Originally Posted by Kevin
I'm just learning to ride, and have been looking for a cheap 250 for a few weeks now.
However I've got a lead on a 1981 Yamaha 650 Special II, 5,000 original miles for $1,250. My primary reservation is the size of the bike. That seems like way too much power for a beginner, but the bike was well cared for and hardly ridden, so I could probably recoup my losses if I get skittish about the engine size. Should I jump on the deal or wait until I find something more in my experience range?
The MSF course is definitely on the agenda for this summer.
I don't think that's too much power for a beginner - IMO, assuming you possess restraint and self-preservation instincts, it's a good size. My first bike was/is a 900cc with probably around the same amount of power as that bike (a lot more torque, though). Keep it in the lower RPM range and you will do fine.
Definitely take the MSF course before you ride any bike. Once you get it, take it out to a parking lot and do all the MSF stuff again with your bike starting from walking the bike with the clutch, etc. Get really comfortable with it in a safe place before taking it on the roads.
BTW, the MSF completion card gets you a discount at lots of moto gear shops. Be sure to ask. For example, the BMW shop nearby that carries all the best stuff gives 15% off helmets, gloves and boots. That can easily amount to a $200+ savings if you bought all their best gear.