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What first bike for me?

Discussion in 'Moto Club' started by CSNeoM4A1, Apr 24, 2006.

  1. CSNeoM4A1

    CSNeoM4A1

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    I am TOTALLY new into the motorcycle scene. I am looking into getting a bike. I will be using it for daily commuting in the city, trips on the interstate and dirt road ( around 50 miles each way, 2 hours round trip). I have ridden on a bike a few times but have never had my own or even driven one. I have basically no knowledge on the subject.
    I plan on going to the DMV and getting the motorcycle license or whatever it is. I want to take a few safety courses, which ones are recomended?

    The things I want in a bike are Safety, economical (total cost and MPG wise), dirt road capable, decent power ( enough for 2 people and some stuff like a backpack or something). I am small, 5'11" 160 lbs. I am not looing for amazing acceleration or anything. Just something basic.

    I looked at the KLR 650 online and I seem to like it, but what does everyone else suggest?
     
  2. sigG32

    sigG32

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    I ride street bikes now but I think you should look at this bike to take care of your needs. It seemed to have everything you are asking about and was tearing up the trails here in Texas. It seemed to be more for trail than for the street. You really can't have it both ways and get everything from both sides. I didn't ride it but I watched the owner take off and really hit the trail with a lot of power and good suspension. I wanted one as I watched him come back my way with a big grin on his face.

    2000 Suzuki DR-Z400S
     

  3. fnfalman

    fnfalman Chicks Dig It

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    I can tell you this much, your requirement for decent power to carry two people with some cargo is going to negate the low cost aspect.

    A dual sport like the DRZ or a KLR will handle everything but the passenger & cargo part. I suppose you can carry a passenger and some gears on a KLR on a mild dirt road, but if you even think about taking a trip of any distance at all with two people then you're going to have to look into something bigger, more powerful and a lot more expensive.

    Most bikes aren't truly rated for carrying passenger. Oh sure, you can carry them because there are backseats and footpegs, but the design isn't really there. The suspensions weren't design to cope with that much weight. The brakes weren't calibrated for that much weight.

    And taking these dual sports onto the highway is simply miserable. You'll be buzzing like a bumble bee trying to maintain realistic highway speeds (unless you like being passed by semis and getting blown all over the place with the turbulence then you can go slow).

    Don't get me wrong, there are bikes that will meet all of your criteria. But they aren't cheap. Not even used ones will be that cheap.

    And go to here to see about taking a riding class in your state http://www.msf-usa.org and the laws pertaining to motorcycling in your state.
     
  4. Texas T

    Texas T TX expatriate CLM

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    1. Take the MSF class first before you even start looking for a bike. You'll be able to pick the brains of other riders and the instructors in terms of what they like based upon your criteria.
    2. I agree with FNFALMAN that your criteria is self-defeating. If you really want to ride two-up in the dirt you are going to need something like a KTM950, a BMW GS1200, or something similar, none of which are going to meet your economical criteria.
    3. The KLR would be the closest to meeting your wants, but when you compromise on several factors are you really going to be happy in the long run?

    For 1-up, 90% street, 10% dirt, the KLR is just what you need but bear in mind that it is a TALL bike. You need to go sit on one to see just how tall it is.

    See if there are any local riding forums in your area. See my sig line for the one I hang on here in Texas. If you have anything like that local to you, join up. Let them know you're new and what you're looking for. Go to their meetings/get-togethers and check out what everyone else is riding.
     
  5. fnfalman

    fnfalman Chicks Dig It

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    Also sign up at http://www.advrider.com

    These are the adventure riders type that do both dirt & road and lots of them are in Arizona.
     
  6. CSNeoM4A1

    CSNeoM4A1

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    Ok, thanks for the help. Do I need a bike to take the Motorcycle safety course, or can I buy the bike afterwards?

    For now I will put an axe into the passenger requirement. I think what I really wanted was just the ability to have a second person hop on for a short distance. I don't really want a 2nd person on the bike for more than a few miles.

    The dirt road aspect is simply that I will need to go about 6 miles (one way) on a dirt road once and a while. The road has decent traffic and is satisfactory for most passenger cars. I won't need to go up and dirt hills or anything crazy, just down a dirt road to get to a house out in the country a ways.

    So now it is: Economical ($5000 or so), Relatively Safe (not sure if this eliminates any bikes), Good MPG (Anyone know what the KLR 650 gets?), and Mild Dirt Road Capable.

    Does this bring up any new recomendations?
    Are Sport bikes capable of doing a mild dirt road once and a while?
     
  7. fnfalman

    fnfalman Chicks Dig It

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    The MSF course includes a bike, and usually lends you a helmet too. All you need to show up with are a set of over-the-ankle boots, some sort of gloves, long sleeve jacket of some sort and long pants of some sort.

    You don't have to take the MSF course to go down to the MVD to get a license (or endorsement if you already have a car license), but if you don't know how to ride, then it behooves you to learn how to ride. Once you pass the MSF course in Arizona, you can take your certificate to the MVD, pay your money and get your endorsement. Some states require you to take the written test and waive the riding test if you pass the MSF course and some states waive both tests. Arizona is one of the latter states.

    The course isn't hard but it's not a freebie either. You have to pass the written tests and riding tests. This is where some people begin to realize that they may not have the mentality or dexterity or both to be a motorcyclist. It's a lot cheaper to find out during the MSF course than to buy a bike and realize that motosport isn't for you.

    As a novice rider, you shouldn't even contemplate taking a passenger (aka pillion) until you have at least several thousand miles under your belt. I know, I know, there are plenty of mid-life crises couples getting their Harleys and riding double. There are also plenty of dead and maimed couples as well.

    If you give a damn about yourself or about your passenger at all then lay off the pillion for quite some times.

    I think that with your revised requirement the KLR650 or the other dual sports will fill the requirement. Don't go with anything less than 250-cc or you will find yourself not able to maintain freeway speed. I don't know what the MPG is but for these bikes, I'd be surprised if you don't get close to 50-MPG.

    You're tall enough for these dual sports, that's for sure.
     
  8. wrenrj1

    wrenrj1

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    Sounds like you want the Leatherman (or Gerber) bike. There are trade offs between trail and street bikes. I looked at the KLR and was hoping to find a used one, but they're expensive. Additionally, I sat on one, and it was too tall (I'm 5'9") I do all my motoring on streets, so I went for a street bike for in town travel. I don't do interstate and little highway driving, so speed is not a factor.

    I went with a KZ 550 which is perfect for my needs. Like everything, there are trade offs, kinda like buying a economy car vs. a truck. You just gotta narrow it down to what you'll actually use it for.
     
  9. CSNeoM4A1

    CSNeoM4A1

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    wrenrj1 : You said you were 5'9" and the KLR 650 was too tall for you. I have not sat on one yet, but how much too tall was it?

    fnfalman said I should be plenty tall to ride the bike, however we are only 2 inches difference.

    Would someone 5'10", the height right in between us be able to ride it?

    Looks like I will be taking the MSF course, then go to the MVD, then buy a bike.

    Any other bike suggestions?
     
  10. fnfalman

    fnfalman Chicks Dig It

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    Two inches in height makes for a big difference on motorcycles. Not to mention that individual inseams are different as well. For example, I'm short at 5ft6, but what's worse is that my inseam is short for my height, so it's a double whammy. My sister-in-law is 5ft10 but she has the same inseam as my brother of 6ft2.

    There's only one way to find out and that's to go find one and sit on it. Kawasaki makes the KLR650, Honda makes the XR650 and Suzuki has the DRZ400. The Suzuki is smaller and has smaller engine but still should be able to get up and go.

    I'd suggest for you to go through the MSF course and then go sit on the bikes while you go shopping for one afterward. After learning how to ride, the way you sit on a bike will change AND more importantly, you have a different feel for the way a bike fits you.
     
  11. CSNeoM4A1

    CSNeoM4A1

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    Do I need a dual sport bike to go down a dirt road once and a while or will a road bike be ok?
    The dirt road will be like once or twice a month.
    So like 12-20 miles on dirt a month, the rest is purely road.
     
  12. fnfalman

    fnfalman Chicks Dig It

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    It depends on how rough the road is and how good of a rider you are.
     
  13. wrenrj1

    wrenrj1

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    First, I really liked the KLR, and did a lot of reading on them, and pricing etc. and it was the bike I wanted. In H.S. I had a 1979 Suzuki TS 185 and thought that was the type of bike for me 27 years later. I went to a dealer and sat on one, and I was on tippy toes.

    I'd recommend that you go sit on one and see how it feels. I truly like the bike, but reluctantly decided it wasn't for me.

    I always gotta share my pic of my final choice...
     
  14. gixxer11

    gixxer11 bbrrraaapppppp!

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    Dual-sports are some of the best on-road bikes, too. Up-right seating position, wide handlebar, skinny seat/frame, fairly light weight, torquey engine, etc. Any of the Japanese big-bore DP bikes are good. KTM makes some REALLY cool bikes if you got the wallet. You do get whatcha pay for! And yes, fnfal, the almighty BMW F650!
     
  15. fnfalman

    fnfalman Chicks Dig It

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    I hope that you said that tongue-in-cheek. I would never tell anybody to own an F650GS/GS Adventure/ or the street only CS.

    These bikes are too expensive for what you're getting and have no distinctive characteristics and personalities.
     
  16. gixxer11

    gixxer11 bbrrraaapppppp!

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    Has hell frooze over? Just kiddin', buddy:)
     
  17. 10-32

    10-32 Here, hold this

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    I know the bike I want..........

    [​IMG]

    :drool: :drool: :drool: Honda Magna. Sweet.
     
  18. Catbird

    Catbird loves guns!

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    This may not be cool :cool: - but this is my suggestion:

    Buy a used, traditionally-styled, light weight, easy to ride bike like a Honda Rebel with a 250 - 350 cc engine. Avoid "crotch rockets" and "choppers". Use this bike to learn the basics and familiarize yourself with safe riding techniques.

    After taking one or two motorcycle safety riding courses and you become comfortable, upgrade to whatever bike suits your requirements.

    I started out riding in 1974 on a used Honda CB350 twin just to learn the basics and upgraded to a new Honda Goldwing GL1000 in 1976.
     
  19. wrenrj1

    wrenrj1

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    Great post Catbird. Start out basic and upgrade. With my KZ 550 I felt I had enough past experience for this bike and made a good choice. There's a lot of good used bikes out there for beginners or urban commuters. You can always upgrade. The big issue now is the price of gas. These bikes (and used bikes in general) are gonna be bringing a premium, and with it being spring and the price of gas...

    I would have been happy with a dual sport bike of lesser cc's but boy they're expensive.
     
  20. CSNeoM4A1

    CSNeoM4A1

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    Will the Honda Rebel handle a dirt road that is traveled frequently by cars and is decently maintained? I am not going to be going fast or doing hills or anything on this road, but could the Honda make it. If I go slow? At all?

    If I get a bike, I need to be able to go up and down this 6 mile dirt road. I won't be doing any offorading, just this dirt road.