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Know this has been beat to death but.... Looking for beginner bike for wife

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So, just took the wife for a ride on the 01 sprint st 955i that I just traded a Kawasaki voyager xii for, and needless to say, she for sure wants to get her MC license now, so now we are on the lookout for a cheap beginner bike, she doesn’t plan on riding on any dirt roads for any length of time, mainly street, doesn’t have to be pretty or anything, looking to stay under 1k or so, if you have any ideas or bikes even, let me know, thanks!! Also, she weighs about 110 lbs, only 5’3-1/2” tall, benches about 75 just to get some numbers for y’all that know a little more about short bikes and Thanks!!

Thank you again,
—Zach
 

Tourmeister

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Whatever you get, buy used and make sure it is not a bike she will get upset about dropping. Once she gets good, you will have a better idea what she can handle, then you can buy a nice bike.
 
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Whatever you get, buy used and make sure it is not a bike she will get upset about dropping. Once she gets good, you will have a better idea what she can handle, then you can buy a nice bike.
Exactly my thought on a cheap used bike, that’s why looking to stay under 1k
 
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I recognize you set a $1k budget, but bikes like that will need a few hundred dollars to clean up the carburetors and get into good shape. And it is important to have the machine in good running condition for a novice else there will be too many distractions and possible frustration which takes away from the experience. This is based on some of my experience getting my wife started on her own ride.
Try to find a bike that has been kept running in good condition. You may spend a bit more but it will be a better investment in terms of building her enthusiasm and enjoyment of motorcycling.
 

Tourmeister

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I recognize you set a $1k budget, but bikes like that will need a few hundred dollars to clean up the carburetors and get into good shape. And it is important to have the machine in good running condition for a novice else there will be too many distractions and possible frustration which takes away from the experience. This is based on some of my experience getting my wife started on her own ride.
Try to find a bike that has been kept running in good condition. You may spend a bit more but it will be a better investment in terms of building her enthusiasm and enjoyment of motorcycling.
Yeah, TOTALLY agree. I have been down that road with other new riders. For one, I took her around and showed her several $1K bikes. It did not take long to convince her it would be better to spend more to get a good bike that did not need work before she could ride it. However, that will usually push you into the $2.5-3.5K range. The up side of that is that most of those bikes can then be turned around and sold for about what you pay for them unless you tear them up or put crazy miles on them. For most new riders, it generally takes around 5K miles of riding before they really "get it" and become decent riders.

I would avoid ANY bike with fairings, like the Ninja 250/500. She will be very upset if she drops it and damages or scuff up her "new" bike, even if it is not new. Naked bikes or cruisers are a better way to go. You may end up replacing a few clutch/brake levers ;-) That is MUCH cheaper than worrying about trying to fix/replace fairings.
 
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Awesome, any bikes you would suggest then? She prefers the sport bike feel, I have had a wee strom, a voyager xii, and then this triumph sprint, and so far the sprint is what she prefers the most, thanks again so much
 

Lucydad

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Look around for a Kawasaki EX 500 Ninja: low to ground, decent brakes and power, and reliable with fuel injection... there has to be one around
 

Tourmeister

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The BIG issue is to get her to understand that her first bike is her learner bike, not her dream bike. You don't want her getting too emotionally invested in the first bike, trust me ;-)
 
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Hmm, how do they do on the highway though? We live in a smaller town so most riding would be to another town over and carbs don’t bother me, just means teacher her how to start it, most of her first rides will be with me following and such, just to make sure she isn’t doing anything that could later on lead to bad/dangerous habits
 
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Tourmeister

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If she hasn't already done so, I would really recommend she take the MSF course. It is not hard and it will do wonders for her confidence before she ever throws a leg over a bike of her own.

I suspect the Rebel 300 would have no problem running 70-75mph. I would be more concerned with whether or not you can put some kind of saddle bags or tail bag on it. Otherwise, she'd always be looking at carrying everything in a backpack even if you just did a short weekend trip somewhere.
 

GLFlyer

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Bought my 17 year old daughter a Gen-1 2000 (naked) SV650 from a TWT member. She's been riding two wheels on Texas roads since she's been legal (age 15 for scooters in TX), and has taken the MSF course (I don't ride Harley's, but I highly recommend the Harley MSF course). Her Birthday is in a couple of weeks, so we'll see how it goes. She'll be getting a gift certificate for an advanced rider course as well. ;)

Got it for a good price... but it definitely needed work. Hadn't ran in almost 10 years. 2WheelNut has been a big help, and we've rebuilt the carbs & brakes, replaced the fluids, cleaned the heck out of it, new tires, grips, & mirrors, a couple of sliders in case it (most likely will) gets dropped. I didn't want to buy new or anything with fairings like folks have mentioned here...

I had considered the Rebel or the CB300, but I wanted her to have a bit of power in reserve for highway riding, and I want her to go on rides with me where she would have no problems keeping up with the Tenere or Goldwing. The 2000 SV650 is super cheap to insure as well, plus it's easy to tear down and work on. Yeah... it's carb'd and she'll have to warm it up a bit before she rides, but... hey... I think she'll enjoy it. ;)
 
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I believe she is, she’s into the martial arts, goes 3-4 times a week and before that she worked out 6 days a week, a mixture of cardio and weightlifting at least an hour each day for the past 1.5 years
 
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That Rebel 300 may be the ticket but it isn't in the budget range and used will be limited given it is a new model. It is light years ahead of the old Rebel 250 (which is a fine starter bike) and will handle the highway just fine. It has the CBR300 engine and will pull much longer than the 250 rebel. One thing to consider is the controls - the Rebel 250 had forward controls and the new 300 looks to be closer to a mid-control. Personally, I don't like forward controls for a beginner but most low seat heights are on cruisers and forward controls are the norm. Also, with a really low seat height, you have to move the controls forward some to avoid cramped leg position. Outside of that, the Ninja 250s (prior gen) are among the most common starter bikes
 

Tourmeister

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If you can find a decent used one, an SV650 or SV650S would be good. The only difference is the partial fairing around the headlight cluster on the S model. These are fantastic bikes and she would never outgrow it. My wife had one for a while, then she got a VFR 800. A friend of ours had one and she put just over 70K miles on it before an accident scuffed it and the insurance totaled it (but gave her a BIG check for it!). She was 5' 2-1/4" tall. It had been lowered a bit and that worked great for her. You can put frame sliders on them that really help prevent damage from tip overs. You can put luggage on them and go touring. They get good gas mileage. They have plenty of power. Around 2002/3, or somewhere in there, they got fuel injection I think. But the carbed ones were still just fine.

Stock image of 2001 SV 650S
sv650s.jpg


My wife's bike on a week long trip through Colorado
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Our friend on a trip through East Texas
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More info: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Suzuki_SV650
 
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Whatever you get, buy used and make sure it is not a bike she will get upset about dropping. Once she gets good, you will have a better idea what she can handle, then you can buy a nice bike.
Agree. I should have clarified my recommendation for the new Rebel 500. I meant the newest generation.
 
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Agree. I should have clarified my recommendation for the new Rebel 500. I meant the newest generation.
If you can find a decent used one, an SV650 or SV650S would be good. The only difference is the partial fairing around the headlight cluster on the S model. These are fantastic bikes and she would never outgrow it. My wife had one for a while, then she got a VFR 800. A friend of ours had one and she put just over 70K miles on it before an accident scuffed it and the insurance totaled it (but gave her a BIG check for it!). She was 5' 2-1/4" tall. It had been lowered a bit and that worked great for her. You can put frame sliders on them that really help prevent damage from tip overs. You can put luggage on them and go touring. They get good gas mileage. They have plenty of power. Around 2002/3, or somewhere in there, they got fuel injection I think. But the carbed ones were still just fine.

Stock image of 2001 SV 650S
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My wife's bike on a week long trip through Colorado
View attachment 151103

Our friend on a trip through East Texas
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More info: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Suzuki_SV650
I like the idea of the sv650, as it would allow her to keep the bike longer as opposed to a smaller ninja 300 or 250
 

Tourmeister

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Unless you get a cruiser style bike, the stock seat height on most bikes will be a minimum of 30". Most can be lowered an inch or two without too much trouble. After that, you have to start looking at custom shaping the seat to remove some foam under the tush and between the legs.

A Honda CB500F might be a good bike. It will have plenty of power for highways. They've been out 5-6 years I think so you should be able to find some used ones. I think the stock seat height is around 30-31". You could probably get that down to 29-30" without too much trouble. Usually, it means raising the forks in the triple clamp, new link(s) on rear shock, and shortening the kick stand so the bike still leans over enough to prevent it from tipping over the other direction. I'd bet if you google "lowering CB500F" or something similar, you'll find tons of info.
 

Tourmeister

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Still, I would recommend thinking of the first bike as temporary. Don't try to get everything you want out of that first bike. It is not necessary that it be able to do trips and such. All you really want to do is use it for riding around on low traffic roads to develop the muscle training/coordination skills until she can ride and manipulate the bike's controls without having to look at her hands/feet so she can keep her eyes UP all the time. It is VERY common for new riders to look down when trying to shift, brake, etc,...

We have a small local mall near us. In the evenings, the parking lot is virtually empty. It was perfect for teaching new riders basic skills. It is on the edge of town, so once she was ready, we could move out to lightly traveled roads for higher speed riding. Remember, the MSF class is good, but it really only qualifies you to ride around in a parking lot at low speeds. Most riders will need to continue practicing those basic skills and gradually work up to higher speeds without having to also worry about traffic around them. Trying to do it all at once can be like drinking from a fire hose and it can overwhelm their ability to process everything at once. New riders have not yet learned what is safe to ignore and what MUST have their attention, so this dramatically slows down their ability to process and react. Once they are in traffic, you don't want them having to be constantly thinking about how to shift, how to brake, etc,... It should be automatic for them.

I would also highly recommend a set of communicators. Let her lead and set a pace where she is comfortable. Hang back... more than you would for other riders. You don't want her thinking she needs to go faster because you are close to her. I've seen that cause problems. Better to just hang back, go at her pace, and not have her feel rushed. Being able to talk with her will be nice, but let her do most of the talking so you are not taking away from her ability to pay attention to those things that really need her attention.

Also, the best money spent would be to buy Keith Code's "Twist of the Wrist II" and read the short sections on seven survival reactions versus the seven CORRECT reactions. That book can literally save your life.

https://www.amazon.com/Twist-Wrist-Vol-High-Performance-Motorcycle/dp/0965045021

He was a racer. However, that section applies 100% to street riding skills on ANY style of bike!
 

Tourmeister

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I plan on getting the wife a ttr125/crf150 or equivalent and starting her in the dirt. With the long term goal of getting her on the road.
That is ideal, but not everyone wants to go the slower more deliberate route. Those bikes are small, light, and not super intimidating.
 

Tourmeister

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We also are fortunate enough to be able to ride at home, with close to a mile of gravel throughout the ranch aside from trails
Fortunate indeed. Nowadays, if you don't know someone with property, just finding a big empty field to practice riding a dirt bike is VERY hard.
 
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Have her take the safety course, which is something she’ll have to do anyways, to see if she really wants to ride or not. That will be the big test so to speak. I’d do this before buying a bike.
 

StromXTc

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Have her take the safety course, which is something she’ll have to do anyways, to see if she really wants to ride or not. That will be the big test so to speak. I’d do this before buying a bike.
True.
It was v star 250' s but they were going to change to Honda groms for some reason . Not very representative of a real street motorcycle.
 

GLFlyer

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Wow... Groms?

Just a suggestion; The Harley Dealerships offer their own MSF course... and they use the Street 500. It's a great bike and they have different seat heights depending on your needs.

35398459260_d0f369e01c_z.jpg
 
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Looks like the closest place to me that has ever offered an msf course is the red river Harley Davidson, looks like I lucked out!
 
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My wife started on a KX80 that I bought, bad idea. She bought her own TTR125 and followed me around the woods and over some mountains for a few years. She just took the safety course at Fort Worth Harley and got her license. She rides my Triumph Thruxton when we go out for breakfast Sunday mornings now. We are trying to get time to head up the Natchez Trace this spring. She loves the triumph, but has no desire to battle traffic like I do commuting every day.
 

Monica

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Skimmed the thread so correct me... I saw a lot of numbers but not the one that matters - inseam. What is her inseam? I'm 5'3 117 w a 28.5" inseam. Personally, I hate cruisers, don't care if they're low and light. The way they make one's posture sit back and kick your feet out, it is not a good "ready" position (been an athlete all my life so knees bent on the balls of your feet is an ingrained, strong, physical posture for me). Sounds like she's of the athletic type too, I'm not too concerned about her coordination or strength working a bike, she just needs to get skilled at moving around a bike.

First thing's first though, get her into an MSF class. Those are your basic skills for life - period. She has the opportunity to learn on a bike that isn't hers and she doesn't have to worry about dropping/scratching breaking or even investing in. From there she is MUCH better prepared to sit on bikes and pick one out that is comfortable for her. Don't pick out her bike, let her do it, just present her with the appropriate options. Remember, this is her first bike, not her last. She can sell/buy when her skills and mind are ready.

My first bike was a Japan spec VTR250 in '07.
right side.jpg

Best bike I ever had. Since I lived overseas at the time, I had to bring my own bike to the MSF course. Plus I had to modify it to ride but that's another story. It was enough power for the street (there) and low enough seat height after a shave. Here in TX, I'd say look for a 250-500cc bike but I'd aim for over 300 to have enough juice if she had to be on the highway. Weight and wind will be a factor on ultimate top speed but she needs to have enough power to get out of trouble. The equivalent bike here in the States is the Honda CB lineup. Check out the Kawasaki Ninjas too. There are some smaller capable bikes, but what you'll run into is seat height/inseam challenge. I would ain to find a bike that is fuel injected...ie, bump up your shopping price. Fighting with a carburetor when you'd rather be riding is frustrating, trust me.

All that mentioned about a street bike, consider dual sports too. They'll be relatively tough and resilient to drops, bumps and bruises. Plus you can find them at reasonable prices. Look at the XT225/XT250, Yamaha WR250R, Kawasaki KLX250, Honda CRF230L/250L. Unfortunately you will give up top speed and they're not going to be suitable for highway speeds (sans the WR250R, plus it's taller).

My second bike back stateside was an SV650. It was a ton of fun bike, super torque motor and ran like crazy. But while I loved the pull on it, it was a bit topheavy for me and I never really got comfy on it. Didn't stay on that one for long, literally. It's a great bike, just wasn't the bike for me.

If once your wife gets through the learning curve, check out the street bikes in the European/Asian market. They offer sub400cc bikes to compete in the tiered licensing system those countries use. I've been eyeing hard the BMW G310GS but they make a street version G310R which is a little lower seat height. Another is the Ducati Sixty2 Scrambler redo.

Right now I'm tootling around on a plated TTR125LE. My intention was to get my skills back underneath me after being off a motorcycle for a # of years. I'm also drifting into to dual sport riding, so I'm going easy. Traffic is nasty out here and I intended to stay out of it, but I find I'm getting back into it more and more.

Personally being a small chick I don't need a lot of bike to ride me around, <700cc moves me just fine, just a matter of finding which way I wanna be moved around is the question. For your wife, get her basic skills laid as the foundation. Do that on her first bike, after that, shopping is more wide open. Remember, her first bike, not her last. Or rather, she can collect many, like shoes or purses.
 
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Jarrett

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I'll throw out the odd ball suggestion. My daughter was 23 when she started riding last year. She's 5'5" or 5'6" tall.

I got her a 2012 Honda NC700X DCT to start on. We got it used for $3500 and it needed no work done. Next to the Zero electric motorcycles, its the easiest bike I've ever ridden. It has an on board storage compartment and plenty of power to go on the highway at 50hp. It's an "automatic" bike, so no clutch lever, no shift lever, can't stall which takes away a lot of the issues new riders struggle with.

It is a heavy bike though at 500 lbs., but she has no problems with it as it has a really low center of gravity. The bike feels much lighter than it is. She has dropped it only once while backing it off a sloped parking spot in the rain. It was my bad for suggesting her to park there in the first place.

My daughter grew up working on horse and cattle ranches and is physically stronger than most women her size as a byproduct, so I'm not sure how much that factors into her handling the bike so easily. The seat height on it is 31 inches, I think. Again, not sure if that makes a difference in your case or not, but just wanted to throw it out there.

I probably should also mention that she had raced horses and jetskis for years prior to getting on a motorcycle, so 50hp wasn't intimating to start with for her.
 
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SL350

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The statistics I have read suggest cruisers are the top choice for women who ride. Second is scooters. Third place is just 10%. I figure these stats just mean no one showed them a dual sport!
 
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Alright, called Red River Harley Davidson, their classes don't start getting posted until the end of February, thanks for everyones help!!
 
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I have a '93 Honda CB750 Night Hawk in Tahitian Blue. Hasn't run in over two years. It was my wife's bike, glass smooth, no dents or major scratches. I know it needs a battery and possibly a carb clean, however I did drain the carbs when I parked it, has a small windshield, and one fork leaks (I have the fork seals). I'll let it go for $750 as is. I can send pics if interested.
 

Tourmeister

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Are you referring to the CB 750? If so, that was my first bike. I had a 92 Nighthawk 750, just like the one Chris mentions. I have a 34" inseam. It did not take much for that bike to lean over to the point where I could not stop if from going the rest of the way. It is fairly top heavy compared to newer bikes. When I went from that to my VFR 800, I was blown away by the difference in how the weight was carried. The CB750 is a great UJM. You can commute on it, travel on it, cruise on it, etc... It is VERY low maintenance. I put about 10K trouble free miles on mine before selling it.

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Are you referring to the CB 750? If so, that was my first bike. I had a 92 Nighthawk 750, just like the one Chris mentions. I have a 34" inseam. It did not take much for that bike to lean over to the point where I could not stop if from going the rest of the way. It is fairly top heavy compared to newer bikes. When I went from that to my VFR 800, I was blown away by the difference in how the weight was carried. The CB750 is a great UJM. You can commute on it, travel on it, cruise on it, etc... It is VERY low maintenance. I put about 10K trouble free miles on mine before selling it.

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I spaced on the weight factor
 
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