First Bike Thoughts: 250 cc Dual Sport
My first was a 72 Honda 350 cc road Twin in '81, I was over 6' and 220 lbs by then. It looked small under me. Then Honda 500 CX in 83, then 85 K100RS in 94.
Now added a Honda Dual Sport 250 cc single '88 NX250 as a second bike.
It's awesome for a first learner bike or as a second bike.
250 dual sports with battery start and 4 stroke (no oil/gas mix) can be made to fit people of various heights and weights. Honda, Kawasaki, Suzuki and Yamaha make them, KTM and Husky too.
They can survive fall overs especially if they have a decent set of clamped on "hand guards." Honda announced their 2013 model new for $4,499. They can go over 60 mph, but shine at lesser speeds. Used ones are popular now(sell quickly) but they hold their value. When you buy the second bike, you might just keep this one too.
Hope this helps.
my thoughts on first bikes
1. Be able to "flat foot" the bike. This is important for beginners and also many older people like myself; not so important for experienced younger riders.
2. It is much easier to handle a bike with "standard" seating than a cruiser or a sport bike. Try to convince the new rider of this fact, even if that is what they eventually want.
3. It is just a fact for almost ALL new riders that the first bike will experience several "tipovers." (Am I wrong? Didn't you have that experience the first couple years you rode a bike?) Even if money is no object, that rider will be happier if the result is a few scratches on the bar ends, not expensive (and time consuming) repair or replacement of tupperware. So, I would recommend that the first bike be a fairly "naked" one. BTW, you might want to find on this site the article I wrote for the ON titled "Don't Drop the Bike" and print it out for a new rider if you can't find the issue of the magazine.
4. One of the advantages of lighter bikes is that a person CAN pick them up without special technics - which a beginner is not likely to memorize - after a drop.
5. Buy a good used bike for a first bike. When you take the MSF course and start riding, there is absolutely no guarantee that this activity is for you. It was for me. It wasn't for my wife, who had both a 150cc Honda scooter and a 500cc Honda bike. After a couple years we sold both her machines for only a small loss in dollars. She had the experience of riding and decided it wasn't for her, which is just fine. I don't believe the finest new bikes would have changed how she felt about riding.
6. There have been a lot of comments about appropriate displacement/ horse power for beginners. My thought is that a lot of AVAILABLE power is not a problem for safety conscious beginners, if that power is easily controlled and not a sudden burst at a specific RPM. My first two bikes were Honda CB750's. Their best days were certainly in the past when I bought them, engine-wise. But they were certainly easy to control in speed. When I bought my K75 it felt like I had double the horsepower of the old Hondas, but again easy to control. With my current K100 I have 100 hp and 99% of the time it performs exactly like the K75. The 1% of the time I open the throttle wide, in a lower gear, it IS a thrill. But not the way I generally ride. I guess my point is that relative safety is in the hands of the person on bike. If you are not safety conscious, then 50cc may be too much.