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Discussion Starter #1
I have been riding ATVs (4 wheelers) for a few years now, and decided I want to get a nice street bike, well, dual sport kinda bike.
Me and a buddy plan to get an old used Honda Rebel 250 to learn on, and get our license with, and ride it for at least 4 months.
Then we plan on buying our first real bikes. I am strongly leaning toward the DL650, it seems to be everything I am wanting. Something I can ride to work daily, go on longer weekend rides, or maybe even several day rides. Something that can be setup to haul some gear, etc. Something that is good on poor paved roads with potholes, etc. I dont plan on taking if OFF road, but it could see some dirt and gravel roads, as I live in West Virginia, lots of hills and winding back roads.

My main concern is, since I am new to all this, will i be ok with the DL650?
After learning to ride on a Honda Rebel 250 for a few months, will I be biting off more than I can chew with the DL650? On average, compared to other bikes, how easy or hard is it to ride?
BTW, I am 5'-11" 190 lbs.

Thanks alot for the advice.
~John
 

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Skip the Rebel and go straight to the 650. Take the safety foundation class where they teach on 250's to get you licencse. My first bike was a virago 750 and it was actually easier IMO than the small 250 they used in my class. The wee strom is so easy to ride, it wont be a handfull to learn on, yet it will let you grow as much as you want into the bike.
 

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The Wee will fit you perfectly, and yes, it's a VERY newb friendly choice.

Will echo above though....take a course first, invaluable.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
I still need to look into it more, but yes there are training courses here, that are different than just going to the DMV and taking the test.
They are $250 to $300 for about 4 days. But I have heard that if you pass them, you dont even have to take the DMV test. Plus I am sure I will learn more there than the DMV.
We hope to get something like the Rebel 250 soon, get our permits and start practicing.
(another reason for the Rebel is that it may be used as my buddies wife's first bike)

Sounds like the DL650 is going to be a good choice for me then, but keep the comments and opinions coming guys.
Any tips, or things I would be aware of or watch out for would be great.
~John
 

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I still need to look into it more, but yes there are training courses here, that are different than just going to the DMV and taking the test.
They are $250 to $300 for about 4 days. But I have heard that if you pass them, you dont even have to take the DMV test. Plus I am sure I will learn more there than the DMV.
That's dirt cheap....in BC, Canada, the costs for a full course, which typically consist of 1 night theory, 4 days in a parking lot (closed course), and 2 days in traffic, cost about $750....this is the norm.

That said, it's a small price to pay for the knowledge and skills gained, I feel it should be mandatory for new riders.


Sounds like the DL650 is going to be a good choice for me then, but keep the comments and opinions coming guys.
Any tips, or things I would be aware of or watch out for would be great.
~John
There's really not much else to say, I mean...it's a great all around bike, reliable, comfy, capable, efficient, cheap to insure, can be found for decent prices, and has a strong following when time comes to sell.

You really can't go wrong, assuming you like the bike in the first place, which you do.
 

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I like a small, dual purpose bike that can provide some dirt riding time for a beginner. The falls don't hurt as much and the experience of sliding a tire is educational. I think a beginner is best served by getting a year of experience before getting a V-Strom.
 

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It was (is) my first bike

The wee is a great bike. I have found it forgiving, but powerful and all I could ask. My only complaint is that I don't want to get rid of it to try another bike. I will probably keep it and add another when the time comes. I learned to ride on my Wee, after taking the riding course so it certainly is doable. That said I am large (6'4" 275lbs) and the bike doesn't seem heavy to me having nothing else to really compare it with (except the vee I have ridden a few times).

I do like Greywolf's advice of getting a smaller dual sport. I can't say I regret getting my wee when I did, because I don't, but I am looking for something smaller that I can tear up, drop, etc to get some dirt experience now. When I was looking I was shown the Strom and was blinded to other bikes so I wouldn't even have considered something less.

As for advice, when you are starting to ride (has anyone mentioned taking the safety course?) stay off the interstate. You'll learn faster staying to back roads with some twisties. My first few times out I took a short trip to a decent sized (empty) parking lot and practiced for 30-45 minutes. And in case no one has told you yet and you decide to ride before taking the course, please use the front brake while doing on-road riding.
 

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My only concern is that they are tall and top heavy. that presents some differences but it can be lowered if needed, and time to adjust to the top heavy characteristics. A big tank is nice but does have an effect.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
When you guys say the DL650 is top heavy, I assume you mean compared to other style bikes? Like Harleys, lower pure street bikes?
Are the DL650s about the same as other "dual sports" ?
The bike will never really see pure offroad, it will be used on 90% pavement.
But it will see alot of potholes around here, some dirt/gravel roads.

~John
 

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My only concern is that they are tall and top heavy. that presents some differences but it can be lowered if needed, and time to adjust to the top heavy characteristics. A big tank is nice but does have an effect.
+1. I learned on a GS500F for a year (awesome beginner bike) and one of the first things I noticed while getting used to the DL650 was how top heavy it was. You definitely feel the high center of gravity on this bike. I think it would be wise to take a course to get your license and do what you were planning after that: stick with a 250 for a little while to really get comfortable and learn the basic skills before hopping on a strom. Something inexpensive, light, and flickable would do nicely.
 

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The V-Strom is tall and top heavy. I like mine a lot, but I've learned to (usually) keep it within a couple of degrees of exact vertical (or balanced while leaning in a turn). Once it starts to tip, it's over.

I agree with getting a light 250 to 400 dual-sport bike to start with. There are lots of 250s around, and you can learn a lot and have a lot of fun on one for many months. When that bike bores you, get the Strom.
 

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My buddy just got his first bike ever [he's creepin up on 40]. He got a BMW F800GS. Definitely not what you'd expect a beginner to get, eh? But really, it's got great brakes, suspension, handles great, and a nice, easy to control motor [that happens to rev out an make some serious HP].......He's a tall guy, so it's actually a good fit for him.

Don't be scared off by the Strom, and get a smaller enduro bike - those will not be a lot of fun for you if you ever really want to GO somewhere. The Wee is super easy to handle - it practically steers itself at lower speeds, and the motor is an absolute joy to use. If you can get around it's rather large proportions, and accept that, then it's a great beginner bike [and expert bike too].

It's a bike newbies, and experience riders, can enthusiastically enjoy.
 

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I'd just get the 650 and take the safety course. It's a very beginner-friendly bike despite the fact that most strom riders are experienced riders. The Wee is one of the very few bikes that is suitable for inexperienced riders right up through the veterans.
 

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For street riding I think you'd be fine as long as you ...

know your limits
respect those limits
take it easy
ride during less congested hours
drill before you go out

Off-road the wee can be a handful, especially if you have no off-road motorcycling experience. So, if that's the case I'd expect to drop it. If you don't like the thought of dropping your nice new shiny wee on a back-road somewhere consider a used DR650 to start out with.

Best of luck!
 

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I honestly don't think you could choose two worse bikes for the price.

First, either you fit the Rebel 250 or you fit the 'Strom. There is no way you fit both. The Rebel is TINY. Clown bike tiny... and I'm a little guy (5'11") with stumpy little legs. The only guy I know who was happy with his Rebel was about 5' tall and even he upgraded pretty quickly to a 650 V-Star. He won't even try to sit on my strom due to the size.

Second, the Rebel is an anemic and totally street oriented quasi-cruiser. It's good for maybe 70MPH on the road and not good for much of anything off road. The 'strom makes sacrifices (especially height and consequent top-heaviness) for its limited off-pavement ability. If you are going to pick a trainer, get something from the same general family.

Third, the 'Strom is a lousy beginner bike. It is tall and top-heavy enough to get a newb in trouble at every stop. It's far too much bike for a new rider to push without major risk...risk a new rider may not recognize until well past any correction. While it's maneuverable and handles easily, a new rider risks quickly scaring themselves into treating it as a straight-line acceleration bike and never learning how to turn or brake.

Can you do it? Sure. Many people started out on a wee or even more powerful bikes. I know someone whose first bike was a GSXR-1000. He lived. You probably will too. But I've personally kept up with him on a twisty mountain road on a ninja 250 and I'm far far far from the best rider around.


I agree with everyone who says to take an MSF or equivalent course.

If you want to go with a trainer and wee, at least start with something like a KLX250. It's closer to the seat height and general function of the 'Strom while having a bit more general functionality than the Rebel. The biggest downside I see is you might want to keep it...no danger of that with a Rebel.

If your interest is more street, the Ninja 250 is worth looking at. Alternatively, the Suzuki 400 dual sport isn't a bad choice. The classic 500cc bikes are the very top edge of what I'd recommend. You can get yourself into PLENTY of trouble with 30HP...no need for 50+ while learning.

Pick a first bike you can stick with for at least a full year. You want to experience a wide range of riding conditions on the same platform.

That's my take anyway.
 

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Third, the 'Strom is a lousy beginner bike. It is tall and top-heavy enough to get a newb in trouble at every stop. It's far too much bike for a new rider to push without major risk...risk a new rider may not recognize until well past any correction. While it's maneuverable and handles easily, a new rider risks quickly scaring themselves into treating it as a straight-line acceleration bike and never learning how to turn or brake.
You should ride some more bikes if you think the Strom is top heavy. it may look top-loaded due to the fairing around the tank but it's not.
 

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LOL... there are bikes that put more weight up high. Didn't suggest otherwise. Also wouldn't suggest those bikes for a beginner.

If you don't realize the Strom is relatively top heavy you've been playing in the wrong end of the pool too long. :)
 

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When you guys say the DL650 is top heavy, I assume you mean compared to other style bikes? Like Harleys, lower pure street bikes?
Yes, compared to those it is top-heavy but it's not crazy top heavy. If you respect it and know to lean and when not to lean you'll be fine. You see people saying they drop them in parking lots all the time and I can honestly say I've never once had an issue with that even though I'm only 5-9 and stand on my toes on the Wee. The Wee was my 2nd bike and I've never once thought to myself "whoa that was a close one." I dunno, your milage may vary on this one.

Are the DL650s about the same as other "dual sports" ?
The bike will never really see pure offroad, it will be used on 90% pavement.
But it will see alot of potholes around here, some dirt/gravel roads.
An emphatic "no" here. It is not even close to being the same as other "dual sports." I have a Suzuki DR350 dual sport. On that bike I can ride gnarly single-track in the forest and ride it on the highway on the same trip. That bike is a true dual sport. While there are a few crazy folks who take their DL650 in places they really shouldn't, I'd guess 99% of the people here really mean "some dirt/gravel roads" as you said above when they say "off road." To me, "off road" means a place you can't take a car or even a jeep. My DL650 has never been "off road" nor will it be, well not on purpose anyways. But it's seen tons of dirt and gravel roads... even a few you'd better think twice about driving on in a passenger car.

For the riding mix you have described, I would say Rebel 250 to DL650 after you feel good about your riding is a great path, especially if you will be using the Rebel for someone else to learn on as well. About the time you feel like the Rebel just isn't "doing it" for you anymore, you will be ready for the DL650.

Greywolf's advice of a true dual sport (like a DRZ400, DR350, XT250, TW200) is sound as well. Riding on a dirt/gravel road really is a different animal than riding on pavement and starting on these bikes will give you a truer sense of riding up a little higher like you will on the Wee. Plus, I only paid $1250 for my DR350. Pretty cheap investment for a first bike (although it was my third.) Problem is, you'll have so much fun on one of these you won't want to sell it and you'll end up with two bikes :). Wait, that's a problem?
 

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Great first bike? Tough call. I'm 5'11" about 225lbs. I picked up a 2008 Honda Rebel back in 2008. I learned a lot on that little bike such as:

* How to ride.
* How to use the bike as a tool to accomplish tasks (Low speed maneuvers, well, low speed everything).
* Ridden with respect, how to trust the bike and it's tires to do their job (not fall over, not wash out or hi/low side).
* How small, lightweight and nimble the Rebel is.
* How much pain a larger fella can actually take on a small bike over periods of time.

There are many things to consider when choosing a first bike. My second bike is my DL650K9. I JUST broke the 1000 mile mark and from what I understand, break-in is essentially over. The V-Strom is a tall, top heavy bike with power.

If you're a man-handling power-junky hell bent on your own potential destruction and you can physically control large top-heavy things like the V-Strom without care of dropping it or damaging it, go for it. But also consider the power. A motorcycle is a different animal from an automobile. What it requires from the pilot, it's individual characteristics, handling, and torque are all finicky components that work together or against you; dependent upon your skills.

Example, having completed my break-in, today was the first day I opened it up and ventured toward the 10k RPM mark, never made it passed 9,000. Holy SHIT! :yikes: I found myself reluctant to break concentration to shift to the next gear. I eventually backed off and fell back in line with traffic. Actually, there was no traffic except the cars I left 1/2 mile behind me.

Before the DL650, the Honda Rebel (250cc) was the largest motorcycle I had ever been on. I spent two years on that bike and we got along great. We did some long rides, twisties, maintenance, wrenching, what have you. I never dropped it, never had a get-off, not even a scratch on it. I've gone WOT with the Rebel on many occasions. No big deal. The bike doesn't have any torque to speak of. I cannot say the same for the 650. I have dropped it three times and it has put the fear of God into me on a few occasions. Especially today.

There were some things that I was not prepared for when I opened that throttle. These things did not make themselves evident UNTIL I was nearing escape velocity such as the buffeting of my helmet being extremely intense. It made the view look like a bad SyFy earthquake movie. The revs and noise that the engine made were awesome but I was not comfortable with pulling the clutch in to shift to the next gear. Why? I wasn't sure what would happen if I didn't completely close the throttle to shift. Blown engine perhaps?

What happens when you completely close the throttle to shift while all that torque is being dispensed? What about all that weight being transferred forward suddenly? I had no clue. Perhaps nothing. Oh, my favorite... getting the throttle fully closed fast enough would mean that I should release it with my right hand and reach for the clutch lever with my left effectively reducing my grip on the handle bars? I'm thinking no!

On today's shuttle launch I quickly discovered that there were some things that I didn't anticipate but I was experienced enough to recognize them as possibilities. I made a decision and slowly backed off.

I'm sure many if not all of you are fine people with the best intentions but I would be remiss if I did not say that recommending large bikes as a starter is irresponsible. Great, now I sound like my parents. But... don't tell em', today was a BLAST! Can't wait to try it again! :thumbup:
 
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