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First bike? Economy, price, highway and optional sidecar

Discussion in 'New Riders and Riding Tips' started by skyphyr, Aug 31, 2009.

  1. Hi All,

    I'm currently looking into choosing a first bike. I'm fairly tall (6'3") and 90kgish. Looking for something that balances cheap and economical. i.e. Cheap is good, but not if it's a guzzler. There will probably be a reasonable amount of highway use on it. A nice to have would be something that I can easily attach/detach a sidecar to/from. Though seeing it'll be over a year before I can take passengers that's a low priority.

    So far looking around the Yamaha XV250 Virago looks like it might be a reasonable fit (though I've no idea how sidecars even work or whether this bike can take one). I quite like it visually too, but practical concerns are more important so don't feel sticking to cruisers is necessary.

    Thanks for having a read.



  2. Suzuki GS500. I wouldn't stick a sidecar on a 250, not that I know anything about sidecars :grin:

    Does QLD have LAMS yet?
  3. Hi MV,

    Yeah - Qld does have LAMs. The list is very similar (maybe the same - didn't look in extensive detail) to the NSW one.

    Will do some googling on the GS500, thanks.


  4. Hi All,

    Ok, I've spent way too much of today searching about. :D Here's a list of bikes with some details that seem like they might be reasonable options. No idea as to how accurate the info is. Any comments to cross any off the list or in favour of some would be great.

    Honda CMX250 - 3.6L/100k - 9.8L tank - 270km range
    Honda VT250 - 3.7L/100k - 11L tank - 300km range
    Honda VTR250 - 3.6L/100k - 12L tank - 330km range
    Kawasaki EL250 - 4.8L/100k - 14L tank - 290km range
    Kawasaki ZZR250 (2004) - 3.6L/100k - 18L tank - 500km range
    Kawasaki ZZR250 (2002) - 4.2L/100k - 18L tank - 430km range
    Suzuki GS500(EF) - 4.2L/100k - 20L tank - 475km range (reports vary 0.5L/100k either side of this)
    Suzuki GZ250 - 3.1L/100k - 13L tank - 420km range
    Suzuki VL250 - 3.9L/100k - 12L tank - 300km range
    Yamaha XV250 - 3.1L/100k - 9.5L tank - 300km range
    Yamaha XVS650 - 4.8L/100k - 15L tank - 310km range


  5. I own and ride a sidecar (and enjoy it too) as well as my solo.

    Of your list I would only consider putting a chair onto either the XVS650 or the GS500 and of those 2 I'd pick the XVS650.

    It isn't about the power, it's about how solid the frame of the bike is and how easy it is to fit a chair and how much the bike weighs compared to the chair.

    The XVS650 is a solid heavy bike and the motor has a lot of low down torque, both of which are important with a sidecar.
  6. Hi,

    Thanks for the info. I do like the XVS650 a lot, though what I'm thinking now is I'm probably better off going for something that wouldn't be appropriate for a sidecar now. Then once I've done my year's duty getting my R license and having open slather at getting something well suited to it instead of trying for a middle-ground choice with the LAMs options.

    I appreciate the advice.


  7. Hi Alan,

    the sidecar aside :) you may want to consider the larger xvs650 anyway. Considering your size and weight and the fact you mentioned you will be doing a "reasonable amount of highway use" you just might find something like the little Virago might start to feel too small for you in a short period of time. I know xvs650 owners here swear by their beasts.

    Just a thought. I'm sure a post in the cruiser forum will get plenty of opinions from owners if you want.
  8. Considering that you're going to do a lot of highway riding, I'd go for something other than a 250 in your shoes because the others will most likely be bigger so will better suit someone like you who is 6'3". You might find a VTR250 a bit squishy at your height. The GS500 might be the ticket. As others have said, an XVS650 will do the job as well and may well for longer than the others.
  9. You may find range is not a huge issue after some 200+km on a bike (ie 2hrs or so at the speed limit on a freeway) you will probably be looking for a break anyway :LOL:

    2hr+ freeway stints on 250s (especially unfaired) aren't exactly fun.

    You won't be reliably getting 330km from a vtr250, more like 250km and that would be relatively gentle riding too.

    My best on a Spada (11lt tank) at 110-120kph from full to 1/2 a liter remaining was about 240km (hume drudgery), although that speed would be less economical than 100 or less i would imagine.
  10. Get a larger, older bike I'd say. Something with a bit of grunt behind it, the 250's are NOT the bike for freeway commuting. 30 horses might sound like a lot to put around on, but it means f*** all when you're already riding at 100km/h+.

    GS500 would be a nice one to have, also things like the XVS650, and have you considered any larger dirt bikes such as the DR650, DRZ400 and TT600? Unfaired, yes, but decent grunt behind them and perfectly suited for taller riders.

    As for economy, I wouldn't worry too much. Most things are reasonable (4~5L/100km) on the freeway provided you aren't thrashing to get somewhere on time. The bit about wanting a fuel stop every now and then is especially true - wind chill and riding cramps start getting to you after an hour or two, depending on the bike. Singles and twins are generally most economical, anyway. As before though, most things should see under 5L/100km.

    Cheers - boingk
  11. I get about 4L/100km consistently on my vtr250 - I'm 100kg... I haven't pushed over 250kms though, never hit reserve either.

    Mind you it is a 2007, may make a difference :?:
  12. Wow - tonnes of replies. Thanks everyone. Based off looks and info so far I'm leaning heavily towards the XVS650.

    I think I'll go get myself seated in a few and see which feels right.

    Thanks again. Hugely appreciated. Will let you know what I get and hit you all up for a cruise.


  13. yeah yeah late reply here. go a bigger bike so it isnt working hard on the open road. at 100 - 120 ill get 4.5 L/100 from a 650. and a side car would destroy a 250
  14. Hi OldBellHelmet,

    That's not bad at all. Now I just need to track down a 650 :)


  15. Destroy a 250....obliterate a bloody virago....
  16. well as we know a side car is a little capsule that is attached to a bike.. what do you call a little bike attached to a side car ?
  17. Plenty of 250 (and smaller) combos in the UK. Not to mention the hordes of chaired-up 350 Jawas that used to smoke their way around the place.

    They're not quick, though and I wouldn't recommend anything much under a 550 as a sidecar tug.

    Shaft drive is nice too, as chains will take a beating under the extra load.

    To be honest, though, I would strongly recommend forgetting about using a bike as both a solo and a chair puller. An unmodified solo is less than ideal for sidecar use (unless you're very lucky, and use a tiny, light chair, the steering will be astoundingly heavy, the forks will flex alarmingly and the gearing will be all wrong), whilst a good sidecar hauler will have dangerously twitchy steering geometry as a solo and the tyre wear pattterns induced by sidecar use will feel very strange when you take the chair off. There's also the added risk of forgetting to tighten vital mounting bolts if you're swapping regularly, a possibility for which your passenger will not thank you.

    I've owned both varieties and there is no comparison between a properly set up, dedicated tug and a solo with a sidecar bolted on. Which might explain why, in over 20 years, I've yet to come across anybody who's actally persisted with the demountable sidecar option.
  18. You can put a sidecar on pretty much anything - just as you can ride from Melbourne to Cairns on pretty much anything.

    I offer the illustrious Chairman's CB400/4 Cafe Racer and sidecar as an example... :LOL:


    However some bikes are an awful lot better than others... Listen carefully what PatB said.

    You could also have a look around for an older BMW R65 which (despite BMW's advice to the contrary) can make for a very good and cheap to run outfit.