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 Post subject: Beginner Bike - 250 or 450 Advice?
PostPosted: Fri Jun 16, 2017 8:47 am 
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Joined: Jun 12, 2017
Rebel: 250
Country: United States
I'm debating between a 2009 Rebel 250 and 1986 Rebel 450 as my first bike. I've narrowed it down to these two and I need to make my decision between them. However, I'm having difficulty making my final decision and was hoping to get some insight into something I might not be seeing. I was heart set on getting a 250 because it's a smaller and light bike, and I'm a smaller and lighter guy (5'4" 120 lbs). But it's been extremely difficult finding one, especially this time of year. I'm a little concerned about the 450 because, one its from 1986, and two it's a bigger and heavier bike. But to the bikes specifically:

The 250 has pretty much never been ridden. With only 750 miles on it right now, it has been sitting in a garage for the last two years. The engine starts up right away and runs great, but the transmission was a little funky. Basically, shifting into Neutral is extremely difficult. It requires a lot of pressure to move up from First, and what seems to happen is once you give it enough pressure to move the shifter, it becomes too much for a half shift and goes straight into Second. Getting into Neutral requires 6 or 7 tries while rocking the bike forward. Also, because of how much force is needed to move up from First, shifting into Second while riding is a little weird. Getting into Third is easier, but still a little funky. Downshifts could be a bit smoother also. I sometimes felt like I was missing my shifts. Aside from that, I'm concerned about what other issues I might not be seeing from it sitting for two years, and since I'm not mechanically savvy, I'd be concerned about trying to fix everything myself.

The 450 on the other hand is a great bike. Between 1986 and 2005 I'm not quite sure of the history or how many times it switched hands, but I know the bike put on 2,000 miles. From 2005 to 2015, the then owner had it sitting in a garage until he sold it to the current owner. When the current owner bought it, it wasn't running, so he fixed the whole bike up and got it running again. Engine sounds great, takes a minute to warm up but once it doesn't, it's golden, and the shifts are so smooth. For the last two years, this guy has essentially daily driven this bike, putting 16,000 miles on it commuting to and from work in Manhattan.

So basically, my debacle is because I'm not mechanically savvy, I'm concerned about buying the 250 and not being able to fix the shifting issue, having the transmission go out on me, and/or having an issue with something else and having to pay an arm and a leg to have someone else repair the bike. The 450, however, is a larger bike, that I'm concerned about riding as my first bike since I'm so small. Also, being that it's from 1986, who knows when something is gonna go wrong and if it does, parts are scarce. But since I don't plan on keeping either bike for longer than one season, so I have to decide which chance I want to take. Lastly, the 450 is a little cheaper which is always nice.

So let me know what everyone thinks. Is the 450 a reasonable bike, or should I take my chances on the 250. Thanks in advance, and sorry for the long post!


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 Post subject: Re: Beginner Bike - 250 or 450 Advice?
PostPosted: Fri Jun 16, 2017 10:18 am 
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Joined: Sep 9, 2004
Motorcycle: Suzuki Gsf1250
Rebel: 450
Country: Canada
State/Province: NB
City: Rusagonis
Coincidentally, we recently dealt with someone buying a late model 250 with balky shifting and extremely low mileage. Not coincidentally, THAT bike had sat for a couple of years, too. If the only thing keeping you from buying the 250 is the stiff transmission, then don't worry about it. It no doubt has old oil in it and the clutch plates/disks are stiff and dry. It is extremely unlikely that you will be confronted with transmission repairs of any kind on a bike with mileage that low. The signs of an abused clutch are generally that the clutch slips, not that it is too grabby. Make sure there is only about 3/8" freeplay in the clutch cable at the lever end. Change the oil, and do a little clutch 'slipping' and it should free up fairly quickly. Unlike the dry clutch on cars (and some bikes), there is no real danger in 'slipping' a wet clutch like the one on the rebel. stNew riders often report finding the shifting on 250 rebels stiff or notchy or unpredictable, but after a bit of practise, find their technique and are fine with the bike. You can improve the smoothness of your shifts if you 'preload' the shift lever by pressing up (or down, depending on direction of shift) with the toe (or sole) of your boot prior to pulling in the clutch. As you pull in the clutch, gently increase the pressure on the shifter and it will pop in quite smoothly. This works much better than pulling the lever in fully, then stabbing at the lever with your foot. Generally, you'll find the transmission shift to the next gear with as little as 1/2" of clutch lever movement.

Don't get me wrong: the 450 is a very good bike. I must say that, having had a 450 in the family for several years, I am partial to them. But you are right, parts are getting harder to get. You confess to being not terribly mechanically inclined, and I can assure you that a 30 year old bike (even a Honda) will need occasional repairs and lots of maintenance (at least more than an '09 250 with 750 miles on it.)
Here's the beauty of it: if you buy the 250 and decide you want a larger (or simply other) bike next year, you can sell the 250 easily and most likely lose no money in the process.

Just my opinion; others will weigh in shortly.
brent

_________________
"If you think there's a solution, you're part of the problem" G.Carlin


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 Post subject: Re: Beginner Bike - 250 or 450 Advice?
PostPosted: Fri Jun 16, 2017 1:56 pm 
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Joined: Oct 16, 2005
Motorcycle: 2014 CB500XA
Rebel: None
Country: USA
State/Province: AZ
City: Green Valley
I'd like to agree with all of brent's reasoning. You will get a nearly new bike, which if it starts and runs OK is worthwhile. Part of the problem may be that you have never used a sequential transmission or a crash box (no syncromesh) car. brent's discussion has good advice.

EDIT: You should be warned that you are getting advice from old people; brent fishes a lot now that he is retired, but he has ridden motorcycles most of his life.

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John, 2014 CB500XA (Daily Rider), 2009 CRF230L (L'il Red Piglet), 1989 NX250 - sold, 2001 Rebel - sold; first bike was a gently used 1958 Matchless G2 (250 thumper)
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 Post subject: Re: Beginner Bike - 250 or 450 Advice?
PostPosted: Fri Jun 16, 2017 4:22 pm 
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Joined: Sep 9, 2004
Motorcycle: Suzuki Gsf1250
Rebel: 450
Country: Canada
State/Province: NB
City: Rusagonis
...and John has been riding longer than me, actually owned a 250 rebel at one point, and is much older. And hence, much wiser. :D

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"If you think there's a solution, you're part of the problem" G.Carlin


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 Post subject: Re: Beginner Bike - 250 or 450 Advice?
PostPosted: Fri Jun 16, 2017 8:33 pm 
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Joined: Jun 12, 2017
Rebel: 250
Country: United States
jsonder wrote:
I'd like to agree with all of brent's reasoning. You will get a nearly new bike, which if it starts and runs OK is worthwhile. Part of the problem may be that you have never used a sequential transmission or a crash box (no syncromesh) car. brent's discussion has good advice.

EDIT: You should be warned that you are getting advice from old people; brent fishes a lot now that he is retired, but he has ridden motorcycles most of his life.

Haha thanks for the disclaimer. In the interest of being honest, I'm much younger. I've got a very long time before I can start thinking about retirement.

But anyway, in terms of the transmission, you're right. Prior to taking an MSF course I had never driven anything with a manual transmission, so this is new to me. However, I rode a couple different bikes between the course and test rides while looking for a bike, and I haven't rode anything NEARLY as stiff as the 250. The 450 was almost too smooth.

That is the only thing keeping me from buying the bike, it runs great otherwise. And in all honesty, I'm not even worried about an abused clutch, that's a relatively easy fix. I guess it probably comes down to my lack of mechanical knowledge. I don't really know the components of a transmission, so automatically I think the issue is something huge. But from my understanding, bikes aren't like cars, and as long as the engine runs the rest can be fixed. I'm mostly worried about unknowingly buying a parts bike.

In terms of the 450, it was a great bike and the extra power was nice. But for me to learn, I think the 250 is better. Also, I wouldn't be keeping either bike for too long, so I'm not worried about the lack of power right now. I plan on getting the new 500 for next season, so for now I just want something that runs, is reliable, and that I don't have to worry about doing too much work to.


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 Post subject: Re: Beginner Bike - 250 or 450 Advice?
PostPosted: Sat Jun 17, 2017 4:30 am 
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Joined: Sep 9, 2004
Motorcycle: Suzuki Gsf1250
Rebel: 450
Country: Canada
State/Province: NB
City: Rusagonis
Well, if you end up with either of those rebels, please stick around here and participate. And if you DO get the new 500 Rebel, we'd love to hear about your experiences with it, too.
Let me add this: You are doing two things very right: First, you took the training course. I cannot overemphasize how wise that was (I started riding in '68, and took the course in '98 with my son, and still learned plenty). And second, you're starting out on a small, nimble bike which is ideal for skill development.
OK, I'll add a third: At no time have you mentioned bobbing, chopping or significantly modifying the bike from the original design that Honda developed. Instead, you seem focused on skill development. Well done.
brent

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"If you think there's a solution, you're part of the problem" G.Carlin


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 Post subject: Re: Beginner Bike - 250 or 450 Advice?
PostPosted: Sat Jun 17, 2017 10:29 am 
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Joined: Jun 12, 2017
Rebel: 250
Country: United States
wheezeburnt wrote:
Well, if you end up with either of those rebels, please stick around here and participate. And if you DO get the new 500 Rebel, we'd love to hear about your experiences with it, too.
Let me add this: You are doing two things very right: First, you took the training course. I cannot overemphasize how wise that was (I started riding in '68, and took the course in '98 with my son, and still learned plenty). And second, you're starting out on a small, nimble bike which is ideal for skill development.
OK, I'll add a third: At no time have you mentioned bobbing, chopping or significantly modifying the bike from the original design that Honda developed. Instead, you seem focused on skill development. Well done.
brent

Appreciate that! The goal is definitely skills development and safety. Riding has always been something I wanted to do, but I don't have anyone to teach me so the course was kind of my only option. That being said, I'm beyond happy I did it. As a new rider, they teach you things that you generally wouldn't learn just riding on the street. Once I get a little more confident on a bike I plan to take some of the other courses they offer just to really refine my skills.

The 250 will most likely be the one I go with, so I'll be around.


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 Post subject: Re: Beginner Bike - 250 or 450 Advice?
PostPosted: Sat Jun 17, 2017 12:03 pm 
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Joined: Feb 23, 2009
Motorcycle: Rebel 250 plus a few others
Rebel: 250
Country: Canada
State/Province: NB
City: Fredericton
Learning from family and friends is generally almost as bad as getting no training at all. Even a good rider is not a trained teacher, and will not have access to the basic rider course curriculum which starts at the very beginning and goes through everything a beginner needs to know about riding safely. Usually the emphasis for a well meaning friend is to get the newbie riding on the road as soon as possible so just the bare minimum work on the controls is done, and no work at all on normal and emergency riding procedures and practicing of those skills. There's a reason the course takes at least a whole weekend.

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2004 Honda Rebel 250
2003 BMW K1200GT
2004 BMW R1200GS
1996 Ducati 900SS
1973 Norton 850 Interstate


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 Post subject: Re: Beginner Bike - 250 or 450 Advice?
PostPosted: Sun Jun 18, 2017 2:31 pm 
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Joined: Nov 29, 2016
Motorcycle: 1999 CMX250C Rebel
Rebel: 250
Country: USA
State/Province: GA
City: Avera
wheezeburnt wrote:
Coincidentally, we recently dealt with someone buying a late model 250 with balky shifting and extremely low mileage.
brent


Same poster Brent, asking the same questions about the same bike in multiple threads on multiple forums.


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 Post subject: Re: Beginner Bike - 250 or 450 Advice?
PostPosted: Sun Jun 18, 2017 4:29 pm 
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Joined: Sep 9, 2004
Motorcycle: Suzuki Gsf1250
Rebel: 450
Country: Canada
State/Province: NB
City: Rusagonis
Good catch!
Well, lets hope we kept our story straight. rofl
brent

_________________
"If you think there's a solution, you're part of the problem" G.Carlin


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 Post subject: Re: Beginner Bike - 250 or 450 Advice?
PostPosted: Mon Jun 19, 2017 12:25 am 
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Joined: Jul 4, 2009
Motorcycle: 2016 Honda Rebel
Rebel: 250
Country: USA
State/Province: AZ
City: Chandler
I would definitely avoid the 450. They were only made 2 years and are 30 years old now. Very few parts are still available for them. They were a great bike when they were new, and still are. I wish Honda still made them. But you can't keep a bike running without parts. If this will be your first bike and you anticipate replacing it soon, definitely go with the 250, or if you are on the large side, and want something a bit bigger, there are a lot of other late model larger bikes that make great beginner bikes for larger riders. The Honda VLX600, Yamaha V-Star 650, Suzuki S40, you might even want to look at the Kawasaki EN500 Vulcan. All of these are great bikes. You might want to consider another 250 as well, one that doesn't have any issues. There are a lot of them on Craigslist, from 1985 to almost new. I would avoid the '85,'86, and '87, due ton the parts problem with older Japanese bikes.

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"Obsolete doesn't mean it isn't any good, it just means it isn't made anymore"
"New vehicles move the body,old vehicles move the soul"
"If you understand, no explanation is necessary. If you don't, no explanation is possible"


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 Post subject: Re: Beginner Bike - 250 or 450 Advice?
PostPosted: Mon Jun 19, 2017 11:54 am 
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Joined: Jun 12, 2017
Rebel: 250
Country: United States
wheezeburnt wrote:
Good catch!
Well, lets hope we kept our story straight. rofl
brent

Haha yes sorry, multiple threads. One was asking what the problem might be, and the other was more advice as to which was the better buy.


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 Post subject: Re: Beginner Bike - 250 or 450 Advice?
PostPosted: Mon Jun 19, 2017 5:25 pm 
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Joined: Oct 16, 2005
Motorcycle: 2014 CB500XA
Rebel: None
Country: USA
State/Province: AZ
City: Green Valley
Some of us are waiting to find out what you actually purchase.

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John, 2014 CB500XA (Daily Rider), 2009 CRF230L (L'il Red Piglet), 1989 NX250 - sold, 2001 Rebel - sold; first bike was a gently used 1958 Matchless G2 (250 thumper)
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 Post subject: Re: Beginner Bike - 250 or 450 Advice?
PostPosted: Sat Jul 22, 2017 12:15 am 
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Joined: Jul 15, 2017
Motorcycle: Rebel
Rebel: 450
Country: USA
State/Province: WA
City: Seattle
The 250 is great for a beginner imo.


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