Best small motorcycle?

I agree with pk about buying used. I came THIS >< CLOSE to buying a '99 450 Nighthawk with just a few thousand miles last year because the dealer–DEALER!–was only asking two grand. I have short legs and I fit fine. Not knowing how to ride and the realization that Wife would kill me stopped me.

If you’re interested, there’s a FAQ and a mailing list out there for short riders. I don’t know how active they are, but when I used to read the motorcycle newsgroups I’d see posts from them fairly regularly.

Here’s the page:

The mailing list info is on the page.

Except in passing, anyway.

If you like the whole sportbike look, it’s hard to beat the Kawasaki EX-250, aka Baby Ninja. 250s have a reputation for being slow. Well, I think the EX-250 is the exception. I personally had my EX-250 up to 110MPH. Took about 3/4 of a mile of straight road to get it there, but it will get there no problem. Top speed is supposed to be 115-120.

Yes, you will get blown around on the highways. Yes, it will take forever to pass anyone at 75 MPH. But you can ride it on the freeway provided you understand and deal with those limitations. And at any speed under about 50, it’s quick as heck. It does 0-60 in 5.5 seconds, which is better than almost any car you’ll encounter. If you go up against a Corvette or Porsche, you’ll lose. Pretty much everything else you’ll be faster than on an EX-250.

It’s light as heck, cheap even if you buy a new one - and I always recommend used for a first bike, which will make it even cheaper. It’s light enough so I can pick up one end. Now I am 6’ tall, but I’m skinny. I never had any problem getting it back up when I tipped it over.

The only downside to the EX-250 is the same as any sportbike. If (or more likely, when) you tip it over, the
plastic fairing on the outside will cost a LOT to fix. There are two ways to deal with this. First is just accept that you’re going to have some scratches and scrapes on the fairing. This is a lot easier to swallow if your bike is used, another reason to buy used. The other option is to buy a bike without fairings. Some people say to take the fairings off while you’re learning to ride. This is okay if you’ll never ride the bike in the rain. The wiring inside the fairings is not generally waterproofed, though.
Oh, yeah, last thing. If you live in a place where it snows a lot, I do not recommend a motorcycle as your only mode of transportation. I would not ride a motorcycle any time there is snow or ice on the roads. You can get away with it, but I prefer not to tempt fate.

Well, to be fair to the Seca, there’s a reason that my wife thinks its too tall. When she was learning to ride (on my bike, pre her GS), she was doing slow-speed driveway stuff, and got into one of those awkward bars all the way over and bike not straight up and down situations, lost it, and had the bike fall over (vvveeerrrryyy sllloowwwlly). FTR, I did make sure she was okay before I checked on the bike.

Since then, she’s only been interested in bikes that allow her to stand flat-footed, at least when wearing boots.

Oh, I wanted one of those (or the 250 interceptor) when I was younger. They must be a lot of fun in tight canyons. Are they still made?

Great advice, thanks! And thanks for the list, Ninja. I haven’t seen it in person, but I’m looking at a picture here of a Kawasaki W650 and it’s pretty gorgeous. Kind of retro looking. Weighs 434 lbs. I think I’m gonna take the course then look at used bikes. I probably shouldn’t go over $2000, anyway.

I have been riding for thirty some years. I started in the dirt on moto-cross bikes. I still ride moto-cross and have had several street bikes.
Based on my experience, I would HIGHLY recommend that you NOT get a motorcycle. They are dangerous to ride around the tunnel sighted public.
That said, the Harley-Davidson 883 is a good learner bike. It has very good balance and turns like a bicycle. The sport-ier bikes must be leaned in order to turn. So avoid the baby Ninja. In addition, the 883 will not over power you as a beginner and you will not out grow the power too quickly. Harley’s hold their value unlike Japanese and most European bikes. Lastly, with a Harley you get an immediate “Family” of people and events with a complete history.
P.S. The fastest accelerating mass produced street bike is NOT an import.

[[Lastly, with a Harley you get an immediate “Family” of people and events with a complete history.]]

On the highway I see those big groups of free spirited guys in matching outfits on their Harleys and I imagine them calling each other the night before like my nine year old daughter does, “Are you gonna wear your jean vest with the logo tomorrow? What color bandana are you gonna wear?”

I would like you to know that I am exercising the utmost restraint and am not posting any comments about gay motorcycle clubs. :wink:

My guess is that gay motorcycle clubs would have more sense than to all wear matching outfits.

Newbie here, that just has to know…what is the fastest accelerating mass produced street bike (not that it has any bearing on this thread)?

Jill, I’m sure you meant it in jest, but for what’s worth, the Harley Owners Group is really a fun organization. We (meaning I’m a member) do lots of charity work, organized rides, and group activities. No one calls each other to check wardrobe, as far as I’m aware.

Good luck with your bike choice and ride safely!


Yes, I was joking and meant offense to no one. Sorry if I did offend! I make fun of everybody, though not always (in this case) to their faces. - Jill

bashere sez:
Oh, I wanted one of those (or the 250 interceptor) when I was younger. They must be a lot of fun in tight canyons.

Tremendously. I’ve managed to loose less experienced riders on R1s in the tightest stuff. (More because I know the road and they don’t, but still…)

Are they still made?

Yup. They had to raise the price from $2999 to $3299
recently due to exchange rates, but they are still quite
alive and well. They sell too consistently for them to consider retiring the model.

My first bike was an '89 Kawasaki EX500. It’s a fun and sporty little bike, and also very versatile. The small engine produces more than adequate power for a new rider, it’s not overpowering and it gives you something to grow into. At the same time, it is a simple design, so I was able to do most of my own maintenance. The riding position is moderately sporty, but still very comfortable. I found the bike to be perfectly capable for sporty riding, solo touring, and daily commuting. I’d probably still own it if it hadn’t been stolen.


Now I own a '96 Suzuki Bandit 600. Don’t believe anybody who tells you to get a large displacement bike, I’ve been riding for seven years, and 600cc is more engine than I need. It’s a decision to make for yourself.

That would be the Suzuki Hayabusa 1300. Apparently Vector is a citizen of Japan.

LOL. I thought for sure it was the Buell B-last, those are wicked fast. :slight_smile:

Of course, the Bandit is a clone of the Yamaha Seca II that came out earlier! :wink:

Personally I want more power than my '94 Seca II delivers. But I’ve been riding since I was six, and I just feel the need for speed. But 600cc is perfect for the kind of riding I usually do – commuting. I can easily keep up with (or more correctly, pass) traffic and cruise at 80mph. (I’ve had the Seca II up to 125, but 120 was more comfortable. There’s a story behind that, that I’ve posted elsewhere. :wink: ) The standard-class layout is, if not as comfortable as a cruiser, adequate for trips as far as San Diego, Lake Havasu, Las Vegas and San Francisco. 600cc engines don’t drink a lot of fuel, and the bikes are cheap to insure and cheap to buy.

I think 600cc would be a good choice. But the 250cc is also a good choice for learning on.

Huh?!? how do you turn your bike then if you DON’T lean it? ok going slow, under 10mph you can just turn it but above that you have to lean.

Also based on my experience NO ONE should be on the road period, yes motorcycling is more dangerous than a car, but a good amount of injuries can be kept to a minimum by wearing good equipment and taking classes.

As for the “family” I own a Kawasaki Concours that has a big “family”, not as big as HOG but there is still lots of good people there.

As for the OP I’m gonna make the same suggestion as I always do, pick up the Idiots Guuide to Motorcycling. It lists a good amount of bikes with pictures and says if it’s a good beginners bike or not. it also has a section on best buy bikes. A 250 is ok, but most do not have a lot of power, you can ride them on the highway but some do not get above 65-70mph. A nijia 250 will do over 100, acording to Kawi so will do well. Cruisers tend to sit lower so you might be good with one. I"ve had a Honda Shadow 600 for three years and women as short as 5’1" or so have tried to ride it.


Actually the fastest **accelerating **…street bike is the Honda CBR 929RR 10.28 @ 135 M.P.H. in the 1/4 mile the Hayabusa comes in at 10.34 @ 140 M.P.H. the 'busa is still the top speed king though.

[[As for the OP I’m gonna make the same suggestion as I always do, pick up the Idiots Guuide to Motorcycling.]]

I’ve got that. Lots of good info., but unfortunately the part of motorcycle models is now somewhat outdated. A lot of those bikes aren’t even made anymore!

Didn’t one of the bike mags actually manage to run a quarter mile on a stock bike at just under 10 seconds a year or two back? Literally at 9.98 or so, with some test rider that weighs all of 80 pounds soaking wet that managed to hit the launch perfectly on a cool day with the wind at his back. Can’t remember the bike, though, maybe a GSXR-1300 or something.

Anyway, I agree with the general advice that a 250 is on the small side but more because I think you’ll get tired of it quickly. I’d personally recommend something in the 400-600 range.

My wife had a Honda Shadow 600 that wasn’t bad. And once upon a time Honda made the Rebel in sizes other than the 250 (a 450, I think) that might be worthwhile looking for on the used market.