- This topic has 10 replies, 9 voices, and was last updated 6 years, 11 months ago by ron.
V Star 650 Custom a Beginner Bike?
May 10, 2010 at 8:20 pm #3945DMCunninghamParticipant
I have never rode a motorcycle before, and neither has my 5′ 2″ petite wife. We are interested in buying a motorcycle and I have been doing as much research online and in person I can (currently I’m deployed in Iraq, so I’m rather limited to whom I can discuss this with here).
I have discovered that for a beginner, I should be looking at a bike that is around the 250cc Min to 500cc Tops range. With that in mind I was seriously considering a V Star 250. One of my friends suggested that a 250 would not be enough power if my wife and I wanted to ride tandem, and/or if we were in some heavy traffic and needed to pull out a head of it. His suggestion was to get a 650, and his recommendation was a Honda Shadow. This seemed to go against everything I’ve read so far. Mind you, he is 5′ 3″, just started riding 4 years ago, and that was his first bike (he’s since moved to a bigger bike).
I had explained that our interest in a bike is:
* To use as a round the neighborhood and town commuter. We estimate the the longest round trip to be 40 miles.
* 90% of the time it would have a single rider.
* Fuel economy must be as high as possible.
* The seat must be low enough for my wife to flatfoot it.
* The weight must be low enough for my wife to handle it.
* The price must be in the $3000 (+/- $500) range.
* The bike must be a good option for two very inexperienced riders.
He insisted that we could find a 650 the meets all of those requirements. Well, I continued to do more research and everything I found contradicted what he had said – until last night. Last night I came across a couple of web sites that suggested that a V Star 650 would be a good beginner bike – while at the same time not recommending anything over 500cc for beginners. I tried to find more info as to why the V Star seemed to be the exception to this rule of thumb. I was not able to find anything.
Then, today I discover that a guy in my unit has a 2005 V Star 650 Custom that he added enough items to (more or less) have it considered a V Star Silverado. His asking price is $4000. I guess he’s had it for sale this whole deployment, has told everyone he knew that was interested in buying a bike about it and there were no takers.
So, now I have a potential to buy this bike. The size is what my one friend is recommending, I already was interested in buying a V Star 250, I found some suggestions that the V Star 650 would be a good beginner bike, and now I have the ability to buy a V Star 650.
Could anyone shed any light as to why some people that say nothing over 500cc for a beginner, but make the exception for a V Star 650?
Also, with everything that I have stated, what are your thoughts about my situation and the potential to buy this bike – remembering that both my wife and I have never ridden a motorcycle before? (We will take the motorcycle course when I get back from Iraq so we will have somewhat of a foundation for our riding abilities).
Thank you for any help that you could provide.May 10, 2010 at 8:26 pm #26326megaspazParticipant
the advice you hear about limits on this site mostly refers to sprotbiles. for all intents and purposes a 650 cruiser should be fine to start off on.May 10, 2010 at 9:04 pm #26328SantaCruzRiderParticipant
The alignment of the cylinders, the HPs, where in the powerband the engine makes it’s power, the ergos, frame geometry and bike weight are all huge factors that determine whether or not a given bike is suitable for a novice rider.
An argument could be made that an 883cc Harley Sportster (maybe even a 1200cc Sporty) is a safer bike to start on than a 600cc Sport bike. I’m not recommending either as a good choice, but the point is that the ccs don’t tell the whole story.
All things being equal, v-twin engines (like in the Stars) typically provide more manageable power in the lower rev range than do parallel twins and much more so than inline 3s and 4-cyllinders. Cruisers also tend to have low seat height that appeals to many novices and frame geometry that is a bit more forgiving of braking mistakes.
Once you’re completed the MSF, the 650 Star may be a decent choice for you. But, it may not be a good choice at all for your wife and the biggest downside is going to be the weight.
A 650 set up like a Silverado weighs in at more than 580 lbs. That’s a beast for a beginner and can be very intimidating. Compare that to the 250, with a curb weight of 324 lbs.
If I were you, I’d reserve buying anything until you’ve both completed the MSF and sat on a few bikes.
Also, you may want to try to put the 2-up riding idea out of your mind for a while. Carrying a passenger creates many issues with handling (not relate to the bike size). It may be more practical to get an older 250 that you can both learn on, then in a year or two, you can upgrade to a 650-ish bike that is capable of carrying two.May 10, 2010 at 10:43 pm #26330eternal05Participant
Look at horsepower, torque, and weight. As a beginner, you want to keep them all relatively low. A lot of weight, especially for a woman that’s 5’2″, will make learning really hard. I was helping a friend of mine practice in a parking lot after her MSF course and she dropped my Ninja 250R at a standstill because the weight got the best of her. She’s 5’4″.
Too much horsepower and torque FOR THE WEIGHT of the bike is also bad because it will be very hard to learn to be subtle and precise with the throttle at first. Look at horsepower-per-pound (power-to-weight) as a good indicator of how ridiculous a bike might be. For instance, my 600cc GSX-R600, my track bike, makes 114hp at the rear wheel. It weighs 393 lbs sopping wet. That’s a whopping 0.29 hp/lb with a 600cc engine. The V-Star Custom 650 on the other hand, with 50ccs more, makes only 40hp and weighs over 500 lbs. That’s a power-to-weight ratio of only 0.07 hp/lb. The Ninja 250R, a 250cc bike has a larger power-to-weight ratio at 0.08. So yes, the V-Star 650 is a perfectly reasonable beginner bike for you.
However, I would be worried about your lady’s ability to cope with 500+ lbs of bike. Once a person learns how to ride, not being able to put their feet all the way down (i.e., being on their toes when sitting on the bike) isn’t a big problem, nor is lots of weight. For a newbie, however, both of those things can cause a drop very easily even with a not-so-heavy bike, like they did for my friend.May 11, 2010 at 2:37 am #26336owlieParticipant
+1 to everyone who has posted above.
My thoughts- I’m a 5’2″ female. I looked at pretty much all of the cruisers available on the market last summer before I bought my first bike.
I passed on the V-Star 650s because they felt really heavy under me and the center of gravity seemed to high. (How do I know this? When I sat on the bikes with my feet flat on the floor, I shifted the bikes right and left under me to understand how the weight felt.) Frankly, more so than any other bike (Harley Sportster 883 and 1200 included), the V-Star just felt like a REALLY BIG bike.
I settled on a Suzuki S40. It is a single cylinder 650. Because it is a single cylinder, it is substantially lighter than any of the other 650s on the market. It also had a lower seat and a lower center of gravity than any of the other cruisers that I sat on.
You guys should both take the MSF class and sit on a few bikes before you decide what to buy. Also consider that, unlike with cars, you can’t simply move the seat back and adjust the mirrors to make the bike comfortable for either of you to drive.
Last, but certainly not least, thank you for your service.May 15, 2010 at 11:56 am #26469stuParticipant
My wife has the predecessor the Virago535 as her starter bike and its excellent, to put it bluntly, its pretty weak coming off my SFV650. For learning on I think its an excellent bike for my wife, she loves it. I think the brakes could be better, esp the rear drum.May 16, 2010 at 9:17 pm #26475DMCunninghamParticipant
Thank you very much for all of the advise that has been given. It seems that my original thought of sticking with the 250 (either the V Star or the Honda Rebel) would be a better decision for my wife and I, rather than going with the V Star 650.
This forum, and this thread, has been more than helpful in helping my wife and I validate our research and our original thoughts on the 250 as probably the better bike for us to both learn on.
We will both most definitely take MSF class. Depending on any deals that we may find, we will probably take the class before buying our first bike, which would allow both of us to try out 250 motorcycles for their feel and size.
Again, thank you all so very much for all of your help, advise, and suggestions. You all have have helped us so much.May 19, 2010 at 11:36 pm #26589streetmasterParticipant
My G/F rides a V Star 250 & I have the 650!. We get both models here in Aus!
She has taken mine for a ride & I had to pry it away from her!!!
I think the 650 V Star is a good starting point. Not over powered & it’s low centre of gravity makes it very stable.
Just a few points
I’m only 5’4″ & 180lbs
Weight really isnt an issue (the bike!!) when your riding. Just when stopped (even then not really a problem)
Don’t even think of two up riding until you have plenty of experience riding, at least a year or two, it changes the whole dynamics of the bike.August 25, 2010 at 11:28 pm #28309quaquaParticipant
I bought both last year when we started to ride. I have the 650 and my wife has the 250. The 250 is just not enough power for two people. Period. Experienced or not. My wife outgrew the 250 real fast and wants the 650. I am ready for something bigger as well.
The weight of the 650 is really not an encumbrance. I found the bike very stable and easy to maneuver. The seat is at 28″, fairly low clearance. If you want, you can add a get seat that will lower it another 1-2 inches. You can easily lower it more if you want.
If I had to do it all over again today, I would buy the 650 for the wife and something a little bigger for me (maybe the Vulcan 900 or a Sporster.)
I don’t know where you live but I know in the LA area, used Vstar 650 got for around $3500 (that’s for an 05-07 with 3-5K miles on it.) Your buddy’s bike oughta be pristine for 4k.August 28, 2010 at 6:54 am #28342plasticParticipant
Full newbie here, got a 530 pound bike. Easy to handle at anything except of runder 10mph. Just dropped it on my knee last weekend and let me tell you, it did do a bit of damage at around 10mph. So, yes the weight although not a huge issue, is an issue when it matters (ie – in you legs)…. On the other hand, the extra power did feel good and safe. So there…
Riding on the MSF should answer a lot of questions. Also, you may be able to rent a harley. Expensive, but hey, why not try before you buy…
I’ll keep updating as I go on. Good luck!February 25, 2016 at 3:03 pm #30052ronGuest
I own a 650 custom good overall package. First, and only bike I have ever owned or rode. Handles well and has good suspension. I am 5 foot four, 190 lbs and I was able to handle the bike but it took a lot of pratice in church parking lots. If I were to do it over again I would start on a 250 for the first year then move up to a 650. I bought my bike new in 2012, now has over 30,000. Fun bike to ride great bang for the buck and again a good overall package.
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