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Klayfish
Klayfish PowerDork
1/19/20 2:01 p.m.

Let me put this out there first.  Motorcycles have always intrigued the hell out of me, but also scared the hell out of me.  So I've never had one.  Haven't ridden a full size bike, ever.  Last time I was on a two wheeler with a motor was at least 35 years ago.  However, the interest in one has been getting stronger.  The thought of taking a ride on something nimble (relatively speaking), quick and in the open air sounds like fun.  Doing what I do for a living, I know to have my head on a swivel, be level headed and as cautious as I can be.  I just want to go out for a ride, not do anythig stupid.

Money just doesn't allow me to have a high price car toy right now, so a cheap motorcycle may make sense.  A crotch rocket doesn't appeal to me all that much, I'm more interested in being comfortable...though I wouldn't want a huge pig.  When I look at CL, I see things like Suzuki Intruders selling for $1500.  Here's an example...https://atlanta.craigslist.org/nat/mcy/d/marietta-92-suzuki-intruder-vs800/7054197148.html  Would something like that make sense for a newbie? 

I'm not sure I'm going to do this.  The fear of getting hurt or killed still sticks in my mind, but I want to at least explore the options.  If you were going to spend under $2k, what would you do?

wheelsmithy
wheelsmithy UltraDork
1/19/20 2:21 p.m.

I'm a lifelong motorcyclist. Been hit by a car, been rained on, been caught out in the snow. Motorcycles are like nature walks on steroids.

Thing is, distracted drivers are worse than ever. I always took it like "They are all trying to kill you", but these days, they are sleepers who are compelled by the force to kill you, while never knowing they are doing it.

Country rides are good. Commuting is worse than ever. If you want to do it, take a rider safety course. 

mr2s2000elise
mr2s2000elise Dork
1/19/20 2:23 p.m.

Lifelong biker here. Started at 16. MSF course was required. Started with 125cc, then moved to 250cc, then to 600 gsxr. 11 bikes later, 2 in the stable now. Ride 19,000-23,000 miles a year in the 2nd heaviest traffic area in the USA 

Currently 748 Duc and a GSXR 750.  

Saving for a 1299 Panigale. 

 

Do it. Best thing in the world. 

Recon1342
Recon1342 HalfDork
1/19/20 2:33 p.m.

In reply to Klayfish :

I've been riding since I was 14. An intruder like the one you posted wouldn't be a bad bike to learn on, but if you're looking for something "nimble", standards and sportbikes are the way to go. Check out bikes like this one- https://powersports.honda.com/street/standard/cb300f 

Small engine means less likely to get into trouble, lightweight means easier to maneuver, and the upright seating is good for your visibility and everyone else's. As a veteran rider, I feel compelled to point out that my favorite bikes are the small to mid-displacement standards. You can flog them mercilessly, whereas a superbike needs to be ridden conservatively on the street because it is so grossly overpowered...

As far as worries, well, life is short. Enjoy it while you can. Sometimes a little risk is worthwhile. My mom is 70 years old, and currently owns a CB1000 custom, a CB750, and a GL1500 Goldwing. I think if she stopped riding, she'd probably die...

stuart in mn
stuart in mn MegaDork
1/19/20 2:37 p.m.

I'd suggest taking the MSF riding course first before buying anything.  They will have bikes you can ride for the class, and you can get a better idea if it's something you want to pursue further.  https://www.msf-usa.org  If you do go ahead with buying a motorcycle, don't pay attention to people who tell you this bike or that bike is too small...most any road legal motorcycle will keep up with traffic on most roads; it may or may not be suitable for riding 80mph on the freeway, but that's not where you want to be until you're more experienced anyway.  Get something you're comfortable with, and move up later if desired.  You can always sell the smaller bike later.

BoxheadTim
BoxheadTim MegaDork
1/19/20 3:25 p.m.

I've "only" been riding since I was in my late 20s and thus skipped the "I'm invincible" stage. That might actually work in your favour.

I'd echo the "get some training" advice, and I like Stuart's advice to do that first.

As to what bike to get, I'd check out a few different styles to see what feels best to you. The Suzuki you linked should be pretty beginner friendly, plus there are a few Yamahas in the same vein. I'd also look at a standard bike - something like a Suzuki SV650, which is kinda the Miata of the motorcycle world - and maybe a somewhat dirt-oriented bike like a DR650.

Also, when you're budgeting, don't forget to budget for half-decent protective clothing. I'm an ATGATT (all the gear all the time) guy and recommend the same to everybody who's starting out. But keep in mind that you'll probably drop a grand or so on reasonable entry-level gear on top of the cost of the bike, especially if you don't have a DOT legal helmet already.

Oh, and motorcycles are much, much worse at multiplying than cars are IME.

ae86andkp61
ae86andkp61 Dork
1/20/20 2:04 a.m.

Riding is the most fun thing I've ever done, highly recommended as long as you are smart/realistic about it. I did it my youth, quit due to the risk, came back to it as an adult, and love it more than four wheels by far.

1) MSF course. Do it. It sets you up nicely to get out on the road and start riding. I think it gives you a nice boost partway up the steep part of the learning curve.

2) ATGATT. Skin grafts don't look like fun. Bone infections can kill. A few hundred bucks in gear is waaay cheaper than most hospital stays.

3) You will want to factor in your personal style and riding conditions, but for urban riding plus backroads exploring, I'm a huge fan of dual sports and supermotos for fun, nimble bikes. Something like a XR250, XR400, DR350, DRZ400, WR250, etc is lightweight, easy on gas, easy for maintenance, lots of steering lock, lots of leverage on the bars, and will have suspension for rough/bumpy roads. These bikes also let you play off-road, which is a great classroom for bike handling at low speeds. Think of the Baja Bug of motorcycles and you are getting the idea. They aren't going to be great for long highway rides, but that's not where nimble motorcycles shine...

4) If you like the style of a street bike more, but still want a nimble ride, see if something like a GS500, Buell Blast, CBR250/300, CB500, (I think Kawasaki has a Z300/Z400-thing?) catches your eye. They will likely give you a slightly more responsive ride than the Intruder.

5) Have fun, stay alert, and enjoy truly living! 

Klayfish
Klayfish PowerDork
1/20/20 6:06 a.m.

Thanks gang.  Yes, a safety course would happen.  Remember, I work in auto insurance claims...I won't even leave the driveway without my seatbelt on.  Hell, I may be too nervous about a motorcycle to do this anyway, but I'm thinking about it.  And yes, full riding gear.  Hence I won't ride in the summer...because Atlanta.  I can't imagine a ride on a 93 degree day when you're covered head to toe in gear is fun. I know when I'm in the race car in the summer I sweat like mad. 

I was using "nimble" as a relative term, as in compared to a 3000lb car.  I'm sure a huge Harley isn't very nimble, but that's not what I'm thinking of.  I'd have to guess something like an Intruder is still somewhat nimble when compared to a Chevy HHR or Kia Sedona.  I'm just looking to be able to get out in the suburbs and take a casual ride.  No high speed twisty road blitzes, no track days, just a fun ride.  Sure, I'll go on a twisty road and no I won't plan to go as slow as a Harley tour, but I also won't go balls to the wall.  That's what my LeMons racing hobby is for.

pres589 (djronnebaum)
pres589 (djronnebaum) PowerDork
1/20/20 6:52 a.m.

How tall are you, what do you weigh, and about what budget for bike + gear could you see yourself spending on that first bike?

Klayfish
Klayfish PowerDork
1/20/20 7:02 a.m.
pres589 (djronnebaum) said:

How tall are you, what do you weigh, and about what budget for bike + gear could you see yourself spending on that first bike?

5'9", 175lbs, so almost exactly the "average" size male.  I'm pretty slim though, just have a lot of muscle (I'm a workout fanatic).  Budget is around the bike I put in my first post or a bike like this. https://atlanta.craigslist.org/nat/mcy/d/alpharetta-honda-shadow-vt750/7057922327.html , so roughly $1500-$2000.  I've already got a helmet, so the rest of the gear I'd look to find used (not sure what that costs).

pres589 (djronnebaum)
pres589 (djronnebaum) PowerDork
1/20/20 7:15 a.m.

You're in good luck; you'll fit on just about any bike made.  A GS500 might be a good first bike, or the SV650, although there's nothing wrong with a 750 Shadow.  A Katana 750 might be worth considering as well (although I find the later bubble looking bikes to be kind of unattractive).  Buy new gloves, maybe look for a "summer" model that will be a little more comfortable in warm weather, and plan on spending $75 to $100 there.  A used jacket is a good idea to save some money, maybe $100 there.  I'll admit to not wearing overpants when it gets warmer out; your call there.  I think my Alpinestars boots were $150 and there's a lot of options there.

 

ddavidv
ddavidv PowerDork
1/20/20 7:52 a.m.

C'mon Klayfish, join the Geezer Insurance Adjusters Who Ride group. wink

Pick up a copy of "Proficient Motorcycling" and read it. Nothing against the MSF course but the book has way more useful info than you'll learn in their class (and still take the class).

Stop by some dealerships and just sit on several different styles of bikes, even types you don't think you'd like. Pay attention to the ergonomics and how easy or difficult they are to pick up off the sidestand. How does the weight FEEL just sitting astride it? The 'style' of bike for a beginner matters far less than how it will feel.

I like 'standards' and have sat on or ridden lots of different ones. Some I just can't feel comfortable on (Yamaha SR400) while others will feel like they were made for me (Kawi Z900RS). You may think you want a cruiser like the one you linked until you sit on it and find that it is actually pretty uncomfortable (or the opposite). Everyone's ergo needs are different.

Don't pay attention to displacement...much. A Suzuki TU250X is a surprisingly capable bike and has much better performance than my Royal Enfield Bullet 500. That said, I would not explore anything bigger than a 650 for a new rider. More displacement comes with more weight to manage.

You can get used gear from FB Marketplace, ADVrider.com and other sources for way less than buying new. I have three different jackets, none bought new. Three sets of pants, two were new. Two sets of boots, one was new. Cycle Gear probably has a store near you and their stuff is affordable and decent quality.  I even bought a helmet from them as it fit my weirdo egghead better than the name brands.

Your first week/month of riding will be scary once you realize just how exposed you are. However, if you are a racer and have developed good situational awareness you'll spot potential dangers no problem and avoid them easily. I typically ride in the mornings on the weekends to avoid traffic and stick to more remote two lanes. Just as in racing sometimes stuff happens you have no control over. I hit some oil in a turn this past fall and went down. Got a broken hand out of the deal. ATGATT prevented road rash but couldn't keep the handlebar from slamming into my thumb.

Oh, and no open face helmets!

I slid along on my chin bar after I fell. Note also the small tear in the riding jacket. The gear works.

So after having broken my first ever bone did I want to give up riding? No. Freak accidents can happen anywhere. The joy of riding is immense. It clears the cobwebs from your brain because so much is 'running in the background' while you ride just to keep the thing upright. They are great mental therapy. I only started riding when I was late 40s and it probably my favorite pasttime now.

"When the quest for safety gets in the way of the enjoyment of life, it is defeating it's own purpose."--Pat Ertel, Vintage Truck magazine

mazdeuce - Seth
mazdeuce - Seth Mod Squad
1/20/20 7:52 a.m.

Much like a first car, you want something that you're comfortable on, isn't too fast, and lets you have good visibility (which is a body position/mirrors thing) Your first bike won't be your last bike and bikes in your price range don't really depreciate over the first year that you ride. Even more important than cars, make sure the tires aren't too old/worn. Slidey cars are fun, slidey bikes are less fun. 

BoxheadTim
BoxheadTim MegaDork
1/20/20 8:08 a.m.

Re gear - given your location I'd look for a mesh jacket and pants with removeable waterproof liners. That way you don't get soaked when it's raining and you get a reasonable amount of airflow through the clothing when it's hot and humid.

With used clothing especially I'd also look at upgrading the armour (and make sure that you buy clothing with armour pockets - pretty much all of the reasonably recent clothing has them).

Ian F
Ian F MegaDork
1/20/20 8:18 a.m.

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.

ddavidv
ddavidv PowerDork
1/20/20 11:04 a.m.

My mesh pants are far cooler than the armored jeans I wear.

clutchsmoke
clutchsmoke UltraDork
1/20/20 12:14 p.m.
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.

This is an excellent first bike. Take the MSF and decide from there. I suspect the hook will be set by the end of the first day.

Klayfish
Klayfish PowerDork
1/20/20 12:22 p.m.
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?

pontiacstogo
pontiacstogo Reader
1/20/20 12:48 p.m.

Lot's of good comments here. 

I find motorcycle riding to be the most engaging activity I do - it takes my full concentration to ride well, but that full concentration also means I think of nothing else during a ride - it's a great way to clear the mind.  I've learned to trust my instincts riding too - I ask myself if I'm focused before every ride and if I don't feel 100% before heading out - I don't.  I've had a bike warmed up and had all my gear on, then just shut it all down and walked away.

Until you are comfortable with the bike, your skill and your limits avoid traffic and group rides.  I've been on enough group rides to watch other folks ride over their skill limits and eventually get themselves into trouble - so much so that motorcycling is a solo sport for me nowadays.

Get into the habit of doing a 'walkaround' of your bike before heading out too - check basic things like tires, chain, brakes etc.   Half the fun of owning a bike is maintaining it as well so learn as much as you can about it and get familiar with it mechanically.

If you're handy with mechanical work, don't rule out some of the early UJM bikes out there.  Honda CB's, Suzuki GS's etc. from the late seventies / early eighties can provide a great way to own a classic and get into motorcycle riding at the same time.  They are generally pretty simple machines with their biggest downside being added heft and lower performance than more modern bikes.

Oh - and if you enjoy yourself, be prepared for the motorcycle fleet to grow.  You can never have too many motorcycles and they take up much less room than a car!

Ian F
Ian F MegaDork
1/20/20 1:17 p.m.
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.

914Driver
914Driver MegaDork
1/20/20 1:37 p.m.

Buy something smallish and not expensive.  NOT a sport bike!  Standards have a better riding position and won't hurt your neck after an hour or so.

Do stu[id stuff with that, spill gas all over it at a station, forget to put the kick stand down, bust a light or two, learn the physics of riding.  It's different on a bike, always leave it in gear at a light, get ready to dump the clutch! Watch the mirrors!  Once comfortable and you get "riding buddies" and learn about bikes, pick your lane, be it cruiser, tourer, whatever; then get the thing you dream of.

This was my wife's first bike, light enough to flick, powerful enough to get out of trouble (or into it).

  I gave the same advice to my son who went through a few, but his Suzuki RF 600 he rode from NYC to Hollywood, CA where he learned about lane splitting.

¯\_(ツ)_/¯
¯\_(ツ)_/¯ PowerDork
1/20/20 1:49 p.m.

For further speculation about what bike "fits" and what doesn't, cycle-ergo has a neat tool for visualizing how you will fit on certain bikes.

I had a DRZ400 and would agree that it could be a great starter bike, provided you like the idea of a dual sport.

pinchvalve
pinchvalve MegaDork
1/20/20 2:11 p.m.

My first bike ever at the age of 32 or so was a Honda CX500. It was supposed to be a bike to learn on and then to upgrade a year later. It turned out to be so versatile and reliable that I rode it for 10 years. It was a good mix of utility, touring, cruising, and back-road fun. Keep in mind, I never rode before, so 37 mph in a  35 zone was sporty riding to me. 

I'd recommend a good all-rounder like the CX500 to start. From there, you can decide if you like crusing, sport-touring, fast rides, etc. I went to the V-Star 950 because I was riding two-up with my wife a lot and going on Poker Runs with my Harley friends.

It's slanted more towards a cruiser for sure, but it is another great all-rounder. The low seat and reasonable power make it great for a beginner, and low floorbaords limit the lean angle ensuring you keep it slow in the turns. IF you want a sportbike, this is not for you. If you aspire to a Harley, it might be a great start. They go for about $3k on the used market, that's a lot of bike for the money IMHO.

My wife is usually busy with the kids, and my new friends all ride V-Stroms, so I am looking for a replacement myself. I tried the V-Stroms, but they were not my cup of tea. I am leaning towards something that is great for commuting short distances in nice weather and some sporty, but not too sporty, back road blasts. Not sure yet, but perhaps something like this:

 

 

 

Klayfish
Klayfish PowerDork
1/20/20 2:22 p.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.

How much you want?

wawazat
wawazat HalfDork
1/20/20 8:20 p.m.

I was in the same boat as you are just last year.  I rode 2 stroke quads when I was younger and mini-bikes before that but never on the street.  I had a lot of desire but was fearful and with two young kids it didn't add up.  My uncle passed away Thanksgiving 2018 and gave me his '73 Harley-Davidson bobber before he left us.  He put his heart and soul in to it's design and build so I was blown away when he asked if I would want it.   Bittersweet memories every time I fire it up.  He was my favorite uncle and we spent a lot of time together when I was growing up. 

I did my research on gear, took the MSF class at a local H-D dealership and late last spring headed out in to the wild world of Detroit are roadways.  I LOVE RIDING!  I've long been a convertible guy and thought this would hook me and it has.  I am a diehard ATGATT based on friends accidents over the years.  90F plus is rough fully geared up but I have a perforated Dianese leather jacket than does a great job moving air and sweat off me when I ride.  I pair this with a breathable shirt and it works OK.  I echo the full face helmet comments above along with CE rated footgear.  I also bought a Cosmo connected helmet (Shoei modular Neotec 2-LOVE IT!) mounted brake light that is great at getting me noticed by those behind me.  Alpinestar gloves and Kevlar reinforced jeans complete the ensemble.   

My advice to you:

1) take the MSF class in a small setting.  You'll pay extra but get more time on the loaner bikes.

2) Get the gear that will keep you best protected 

3) ride at off times and avoid heavy traffic

4) Try to not smile when you're riding-impossible

 

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