When I was in school I wanted nothing more than a sports bike. If you are anything like me, the Suzuki GSX-R 1000 is probably high up on your list. As a beginner bike, however, the smaller Suzuki GSX-R 600 seem to make more sense. Or does it?
It is not a good idea to get a sports bike like a Suzuki GSX-R 600 as your first motorcycle. Without any riding experience, a GSX-R 600 may be too powerful to safely control and the ergonomics are set up for racing, not learning to ride. If you’ve owned other types of motorcycles before, a GSX-R 600 may be the perfect entry into sports bikes.
Yes, you’ll find forum threads that argue you can start on any motorcycle because the rider decides how hard to ride it. And yes, many sports bikes are quite controllable at small throttle openings. That said, the reasons not to get a GSX-R 600 as a beginner bike far outweigh any benefit. Let me explain:
Here’s Why the Suzuki GSX-R 600 is Not a Good Starter Bike
If you have never ridden a motorcycle before, starting off on a sports bike is a bad (and dangerous) idea. There is a lot to get used to on a motorcycle, for example keeping the bike upright or modulating the throttle and brakes. The GSX-R 600 is built with one thing in mind: To go fast around a track. The riding position is not very comfortable, with your weight forward over your wrists and your feet quite high up for more ground clearance around fast corners.
The seat height of a GSX-R 600 may feel like an advantage for shorter riders, but sport bikes carry their center of mass quite high. If you lose your balance, it is not difficult to drop the bike resulting in potentially expensive damage to the plastic fairings.
The handlebars on a GSX-R 600 are narrow and the front fork has a steep rake in order to assist with direct steering at higher speeds around a race track. This in turn makes the bike difficult to maneuver at low speeds, like when you are still getting used to clutch and throttle control in a car park.
We’ve not even gotten to the big issue: Power! The GSX-R 600 may be the least powerful Japanese super sports bike (see a comparison of all the 600 cc and 1 000 cc sports bikes here), but it still develops a massive 104 hp. That is enough to propel the GSX-R 600 to over 150 mph in a short space of time. It is true that if you can resist the temptation to whack open the throttle, these bikes are fairly easy to ride slowly. But believe me, you will want to find out what they hype is all about. And that is when things can go seriously wrong.
Anyone who claims to ride a GSX-R 600 at (or even near) the limits on the public road is lying… or not very far from a serious accident. Once a GSX-R 600 nears the top of the power curve, you’ll get a kick in the pants. Plus, you will already be travelling at a very high road speed. Any small mistake by a new rider will not be forgiven.
If you are still practicing clutch and throttle control, and braking and shifting gears, you’ll be far better off on a bike that will not be too sensitive to sloppy inputs and coordination mistakes from the new rider. On a 600 cc sports bike, as a rookie rider, you will always be holding back and never truly be comfortable during this crucial time in your riding career. That brings me to this truth: It is ALWAYS more fun (and a better way to learn) to ride a slow bike fast than to ride a fast bike slowly.
Is a Suzuki GSX-R 750 a Good Beginner Bike?
Okay, so I’ve not convinced you to stay away from the super sports bikes. Your friends all ride liter bikes (like the GSX-R 1000), and so you are considering a GSX-R750 as a good compromise.
The Suzuki GSX-R750 is not good beginner motorcycle. It has too much power and torque for a new rider to safely learn on. The seating position on a GSX-R750 will make it difficult for a new rider to gain the confidence needed to ride safely.
If the GSX-R 600 is not a good starter bike, the GSX-R 750 is even worse. All the same reasons I mentioned earlier apply, but on the GSX-R 750 you will be dealing with 50% more power (150 hp) and 45% more torque (63.6 lb-ft). The GSX-R 750 is only slightly heavier than the GSX-R 600, resulting in a ridiculous power-to-weight ratio.
One advantage of the larger capacity sports bikes over the 600 cc entry models, is the fact that the 750 cc and 1 000 cc sports bikes deliver more torque low down in the rev range. The argument then goes something like this: On a 1 000 cc sports bike you don’t need to twist the throttle as far to get enough usable power for slow riding. That means you can stay away from the danger zone, where maximum power is delivered, for longer as you learn to ride.
This is a stupid idea. I am a very cautious rider who had many years of experience on other types of bikes before I got onto a sports bike for the first time. I very nearly got into trouble a couple of times. Either by grabbing a handful of throttle just to see what will happen, or by riding way above the speed limit, just to experience what it feels like. All good and well if you can ride, but for a beginner? Really?
No! Stay away from sports bikes as a starter bike.
Why the GSX 250 R is Better for Beginners Than a GSX-R 600
Okay, so you have your mind made up. You NEED to have a sports bike. I get it. It has always been my dream as well. But rather start with a 250 cc and learn all there is to learn on a small, light-weight, under-powered bike.
A Suzuki GSX 250 R is a much better beginner bike than a GSX-R 600 because it is lighter, less powerful and more forgiving. You will learn the basic skills faster on a smaller GSX 250 R and you will have more fun in the process. Once you are comfortable on a GSX 250 R you will progress quicker on a GSX-R 600 than if you had started out on the 600.
Developing a measly 25 hp, you may think I am crazy to suggest that you should start on a GSX 250 R instead of a GSX-R 600. You may be thinking that you’ll outgrow the 250 so quickly that you might as well take it easy on the 600 cc and grow into the bike.
Learning to pull away and modulate the throttle on a GSX 250 R will be so much easier, less frustrating, and much safer because the bike is way more forgiving. You will be able to quickly learn all the skills without the risk of hurting yourself and others. And once you are comfortable with the very basic riding skills and techniques, you will still be able to learn more advanced techniques on the 250 cc.
Soon you will be riding full throttle and slam on the brakes before cornering with everything you’ve got. Those are the skills you’ll need on the GSX-R 600, but they will be much harder to learn on a 600 cc if you’ve never been on a bike before.
Even better than a new GSX 250 R is a second hand GSX 250 R. That way, you won’t lose much on depreciation and your insurance will be cheaper. You will also not worry too much in the inevitable event of dropping your motorcycle in the parking lot while getting used to balancing the bike.
There are a lot of good reasons why a Suzuki GSX-R 600 is not a good starter bike. But with most decisions like these, you have probably already made up your mind are are looking for confirmation that it is the right choice. And I get that. But even if the logical reasons don’t persuade you, I absolutely guarantee that you will have more fun and learn quicker on a GSX 250 R than on a GSX-R 600 or 750.
Whatever you do. Ride safe!