Absolutely New Rider
August 21, 2008 at 1:00 pm #1942
First I want to say that this will be my very first bike purchase – but I am excited as hell.
Anyways I am taking a Basic Riding Course in September and probably will be buying a beginner’s bike some time right after.
I need some advice/help. I was looking at a couple candidates for my first bike:
1. Honda Rebel
2. Honda Shadow VLX
3. Yamaha V-Star 250
4. Buell Blast
I am leaning towards the VLX as my first bike but would like to see recommendations from other people who has more experience than me.
My primary use will be around town cruising and highway commuting (60 miles roundtrip).
Thanks for the help.August 21, 2008 at 3:37 pm #10885WeaponZeroParticipant
Another bike you should add to that list is the Kawasaki Vulcan 500. In fact it’s probably a better choice than any of those. It is quick, light for a cruiser, easy to handle, and is probably the single best beginner-oriented cruiser on the market. Because it shares its engine with a sportbike (the EX500) you know it’s got some giddyap when it’s needed.August 21, 2008 at 4:27 pm #10888MattParticipant
Having experience with the Rebel 250 and VLX, I’m going to offer some thoughts on those two.
Take a very good look at how comfortable you find yourself during the MSF course. Partially I mean physical comfort (is the bike they give you, most likely a 250cc cruiser, too small to sit comfortably on?)
But even more importantly, psychologically assess your comfort level with how you handle the low speed maneauvering, and how you react when you give it some beans. Do you ever find yourself short on reaction time, or thinking about al the things you have to do when you are supposed to be doign them?
Unless your 60 mile commute is on interstate (in which case, don’t plan on doing it for a while even if you get a bike that can do it) a 250 cruiser is almost certainly the better bike to start on. It is considerably less intimidating and much easier to handle at low speeds.
The VLX is a noticible step up from a 250 in every way. Bigger, heavier, and more power. It is geared really tall, so I wouldn’t worry about goosing the gas (it is pretty tame), but everything happens faster on it than a 250. When you are learning it is nice to have a buffer space. On the 250 you have time to think things through as they are happening. Not so much with the 600.
My mom had a Rebel 250 for just shy of a year. She loved it. She never dropped it, and it was powerful enough for riding in traffic and trips out of town on the freeway with light traffic. She moved up to a VLX, and in her second ride dumped the bike and ended up underneath it on a paved median. She was pulling out of the gas station, hit some gravel and the bike started to slide, she target fixated on the median and hit it. She’s certain if she’d been on the 250 she would have had enough time to correct and drive away with nothing more than a raised heartbeat.
The VLX is a good bike, no question. On our family rides we’ve run into many people who loved their VLXs, many having ridden across the US and Canada on their “little” 600s. But spending a year on a 250 and then moving up to a VLX really does seem like the better idea (having watched someone do it). With the resale values of 250s, if you buy a used one, you’ll probably sell it for what you paid – My mom sold hers for $100 less than she paid for hers, and it was a 1983!
Now, if you decide you want a standard instead of a cruiser, the Blast is simply an excellent bike to go with, period.
“The two seconds between ‘Oh S**!’ and the crash isn’t a lot of practice time.”August 21, 2008 at 4:52 pm #10889
I will definitely look into the suggestions.
So how uncommon is it for a newbies like me to hop on straight on a 600? I mean is VLX not a starter bike as I read in most cases?
Also one of things I am trying to feel out is the “shiftability” of a bike. Since most cruisers do not have a tachometer, I understand that the rider has to feel when to shift into a higher gear. I am assuming that on a 250 it will be easier to tell than on a 600?August 21, 2008 at 4:56 pm #10890WeaponZeroParticipant
250 will be a better starting point but the VLX is marketed as a “beginner bike”. It’s definately got a mild enough powerplant but the main issue is weight. the Vulcan 500 doesn’t really have that issue as everything about it was designed to take advantage of its sportbike-derived engine. It is as light as some 250s.August 21, 2008 at 5:14 pm #10891RidleytheRedParticipant
Having just started myself, I’ll tell you what I’m experiencing.
When I took my MSF course last year, we all rode 250’s. They’re nice and light, easy to manuver and fun for the course. A 250 is definitely a confidense builder if you’re just getting started with riding or it’s been a long time.
I just got a ’82 Yamaha XJ650 which is a bit bigger than most of the starter bikes that are mentioned on this site, however the power is a definite must if you plan to take long trips, live in hilly/mountainous areas, or need to keep up with traffic on the interstate.
A 600 or 650 should be fine if you can handle a bike that’s about 400lbs. I looked at a 900cc bike a month ago and the extra weight is really noticeable, but the 650 I could handle just fine. The factors that will help you choose the right size for you should be what you feel comfortable handling. If you’re bigger a medium sized bike could be just fine, if you’re smaller start smaller. There’s no one who will call you an idiot for knowing your limits, you might get teased by squids or fools, but they are a minority. My friends at work go riding as a group a lot and you’ll see all sizes in their pack and no one gives grief to the falks with smaller bikes.
As far as cruisers go, most of the Yamaha’s I’ve seen have tachometers, but you can tell when to shift pretty easily by sound and intuition.August 21, 2008 at 5:33 pm #10892MattParticipant
Vulcan 500 is 440 pounds dry. It is NOT anywhere near as light as a 250 (most of which are in the 300-350 pound range).
The Vulcan uses a parrallel twin engine, not a classic Inline-4 sport bike engine. While it does rev higher than a V-twin and make slightly less torque, it is still a twin, not an four.
The Vulcan engine starts tame but builds. It is a very linear powerplant, but can still go like stink. The trick is to let the revs build. Where most cruisers are hitting redline the Vulcan 500 is just entering its stride.
The Vulcan feels like a physically larger bike than the VLX. My mother chose the VLX because the vulcan had too wide a tank for her comfort. A co worker chose the vulcan over the VLX because he liked the wider tank and felt the VLX was too narrow a bike. All about preference.
As for shifting, none of the bikes have Tachs, but at least in the case of the Rebel and VLX they have shift markers on the speedo. It really does become second nature very quickly, even if you’ve never driven a standard transmission before.
Lastly, how common is hopping onto a 600? Very. but not because it is the better choice.
It is common because a lot of people are told to go bigger than they should, by friends, family, and sales people. Just because it is common doesn’t make it the easiest or most enjoyable path.
As I said, wait for your MSF before maing up your mind. If you can wring the necks of the 250s in class and feel bored, then the bigger bike is the way to go. If you ever struggle with a skill, take the easier route and spend a season on a smaller bike. You’ll have just as much fun, and be a better ride for it.
I can’t tell you how many people I see “duck walking” their bikes at lights. You can tell right away that they didn’t get enough training, or that they simply started out on a bike that is too heavy for them, and now they have poor and possibly dangerous habits (besides looking dumb, putting your foot down too early when coming to a stop is a great way to roll or break an ankle).
IF you do find that yanking open the throttle on a 250 cruiser in a small area doesn’t get a rise out of the hairs on the back of your neck, and you want a fast bike, I’d say look at the Blast or the Vulcan over the Shadow VLX. It is geared very tall and doesn’t really yank you off the line like a more sporting bike will – it is a cruiser, meant to cruise.
“The two seconds between ‘Oh S**!’ and the crash isn’t a lot of practice time.”August 21, 2008 at 8:20 pm #10901AndrewParticipant
I’m 5’4 and as a novice rider I though the Shadow was a huge bike when I sat on one. And I’m talking about size and weight.August 21, 2008 at 10:33 pm #10920
All very good input….
I appreciate the help and comments. So I will take everyone’s suggestion and will probably get a 250.
Now trying to figure out safety gear:
Leather or Textile (?) or Mesh?
Full or half face or caps?
Man this is getting to be a task LOL.August 21, 2008 at 10:33 pm #10918
ThanksAugust 21, 2008 at 10:36 pm #10921BoOZe P-ti MotardParticipant
what you prefer? a tank half filled or FULL-y filled? well it depends on your $$$ but i say get the full leather(if ye going textile, make sure it has back, elbow and shoulder armor) and full face helmet.. i’ve had bad experiences and if i did not have full face helmet during my crash, i would have done face surgery, twice…(cover your knees also…it sukx when the wound has dried out..you can’t even sh**t in peace ) don’t be in a haste… save some $$ and get your gear… ride confidently…and don’t forget the gloves and boots…
Solomolo RiderAugust 21, 2008 at 10:40 pm #10922BoOZe P-ti MotardParticipant
i replied to that above..it seems you modified the post..lol ..well do check the site and forum posts for more precise answers to your questions… but i like everything full..(don’t dare joke ’bout dat ey!?!)
Solomolo RiderAugust 21, 2008 at 11:36 pm #10927BankParticipant
Elwood you brought up a good point. Dont let the “high school peer pressure” ruin your riding. Dont be intimidated into purchasing or riding something that you cant handle just because some other people are giving you crap about how “their 600’s and 1000’s are better than your 250…blah blah blah…” They all seem to forget that they were beginners before too.August 22, 2008 at 1:05 am #10929smokeizfireParticipant
I went out and purchased a GV250 today(black and orange). My decision was based most on what Mr. 6’3″ 250 pounder Elmwood. The point that resonated with me the most was when you told how people who start out on bigger bikes rob themselves of the enjoyment of learning. I was so tempted to start out on the V Star 650. But today, I decided to sabotage myself by going out and getting the international lightweight champ(…well I don’t know about all that) of 2500cc motorcycles. This way, I can’t change my mind and jump into 8 feet of water before learning to doggy paddle. I saved money too going Hyosung, and the manufacturer gives a $300 rebate when you present your MSF certificate(within 60 days if you buy before you take the course).
Whooo hoooo!!!!!!!!!!August 22, 2008 at 6:17 pm #10980RabParticipant
I think you made a wise decision.
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