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Beginner Motorcycle Advice / Experience

2andblue

Member
Member
My wife is considering getting her own experience in the rider’s seat.

Says she wants to ride pillion on the C-14 when we are spirited mountain riding or long distance touring but occasionally for times when we are pleasure riding / roaming e.g. <200 miles a day she would like to feel the excitement of commanding her own machine.

Small stature and 5’0” so looking for a smaller displacement, shorter, light weight machine that is mechanically reliable, stable at all speeds and capable of maintaining posted highway speeds without red-lining..

Ninja 400; Honda Rebel 500; other?

Appreciate to hear your experiences or knowledge with these or other machines that are good beginners 👍.

Thank You,
Wayne, Carol & Blue
 

Road Runner

SE USA - AAD
Guest
My wife (not quite a short as your's) learned to command her own machine on a Honda Rebel 250. She now has a Honda Shadow Aero 750.

IMO, a Ninja 400 would be too much "zippidy do da" to start with.

My wife is 5' 4", but not sure of her inseam length.
 

S Smith

Northeast Area Director
Member
Something small, used and without much plastic that can take a slow speed drop. Must be able to flat foot it at a stop.
 

Jpd11958

Member
Member
After taking the new rider training course, The Vulcan 650 or try to find an mid 2000's Ninja 650. A buddy of mine who needed a lower seat bike got a 2012 Ninja 650. He had been looking and the only bike he thought he could get was a Honda shadow. It was the only one he could flat foot on. He had been off bikes for about 15 years and being able to flat foot is was a requirement for him. I also recommended a HD 883. HD cruiser have a a low seat height. The Vulcan, Shadow and HD 883 are all cruisers, the Ninja is a moderate sport riding position. All the ADV bikes were too tall.

The 650 to 750cc engine range will have enough power to keep up on the freeway and she will not outgrow it as fast. I have seen several older riders going back to the 650 range now that they want something lighter and are still able to have fun on it.
 

2andblue

Member
Member
Before you buy anything, have her sign up to take the motorcycle basic course.
They supply a small bike and teach her the basics on how to ride it.

The class will help her decide what bike "she" wants.

Ride safe, Ted
Yes indeed, Carol will be taking the MSF course before any further steps are taken. I will take it as well - have done a couple courses including the advanced MSF but never hurts to do it (if the class room exists).
 

IKnowYouRider

Administrator
Member
any thoughts on a maxi scooter? I used to own a Suzuki Bergman 650. it was awesome. I think if I had the money and space for another I would probably look at another maxi scooter.
 

brooke.benfield

Member
Member
I also think the MSF beginners course is a good place to start.

A caveat would be that the course is fast paced and when I attended, a couple dropped out (No Refund!!) because the gal was not getting the hang of things quick enough.

I'd recommend that someone be able to manage the clutch and gearbox in a parking lot for a couple of hours before taking the course.
 

maverick9611

“tryin not to get old”
Member
2008-2012 ninja 250.
 

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S Smith

Northeast Area Director
Member
I also think the MSF beginners course is a good place to start.

A caveat would be that the course is fast paced and when I attended, a couple dropped out (No Refund!!) because the gal was not getting the hang of things quick enough.

I'd recommend that someone be able to manage the clutch and gearbox in a parking lot for a couple of hours before taking the cour

I've instructed a couple thousand riders, and my feeling is that it is possible for nearly anyone to pass the course - although some not in one weekend. People learn at different rates, especially when it come to motorskills. There are rare occasions where the student becomes too great a risk to themselves and others and need to drop. Trust the RiderCoanches on this. While not needed for the course, I would not disagree that having basic clutch control and shifting experience can alleviate some anxiety and apprehension. One last thing... If you take the course with Carol, only offer praise and do not provide instruction or critique. Allow the RiderCoaches to do their job.
 

Road Warrior

Eastern Oklahoma
Member
I took a Basic Rider Skills course with my Ex through Harley, and we had a Blast, also riding Buell Blast's. The instructor gave me a little latitude as an experienced rider, and he was really attentive to my Ex as a new rider, I concur with Steve Smith on this and I stayed quiet and out of the way unless she asked me something. Interestingly, the same applied on the gun range when we took a concealed pistol licensing course. I had a Vulcan 800 that she was comfortable on, nice machine. Enjoy, the whole experience should only draw you closer.
 

2andblue

Member
Member
One last thing... If you take the course with Carol, only offer praise and do not provide instruction or critique. Allow the RiderCoaches to do their job.
We are going to take a local course and YES, (Don’t take this the wrong way my wife’s a sweetheart-but…)100%, allow instructor to step in that..
I took a Basic Rider Skills course with my Ex through Harley, and we had a Blast, also riding Buell Blast's. The instructor gave me a little latitude as an experienced rider, and he was really attentive to my Ex as a new rider, I concur with Steve Smith on this and I stayed quiet and out of the way unless she asked me something. Interestingly, the same applied on the gun range when we took a concealed pistol licensing course. I had a Vulcan 800 that she was comfortable on, nice machine. Enjoy, the whole experience should only draw you closer.
I am shocked that PA the courses are FOC, back in MN I paid ~$200/EA for basic and ~$300 for advanced courses. Worth every penny, possibly today they’re free too - this was early 2000’s.

I do agree it’ll be a good experience and the largest decision factor if Carol will move forward in getting her own machine.

Thanks for all the inputs everyone; as usual the COG family is great!
 

S Smith

Northeast Area Director
Member
I am shocked that PA the courses are FOC, back in MN I paid ~$200/EA for basic and ~$300 for advanced courses. Worth every penny, possibly today they’re free too - this was early 2000’s.

It used to be and still may be that PA offfers both FOC and paid courses. The FOC courses tend to fill up fast. Check with you local training site.
 

KretonsLC

Guest
Guest
Circling back to your original question about a bike for your wife, her height will be the determining factor. I'd rule out the Ninja 400 or a similar bike. The Ninja has a 30.9 inch seat height - not that much lower than a Connie's. But the Shadow 500's is only 27.9. At 5'0", I'd bet that'd be about the upper limit she could manage without leaning on one foot at stops. In addition to a lower seat height, a small to medium cruiser will have a more beginner-friendly power band, whereas a small sport bike's will hit more suddenly.
 
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lrbuck

MR
Member
Seat height is misleading. It does not account for suspension sag. Generally, if the suspension is setup for the rider's weight, the suspension will sag about 1" to 1.25" when the rider is seated on the bike.

Also, the 2012 and earlier Ninja 250's are carbureted, among other specs.

2013-14 Ninja 300's weigh 470ish pounds, are fuel injected. have shim under bucket valves (looooong adjust intervals). 4 gallon+ fuel capacity, 17" rims, and a slipper clutch among other features. The dealers will still service them. These years are getting into the $2,000 - $2,500 price range now. Just sayin my friend.

Larry
 

ZXtasy

Member
Member
Here was my/our experience. At 47 my better half decided she was tired of looking at the back of my helmet. We decided to get her trained and on a machine, one with not too much power, low seat, and not one she would hate to drop. She is 5'-5" but has a short inseam. Found a 1982 Yamaha Vision 550 that was a real rat bike but I test rode it and for 400 bucks it seemed like a good learner bike. The weekend she went out of town to take the MSF course with one of our young nephews, I decided to change the oil in her learner bike. It was black, thick, and too much. Oh well, filled it with some good stuff to proper level and hit the starter and BANG! Sprag starter clutch exploded. By time she came home on Sunday after passing the course I had parts all over the work bench. No Bueno!

One thing the instructors impressed on her or any newbie rider is get out there and ride every day, even a week can remove much of the new training. The 550 was going to be down for a while....so what to do?? On the following Tuesday we drove 80 miles to the nearest dealer and she looked at all of the 2002 models available from 5 brands. She dislike cruisers, probably my bad influence riding sport machines since we met, but she did like the then new Buell Blast! (And my middle name is Buel!) A brand new one followed us home.

They really nailed a few things on that bike for new and female riders...she loved it and we would ride every morning before I went to work. That first summer we started taking day, then weekend trips. By the next spring riding season we both could see she had outgrown it's lack of power, and we started shopping for her next ride. By chance, on a ride vacation in N. CA where we hauled the bikes to Eureka and traveled some of the awesome roads including Cape Mendocino and CA-36 to Weaverville...the Buell's valve train failed. When we got it back to the dealership we had a horrible experience where they improperly 'repaired' it under warranty, and the next time it was ridden it blew oil all over the rea tire. We almost owned that dealership.

Got to deal with their sales manager who has become a good friend now, and they gave us full purchase price as trade in on anything they sold, plus only charged us 50.00 over invoice for a brand new 2003 Suzuki SV-650. That...was a fabulous machine. It was the naked not S version as she has short arms and injured her wrists so any undue pressure was not good. She loved that bike, we did some great road trips, plenty of power, windshield and soft bags make it a little tourer. She even took her first track day on it and did several of those over the years.

Alas, June of 2005 our daughter was riding her moms bike, being a 2 year licensed rider now herself, along with me and some friends on a charity poker run. I was going to build her a custom bike that year. She went off the road and ended up passing away in my arms from Anaphylaxis. My wife could not look at another SV as an option. So in 2006 my wife decided to keep riding and Kawi had just released the new Ninja 650R, upright riding, some fairings, nice little parallel twin. We had a local dealer now who made us a smoking deal, and we are a Kawi family anyway.

I had lowered her SV with links and forks dropped in triples as well as a lower seat so she could just barley flat foot at a stop, pretty important confidence booster. Got a Rich's custom seat made for the Ninja, but the unique shock layout made it only possible to drop it by about 3/4". The combo was enough to almost get her FF, but she also had much more experience by then so it was not a big deal. We did many more road trips and a she did a few more track days on it. I bought a second one, a 2008 and made a roadster out of it.

After 12 years riding her own she decided the crazy drivers made her too nervous, so she hung up her leathers but continued to ride mostly off road with our TW-200's for a few years. She quit riding all together in 2017 at retirement age as she fears getting hurt. Over the years I have lowered a half dozen machines for shorter riders, but none of them rode hard enough for the lessening of performance to be an issue. Thicker soles on the shoes is another trick but may require customizing the foot controls.

Overall, I am so proud of her accomplishments. She fell over at slow speeds a few times but always got back in the saddle. Our riding together helped us both heal and drew us even closer. We have some epic memories on 2 wheels. She actually talked about getting her own ride 10 years earlier but I was nervous and afraid of it being too dangerous. The second time I realized more that life is about enjoying experiences and mitigating the hazards through gear and training, but who was I to sway her away from something I enjoyed so much! Our grand daughter became a rider at 18 and we gave her and her step mother the Ninja 650. Now our great-granddaughter Lucy is sizing it up for the future...
 

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Montero

Member
Member
Honda Shadow 750. Low, balanced, light, comfortable and fun!
That was my fist bike, 20 years ago, and I wouldn't hesitate to have another one.
 

mucchio3930

Member
Member
Have you thought about getting an Enduro? a street legal 250 is light weight, agile,and built to take abuse, after she learns and wants something different you got a toy......
 

freebird6

Member
Member
Reach out to member Irene Silva (aka “Funsize.”) She rides Vulcan 650 and is about 5’2-3” and does it very well.
Ridden with her and Jorge many times. She does quite well on that machine. Plenty of Power and good handling characteristics she does very well on it

I agree that reaching out should be one of the first things to do ....she is ALWAYS happy to talk : )
 

Pmack

Member
Member
I started my wife on a CRF230. I bought a lowering link so she could flat foot it initially.
Taught basic clutch friction zone, braking, shifting stuff in the dirt and grass.
She then moved to a beater CBR250 for several hundred miles of street.
She now has a 2019 Ninja 400 and loves it. The Ninja is super thin, and seat height feels lower than the CBR250 because it is so thin.
I liked the N400 too, so much so I bought one for myself.
 
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