'You can say what you want about the South, but I almost never hear of anyone wanting to retire to the North.
Great advice from all except the one who matters.
What does she want?
Sent from a Galaxy, far, far away
Here's my viewpoint as a 20+ year MSF instructor. Number one, she needs to be comfortable on the bike, reaching the ground (does NOT always mean flat-footed), bike should be narrow, light, easy to handle in regards to throttle/braking/shifiting, etc. "Buzzyness" is only a comfort factor, not a learning/control/comfort factor. Top heavy is never good for a beginner. Easy engine character, like a F650 is a top character to find, and more important than any horsepower numbers or engine size. Some 600's are not good learning bikes, whereas some 650's are. Engine size itself is not the issue. If she is not comfortable on the bike, the basics learning becomes MUCH more difficult. This I know from thousands of students, male and female.
Don't be too concerned about starting "big enough", because learning cycle control well enough at first to get over the high mental load of learning the bike operation is key. Once over that, the aspects of a bigger, heavy, more powerful bike are easier to handle. The 1st goal, is to survive the initial 1st season of getting to know how the bike works, so the rider can progress to learning traffic/strategy skills. New riders are so overwhelmed (male and female, female moreso typically) with all the controls and balance issue that an easy riding bike gives them better opportunity to get over that hurdle and on to survival.
So in the current/recent BMW lineup (and I have ridden them all), are the G650, F650, and that's about it. The F800 in any of it's 1st models can be touchy throttle wise. The F650 and F700 have much more "easy" character to the engine. Same for a Suzuki SV650, or a Kawasaki Ninja 650R. The new Honda NT700 v-twin may be a choice, it is kind of heavy but it has a low spinning/torquey engine character. But there is nothing wrong with starting smaller and working up as ability and comfort grows. We in the US are too focused on "starting big enough", rather than focused on "learning STRONG basic skills, and more importantly, learning traffic/sittuational skills to get past that first year or two. Starting smaller and working up should be viewed as "paying your dues/learning the basics" rather than saving money by starting bigger. You can always go bigger. But a scare in that first few months of riding can quench ALL interest very quickly.
Last edited by ANDYVH; 11-06-2013 at 03:47 PM.
Get trained! The best "performance" upgrade you can get is YOU. Visit msf-usa.org for training info.
My lady friend read the post by ANDYVH and agrees 100%.
That post was what I was trying to say, better explained than my attempt.
1997 R1100RT (Restored Basket Case) "Das Boot",
1981 KZ 440 LTD (Restored Basket Case) "Das Cow"
Another basket case, blown engine, 1993 K1100RS
"look all around you, see all you can see and make up your own mind"
Last edited by PGlaves; 11-07-2013 at 02:34 AM.
If she is up for it, dirt, dirt, dirt! Hopefully the family trip to an off-road training site goes well and she enjoys it. The skills learned by sliding around in the dirt are potential butt savers on the street and it is nice to learn how to handle a bike without worrying about traffic. Once she is comfortable with the bike, adding in street skills is a lot easier. Not sure about VA, but here in OH, it is still easy to convert a bike like a TTR-125 big wheel to being street legal and get it plated. The stability of a large front tire combined with some suspension travel can make mistakes like avoiding the car but slamming the pothole much more forgiving. Parking lot drops also cost a lot less on a dual sport bike. It lets you make your transition to the street on a bike you are already familiar with too. At the end of the day, she will have to like the bike, so get her input, get her trained and go have fun. It is one heck of a problem to have.
Thanks everyone for all the great advice.
Re: riding in dirt - living in the metro DC area there are few places to do any off-road riding so we haven't had any of the GS bikes in the stable or done much in the way of enduro riding. I took the BMW Enduro riding course in Germany back in the mid 90s and recognize the value of those skills when riding on the road as well.
We have decided to step back and not rush into a bike right away. Getting Faye's input is a good idea and the points around that are well taken. Maybe during the Thanksgiving break we can take Faye to a couple of dealers to sit on bikes and see what she thinks. She has mentioned that she'd like to get Mom's F800ST as a hand-me-down. Both Mom and I think the F800ST is a poor choice for a beginner. Faye sat on a 250 Ninja a couple of years ago and talked about that bike for months.
86 K100RS EML
My nephew took his basic riding course on a Yamaha FJR. The instructor told him he should get a smaller bike to ride, but he was able to pull it off. I agree that a smaller bike is a good starter. My neighbor bought himself a 350 cc bike. Not sure if it's a Yamaha or Suzuki, but riding it will help him in all the skills needed for a bigger bike.
Hope your daughter can start riding soon. It is fun.
That which the Fascists hate above all else, is intelligence.
Miguel de Unamuno
BMWMOA 162849 | BMWRA 41335 | VROC 8109-R | VBA 19
The 250 Ninja really seems like a mini F800ST (or F800S, I suppose). Friend's daughter has one. If Faye likes the Ninja, get one! You won't lose money on it
I don't see the F800ST as being a bad choice, but if she likes the Ninja, it seems like a great bike to me. If you want her to have ABS, let her migrate to the F800.
I think Anton may be right, in that after some experience riding Faye could graduate to the F800ST. Maybe even get it as a college graduation present (Hey, we're saving money on grad presents!). I'm sure we will have lots of discussion at Thanksgiving break about this. It will give us a subject Faye will want to talk about which is helpful with teenagers.
86 K100RS EML
I haven't done this, but one thing you can do on the F800 models is change the throttle take-up so that the same throttle tube rotation yields less throttle opening. Look at the "Power Reduction Kit" in the fiche. That should soften the throttle response a lot.
I don't consider the F800ST any more top-heavy than an Airhead. Doesn't tip over as gracefully, though.
EDIT: give her the original parts back for graduation.