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#1 Unread post by TechTMW »

Welcome to the Total Motorcycle Community! We're here to help you along on your path to becoming the best rider out there. Please take a few moments to review this post before getting started on the forums - hopefully many of your questions can be answered right here!

When I was starting off, I didn't care about anything except getting out there and riding. Luckily I didn't have the cash to buy a bike at the time, so I spent all my time reading about riding. Two very helpful books that I picked up immediately were David Hough's Books, 'Proficient Motorcycling,' and 'More Proficient Motorcycling.' These books really opened my eyes as to all of the Safety and Technical aspects of riding a motorcycle, as well as important techniques such as countersteering and choosing a proper line in a curve. I highly recommend both of these books to the beginning biker.

If you are not the type that likes to sit and read (How'd you make it this far down the post? :P ) the most important piece of advice I can give is to take the Motorcycle Safety Course in your area BEFORE you buy a bike. They will teach you the basics of operating a motorcycle, and upon successful completion of a 3-day course, most states award you a motorcycle endorsement to your license without a test.

Just wait a minute - I have a few things for you to consider.

INSURANCE: You may not think this is a big deal, or maybe you have parents kind enough to put you on thie insurance. It's still important for you to find out the cost of insuring the motorcycle of your choice. Insurance can cost up to $4,000 per year depending on your age, history, location, type of bike, and desired coverage. Don't buy the bike, and then find out you have to pay $350 per month just for insurance! Typically, an insurance company will lower the premium if you've taken an MSF course.

SAFETY: You need to purchase the proper riding gear. A good Helmet, Jacket, Gloves, Boots (footwear that protects the ankles), and if you are wise, riding pants are necessary to avoid major injury if you down the bike. Depending on the brand and style this can get expensive. $500-$1500 is normal to spend. If it's too hot in your area to wear a jacket, don't worry, most motorclothes manufacturers offer fully armored mesh jackets which are very cool in the summer as the wind blows right through them.

BIKE COMPATIBILITY: It sounds funny, but you really should try the motorcycle on for size before you buy it. Go down to the dealership and sit on it for a while. If it doesn't feel comfortable at the dealership, imagine how it will feel after a half hour of riding. If your bike makes you feel physically uncomfortable, it will be difficult for you to devote full attention to the road ahead of you, and this is a huge safety concern! Another important factor is whether you can flat foot the bike. Most bikes are built for the average 5'9" (ish) person. Shorter people may not be able to touch the ground while on the bike. This is not a major issue for an experienced rider, but believe me, if you drop your bike at an intersection because your footing isn't steady, you won't be too happy!

LIFESTYLE: I'm not going to give you a bunch of stuff about how you are joining a community of people who love to share the open road, or enjoy a mystical bond with their machines, etc. There is enough "Biker Lifestyle" everywhere you look these days ... we're drowning in it. I like to think that the real "Biker Lifestyle" - the one they don't sell you on TV, is a lifestyle of attention to detail, subtle concentration, and most of all, one of patience. Because, for example, if you don't check your tire pressure regularly, keep a close eye the road ahead of you, and know when your skills won't allow you to keep up with a group of experienced riders, there's a very good chance you are dramatically reducing your lifespan.

For more in-depth, helpful reading, check out Total Motorcycle's own E-book,
"Beginner's Guide to Motorcycling"

For those considering purchasing a Used or older bike, see Total Motorcycle's
"Used Motorcycle Buyer's Guide"

Don't understand what the heck a certain phrase means?? ... -index.htm

FINALLY, all the members of Total Motorcycle have differing views of what the best beginner bike is. Hopefully some folks will chime in here and let you beginners know what's a good bike to begin on and what you should probably steer clear of. To start off with -

The Suzuki GS500F is a good beginner ride because it has an easy power band, looks awesome (like a mini GSXR) and is suitable for most any body size. It's more than capable of tackling highway speeds and the riding position isn't so severe that you will have a sore back at the end of the day.

The Suzuki GSX-R600 is NOT a suitable beginner's bike. The razor-sharp throttle, handling, and brakes make this one an excellent second bike. It's perfectly suited to honing the skills that you've developed over time on a smaller bike. It is not mistake friendly, so it's a good idea not to get on one of these babies until you've advanced through your beginner stages on something easier to handle!

Anyone else want to contribute?
Last edited by TechTMW on Sat Mar 19, 2005 5:56 am, edited 1 time in total.
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#2 Unread post by Mag7C »

I'd like to contribute! Mainly in the area of purchases.

The suggestion about not going for a high performance or large engine bike right off the bat is very true. It's not just the ramblings of some old man (not meaning you, TechBMW :wink:). I've only been riding for about a year, and I'm really really glad I started small. You might tell yourself, "I can handle it if I just take it easy, and then when I'm ready I can use its full potential". I thought this myself, but thankfully the only affordable thing in the newspaper ads was a 440.
The mistakes made on my 440 would have been terribly worse on a 600+. Nobody makes mistakes intentionally, but they do happen often when learning (at least for me they did). Remember there is always time in the future to move up.

Also, I recommend buying used. For two reasons:

1. It's cheaper, so when you are ready to move up it doesn't seem like your first bike was a waste of money.

2. If the motorcycle is already a bit of a beater, you don't feel sick when it tips over. Mine tipped three or so times (all when stopped) on the right side, which was already scraped when I bought it. Just picked it up, brushed off my ego (I'll never see those people again anyway), and kept on riding!

Which reminds me... if you can, try to find one with a low center of gravity. This isn't really all that important, but it does help. Mine was a bit topheavy for me early on.

Guess that's all I have for now!
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#3 Unread post by Toyuzu »

Some good advice I remember about first bike choices: There is a general opinion among most experienced riders that it is a good idea to start out on a used bike, as opposed to a new one. The reason is that most first time riders will drop their bike, some of them more than once, while learning to ride. The damage will be much less agonizing, and usually cheaper to repair on an older model used bike than on a new one.

Also a few other choices for beginner bikes:

Sport Category:

Kawasaki Ninja EX 250 and 500.
Suzuki SV 650 and 650S
Suzuki GS 500 F (already mentioned)

Standard category:

Honda Nighthawk 250
Honda Nighthawk 450 (somewhat rare)
Suzuki GZ 250

Cruiser Category:

Honda Rebel 250
Honda Shadow VLX 600
Yamaha Virago 250
Yamaha Virago 535
Yamaha V-Star 650
Kawasaki Vulcan 500
Suzuki Savage 650

This is obviously an incomplete list, so the rest of you feel free to add some!
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#4 Unread post by sunshine229 »

To follow the trend, I'll make my post short! :wink:

Definitely start with a smaller bike that doesn't cost too much. In the beginning, remember you do not have an image YET so don't worry about what particular bike you start on just get a small, cheap bike. You will have plenty of time to move up to your favourite model.

Andrea :)
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good bike for beginner

#5 Unread post by JJ »

I would disagree with folks here that a 500 cc bike is about the max for a beginner. I would say that most beginners could handle up to about older Suzuki GS 750 or Honda CB 750. If not those bikes, ones with similar horsepower. I bought a GS650 to start off on and I tired of it very quickly. I think rider maturity and caution has as much to do with the decision as does horsepower.

I'm 49 now and if starting out today a bit bigger of a bike would have been fine with caution. When I was 16 and invincable ANY bike was really too much! (Youngsters please listen to the voice of experience. After all, I'm still alive aren't I)

I think any new rider is foolish not to take a MSF course. You get a year's worth of riding experience in one weekend.

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#6 Unread post by BuzZz »

You have to consider what syle of bike (and engine) your looking at. A 600cc supersport and a 600cc cruiser are 2 very different engines. The sport bike has a more highly stressed engine, putting out more, harder-hitting power (and the same goes for the chassis).

Generally, a cruiser/non-race replica bike can be of larger engine capacity that a supersport-type bike and still be newbie friendly.
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#7 Unread post by JJ »

I totally agree. I think we should be talking horsepower more than displacement

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#8 Unread post by TheseSimpleWords »

i started on a yamaha xt-250. It was great for backroads which is what i used it for, commuting to and from work and campus. However, when i wanted to take it to a shopping center and had to take it up to 60 mph, it was kinda bad. It was so light that the wind just tossed me around a lot.

so i guess what I'm trying to say is: adjust your first ride to what you want to do with it. I bought an enduro (dirt/road bike) when what i really wanted was a small cruser. A friend of mine that got into bikes with me bought a Honda Rebel 250 and he definately made a better choice than me.
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XS650 for a beginner

#9 Unread post by 63GibsonSG »

I'm a newbie to the world of motorcycling but I am taking the MSF course. Would a 1976 XS650 be a beginner bike?

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#10 Unread post by Teclo »

I am new to bikes, and I am starting on a Honda 125CG. Not big, not bad, nothing special to look at, but it is giving me experience, confidence and fun.

I think with my complete lack of experience that riding anything larger would just be suicide. I am finding it hard enough to worry about position on the road, traffic, and other dangers that yes, even the 125 can be a little overwhelming at times. God knows what trouble something bigger would be.

Yeah, I want a bigger bike, my eyes linger way too long on pictures of Ducati 999's, Honda Blackbirds and Triumph Sprints. *sigh* Maybe one day, but not today.

I want my time on the bike to be as enjoyable as possible, and so far I am loving it. So my advice to fellow novices, think small, enjoy yourself, get experience _then_ think about something larger.

Just my 2p worth ;)

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