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How to Choose a Motorcycle for a Novice?

warder808warder808 Registered User regular
edited March 2012 in Help / Advice Forum
Hi,

I may be getting a raise soon, and I am kicking around the idea of a motorcycle. I never rode one. I have ridden regular bikes a bunch, if that is any help.

Where do I start? I live in NYC, so I would probably use it for commuting and weekend rides.

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  • EshEsh Tending bar. Eating out. Motorcycles. Portland, ORRegistered User regular
    Do you want to learn to work on it as well? I'd get some sort of mid-late 70s Honda, throw some straight bars on it, and have a cool little cafe racer. Easy to work on, parts are everywhere, reliable, fairly inexpensive.

    "At first he thought it might be a natural occurrence - maybe a rabbit. But upon closer inspection, it was clear a knife had been used. And rabbits don't carry knives."

    Final Fantasy XIV:Lilja Sunblade
  • MushroomStickMushroomStick Registered User regular
    Honda and Kawasaki both have pretty nice 250cc bikes that go new for around 4 grand. Get into an MSF course to learn to ride first though. Don't get discouraged if all the slots are filled up in all the classes already - just show up to a full class and most places will lottery off all the spots from the no shows.

  • illigillig Registered User regular
    I would strongly reconsider a motorcycle for NYC. This city is full of ignorant, inattentive, otherwise-occupied, and just plain shitty drivers.

    I drive a bright orange suv here and even I have people not notice me and doing stuff that would kill a biker.

    And one of my coworkers is an MSF instructor and he agrees.

  • warder808warder808 Registered User regular
    edited March 2012
    Wow, that is quite a response. I’ve lived here all my life. I agree for the most part about the shitty drivers. I drive through Manhattan every now and then, and it is bad. I live in Brooklyn and would do most of my riding there.
    I don’t intend on working on the bike. I don’t have the space, and I don’t think Im too handy with that mechanical things.

    Where is a good place to start learning in general about bikes? I don't even know what 250cc means.

    warder808 on
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  • EshEsh Tending bar. Eating out. Motorcycles. Portland, ORRegistered User regular
    warder808 wrote: »
    Wow, that is quite a response. I’ve lived here all my life. I agree for the most part about the shitty drivers. I drive through Manhattan every now and then, and it is bad. I live in Brooklyn and would do most of my riding there.
    I don’t intend on working on the bike. I don’t have the space, and I don’t think Im too handy with that mechanical things.

    Where is a good place to start learning in general about bikes? I don't even know what 250cc means.

    It's the size of the engine. That's on the smaller side, but great for commuting.

    You should at least learn basic maintenance though. What are you looking to spend?

    "At first he thought it might be a natural occurrence - maybe a rabbit. But upon closer inspection, it was clear a knife had been used. And rabbits don't carry knives."

    Final Fantasy XIV:Lilja Sunblade
  • lessthanpilessthanpi Registered User regular
    Basically, the 250 refers to the size of the engine. Technically its the engines displacement which has to do with how the motorcycle burns fuel. As a typical rule, the bigger the number the more powerful the bike is. Don't start with a Sport Bike and don't start above a 250cc engine. You'll likely just get yourself seriously injured/dead.

    Can you drive a stick? That's relevant. If you can't you'll be learning some new tricks, or having to stick with scooters. Scooters are for housewives and little girls. Don't buy a scooter.


    Protips

    1) Buy a helmet. Never ever ride without it. Anyone who tells you not to is a goddamn idiot. Replace it every few years.

    2) Take a MSF course. This is probably the best way to learn the basics.

    3) Get this book for general explanations of the mechanical aspects of bikes:
    http://www.amazon.com/The-Essential-Guide-Motorcycle-Maintenance/dp/1884313418/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1332430781&sr=8-3

    4) I'd look at a Honda Rebel 250. http://powersports.honda.com/2012/rebel.aspx There's very little on the market in terms of small newer bikes. Most of the rest of them are street bikes which are designed basically to be raced and are a wonderful way to wrap yourself around a tree or signpost if you are an inexperienced rider.

  • MushroomStickMushroomStick Registered User regular
    The Honda cbr250 is a good starter too. Its more standard than sport. Also, its fuel injected and that's easier than carbs for a lot of people.

  • warder808warder808 Registered User regular
    edited March 2012
    I am budget minded. Definitely under $5000. I'm 6'3" is there a particular height the seat would have to be?

    I dont drive stick. But Im up for learning. I also dont want to end up dead, so I will take safety extremely seriously.

    warder808 on
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  • EshEsh Tending bar. Eating out. Motorcycles. Portland, ORRegistered User regular
    warder808 wrote: »
    I am budget minded. Definitely under $5000. I'm 6'3" is there a particular height the seat would have to be?

    I dont drive stick. But Im up for learning. I also dont want to end up dead, so I will take safety extremely seriously.

    Wow, you can get what you need for WAY less than $5,000.
    lessthanpi wrote: »
    If you can't you'll be learning some new tricks, or having to stick with scooters. Scooters are for housewives and little girls. Don't buy a scooter.

    I'm assuming you're referring to those newer plastic pieces of shit. My Lambretta would like to have words about not shifting and the little girls comment. So would several very tough guys I know who ride vintage Italian scooters.

    "At first he thought it might be a natural occurrence - maybe a rabbit. But upon closer inspection, it was clear a knife had been used. And rabbits don't carry knives."

    Final Fantasy XIV:Lilja Sunblade
  • adytumadytum Registered User regular
    Don't feel like you need to stay under 250, that's silly advice.

    My first motorcycle was a beater, which I rode (and loved ) the hell out of for a few years before I upgraded. I think that buying a slightly older but reliable low-mileage bike is the best advice.

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  • adytumadytum Registered User regular
    And definitely take the MSF course; that goes without saying.

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  • EshEsh Tending bar. Eating out. Motorcycles. Portland, ORRegistered User regular
    edited March 2012
    adytum wrote: »
    Don't feel like you need to stay under 250, that's silly advice.

    My first motorcycle was a beater, which I rode (and loved ) the hell out of for a few years before I upgraded. I think that buying a slightly older but reliable low-mileage bike is the best advice.

    I think he could easily go up to 500cc for a first bike. Nothing over that though.

    Beyond, that smaller bikes (under 500c) are actually harder to find and sometimes more expensive. At least here in Portland.

    Esh on
    "At first he thought it might be a natural occurrence - maybe a rabbit. But upon closer inspection, it was clear a knife had been used. And rabbits don't carry knives."

    Final Fantasy XIV:Lilja Sunblade
  • MushroomStickMushroomStick Registered User regular
    edited March 2012
    Esh wrote: »
    adytum wrote: »
    Don't feel like you need to stay under 250, that's silly advice.

    My first motorcycle was a beater, which I rode (and loved ) the hell out of for a few years before I upgraded. I think that buying a slightly older but reliable low-mileage bike is the best advice.

    I think he could easily go up to 500cc for a first bike. Nothing over that though.

    Beyond, that smaller bikes (under 500c) are actually harder to find and sometimes more expensive. At least here in Portland.

    If he goes for a cruiser style bike, up to like a 650 ought to be fine.



    @Warder - As for the seat height, you're going to have to go sit on bikes and see what feels right. They'll probably have you on Rebels for an MSF course though.

    MushroomStick on
  • lessthanpilessthanpi Registered User regular
    Esh wrote: »
    adytum wrote: »
    Don't feel like you need to stay under 250, that's silly advice.

    My first motorcycle was a beater, which I rode (and loved ) the hell out of for a few years before I upgraded. I think that buying a slightly older but reliable low-mileage bike is the best advice.

    I think he could easily go up to 500cc for a first bike. Nothing over that though.

    Beyond, that smaller bikes (under 500c) are actually harder to find and sometimes more expensive. At least here in Portland.

    If he goes for a cruiser style bike, up to like a 650 ought to be fine.



    @Warder - As for the seat height, you're going to have to go sit on bikes and see what feels right. They'll probably have you on Rebels for an MSF course though.

    I've got to respectfully disagree. If the OP can't even handle the clutch on the bike yet the last thing they need is a powerful bike under them.

    Start small. Get comfortable will an easy to handle bike. Then upgrade. There's always a strong secondary market for small bikes because people need them to learn or need them to pass licensing exams.

    Esh wrote: »
    warder808 wrote: »
    I am budget minded. Definitely under $5000. I'm 6'3" is there a particular height the seat would have to be?

    I dont drive stick. But Im up for learning. I also dont want to end up dead, so I will take safety extremely seriously.

    Wow, you can get what you need for WAY less than $5,000.
    lessthanpi wrote: »
    If you can't you'll be learning some new tricks, or having to stick with scooters. Scooters are for housewives and little girls. Don't buy a scooter.

    I'm assuming you're referring to those newer plastic pieces of shit. My Lambretta would like to have words about not shifting and the little girls comment. So would several very tough guys I know who ride vintage Italian scooters.

    Yeah. I was under the impression that the OP wanted a newer bike so there'd be limited repair and upkeep.

    There's not much on the market beyond those cheap Chinese POS scooters these days.

  • Iceman.USAFIceman.USAF Captain East CoastRegistered User regular
    Along with your helmet, proper riding gear. Some kind of jacket, pants and boots. It annoyed me to no end when my ex showed up at my place in fucking sandals or flats wearing a tank top on her bike. So stupid.



  • adytumadytum Registered User regular
    edited March 2012
    lessthanpi wrote:
    I've got to respectfully disagree. If the OP can't even handle the clutch on the bike yet the last thing they need is a powerful bike under them.

    Start small. Get comfortable will an easy to handle bike. Then upgrade. There's always a strong secondary market for small bikes because people need them to learn or need them to pass licensing exams.

    They teach you how to work a clutch in the MSF class*, and a 500 or 650 two cylinder engine, while more powerful than a 250, is hardly powerful enough to warrant warning a new rider away from even considering them.

    There's also the added expense of buying and selling bikes; personally, I'd prefer to buy a single bike that I'll ride for years rather than waste a lot of time and money (registration, sales tax, etc.) buying and selling bikes.

    Now, if all you want is a motorcycle, and you think that a 250 will fit your needs, then there is no reason to look at larger bikes. If the majority of your riding is going to be urban and non-highway, then a 250 might be right for you!

    @warder808 - There's an active thread for riders on the forums: http://forums.penny-arcade.com/discussion/97328/

    *Just because you finish the MSF class and receive your motorcycle operator's license doesn't mean you're ready to hit the road. Take your time and learn the ins-and-outs of whatever bike you do buy, including the function of the clutch and breaks. It was several days of riding before I took my first bike out on anything besides neighborhood roads and parking lots.

    adytum on
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  • adytumadytum Registered User regular
    Additionally, I would reccommend purchasing a copy of Proficient Motorcycling

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  • EshEsh Tending bar. Eating out. Motorcycles. Portland, ORRegistered User regular
    And that helmet? FULL-FACE!!! I've got a broken nose and an inch long scar under my chin to attest that any other kind is a deathwish.

    "At first he thought it might be a natural occurrence - maybe a rabbit. But upon closer inspection, it was clear a knife had been used. And rabbits don't carry knives."

    Final Fantasy XIV:Lilja Sunblade
  • acidlacedpenguinacidlacedpenguin Registered User regular
    edited March 2012
    4chan /o/ actually has a stickied thread that absolutely covers this in a way quite surprising for 4chan. It's written mostly from the perspective of talking people down from buying super fast race bikes so that the media doesn't go all herpaderp 4chan is killing people because stupid rider X went there before killing himself on a motorcycle that was too powerful for them.

    here's the image from the thread. . . hopefully. . .
    Spoiler:

    whoops it's massive, now with spoilers for extra downforce!

    acidlacedpenguin on
    GT: Acidboogie PSNid: AcidLacedPenguiN
  • MadpoetMadpoet Registered User regular
    At 6'3", a Rebel might seem small. I know at 5'8" I'd get bored and sit on the pillion with no problem. My take on first bike: Two cylinder, used, light enough that if you had to, you could hold it close to a 45 degree angle from the ground and not drop it.
    I took the class on a dual sport, and it worked out well. They're quite a bit taller than the cruisers that you usually see in the classes. Might be an option.

  • chrishallett83chrishallett83 Hi! Registered User regular
    If Honda sold the VTR250 in the US, I'd recommend that. But they don't, so you're shit out of luck. Sorry!

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  • PelPel Registered User regular
    That well-written 4chan article made the point I was going to: 4-cylinder bikes are unforgiving beginner bikes, not just because of the handling characteristics but because of the maintenance, and doubly so with older, used bikes! Unless you are lucky or very careful with upkeep, your carbs will get gummed or desynched and you'll pay out the nose in time, money, or both to retune and clean them. Same with the valves, plugs, etc. The smaller the bike, the truer this is! A 1000cc V-twin will have fuel and air passages that are four times the size of a 500cc 4 cylinder. Think of it like this: Try to drink orange juice from 4 coffee straws at once, then try it with 2 normal straws. That's what it will be like if you let the bike sit for a few months without draining the fuel and it gums up in the bowls. Consider a 2 cylinder design to be a priority, until you are familiar with maintenance and operation!

    Some bikes will run forever if you perform proper maintenance. Some of those same bikes will break down on you monthly if you don't do some simple preventative stuff! It's not always easy to know the difference, but, in general, fewer cylinders= fewer and larger parts= easier maintenance.

  • DhalphirDhalphir don't you open that trapdoor you're a fool if you dareRegistered User regular
    Start with a 250CC bike, if you're wanting a sports bike rather than a cruiser.

    They hold their value well because learners like them, so in a year or two when you're bored and want to upgrade, you won't have any problems reselling it at nearly the same value (unless you crash it).

    Best recommendations are the Kawasaki Ninja 250R or the Honda CBR250R.

    Tube-san wrote:
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  • chrishallett83chrishallett83 Hi! Registered User regular
    The new CBR250R has a single cylinder engine, very similar to the motor from the CRF250R dirtbike.

    Which is a good thing. The motor still makes over 30 horsepower, and is smaller, lighter and cheaper and easier to maintain than the old CBR250R motor.

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  • JRoseyJRosey Registered User regular
    I started with a Ninja 250 and while a safe choice, I was bored with the thing inside of two weeks. On the other hand, I crashed the thing four times in my first year. You are going to be uncomfortable on a bike of that size with your physical height. I'd suggest a 500cc to 700cc standard bike like the FZ6 or SV650. Forgiving and cheap enough for a newbie, with plenty of potential when you gain some skill.

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  • stormbringerstormbringer Registered User regular
    edited March 2012
    The new CBR250R has a single cylinder engine, very similar to the motor from the CRF250R dirtbike.

    Which is a good thing. The motor still makes over 30 horsepower, and is smaller, lighter and cheaper and easier to maintain than the old CBR250R motor.

    Plus you can get it with ABS. ABS seriously saves lives, worth every single penny if you are going to go new. If you want a sport bike really you have two options 250r ninja, or CBR250r. A used ninja with frame sliders and good service history will loose almost no value in two or three years of riding.

    An alternate option, used BMW G650 with ABS used. It will run forever, it can take the bumps and crappy streets in Manhattan and the Bronx, easy to handle, you can drop it everyday and it will laugh at you.

    I spend a lot of time in Manhattan for work and been riding for a while. Not a chance I would ride a bike without some serious suspension travel and never with slickish tires.

    stormbringer on
  • ComahawkComahawk Registered User regular
    Do not skimp on your helmet. They are expensive, but worth every cent when you drop your bike, or fall off at any speed. And as others have said: full face protection, always.

    On top of that, buy all the protective gear you can. While a jacket may cost a couple hundred dollars, if it is properly reinforced (spinal shielding, etc.) it will save you thousands in medical bills later, not to mention from horrible disfiguring injury. This applies to pants, boots and gloves too.

    Oh, and from my dad and uncles (one of which used to race superbikes on a professional level): You will drop your bike or crash. No matter how good you are, there will come a point where you unintentionally separate yourself from that bike while it is moving, and the result of this will more than likely hurt - a lot.

    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]
  • adytumadytum Registered User regular
    Comahawk wrote: »
    Do not skimp on your helmet. They are expensive, but worth every cent when you drop your bike, or fall off at any speed.

    Going to (kind of) call foul on this, as it's the line that shops will use to sell you an $800 helmet you don't need. What's more important is if the helmet is Snell (preferably Snell 2010) and DOT rated. If it is, and it fits properly and is comfortable, then it will do fine.

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  • VeritasVRVeritasVR Registered User regular
    edited March 2012
    I've had my Ninja 250 since 2008 and I've yet to be bored with it. Never dropped it or crashed it yet. Full gear, all the time.

    VeritasVR on
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  • ComahawkComahawk Registered User regular
    adytum wrote: »
    Comahawk wrote: »
    Do not skimp on your helmet. They are expensive, but worth every cent when you drop your bike, or fall off at any speed.

    Going to (kind of) call foul on this, as it's the line that shops will use to sell you an $800 helmet you don't need. What's more important is if the helmet is Snell (preferably Snell 2010) and DOT rated. If it is, and it fits properly and is comfortable, then it will do fine.

    This is true, I meant more in the sense of "don't buy the cheapest helmet available"

    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]
  • stormbringerstormbringer Registered User regular
    adytum wrote: »
    Comahawk wrote: »
    Do not skimp on your helmet. They are expensive, but worth every cent when you drop your bike, or fall off at any speed.

    Going to (kind of) call foul on this, as it's the line that shops will use to sell you an $800 helmet you don't need. What's more important is if the helmet is Snell (preferably Snell 2010) and DOT rated. If it is, and it fits properly and is comfortable, then it will do fine.

    Current SNELL ratings are not worth the sticker they are printed it on. DOT rated a bit different. SNELL is just a marketing tool now, the helmets. Their ratings make the helmets to hard and they transmit to much force into the skull on collision.

    Take a modern SNELL helmet and drop it crown first on the ground and the thing will almost jump back into your hands.

  • adytumadytum Registered User regular
    edited March 2012
    Citation?

    In any case, you're not buying just a Snell-rated helmet; it has to be Snell AND DOT or just DOT, since that's the legal minimum (though it can be a joke, of course). I really can't think of any helmets I've looked at that aren't both Snell and DOT, even the cheapies.

    adytum on
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  • mtsmts Registered User regular
    adytum wrote: »
    Comahawk wrote: »
    Do not skimp on your helmet. They are expensive, but worth every cent when you drop your bike, or fall off at any speed.

    Going to (kind of) call foul on this, as it's the line that shops will use to sell you an $800 helmet you don't need. What's more important is if the helmet is Snell (preferably Snell 2010) and DOT rated. If it is, and it fits properly and is comfortable, then it will do fine.

    Current SNELL ratings are not worth the sticker they are printed it on. DOT rated a bit different. SNELL is just a marketing tool now, the helmets. Their ratings make the helmets to hard and they transmit to much force into the skull on collision.

    Take a modern SNELL helmet and drop it crown first on the ground and the thing will almost jump back into your hands.
    adytum wrote: »
    Citation?

    In any case, you're not buying just a Snell-rated helmet; it has to be Snell AND DOT or just DOT, since that's the legal minimum (though it can be a joke, of course). I really can't think of any helmets I've looked at that aren't both Snell and DOT, even the cheapies.

    i had read this as well when i was looking into moto stuff. that the DoT only helmets protected better since the softer material transmitted less force

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  • VanguardVanguard The system was breaking down. Registered User, __BANNED USERS regular
    I would just buy the one that goes the fastest.

    If you could imagine leading a gang on it, all the better.

  • billwillbillwill Registered User regular
    I'm in a similar position as the OP. I'm 6'4", never ridden, but am looking to start.

    All my friends and family, though, are totally against it. I'm attracted to a motorcycle because of how much I'll save on gas and insurance, but they seem to think if I buy a motorcycle, I'm going to die instantly in some awful accident.

    I'm sure the statistics show more fatalities (percentage-wise) than cars, but I think those aren't reliable because of the people who ride motorcycles 100mph down the highway or do tricks and all that. I'm just not sure how to respond to alleviate their fears. Any ideas?

    I hate you and you hate me.
  • adytumadytum Registered User regular
    edited March 2012
    billwill wrote: »
    I'm in a similar position as the OP. I'm 6'4", never ridden, but am looking to start.

    All my friends and family, though, are totally against it. I'm attracted to a motorcycle because of how much I'll save on gas and insurance, but they seem to think if I buy a motorcycle, I'm going to die instantly in some awful accident.

    I'm sure the statistics show more fatalities (percentage-wise) than cars, but I think those aren't reliable because of the people who ride motorcycles 100mph down the highway or do tricks and all that. I'm just not sure how to respond to alleviate their fears. Any ideas?
    adytum wrote: »
    Additionally, I would reccommend purchasing a copy of Proficient Motorcycling

    Proficient Motorcycling covers every aspect of safety, and has pretty comprehensive and honest statistics.

    Basically, the more formal training you have, the less likely you are to be in a serious accident, but non-fatal motorcycle accidents are significantly underreported.

    adytum on
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  • MushroomStickMushroomStick Registered User regular
    billwill wrote: »
    I'm in a similar position as the OP. I'm 6'4", never ridden, but am looking to start.

    All my friends and family, though, are totally against it. I'm attracted to a motorcycle because of how much I'll save on gas and insurance, but they seem to think if I buy a motorcycle, I'm going to die instantly in some awful accident.

    I'm sure the statistics show more fatalities (percentage-wise) than cars, but I think those aren't reliable because of the people who ride motorcycles 100mph down the highway or do tricks and all that. I'm just not sure how to respond to alleviate their fears. Any ideas?

    Well, I'm going to assume you're an adult, and while your friends and family aren't obligated to like all the decisions you make, they do need to respect that they are your decisions to make.

  • Giggles_FunsworthGiggles_Funsworth Paranoiac Bay Area SprawlRegistered User regular
    edited March 2012
    Hey guys, I would like to be getting a motorcycle in the near-ish future. I have been thinking about it since before 2008 and until recently I wanted to start with a Ninja 250. Then I was talking to a co-worker at my old job that used to be a srs bznss rider and he was of the opinion that if I handled it responsibly and took my time getting to know the bike, I'd be much better off with something 650cc-ish. Basically concerns that if I ever needed to accelerate quickly, a Ninja 250 wouldn't have the power to do that at freeway speeds, which was my entire rationale for getting a sportbike in the first place, acceleration and maneuverability that could save my life. Have known more than a few people that got into serious accidents on Harleys that could have been avoided if they were better at driving in non-straight lines.

    Is something like a Triumph Street Triple or a Ducati Monster 696 just crazy talk, or could it be manageable for a new rider? The Monster doesn't seem too crazy and it's a twin cylinder, I've heard the throttle on the Triple is twitchy as fuck which worries me. Is that something I could adjust to be more forgiving when I'm learning, and adjust again later when I'm okay with it? I like the throatier sound of these bikes a lot more than the Japanese motors, was heartbroken when I found out Buell went under. The Blast was what I'd intended to learn on until they discontinued it/the Ninja redesign.

    Giggles_Funsworth on
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  • InkSplatInkSplat 100%ed Bad Rats. Registered User regular
    Here's the thing--the idea that "acceleration will save your life" is incredibly misleading. If you got into a position where somehow speeding up would save your life, you were doing something wrong to begin with. You need to be in complete control of where you are in relation to other people, and as such, keep out of blind spots and avoid riding next to cars in general if you can manage.

    Now, I'm not saying you can't start with a 650 if you want to, but don't let the idea of speed saving your life be the deciding factor, because its far from the truth.

    Maneuverability, sure, but my Ninja 250 has never even felt close to clumsy.

    Origin for Dragon Age: Inquisition Shenanigans: Inksplat776
  • Giggles_FunsworthGiggles_Funsworth Paranoiac Bay Area SprawlRegistered User regular
    InkSplat wrote: »
    Here's the thing--the idea that "acceleration will save your life" is incredibly misleading. If you got into a position where somehow speeding up would save your life, you were doing something wrong to begin with. You need to be in complete control of where you are in relation to other people, and as such, keep out of blind spots and avoid riding next to cars in general if you can manage.

    Now, I'm not saying you can't start with a 650 if you want to, but don't let the idea of speed saving your life be the deciding factor, because its far from the truth.

    Maneuverability, sure, but my Ninja 250 has never even felt close to clumsy.

    I can think of plenty of scenarios on a crowded freeway in California where being able to move forward a car length relative to your speed in under a second is pretty valuable. Shit, I'll be in my car parallel with someone I'm passing and they don't even check to their side and start to merge. This probably happens several times a month. Awareness is good and all, but unless I am the slowest vehicle on the road at some point someone is going to try and merge into the space I am occupying.

    Since you have one, how big are you, weight wise, and how fast can you accelerate 5-10 miles from 70MPH?

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