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Ian F
Ian F MegaDork
1/21/20 6:53 a.m.

In reply to Klayfish :

DM sent.

81cpcamaro Dork
1/21/20 10:32 a.m.

I ride in Atlanta, well at least Northeast of Atlanta. Mesh gear is actually bearable in the Summer, only when you are stopped in traffic does it get a bit hot. Lighter colors help with the heat too. I do try and avoid the high traffic areas mostly, since the cagers around hear don't pay attention very well.

The MSF class is a great idea, and once you take it you get your license without taking the state riding test. I did take that state test, no problems passing it, but I did watch several videos on it first. Also, most DDS sites have the motorcycle test site, so I went on a Sunday and tried it out myself before taking the test. Still the MSF class is well worth it.

bluebarchetta Reader
1/21/20 1:29 p.m.

I'm surprised nobody has mentioned the "easy button" of motorcycles:  the Honda Rebel 250.  They're plentiful, cheap to buy, cheap to insure, easy to maintain, easy and fun to ride, and most important, easy to re-sell if you want something bigger/faster or decide motorcycling's not for you.  It's hard to lose money on a Rebel 250 unless you crash it, leave it outside all winter to rust, or let it sit in the shed until the gas turns to varnish.

Klayfish PowerDork
1/21/20 6:58 p.m.

Thanks for all the input, gives me things to think about.  I've got hip surgery coming up on Thursday (my third one), so I'll have a few months before I'm back on my feet and able to do anything anyhow.  I'll continue to ponder it and browse CL in the meantime, and very likely take the MSF class.

dxman92 HalfDork
1/24/20 11:52 a.m.

How about a Ninja 250/300? Should be able to find one in your range..

Curtis73 UltimaDork
1/24/20 8:23 p.m.
bluebarchetta said:

I'm surprised nobody has mentioned the "easy button" of motorcycles:  the Honda Rebel 250.  They're plentiful, cheap to buy, cheap to insure, easy to maintain, easy and fun to ride, and most important, easy to re-sell if you want something bigger/faster or decide motorcycling's not for you.  It's hard to lose money on a Rebel 250 unless you crash it, leave it outside all winter to rust, or let it sit in the shed until the gas turns to varnish.

As long as you don't want to get cramps riding more than 25 miles laugh.

They are tiny.  Seriously.

My first was a 73 Honda CB350.  Banana seat, slow as heck, but reliable.  Since then I've had a Shadow VLX 600 (stoopid reliable, but no good for more than about 100 miles), Yamaha R6, and an R1, (Straight up wicked exotic-type screamers) Vulcan Nomad 1500 is my current puddle jumper.

I suggest starting with a small-ish version of whatever style trips your trigger.  My CB350 was a hand-me-down from dad.  I am more of a full-dress bagger/cruiser type of guy which is why I did the Shadow next.  My foray into crotch rockets with the R6 and R1 was more of a situational thing; I was living in L.A., a cheap R6 came available, my friends all had sport bikes, and it was the perfect commuter whip.  As soon as I left L.A. I sold my R1 and got the Vulcan.  I've had it for 5 years and I love it.

So, if you're into crotch rockets, find yourself maybe a 500 cc version.  Kinda hard to go wrong with any of them, but for reliability and riding comfort I personally prefer the Yamahas.  If you're into cruisers, a Shadow VLX is hard to beat.  If you're more into tour/adventure bikes, you could go two ways.  An enduro-type street bike is more or less a lightweight dirt bike outfitted with lights and street tires.  It's a nice, tossable ride that will get you ready for your first BMW RS.

The important thing to know is that they are all so ridiculously different.  A heavy bagger with it's low seat and long fork rake is nothing like a crotch rocket.  The first time I got on a sport bike after my VLX I nearly died just making a left hand turn.  It's an active ride.  You need to move your weight around a lot more the higher the seat is.  My Vulcan, I still lean, but I don't really have to.  It's the difference between a Ferrari and a Cadillac.  The Caddy you get in and push the pedal and relax.  The Ferrari you have to be actively aware of its dynamics.  It also depends on your intended use.  If you want to go to the drive-in burger joint once a week, any of them will do.  If you want a commuter, road-tripper, on/off road.... you get the idea.  My Vulcan I have taken on three-month trips across 20 states and it was comfy.  My R6 was physically taxing after 100 miles.

Error404 Reader
1/25/20 10:47 a.m.

9 years ago, post-deployment, I bought a Honda CB500F (black) brand new. I put about 24,000 miles on it in about 6 years and I think my total MPG average for the duration is in the mid-50s. It's got a little more "oomph" than the 300s and, unlike the 300s, it doesn't sound like a hair dryer when I wind it up. Seriously, every time I see one of those running around I hear an almost electric whine instead of any exhaust note. If that doesn't matter to you, then your selection is broad.   :)   The price difference between a 300 and 500, for the most part, is minimal. The big price jump is when you get into the 600 and 1000 cc bikes (for sport) and the 900 and 1200 for cruisers. There's a lot more standards out there now than there were even just a few years ago, at the time I bought mine the 300s weren't on the US market yet. The CB500 is a fun chassis, the F/R/X are all the same bike with only styling differences between them. I believe the models were revamped around 2016 with some minor facelift type stuff. You're not going to get big power out of them but, for something so light, you don't need a lot to keep a grin on your face.

Personally, I like the standard styling over sport (i.e. race bikes) and cruisers, although a Honda Fury is quite tempting. It's more upright than the sport which makes it better on the wrists and lower back while being more forward than a cruiser for a sportier feel. I've commuted on it, road tripped on it, ridden down to about 34 degrees, over 100 degrees, and wore out the chain by 2016. It's also the only bike I've owned, I want more but just don't have the space or cash right now. With all that being said, the only things that I will say you definitely need to do are 1) Buy GOOD gear and 2) take a MSF safety course. Do your research on gear, there's a lot of crap out there that just sounds good, and be in the mindset of riding defensively. Drivers will try and kill you daily and it's always going to be your fault because you're on a bike (In their eyes, I mean) so they'll just keep doing it without learning.

Buy tires to suit your intended riding conditions. I changed tires in Daytona when I got tired of how slick the stock Dunlops were on wet pavement, I had minimal confidence in their ability to keep me upright turning through an intersection at anything other than a bare crawl. Invest in a rear stand, at the least. Chain maintenance is an important part of riding and you need to do it regularly, this is a lot easier with a stand of some sort. Lastly, go to a dealer and just sit on some bikes and see what feels comfortable. Stand them up, grab the handle bars, imagine going through your whole commute sitting like that.

NGTD PowerDork
1/25/20 11:30 a.m.
Ian F said:
Klayfish said:
Ian F said:

If you're near SE PA and have an interest in a DRZ400 dual-sport, let me know.  I have (at least) one for sale.  I've mostly given up on the idea of riding a motorcycle.  My commute would be Russian Roulette on a bike (eventually, there will be a round in the chamber) and on nice weekends I have too many other hobbies I'd rather do.

I live in Atlanta, but am actually a Bucks County native.  Don't come up there often, but have LeMons teammates up there.  Don't know anything about a DRZ400.  What is it?

By some accounts, the "Answer" of motorcycles. Cheap. Easy. Ok at most things. Great at nothing.

Right now, I have two of them, both purchased from friends, although only one with a title (long story).  The one without a title looks almost exactly like the one above.  Basically stock, few miles, but hasn't run in about 15 years.  The other has more wear on it, some aftermarket parts, has run more recently, and I have a title for it.  Plus, I have 70% of parts from a 3rd bike. And a 2" receiver moto-carrier.  I would love to be rid of all of it and get my shed back.

Msg sent to Ian F

bluebarchetta Reader
1/27/20 10:50 a.m.
Curtis73 said:

As long as you don't want to get cramps riding more than 25 miles laugh.

They are tiny.  Seriously.  

You're not wrong - the Rebel 250 is definitely a bike for shorter people.  Klayfish said he was 5'9" / 175 lbs, which is about as tall as you can be to fit on a Rebel 250, unless you've got a long torso and short legs.  Blue Collar Bobbers makes a forward controls kit for $200, but at that point you might as well just get a Shadow VLX or 750.

I've had bigger bikes when I was younger, then sold my last bike when my son was 3 months old.  Promised the missus I wouldn't ride again until he was grown.  Then last winter, a buddy was selling a nice low-mileage Rebel for $1000.  I bought it thinking I'd clean it up and flip it, but the damn thing is so much fun I haven't gotten around to selling it yet.  I've been riding it to work on nice days and getting ~65-70 mpg.  I'd like a bigger bike, but I can't justify it until I'm done paying for my son's education.  It's almost free ($75/yr to insure through Progressive).

There's nothing rebellious about a Rebel.  They should have named it the Beagle - small, honest, dependable, playful, fun.

Curtis73 UltimaDork
1/27/20 1:28 p.m.
bluebarchetta said:

There's nothing rebellious about a Rebel.  They should have named it the Beagle - small, honest, dependable, playful, fun.


Another thought for the OP... be serious about how you will ride.  For a 5 mile commute, a scooter, a Rebel, or nearly anything with enough hp to be considered a highway vehicle will do.  If you plan on long trips, you will just need a bigger bike, and one that is a style that is conducive to comfy riding.

I found on a sport bike, my arms got incredibly tired after 50 miles of holding myself upright because you lean forward so much.  Once you hit about 70, the wind hitting your chest will offer some support and take the weight off your arms, but variable winds cause you to constantly adjust the weight being held by your arms.

On a touring bike like a BMW RS, they can be very comfy for long trips if your body will tolerate the perfect-posture straight back position.  My back didn't like it much, but frequent stops for stretches were nice for my back and my taint.

I personally prefer the low-seat cruisers with a backrest.  My Vulcan has footboards and highway pegs.  It's easy to pop your legs out straight for a while, lean back, and it feels like you're in a donk Cadillac with the seat reclined.

The other important thing to know.  You'll find that even short rides can be tiring.  The reason is because of nerve cells.  Think of your nerve cells like little light bulbs.  When you touch them, they light up because they are being triggered to send impulses to your brain. Then your brain lights up in response to it.  This is why if you rub your skin in any given area for a long time it starts to get numb.  Your nerve cells have exhausted their supply of electrons from the Krebbs Cycle and the Embden-Meyerhoff pathways in the cells have no more electrons to transfer down the axon.  Your body is a big battery.  In a car, your nerves are mostly isolated from the stimulus of the fact that you're moving at 70 mph.  On a bike, they are constantly "lit" with all the sensory input of the wind, noise, motion, etc. 

The other reason is constant muscle movement.  In a car, you can sit there and rest your hand on the wheel.  On a bike you are constantly using energy for muscle movement for little corrections in direction, leaning with turns, etc.  It tends to drain your battery much faster.  Whereas you might be able to easily take a 10 hour trip in a car, you might find that you're exhausted after 6 hours on a bike.

doc_speeder HalfDork
1/27/20 8:40 p.m.

I'll add my input here about my experiences riding.


I've been riding dirt since I was about 9.  I always wanted a street bike but I spent some years in my 20's in 911 emergency communications, and my wife was an EMT...so I knew the risks and I knew myself and my lack of self control with a throttle.

After I turned 40 I started to re-evaluate.  I bought a complete basket case Katana 750 and rebuilt/restored it over a winter and got my class 6 operator license in the spring.  I rode that bike all summer then found my current bike and bought it.  2008 VFR 800.  I'm totally hooked. My wife doesn't love that I ride, but she knows me well enough to know that when I'm riding, I'm happy.  I commute almost every day in the summer, and I go on a few long weekend road trips with a couple friends in the summers.   Travelling on a bike through beautiful scenery with good friends and the sun shining does wonderful things for my stress level and general outlook on life.  There is nothing else I've found that is able to get the clutter out of my brain and allow me to re-focus on the important stuff.

I'll echo the ATGATT from all the others.  Also, the safety course.  And genuinely taking pride in your ability to ride safely while still having fun.  There are some really good Youtoobers with excellent content on riding strategy and constant skill improvement.

Get whatever bike you thing will suit your needs and just get out there! 

03Panther New Reader
1/27/20 9:19 p.m.

I started ridin' back when sex was safe and motorcycles were dangerous! I am 5'9" also, and weighed a buck fifty back then. No classes back then; road 2 years before finally getting around to getting my M endorsement. DMV guy walked out and watched me do a figure 8 in the parking lot. GO TO A CLASS! I learned by falling down a lot... traffic today would kill ya that way! Once I'd learned a bit on a couple 350-400's, even as skinny as I was I had no problems muscling around the hogs of the times, although old men rode dressers! We were too "cool" for that, so bobed everything.

Your size could ride anything, but the best learners are def. the "standards" ... called UJM's (universal japanese motorcycles)

Just remember... Situational Awareness!! the other guy WILL hurt you. Always be ready to out maneuver them. Even when their wrong (most of the time), you can avoid IF your paying attention.

Moved on to BMW's these days, though I still have my last chopper - in boxes - may not ever ride it again! I do have a 97 F650 I bought to commute with, but am going to sell... $2500, and I'm not that far from ya (L. A.)

maschinenbau SuperDork
2/3/20 11:04 a.m.

I'm also in Atlanta and also a new rider. If you'd like someone similarly slow/sane to cruise with, hit me up.

Ransom UltimaDork
2/3/20 12:37 p.m.

One more for taking a class; do a search in your area for what the resources are. I know Oregon and Idaho have groups who use some MSF materials, but thought the MSF had dropped standards and generally de-emphasized some  important stuff in the name of passing more students. It wasn't hard to pass back when I took it here in Oregon pre-schizm... MSF is surely a million times better than nothing, though! Being given the basics and a bike to try them on is huge. All these groups have multiple levels, so there are opportunities to get better on your own bike if you take the plunge. Having that sense of what maneuvers you have ready to execute helps with feeling like a sitting duck on the road.

I'm at a very conflicted point about motorcycles. They're wonderful, huge fun to ride, very engaging, very satisfying. And fascinating, compelling, elemental machines. But I'm currently not into riding on the road; too many variables, too many dangerous drivers, and too far for me to ride to where that becomes less true. I can't really get out for an hour from my house without spending it all just more or less in traffic. That leaves track days, which compete directly with other hobbies, and provide a very limited time to ride.

I am hugely frustrated by not having a satisfactory way to appreciate how awesome bikes are. Which nicely encapsulates both sides of the coin. I generally say "I don't have a bike right now," not "I don't have a bike."

1988RedT2 MegaDork
2/13/20 2:47 p.m.

Just do it!

I've ridden bikes my whole life--the kind you pedal.  Other than a brief jaunt on a friend's minibike or dirt bike as a kid, I'd never been on a motorcycle.

Fast forward to my early 40's--first of two kids in my arms, and I'm looking at a derelict '76 KZ-400 in some guy's shed.  I gave him $100 for it, took it home and over the span of several weeks, bought some parts and got it running.  Call it a midlife crisis.  Made a bunch of short rides on local backroads and got my license.

Years later, I still have the KZ and I still ride, but honestly, I'd rather be out on my bicycle getting the health benefits of trying to kill myself.  One day, I may find a compelling deal on a more capable motorcycle, but I feel like this one scratches that itch without being crazy.  I can enjoy zooming down a country lane at 50 mph.  The fact that the KZ won't comfortably handle interstate speeds doesn't bother me a bit.  I just don't ride it on the highway.

Which bike isn't really that important.  Just get something you can afford and makes sense.  I keep bouncing from the idea of a Triumph to a BMW to a Kawasaki Concours.  Never have been able to justify trading up.  But I enjoy having the motorcycle.  My Mom says my Grandpa rode an Indian motorcycle back in the 1930's or '40's.  How cool is that?


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