First Time Motorcycle Recommendations

Discussion in 'Community Discussion' started by BigPrince, Jun 27, 2008.

  1. BigPrince macrumors 68020

    Dec 27, 2006
    I am looking for some suggestions on motorcycles. I am looking for something to cruise in from spring to fall, and generally within a 50 mile radius.

    High speed is not a factor.

    I really know next to nothing about bikes...any help would be appreciated.

    The only thing I have really looked are harley davidson sportsters.

    my budget is around 20k...but I'd like to be around 10k if possible for my first bike...
  2. Gray-Wolf macrumors 68030


    Apr 19, 2008
    Pandora, Home Tree
    A major factor, is how deep are your pockets? Then decide. ;)
  3. baby duck monge macrumors 68000

    baby duck monge

    Feb 16, 2003
    Memphis, TN
    I've been doing a bit of research about getting into some biking, and while I don't have any specific suggestions, I think you may be going about this the wrong way.

    If this is your first bike, you may not want to get something as nice/with quite so large an engine as what you're looking at. Conventional wisdom seems to be that you should start with a smaller bike so you don't kill yourself learning how to ride the thing. Of course, this often leads people to outgrowing their bikes reasonably quickly.

    With those concerns in mind, most people suggest starting with a cheaper bike with a smaller engine (250-600cc, probably 500-600cc). Those should be small enough to control well while still not breaking the bank. You should be able to get something decent in the realm of $5,000 (perhaps even less). Then if you don't like it you're not out as much, and if you do like it you'll have some money to put to something nicer and will have a better idea of what you're looking for in a bike.
  4. bamaworks macrumors 6502

    Nov 9, 2007
    Lexington, KY
    I've been considering if I wanted a motorcycle for a while. I've determined that the only two I'd consider would be Ducati and BMW. Excellent bikes and classy to boot!

  5. Kinderhauz macrumors member

    May 28, 2008
    Be careful. My cousins and my uncle recently bought bikes and all but one of them has been in an accident.
  6. quagmire macrumors 603


    Apr 19, 2004
    The night parts guy at my old job got a Victory Vegas 8-ball and it is pretty nice. $13K if you want to check it out.

  7. JNB macrumors 604


    Oct 7, 2004
    In a Hell predominately of my own making
    I've been riding for 35 years, and every ride is like nothing you'll ever experience in a car. The first bike is a more critical choice than most understand, particularly when it's a conscious decision to become a motorcyclist instead of, "I started riding because I couldn't afford anything else."

    First thing you do is attend an MSF Basic RiderCourse. Let that be the place to accomplish a number of things, such as set some good habits right off, provide a rider test waiver in many states for licensing, entitle you to a significant discount on insurance, and most importantly, help you discover whether or not you really want to ride. They'll have you on 250cc or thereabout bikes in a controlled environment. Loads of fun, really, and they're used to folks that haven't been on anything but a bicycle, and then not for thirty or forty years. Talk to the instructors about your riding needs, they'll also help guide you to a sane choice.

    As far as a first bike, no need to spend over $5K, which will get you a nice new bike up to about the 500cc range, or a recent model up to 750cc or so. Plan on keeping it and learning about practical riding and your skills for about a year, and then move up to something you want to spend more money on. Cruisers & Standards are generally easier & more forgiving, sportbikes are typically a bad choice for a first-time rider. As tempting as it may be, a new H-D or Victory for the first bike is a perfect recipe for disappointment. Start smaller, easier, and something that you won't cry over when you drop it in the driveway or at a stoplight the first few times.
  8. Hmac macrumors 68020

    May 30, 2007
    Midwest USA
    Go look for a Motorcycle Safety Foundation rider's course close to you. It's excellent instruction and the final exam generally qualifies you for a motorcycle endorsement on your driver's license.

    They'll supply the bike - it will give you some kind of feel for the size you need.

    50 miles is a long way. You're going to want something large enough to be able to do that without straining. I would advise against a typical lay-down bike - not a great choice for beginners IMHO. Sporty's are nice, but the size selection is limited and they do vibrate more than the standard UJM, which in turn you may find fatiguing. Go to your local Honda/Yamaha/Suzuki/Kawasaki dealer and sit on a bunch of bikes - find one that's going to be comfortable for you to ride 100 miles per day...make sure it has a good windshield. Probably something in the 650-1000 cc range. Get a good helmet that's quiet, get good protective clothing.
  9. adroit macrumors 6502


    Sep 28, 2005
    Victoria, BC
    1. Take motorcycle safety course.
    2. Buy very good gear.
    3. Get a Ninja 250R (less than $4000 new) or the like.

    I would recommend taking the course and budget for good gear and see what you have left over to buy a bike. It would be wise not to spend all your money on your first bike since you're likely to drop it.

    Also there are many different styles of motorcycles and you won't really know what kind you would like to do until you try them out. The best place to do that is at the motorcycle course.
  10. benmrii macrumors 65816


    Nov 14, 2007
    Without a doubt, take the motorcycle safety course. Don't learn from a friend, you'll learn their habits, their style. Learn from a trained, licensed teacher.

    Only been riding about 10 years and have only owned BMW motorcycles, but I ride others. Beemers are a great bike, I suggest taking a good look at them.

    Also, check out the Honda VTX line. Those are some solid bikes and with some after market additions they can be very sweet. I've ridden a friend's 1800 and with his additions it flies and sounds great. But for a first bike you can save a good deal of money and go with the 1300.

    Ride safe and enjoy! Let us know what you end up with.
  11. iJohnHenry macrumors P6


    Mar 22, 2008
    On tenterhooks
  12. Offramp macrumors newbie

    Jun 29, 2008
    Philly Area
    First Time Bike

    Greetings all, this is my first post,,,,from a Gateway notebook and Vista Ultimate. I was doing a google search for rumors of a new BMW cruiser and came across this page.

    I would agree with all members here recommending a safety course. I had ridden for approximately 25 years on self taught knowledge before taking the 'beginners' safety course in Jersey, to subvert a long DMV wait for a road test. I learned more in the three day class than in all the years I had ridden to that point. Seems I was repeating all my self taught mistakes and calling it experience. Good advice from those suggesting the safety course.

    While BMW makes an excellent bike, (they're over engineered and under tuned) the R bikes (boxer engined models) are dry clutched and may not be as forgiving as a bike with a wet clutch. Having said that, the best value in their line up on the market at the moment is the R1200R. A good all around bike with their newest developed boxer twin technology. Good in the city and good on the highway.

    The new Sportsters are much better than the Sportsters of old. Better vibration isolation and now fuel injected! The XL1200R has a 4.5 gallon tank that, according to their efficiency figures, should get you better than 200 miles to a tank. HD has a great dealer network as well which is important if you don't plan on wrenching your own machine. Although, I would suggest learning. Saves cost and a great deal of time.

    Starting small may not be the right course because pretty soon you'll have a bike you've outgrown. Maybe get an older used bike to practice on, than go for the bike you're attracted most to. One that fits!

    For what it's worth, MHO.
  13. dukebound85 macrumors P6


    Jul 17, 2005
    5045 feet above sea level

    agreed. i have the 250 and it is a great learning bike. no regrets
  14. benmrii macrumors 65816


    Nov 14, 2007
    Offramp, welcome to MR.

    First bike I owned was it's twin, 2000 R 1100RL. Absolutely amazing bike. I regret ever selling it, although right now I'd probably pick up the K 1200R before the R.
  15. SlapMonkey macrumors regular

    Jun 15, 2008
    Wow, nobody is recommending the Triumph Bonneville? It's a great first time bike IMHO:


    Also in Cafe Racer style:

  16. idyll macrumors 6502

    Jun 5, 2007
    Woah I love that. I don't know if I could ride a motorcycle in South Florida though... I'd get so hot during the summer.
  17. iJohnHenry macrumors P6


    Mar 22, 2008
    On tenterhooks
  18. gmecca2 macrumors regular

    Jan 17, 2008
    My first bike was a brand new 2003 Honda CBR 600RR. I took my state's motorcycle training course to get my license and never laid it down in the entire time I owned it until it got stolen.

    If you are under the age of 20, I think motorcycles are horrible ideas if it's a sportbike.

    Get a good helmet is some of the best advice I can give you. I bought an HJC in the beginning and then upgraded to a Suomy, it was like night and day.

    Also, don't let your friends influence you into making poor riding choices.

    Never drink alcohol and ride ( I see so many idiots doing this at bars).
  19. Father Jack macrumors 68020

    Father Jack

    Jan 1, 2007
    I rode a "Bonne" many, many years ago ... :)
    I didn't realize they were still in production, great bike.
  20. 4JNA macrumors 68000


    Feb 8, 2006
    looking for trash files
    since all the other recommendations are street bikes, and we don't know where you live (road conditions, recreation, etc)...

    how about a Dual Sport that you can use on and off road. lighter, easier to learn on, and fits the budget. fun for a weekend adventure here or there as well. best of luck and always wear a helmet no matter what your local law says!
  21. QuantumLo0p macrumors 6502a


    Apr 28, 2006
    First, a quick word on the tangent that seems to have garnered so much attention in this thread. Many posters have mentioned the MSF course which is very important but nobody has mentioned anything about MSF advanced courses. I wonder if they are still available. I highly recommend taking it after you get some serious seat time on a bike. Perhaps a season's worth? I took a MSF Advanced class in Minnesota along time ago when it was a pilot program. It was great. After I was finished road racing and taking advanced racer courses I attended the MSF Adv course to sharpen my street skills and it showed me a lot to think about that I really hadn't considered before. I had a lot of riding experience and new just about every way my bikes handled but the Adv course teaches you street survival. Such as, a vehicle is crossing your lane of traffic, there is a car almost in your left blind spot and another car is approaching from the right. What are you supposed to do? Great stuff.

    A current favorite for a small bike is the Suzuki SV650. I think they have two versions available; half faired and naked. I ride a piped and remapped TL1000s which is fast enough but the handling is a bit lethargic. I am looking to trade for an SV650 even up. I want one for the nimble handling but they also make a great first bike. I would not look at anything bigger or faster. I have seen many guys kill themselves on machinery they thought they could handle but did not respect it and are now not living on this plane of existence. I have owned a number of bikes since before I could legally drive on the road but I don't really have a single favorite. Each bike was liked for its special attributes such as my Ducati with a lot of carbon fiber, titanium, a sparsely covered dry clutch that could heard down the block and a deep, penetrating rumble that only a high performance road race twin can make.

    Too bad there were a lot of nice small bikes that came and went. Some of my favs are:
    Yamaha SRX600
    Yamaha FZR400 (raced one of these)
    Suzuki Bandit 400
    Honda CB-1
    Honda Hawk GT 650

    There was a lot of significant grey market market bikes that my friends had, such as a Honda RVF RC45, a European Yamaha RD500 2-stroke, a Suzuki Gamma 500 Walter Wolf and some really small, insanely great handling bikes like four cylinder 250 and 400 four strokes from Japan. The Japanese bikes had ALL the really advanced technology like variable valve timing and smart card ignition (with different FI maps!) a looong time ago. The Honda bikes had variable valve timing way before the Honda cars in the U.S. had it!


    Okay. Sorry for getting way off topic there. Seriously, if you happen across a clean Suzuki SV650 I would take it for a test drive.
  22. Berlepsch macrumors 6502


    Oct 22, 2007
    There have been many good tips in this thread. From the video on the MSF page it looks like they teach the very basics of motorcycling - if you did not learn them by now, you should definitely attend a course.

    Bike choice, especially for the first bike, is always tricky.

    The voice of reason suggests that a standard road bike around 600 ccm, probably already a few years old, is a good idea. They are reliable, handle well, have good brakes, are reasonably comfortable and repair costs are usually lower in case that you drop the bike. If you treat it well, you can sell it at a good price after a year or two, and the experience you have by then will help you to adapt to the cruiser / cross / sports or vintage bike that you might want to have by then.

    Of course, riding a bike is not reasonable in itself. So if all you ever wanted to own is that brand new HD sportster, and you can afford it, go for it. You might regret it after you turned your two month old 14k $ bike into a heap of scrap metal (don't ask :rolleyes:), and you'll probably never learn how to do a wheelie or drag your knee over the tarmac. But these points are not so important, as long as you can ride your bike, and enjoy it.
  23. gmecca2 macrumors regular

    Jan 17, 2008
    Advanced Motorcycle training courses are still available last time I checked.

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