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First Bike - What Do I Get?

Discussion in 'Moto Club' started by DepChief, Jul 10, 2007.

  1. DepChief

    DepChief Get Tous's Rope

    Nov 27, 2004
    Outer Banks, NC
    Well, I used to ride dirt bikes about 100 years ago, but am seriously contemplating purchasing a bike. I want to get a cruiser/touring bike, not for long trips, but just to get out and ride. I dont want to spend a fortune, I am thinking in the $5000 to $8000 range. What would you recommend and what would you avoid?
  2. Ralphumor

    Ralphumor NRA Life Member

    Mar 22, 2004
    You sound a little like my father. He had not ridden in years and decided to get a bike. He got a VTX1300. He confined himself to the neighborhood for about a month. Slow navigation stop signs and not much traffic. He then ventured out little by little. We just got back from the Smokies Monday. Your price range you should be able to get a good/great used metric V-Star,VTX,Vulcan or a Shadow. Just take it slow before you hop out in the big mean world. A rider course would be a great way to get back into it. Good luck and post pictures when you get one.

  3. DaisyCutter


    Mar 1, 2003
    May I ask your height and weight before suggesting models?

    An appropriate first bike for a 150# guy can be different than an appropriate first bike for a 250# guy.
  4. wolfy692005

    wolfy692005 pro tinkerer

    Nov 13, 2005
    back in FL, near Orlando
    whatever you deside on.. i would make sure you can firmly place your feet on the ground when seated. I know it seems like a small thing but i have seen way more mishaps at stop signs and stop lights than at speed..
    Make sure the bike when seated puts you in a comfortable position for you. Whatever that is.. the more comfortable you are the more more likly you are to actually ride it..
    ust like on your dirt bikes, learn the clutch and the throttle easy and then go.
    thats it.. have 15K miles on the ultra this year so far... dang i am getting good at oil changes..

    GUNZEALOT Up all night

    Aug 16, 2001
    Another vote for a Honda 1300 VTX. It's a medium size cruiser and in your price range. I have also heard good stuff about the Yamaha V-star which is a similar priced bike. I bought the VTX as my first bike and like it a lot. At first I thought it might be too much, but after a couple hundred miles, I wouldn't want anything smaller. It has plenty of power and handles good with a low center of gravity.

    Here's a pic of mine.
  6. glock_19_9mm


    Dec 28, 2004
    Melbourne, FL
    My first is a 06 Honda Shadow Aero. It has a 750cc and gets 55 mpg. It is a little slower than the VTX1300 is but it is fine for commuting and riding 2 up, and the mileage is about 10 mpg better. It will still scoot, but may require some down-shifting to get the engine where it performs the best.

    New is 6500 and when you add all the taxes and such, you will probably 7500+.

    Overall I am happy with it. There are all kinds of add-ons that are not expensive. Sometimes I fell that I want something bigger, but then I remember the primary purpose (commuting) and the 55 mpg and I am happy again...
  7. alphacat

    alphacat account deleted

    Jul 16, 2003
    What ever you do, no matter what kind of bike you buy, please do yourself a favor and take a motorcycle safe riding class.

    They are usually free and a good way to get back into riding.
    It is time worth spending. Sometimes you can get a discount on your insurance.

    Ride safe and have a good time.

  8. MikeLadner

    MikeLadner DILLIGAFF?

    Jul 4, 2001
    South Mississippi

    I had never been on a motorcycle before.

    2 weeks ago I bought a used (in great condition) 2004 Victory Vegas 1507cc. So far so good.


    As far as body size, I'm 6' 200lbs
  9. obxprnstar

    obxprnstar Goth Lover

    Jan 8, 2003
    Zombie Patrol
    The vulcan is the heat, before I got scared of bikes I almost upgraded to one.
  10. Romulas


    May 26, 2005
    I got to ride a Victory King Pin a while back. Best cruiser I have ever ridden. Low center of gravity, I didn't feel like I was going to fall over in a turn. And, the bike had a a good amount of power, especially low end, for a cruiser. Kudos to victory on giving Harley an excellent run for their money along with some of the jap bikes. My favorite is the VFR 750 by Honda, not the best beginner model though. My recommendation for anyone would be a ninja 250. Good power, low seat, very easy to ride, fun, and good resale value vs. cheap initial cost.
  11. whiteknight3633

    whiteknight3633 NRA Member

    Sep 24, 2005
    Enterprise, AL
    I apologize for hijacking the OP's thread. I am an older newbie (38 years old) knowing nothing about motorcycles but i'm afraid I have the fever for one. In reading several different cycle forums, I have not seen this ask:

    This is exactly the kind of information I have been wanting to know for myself, so DaisyCutter, I would appreciate a suggestion for a bike for me being 6'2"/250#. Not knowing what category (sportbike, cruiser,etc) or even what brand I would like makes me open to just about everything.

    I understand about taking a Beginner's Riders Course and maybe it would be addressed in the course but any guidance would be greatly appreciated.

    Thanks for the input

  12. fnfalman

    fnfalman Chicks Dig It

    Oct 23, 2000
    California & New Mexico, US
    First of all, older doesn't mean that you're wiser - an unskilled rider regardless of age is an unskilled rider. Secondly, the motorcycle doesn't give a damn about your maturity - it will kill a youth just as fast it will kill an old fart. Thirdly there will always be another rider who's better and faster than you are.

    So, use your older age and maturity wisely. Take the MSF course and don't even bother thinking about what type and brand of motorcycle you like. You don't really know what you like until you start riding. Only you can judge the style of riding and the concommitant type of bike that you like. Don't fall for the stereotypes such as you're too old to be riding a such 'n such. Ride what you like AS SOON AS YOU figure it out.

    However, after saying that, a wise person would start with a very cheap, used and light bike of modest horsepower and handling. Hone your skills well on a battered, light bike (because heavy and/or high-performance bikes are hard to master) and then buy the bike of your dream.

    And as far as riding gears go, that's an individual thing. If you feel like dress up in full race leathers, then by all means. Don't let other fools trying to tell you that you're looking like a Power Ranger or a Ricky Racer. When you crash, not if but when, it's you that have to suffer the consequences and not the other Joe Cools. On the other hand, if you feel like riding with sandals, shorts, T-shirt and a Harley-Davidson bandana on, then by all means. You're a big boy, you can decide what to do with your life.

    So in the end, motorcycling is like all other fun but dangerous sports. There's a smart way of doing it and then there's the "cool" way of doing it.

    There will always be those who claimed that they started on the "XYZwhatever" and they still live just fine. But for every one of those, there are probably ten more who aren't doing "just fine" because they crashed badly.

    Leave the heavy bikes and the fast bikes for until you get your basic skill set down, which is anywhere between 6-months to a year depending on how much you ride. Riding 5-miles to the bar/mall/Starbuck once every other two weeks doesn't much improve your skills, if ya know what I mean.

    And beyond the MSF course, there are books written on the subject of riding: sport riding, street riding, offroad riding, racing, ad infinitum. Also beyond the MSF course, there is the advanced MSF riding course/1-day refresher, and various motorcycle riding courses taught by former racers and former police riders. Even though you're not "racing", it's still beneficial to get taught on how to handle a bike in extreme conditions such as braking hard & swerve to avoid that truck that just pulled out in front of you or that car that just crossed over the double-yellow line and heading toward you.

    So, I'd recommend as a "first" bike, something like a Honda Nighthawk 250, a Kawasaki Ninja 250, or a Ninja 500, Suzuki GS500, Suzuki 250 Virago. Something light, cheap and innocuous. For your height, maybe some sort of street legal dirt bike/dual sport. Once again, something light, cheap and innocuous. After six months or several thousand miles of riding, you can buy whatever you want to buy. That 800-lbs cruiser, or the 650-cc supermoto, or maybe a crotch rocket, an adventure bike, etc.
  13. whiteknight3633

    whiteknight3633 NRA Member

    Sep 24, 2005
    Enterprise, AL

    Nice post with alot of useful information. Thank-you for sharing your knowledge about something I am clueless about.
  14. JMag


    Feb 7, 2001
    USA:Love it or leave!
    He speaks truth...should be stickied, IMO.

  15. fnfalman

    fnfalman Chicks Dig It

    Oct 23, 2000
    California & New Mexico, US
    I'm here to share info and to learn from others.

    There's no way of knowing what you really want to ride right now. Not until you put some mileage under your belt. I quitted riding for 13-years and returned to the folds three years ago. I took the MSF course and it was like, "wow, I didn't know that the bike can do that?!!" I learned the "Uncle Joe" method which is an avuncular fellow with good intentions but zero teaching experience showing you how to ride a motorbike in a parking lot. The Uncle Joe method is very prevalent but not highly recommended. On the other side, graduating from the MSF course doesn't give you a license to race either. You'd know enough just to be dangerous. Put in some seat times and then you will really know what you like.

    When I decided to return to motorbiking, I thought to myself, "yeah, I'll get something reasonable just to ride for fun, I ain't racin', I ain't goin' fast, I ain't tourin', I just wanna ride around a bit." Last I checked I've been averaging 20-30,000-miles a year WITHOUT commuting. That's just fun mileage on the weekends and vacations. My "reasonable" BMW is pretty well modded out, got a pretty fast pasta burner and just picked up a KTM adventure bike.

    Go into the sport without any prejudice and let your taste guides you.
  16. Lone Wolff

    Lone Wolff Tire World...

    Dec 17, 2002
    If I were in your shoes, I'd seriously read what's been posted here already, take about half your budget and try to find a good used bike. Ride it for a year or so, and see what part of motorcycling you enjoy most.

    Then, maybe trade it in/sell it and use the rest of your budget towards a nicer/newer bike if you think it's necessary.

    If you like cruising around town, your optimal bike is going to be different than if you decide you really want to take long trips on a bike, or if you really enjoy leaning it over in the curves, and accelerating quickly out of them. Touring bikes, cruisers, sport bikes are all made for a reason. Very few do all things well, so don't narrow down your choices before you have a chance to give them all a try.

    You say you don't want a bike for long trips, but for me that would rule out the cruiser/touring bike that you mention you are looking at. But again, that's me. Most reputable bike dealerships will let you test drive used bikes without too many hassles, but not so much on new bikes.

    You first thoughts of what you really "want" in a bike may change after you've ridden in traffic for a few months. I know mine did.
  17. JimK


    Mar 23, 2007
    Another good one is a Suzuki C50 . A classic looking cruiser 800cc, fuel injected and water cooled . A good reliable bike that starts in any weather and stays running . Enough power and handles nice.If you feel the need for more power than the 1300 Honda VTX can be had for just under 8grand if you shop around.I got a great deal on a Suzuki S83 or I would still have my C50.That VTX from Honda comes in a couple variations.
  18. DaisyCutter


    Mar 1, 2003
    My only critique on Falman's post is that I'd suggest a 250lb man avoid trying to learn on a teeny 17hp 250cc motorcycle.

    I'd suggest a generic older bike, like a Honda nighthawk, with greater than 250cc displacement. It takes a bit of torque to move a 250lb butt, and the buzzy little bikes don't have it. Also, for big guys, the little bikes are real squirrely and undersprung, with bad handling as a result. Additionally, little bikes require more clutch slipping and more precise gear shifts.

    I bought my ex-wife a Ninja 500, and I used to love riding those when I was a skinny highschool kid (called an EX500 back then)... but now that I've gained 60 lbs, the bike seemed really squirrely.

    Don't buy a huge bike, but at least get something that's 400+ lbs. It'll be more stable and change directions slower, plus a 6'+ 250lb man will have no problem straddling or man-handling it.

    With an old 750 Nighthawk, you can just putt around in whatever gear, the bike won't care. The brakes and suspension will be better suited for a big guy and ride will be a lot more smooth.

    A simple, straight-forward half-liter displacement old bike is IMO easier for a 180+lb man to learn to ride than a CB or Ninja 250.

    My ZRX, despite being 1200cc with 120+hp, is a very gentle bike. I can put it in 5th gear and let it idle at 25mph... without touching the handlebars. If I miss a shift, no biggie. If I need to accelerate, and forget to downshift, again no biggie. Very smooth.... Good low-end torque makes learning to ride very easy.

    Big bikes are very easy for big boys to ride, but you've got to respect them. Heck, you've got to respect the small ones too.

    Most people will say that a 600cc bike is marginal for riding 2-up. Bro, at 250lbs you're almost two people. Most bikes are designed to fit a standardish 5'10" 160lb man. Older mid-sized bikes rev slowly and put out smooth predictable torque.

    (I'm not advocating getting a CBR600RR, or GSXR1000... just something with more grunt than a 250)
  19. nsb22

    nsb22 TEAM OAF

    Sep 17, 2003
    Chief, knowing your size, I'd recommend a Honda Shadow 800 from about 2002 to current. The new ones are running about $6,900 so a used one will be easy as pie to find.

    The 800 will have enough power to get you moving, but not so much that you can't control.

    After a few years of that I'd move up to the VTX1300 or 1800.

    Just my humble opinion, but as others have said you might enjoy a Kaw or Suzuki so I'll let you decide!

    Just remember, dirt and street require slightly different riding skills!

    Stay safe Brother!

    I should add that I'm a sport bike guy and know just enough about cruisers to suggest Honda! :supergrin: But then again I'm a Honda man through and through! :supergrin:
  20. JimK


    Mar 23, 2007
    You may want to check out . there are plenty of Suzuki C-50`s on there ( Motorcycle Cruiser magazine top pick for the 750-800 cc cruiser ). The Honda Shadow or Aero is a 750 cc bike. They are a good bike also. They feel a little smaller. The C-50 is fuel injected , starts right up and ready to ride almost immediately.I hadn`t ridden hardly at all for 30 years before I bought my C-50 and had no trouble at all on this bike.Thing is you can`t go too wrong with any of the major cycle brands. They are all pretty reliable. Most riders will tell you if you get too small a bike you will want to upgrade to a bigger bike(more motor) in no time.Nothing wrong with a smaller bike especiallly to start up on, especially for a new rider. Just remember you will lose some money most likely if you trade in a year later.