wheels. To compare, the 250 felt like a heavy bicycle, the GS500 felt like a jet ski with two wheels- I'm 6'2'' and 155 lbs to put it in perspective.

A 650 v-twin is very twitchy, the SV is known for how on/off the throttle can operate. Take a turn and hit a bump with inexperienced hands, and you can easily spin the motor up another three grand, which can spit you off, or stand you up out of your lean angle. Right in front of something coming your way. Feel me?

The day I bought my SV after only having three months experience on a GS500- the moment I mounted it and went down the road I was pretty scared, it was nothing like my GS. At the time, I had been a daily rider with a couple thousand of miles under my belt, and even doing things that were automatic for me to do with the GS was now getting hazy with how distracting the edgier performance is. A 600i4 wouldn't have been as "abrupt" from the GS as I found out later as I rode other bikes- like an r6, but the handling on that is a different beast altogether.

It comes down to what is more sensible to you while dealing with a world full of cars always trying to kill you every time you get on the saddle: something you can grow into and develop life saving habits, or something you have to deal with as well as you begin your tenure as a motorcyclist?
 

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I say take the msf couse then get the sv or gs500 I own all three and the 250 is too buzzy for freeway commuting. The gs500 is under powered for its weight but handles well for what it is. You would need to step up within 6 months if you got the 250 especialy if you commute on freeways. Check out gstwins.com to get some info on the gs.
 

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I'd take option "C", which would be to buy a used Ninja 250 that's just a couple of years old and in good shape. An '05-'07 with less than 3000 miles, maybe with some scuffs from a parking lot tipover would be perfect. Cost should be in the $2000-$2400 range, a lot less than the new Ninja. Ride it for a year and then sell it for very close to what you paid for it.
+1
 

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+2 for Option C

I would also propose Option "D" which is split the difference between the 250R and SV650 and get a Used GS500E, or GS500F/Ninja 500R if you like the plastics. Keep it for a year, and when the bike is holding YOU back, rather than the rider holding the bike back, you'll know.

I've ridden the Ninja250R and found it quite comfortable for commuting and Even Canyon riding and I'm 6'2" and 240! (but at my weight, it was undersprung/underdamped).

I also owned a GS500E. Nice bump in power compared to the 250, but still light and lots of fun. I did track days with my GS and had an awesome time. I was usually able to out brake and out corner the heavier 900's and 1000's. They would kill me on the straight sections, but could usually reel them in the corners and occasionally pass em leaned over.

I would agree with what others have said about the 650. The throttle is a tad abrupt, and that can cause problems for a beginning rider. The 250/500 are much more forgiving.

P.S Ninja 500R is another option if you don't like the GS500E, but for some reason, they seem to be harder to find than GS's.
 

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The gs500 is under powered for its weight but handles well for what it is.
I beg to differ. Even as a SOHC parallel twin, it destroys alot of cars in 1-60 times, and is a common track bike across the pond. If I had given mine a full exhaust, honestly I would have never bought an SV until much, much later.
 

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I'd say go for a used GS500 or EX500 (ninja). I started on a GS500 and the comments about the weight are spot on. The GS500 is a lot like the SV without the power, and if you buy used you can sell it for almost exactly what you paid for it. I think it's much better practice for bigger bikes than a 250.

The only mistake I made is that I bought my gs500 new so I took a hit when I went to the SV650. Don't take the easy way out, just hit craigslist or your local classifieds and try to find a clean bike that hasn't been down hard. All of these bikes are fairly bullet proof, and I'd bet you can find a low mileage GS500 pretty easily.

Also, the 250 is Cool. Really good little bike.
 

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I just want to say how much I loved my GS500. it was a ton of fun. I bought it used with GSXR forks and some modified rear shock, it was a blast. I went down on it, and then when I sold it, it still sold for what I paid for it.

definitely a bargain.

Now I want to get one for the wife :)
there is a used one near me for $1700 in decent shape. I believe it is a '97, with like 14k miles on it.
 

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The skills you learn on a smaller bike will last you a lifetime. With a bike like the SV, it has all the power (and more) than you need as a beginner rider. You don't learn the finess of keeping it the power band, gearing properly for corners etc like you can with a smaller ride.

Unless you take it to the track you will never find the limits of your SV. In the space of a year you will find the limits of the 250.

Don't get me wrong, you could probably handle the SV as a first bike. But the skills you will learn on the ninja will be more valuable. Look at the bike schools they put the US military forces through- the instructors hop on 250s and school the troops on their 600s and literbikes just to show them how precision>power.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
I can digg it! Thanks for your time, I appreciate all of this positive input.

chupacabrah: I started with a GS500e, then after a few years hiatus, bought my SV. So I generally like the "start small" doctrine.

Random00: I would also propose Option "D" which is split the difference between the 250R and SV650 and get a Used GS500E, or GS500F/Ninja 500R...Keep it for a year, and when the bike is holding YOU back, rather than the rider holding the bike back, you'll know.

The Kamen Rider: It comes down to what is more sensible to you while dealing with a world full of cars always trying to kill you every time you get on the saddle: something you can grow into and develop life saving habits, or something you have to deal with as well as you begin your tenure as a motorcyclist?
The conservative, perhaps sensible side of me nods in favor of starting small, however the price-performance value between the GS500 & Ninja 500 vs. SV650's of the same age hardly seem proportionate; the 650 has higher level specs at virtually the same price. My new logic here is why buy a bike I'm positive I'll quickly replace, at that same price as one I'll likely retain? In this light, a brand new Ninja 250r at the same price would be retarded. I like the idea of a used 250 as RichDesmond pointed out. Brilliant. Random00 put it nicely as well.

neemeth: ... I see no need to start on a bike that you will grow out of in a year if you are a responsible and compitent driver... My opinion would be to buy the sv650, after taking the safety course and buying the proper gear. Then you need to take it easy for a while until you build your skills and comfort with the bike.
My budget conscious, Boy-Racer-Wanna-Be side says buy a half size too big. get an 03-05 SV below 4 grand, accept the risks involved with learning on a less forgiving bike and just ride like a Grandpa. I'll save myself money by purchasing one bike within 2 years as apposed to two. Whether or not the savings justify the risk and slower learning curve (as Mezzoberanen & many others have spoken about on SVrider), I have yet to determine for myself. Once I absorb all of the MSF instruction and test ride a couple Motorcycles I'm sure I'll have a much easier time deciding.
 

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For the occasional trips to So Cal, you are better off with a bike later than a 250 because of the cross wind. If you think a SV650 have too much power, a 500cc would be the perfect choice.

I learnt to ride with a ninja 500R and she was a great bike. She was very easy to ride and have plenty of horsepower. The engine is bullet proof and the parts are easy to get. The parallel twin have enough low end torque. She can be ridden hard and on the high way without breaking a sweat.

I rode a Ninja 250 a few times, and they are the perfect for riding in the city and short highway ride. They also make great track bikes.
 

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I'd take option "C", which would be to buy a used Ninja 250 that's just a couple of years old and in good shape. An '05-'07 with less than 3000 miles, maybe with some scuffs from a parking lot tipover would be perfect. Cost should be in the $2000-$2400 range, a lot less than the new Ninja. Ride it for a year and then sell it for very close to what you paid for it.
Exactly what I did, except i sold my 250 for more than I paid for it! Then got an 07 SV650 and was glad I rode the 250 for a year.
 

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My budget conscious, Boy-Racer-Wanna-Be side says buy a half size too big. get an 03-05 SV below 4 grand, accept the risks involved with learning on a less forgiving bike and just ride like a Grandpa.
Three things wrong with that:

1.You'll take longer, if ever, to develop skills beyond your medium pace of riding. There's going to be plenty of times where you'll have no choice but to turn it up a notch to save your hide, problem is you wouldn't know how much is too much for you and the bike for a loooooooooong time.

2.I know a guy that's 68 years old that tears around on a GS500F (that I sold to him), he can out ride me, on my own old bike that I "outgrew". He is a great-grandpa riding since my age.

3.There is such thing as riding too defensively, if you're consumed with trying to keep it under control, you may not be a grandpa yourself one day.
 

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My SV was (and is) my first bike (bought last October). I think the only saving grace for me was YEARS of bicycle racing (and road riding), so I didn't have to develop the "bike radar" at the same time as learning to ride a motorcycle. The choppy throttle, shifting and such, have gotten me into tight situations (fortunately not involving any other vehicles so far). I got the SV because (1) I had some irrational fear of carbs, thinking that they'd be some kind of weekly time-sink of maintenance, and (2) I let my wife convince me that we'd be taking some road trips this summer. Well, so far she's going to be taking her MSF course for the second time two weeks from now, and seems to be afraid to ride her Boulevard C50 (weighs a TON compared to my SV). Yeah, she wouldn't listen to me...

Anyway... If I had it all to do again, I'd probably go with something like the GS500 or the Ninja 500, or maybe even the Ninja 250. I rode a Nighthawk 250 in the MSF class, and that thing was SO much easier to control.

A new Ninja 250 is going to cost the same (or more) than a 2006 or so SV650. My SVs has been getting north of 55 mpg since I've been tracking it (starting in February) over varied terrain, so the economy of running the bike isn't going to be appreciably different.
 

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If you get a GS500 or Ninja500 you won't be replacing it in the first year. I would probalby say you could easily ride it 3-4 years before you "outgrow" it (depending on how much mileage you put on it, and how fast you learn).

There is also a great joy in skooling riders on newer/faster/bigger bikes and you're riding on a "little" GS500/Ninja500.

Don't fall into the trap in thinking that 3-6 months later that the "little" 500 will be holding you back. Unless you're logging 20,000+ miles a year in the canyons/track, it's not likely. The only place a 500 will hold you back compared to a bigger bike is in a straight line.

The reason I bought a SV650S? I actually DOWNGRADED from a VTR1000F Superhawk (similar to SV1000S) to my SV650. I realized that I rarely used full throttle, and the few times I did, the SV650 was nearly as fast because it was lighter (at sub 100mph speeds anyway). It also handles MUCH better than the much Heavier superchicken (The SH had upgraded forks, ohlins rear shock and more upgrades/mods than you can throw a SV at). It's not all about engine/horsepower/torque.

I would bet good money that you would keep a GS/Ninja 500 for at least 18 months, then sell it for within $750 of what you paid for it.
 
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