One of the things the Europeans do as a matter of course, and we in the US do very rarely, is to ensure that beginning riders are restricted to smaller-displacement motorcycles to get some experience before stepping up to the big boy bikes. All too often, this results in a new rider purchasing a Gixxer 1000 as a starter bike.
This is an extraordinarily bad idea. I do a lot of work with the US military, and the number of kids who come back from the sandbox without a scratch, and then promptly smear themselves and their new Fireblade across the pavement is truly troubling.
And it’s not just kids. Because I do a lot of work on a military installation, and ride a motorcycle as my primary transportation, I had to take an MSF course in order to ride my bike on base, as per DoD rules. One of the guys in my MSF course was a 40-something Navy retiree, who had decided to buy a motorcycle, after having never ridden before. His choice for a first motorcycle: A Buell Ulysses. He said he trucked the bike home, unloaded it, and decided to try it out on his residential street. He started it, gave it some gas, then released the clutch…at which point he grabbed a handful of throttle and went on a very short but terrifying “Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride”, that ended a few seconds later in a crash. He decided that maybe he should take the MSF course before getting back on.
The Ulysses is a great bike. Not a beginner bike. And it’s tame compared to a literbike.
Beginners who are interested in sportbikes really do need to start off on the lighter, smaller, and more maneuverable bikes. But, for years, the only really decent beginner sportbike was the Kawasaki Ninja 250. Now, however, new riders have a choice, with the introduction of Honda’s new CBR250R.
Visually, the new CBR250R is a much more attractive bike. Unlike the rather dated look for the Ninja 250, the CBR250 looks modern. Indeed, it looks like a miniature of the VFR1200F. The Honda also has a linked ABS option, too.
So, how do the two bikes stand up to each other head-to-head? Well, Motorcycle USA tested them to find out, and the comparison makes for interesting reading.