Motorcycles

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Apr 23, 2009 12:35 am

I understand some of you guys are motorcycle experts.


I am looking at getting a motorcycle (first time buyer).  What do you guys recommend?
Apr 23, 2009 9:02 am

Are you more interested in the cruiser/Harley "lifestyle" bike, dual purpose (on road/off road) approach, long distance touring, or more sporting, high performance types of bikes?  Lots of good choices in each category, but vastly different depending on what you're wanting out of the experience.

Apr 23, 2009 10:00 am

2wheeled. I'm looking for a sportsbike - Budget $20k.

Apr 23, 2009 10:22 am

Ok, you're in my zone then.  Next question, have you taken or are you planning to take some variation of the MSF course?  Very important that you do that if you're a first time buyer.  Unless you grew up with a YZ125 clamped betwixt your thighs, you'll benefit greatly from some structured instruction as you get comfortable with the street.  Seriously though, even if you did grow up on dirt bikes, a weekend MSF course can fill in the blanks for you.

 
So, are you completely new to the process, or do you come in with some degree of two-wheeled proficiency? 
Apr 23, 2009 10:22 am

I was going to ask the same question Beemer did but he beat me to it.  That being said, he's more qualified to answer that one than me since I'm a laid-back cruiser type.

 
One word of advice I'd share is to start with a little smaller engine and even consider a used bike...not a beater, but something with less than 10K miles and 2-3 seasons on it.  Your first bike should be easier to handle and something that you outgrow in a season or two.  Meanwhile, you can do your homework while scratching the itch to ride and getting some good riding experience.  I'd hate to see you lay down a new $20K bike while trying to get the hang of riding.  Once you've found your soulmate bike and test-drove it, you can put the first bike on Craigs list or eBay.  Assuming you're an average size guy...no more than 6' and 200 pounds, an 800-1000cc bike should be plenty big for a first bike and there are lots of great-looking streeters out there.  Although you won't be able to this season, my rule is to sell in the spring and buy in the fall.
 
Welcome to the world of two wheels...I'm 35 days from a trip into the Smoky Mts. with some friends and spouses...looking forward to my first cruise to Deals Gap...
Apr 23, 2009 10:25 am

BTW, tomorrow is my first planned day commuting to work on my bike this season...the midwest is finally starting to see highs in the 80's...

 
...I love this time of year almost as much as Christmas...
Apr 23, 2009 10:32 am
2wheeledbeemer:

Ok, you're in my zone then.  Next question, have you taken or are you planning to take some variation of the MSF course?  Very important that you do that if you're a first time buyer.  Unless you grew up with a YZ125 clamped betwixt your thighs, you'll benefit greatly from some structured instruction as you get comfortable with the street.  Seriously though, even if you did grow up on dirt bikes, a weekend MSF course can fill in the blanks for you.

 
So, are you completely new to the process, or do you come in with some degree of two-wheeled proficiency? 
 
2wheeledbeemer - don't you mean "wheelhouse"?  Sorry couldn't resist.  With your name and it being spring with baseball underway. 
Apr 23, 2009 11:26 am

I'm completely new at this, so all advice is welcome.



I have not taken a course, but I assume I should have to. I haven't even looked. Kind of one of those things where you decide you want something, but don't think about all the processes it takes to get there.



IndyOne - that's good advice. A newer bike would probably be wasted since I don't know what I really want.

Apr 23, 2009 11:45 am

Whatever you do, you don't want to end up looking like this dumbass...

 
http://jalopnik.com/5103219/biker-busted-for-speeding-tries-to-fight-the-law-and-guess-who-won
 
If this dude's IQ was more than 60, I'd be surprised.
Apr 23, 2009 12:24 pm

Definitely take the course, and invest in good gear.  You can get some surprisingly good deals on top quality riding gear at Competition Accessories or Iron Pony.

 
On the bike recommendation, depending on how big you are and how steep your learning curve is, at the lower end I could recommend a Kawasaki Ninja 250 or 500.  You'd probably outgrow either of them pretty quickly as your confidence and abilities grew, but they both look the sporting part, and have good reputations.  Tons of them both available used at really attractive prices, too.  Kawi also makes a great bike with the 650R and Versys.
 
Yamaha makes a solid choice with the FZ600, and Suzuki offers my personal favorite for a newer rider in the SV650.  Suzi also has a couple other good choices in the GSX650F and their almost indestructible GS500F.  I personally favor the SV650 for its overall appeal and v-twin torque, with nimble handling, light weight and tons of aftermarket go-fast, sound good, look good stuff available.
 
Moving up a notch or two in price, but still way below your 20k mark, you could look at a Ducati Monster 600, 620 or 695 (new).  Supreme cool factor, wicked sound with some aftermarket pipes, and a guarantee that you'll get more attention at Bike Night than the Hayabusa guy with l.e.d.s and a 6 foot swingarm extension.
 
If you're an Anglophile, the Triumph Thruxton is seriously cool, with a retro look and 900 cc twin mill.  Ergonomics are a little tough, with a "thank you sir, may I have another" riding posture.
 
At the upper end of the entry level zone, I'd put the BMW F800S or F800ST.  Solid twin performance, unique in most markets, and BMW quality (for the good or bad, depending...)
 
Certainly not an exhaustive list, as there are tons of variations on the theme, but those are some solid contenders with current availability.  I've purposely left off the GSXR600, CBR600, ZX6R, YZFR600, etc., as I don't consider those entry-level bikes.
Apr 23, 2009 2:43 pm

Moraen - This is really simple-As a complete noob if you buy a sport bike bigger than 500cc you are going to kill yourself.

 
Yeah, that's kinda strong, but it's true. Anything bigger is too much torque meeting too little experience. Look at the crashed bikes on Autosalvage.com to see what that adds up to. Don't do it before dinner.
 
Don't ride without being properly dressed. When you fall off, most likely you'll survive the experience. We all have. It will be a much more pleasant experience if you still have most of your skin when you pick yourself up and say "What the eff was that?" I know a guy who rode three legs (8000 miles) of the Iron Butt rally after dumping his Kawasaki Voyager at over 100 mph on I-95 in Maine. He was bruised and cut. But his riding suit saved him major skin and muscle damage. He finished last on a Honda 175 he bought from a lawn mower store after getting out of the ER. But that's another story.  
 
Google "the Hurt report" for more info on motorcycle crashes and their causes. Hurt is the name of the researcher who authored the study. Though the double meaning of the name isn't lost on most. Reading this will make you a better rider.
 
You will drop the bike. We all have. It's a fact of life. More so with an ill handling at low speed sport bike. So, unless you have bodywork skills even a parking lot dump could cost you $500 -$1000 for lower farings, lights/lenses etc. not to mention a ruined day. Buy a 500 cc standard bike, without farings as a first learner bike. Maybe stretch to something like a Honda Nighthawk 750. A great standard bike! Make sure your feet touch the ground when seated on the bike. This comes in handy for all bikes without training wheels.
 
I'm a BMW guy so another bike i'd recco is a early-mid nineties K75. Just the standard issue bike. Nice ride!
 
Indy and Beemer gave you some great advice. I will reiterate-Take the MSF course. To that I will add Take the MSF course. And lastly, take the MSF course.
 
 
Apr 23, 2009 3:08 pm

I am a Harley guy so I can't be much help as far as crotch rockets go!

However I difeinitely suggest doing the course before getting on a bike the first time!
Apr 23, 2009 11:22 pm

Moraen,  after looking at other posts, I probably recommeded too much motor even at 800cc.  BG's right...no sense killing yourself!  I ride with bikes as large as 2000cc, but I myself ride a 900.  Bigger bikes are nice for long cross-country runs, but are tougher to handle at low speeds, especially when turning.

 
...and yes, I've dumped a bike in my 27 years riding...three times to be exact...only once at any speed, thank goodness.  I mostly just injured my pride.
Apr 24, 2009 12:46 am

So I found a Kawasaki Ninja 250 2008 for $2000 with the extended warranty. 


 
Are they easy enough to handle?
 
I figure that's pretty inexpensive for a first bike, but I also want to make sure it is not a crappy buy that I'm not going to enjoy.
 
Apr 24, 2009 9:19 am

Done and done.  That's perfect, as long as you understand it's a starting point, and that you're not going to enjoy it if you try to follow BondGuy on his K1200 on his next Iron Butt run.  Get some good gear, sign up for the local instructional course and get your bike endorsement (some courses actually satisfy that completely), and enjoy it!  Every time I throw a leg over, it's like a 45 minute vacation.  Rode mine in today, and will scoot out a little early for an afternoon scrape with my bud here in the office who has a GS1150.

 
Keep us posted, and hope it all goes well!  For $2000, you can't go wrong with that one.
Apr 24, 2009 9:43 am

The Ninja 250 is a fine bike. On the plus side, it's not over powered. It's small enough so that short riders can easily put their feet down flat, and it has no reported bad habits. It's also fun to ride.

 
On the negative side, it has a lot of plastic on it. The farings will take a beating in a parking lot dump and more severe damage if you're moving. That's money to fix.
 
Low speed handling is an issue with all sport bikes. With expereince this changes, but only because the rider is compensating for the bike's short comings. Thes bikes are build for speed. The narrow bars become an issue as new rider's are afraid to lean the bike at low speed. Leaning the bike is what makes them turn.
 
For many, not all, the 250 Ninja is quickly out grown. I know this is a first/beginner bike, but just as 800cc may be too much bike, 250 may be too little. You want a bike that you can put about 5000 miles on and not be afraid to take to a parking lot to practice evasive maneuvers, emergency braking, and sharp U turns. So the bike has to have some durability in that dumping in a parking lot won't end your day.  And it has to be interesting enough to ride, and comfortable enough to ride that you will put on those miles. lastly, it has to have enough power that it can do freeway speed comfortably. The N250 is good on that count.
 
One other thing about sport bikes- the riding position. The riding position puts a lot of strain on the neck and wrists. To some people this is not an issue, but something to think about.
 
If you had any experience i'd say ride the bike and see how it feels. But with zero experience I'd advise a pass on a sport bike as a first bike and find a cheap conventional motorcycle.
 
As a suggestion, take the MSF course first and then buy a bike. Talk to your instructors about good first bikes. Most, if not all, MSF beginner courses supply bikes for the course. Those bikes are usually no bigger than 250cc with most at 125cc.
 
Some states don't automatically issue a licence with passage of the MSF course, while some do. If your state does, that's a good reason in it's self to take the course. If it doesn't that means you'll need to go a testing center with your own bike and take the test.
In NJ, a rider testing on a sport bike of any ilk has a low percentage chance of passing the test. Why? Because the test is all low speed maneuvers that center on the sport bike's biggest weakness, low speed handling. Find out how it works in your state.
 
Most of my riding is on big touring bikes. But like Indy commuting season has started. My office is in center city Philly. The big bike is too much bike for the mission. So, what do i ride? A Honda NSS 250 Reflex Scooter. What a fun ride! It looks like a sport bike too! And it gets 75 MPG. So it's a win-win. I mention this because a scooter wouldn't be a bad choice for a first bike.
 
Good luck!
Apr 24, 2009 9:55 am

One other thing now that i'm talking about one of my favorite topics, motorcycles:

 
I know you have sport bike itis. Ans that's what you want to own and ride but sport bikes are for the big dogs. Those with lots of experience. those who can handle the torque and know how to get the bike back under them if and when. They don't call them crotch rockets for nothin!
 
The next time you watch any video of a jet doing a carrier landing, remember this: that guy had F18 itis. he/she dreamed it and made it happen. But they didn't start out flying F18s. Most likely they started in a Cessna 152. Relatively speaking, the bike equivalent to my Honda Scooter.
 
All good things in time. Get a good foundation in riding and then twist that wrist on the bike of your dreams! Oh yeah-I feel the need for speed!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Apr 29, 2009 5:36 pm

I've always liked this video


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BBNyuf533Go


Apr 29, 2009 5:47 pm
BondGuy:

Most likely they started in a Cessna 152. Relatively speaking, the bike equivalent to my Honda Scooter.

 
All good things in time. Get a good foundation in riding and then twist that wrist on the bike of your dreams! Oh yeah-I feel the need for speed!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
 
Now we're talkin.  There's nothing wrong with a Honda Ruckus!
May 27, 2009 10:46 am

The family vacation thread got me dreaming of my two-wheeled adventure next week...I'm guesstimating 1,500 miles total on two wheels, including all 469 miles of the Blue Ridge Parkway, with my wife and two other couples.

 
Looks like some beautiful scenery...leaving Saturday and will let you know how it all went the following weekend when I'm back in my recliner...with a few more callouses on my rear.