Monday, August 06, 2012

Sportsbikes for beginners: The 7 machines we like most

Aprilia RS4 125
Aprilia RS4 125 Aprilia RS4 125 Aprilia RS4 125 Aprilia RS4 125
The Aprilia RS4 is probably the coolest 125cc sportsbike in the world...!

As long-term readers might have noticed, we are obsessed with litre-class superbikes here at Faster and Faster. GSX-R1000s, R1s, Ninja 1000s, Fireblades, Panigales, RSV4s, F4 RRs, S1000RRs… we just can’t get enough of those 170-190bhp monsters! That said, we don’t believe size is the only thing that matters – smaller can be cool, too.We don’t claim to have put together any kind of a definitive must-have list of beginner bikes – whatever works for you is probably the bike you should get. This is just our list of the beginner bikes that we think are pretty damn cool…

Aprilia RS125 Biaggi Replica

What teenager wouldn’t want a 180bhp Aprilia RSV4 Factory, a bike that’s simply dripping with style and technology and sheer power. But while you’re still probably a few years away from RSV4 ownership, what you could get for yourself is an RS4 125 Max Biaggi replica.

The RS4 125 is powered by Aprilia’s brand-new 125cc liquid-cooled fuel-injected DOHC 4-stroke engine and gets bits like an aluminium alloy chassis, 300mm front brake disc with 4-piston radial-mount caliper, 17-inch alloy wheels shod with Pirelli Diablo Rosso II tyres, 6-speed Aprilia Quick Shift transmission (which allows the rider to shift gears while keeping the throttle open and without using the clutch, for quicker gearshifts), 41mm USD front forks and the obligatory LED taillamp. Yes, it really is the coolest 125 in the world…

Derbi Senda DRD X-Treme SM Derbi Senda DRD X-Treme SM Derbi Senda DRD X-Treme SM Derbi Senda DRD X-Treme SM
Younger fans of supermoto will like this X-Treme machine...

Derbi Senda DRD X-Treme SM

If high-strung race-replica is not your thing, you might want to look at the Senda DRD X-Treme SM, a 50cc supermotard from Derbi. DRD is for ‘Derbi Racing Development’ and the X-Treme offers high levels of quality and fit-and-finish. The bike’s double-cradle beam frame (made of high-strength steel), long-travel suspension, 260mm front brake disc, 17-inch alloy wheels shod with sticky street rubber and peppy little 50cc 2-stroke engine makes the ideal beginner’s package for those who aspire to riding bigger, more powerful supermotards later in life.

Apart from being suitably kitted out for pulling wheelies and sliding the rear wheel into corners, the X-Treme SM also looks good, with cool colours and graphics, an LED taillamp and a multifunctional digital instrument panel. The whole thing weighs just 96 kilos, so should be easy for beginners to manage.

2013 Kawasaki Ninja 250R
2013 Kawasaki Ninja 250R 2013 Kawasaki Ninja 250R 2013 Kawasaki Ninja 250R 2013 Kawasaki Ninja 250R
The Kawasaki Ninja 250R, perhaps the best entry-level sportsbike in the world

Kawasaki Ninja 250R

Kawasaki have just announced the 2013-spec Ninja 250R and as with its earlier avatars, the baby Ninja seems to be the perfect ‘first sportsbike’ for beginners. With its liquid-cooled, fuel-injected, 26bhp parallel-twin, stiff and lightweight chassis and high-quality suspension, the Ninja 250R is probably the most capable 250cc sportsbike current available anywhere in the world. Plus, it’s now available with anti-lock brakes (ABS) as an option, which boosts the safety factor considerably for any rider and especially more so for those who’re just getting started with bikes.

KTM 200 Duke
KTM 200 Duke KTM 200 Duke KTM 200 Duke
Stylish, funky, edgy - the KTM 200 Duke is for non-conformists!

KTM 200 Duke

The KTM 200 Duke is a ‘street sport’ machine with its own unique take on what a quarter-litre sportsbike should be. Powered by KTM’s single-cylinder, liquid-cooled, fuel-injected 200cc engine that produces 25bhp, the 200 Duke gets all racy with its specs sheert – light, stiff, tubular steel space frame, WP USD forks and monoshock, single 300mm brake disc at the front with two-piston caliper, 230mm disc at the back, six-speed gearbox, a 10.5-litre fuel tank and a dry weight figure of about 125 kilos. For those who’re looking at getting a small-bore sportsbike that’s stylish and genuinely capable of being hustled around twisty mountain roads at respectable speeds, the KTM just might be the bike you want.

Gilera Fuoco 500 ie Gilera Fuoco 500 ie Gilera Fuoco 500 ie Gilera Fuoco 500 ie Gilera Fuoco 500 ie Gilera Fuoco 500 ie
This Gilera is the maddest, most lovable sports-scooter ever...

Gilera Fuoco 500 ie

We simply love the Fuoco 500 ie, which we think is by far the coolest 3-wheeled super-scooter in the world. With its unique front-end – two wheels and a parallelogram suspension set-up that allows near-MotoGP-spec lean angles with very little risk of crashing - the Gilera Fuoco is great fun to ride. Its 492cc single-cylinder 40bhp engine provides adequate power (top speed is 145km/h), the aggressive styling is simply brilliant and the Fuoco’s continuously variable transmission (CVT) makes it supremely easy to use in all road and traffic conditions. Hell, if we could, we’d buy one of these right now!

2011 Honda CBR250R 2011 Honda CBR250R
2011 Honda CBR250R 2011 Honda CBR250R 2011 Honda CBR250R
Refined, reliable, stylish - the CBR 250R is a good choice for beginners

Honda CBR250R

For those who want a refined, reliable and smooth riding 250, the Honda CBR250R might well be your first choice. With its fuel-injected, liquid-cooled, 249cc, 26bhp single-cylinder engine – one that returns a mileage figure of up to 27km/l – the little Honda is a capable sports-tourer that’s up for any kind of riding that you might want to throw at it. It’s not as edgy or funky as the KTM 200 Duke and it’s not as sports-focused as the Ninja 250R, but with optional ABS, refined and tractable engine, slick 6-speed gearbox and 166-kilo kerb weight, the CBR250 is definitely one of the best beginner bikes in the world.

Derbi GPR 125 Derbi GPR 125 Derbi GPR 125 Derbi GPR 125 Derbi GPR 125 Derbi GPR 125
The Derbi GPR 125 is a proper, high-tech, small-bore sportsbike

Derbi GPR 125

The Derbi GPR 125 is a high-tech race-rep with a liquid-cooled DOHC single-cylinder 125cc four-stroke engine that produces 15bhp, a full fairing, aluminium twin-spar chassis, high-spec suspension (41mm fork and Ollé monoshock), 6-speed gearbox, 300mm front brake disc with 4-piston radial-mount caliper, 17-inch alloy wheels and swoopy styling that sportsbike fans will probably like very much. With its kerb weight of just 120kg, the little Derbi is very manageable and should be just the right platform to hone skills that would someday allow you to move on to bigger sportsbikes.
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