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Suzuki S40 or Honda Shadow VLX ?
October 2, 2009 at 12:15 am #3478lbhParticipant
I’ve been told I’ll outgrow the Honda Rebel real soon, so I’m looking at the Suzuki S40 and the Honda Shadow VLX for my first bike. I would like to get some feedback. I’m petite – 5’2″ and reach to the controls is also a concern, (i know both of these are low seat heights). Would appreciate all pros and cons. thank you.October 2, 2009 at 3:11 am #22631owlieParticipant
Welcome to the group.
I basically second everything that Elwood says, but here are my two pennies worth…
First, you should think about how you are planning to ride the bike. If you are just going to be taking easy rides down country roads and don’t ever plan to get above 60 or so, any of the 250s will probably work for you with no problem. If you are wanting to take day trips or commute regularly on the big interstates, then you will probably not be as happy with a smaller bike after the first couple of months. After all of the reading I have done, I have pretty much come to the conclusion that you mostly hear about people complaining about having started too small because they chose to buy a new bike very quickly after buying the first one. However, you don’t hear alot of complaints about people who started too big because, let’s face it, no body wants to admit to not being as good as they want people to think they are.
With respect to the bikes themselves (btw, I’m about the same height as you are.):
Honda Rebel: This one fit me fine when I sat on it, but I think that the controls were further forward than on the S40. This shouldn’t be to hard to modify if you go with this bike.
Honda Shadow: I couldn’t find the specific model you mentioned on their website, so I’ll substitute the Spirit. The Spirit is a 2 cylinder, 750cc engine. It weighs 530+ lbs. Basically, this translates to significantly more power than the other two bikes, and a lot more bike to pick up if you drop it. Now, having dropped mine several times, I can tell you that trying to pick up a bike in the middle of the road while your adrenaline is still pumping and you can’t get a decent lungful of air, a lighter bike might be nice to have.
Suzuki S40: This is a single cylinder, 650 engine. It weighs 350lbs. From the moment I sat on this bike, I knew it was the right bike for me. I still sat on a few others, but I didn’t seriously consider anything else. That said, within the first 50miles of riding, I dropped it three times. Maybe starting with a smaller bike would have prevented this, maybe not. None of the drops caused severe injury to me or the bike (though I had to replace one of the tail lights), but I have no doubt that I pushed too hard, too fast for my skill level. I pulled back and started at the basics again, and I have gone another 450mi without adding any more scratches to the chrome. One thing to note with the S40 is that it is well know for backfiring (not loudly, but still).
Suzuki makes a couple of 250s that you might consider looking at. Also, you should look at the Vulcan 500, and maybe Yamaha’s V-Stars (they have a 250 and a 650- both two cylinder)
In the end, it comes down to what you are comfortable with. A bigger bike is probably going to be alot more work while you are still learning the basics.
Also, if you haven’t taken the MSF, do so before you pick out the bike. You’ll have alot better idea of what you are looking for.
Best of luck!
OwlieOctober 2, 2009 at 3:18 am #22633eternal05Participant
Taking the MSF course will also give you a chance to ride, not sit on, but actually RIDE the 250s that you might otherwise consider buying. This is a great way to make an informed decision.October 4, 2009 at 12:35 pm #22676
The S40 is the far superior motorcycle. The VLX is only an “around town” bike because the fact that it only has a 4 speed transmission combined with its anemic power prevents it from being able to get up to highway speeds a real struggle. Most motorcycles have at least a 5 speed transmission which helps them safely and (relatively) easily get up to highway speeds regardless of how weak or powerful their engines are, but the VLX doesn’t have this, and as a result even 250s can pass it on the highway.
Also, there’s a reason that the VLX was discontinued two years ago while the S40 is still being made. The VLX has always been a slow seller for Honda because price-wise it couldnt compete with the performance of the Kawasaki Vulcan 500 or (when it was being produced), the Yamaha Virago 535 (which was replaced by the V-Star 650).
In short: If you want a sub-750cc cruiser, your ONLY options you should be considering are the S40, Kawsaki Vulcan 500, Yamaha V-Star 650, and the various 250s on the market.October 30, 2009 at 2:27 pm #23068tmac0033Participant
DO NOT LISTEN to the above comment. The Honda VLX is VASTLY superior to the Suzuki S 40.
I know because I just bought my wife a VLX after test-driving several of each.
The S 40 is a single cylinder. Driving it is like driving a lawn mower. It is cramped and rides rough. Both my wife and I hated the ones we drove.
Driving the VLX was a totally different experience. The VLX has a MUCH more relaxed riding position, since it is essentially a small cruiser, and it rides smoother, shifts easier and handles better. It is heavier than the S 40, true, but better balanced and therefore easier for women and smaller riders to control. The brakes are infinitely better.
And the claim that Rebel 250s pass VLXs on the highway is ABSURD and shows the writer has no idea what he is talking about. I doubt he’s ever even driven either motorcycle. Yes, the VLX has four gears, but the motor is made for cruising. Yes, it revs higher, obviously, but it will run circles around the 250 and will also beat the tinny, buzzy S 40.
It’s true Honda quite making them two years ago, but you talk to almost any VLX owner and theyll have good things to say. And you can always get parts in the unlikely event it breaks down.
Stick with the VLX. You’ll be EXTREMELY glad you did.October 30, 2009 at 7:32 pm #23075RabParticipant
So! Based on the above exchange, I think either will do.
They’re both good motorcycles, so go with the one that speaks to you.October 31, 2009 at 12:40 am #23085owlieParticipant
+1October 31, 2009 at 5:38 pm #23088DaggerParticipant
I still say to check out the Yamaha V-Star 650 as well.. I liked it much better than the Shadow myself.. Sat a lot better.. Less weight I believe.. And they handle great.
DaggerNovember 1, 2009 at 1:53 pm #23099tmac0033Participant
I agree with you that the Yamaha V-Star is an excellent small cruiser. I owned one and loved it. Given a choice between the VLX and V-Star 650, I’d definitely choose the V-Star, if it was ME driving.
However, my wife couldn’t handle it. The V-Star is 40 pounds heavier than the VLX, and wider. She had trouble getting her feet flat on the ground. Whereas the VLX, with its low seat height and slender frame, fits her perfectly. She sat on the V-Star and said “no way.” She sat on the VLX and said “yes!”
Too bad, because the V-Star is a great, fun, reliable bike. And has five gears as opposed to the VLX’s four.November 1, 2009 at 2:07 pm #23100
Want to clear something up. Gear amounts should rarely be used as a gauge on speed, or top speed limits. Doesn’t matter. If the bike, car, or whatever have you has a set number of gears those gears probly have the necessary ranges to do the job it’s intended for.
HD’s now have a 6 speed tranny….. yay for them, from this thread that should mean that they should out distance and speed me. Not hardly ever the case.
Now lets look at bigger vehicles. Some of the older muscle cars have a 5 spd tranny, compare them to newer sports cars with 6 speed trannies and the track times are close but the 5 spd can easily beat it.
Heck an old Dodge duster at one time had only a 2 spd auto that would destroy anything in it’s class.
It’s not the gear count, its the range of each gear and what the bike is set up to do. In most cases more gears usually mean shorter ranges and more shifting to cover the gap, vice versa for the lesser gear boxes.
So the whole argument above made based on “how many gears” is not anything to do with which is better. IF you are concerned over why one had four rather then 5….. or 6 even… go to spec sheets and look at each gear range and see how “tall” or “short” each one is. Then make your decision.November 1, 2009 at 3:19 pm #23101
Regardless, I’ve lived in places where the average speed on the highway, the speed of traffic flow, cruises at 80mph+. To me this says that any motorcycle that can’t comfortable cruise at that speed without pushing the engine to its max and accelerate up to that speed at a decent rate of time is not highway-worthy. Regardless of the speed limit you must be able to match the flow of traffic, IMO. And everything I’ve read about the VLX says it struggles a lot doing that, mainly due to the four speed transmission. I did a lot of research on it because my father was considering buying one at one point and he was too lazy to do his own research. He ended up deciding against it despite liking how the bike “felt” when sitting on it because all of the reviews basically indicated that, in my eyes, the bike was not HIGHWAY-WORTHY. And the main culprit according to these reviews wasn’t the engine but rather the transmission and its poor gearing.
Traffic doesn’t always move at the speed limit. Take for example Bigelow Blvd where I live. It’s a road that has street lights and everything and only has a 35mph speed limit. I take this road on my commute to work mainly because there’s a stretch of Bigelow at one point where it’s about 4 miles in between intersections, and because there’s no traffic signals there traffic cruises at 65-70mph, despite the posted speed limit being 35mph. IN that situation, the one car thar is going the speed limit is just as much of a hazard as the car doing 100 swerving around everyone and weaving in and out. And since traffic on the highway can, in places, flow steadily at 80 or more in some areas, a bike MUST be able to do that comfortably and for an extended period of time while having a bit of juice left over to be called highway-worthy in my eyes.November 1, 2009 at 3:25 pm #23102
“mainly due to the four speed transmission”
Not a factual representation of the limits of the bikes abilities.
“these reviews wasn’t the engine but rather the transmission and its poor gearing.”
Better and closer description of the limitations.
My point being that how many gears a trany has does not indicate it’s abilities or lack there of. Rather the gearing ( gear ratio) in the set number of gears. In other words say a bad set geared tranny:
1st 0-5 mph
2nd 5-20 mph
1st 0- 15
4th 50- 75 or above.
You can have both transmissions on the same bike it’s just on how the gearing in each trany is set up. Both have 4 gear trans but the latter is better set up for highway purposes.
I just hate to see the statement getting blanketed to where a non mechanically inclined person would turn down a good beginner bike because of the Gear count rather then the trans set up.November 1, 2009 at 7:44 pm #23104
Still, the reviews I read plainly indicated that the poor gearing on the 4 speed transmission (which badly needed a 5th gear for highway duty) kept the bike from being highway-worthy. I am paraphrasing of course but that is the case, and it was not just one single magazine article but a variety of sources.November 2, 2009 at 12:05 am #23106
Just want to mention that I wasn’t countering what you read. Just wanted to clarify the difference. I have no doubts with the different articles you read that the 4 speed tranny it has, with the ratios that is in the tranny, that it was a poor highway performer.
I was just wanting to clarify that it’s more in depth then just “Oh well it has a 4 spd on it….no way is it gonna be good for highway”. More to make any purchaser of any bike not just ask how many gears…..but how tall are the gears (or short) and will the final gear be able to get up to and maintain highway speeds safely.November 2, 2009 at 1:38 am #23107eternal05Participant
The number of gears something has and its ability to accelerate, its top speed, and the engine speed at which it “cruises” are perhaps related, but not directly.
If this bike couldn’t hit necessary speeds in its 4th gear, maybe it needed a 5fth gear…but it’s also possible that they didn’t give it a 5th gear because that gear would have been to steep for the power of the engine. It’s also possible that, if they had used taller gearing, 4 gears would have worked just fine. I think that’s what Munch is getting at.
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