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Discussion Starter #21
If you are new to bikes in general then I would purchase a small bike, not heavy and one where you sit upright.

It is a bad choice to learn to ride on cafe bikes, sportbikes, big bikes and heavy crusiers.

I mean you can but it is not ideal.

Why is it bad to learn on a cafe, sportbike, etc., if you don't mind me asking? What small bikes would you suggest make and model wise?
 

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Discussion Starter #22
Never been on a bike?
Buy a used Triumph then.
Just by "A" bike and go riding.
You might be shocked where it all takes you.

Wouldn't a Triumph be too expensive because it is a sought after bike used or otherwise? I don't know which is why I'm asking. What would be the benefits of buying a Triumph instead of something like a Honda?
 

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Why is it bad to learn on a cafe, sportbike, etc., if you don't mind me asking? What small bikes would you suggest make and model wise?
Because they are to focused on performance, and not just learning to ride.
Also, I think a small bike is a bad idea.

Wouldn't a Triumph be too expensive because it is a sought after bike used or otherwise? I don't know which is why I'm asking. What would be the benefits of buying a Triumph instead of something like a Honda?
You dont want anything that falls under the banner of "sought after". Just find a basic motorcycle and learn to ride. Go out and actually do things with said motorcycle in the real world. You might find one aspect of riding appeals more to you then others. You will also find that each motorcycle is a tool to do a job. The job you need to do is just ride.

I would get all ideas of modifying, building, changing or "making it your own" out of you head for a long time.
Cant say that any vintage bike is a good idea either at this point.

You want a Ninja 250 or something.
 

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Why is it bad to learn on a cafe, sportbike, etc., if you don't mind me asking? What small bikes would you suggest make and model wise?
The biggest reason cafe bikes and sportbikes are not ideal is the riding position........it does not lend itself properly to new riders. Sportbikes have a shorter wheelbase which makes slow tight stuff for a beginner rider difficult. Couple that with the aggressive riding position and a powerful motor and you have a recipe for problems.

The rebels are inexpensive, easy to work on, more apt for a beginner and will give you real world riding experience with less risk.
 

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Most of us learned to ride when we were young and off road. I started on a Honda MR 50 because my father wanted me to learn on a small machine so I could learn good riding skills.

If you start on the street smaller, upright position, low seat height and lightweight is what you should seek. Once you learn and aquire skills you can move up or whatever......you might find you like another style.

As far as building a cafe your skills will be fine. You will learn as you go and from your mistakes and you will learn from the wealth of information found here. Plus you are already enrolled in two of the best institutions for information YTU and GU. (youtube university and Google university).
 

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my standard reply -below most applies here too (ignore the cruiser comment).

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My recommendation - if this is the 1st bike:
Ninja 250.
Seriously. But as you are in LA a dual sport is a serious contender (drz400, dr350 etc., DRZ is the most true dirt bike of the common dual sports - besides KTMs, DR 350 would be a great option if you are not a big guy, BMW 650 or DR650 also if you are bigger). You have tremendous deserts and mountains to discover on a dual sport in LA area.
If not dual sport a ninja 250 or ninja 500 or gs500

do you have any experience? how big are you? how much money are you willing to spend (lose).

If you have very little or no experience I would man up and and accept that you will need smaller and maybe not so cool short term bike. Reasons are listed here:

1. You will learn faster on small bike. Really. Were you to spend 1st 1000-2000 miles on small bike you will be better rider at 5000 miles than if you went straight for a big bike. I use miles instead of months as there are a lot of "riders" who have ridden twice a year for 5 years. Small bike is easier to handle in parking lots, easier to pick up when you drop it, less intimidating generally. Its much better to learn on a bike where you quickly feel like the master. Real learning starts only after that actually.(added now: This Ninja thing will be just a phase, but it will teach you a lot, about riding and your own taste etc. trust me you will have a blast on it. After this phase you are SO MUCH MORE educated to buy a bike of your dreams or one that is a step towards that).

2. Cheap common bikes (ninja 250, rebel 250 or other smaller starter bikes) hold their value great. You can buy a 2500$ ninja 250, put 2000 miles on it and sell it after 10 months and only lose 0-300$ on depreciation. Parts are cheap too should something break.

3. You are likely to drop your bike. If its used older beater its no drama and less $$ to learn the hard way.

4. As a new rider (especially if younger) insurance costs a lot (like a big chunk of the bikes value). When you buy a 2000-3000$ bike you don't need full coverage and adding scratch is not going to ruin its value.

I would consider a more neutral bike (so called standard) as they are good to learn on. Once you have put some miles you are much better educated on what kind of riding you actually enjoy. Maybe more of a tourer is your thing, or you fall in love with having more speed and control, or maybe back roads are calling for dual sporting (gravel road oriented bikes).
Don't let other peoples ideas dictate you into (or away for that matter) any particular style of biking. Get a bike, ride and decide for yourself. (ADDED NOW: ITS ALL FUN - don't worry about looking cool, your smile will add to your charm and ANY bike is cool + in Cali you have canyons, desert camping, sun through the year, lanesplitting allowed...)
But again read my list esp. #1 is true - we have seen the fools with giant Harleys struggling with the weight and being visibly uncomfortable - or the sports bike guy who slams on gas on straight but can't take a corner at all in fear of all the power. (Added now: or the guy who buys vintage bike for the looks but ha no clue of how to wrench/has no time/place and the bike either sits or is a hole to pour money into)

You will learn faster on a small bike. Trust me. Then if you ride quite a bit you might be ready to switch to your dream bike in half a year or maybe even sooner - but do the start right.

bikes:
Buell Blast, Honda Rebel 250, Ninja 250 , etc. Dual sports are a serious option, they drop well, in CA you have tons of fun places to discover - check advrider.com to find local buddies to ride with. If you insist on more power honda hawk nt 650 or suzuki sv650, gs500, ninja 500.

Last:
You need good gear. Search discussion here but full face helmet is a must. Chicks will not see you smile when you wear it but its better to have a jaw to smile with once you get to the bar. Boots, and gloves are also a must. (not just sturdy random boots - actual riding boots). Pants would be too but they are the least practical of the main gear (at work etc.).
 

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IN MY OPINION (and I've said it before) There is NO "wrong" choice, there are only 'better' or 'worse' choices, relative to whatever options are realistically within one's reach (as far as finances, and abilities).

You can find a very nice "Oil In Frame" (OIF) Triumph, in good running condition, with title, and turn it into a very nice cafe racer with an unbelievably minimal expenditure of funds and time. Depending on your geographical location, you may have to shell out $500 - $650 to ship one cross-country if there isn't one reasonably close by.

I will take this opportunity to put MOST of the nay-sayers' arguments to rest: Classic Triumphs are no more of a challenge to first-timers as ANY other brand/model. You WON'T win an argument with me on this topic, I've been at it for 35+ years, and I can state my case with some authority, having talked MANY first-timers through VERY successful Classic Triumph projects.

The best thing is, OIF Triumphs are still a bargain in the marketplace ALMOST everywhere.

A few simple Whitworth tools for the earlier models, and a few web addresses of the MANY reputable parts stockists located all over the country, and you are on your way.
 

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And OIL Triumph is not a difficult build........ old school feel.

I thought about what kerosene said and considered dual sport as well. Honda makes a nice 250 dual sport. You live in the L.A. area and me in the San Diego area. We have the whole Mojave basin to learn and have fun on.....both on road and off. That's were I learned


The only reason I still believe the Rebel is good is because you like cafe, you are 5'6" and you are a beginner. My oldest son is 5'7" and he tip toes on one side on my DR650. I would be a negligent father if I told him to learn on the DR.......just my opinion.
 

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Take a look around for one of those Yamahas with the big fat tires!
Dual sports are fun
 

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Discussion Starter #31
Wow you guys have given me a lot to think about. I've already started looking up Honda Rebel, some Kawasaki DRs, and Ninjas. I think that will keep me busy for a bit but I will definitely have more questions as I research more about these machines.
 

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Forget the Rebel. Too slow, too small.

If your legs are long enough a DRZ400 would be a good learner bike. Fast enough to get out of the way of cars on the superslab, and a great bulletproof motor. It would need real 80% road / 20% dirt use tires to be truly safe on urban streets.

Small Ninjas are good bikes, but you'd probably learn more about riding on a DRZ for a while.

I still think your best first road style bike would be a naked GS500E. Cheap as shit to run, too.

Danger, is my business."
 

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Forget the Rebel. Too slow, too small.

If your legs are long enough a DRZ400 would be a good learner bike. Fast enough to get out of the way of cars on the superslab, and a great bulletproof motor.
A GS is good but a safer bet is the rebel......especially to someone new.

The DRZ400? A new rider that is 5'6" on a 35 inch seat height bike learning to ride commuting in L.A? Yeah.....stick to the rebel for your well beings sake.
 

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A GS is good but a safer bet is the rebel......especially to someone new.

The DRZ400? A new rider that is 5'6" on a 35 inch seat height bike learning to ride commuting in L.A? Yeah.....stick to the rebel for your well beings sake.
You might be right. At least he'll learn how to change gears quick and rev the hell out of the motor keeping Suburbans of his tail.

Danger, is my business."
 

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Take a look around for one of those Yamahas with the big fat tires!
Dual sports are fun
Yamha tw200?
The thing is that in LA is you are 99% locked in if you can't go on freeways and with the low performance 200cc it would be a definite no-go. DRZ400 is a great pick as would probably be dr350 also (the latter being again on the small side as its air cooled and not that powerful).

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Take a look around for one of those Yamahas with the big fat tires!
Dual sports are fun
Yamha tw200?
The thing is that in LA is you are 99% locked in if you can't go on freeways and with the low performance 200cc it would be a definite no-go. DRZ400 is a great pick as would probably be dr350 also (the latter being again on the small side as its air cooled and not that powerful).
 

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I guess the 200 would be on the small side.

like I said, small bikes are not the best to learn on.
you want a bike that you can do anything on. If the bike is to small for the highway then you will never do that, or if you do it will suck and turn you off to it.
 

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I guess the 200 would be on the small side.

like I said, small bikes are not the best to learn on.
you want a bike that you can do anything on. If the bike is to small for the highway then you will never do that, or if you do it will suck and turn you off to it.
and that is one of the bad things about the rebel.......freeway speeds. You can go on the freeway, just pace yourself. But I am still in the rebel camp only for your safety.
 

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I am not in the rebel camp because the riding position sucks. you can get a nighthawk with the same mechanicals and a better riding position, plus it actually handles. Actually you can find an early 2000s nighthawk 750 that you can pretty much use to go anywhere as a street bike and usually they are $1500 or less in the most minty of shape. They make crappy project bikes but your first bike should be a disposable UJM with solid mechanicals and the ability to outstop and out accelerate a Honda odyssey mini-van.
 

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Discussion Starter #39
and that is one of the bad things about the rebel.......freeway speeds. You can go on the freeway, just pace yourself. But I am still in the rebel camp only for your safety.
I see that you're leaning more towards the rebel and you make some good points about it but is there any way to lower the height for the DRs or DRZs? I've noticed that one of the main points used against the dual sports are that they sit too high for someone of my height.
 

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Discussion Starter #40
Also as a general question: How much does a DR350, DRZ400, or Rebel cost to get a used one that's in pretty good condition?
 
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