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Discussion Starter #1
I know it's been asked a thousand times, sometimes even exactly as I've phrased it. But the truth is, I've read through many, many posts that start like this and haven't really found what I'm looking for. So here goes my attempt:

I'm completely new to riding - no dirt bikes or anything with a motor (though I am pretty skilled with a bicycle :p). I'll be taking the MSF course ahead of next season, and believe it or not, I'm even building myself a full size "mini" bike to play with in the interim (call me crazy...). And though my ultimate aspiration is to get onto a middleweight sport bike like the 848, I'm obviously going to have to start out on something tame first. The most obvious and logical choice would be something like a Ninja 250/500 - and even though the new 250 is a decent looking bike, the allure of a Ducati is extremely hard for me to resist. I've got my eye on the 620, as most accounts indicate that it's an acceptable bike to start on and I've been able to source them in an affordable price range around here. Should be a no-brainer, right?

Wrong. Most non-Ducatistas I've spoken with advise against starting on a Ducati - even a smaller, cheaper one - because of the whole "you're guaranteed to drop it" thing, and the "prohibitive" repair costs vs a budget starter bike. I don't like to hear it, but it makes sense. However, the part that disturbs me more is the bit where people say I'll learn more or learn faster on a 250, etc, because it handles "better"... I can deal with the excessive cost of parts - you've got to pay Ducati to play Ducati, right? - but as someone with aspirations to ride and race sport bikes at the track, I don't really want to limit myself in terms of learning how to ride right. And so, it would seem the dowdy, generic starter bike is the real no-brainer.

But this is where I get stuck every time: My head knows the generic starter bike is a better choice for what I want to do - it's cheaper to acquire, cheaper to own, and arguably easier to ride fast. But my heart refuses to let me settle on something other than a Ducati, because everything else just doesn't have that Ducati allure. Call it squid-ish if you will, but I do place importance on the appeal of a motorcycle. So here's what I'm getting at: We know the 620 is a fine bike to start on, but how does it stack up against something like a Ninja 250 when it comes to really learning how to ride, particularly with respect to track riding and racing? Will sacrificing a little of that last degree of performance to appease my heart's calling for a Ducati come back to bite me when I eventually switch over to a full-on sport bike?

Thanks for your time.
 

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Anyone who says you can't learn as much on a better bike is an idiot! How does that make any sense? "It does less so it's better to learn on", that's the opposite of how I look at it. If you want to be able to handle a bike that is capable, you have to ride a bike that is capable. There's nothing wrong with a Ninja 250 except that its not the bike you want, it will never be the bike you want and therefore you will sell it after 2 or 3 months when you are bored with it. If you start with a bike that excites you then you will keep it and even if you drop it and have to fix it, ultimately thats gonna be cheaper than buying 2 bikes. There is a little truth to starting with a bike that is more tame. The most talented riders can do some pretty amazing things on little bikes, the rest of us will have to compensate with faster bikes. Just understand they only go as fast as you tell it to. Every bike has enough power to get you into trouble, not every bike has power and handling to get you out of it. Ride every bike you can until you find what feels right, even if it's not what you thought you wanted. Head or Heart? Why not both?
 

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I've heard arguments on both sides as well. If a 620 is a decent starter bike then go with it. I bought my first bike in January thinking that was the style of bike I wanted and then not long after that, a couple months maybe I started looking at other bikes and fell in love with Ducati's as well. I'm looking at getting into a 796 myself pretty soon here. I agree with aywiild though, your first bike definitely won't be your last but if you get something you really want you will keep it longer and be more satisfied longer. As far as dropping it goes, I haven't dropped mine in the last 10 months since I've had it, it isn't necessarily a guarantee that you will crash or drop your first bike.
 

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buy it if you must, this is where donner bikes and parts come from.

it is tough to put ego and want over what is best for you.

point is, the smaller the bike, the more confidence inspiring it is, and the faster you can learn the skills that willkeep you save and alive on a bike,
 

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I look at it this way...never tempt the devil therefore a smaller less threatening machine is advice I like to give until you get some miles under your belt. For my opinion on the question head vs. heart...that is answered by why you are getting a bike in the first place. Is it low cost transportation? Then I would go with the run of the mill Japanese entry level bike. For me riding is a passion...I always go with the heart. Besides there are plenty of "crash protectors" that you can bolt on to protect expensive parts in case of a tip over.
 

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Both points have merit. Your decision should depend on how mature and relaxed/confident you are.

I took the MSF course in May, 2010, had never ridden before. Bought my S2R 1000 in June and have loved every second of it. I was urged to get a bike which would not bore me and it was good advice for me. You must be mature enough to respect the power as you gain skill and confidence. And you won't drop any of the bikes you're considering if you relax and pay attention to what you're doing.
 

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Heres my 2 cents. Every one who has made a post so far has a point in one way or another, minus Bully Quote "And, of course, chics dig the duc...". Well he did but on a different topic all together, important just not in this thread. Its ok to get a piece of crap the first time around. My first bike was a Kawi 440 Ltd when I was 15.Then I bought the same bike just a 750 later, then a Honda cbr 600 and so on. I rode a 900 for a bit, hell I bought my girl a Honda rebel and I rode the little f*cker a few times and it was a blast lol. I ride a 696 now but I bought it to help with building some more credit not for the motor cc and didn't want to spend the cash for a 1100. Plus I knew it was more than enough bike to have a good time on. At the time there was not talk of a 796. Duc's are expensive to maintain and repair mostly because the dealers are raping us. As long as the bike you choose is a racing inspired bike then I think you will find what you are looking for to start of with. Oh Ive been riding for almost 15 years and I droped my bike a few weeks ago on loose gravel after a rain storm in MY long dirt drive way. A place I know better than almost any other road my bike goes down. So dropping a bike happens even to long time riders. I was lucky the dirt was loose so no major damage just a scratch on the tank in the clear coat, buffed right out and a bent handle bar. That went in the trash and I bolted a new one on. So I say go with a cheap priced bike that is in good running condition that is race inspired and have at it. If in 6 months you still wanna ride a sport bike and need more then sell/trade in your old and get some thing new. Its going to be a learning bike right ? So spend a little, get your feet wet, then dive in. I would stick with some thing larger than a 250 though. Cause your for sure going to want more bike than that really fast but getting some thing really big and fast would prob be a bad idea also. Not for learning reasons, a bike is a bike and as some one already said it goes as fast as you tell it to go no faster. A under powered bike can be just a deadly as a over powered rider on a big boy bike. And by god please remember you don't have to buy from a dealer. Private sales are fine, just take your time and do your home work first. I'm in the market for another Duc as we speak but I'm keeping my 696. I love that bike its so light and in the twistes it thrives. Sorry started to drift there. Good luck.
 

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Discussion Starter #9 (Edited)
The fellow I spoke with for an extended period the other day at a local race shop was trying to turn me away from a Duc and towards a Ninja 500 - My quick stat check indicates the 500 is a ~50hp bike, and the M620 is a ~60hp bike. Now it could just be me and my heavily auto-based background, but 10hp doesn't seem like it would be enough to differentiate the two bikes as "tame" and "intimidating", respectively. So does it come down to the chassis then? I'm told the smaller Monsters are pretty forgiving...

I think a lot of the justification that I do for the Monster stems from a point y'all bring up here: I don't want to be "stuck" with a bike I don't enjoy. One of THE biggest turn-ons for me in terms of motorcycles is the excitement factor - for example, the 848 I referenced in my op has a similar effect on me as something like a Ferrari F430 would, and it comes at about 1/25th of the price. My projected financial situation indicates that the bike I buy when I pull the trigger early next season will (aside from some off-chance lateral trade or something) be THE bike I have to ride for the following ~12 months - I'm going to loose more or less all of my discretionary income to summer classes, so I won't have the funds to get into a different bike if I decide 3 months in that a Ninja 250 just isn't doing it for me. So I think that's a lot of what's driving me to the Duc, because I KNOW it'll make my heart sing for as long as I need it to, even if it does mean starting off at a slight disadvantage. I just don't want to feel like I'm stuck in something that's weak or unattractive, you know? I feel like that'd kill a lot of the experience for me. But I don't want to be dead, either...
 

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I started riding with zero experience, bought a bike in mid-life crisis. I was an avid bicyclist, from the time I could walk. I never dropped any of my motorbikes, except parking in gravel. That was an ego-dumper. I pulled a tendon in my elbow lifting that damned Honda, that served me well, back onto the stand. A good motorcycle, or a great one, like a Monster, will accelerate your learning curve, and the horizon.
 

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I would wager to say the people who are telling you that the Duc is too much bike or too expensive to crash has never owned, ridden or crashed one. Anything with plastics is expensive to tip over. You have a better chance of minimizing damage with a naked bike like the Monster. Having wrecked a 900 SS\SP and a 748 I can tell you, yes they are expensive to crash at speed. The Duc has 10 hp more but it also has MUCH better brakes and suspension. The Kaw 500 has the same forks and brakes it had 15 years ago. Get the Duc be repectful of it and ride your own pace.
 

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How many Moto GP riders started out in that class? How many Formula 1 drivers never raced before? How many commercial jet pilots never flew anything smaller?

Answer: NONE Everything we learn or achieve is based on the principle of 'building up'.
It's the reason that high school physics isn't taught in the first grade.


All of these people learned on less powerfull, easier to control machines. They got to a point where their skill level was higher than the machine could deliver, and then they moved up. There's a reason that the 1100 Monster's advertising materials don't include the phrase 'entry level'. If big bikes are so great to learn on, why don't the MSF classes use GSXR1000's as the training bikes?


Yes, you can probably get on just about any bike ever made for your first time and probably be able to 'ride' it, hell, you may even get pretty good, but I garantee you that you'll be a better rider if you start out small and work your way up. You won't have to worry about excessive power lifting the front wheel, you can just concentrate on learning to ride. As your skills grow then the bike can follow.


Motorcycling is the only thing in life that I can think of where people with little or no experience feel that they can enter at the top of the curve. Sometimes you just need to put the ego away.
 

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How many Moto GP riders started out in that class? How many Formula 1 drivers never raced before? How many commercial jet pilots never flew anything smaller?

Answer: NONE Everything we learn or achieve is based on the principle of 'building up'.
It's the reason that high school physics isn't taught in the first grade.


All of these people learned on less powerfull, easier to control machines. They got to a point where their skill level was higher than the machine could deliver, and then they moved up. There's a reason that the 1100 Monster's advertising materials don't include the phrase 'entry level'. If big bikes are so great to learn on, why don't the MSF classes use GSXR1000's as the training bikes?


Yes, you can probably get on just about any bike ever made for your first time and probably be able to 'ride' it, hell, you may even get pretty good, but I garantee you that you'll be a better rider if you start out small and work your way up. You won't have to worry about excessive power lifting the front wheel, you can just concentrate on learning to ride. As your skills grow then the bike can follow.


Motorcycling is the only thing in life that I can think of where people with little or no experience feel that they can enter at the top of the curve. Sometimes you just need to put the ego away.
I agree with everything you have said above. The only exception is no one is talking about starting on a GSXR 1000 or a Monster 1100. The Monster 620 is a beginner bike. Very comparable to the SV 650. Which is arguably the best beginner bike ever. I think it even makes a few HP more than the Duc. The only reason to buy the Ninja 500 over the Duc is money. You can pic up a Kaw on craigslist for $1500.
 

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Ok I got one last suggestion after reading your last post. Buy a inexpensive Ninja, then save save save and ride ride ride that little Ninja. Figure out what it has you like and what it does you dont like and go from there. So then your 2nd bike that you saved for after buying the cheaper Ninja is what you want for sure. Also you got some time under your belt and you got a good bike to learn on. Along with a good idea of what you should buy when your ready to spend some money on a bigger bike.
 

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Ok I got one last suggestion after reading your last post. Buy a inexpensive Ninja, then save save save and ride ride ride that little Ninja. Figure out what it has you like and what it does you dont like and go from there. So then your 2nd bike that you saved for after buying the cheaper Ninja is what you want for sure. Also you got some time under your belt and you got a good bike to learn on. Along with a good idea of what you should buy when your ready to spend some money on a bigger bike.
Agreed, my first bike was a cruiser and I thought that was the kind of bike that I wanted. After putting a couple thousand miles on it I realized that I wanted something a little sportier to handle better in the turns, maybe a less laid back riding position, and something a little quicker/faster too.
 

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i had the same exact thought process as the OP. but then it hit me: if they say you're bound to crash/fall/drop your first Ducati/motorcycle and you're taking their opinion seriously, YOU'RE THINKING NEGATIVELY!!!!!!!!!!!

no one said it was a requirement to drop your first bike; it's just a trend that i'd prefer me or you shouldn't follow and even though you have a Ducati, you DONT have to race, you DONT have to be going 90+mph. hell, rev it up at a stoplight to impress the girl in the car next to you if you want, but you don't have to drag race it; i'm sure ppl will call you a wimp etc. for not racing, but i'd prefer being called a wimp than having to replace my Duc/pay medical fees; and at the end of the day, you still have a Ducati to ride.

now, it is still possible to go down, and there are third party accessories you can buy (and should seriosuly consider doing so) to minimalize damage to your Duc if in the case you do go down: i.e. frame sliders, front and rear axle sliders. they might be a bit pricey but they're a lot less expensive than buying a new Ducati.

hoped that helped yo.
 

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I started out with a 250, sold it after 4 months, but I do NOT regret it one second. There were 3 instances where if I had a more powerful something really really bad could have happened to me. There is a chance that nothing will happen to you on a 600 cc bike, but its lower than on a 250. Whats the harm in buying a used small bike and selling it when you get bored? You will probably get a couple hundred less or break even.

A bicycle is nothing like a motorcycle. How many scooter accidents are there, in NYC every chinese restaurant has a scooter delivery guy, I've never seen an accident with one of those, but I've seen 4 nasty motorcycle accidents. I started riding when I was 28, I thought I was mature back then but now at 32 I realize I am way more mature and cautious now.
I got into my first accident this year when a lady clipped my rear wheel and I went sliding 50 feet, and I was lucky. If i was going a split second faster she would have t-bone me and I would be 6 feet under most likely. My advice be practical think with your brain and not your smaller head. Buying a duc is not your heart, its your inner child talking.
 

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I started on 600 that weaker than the 620. Wish I started in 250 as i have after a yr and heaps of km figured out I would of learnt much quicker on smaller. I do love my bike though and bought it for mainly same reasons you are thinking about the 620.
P.s. Good luck with racing. I'd love to do that 1 day too but it's alot harder, scarier than a car. I found out n takes alot longer to drive well unlike a car Which from day 1 driving when 18 would be happy to race. Also wish I was younger than 28 when started
 

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I'm not the voice of experience by any means, but can share my story as well.

My wife and I took (and passed) the MSF in July 2010 and neither one of us had any motorcycling experience. Not to toot my own horn, but I scored a perfect 100% on the riding test and my only experience on 2 wheels before that was riding mountain bikes. Keep reading though...there is a catch.

So, I knew it was wise to buy a 'cheap starter bike' but several wiser friends told me to skip the prerequisite Ninja 250s or 500s and just buy a used 600 for a few bucks more. They told me that the 600s had much better suspension and brakes, and that they rarely lose much value so that I could sell it in 6-12 months and basically break even financially. Well, that sounded pretty good so I spent $1800 and bought a 1992 Yamaha FZR600. What they don't tell you is that older carburated bikes are actually huge piles of crap, particularly if not well maintained. That bike was hard to ride, unreliable, and cost me several hunderd bucks in unplanned maintenance. The powerband was incredibly inconsistent and all my buddies just said it was due to the carbs...so deal with it. The bike ran out of gas on me twice and the clutch cable gave me no end of trouble, and the chain broke once while I was riding it. I sold it (and pretty much broke even, which was great) but never really spent enough time on it to get good riding experience or to feel comfortable that it wouldn't strand me. That is the truly dark part about older bikes if you ask me.

Just a few weeks after I bought that Yamaha, a good friend of mine offered me his nearly new Triumph Daytona 675. I knew that the bike was poor for a beginner but it was a chance to pick up a nearly new 'keeper' class of bike for about half price, and from a great friend who was the original owner. I literally jumped at the chance. On day two of ownership I rode the bike 250 miles across the state and learned why he no longer wanted it. That sum-bitch is the least comfortable bike ever made. Everything on it worked perfectly, but I didn't really want to ride it after getting it home (for a while).

So, now I had a used/old/unreliable early 1990s bike that was comfortable and a nearly new modern bike that was borderline unrideable due to lack of comfort. Neither bike was ideal to ride and learn on, so I didn't get much riding in that season at all. The next season I sold the Yamaha early on and bought a 2002 Honda CBR 954RR, which I currently own. This is a phenomenally comfortable sport bike, and I really do enjoy riding it. However, I'm learning again that older and not well maintained bikes have their issues, despite the Honda being one of the more reliable brands out there.

So, what is the point of my story? Make sure you get a bike that actually meets your needs. There are huge differences between bikes and I'd recommend buying the newest and best cared for bike that you actually want. I'd recommend test-riding several since I can assure you I would have never bought my Daytona if I had ridden it even 10 miles (and it didn't come from a friend). The more comfortable you are as a new rider, the more you're going to learn and the more fun you're going to have!

I'm busy working to sell my Daytona and pick up a Monster 796 so that we can have fun on bikes and really enjoy the lifestyle. Coming from a world of high performance cars, power was never really the issue for me since I'm used to respecting that, but being comfortable and confident is a different issue...and I'm still working on that. I hope you were able to make a good decision and buy the bike that is right for you...keep us informed as to what decision you made and good luck to you! 8)
 

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Z06, you ask if a 6xx duc is a good first bike but also mention wanting to ride on a track. The Monsters are fun bikes but if your goal is track days or racing you are heading in the wrong direction. I suggest an older, maintained GSXR - even better if it is setup for the track.

I fully understand the want for a better bike sooner as long as you can respect the speed.

Also, if you generally have good hand-eye coordination you will be fine on a slightly faster bike (600 vs 250). My first ever bike was a K1200s BMW (167 hp). Plain stupid for a first bike but really fun. After 9 months and 6k miles of twisty Colorado mountain roads I sold it and "downgraded" to an 1100 evo. The Monster is so easy to ride and much more fun in the corners. I did track it last year and it did fine but not the best tool for the job.

I am a former car road-racer (Watkins Glen, Sebring, etc.) and have ridden mountain bikes since they were invented and am an old guy, 43, so take that into consideration.

If I go to the track again I will buy what I recommended above, an older GSXR to trash and not care about.

Good luck!
 
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