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So I’m contemplating whether or not to purchase the ninja 650 for my first bike and then grow into the ZX6R or to just go ahead and buy the ZX6R to avoid having to sell and buy another bike. I plan to take the MSF class either route but feel if I take the class I may be able to slowly learn the ZX6R since I know the throttle will be way more sensitive on the ZX6R.
 

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A first bike imho should already have dents and scratches. Nothing is as paralyzing as trying to protect a brand new bike from gravity. As a moderate crash can total a fully faired bike simply by destroying half or more of the plastics, I think that puts a lot of pucker factor into the equation.

A used, rough to look at mechanically sound bike is a much better starter bike. The first season’s oopsies have little to do with what bike you’re actually riding, and far more to do with skills, training, and situational awareness. A steep grade with an off camber so your footing is compromised, an oily spot you might not see, sand, dirt, leaves, wet lane markings, train tracks….. if you’re on something that you can pick up yourself and just get back on and go…… much less stressful. Particularly if you have invested in decent quality riding gear so you suffer less injury than the bike.

Either bike is well over 400 lbs. Both are somewhat too heavy. Both will easily exceed 100 mph. Both have a lot of plastics.
 

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RJ has excellent advice. I came here to essentially say the same thing, that your first bike should be used and have a few scars. That way when (not if, when) you drop it in a parking lot or the like you won't cry nearly as much. His advice on gear is also spot on. Spend less on the bike and more on the gear. It lasts many years if cared for and not road tested and your health and well being may depend on it if things go wrong. Cheap gear is very much a false economy.

Now, as to whether the ZX6R is a good first bike or not. OP, how old are you? Height/weight? How experienced with vehicles and driving? Can you drive a manual transmission in a car? How good is your impulse control?

Oh yeah, welcome new guy.


Mark
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
RJ has excellent advice. I came here to essentially say the same thing, that your first bike should be used and have a few scars. That way when (not if, when) you drop it in a parking lot or the like you won't cry nearly as much. His advice on gear is also spot on. Spend less on the bike and more on the gear. It lasts many years if cared for and not road tested and your health and well being may depend on it if things go wrong. Cheap gear is very much a false economy.

Now, as to whether the ZX6R is a good first bike or not. OP, how old are you? Height/weight? How experienced with vehicles and driving? Can you drive a manual transmission in a car? How good is your impulse control?

Oh yeah, welcome new guy.


Mark
Well I’m 26 around 200 pretty muscular and 5’9 I’ve been driving for around 6-7 years I don’t know how to drive manual transmission well since I don’t have a manual transmission car but understand the importance of the clutch and shifting gears. I have good impulse control since my life depends on it. I will be taking the MSF course and then practicing in a parking lot for the next few weeks after the class mastering the friction zone and much more basics like turns and what not. I will probably buy a secondary course booklet online with cones in an empty parking lot to get better with basics
 

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A ninja 650 will still out accelerate virtually any car you see on the street with the exception of top of the line super cars, it is not a slow bike that you will outgrow in a few months or a year. A zx6 is a dedicated race bike and while it has a higher top speed and greater lean angle you won't be anywhere near close to exploring this for a while, and if you don't go to a track you will not responsibly find the limits of the ninja 650 on the street anyways. Ninja 650 will likely serve the learning process better, don't let ego dictate which bike to get, and especially don't let ego dictate how you ride it, we all fall victim to it sometimes but your ego is what will cause most of your issues when riding.
 

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A used, rough to look at mechanically sound bike is a much better starter bike.
This is super advice...

Let me just share day #2 with my ZX-6R... I have the bike on the flat part of the driveway idling, warming up (where I've parked the N400 dozens of times before)... I walk to shut the garage door... BAM!!! Bike is on its side, fell forward off the side-stand... Total cost of that endeavor was about $500 without even replacing the plastics...

It is heartbreaking on a new bike... :-(

(I used an angle grinder on the side-stand, so at least that particular thing won't happen again.)
 

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Well I’m 26 around 200 pretty muscular and 5’9 I’ve been driving for around 6-7 years I don’t know how to drive manual transmission well since I don’t have a manual transmission car but understand the importance of the clutch and shifting gears.
In this case go with the 650. It will still be the fastest thing you've been in or on and it is much nicer to learn on. Ride it for at least one full season and then think about moving up. If you buy used and take care of it you won't lose much money on the deal and then you can move up to whatever you like with some skills under your belt.

I guarantee you will not outgrow it in the first couple seasons. If you think you have it mastered try a track school with it and see how fast a bike like that can go with a skilled rider on board and how you are nowhere near as fast as you thought.


Mark
 

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Lots of funny things I could say but going to talk seriously about a first bike. Yes it is very possible to start on a ZX6R if you have a lot os elf control and start slowly, carefully and methodically. However if you have never ridden a couple of things about 600 super sport that aren't as easily noticeable. The weight is higher up, the bars are narrow and low. When stopped or slow speed, when the bike leans it gets very heavy quickly. My first bike was a Ninja 250, followed by a Yamaha FZ6 and then a CBR600RR. The Ninja 250 was easy to ride and a lot of fun. Being mostly new to riding it was so much fun. After a year I was pretty much riding it flat out. Did a lot of interstate riding at the enforced speed limit of 79 - was a bigger number on the optimistic speed. The FZ6 was a huge step up in power, I remember riding it home and giving it a healthy dose of throttle in 2nd and was amazed. Riding position wasn't so new but the power and weight were. Almost dropped it in a gas station when someone cut in front of me and I had to hit the brakes. Was going slow but took everything I had to keep it from going down. CBR came 4 years later and I had almost 40,000 miles of experience on the FZ6. Power wasn't radically more but the riding position was much more aggressive. We had 18,000 great miles together before the ZX6R 636 ABS. It was very similar to the CBR except for more mid range power and a riding position the fit me a bit better - less knee bend. About that time I wrecked a scooter in Italy at 15MPH - clipped right bar on a rock wall dodging a bus. Shattered kneecap. Took 3 months before I rode the ZX6R again and it was not for very long. The next summer I did ride it back from Florida in one day - 600 miles. Then I retired and traded the ZX6R for a BMW F800GT and went on long trips. BMW broke so I traded it for a Yamaha Tracer 900 GT which I still have. Lat summer rode it from Alabama to Michigan to the UP and west to ND then into Canada to Calgary and back thru Montana, SD and back home.

I identify as a 21 yo but my license has something else on it! If you have experience riding dirt bikes then it's possible a ZX6R could be a first bike but I would not recommend it. A lighter bike like a Ninja 400 or a KTM 390 or even the 250s and 300s will be lighter and easier to ride. At first you need to focus on the basics. ow to do a turn how to brake and corner and on the street do both carefully cause sometimes you have to stop going around a turn. In my neighborhood we have hills. Learning to start from stop isn't too bad. Learning to come up a steep road to a stop and then turn onto another steep road is a skill that takes time and practice for most. Lighter bike is easier. Stopping on a road that is not lever where you right foot is several inches lower than you left foot. Have to see and recognize and figure out how to post you feet down before coming to a stop are essential skills. Slow speed maneuvering which is taught in MSF classes is a vital skill and for most folks (like me) needs to be practiced. Last summer when leaving the campground in Calgary the street slopped steeply uphill from left to right, the approach to the street was steep as well and I had to stop to see if anything was coming! It was challenging on a fully loaded bike with full sidecases and a 58 liter duffle on the back seat. Knowing any mistake would put me down was no small amount of pressure! I made it in no small part to having done similar but less difficult turns a number of times - I was still nervous. Riding in campgrounds on gravel roads with a loaded bike while at slow speed is fun also. I always come back with my slow speed skills honed.

Final point on the ZX6R is they are quick bikes! Yes there are faster bikes but up to 80 to 100 all quick bikes are about the same. Above that and the bigger bikes will pull away. At lower speeds and gears the bike can respond extremely quickly. If you are not experienced and prepared the bike could jump out from under you if you whacked the throttle in 1st or 2nd at 9,000 RPM. 2nd problem with the power is unless you have driven a fast car or ridden a quick motorcycle the speed comes much more quickly than you are expecting and you suddenly find yourself in a situation where you are going twice as fast as you are used to and then you have to make decisions much more quickly and curves and stopping are happening much more quickly. With experience most people can adjust and learn to deal with it but it has certainly caught many inexperienced rider out.

650s are not bad bikes. I have contemplated them many times as they are fun bikes to ride. However they have much less HP (good thing for new riders) but weight as much ore more than a 600. I like the Triumph 660 triple but it is not a light bike. The Ninja 400 is a smaller bike with a bigger motor and had descent power - way more than my Ninja 250.

There is no wrong choice. My main recommendation is to look at and listen to all the advice (including mine) carefully evaluate yourself and make a decision you are comfortable with. This should be your decision and what looks cool to others is not important. Get the bike that works for you. Keep us posted on how it goes. Lots of very experienced riders here and you can learn a lot from the folks including to "don't I tied that and it didn't work so well".
 

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Al hits on a very serious point, in that the acceleration of nearly any motorcycle sold in the US will out accelerate anything short of a super car.

Becoming familiar with the rate at which information ‘hits’ a rider is hard for non riders to understand. You are doing a large number of things beyond twist and go. I can’t stress this enough. Learning how to properly manage your time is a critical part of riding safely. How to scan , where to scan and what for, how often, having a valid catalog of threats to make decisions about……. The butterfly effect is real. Small changes early are much more effective than last second heroics.

If you’re trying to figure out how to balance, odds are good you won’t understand counter steering, or how to maximize braking performance. Bikes stop NO BETTER THAN CARS. Tiny amounts of rubber in contact with the road…. If you don’t know that and respect it, the potential for injury goes up. Huge.
 

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I might make a plug for the N400 as well -- the beautiful thing about the N400 is how simple it is! If you're going to do your own work, this is a huge plus. It seems for every part on the N400, the ZX-6R has two -- I'm not just talking about cylinders and valves and such -- it seems everything is more complex on the 6R, which of course you likely expect with a higher budget...

The low seat height and low weight of the N400 are ideal for beginning as well.

Here's a great review of the N400: Honda CBR300R vs Kawasaki Ninja 400 vs KTM RC390 vs Suzuki GSX250R vs Yamaha YZF-R3 | On Two Wheels - YouTube

I'd definitely recommend ABS, whatever bike you go with.
 

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So I’m contemplating whether or not to purchase the ninja 650 for my first bike and then grow into the ZX6R.
I own both...... the 650 is much better balanced for slow cornering, useful when you're learning to ride you can almost stay upright when the bike is still. The 636 is much better with fast cornering and bumps, more expensive = better suspension, more stable. The 650 is a friendlier bike it isn't always trying to kill you, the 636 however will bring out the worst in you depending on restraint levels. I have not grown out of the 650 in many years, it's quick from a standstill, punchy and good fun, First bike.............650.
 

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Sub 500 lbs, 60-70 HP is more than adequate for anyone. A little bit more dicey two up, but still perfectly reasonable for any style of riding.

Kawasaki repackaging the same 650 parallel twin, with the same frame for multiple roles should show how effectively the same basic design can be adapted to suit many roles.

Suzuki has gone a similar route with the SV650, both a general purpose bike and a dual sport from the same engine/frame they’ve built for longer than the majority of the membership here has been alive.

The best part for anyone entering the sport is this means spares are plentiful.
 

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Same was true of the 400cc Suzuki Bandit, and the Honda CB1(?). The 400cc I 4 was a hoot, the Bandit had a trellis frame…. Both very light and compact with exceptional handling for the time.
 

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Go the 650. It's more forgiving. ESPECIALLY for a first bike. Later, if you want to do canyon carving/racing/track then go the ZX6R - but get instruction. Heck get instruction either way. You'll start to appreciate the bike underneath you can out-ride you no matter what it is.
 
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