Kicking over the bee hive – Shadow 750 as a starter bike
October 20, 2010 at 8:09 pm #4252
I know the mantra here is “smaller is better” for a first bike. But recently we purchased my wife’s first bike, and wound up with a Honda Shadow ACE. The decision wasn’t arrived at lightly though. Here’s how we came to this point.
First, we had to look at what was available in the local market. The Flint area doesn’t have a lot of diversity in the available machines. It’s nearly a Harley monoculture, with a few of us freaky holdouts riding Hondas and the odd metric bike. That means that the available small bikes are pretty few, and 750cc is about the bottom end of what is available.
Second is my wife’s stature. She’s 5’10” and distinctly not twig-like. I test rode a Yamaha 250 that did come up on the local market, and I was cramped up enough that my shoulders hurt within two miles. She being nearly the same size as me, I didn’t see this bike as a valid option. A shame, because it was a lot of fun to ride. On the flip side, her size makes a wider bike like the Shadow a comfortable fit, which is not true for smaller women.
Third is local riding conditions. There are very few reasons to go into downtown Flint, unless you’re planning a drive-by shooting or you’re appearing before a judge. Because of how our county roads are laid out, going to anyplace outside of our very small town (a suburb of Flint) means taking the highway. Michigan drivers aren’t fooling around: if you can’t do at least the speed limit, you’re a hazard to navigation and will be treated accordingly. So a bike that doesn’t do well at 70mph or above is a non-starter.
We tried quite a few different bikes, and the shadow was our favorite. They look very nice if you’re into cruisers. They’re low and comfortable to sit on. They are also light weight with a low center of gravity, which is ideal for new riders. Also, we’re planning a move to Ann Arbor, where there’s a lot of city riding, and that light weight/low gravity will make the bike a lot more fun in town there. I ride there now, and my heavier Magna can be unpleasant in heavy traffic (although at rush hour, the only vehicle that really makes sense in Ann Arbor is a bicycle, which is by far the fastest way to get around town).October 21, 2010 at 3:00 am #28646SpoolParticipant
In my opinion a Shadow 750 is a reasonable starter bike. Certainly not enough power to overwhelm and the weight is pretty easily managed due to the low center of gravity as you mentioned. Is it a good of learner as a Rebel or Ninja 250? Perhaps not. Then again at 5’10” and “not twig-like” it may just be a better one. A big part of being able to learn to ride is being comfortable and if the Shadow is the one she’s comfortable on, why not?October 21, 2010 at 3:38 am #28648MunchParticipant
I tend to agree. Her comfort will instill confidence and frankly that’s the hugest part of the equation to learning followed very closely with proper riding lessons. You can get all the learning anyone could want but if your scared or intimidated with what your riding…. your brain does bad things and so does your flight instincts.
A 750 is relatively mid range as far as cruiser types go. It is higher CC’s but more low end torque and not rocket fast until you know how to wring it out of her. Just make sure to impress upon her slow and steady!October 23, 2010 at 8:13 pm #28668ngl826Participant
congratulations on the new bike for your wife! sounds like you guys reached the decision carefully and it’ll be a great fit. out of random curiosity, what suburb outside of flint are you from? i went to college in ann arbor and my girlfriend was from gaines. i spent many a weekend up there, and loved it – so beautiful!!October 24, 2010 at 2:38 pm #28677
I live just west of Flushing (west of the river, by Coldwater road). I’m actually looking to move to Ann Arbor, because that’s where I work. Also, I like the diversity in the riding community there. That and free parking in the ramps for motorcycles.October 24, 2010 at 2:44 pm #28678
My wife took the MSF class in August, so she’s done the proper riding lessons part of that. The problem with getting a bike late in the year is that getting days with good weather where she can practice is really hard.October 29, 2010 at 3:29 am #28716ngl826Participant
ah, cool! ann arbor is a great town, and it’s where i learned to ride – lots of trips down huron river drive and out to dexter on dexter-ann arbor road. have fun! i miss it.October 30, 2010 at 11:38 pm #28721mbmmcaParticipant
Gotta make some mods to it if possible, but being 5’10” this particular bike fit best. You’re right…not much up here in Harley land….
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