January 17, 2011 at 1:50 pm #4309
My name is Richard, but you can call me Zim. I live in the great Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, where we have four seasons and three of them suck, and have for all of my eighteen years. I’ve never sat on more than a 250cc four wheeler, but I have the desire for a two-wheeled beauty of my own. Plus, I’d rather drive a five speed over an automatic any day!
I’ve only been lurking for a few days, but in that time, I’ve noticed that all of the veteran riders suggest a MSP from the local training site. The only reason I’m not already signed up for a BRC is that the PA MSP hasn’t updated their schedule to 2011 yet. -_- Thankfully, PA is one of those states that will give students their 2-wheel license endorsement after successful completion of the BRC, so I dont have a test to fret about. *whew*
In PA, the MSP provides a handful of 250cc beaters for the students to use during the BRC, all of which are of the cruiser style. I don’t object to this, since that’s more of the machine I’m looking for. As far as a bike goes, I’m looking for something that will fit my 6’4″, 200 lb frame, and will be COMFORTABLE. A fourty minute commute really makes me wish I had more leg room in my car. I’m not big on having a shiney new bike, and am willing to start small and work my way up. I’d like something that will make commuting more fun, as well as make it more cost effective (aka, I’m definitely buying used). If I’m just putting back and forth to work, or going in town to deposit my check or pick up a gallon of milk, there’s really no reason to take my 21 year old Pontiac dino.
Even though I know a couple of guys who have some experience riding motorcycles, I’ll pump advice from anyone who will talk to me about bikes. I know some of you members have been riding for longer than I’ve been alive, so I hope I can learn something. Please and thank you.January 17, 2011 at 3:29 pm #29066
Sounds like you are puting thought into your decision…at 6’4 your choices for bikes will be limited…cruisers are a good choice for the “lanky”, and a 250cc cruiser will move you pretty decently upto 50mph…then progress will slow down…if you are sticking in town for your commute, then this would be the recommended size of bike since they are lighter and easier to move around at a walking pace (which is the speed that usually catches people out)…if you are doing hiway commuting you may want to go to something with a little more oumph to it…upto a 650cc cruiser maybe…you may also want to check out the dual sport bikes like the Suzuki DR-Z 400 s…they have decent leg room, and enough power to hit 95mph…but if a cruiser is your preference, you shouldn’t have a shortage of choices…the only bikes that will be hard to find a fit may be the sport bikes, since their natural riding position is a little cramped for the long of leg…
Anyway, let us know what type of riding you are planning, or need to do so that we can help you out a little better…
By the way, the beginner rider courses are great…they usually give you a chance to try out a cruiser or a dual sport (most schools have both of them), some may even have a sport bike to try…they will also teach you the correct way of riding instead of learning bad habbits on your own and trying to break them later…
Since it is winter, I would hit the bike shops and start sitting on all the bikes that catch your eye just to see how they fit…have fun with it…
Later.January 17, 2011 at 4:30 pm #29069
Welcome to the site. I would suggest making training an integral part of your riding schedule and not just as a means to pass the test. There is SO much more to learn than what you get on a basic class. I’ve tried to take training whenever I can and it’s helped me along enormously and made me a safer and more competent rider. Plus it is enormously satisfying to leave your buddies in the dust despite only riding at 80% of your ability (always leave yourself a safety margin).
Good luck with the bike hunt.January 17, 2011 at 5:27 pm #29070
Jeff in KentuckyParticipant
A tall person fits well on a 250cc or 400cc supermoto, but their narrow seats are not comfortable for long trips, and the 250cc supermotos are best at 65 mph or below. The 400cc Suzuki supermoto has a very good suspension, but it is a lot more expensive than a 250cc or 500cc Kawasaki Ninja with their lower budget suspensions and wider, more comfortable seats.
The 650cc KLR Kawasaki dual sport is good for people with long legs for long trips, but it is a little too heavy to be the best beginner bike, although the amount of power from its single cylinder engine is good for a beginner. It also costs a lot more than the 250cc Ninja, to pay for its better suspension.
For other bikes, it is best to move the stock handlebar ends higher or get different handlebars, and buy a kit to move the footpegs more forward to fit long legs better.
Before buying any bike, have someone hold it up for you while you sit on it with both feet on the footpegs for half an hour, to get an idea of how comfortable it will be for you on long trips.
If you buy the most recommended for beginners 2008 or newer 250cc Kawasaki Ninja, adjust the handlebar ends higher and go to cyclecontrol.com for a footpeg relocation kit. When you get these relocators, switch sides for them and put them upside down, so they put the footpegs lower and more forward for long legs, instead of the standard way for higher and more rearward footpegs better for racing. I think the water cooled 500cc Ninja is good for taller or heavier beginners, but it has older styling.
I am not fond of the 500cc Suzuki- its air cooled engine is sometimes hard to start, and it is quite low on power at 75 mph, worse than the water cooled 250cc Ninja, but it does have a modern sportbike look with side fairings. I recommend Denso or NGK iridium spark plugs for it, so it starts easier.
My previous air cooled 650cc Yamaha was not fun at stoplights on a hot summer day, with a lot of heat coming up toward you from the engine.January 18, 2011 at 1:39 pm #29085
Thank you everyone for your input. I’ve pretty much decided on a cruiser/standard styled bike. I do have a lady who will be riding with me, as long as I agree to ride safely and not call the bitch seat “the bitch seat”, and I would like to factor in passenger comfort as well as my own. I stumbled upon pictures of the Kaw Vulcan 500 LTD and really liked it. Madjak, I agree with you on the higher cc’s issue, since cruisers are tuned lower and I will be doing a good bit of highway riding. Actually, if my girlfriend and I get the place we want, about 35 minutes out of the 45 minute commute will be in 55 and 65 mph zones, and I’d like to not be running the machine at its limit for the entire time (reserve power for aversion).
Eon- Thanks for the well wishes. I’ll be sure to keep you guys posted on how it’s going. And I was a band geek in high school, so I know very well that practice makes perfect!
Jeff- I’ll be sure to keep those bikes in mind, and will try some out when I get to the dealerships. I haven’t completely ruled out a sportbike, and will assess one when I get to the showroom, to see if it suits my needs.
In the meantime, though, does anyone have other bikes to suggest in the catagory of the Vulcan 500 LTD? I really like how it looks, even if it is a bit big for a newbie like me. Thanks again for all of your help!January 18, 2011 at 3:12 pm #29086
Close comparison to the Vulcan 500 LTD that I know of: Honda VLX Delux
and Suzuki LS650 Savage/Boulavard. Three very different engine layout variations on the theme.January 18, 2011 at 3:54 pm #29088
I think the Vulcan 500 is a really good choice…it will have the most oumph out of all of the suggestions, then the Star 650, the Honda VLX 650 then the Suzuki Savage/S40…the Kawasaki engine is the same engine as the Ninja 500 with slightly different tuning, the Yamaha and Honda are V-Twins that will have that “rumpity rumpity” sound you would expect from a cruiser, and the Suzuki is a single cylinder 650…lots of low down torque, but might not be the best choice for longer hiway cruising (vibey and might run out of breath, depending on cruising speeds)…the best suggestion is to go and sit on some of the bikes to see what fits you…you need to feel comfortable on the bike, and take your girlfriend (although I wouldn’t suggest riding two up until you have atleast a couple thousand miles under your belt…just a suggestion)…you will want her to be comfortable as well (mama not happy, ain’t nobody happy )
Later.January 19, 2011 at 2:10 pm #29094
Ain’t it the truth, Madjak? Haha I’m actually just about to head out the door to my local Kawasaki dealer to see what all used bikes he has, as well as if he would be able to get ahold of a Vulcan 500. I do plan on sitting on bikes for a while to see what I like. Who knows? I might like a dual sport or enduro bike. Anyway, I’ll let youns know what I find out. Thanks again!January 19, 2011 at 8:11 pm #29092
So, the salesman at the dealer told me what I already know… they don’t make Vulcan 500s anymore. He didn’t say anything about them being able to get one in for me, so I didn’t even ask. They didn’t even have anything comparable in the size I was looking for. He tried to put me on a Ninja 250, which I didn’t fit on. He said I’d get used to it, and I couldn’t see how, when my knees are almost to the top of the fuel tank. Then he tried to get me on a used Yamaha duo sport, but I just couldn’t see how long trips would be feesible in the saddle, not to mention the un-ergonomic feeling of it. So, strike one.
However, I decided to look for one online when I got back home, and it was a good thing I did. It turns out that a dealership about an hour and a half away has TWO NEW and ONE USED Vulcan 500 LTD in stock, priced to move (the MSRP new is $5k, he has them at $3700). I called him about them, and he promised that one would be there next week for me to look at. I’m going to take my girlfriend down to sit on it and talk to the salesman about it. It’d probably be good for me to come up with a list of questions for him, and I have plenty of time to do that. What do you guys think? Anything I should be wary/cautious about?January 19, 2011 at 9:07 pm #29099
I’d still recommend you check out the Honda VLX Delux and Suzuki S40 if only as a basis for comparison. No idea what the cost or availability is for you but Moto Guzzi makes a sweet 650 also (shaft drive, tame performer and very roomy:)
Collect sales brochures from all if they exist and keep the ones for whatever bike you buy.
If you actually need cost incentives to make a purchase, dealers make high markup on apparel, it might be the only thing you can get thrown in for free or cheap. Actual Service Manuals are rare for anything except competition bikes, but worth their weight in gold if you keep the bike forever.
..think that’s about it, maybe stand real close and look imposing and he might be intimidated into giving you a better dealJanuary 20, 2011 at 11:36 am #29105
I can only hope so! I never object to saving money. But then again, who does? XP As for the Guzzi, I seem to be having trouble finding the 650 model. What did they call it? I’ve decided that my absolute limit that I want to spend is $5k, since I don’t want to be paying my first bike off for five years. From reading reviews and test drives of the VLX Delux and S40, I’ve heard that they aren’t very tall person-friendly. Not to say they’re out of the question, but that’s what I’ve heard. So, I’ll stop by my local Yamaha and Suzuki dealerships sometime in the near future to see what they have.
Thanks for mentioning apparel! It made me remember that I’ve been wondering what kind of gear would serve me well without breaking the bank. I know everyone has their own opinions, but I’m just curious: What’s your favorite and why?
Trails, you mentioned how an ACTUAL service manual would be hard to come by. What would be the next best thing? Something with a couple electrical schematics and part numbers, maybe? I’m a do-it-yourselfer, so if there was something like that floating around out there, I’d be interested. Thanks again!January 20, 2011 at 12:14 pm #29106
Jeff in KentuckyParticipant
I would stay away from the 600cc Honda Shadow VLX cruiser for a beginner- they were last made in 2007 and the clutch is a little tricky for a beginner (I have one I bought new in 2002). Also, the 1999 to 2007 single carb model needs rejetting to have decent takeoff power- a beginner stalls it easily when taking off, the steering is heavy at slow speeds for the more chopper looking forks, and the stock seat is terrible.
Air cooled engines except maybe a scooter get hot at stoplights on a hot summer day and the hot air goes up toward you, and they have less power at 75 mph compared to water cooled engines. This includes the 500cc Buell Blast, the 500cc Suzuki, the 650cc Suzuki S40, and the 500cc Royal Enfield.
For a beginner, I would look at the 250cc Suzuki cruiser with fuel injection, a 250cc Kawasaki Ninja, the 500cc Kawasaki Ninja or Vulcan, a 250cc to 500cc Kymco scooter, a 250cc to 500cc Yamaha scooter, or a 500cc Piaggio scooter. You can get by with more weight for a scooter, because the weight is lower than for a motorcycle, and not having to use a manual clutch makes it easier at parking lot speeds. The only 250cc that does well at 75 mph with no passenger is the 250cc Ninja.January 20, 2011 at 12:25 pm #29107
Oops, my apology the current model Moto Guzzi is up to 744cc now ~54 hp.
Original service manuals for most bikes are optional extras that dealers can acquire but seldom promote, it’s in their best interest to keep you dependant. Competition bikes generally come with very complete manuals, incl. parts schematics, service instructions, maintenance schedule, torque specs and references to special tools. Never seen an aftermarket manual that comes close for complete and accurate content. Buying a new vehicle and not getting one is a bit of a rip off, similar to buying a computer without the OS on re-installation disks ;p
Don’t go by me on riding gear, other than Trials boots, really good helmets and lots of gloves, I’m not one to armor up and my street riding cloths are likely older than you. …my dirt stuff is way new:)
You’re going to love riding no matter what you end up on Zim and BTW the Best riders all work on their own bikes, or can if they have to;)
…hope this helps someJanuary 20, 2011 at 6:10 pm #29109
This won’t be too popular around here, but hear me out…
You could also look at the Honda Shadow 750 cruiser, the Suzuki 50s (C50,M50,S50) or even the Vulcan 900s…they are way bigger than we usually suggest in here, due to their physical size and weight. They are all V-Twin bikes that have very smooth power delivery and don’t have enough power to jump out from under you. The performance level of these bikes is similar to the Suzuki GS500 or the Kawasaki Ninja 500, so powerful enough to get the job done, but not crazy…I test rode a Suzuki M50 this past summer and if I hadn’t ridden my GS500 to the test ride and jumped on the M50, I may not have noticed any difference.
The biggest problem with these bikes is the weight of them @600lbs+ they are not the ideal bike to start on, but all three will be more comfortable for you and have the size you are looking for (two up won’t be an issue for them either). All of them have been around for a few years and you should be able to get a good deal on a used bike…
As for the owners manual issue, go to the dealers service dept. and look at the Haynes or Clymer manuals…they are quite detailed and will help you maintain your bike with ease.
Later.January 22, 2011 at 1:48 pm #29136
Trails: Every little bit helps! I’m pretty mechanical, so I’ll probably be able to figure out what I’m looking at before long (it helps, being the son of an auto tech). Though I’ll remember to ask the dealer about those service manuals. Maybe I can get one out of him, if it’ll take money away from his competition. XP And as for gear, I was planning on winging it anyway. No harm, no foul.
Jeff: I’m looking seriously at a Vulcan 500, as a matter of fact. Water cooled, even though it is carbed, but everything I’ve read has said that it doesn’t need rejetted. I’ll keep the other bikes you mentioned in mind, if my meeting with the dealer doesn’t work out (Though it’s hard to picture myself on a scooter XP).
madjak: My old man, being the wise old greasemonkey that he is, recommended Haynes manuals, based on his years of experience in the auto repair trade. There was a new Kaw Vulcan 900 at my local dealer, and I couldn’t help but stare for a while. If I like the 500, maybe that’d be a second bike? The salesman actually said that if I was looking for my second bike, he’d try to put me on that one.
I got my lerner’s permit the other day, so I’m legally able to ride a motorcycle between sunup and sundown in Pennsylvania without a passenger while wearing a helmet and full protective gear… but, it’s a start! I’m really anxious to see this Vulcan 500 I’ve been telling you about. I just hope I’m not getting my hopes up, if that makes any sense at all. I don’t think I can wait til Friday to go, so it’ll probably be Tuesday morning after I get off work. I’ll let you know how it turns out! Thanks again!
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