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Old November 13th, 2018, 12:10 AM   #1
3lementa1
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Should I trade my 250 for a 650 for a cross-country trip?

Hi everyone,

I'm new on the forum so forgive me if this has already been answered.

I love my '09 250r, I really do, but my favorite thing is long trips. I'm planning to move to Asia to teach English for a year and I'd like to ride to the West coast next summer and leave from there. I love the styling of the ninja and I'm not really interested in getting a touring bike but it's a bit small for luggage, it's a bit low on power in terms of passing at high speeds and its so light that I was almost blown out of my lane pretty much constantly for 2 hours coming back from Montreal in October.

So I'm thinking about getting a Ninja 650. There are a few online right now for about $4000CAN (2012-2016). I'm thinking now would be a good time to buy a new bike, then I'd sell my 250 in the spring when demand is higher.

So I have 2 questions : is it worth it to "upgrade" to a 650 for the trip I'm taking next Summer? We're talking 3,700km (2,300mi) over about 2 weeks. I rode my 250 from Ottawa to Owen Sound in about 7 hours straight several times over the Summer but I'll probably be doing closer to 4 or 5hrs/day and take my time.

My seat pad helps but it gets a bit cramped after about 5 hours. I can go pretty fast (about 159kmh max) but acceleration at high speeds is slow. I dislike getting stuck behind someone for hours when they're going a bit too slow because this adds up and can quickly turn a 7 hr day into a 9hr day and those last 2 hrs are brutal. It's always those people who speed up when you try to pass them too, and on a lot of back roads with hills, whenever a passing lane appears you only have a small window to pass. I feel like some highways would be sketchy on the 250 too as traffic around you is already moving so fast, you don't have a lot of power to get out of the way quickly if you need to. I wouldn't want to take my 250 on the 401 in Toronto for example.

So in terms of comfort, possibilities for luggage, weight in winds, passing power, and just generally not having to be at 10,000rpm for hours at a time, I feel like the 650 is a good idea. However, I could also save myself the trouble and just take slower roads, not ride on windy days, etc. I've heard many times "longer trips have been made on slower bikes" and I do love the way my bike handles.

Anyone got any opinions on the 250 vs 650 for long trips? I'm 28, 5'11, about 130lbs and 2018 was my first year riding, put about 8,000km on my bike this summer. I took the safety course before I got my bike and will probably take an advanced course before my trip next summer.

Also is it worth it to buy a bike now and store it over the winter? I could get a 2012 650 safetied and delivered to my parents house where it would stay for the winter for $4000CAN or a 2016 650 for $4000 but I'd have to figure out safety and transport myself. Neither of these bikes are in my area so I'd have to take a trip to check them out first, and obviously couldn't really test drive them much in this weather.

Any advice is appreciated!

Cheers,
Aaron
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Old November 13th, 2018, 02:07 AM   #2
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The Ninja 650 is a good all-round bike my son had one for 4 years often did 500 miles in the day.
I rode it many times and found it comfortable with enough power to accelerate up to 200Kph it gives you the power at the point that the 250 gives up, in all it gives you a lot of bike for your money.

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Old November 13th, 2018, 07:46 AM   #3
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If you will be running a lot of Interstate and through urban areas I would say you would be better with the 650.

I just completed 1300 mi in 2 days on my SV650n, with the majority of it on Interstate and occasionally through urban areas. We averaged a little over 50 mph with gas stops (naked SV didn't do that well at those speeds, so we had to stop often), running a solid 12 hours on the way back - the last hour and a half in the rain at dusk with fairly heavy traffic and construction. Also about 45F. Not fun.

With a speed limit of 70, the majority of the traffic, especially in populated areas, is running 80 or more. You want to be able to run with traffic flow, and at times even faster if needed (temporarily) to get into a better/safer area. The thing that beats you up the most is the violent wake turbulence when passing trucks in windy conditions. A larger bike with some wind protection may help. The turbulence tosses your helmet and jacket side to side rapidly, as well as moving the cycle around. A larger bike is going to be less affected, and you would appreciate that at the end of the day.

I wouldn't have wanted anything with less power at times, and you do notice the extra weight and drag of luggage.

It can be done on a 250, a guy ran from Florida to the Arctic Circle and back on a CBR250R, but depending on your route and time-frame I feel the larger cycle would be beneficial.
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Old November 13th, 2018, 08:43 AM   #4
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About 10 years ago I did a 2,600 mile summer trip on my newgen. Your assessment is pretty much right... it can certainly do it, but acceleration is limited. The 650 is a good transportation appliance and not a bad idea. It is in many ways like a big Ninjette.

Given your height you'll likely find the 250 quite cramped after several hours. I'm 5'7" on a good day so I fit the Ninjette better.

But I wouldn't dismiss the 250 out of hand. It's actually kind of fun to talk to people who think it's impossible to take a trip on a little bike.

I did my journey using an Axio hard-shell tank bag and an SW-MOTECH Cargobag universal tail bag (does not require mounts). This worked well and carried everything I needed for the trip.

I'd go with a big tank bag. Not only is this handy, but on really long stretches you can rest your chest on it and take some weight off your hands.



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Old November 13th, 2018, 11:43 AM   #5
3lementa1
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Thanks for the replies, folks.

Steve--that's what I figured. The ninjette keeps on giving even when you think it's done, but the power just isn't there when it's already maxed out and you still need more.

Jkv45 - thanks for sharing, that definitely helps. The drag on the bags is definitely something I'm considering as well. It's such a small bike that even just my tank and tail bags make a big difference, I think it would be a lot less fun with even more bags.

adouglas - a big ninjette is exactly what I'm looking for lol. I have a pretty big tank bag and a tail bag and I feel really squished between them to be honest. I've done a 3-day trip back from Owen Sound through Manitoulin Island and back to Ottawa, it can definitely be done, but it's just not ideal. I can lean on the bag but when it's full but it actually keeps me above the windscreen so I have access to less protection from the wind. On long trips it's nice to be able to get down into full tuck for a few minutes every hour just to get a break from the wind for a minute. I'd rather have a smaller tank bag and maybe some small saddlebags. The guy who sold me my tail bag had 2 saddlebags to go along with it but they would have covered my turn signals since the 250 is so short.

Thanks again for the responses guys! Makes me feel a bit better about looking for a cheap 650 when I already have a perfectly good (great) bike :P
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Old November 13th, 2018, 11:55 AM   #6
3lementa1
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adouglas- that's quite a trip! Were you camping or staying in motels?
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Old November 14th, 2018, 05:01 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by 3lementa1 View Post
adouglas- that's quite a trip! Were you camping or staying in motels?
Motels.

It was a great trip. I had a couple of vacation weeks to burn and my wife had commitments, so I just decided to hop on the bike and head out to Indianapolis (from Connecticut) for the MotoGP race. Hit the USAF museum in Dayton along the way (absolutely amazing). Coming back I had no agenda, so I headed down to West Virginia to ride on some twisty roads. Trip was capped off with a blast up to Cape Cod to see friends.

I learned a few things about riding long distances along the way.

- Get off the bike every hour whether you think you need it or not. Just a minute to stretch your legs is enough. Thank me later. And take leisurely lunches. This should be about longevity, not speed.

- Shift positions on the bike often. If you sit still you'll cramp up sooner. Lean forward, take the weight off your butt, try different hand positions, etc.

- Limit daily mileage. I set 400 miles give or take. That felt short at first, but it soon paid off. After a few days those last miles get to be really grueling.

- It's better to make the trip about the journey itself than about reaching the destination. Allowing time to ride back roads instead of droning down the Interstate makes the whole thing a lot more pleasant. Interstates are the very best way to NOT see the country.

- Allow extra time so you're not a slave to your schedule. If you spot something you want to check out, by all means stop and do so. You make amazing discoveries that way.

- Eat at local places, not chains. You can get McDonalds anywhere. You can't find Marie's Most Awesome Sandwich Shoppe anywhere but where you are. The food is better, you'll discover new things and the people are nicer, too.

- Go get paper maps of your whole route. No batteries. They're also great planning tools... just look for squiggly lines. That's how I wound up in West Virginia.
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Old November 14th, 2018, 07:33 AM   #8
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PS: The kicker was that I was having severe knee problems at the time and walking on a cane. I kept a folding one tucked under the windshield.

To test whether I could do long days on the bike with a gimpy leg, I did a test run up to Vermont and back a few weeks before the trip.

That same knee is getting replaced next Tuesday (before the trip the doc told me I'd need a knee replacement in 10 to 15 years... he was spot on).

I'm gonna be bionic!
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Old November 14th, 2018, 08:01 AM   #9
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^ Best of luck with the knee replacement.

After it heals fully I understand you will wonder why you waited so long...
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Old November 14th, 2018, 11:17 AM   #10
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I can give you that answer: It's because artificial knees don't last forever. I'm old enough that I may very well not need to revisit it.

But yeah... it'll be amazing to be able to do things like jog across a parking lot and run up stairs.

The other knee will be done next spring if all goes well.
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Old November 14th, 2018, 06:43 PM   #11
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I think it really depends upon your financial situation.

You hit is spot on, the 250 will make the trip, the 650 will make it better. And now is the time to buy a bike, spring is the time to sell one. The question is "is it worth it to spend $4,000 on a bike for one trip" Only you can answer that, how much trouble will you have selling the bike when you are done before you head to Asia? How much money will you lose in the process?

Would you be better off just renting a bike for the trip?

And you said ride to the East Coast, did you mean West Coast, Ottawa doesn't look that far from the east coast.
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Old November 15th, 2018, 07:15 AM   #12
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$4k can go a long way during your trip to dine and rest in style.. and do other things along the way that may interest you.
Spend money on experiences for a trip of a lifetime, can always get a new bike later.
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Old November 15th, 2018, 07:50 PM   #13
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$4k can go a long way during your trip to dine and rest in style.. and do other things along the way that may interest you.
Spend money on experiences for a trip of a lifetime, can always get a new bike later.
Well he is talking about buying the 650 now, then selling his 250 in the spring when he will get more money for it. So we are probably talking more like $1,500-$2,000 more expensive for the 650 total. Still $1,500-$2,000 more to spend on the trip would make a better (or at least more comfortable) trip.
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Old November 20th, 2018, 08:34 AM   #14
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A friend of mine rode from Boston to Cali on an old 1990s era Honda VTR 250 a couple years ago, so i'd say you can do it.
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