Question regarding bikes from a soon-to-be new rider

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JimV
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Question regarding bikes from a soon-to-be new rider

#1 Unread post by JimV » Fri Jan 23, 2009 1:20 pm

I'm scheduled to take the MSF course soon and will be looking for a bike after (hopefully) successfully completing the course. I'm considering a number of bikes and have a question regarding the Yamaha/Star cruisers.

I've seen a number of people claim that the clutch on the Yamaha bikes has a very short friction zone, making it more difficult to shift gears or feather the clutch, especially for new riders.

Any comments?

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#2 Unread post by TEvo » Fri Jan 23, 2009 2:18 pm

This is true to some extent. An ex-significant other had a V-Star 650 and the "shallowness" of the friction zone could potentially make clutch modulation more challenging for a new rider.

This can be overcome with lots of static practice and practice with starting/stopping and basic motorcycle operation in a controlled, closed course environment before heading out to traffic.
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#3 Unread post by drrick » Sat Jan 24, 2009 2:38 pm

My first bike after the MSF course was (is) a vstar 1100 custom. I had no trouble at all with friction zoning at all. You would need to practice a little bit on any bike youhave but I had no trouble at all.

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#4 Unread post by IcyHound » Sat Jan 24, 2009 5:34 pm

I think the Yamaha does have a shorter friction zone but that doesn't make them unridable. One simple learns how one's bike works. No different then the friction zone differences fro one manual car to another. I think he bikes is almost easier to feel becuase you are using your hands.
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#5 Unread post by JimV » Sat Jan 24, 2009 5:52 pm

Thanks to those that responded: I appreciate your input. Obviously, the only way to see if it seems to be a problem for me would be to take one for a ride.

I'm eagerly anticipating the MSF class and looking for my first bike!

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#6 Unread post by RhadamYgg » Sat Jan 24, 2009 8:43 pm

You know.... I have the perfect noob bike for sale. :)

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New bike

#7 Unread post by NNYrider » Sat Jan 24, 2009 10:59 pm

Jim...

I do have a recommendation: Complete the course BEFORE buying the bike. Your idea about what is a good bike now, and your idea about what is a good bike after the course may be different. It happens often.

Once the course is complete, go check bikes. The second exercise in the MSF BAsic RIder course introduces friction zone. You'll spend the entire exercise learning what it is, and where it is. You'll reinforce this throughout the course (Hint: Friction Zone is THE fundamental skill the course is built on. Focus on it!).

After the course you will not be nearly as concerned about the friction zone on the Vstar or any other bike.

For what its worth, the Yamaha Vstar 650's are great bikes but a bit heavy for that 650 cc engine. The Suzuki C50 series, and the Honda 750's are similar, but offer a larger engine with a little more engine. Its not a huge concern.....

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#8 Unread post by JimV » Sun Jan 25, 2009 10:31 am

NNYrider -

I hear you about not buying a bike before completing the course. I told myself I wouldn't even look at bikes until I passed the course, much less buy one. However, one bright, sunny day the wife and I just happened to find ourselves driving by a couple of motorcycle dealers and the car just kind of veered into the parking lots all by itself! I swear!! :wink:

Since I was already there, I couldn't help sitting on a few to see how they felt, but there is no way I would buy one before passing the MSF class. For now, I'll keep myself busy checking the forums for information, re-reading "Proficient Motorcycling" by Hough and studying the Florida Motorcycle Operator Manual, upon which the written test is based.

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#9 Unread post by PacificShot327 » Sun Jan 25, 2009 10:53 am

Funny how cars do that sometimes... completely by their own will...

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#10 Unread post by Social Distortion » Sun Jan 25, 2009 1:58 pm

i have a yamaha V Star 650 classic and yes, cpmpared to most other bikes, the friction zone is shorter, but dont let that scare you.
I think its designed to help out beginners get use to the clutch and not ride it so much.
All bikes will have different friction zones and within an hour of riding, you get used to it.
I also have a triumph and they seem night and day, though i am used to the V Star, so the triumph friction zone feels strange to me.
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#11 Unread post by RhadamYgg » Sun Jan 25, 2009 3:29 pm

PacificShot327 wrote:Funny how cars do that sometimes... completely by their own will...
I know, and my wife doesn't even object that much anymore. She just gets this resigned look on her face.

Makes me wonder if I'll end up with an unfriendly object stuck in my back one night.

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#12 Unread post by NNYrider » Sun Jan 25, 2009 4:19 pm

Jimv:

In regards to the various middle-weight cruisers its really hard to go wrong. Honda, Yamaha, Kawa and Suzuki all make a great bike. The big difference, in my opinion, frequently boils down to the dealer. If your Yamaha dealer is great, your overall satisfaction with the bike is high. If your XXXXX dealer sucks, you'll not be quite so happy. Buy what suits you...

I will admit to a personal bias: Take a close look at the Suzuki C50 series. I owned one a few years back (volusia) and it was one heck of a lot of bike for the money. I researched the purchase to death, and everything seemed to keep pointing back at the Volusia (I was resistant to buying a suzuki). Well, I bought one, and it was a fantastic bike. I REALLY like the shaft drive, and the 800 cc engine was very very capable. The aftermarket for this bike is tremendous. The Vstar 650 is a fantastic looking bike, but its a relatively small engine for such a heavy motorcycle.

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#13 Unread post by JimV » Sun Jan 25, 2009 10:28 pm

Again, thanks to all for the comments; I am obviously a newbie and appreciate hearing the experiences and opinions of others more knowledgeable.

I started out looking at all the information I could find on the various cruisers that might be considered "ok" for a new rider, as I thought that style would be best for me ... however, I'm beginning to wonder if that is the case. I've had a couple of back surgeries and my lower back can get a bit unhappy at times. A number of riders say that the feet-forward riding position of the cruisers is hard on the lower back, making me think that perhaps I should consider the standard style bikes instead, or at least look at them in addition to the cruisers.

Of the cruisers that I've read about and looked at, one of my favorites is the Suzuki M50 (I personally like the cast rims better than wire spokes) among a few others; I'm not entirely sure if that particular bike would be acceptable for a beginner, even an old guy with absolutely no desire to take any unnecessary risks while riding that might shorten the limited number of years I have to enjoy the bike! :?

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#14 Unread post by NNYrider » Sun Jan 25, 2009 10:53 pm

Jim:

The cruisers can be hard on the back. Many of them place most of the weight right on your tail, and lower back pain can really add up. I rode a cruiser and gave it up for this reason. Lower back would complain, and everything between the knees and the navel would go to sleep :? . No good. I transitioned to a sport touring bike with a far more upright position. The wieght now seems more under by butt and thighs and I don't have that 'sitting on by tailbone' feeling.

If you can get over your butt (very slightly upper body forward), with feet under your butt instead of out front, you end up with a better posture. It works for me.

The M50 is just fine. If the seating will work for you it is a bike you can buy, become accustomed on, and then ride happily for years and years. Just check to see if you've got the hunchedback cruiser sitting on your spine posture....

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#15 Unread post by NewGuy » Mon Jan 26, 2009 3:47 am

JimV wrote:. . . one of my favorites is the Suzuki M50 (I personally like the cast rims better than wire spokes) among a few others; I'm not entirely sure if that particular bike would be acceptable for a beginner . . .
Well the M50 and C50 were tops on my list for a first bike. I ended up with a V-star 650, but that was mostly due to getting that deal negotiated successfully before a guy with M50 accepted my price.

The C50/M50 are great bikes IMO, and a good choice for a first bike. However, there is a lot of competition from the Kawasaki Vulcan 900, and the Yamaha V-star 950. The latter have EFI like the Suzukis, but also have the advantage of a belt drive over the shaft driven Suzukis. The V-star 950 is brand new this year, but you should be able to find some deals on used Vulcan 900s.

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#16 Unread post by JimV » Mon Jan 26, 2009 11:21 am

I recall looking at the Kawasaki cruiser lineup and liking them very much in addition to the M50; I seem to recall that they didn't have the pegs as far forward as some of the other makes, but I'll have to verify that. I also recall seeing a used Kawasaki Vulcan 750 (no longer made) that I liked; I guess some people don't care for the look of that particular bike, but I did - and IIRC, the pegs were just about under the front of the seat instead of way out front.

I can see this is going to be a tough decision, and throwing the standard bikes into the equation won't make it any easier. It may well boil down to which bike (of those I feel comfortable on) that I can find at a good price when I'm ready to buy.

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#17 Unread post by drrick » Thu Jan 29, 2009 3:10 pm

Both my wife and I have 'bad backs' and we both ride cruisers. You need to really sit on a bunch and find what is comfortable for you. I went to the motorcycle sow 3 yrs in a row before deciding. Good thing since what I thought I would like felt AWFUL. When I sat on the Vstar I KNEW it was the one for me. It felt perfect. We are now going to the show this yr to find my wife her next bike and youcan bet she will sit on just about all of them. Motorcycling is no fun if you are in pain.

FWIW, My wife is short so she had a problem with standards. She hits the pegs with her legs. She was SO BRUISED after the MSF course from the Buell she rode.

Good luck on the bile hunt!!!

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#18 Unread post by JimV » Thu Jan 29, 2009 5:02 pm

Motorcycling is no fun if you are in pain.
drrick - thanks for your comments; I guess there is hope for me finding a cruiser or other bike that won't kill my back!

I realize that I wouldn't be able to ride very far if I was in pain after a short while, which is what got me thinking about the "standard" bikes; they seem to still have basically an upright riding position, but without the pegs way up in front that causes pressure on your tailbone and lower back. There don't seem to be that many of them available though, other than a couple that seem to be out of my price range new and hard to find used.

Just from looking around the one time that I did, it was obvious that each of the various bikes have a different "feel"; hopefully I'll be able to find one (either a cruiser or a standard) that is comfortable for me. I will look closely at the V-Stars now that I've pretty much stopped worrying about Yamaha's short friction zone.

My MSF Basic Rider Class is this weekend; unless I perform well enough to pass that, I won't have to worry about a bike at all! :(

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#19 Unread post by drrick » Mon Feb 02, 2009 12:57 pm

Good luck on the bike hunt. I am sure you will do fine at MSF.
We went to the motorcycle show this weekend with the goal of finding a new bike for my wife. She sat on TONS of bikes and the one she felt best on was the Yamaha V-Star Custom (650) I have the 1100 custom so I have to trick mine out a little bit so we dont look like one of those couples that dress the same :wink:

I wouldnt worry at all about the short friction zone. I didnt notice it at all.

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