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Old 11-15-2012, 08:14 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Sister is looking into a cheap bike, I know little about bikes

^ However I find that I can typically trust the opinions I find on here.

About a week ago she asked me to look into a low-cost bike. She's not mechanically inclined - probably enough to change the oil or tighten a loose mirror, but she won't be doing any mechanical repairs on a bike. She originally linked me to a Chinese 250cc Ninja clone. I did some reading and what I've found suggests that it has a simple and fairly reliable carburated motor coupled with a very short 5 speed tranny - looks like it caps out around 65 in top gear due due to revs. It's advertised on some sites as getting "up to 80mpg" but I bet that's going to be at 25-35mph in top gear.

My first suggestion was that we should go to a Honda dealership and look at a CBR250R... and find out if her feet can even touch the ground on one. She's about 5'2".

She's open to the idea of other bikes but a scooter is pretty much out, she wants something that resembles a sports bike at least in looks.

Some other thoughts:

I think it might be worthwhile to go with a Honda so parts/repairs are easier to find.

It has a much more comfortable top speed of ~90mph. I don't think I'd trust taking anything that can only do 60 on a freeway. However, she's concerned that since she's very light and a 250 is a pretty light bike too, it might not be safe to take on a freeway anyway. What's the truth behind this?

What kind of parts/warranty do dealers typically offer, and do you suggest going to a dealer and getting a new bike, or maybe a certified preowned, or should I also consider hitting up craigslist, considering my limited knowledge about bikes?

Has anyone had any experiences with cheap Chinese bikes? Might it not be a bad option? Certainly the Honda is more expensive, but is it worth being ~twice as expensive?

Any other thoughts/suggestions?

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Old 11-15-2012, 08:31 PM   #2 (permalink)
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I think the Chinese bikes are best suited to the very mechanically inclined who are able to/don't mind working on them.
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Old 11-15-2012, 08:39 PM   #3 (permalink)
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agreed i wouldn't go with chinese bikes unless ur mechanically inclined. Remember this "you get what you pay for" as in if you buy a cheap bike problems are more inclined to happen.

also check out ninja250r's and i would look on craigslist as with any motor vehicle if they are taken care of they can still be very reliable
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Old 11-15-2012, 10:49 PM   #4 (permalink)
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If she's wanting a sport bike, Honda and Kaw are the only 250 options.

Dual sports are better first bikes IMO, so Suzuki DR200 or Yamaha XT225 come into play or Honda CRF230L. Learning the basics on grass or dirt is way better than on the street. The first 2 have been made for quite a while and have low seat height. Kawasaki made a 250 Super Sherpa (KL250) that might short enough for her to be comfortable as well. Yamaha replaced the XT225 with a 250 in last year or two not sure if it got taller or not. Last would be the odd TW200 by yamaha.

Old Mechanic has a interesting standard Yamaha SR225 or something like that. Willing to go 500 Suzuki GS500e is a nice standard, somewhat recently replace with 500S with a fairing. Ninja 500 with it's half fairing. Suzuki Bandit 400 is a neat standard but rare and older.
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Old 11-17-2012, 01:54 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Unfortunately I don't think she'd go for a dual sport. For one, off the lot they're more expensive, and she likes the sports bike look. This is going to be her primary mode of transportation so I'm thinking of trying to talk her into getting a cruiser instead.

Incidentally, at work today I asked a coworker about his bike and he offered to sell it - a Suzuki LS650 (2002) for $800. It's in good mechanical condition and has about 6k miles, says it's been garage kept and it looks it.

A 650 is probably a bit much for a first bike but I'm tempted to pick this up for myself if nothing else.


Last edited by Ecky; 11-17-2012 at 02:08 AM..
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Old 11-17-2012, 08:46 AM   #6 (permalink)
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I would grab that 650 in a heartbeat. Get your sister a Rebel. The Chinese stuff is basically junk after a couple thousand miles.

Buy a used Rebel then sell it if she actually evolves into a regular bike rider. If she is smart she might actually decide to keep the Rebel. Simple, good mileage and even at my 200 pounds + and over 6 feet height I could get mine very close to 80 on the Interstate, but it was personally tuned and carb cleaned to perfection. Mine was an 06 with 1800 miles that sat in a shed until the carbs needed work and it needed a battery.

$800.

This way if she decides she doesn't want to ride a bike then she can sell the Rebel for very close to what she paid for it. I put 5k miles on mine and sold it for $1400.

If she stays on a bike then look for a nice used CBR 250 R if that is what she wants. By then they will be cheaper on the used market, but a good old Rebel can't really be beat.

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Old 11-17-2012, 08:50 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Don't discount the modern scooters! A Honda Reflex is a good looking 250 that has adequate power. Our own Yamaha Majesty(400cc) has been bullet proof, has sports bike looks, excellent performance and delivers 60+mpg! It's light enough for a beginner to handle easily, but is heavy, and powerful enough for interstate use. Mrs. Mini learned and got her license on it and it never fails to put a grin on my face when I ride it.
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Old 11-17-2012, 03:03 PM   #8 (permalink)
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What is her target money wise ?
I would definitely buy a used japanese bike with 30K on the clock at twice the price over a brand new chinese bike.
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Old 11-17-2012, 07:47 PM   #9 (permalink)
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She was willing to entertain the idea of spending $4,000 on the Honda, new off the lot, but I think that's pretty close to the upper limit.
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Old 11-19-2012, 04:09 AM   #10 (permalink)
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What about the new Ninja 300? 4800 is a little high I suppose but the dual cylinder is a bit more exciting than the single (and a lot more powerful). Fuel injected so better fuel economy than the 250s which are carbed.

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