A guy at work rides an SV650. He really wants an R6, but he’s only been riding for three months. He’s going to wait a while before getting a sportbike.
As I said, I started out on Enduros. (Well, dad’s ancient '64 Yamaha 80; but it was set up as a dirt bike.) Back then, they were two-strokes. They could be quick, as my sister found out (on my 250! :mad: ), but they’re not all that fast and they’re light. After the Enduros I rode a '79 Honda CX500 I bought for a dollar. It was a small tourer, and kind of reminded me of Honda’s answer to the Moto Guzzi with its cylinders sticking out the sides. Then I got the Seca II, 60cc standard. Lighter, faster and quicker than the Honda. Different riding experience.
The Seca II would be an excellent ‘first bike’, IMO. The biggest problem with it was that it took forever to warm up. But it was perfect for the kind of riding I did. Comfortable enough to ride for hundreds of miles in a day, 50+ mpg, nice looking, and just the right size. Not especially fast (125 mph, maximum), but you don’t need it to be when you’re starting out. Used ones can be had cheaply. Mine has 80,000 miles on it. Needs a tune-up, but it’s still going.
I’ve never ridden a Suzuki 600 Bandit, but I’ve heard it’s a better bike than the Seca II. I remember how the bike magazines gushed about the Seca II. When the Bandit was introduced, suddenly the Seca II was crap. (Oh, those advertising dollars!) Anyway, all reports say it’s a good bike. Being a Yamaha Man, I haven’t followed Suzuki’s product line. It seems to me (and I could be wrong) that the SV650 is the Bandit’s successor.
Speaking of Suzukis, the’s the GS500. I rode a coworker’s around 1991. I was on the Honda at the time, and I found the GS500E to be a sprightly bike with good brakes. In retrospect, I’d say it’s comparable to the Seca II but with a slightly more aggressive riding position. I think a used one would make a reasonable choice for a first bike. Sporty, but not overpowered. I wouldn’t mind having one in my stable just for fun.
Just to review the types:
[ul][li]Standards. Upright riding position, inexpensive, easy to ride, adequate power for most situations, usually great fuel efficiency. Generally tubular frames, though this has been changing for several years. Good choice for a beginner.[/li][li]Sportbikes. Aggressive crouch riding position, high power-to-weight ratio, excellent handling, gobs of fun. But they tend to be more expensive than standards and they are not as easy to ride. These bikes are designed for people who have some experience. You can get into trouble very, very quickly on them. A poor choice for a beginner.[/li][li]Cruisers. Rather upright to laid-back riding position. A variety of sizes and prices ranging from, say, a Honda 250 Rebel to a full-dress Harley. Not as maneuverable as a sportbike or a standard. They tend to be fairly wide, making them (IMO) less useful in traffic. These are meant for relaxed riding rather than general riding (though plenty of people do use them for such). Smaller Japanese types would be good introductions for the beginner, but they’re not really my style.[/li][li]Tourers. These are Mileage Disposal Units. They’re designed for easy riding over long distances on nice roads. They’re comfortable and easy to ride; but heavy, not especially maneuverable, and I don’t know of any particularly small ones. The Honda CX500 I mentioned was sort of a ‘mini tourer’ that had a bit in common with a standard. A typical touring machine is probably too big for a beginner, though a small one like the CX500 can serve if you can get one cheaply enough.[/li][li]Sport-tourers. These combine much of the comfort of a tourer with much of the performance of a sportbike. You can probably find an older ('80s or '90s) Yamaha FJ1200 fairly cheaply. Probably not the best choice for the beginner, but not something that will be outgrown quickly.[/li][li]Dual-sport. Back in the '70s we called these Enduros. Basically dirt bikes with lights. I haven’t looked at any for years, but the last time I did they seemed to be more of a compromise between trail bikes and street bikes than the Enduros I rode back in the day. Based on the street riding I did on my Enduros, I wouldn’t recommend them for riding in L.A. (I do see several on the freeways though.) Their narrow, often knobby tires make them look a little bit unstable, and IME the grooves on the freeway make them feel a little bit squirrelly. A decent choice though if you live in an area where you will often ride on dirt trails and not so much on the freeway.[/li]Scooters. Most people think of scooters as the typical Vespa-type. Japanese models are cheap and reliable. Excellent fuel efficiency. The 50cc models are great for city riding, but absoultely unsuited for freeways. Larger models (physically larger, and also larger displacement) may be used on the freeway. I’m attracted to the Aprilia Scarabeo 50, which has larger wheels than the stereotypical scooter. Scooters are a good choice if you never get off of surface streets and don’t ride very far. But I question their overall stability (except for the Scarabeo, which looks more stable to me) and their small size may give you the willies in L.A.-type traffic. Since they are different from motorcycles, I’d consider them poor choices if you want to ride a motorcycle.[/ul]