August 18, 2010 at 4:40 am #4180
Hey everyone my name is Jacob, and I absolutely love this site. I’ve never ridden a motorcycle but have always wanted one and I’m finally jumping into it. Problem is I don’t know much. I know I need to start out small and I plan on taking a msf course, but my uncertainty is what bike to get. I know 250s are good for beginners and I really like the honda rebel, but I’m a big guy and I don’t know if it’s big enough. I also looked at the Vulcan 500s but I don’t know much about them. I plan on using it as a main vehicle and just want a cruiser, and I plan on having a passenger pretty frequently after a couple months (want to get good at riding before being responsible for another life) so I don’t know if I need more power for that or not. So if anyone can help me out with some info that would be great, and sorry for all the dumb questions but do me a favor and go easyAugust 18, 2010 at 5:56 am #28129skippersusieParticipant
Hi Bass and welcome. I’m a new rider too and one thing I’ve learned about this site is that everyone is willing to offer up their expertise, and always go easy.
I took the MSF myself and am planning on taking my bike a Virago 700 to their experienced rider course when it becomes available. What I learned was invaluable and reinforced alot of what folks here talk about. Good news is, at least in CA, they use 250’s to start out with. I learned so much and realized that I would need a bigger bike, as I too wanted to commute and eventually carry a rider.
I am probably alot smaller than you and there is a definite difference between my experience on the 250 vs the 700. I have noticed that alot of the info on the site is really geared towards sport bikes. I am definitely a novice, but from what I have read here and on other sites, a 700 cruiser is not comparable to a 700 sport bike, but I would defer to one of the many more experienced folks on here to confirm that. But as a point of reference my bike weighs about 600 lbs and I can still catch it if it starts to go over (as I have had to do on 2 occassions so far). I do believe that if you are doing highway trips or have additional weight on the bike, that extra power will come in handy.
The Vulcans are nice looking bikes, of course I would tell you to look at the V-Stars if you are looking new or a Virago if you’re looking used, but I am partial and biased. I bought my bike before I toook the course, but I knew it was exactly what I wanted, I had lusted after them for years.
Regardless, please let us know how the course goes and what you decide on… best of luck!!!
SSAugust 18, 2010 at 12:48 pm #28134CBBaronParticipant
If you are a tall guy then the 250cc cruisers will probably be pretty small. Cruisers tend to have more modest power and a lower center of gravity than the other styles so a larger bike like a 650 or 700 is reasonable. However you will likely pay much more for the larger bike.
I like small, cheap and used for a first bike as it is easier to learn on and can be treated as disposable if you decide you want something different. Deciding a new 700 is not the bike for you can be quite costly as is dropping the bike.
CraigAugust 18, 2010 at 5:50 pm #28137
Oh I’m definitely starting out on a used bike, I don’t have the extra cash to spend on something I’m more than likely going to drop or bump sometime or another. Thanks for the tips guys.August 18, 2010 at 5:54 pm #28138WeaponZeroParticipant
Vulcan 500 is an excellent choice. Another good one is the Suzuki Boulevard S40, which has been around for about 20 years but for some reason its name has changed like 3 times. It has been called the LS650 and Savage 650 as well so try looking for it under those names as well. It has more of a raked out “chopper” look to it than the Vulcan or many other entry level cruisers, which is purely a preference thing. Personally I would go for the Vulcan 500 because it has a sportbike engine at its heartAugust 21, 2010 at 7:17 pm #28219
I really like the Vulcan and I know I don’t want much power for just starting out. This may be a dumb question but I recently saw an ad for a Vulcan 1500 for really cheap, would a 1500 be too powerful for someone just starting out?August 21, 2010 at 9:35 pm #28220Jeff in KentuckyParticipant
The Vulcan 1500 has a large amount of weight for a beginner. It will be a lot more difficult for slow tight cornering, and it does not have a reverse gear like the Honda Goldwing or BMW K1200LT. It is made for long trips on the interstates.
If it is cheap it probably has a lot of miles on it and is likely the older carbed version, so it may need carb cleaning or an engine rebuild soon, or someone dropped it and damaged the looks, and hopefully did not bend the frame.
Here is part of a review for the year 2000 Kawasaki 1500cc Drifter by Sev Pearman:
You can’t help but notice the sheer size of this thing as you climb aboard. At an engine speed where most bikes are still slipping the clutch out of the parking lot, this thing is already chugging toward Chattanooga. Simply pick any gear, twist the throttle, and you are gone.
Unfortunately, the engineers lost out to stylists with respect to rear travel. By forcing the Drifter into the low, cruiser mold, engineers were limited to 3.9″ of movement. To avoid topping or bottoming, we had to add lots of air, and run with the rebound set on ‘3’ or ‘4.’ This makes the rear somewhat hoppy, which could get annoying on longer interstate drones. To be fair, this isn’t a fault of Kawasaki, but rather a virus that infects all V-twin cruisers to keep the seat low for looks and for those with short legs.
The 1500cc (90 ci) Vulcan motor predates the Clinton administration, and has a proven track record. This means that not only have any bugs been worked out, there is a healthy aftermarket which offers a sea of exhausts and accessories.
After a day in the saddle, I found nothing to dislike. This bike is plain comfortable! The seat is big enough to move around on, yet still lets you feel connected to the rest of the bike. In addition, there is a small bolster at the back, that provides lumbar support. The seat is a low 29″ from the ground, so most folks will be able to flatfoot it at lights.
from a longer article by Victor Wanchena:
I’m not sure what the Drifter redlines at but high revs are rather unnecessary as the motor produces peak torque at 2500 rpm. The motor does all of its best work on the low end of town. The transmission is the usual 5-speed affair, solid and predictable, and the final drive is handled by a shaft drive.
The chassis of the Drifter is raked out a hefty 32 degrees making for wide turns in parking lots but very stable at speed. The brakes are a single disks front and rear. The front brake is not very powerful to the point that the rear feels as if it has more stopping authority than the front.
As might be expected the lazy geometry of the Drifter’s chassis is very stable on the straight flat roads. This stability makes for easy riding on the country lanes and the freeway. You can loaf along for hours at a time. The seat is very good for a stocker but did put a little extra pressure on my tailbone.
The twistier back roads pose a challenge to the Drifter. The cornering clearance leaves you wanting for more but the floorboards, which touch down first, fold up and have sacrificial pegs to keep you for eating up any chrome. Even so while hustling through bumpy corners the Drifter stayed planted and road imperfections did not tell it what to do. Just don’t expect to hustle through Deal’s Gap (very tight corners) in record time.August 22, 2010 at 12:43 am #28221
Yes extremely…. the 1500 will have a huge amount of torque not only for take offs but in ways few talk about that can be a potential problem. And thats with down shifting. Few really address the issue of down shifting and letting off the clutch too quick. That bike has enough torque to lock down the wheel and send you into dangerous situations. Like in a turn with a stop sign at the end….. your already in the turn…. mis judge your speed …go down one gear to many let off the clutch…. suddenly your ass end gets loose. Or even in the right gear during a wetter ride.
I have the Vulcan in the 900 flavor. Started on the 500. The difference in power and torque is night and day. The Vulcan 500 is very understanding of noobness but once you get to understand riding better you can get a performance out of her like any big bike you can find. Without all the extra weight. Once I was confident I stepped up to the 900 and low and behold the day of delivery was a rainy day. Like anyone getting a new toy, I decided to go get it anyways. I rode the V500 many a time in rain, wasn’t to worried.
On entry to exit ramps off a main road I could down shift to first and have no worries of lock ups. Tried that on the 900….yea glad I don’t ride like I have a rod up my a….. anyway, the rear started to lock up and luckily I kept my wits to get back on the clutch before she could get the back end around on me. The 1500…. would have been even more less forgiving.
Stick with about a 700cc MAX for cruisers, below preferably and even then its going to depend on the make of the bike and its intended purposes.August 22, 2010 at 12:54 am #28223
To make a small point a Vulcan 1500 and Vulcan 1500 Drifter are very different bikes with the same motor.
The basic 1500 is a standard tourer cruiser made to go the distance. The as some folks refer to on here….old man bike with the “pseudo” not good for riding ….riding position with floor boards or peg, depending on the model passenger seating so on and so forth.
The Drifter has a big difference in the suspension set up where the whole rear of the bike hinges under the seat of the rider for the suspension. Some folks had complaints of the seats and fenders getting damaged from too much travel. Though Kawi will tell you it’s not likely (roll eyes). It was stylized to bring back memories of the old Indians. For some it was mission accomplished. They are even in demand to this day.August 22, 2010 at 6:15 am #28230
Thanks a lot guys, I didn’t realize the difference was so much, just part of being a noob I guess. Any thoughts on the Honda Shadow? I recently saw an ’85 with 11,000 miles, I don’t know if the age is a big deal or not, again with the noobness. Sorry for all the dumb questions.August 22, 2010 at 1:50 pm #28231
As a beginner there is no dumb question….except maybe of course..”Does this thing run on gas?”.
The Honda would be a decent starter depending on the model. Some were upwards of 1100 cc’s. and some as low as 500 cc’s . The 500 would be perfect the 1100 refer to the same dangers as the 1500.
Another thing that would get a caution also is your mechanical ability and understanding and/or the availability of a bike shop near you willing to turn wrenches on it. Some will- most won’t. The average age for a bike to be worked on with out going to a custom style shop is about 10 to 15 years old. Shadows were fairly popular making it bit easier then some to find replacement parts. That doesn’t mean however that you still won’t have to do some searching.
Don’t get too hung up on the mileage aspect of searching. My Vulcan 900 is an ’09 and I am pushing 16k on it. Not to mention this is my second bike in as many years…..no the other one didn’t get wrecked…I upgraded.
Mileage can give you a gauge of few things…. Was it ridden often, never, a lot. Factor in the age of the bike….then you get answers. An ’85 with 11k miles on it… your either talking a week end warrior that may have bar hopped…. or ridden hard then forgot about. Any bike you look at take that into account and then make sure to put the seller through an interview process. Kind of like buying a pet . Why are you selling it? Has it given you any problems? Whats the maintenance history on it? When was the last time it was put in the wind? Who if not you was the one that rode it? What kind of rider were they? A lot of these questions can help you judge the person selling the bike and get an idea on what the bike went through before sales….. make sure to look and inspect the bike while your getting your answers.August 22, 2010 at 3:33 pm #28234WeaponZeroParticipant
Munch: I could be wrong but I believe the original Shadow was a 700 and there weren’t other displacement sizes available until the 1990s. So it’s a safe bet the one he’s referring to is a 700.August 22, 2010 at 4:18 pm #28236
Nah your likely correct…. I in no way proclaim to be a motorcycle historian. Hell I will leave most of that you folks who can keep all the letter and number designations stored in memory….me sometimes I left to the mercy of google and other search engines.August 22, 2010 at 6:37 pm #28240Big PoppaParticipant
There are plenty of 250 cruisers that are suitable for a tall gentleman. I am 6’1″ and i sat on a Kymco Venox yesterday. it was very comfortable and looks great! Its built to the size of full cruisers like Harley’s. I dont know how well they are regarded though because I believe thats a Taiwanese company.
http://www.kymcousa.com/showroom/mcs/venox250/August 24, 2010 at 3:36 pm #28279madjak30Participant
I know the BRC course that I took had the full assortment of types of bikes…cruisers, dual sports, sport, and super motos…the Honda Rebels were good, the Yamaha 250cc cruisers were good, but they were really impressed with how they Hyosung 250cc bike held up…and it was a little heavier, more like a 650cc sized bike and felt pretty good…the dual sports were Suzuki, Yamaha and Kawasaki bikes, 200cc I think…the sport bike was one you can’t get in the States…Honda CBR125R…and the super moto was a Chinese brand Konker 200SM, and they were really impressed with that one as well…I really don’t know if there are any really crappy street bikes anymore. I could be wrong, but they seemed to be more impressed with the bikes that everyone is afraid to buy…so I don’t know if I would be too concerned about it.
My two cents…
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