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New beginner bike advice - RE650/Himalayan/Kawasaki W250 - ??


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Hi all,

Newbie here looking to get into motorcycles and hoping some more experienced members can give me some advice.

My riding experience is very limited, just driving some clunky 2 stroke clutch thing on forest roads as a kid at home and here in Thailand just sitting on the backs of scooters. I've driven a scooter a few times before and honestly keeping the feet placed in front like that feels very unnatural. Much prefer straddling the machine like with a real motorcycle, that feels less awkward to me.

 

I will be taking lessons at a driving school and practicing in the moobaan and Sunday mornings on empty roads before attempting anything else. Not a fan of speed. Obviously a newbie but I just can't help being captivated by motorcycles every time I see one. In particular those kind of retro-classic style naked things I think are super cool. 

 

I'm looking for a beginner-friendly motorcycle that will be used mainly for getting around town (CM) and eventually when I'm more experienced I'd like to go to national parks on camping trips. 183cm and 90kg, can lift heavy no problem. I'm looking at the royal enfield interceptor 650 which reportedly has great comfort and enough power to get around - but not enough to do anything crazy. The RE Himalayan seems to be geared towards more rugged terrain and crappy roads which is an option that would be nice to have in the future. One potential issue of RE is the lack of service/spare parts in TH if I need something replaced. Seems like Honda/Kawasaki have a much better network here? For this reason I'm also looking at the Kawasaki W250. It's in the same price range as the 650 but not as much bang for your buck? Kawasaki also has an adorable (and more affordable) W175 which I like the look of.

 

What I really don't intend to do is fly down highways at ridiculous speeds. Just leisurely chugging along. If there's any riding groups in CM that are open to newbies I'd love to be involved in that too.

 

 

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So many choices. The key factor for you would be ‘handling a bike’ in city traffic. 

 

Perhaps an Auto would suit you better. i.e. Honda ADV

 

Or stepping up a little - the Royal Enfield Himilayan or BMW G310GS 

 

Insist on something with ABS - the biggest risk in Bangkok is the ‘other bike’ pulling out in font of and the risk of a newer rider grabbing too much front brake. Thailands roads are extremely slippy, especially when wet - my ABS has saved me from dropping by bike a few times. 

 

 

A heavier bike is going to be tricker in traffic, especially lane splitting and feathering the clutch etc in traffic, especially for someone who is not familiar with a clutch or riding in Bangkoks crazy traffic. 

 

 

I’m a similar size to you - I started with a Scooter (Yamaha Tai-City) and moved up to a BMW G310GS. 

Now I’d like something bigger, but also something smaller. 

 

My choice would be a Honda ADV for nipping around Bangkok, or perhaps something with decent storage (helmet and shopping), and then a larger bike for ‘fun riding’ (i.e. Ducati Mulitstrada or BWM F850GS or something like an RnineT or Triumph Thruxton RS).

 

 

 

 

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With limited experience in bigger bikes I'd say stay below the 400cc class. I learned to ride when I was 14 on a Kawa GPZ750F, and even today in my 40's, on a frigging scooter, Thailand still throws me curve balls. It is a dangerous country to ride a bike, no matter what you ride, what speed you ride or experience you may have.

 

The Kawasaki W range looks like a nice starter bike for your classic retro look feel you are after. Currently for that look feel, the options are slightly limited. I will personally go for the Yamaha SR400. https://www.yamaha-motor.co.th/bigbike/sr400/overview. The motor is from the XT series scramblers, XT500. They are a bit pricey, but the quality is superb with a 30 year track record, and has a large fan-base if you want to resell.

Had a friend in 2008 that got a gray import from Japan and it impressed me so that I almost bought one myself.

 

Whatever you buy, good luck and ride responsibly!

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1 hour ago, canthai55 said:

Buy something cheap as your first bike.

You will crash, so have something that does not cost an arm and a leg to buy/repair.

As you skill level rises, so can the displacement of the bike.

 

Very sound advice....  

That said - a second hand cheaper bike may not have ABS - thus, buy the cheapest ‘decent’ modern bike as your first bike <300cc would also be wise. 

 

 

 

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I agree with the others about the engine size. A bike with a smaller engine is lighter and is easier to handle.

I have the KTM 390 with about 45HP - more than enough for the city and more.

 

I am sure you didn't forget the basics from riding in the forest. You will know how to ride.

But, as also the others mentioned, in Thailand one big problem are all those crazy riders.

I rode regularly on the back of the motorcycle taxis for about 3 years before I bought my first bike in Bangkok. By then I had a good understanding how things work here, all the local shortcuts, and all the dangerous spots where people do unexpected things.

Take it easy and you will be fine.

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17 minutes ago, OneMoreFarang said:

I agree with the others about the engine size. A bike with a smaller engine is lighter and is easier to handle.

I have the KTM 390 with about 45HP - more than enough for the city and more.

 

I am sure you didn't forget the basics from riding in the forest. You will know how to ride.

But, as also the others mentioned, in Thailand one big problem are all those crazy riders.

I rode regularly on the back of the motorcycle taxis for about 3 years before I bought my first bike in Bangkok. By then I had a good understanding how things work here, all the local shortcuts, and all the dangerous spots where people do unexpected things.

Take it easy and you will be fine.

 

Agree with that. The biggest single facet of riding safely in Thailand is being able to predict the utter unpredictability of other riders. 

 

i.e. If you are riding and see a motorcycle approaching from a side soi and think ‘there is no way on earth they’d be daft enough to pull out into traffic without looking and ride straight into me’ thats what they’ll probably do. In fact, my Wife witnessed exactly that a month ago (and showed me the cam footage); a motorcycle pulled out from a side soi turning right, they looked right, but didn’t look left, the motorcyclist simply pulled out straight in front of a van... How is that possible?? I’ve no idea how someone just ‘forgets to look’, but it happens all the time. 

 

The sheer utter dangerous idiocy of other riders simply cannot be overstated - every single time I’m out on a road I see motorcyclists do silly stuff.

 

------

 

When I was young and first in Thailand I wanted a Suzuki GSXR 750... I went as far as going to the shops to look at them (at the time there was a ‘big bike shop’ in Ekammai and another just down the road from Siam Square (Teera). Fortunately, in my 20’s I wasn’t stupid enough to get a Motorcycle in Thailand and instead got a car. After driving a car for 15 years, I then succumbed to the motorcycle bug, first getting a scooter for two years before stepping up slightly. 

 

In 5 years (2 on a scooter and 3 on a 300cc motorbike) I haven’t had an accident, not dropped the bike once, which is not so much to do with skill and control than it is to do with having an underlying understanding of the capacity for sheer, total, utter £uc#wittery of those riding around me. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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