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My wife has a friend at work who's husband I've become a little tight with as we have the same interests (boating, motorcycles, etc) although he's just starting to explore all of the interests we share. For the past few months he's been looking at bikes, got his permit and signed up for the motorcycle safety course.

He has called me a few times telling me about big Harleys he's looking at. I thought I had convinced him that if he's going for a Harley start out with an 883 but have suggested he look at a VLX or 750 Shadow. To be clear he's never been on a bike before.

Yesterday he called and said he was exited about a 250 Yamaha Virago he found on Craigslist. I tried to talk him out of it but I wasn't successful. He's about 6' 230 pounds. He thinks this would be a great small bike to learn on but I'm afraid for him taking that thing out on the streets. My son is much smaller than my friend and a guy I've gotten tight with at the Honda dealer suggested I start my son on the EX 500 rather than the 250 Ninja. He says the 250's just do not have enough power to pull out into traffic safely or maintain highway speeds.

I'm going to look at this bike with my friend tonight and I'm really concerned that he is making a huge mistake. I am basing my concern on the fact that I rode a Honda Twinstar 250 for a little while years ago and bought a CM400 for my ex-wife years ago and both bikes were very underpowered. I feel like if he moves from this Yamaha 250 to a bigger Harley in the Spring (that's his plan) it will be like learning to ride all over again as the two bikes will handle completely different. I really want to see him start out on a mid-sized bike if he plans to move to a bigger Harley.

Am I wrong? I've tried my best to talk him out of this but I'm going to go with him tonight. He's already said that if the bike is in good condition and after a test ride (by me) it is a good bike he's buying it. I know there are some people here who started out on Rebels. Am I giving my friend bad advice or am thinking correctly?
 

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i agree with you and i think after a cpl weeks of riding that little 250,he will regret his decision,maybe not even after a cpl weeks..i dont like to lie to people as i try to be completely honest,but if youre goin to do the test ride,id make some kind of excuse as to why he shouldnt buy it,but in all honesty,if yer friend is 6 230lbs, the only excuse can be the bike is way to small,not sure how much you weigh but tell him for no bigger then you are the bike is way underpowered even for you..honesty is the best answer,im sure he will understand.
 

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The 250 size is just too small in my opinion and experience.

I have the VTX 1800, Shadow Spirit 750C2 and a Rebel 250.

The Rebel is a capable piece of equipment. Does great on the highway (our FM roads around here ) for the granddaughters, wife (when she gets back on it) and the daughters. We are talking weights of no more than 150 lbs here. When I mount up on it the capability drops drastically. Now we are talking 5' 9" at 233 lbs.

I can run 65 or 70 with the crowd as long as the road is flat and no head wind. The bike has little to no power left at 55 + mph to pass or get yourself out of a bind in tight situations. He will quickly tire of the bike and it's lack of "umph". I would not want to ride for any extended period of time on a busy fast moving highway of any kind, period.

As I have posted before, the wife and I both agree the 750 is an easier bike to maneuver and handle with ample power to carry the load you are talking about. Just more stable and the weight is a negligible factor in managing the bike. She had a choice of the 750 and Rebel when I sold the first Rebel we owned and she choose the 750 in a heartbeat without reservation. She was a newbie rider then with only 4 months of occasional riding under her belt.



Son in law below - 6' and about 160 lbs. To me he looks crowded on the bike ....

 

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I'd try to get him on a 750 Shadow. I got mine as a starter bike knowing [email protected] well that I'd outgrow it and probably want more power. It was relatively weak, but not 250 Rebel weak. I could ride with all my friends with 1300s and other stuff with my 750 and keep up. It was great to mod. It'll still sound good with some pipes or slip ons.
I scored my V-rod at a really good price, and even tho it's 3-4 times the power, it wasn't so much that I couldn't control it.

After riding my 750 for a few months, and then going to the MSF course and riding on those 250 Rebel and Nighthawks for 2 days, I swore I'd never own one. After that class I couldn't wait to get on my 750 again. 38ish horsepower might not sound like a lot, but when compared to the Rebel/Nighthawk's 14/17 horsepower, it's a world of difference. I'm 210 lbs also.
Now a 250 Ninja is a different animal. I'd own one of those to tinker around with because they've got some decent speed.
 

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Take a photo of him sitting on the bike, when he see's himself looking like a monkey humping a football he may change his mind. However if he likes the Virgo style of bike, show him a Vulcan 750 if available.
 

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He will be waisting his money on a 250. For a man his size he needs at least a 750.
As you can have too much bike for a body, you can also have too much body for a bike. Plus, after a few weeks, he won't be happy with it and want something bigger..
Thats a lot of man for a little 250 to move.
 

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I'm 150 lbs and I was frustrated with my Shadow 400 ACE after one season, and that was in a country without freeways with max speeds about 45 mph.

JMO, he DEFINITELY needs at least a 750 if he's going to get a cruiser. That's a lot of metal and man to be hauling around with a 250.
 

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See if you can get him to wait on pulling the trigger until AFTER the MSF and then have him test ride bikes up to 900s or so. Before I took the MSF, I had thought I'd buy a 250. Even the class instructors were very clear that although they used them for teaching, they did not recommend them for being your full-time bike. They recommended a variety of metric models up to about the Vulcan 900 I think.

It was a hard sell for me at first. I was intimidated by big bikes. So, first I went to a Honda dealer and rode a used VLX and realized it didn't handle much differently than the 250 but had better and smoother power delivery. Then I rode a 750 and thought it was PERFECT. I've since moved up to a VTX 1300, but I think a Shadow 750 is a pretty perfect bike (either for a starter, or for a lifetime).

He just doesn't realize it yet because all those 600, 750, 800, 900cc bikes sound and look HUGE to the newbie eye. I was the same way until I test rode (after training via MSF) and realized that as long as the center of gravity was right, and the bike not too tall (I'm about 5'6") I could handle the larger cruisers just like the 250s.
 

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Another thought... he might have trouble getting his money back out of a 250 (reselling). At least around here they seem to sit on Craig's List forever as there isn't much of a market for them. The only time I'd suggest one to somebody is as an alternative to a scooter (this is a college town, lots of scooters).
 

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I'm going to have to be the first one to go the other way. The 250's can keep up with traffic. They can safely merge. Contrary to popular belief, they can maintain highway speeds. I speak from experience, having owned two and ridden several. Saying larger people cannot safely ride smaller bikes is like saying fat women shouldn't drive small cars because it won't be able to pull the weight. A recent demo ride of the 2010 250 Ninja proved that it is faster than my Ford Explorer. I've never had any problems merging with that one, either. As a beginner, how fast do you need to accelerate, anyway?

It's his first bike, not his last. Let him get something he is comfortable with rather than what you are comfortable with him having. He can learn the basics and, because he's buying it on craigslist, turn around and probably get his money back out of it (unless it's just a crappy deal).

Going from the 250 to a Harley would be no different than going from a 600 or a 750 to a Harley. Regardless of the previous bike, when moving to a new bike, there is a learning curve. The point is to get the basics down on a bike that is forgiving, light and easy to maneuver, and cheap(incase it gets dropped). Sure, some have done it on larger bikes. That means it's possible. Doesn't make it ideal.

If your friend wants you to test ride, give him an honest opinion of how the bike runs. Certainly don't lie about it just to get him to buy another bike. Interesting that the post with that suggestion ended with "Honesty is the best answer".

As for the salesman pushing the 500 over the 250, find another salesman. Since being redesigned in 09, the 250's are selling all day long. He wants to move a bike that is a little more difficult to get off the floor. Your wants/needs in a motorcycle are obviously not this guys first priority.
 

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I know where your friend is going with his thought process. However, I am 6’1/210 and after only two weeks of riding my 750 felt too small. In my search for a new bike I’ve been looking at 1300 and above and the m109r at 1800 seems to be the best fit so far. I wish I had a friend who had offered your kind of advice when I first started but ultimately it’s his choice.
 

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See if you can get him to wait on pulling the trigger until AFTER the MSF and then have him test ride bikes up to 900s or so. Before I took the MSF, I had thought I'd buy a 250. Even the class instructors were very clear that although they used them for teaching, they did not recommend them for being your full-time bike. They recommended a variety of metric models up to about the Vulcan 900 I think.

It was a hard sell for me at first. I was intimidated by big bikes. So, first I went to a Honda dealer and rode a used VLX and realized it didn't handle much differently than the 250 but had better and smoother power delivery. Then I rode a 750 and thought it was PERFECT. I've since moved up to a VTX 1300, but I think a Shadow 750 is a pretty perfect bike (either for a starter, or for a lifetime).

He just doesn't realize it yet because all those 600, 750, 800, 900cc bikes sound and look HUGE to the newbie eye. I was the same way until I test rode (after training via MSF) and realized that as long as the center of gravity was right, and the bike not too tall (I'm about 5'6") I could handle the larger cruisers just like the 250s.
...THIS.../\...

...size vs weight vs power does not change equally in proportion...a 500 bike is not double the size/weight/power of a 250...

...what does go up is the power to weight ratio 250/25HP @ 300lbs...500/50hp @400lbs....the weight did not double...
 

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I recommend your Friend gets the bike that fits, HIM. Also get the bike he will want to be riding 2 years from now. Personally my, VT1100 is on the small side for distance cruising but is fine for day to day transport. I am 150lbs and the wife is 100lbs. I am so happy I didn't go with the 883 or 750 shadows I was looking at when I found my Shadow. I have ridden bikes from almost every current manufacturer and a few that don't even exist anymore. The key to the proper bike is physical fit and riding style. Small street bikes are nice when you fall down, but not for much else. If you are NEVER going to be running more than 5 miles on the highway or freeway, a 250 Ninja is great, they can also be very fun in the twisties. My preference for twisties is a 400 to 600 dual purpose, wearing street tires. BUT both are worthless at highway speed and don't even think about ridding 2-up. For highway cruising I want some BULK, and the power to move it. That means 1100cc minimum in a modern cruiser. Optimum to me would be the 1300 vtx motor on the chassis of my 1993 VT1100.
 

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...THIS.../\...

...size vs weight vs power does not change equally in proportion...a 500 bike is not double the size/weight/power of a 250...

...what does go up is the power to weight ratio 250/25HP @ 300lbs...500/50hp @400lbs....the weight did not double...
Yep. A 250 V-star weighs a lot less than a Shadow ACE. Someone mentioned the 250 ninja, that thing is a feather compared to the V-star. If you're comparing a 500 Shadow to a 750, you're spot on. Same for a 250, 600, or 1000 sport bike. Weights may actually go down on the larger displacement bikes when you start looking at performance models. In other words, I agree that displacement is not proportional to weight and size at all.

Small displacement cruisers will leave a rider looking to upgrade in a hurry. Especially when the rider is pushing the wet weight of the bike.

Cannot recommend against the 250 cruiser enough.

Getting back to some things others have said:

The military has a lot of problems with noobs buying liter sportbikes, so I understand why a lot of people push smaller displacement bikes for new riders. There is MASSIVE difference between a ninja and a v-star though. You can't use that as an example.
 

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My $0.02: I have the ACE 750 and my wife has a Marauder 250... she loves the Marauder but she is only just 5' and 110lbs soaking wet.... I got on the Marauder to try it out (I am 6' 205lbs) and felt like I was on a kiddy ride... lots of noise but very little action! I was actually more comfortable on the Yamaha XT250's they used at our bike course. I am not an aggressive rider but when I pull away from a stop or accelerate to highway speed my wife is literally left in the dust... she catches up eventually but it takes a bit. Even she says that it wont be long and she will want something bigger.

I have to agree with the OP that this is probably a bad idea for a number of reasons including:

-Comfort... he will feel like a pretzel in under an hour
-Lack of power to haul him around and keep up with you if you ride together
-Loss of interest (he is going to hate it in a few weeks time after hes got some experience)
-resale... Tons of these bikes for sale because everyone that buys one wants a bigger bike
 

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I'm going to have to be the first one to go the other way. The 250's can keep up with traffic. They can safely merge. Contrary to popular belief, they can maintain highway speeds. I speak from experience, having owned two and ridden several. Saying larger people cannot safely ride smaller bikes is like saying fat women shouldn't drive small cars because it won't be able to pull the weight. A recent demo ride of the 2010 250 Ninja proved that it is faster than my Ford Explorer. I've never had any problems merging with that one, either. As a beginner, how fast do you need to accelerate, anyway?

We're talking about a 250 Rebel/Virago, not a 250 Ninja. These are apples and oranges. The 250 Ninjas are capable of running 15s in the quarter. A 250 Rebel cruiser style of bike isn't. If he were looking for a smaller sport bike, I'd say go for it. But we're talking about a 250 cruiser. IMO a small cruiser is only good for getting awesome mileage in town. A 250 Ninja is good for some mild twisties kind of fun, and some highway riding since it's faster and you've got the sport bike stance that cuts thru the wind.
 

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Yesterday he called and said he was exited about a 250 Yamaha Virago he found on Craigslist. I tried to talk him out of it but I wasn't successful.
If your buddy is buying the bike on c'list, let him. Chances are he can flip it quickly without a loss if its not the right bike.....You may consider the following....

I think its great that you are concerned about your new friend and I believe your intentions are in his best interest. However, I disagree with several of your suggestions.

1) I'm not sure the 883 is the best starter bike in the Harley line-up. A lot of folks jump to this ride on the basis of small displacement, but its not exactly a light-weight bike. In fact, I find these bikes ride Heavier than a softail simply b/c the center of gravity so elevated.

2) Let your friend get a bike he is EXCITED about. Don't take this the wrong way but your advice sounds a lot like my 65 yr old dad's. While well-intentioned he feels that his opinion and only his opinion is right. The best thing you can do is present the pro's and con's and let him decide. Perhaps the BEST thing you could do is let your buddy ride your bike before his 250 test ride. He will feel the difference and the impact will be 100x more powerful than any case you can present verbally.

Keep in mind there are many folks that would have advised you against your 600cc purchase. How would you feel dropping thousands of dollars on a bike folks (whom you respected) told you it was totally wrong for you. Just like your 600 may seem > than the 250.....the +1L folks may have a similar opinion towards your ride.

A 250 can be a great bike to learn on and your friend may out grow the love of motorcycling before he ever outgrows the size of the bike.
 

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Yes, a 250 is probably too small for him, but...
(channeling Dear Abby, here) your responsibility as a friend is to give him your best advice and then let him make his own decision. Because...
1) if he gets a bigger bike and wads it up against a tree because he got too frisky with the throttle he might think you gave him a bum steer;
and 2) he might just be satisfied with a smaller bike, unlikely as that may seem.

I rode from Ohio to the Yucatan and back on a Suzuki 250 enduro, back in the day when 650s were muy macho monsters.

After he takes the MSF course let him ride yours and then make up his mind. I can't imagine why anyone would want to buy a bike BEFORE they learn to ride, anyway. Maybe he will hate the whole thing and wish he had taken up knitting.
 

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One thing I forgot, if he's interested in a Harley, just have him rent one for a day or weekend after he's got some experience with his first bike. He can then decide if an 883 is what he wants. Or not enough. I'm not sure what kind of bikes they rent, but he can inquire about em at the dealership. You walk into the dealership and there's a big sign in some that says "RENTALS".
Because his first bike can be whatever. His 2nd bike is something he's not going to want to skimp out on.
 

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A 250 cruiser is an amazing starter bike for nearly anyone. His only issue will be his size compared to it, as he will feel cramped. The power of his bike is not lacking enough to be useless in traffic or on the highway, but he will desire more as he gets used to being on two wheels. It's a good starter bike if he's paying less than 1500-2000 for it and it's not trash :p haha.

Tell him though, that he will desire to move up in size, although for motorcycle riding, it's great to have one, in my opinion.
 
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