Honda Rebel, Kawasaki Ninja 250R, Suzuki GZ250, And Yamaha Virago 250 - Penny Ante

Investigating The Bottom Rung Of Street Motorcycling's Ladder

By Marc Cook, Photography by Kevin Wing, Marc Cook
Suzuki GZ250
MSRP $2949
Type air-cooled single
Valve arrangement sohc, 2v
Displacement 249cc
Transmission 5-speed
Weight 331 lb. (wet)309 lb. (fuel tank empty)
Fuel capacity 3.7 gal. (14L)
Wheelbase 57.1 in. (1450mm)
Seat height 27.8 in. (680mm)

Verdict: Stable chassis, good ergonomics and fine build quality all overshadowed by gimpy engine. Massively underpowered for full-sized adults.

Yamaha Virago 250
MSRP $3299
Type air-cooled 60-degree V-twin
Valve arrangement sohc, 4v
Displacement 249cc
Transmission 5-speed
Weight 328 lb. (wet)313 lb. (fuel tank empty)
Fuel capacity 2.5 gal. (9L)
Wheelbase 58.7 in. (1490mm)
Seat height 27.0 in. (686mm)

Verdict: Go-getter V-twin engine makes the most of the displacement and adds a relaxed demeanor to boot. Cramped for large riders, the mini cruiser calms newbie nerves admirably.

The $3000 Club
You say you can buy any number of really good used middleweight-or-larger streetbikes for three grand, do you? Well, here's a partial listing of how old and how slow you'll go to keep on the $3K budget. Prices are average retail from the AMA Official Motorcycle Value Guide.

1986 BMW R80RT $3060
1988 BMW K75C $3005
1982 Ducati 500 Pantah $2855
1988 Honda CBR1000F Hurricane $2705
1991 Honda CBR600F2 $2945
1994 Honda VT600 Shadow VLX $2880
1994 Kawasaki ZX-6 Ninja $2945
1996 Kawasaki EX500 Ninja $2865
1996 Suzuki Bandit 600 $3025
1998 Suzuki GS500E $3025
1993 Yamaha FZR600R $2770
1995 Yamaha Virago 535 $2695
1996 Yamaha Seca II $2680
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