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Entry-level road bike for a young man (not me!)


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My son, who's 25, has never ridden and is thinking he likes the Yamaha R6. I think it's too hot a bike for a beginner, but I'm a geezer and what the *&^% do I know anyway?


What would be a good machine for him? (Yeah, I know: a Volvo!) He'd like to take some trips with me this summer.


PS: Doesn't have to be a Beemer....

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How about a nice Sherman tank! grin.gif


I know it's NOT a BMW, but a good beginner not too small and not too big is the Kawasaki EN500. Very reliable and easy to work on and cheap to boot! thumbsup.gif


Best of luck in your hunt.

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Absufrigginglutely not!

But I hope you have better luck with your son than I had with mine....... Luckily, each time he has crashed his first bike(CBR600), he has not hurt himself seriously. It has also taken him a long time to save up the money to fund each repair.

R6 is tougher to ride than most 600cc sportbikes with the peaky motor - not that any of them are easy.

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My feeling is that the R6 (or any Supersport 600) is not a good choice for a new rider.


Sportbikes can be tricky to ride. The pretzel riding position is fantastic on the racetrack, but on the street...not so much. When I was riding my CBR600RR on the street, these were my complaints:

* Can't see anything in the mirrors except my shoulders.

* Handlebars are mounted to the front axle, so the only way to do a head-check in traffic was to lift one arm and actually look backwards under my armpit.

* race-tuned motor makes no power until 12,000rpm.

* At 12,000RPM, things start to happen REAL fast. These bikes are often putting more than 100hp to the ground...and they don't weigh anything.

* At 12,00RPM every cop for 200 miles can hear you

* Sportbikes have terrible low-speed handling and very little lock-to-lock steering.


Honestly, I found it difficult and miserable to ride on the street. The track is a different story...riding one of these Supersport bikes on the track is a whole mess of fun.


The thing you have to understand is that these bikes (R6, CBR600RR, ZX6R, GSXR600) are race bikes. They are built for fiercely competitive production-class racing. They are tremendous bikes in that capacity, but most of the stuff that makes them excell as race bikes makes them terrible street bikes, and very difficult bikes to learn with.


That's not to say he can't learn on an R6, but he's not going to be making it easy on himself.


If he likes the sportbike look, some more friendly choices would be:

EX250 or EX500 Ninja

Suzuki SV650

650 Ninja



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Look into a D/S bike, have him spend a month in the dirt. He will learn a lot & remember, dirt is much softer than pavement. thumbsup.gif



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if its an R6 he wants, then he should get an R6. you said he is 25, he is a man. i'll bet he acts like one too.

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The Suzuki SV650 would be a great bike. The twin cylinder power and handling make this one of the best bikes ever. Read up on some of the reviews.

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My suggestion of a compromise would be a used Ducati Monster 620. Not too much, holds resale value well if he wants to move up to an R6 soon, easy to handle, fun to ride, and yet it's not your typical gutless starter bike.


Just a thought.

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Pennys Dad

I started my son out with a KAW 650r, after heavy research I found it was the horse power and 1st gear take off that most writers comments where geared towards. From my own experience I also found wieght to be very important, the less there is the better.

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The Suzuki SV650 would be a great bike. The twin cylinder power and handling make this one of the best bikes ever. Read up on some of the reviews.


I agree... the SV650 is a great starter bike. Also a naked bike is cheap to fix if it falls over and the wind rush makes 90mph feel like 120 on a spotbike.


I started riding on a CBR600F4i when I was 22. It was a good starter bike because it had room to grow, but I got myself into trouble a few times and rode over my head. I think only reflexes from racing on and off road bicycles kept it upright.

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I agree... the SV650 is a great starter bike.


I third that notion. Smooth ride, not too much sack for a new rider and Givi has all the good stuff to make it a nice short distance tourer should he be so inclined. Not to mention it's awfully reliable and rather inexpensive to fix. thumbsup.gif


I also think, if you want a BMW, that the F650 is a nice choice.

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Doc, my son started riding a little over a year ago and he too wanted either a CBR650RR or an F4i. I started a thread a while back (can't find it now) asking the same question. I got a lot of great recommendations, but the SV650 kept coming up.


Well, he read the thread and decided that he'd give it a try. It wasn't quite a cool as he had hoped for, but he put several thousand miles on the bike in a few months and before redeploying to Iraq, sold it to a friend.


I talked to him a couple of days ago and we were reminising(sp?) about the old 650. Out of the blue, he commented that is was probably the best bike he could have started on.


He's ready to move on to something else, and will be shopping when he gets back. But, I have to agree with him that it's one outstanding bike to start on.

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Welcome back, doc!


Good choices so far. The new Kawasaki Ninja 650R has been getting great press. It's a parallel twin, upright seating position, and not insanely fast. I've ridden my daughter-in-law's: decent handling overall, and lighter and smaller than another daughter-in-law's Suzy 500. Several mags rated it highest over the SV 650 and others for beginners and for mid-level riders.


Best of luck with your family: In addition to my 3 sons, I now have 3 daughters-in-law on their own rides--and a wife slated for the MSF class in June.

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I'll throw in an odd bike. The Buell Blast. The only thing wrong with this single cylinder 500cc bike is he'll probably outgrow it fairly quickly. But that's the good news too. There are a lot of these on the market. My wife just bought one, used of course, and it is a great starter bike. I enjoy riding it I think as much as she does.


There are some down sides. If you need parts, HD is the place to go. Depending on the dealership their knowledge of the Buell line is pretty limited. The other down side is speed. On the highway don't expect much over 80 MPH. Of course that could be a good thing. ;-)



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An R6 is a very poor choice for a first bike, for all the reasons already stated. Best choice is a 650 dual sport - if he is tall enough, a KLR650 would be perfect. Good road manners, great seating position to see and be seen, not enough power to do something totally stupid but enough power to stay ahead of and not get run over by traffic. Cheap to buy, cheap to insure, cheap to operate. When he drops it, no big deal. And a lot of fun to ride. Also look at a Suzuki DR650, better than the KLR if he is height challenged and makes a superb street bike. I took my DR on a blue ridge parkway tour last summer and had a blast.

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Take into account that I'm 28, I've been riding on two wheels since I could walk, but I just came into the Beemer fold 2 years ago. Every street bike I've owned before I got my RT was a "crotch rocket".




My last bike before the RT was a '97 GSXR1100. It was big, heavy, fast, and sometimes scary..........the biggest eye opener is that even though it was an 1100, it couldn't even TOUCH the performance of a 600 that has been built in the last 5 years.


If he is stuck on wanting a crotch rocket.....try and talk him into getting something from the very early '90s. They were much more down to earth. They are still fast, but much more manageable. Not to mention that you should be able to find one for under $2-3K. There are a lot of good options out there.....


early '90s Suzuki Katana 600 (a great bike, I regularly did 300+ mile days on my '93 Katana 750)

any of the Honda CBR600 (F3 or F4 series) are great bikes. I would have to say that they were definitly the most rider friendly and civilized sport bike of that era.

Also, if he is set on Yamahas.......they made a more civilized detuned street bike for a number of years called a YZF600R, also the SECA II's are great bikes.

Any of the Suzuki SV series bikes are great all around bikes as well.

Buell Blasts are fun bikes, but he will outgrow it quickly.

Same can be said for the Kawasaki Ninja 250 and 500s.

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How tall is he.. Tall guys don't do well on sport bikes or an SV 650. Maybe you should have him look at some dual sport bikes.. I had a KLR650 before I got the GS and boy could I truck through some turns with it. I kinda miss that bike. They are fun to ride also..

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KLR 650

Duc Multi 620 or Monster 620


Lil Wee Strom


I love the KLR650 (not so much the newest) and think it'd be a great easy all-around bike, especially for a beginner.

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Since he likes Yamaha, how about an FZ-6. Nice multi-purpose bike from what I've heard. Ergos are OK for sport-touring with you and it still doesn't look like an old man's bike (not that there's anything wrong with that).

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if its an R6 he wants, then he should get an R6. you said he is 25, he is a man. i'll bet he acts like one too.

yeah but if he hasn't ever...then he doesn't understand what a r6 repesents.


i agree with a dual-sport. easy to ride. practice on dthe dirt away from cars and hard pavement. if he drops it no big deal. even if he's outgrown the motor (which he will)to a more powerfull street bike, you still have a dual-sport to enjoy instead of something that must be sold.

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Even though they are a little harder to find, a Suzuki Bandit 600 is a great bike. My son started on that, and also learned to do his own maintenance as it is a fairly easy bike to work on. They are inexpensive, very reliable, and reasonable to insure. The insurance on an R6 or CBR is going to be high.

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SV650. Sporty looking. especially with the optional lowers, won't soon outgrow the available power, bulletproof and cheap to own and insure. I know many people who have started on SV's and can't think of a better all-around first bike.

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A similar thread a while back had good end results with a Seca II.


My 21 year old son is currently riding a '94 Yammi Seca II.

Air cooled,4 cylinder 599cc,low seat height for confidence,very tame throttle,and hey the styling looks cool for a young man.

And "purty comfortable" for a sportbike look.



As I am the primary rider,it was just an additional $70.00 "a year" to have him fully covered on the bike as a second driver/rider.


Buy a simple bike and used,save a ton of $$$ while he gets experience an knowledge.

Bikes of this nature can be found all day long for under 2 grand with lo miles and great shape.

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IF he's set on an R6, don;t get a new one. They have made these bikes TOO aggressive, and too responsive, not as user friendly for the street.


An older '00-'03 R6 would be a good starter bike, if he can keep it under about 7000RPM while still learning. The advantage is that a 600cc sportbike is light, mellow & linear power in the midrange and excellent brakes and front end feel.

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Funny...I got my license last year at the ripe old age of 25 after never having been on anything two wheeled other than a bicycle. I looked at a whole of bikes and after doing all the things that you're supposed to, (taking a course, buying good gear) I ended up buying an '05 Suzuki Bandit 650. As far as a first bike goes this is a pretty good choice. It's not as sporty as the SV650 but it is a more upright riding position and seems to me a very user friendly bike. I have put over 14,000 kms on it in just over a year with some weekend trips (10 hour days!) and had no problems.


It's the bike that has ignited my passion for sport touring and even though I am now in the market for an RT she will always have a place in my heart.


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