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Topic: First Bike: Ninja 500r vs. 250r  (Read 54817 times)

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Poustman
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« on: September 24, 2009, 12:53:37 PM »

Having read many posts/articles on choosing a first motorcycle, and having considered carefully things like the SV650 (a bit too powerful), Wee-Stroms, Versys and the like (more power than I think I probably need, plus not terribly attracted to the styling) and having looked at many others, I feel the combination of specs, price, and looks leave me looking between a Ninja 500r and a Ninja 250r as my first bike.  

I am 5'11", 180lbs, am not mechanically inclined but am interested in learning about the bike I choose (including doing easier mods.)  I obey the speed limit, and am interested in some longer tours including some Iron Butt endeavors. Probably would almost never ride 2-up with another adult (my wife cheers me on but does not herself want to participate),  though on occasion perhaps would do short road rides with one of my two young daughters on the back. Although I have never been an outdoorsman or a camper of any kind I'd like to cautiously dip my toe into some solo tenting at campgrounds on a longer tour (I've been inspired by various ride reports, esp. great photos by Anna at excessivelocity.com) Thus I'd want to be able to carry some small amount of gear.

I do feel that good mileage is a fairly significant factor-- I get a grin from the idea of ridiculously good km/litre (miles/gallon.)  That way doing a SaddleSore costs little more than time.  Living where I do, though, I'd be riding a notoriously hilly connector (the Coquihalla) fairly often, as well as various other mountainous routes, and would definitely want adequate power to fly uphill, having to watch to keep from drawing radar ire even when ascending steep long climbs.

So would the 250r be enough for me for a good while?  Will it happily do SaddleSores even up long hills of several miles at a time at a steep ascent?  With a Givi bag or three?  Or would I be better off with a 500r?  I have read of 250r mods (apparently one fellow I've corresponded with via YouTube used a setup with 2 bros exhaust, re-jet kit, sprocket set for re-gearing, K&N air filter and now claims his 250r is as fast as his stock 650r, at about 75lbs lighter.)  If that is realistic and if the 250r could do all I want I'd be tickled to ride such a small, flickable, gas-eschewing bike.  However, while I have no illusions that my first bike will last forever (or even more than a few years) I dislike the idea of getting into a 250r if I'll probably want to upgrade in less than 2 riding seasons. (I recently met a fellow who bought a 250r for his first bike in April 2009 and by August 2009 had bought a SV650 and was selling his Ninja.  That's too much buying and selling rigamarole for my taste.)

I'm not in a hurry and would like to make a well-informed decision.  Thanks for reading and for generously sharing your experience.
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« Reply #1 on: September 24, 2009, 12:58:23 PM »

The 500R is "Faster".  It's deceptively fast actually.  It would be a better choice for long distances.  The 250 was updated for 2008 whereas the 500R is an old design.
I would take the 250 simply because I used to race a 500R and had my fill. Bigsmile
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« Reply #2 on: September 24, 2009, 04:53:44 PM »

Thanks scottzilla.  If I understand, then, you think the 250r would be a perfectly adequate choice, just that the 500r would be even more in its element on the long distances?

I have to admit, while I'm not entirely free from the typical 'bigger is better' urge, most of me feels smarter and 'deeper' going for a smaller displacement bike.  As long as it will have the oomph to pass and climb, the 250r has a certain 'that guy gets it' niche to it, in my opinion.
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« Reply #3 on: September 24, 2009, 05:13:07 PM »

500.

The 250s are a hoot but are more frenetic.
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« Reply #4 on: September 24, 2009, 05:19:58 PM »

I started out on an ex500 and they are an excellent beginner's bike and I would recommend it to any person looking for starter bike. Not only is it deceptively fast as Scottzilla stated, but they are very forgiving. What is also nice, is that they are easy to work on since you dont' have to tear a bunch of plastic off to get to something.

I rode it for 2 riding seasons (could have gone longer had I not have run across the Blackbird) and it doesn't get old. It gets up there in speed nicely. Unless you're riding with people on Busa's and 14's, you won't want to change bikes soon. It's a perfect bike; does city riding nicely, and I think I got about 70 miles/gallon (4.5 gallon tank) if you don't ride the throttle like a beast. Even when you do ride the throttle, you still get about 50 mpg.

IMO the 250 is too little; you'll grow out of it too fast. The 500 has a longer grow in period; you'll learn speed, throttle control, and everything else without scaring the crap out of yourself, at the same time, it will take a while until you're longing for more.
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« Reply #5 on: September 24, 2009, 06:37:33 PM »

These comments are very helpful!  Thanks everyone.
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« Reply #6 on: September 24, 2009, 08:37:23 PM »

Definitely go for the 500. I've owned a couple. The 250 is great for around town/commuting, but for touring it's not quite enough. 30-something horsepower verses 52. Check out EX-500.com. Lots of info there. I'm Billbo there also. Look for a GenerationII (1994 and up). Better tranny, better alternator, and 17" wheels. Easy to work on, lots of parts availability, lots of after market stuff. Good choice.
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« Reply #7 on: September 24, 2009, 08:54:54 PM »

500
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« Reply #8 on: September 24, 2009, 09:07:40 PM »

I had an '03 250 and I'd recommend it to anybody.  If I got a second bike today (not a replacement bike, but a second bike), it would definitely be an ex250.  I did tons of interstate miles on it...actually binned it on the interstate, fluke accident... it's good for keeping you out of trouble too, since it tops out around 100.  But I've never heard a bad word said about the 500, either.


edit... also should've noted I put 11k miles on my ex250 in the 12 months I owned it; and I was only able to ride it for 7 of those months Thumbsup it all comes down to what you really want your bike to do.
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« Reply #9 on: September 24, 2009, 09:27:39 PM »

I started on a 250, but quickly grew tired of its lack of power going up hills, it's cramped ergos (6'0" 170 lbs), and it's lack of luggage.  If you're wanting to tour though, you're in a tough spot, because even the 500 probably doesn't have room to hook up a bunch of hard bags to it.  But you'd probably grow tired of the 500 less quickly.  I was getting frustrated with my 250 after only having it for a month.

So it's up to you...... my guess is that for long distance riding and luggage-carrying, neither of these will fit the bill.  They're both great to start on.  See what kind of prices you can get.  You'll probably feel safer and less exposed on the 500.
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« Reply #10 on: September 24, 2009, 09:46:23 PM »

Hepco and Becker does have racks for hard bags for the 500. 30 l cases look the best.
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« Reply #11 on: September 24, 2009, 10:05:48 PM »

The SV650 is a better bike in many ways, and can be had cheap in the used market.  It's capable enough that it will continue to be fun to ride even as you become more experienced.
Given the choice between a 500R and SV650, I would take the 650 with no hesitation.
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« Reply #12 on: September 25, 2009, 06:04:39 AM »


The SV650 is a better bike in many ways, and can be had cheap in the used market.  It's capable enough that it will continue to be fun to ride even as you become more experienced.
Given the choice between a 500R and SV650, I would take the 650 with no hesitation.


Agreed.
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« Reply #13 on: September 25, 2009, 08:33:31 AM »

I too would suggest the 500 over the 250, no question.  You'd be wringing the 250s neck non-stop.  

Given the obvious consideration and maturity that you're approaching this with, I'd say that you might be a little over-cautious in the way you're limiting your choices.  Any of the Suzuki or Kawasaki 650 twins would be great too.  BC is pretty mountainous... you'll probably appreciate having the extra torque.  I own a V-Strom 650.  The power that bike makes is very easy to control.  Very linear, no abrupt torque at low RPM, decent mid-range power.  (The SV is a little faster, but it's basically the same, power-wise.)  If you took a ride on one, you probalby wouldn't consider a 650 twin to be "too much power."  It's perfectly adequate for mature, grown-up riding, IMO.

If you can swing it price-wise, I'd look at the Ninja 650R over the 500.  Water-cooled, lighter, more power, modern radial tires, better looking.  I've read from numerous people that that engine gets absurd gas mileage.  If you want to keep the cost down, you could also look for a Yamaha Seca II 600 or a Suzuki Bandit 600.
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« Reply #14 on: September 25, 2009, 08:42:37 AM »


I too would suggest the 500 over the 250, no question.  You'd be wringing the 250s neck non-stop.  

Given the obvious consideration and maturity that you're approaching this with, I'd say that you might be a little over-cautious in the way you're limiting your choices.  Any of the Suzuki or Kawasaki 650 twins would be great too.  BC is pretty mountainous... you'll probably appreciate having the extra torque.  I own a V-Strom 650.  The power that bike makes is very easy to control.  Very linear, no abrupt torque at low RPM, decent mid-range power.  (The SV is a little faster, but it's basically the same, power-wise.)  If you took a ride on one, you probalby wouldn't consider a 650 twin to be "too much power."  It's perfectly adequate for mature, grown-up riding, IMO.

If you can swing it price-wise, I'd look at the Ninja 650R over the 500.  Water-cooled, lighter, more power, modern radial tires, better looking.  I've read from numerous people that that engine gets absurd gas mileage.  If you want to keep the cost down, you could also look for a Yamaha Seca II 600 or a Suzuki Bandit 600.




The 500 is water cooled, light and has radial tires.  It is an old design though.
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« Reply #15 on: September 25, 2009, 09:25:20 AM »

Both bikes, the EX250 & the EX500, are good bikes to start out on.

As a new rider, you might want to check out this page which is intended for new riders.

You'll have no problem doing IBA rides on a Ninja 250. Here are a couple of the ones I've done, including a BunBurner Gold:

http://forums.ninja250.org/viewtopic.php?t=71351

http://forums.ninja250.org/viewtopic.php?t=68378

Your 'friend' who claims that his modded 250 is as fast as a 650R is full of &^%#!@  Lol

The EX250 puts out 26-28bhp. The EX500 puts out about 53bhp. The 650R puts out about 65bhp. The limit to power increase on an EX250 is about 32-33bhp, without $$$$$ engine modifications.

As for modifications, the best one out there is rider training. It'll help you appreciate the cycle and ride it proficiently.

As for luggage, for persons to think that the EX250 or EX500 can't handle as much luggage as other cycles is off-base. Here's an example of one of my 250s, on an IBA ride (Why, AZ to Whynot, NC - 6 days, 4,5000 miles) with full gear.



FWIW, I've also owned an '07 650R for three years. It is the replacement for when the EX500 is finally retired.

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« Reply #16 on: September 25, 2009, 09:42:42 AM »

Are you absolutely sure you want to pass over the 650s for now?  The Kawasakis (650R, Versys and ER-6N) are great bikes, get some great mileage and I know of several people who've purchased one as their first bike and found them to be exceptionally enjoyable and not overwhelming in the slightest.  In a recent Motorcyclist magazine, they tested an ER-6N as a beginner's bike and loved it! (although, yes, I know, magazines can be full of crap).

Otherwise, personally, I have to say I'd go with an SV650, as echoed here.  It's another bike you can learn easily on due to it's size, handling and power, and really, it's one of the greatest bikes of all time.  Or, as you mentioned, the Wee Strom.  I have to agree with you about it's styling, but I have had significant seat time on a DL1000 and that is one of the more comfortable bikes I've had the pleasure to ride.

To offer some perspective, I went straight from my MSF course to a brand spanking new Tiger 1050.  While I don't know that I'd reccomend my approach (you can learn a lot in retrospect), it really doesn't take that long to adjust to power, using your throttle properly, braking technique, etc.  Even if you're into Iron Butt, you might want to rethink your stance on 650's and then consider a track day!  Bigok

Otherwise, I'd get the 500.
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« Reply #17 on: September 25, 2009, 09:48:43 AM »

Another thing about the 500R...
I know for a fact that 5-7 HP can be extracted from the motor by rejetting.  I saw this with numerous bikes on a dyno.

The 500R has very narrow bars.  They are almost ackward, so sit on a few and see if you like them.
The 500R has a better seat than the SV650.  IMO, the 500's seat can stay on the bike a while, the SV650 will have you checking the Corbin/Sargent catalogs in a hurry.
Both have really extensive aftermarket accessories and upgrades.
The 500R suspension is kind of weak for sport riding but would probably be just fine for touring.  It's quite plush.

I'd buy an SV650.
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« Reply #18 on: September 25, 2009, 11:14:38 AM »

I've got a 250 in the garage, and it does a great job of hauling my 6'5", 225 ass around. Granted, this is my wife's bike, but I wouldn't hesitate to have a 250 as the only bike. It's a great amount of fun on a twisty road.
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« Reply #19 on: September 25, 2009, 06:30:13 PM »

I'd say go with the 250.. I'm a firm believer that you will be a better rider if you start on a very small and light bike. You can always sell it and upgrade when you are ready.
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