Just when I think I have it figured out...

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MarkB
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Just when I think I have it figured out...

#1 Unread post by MarkB » Sat Jul 09, 2011 10:02 pm

I think sometimes, a guy can have too many friends.

My first bike was an '81 Kawasaki 440 LTD. Honestly, it was plenty of bike for me and after this many years (25), I don't remember how well I had mastered it. Suffice it to say, I think I'm pretty much just starting over..

The MSF class didn't exactly leave me brimming with confidence. I had fun and I passed the class, but I don't think for a second I'm ready to tangle with much traffic. I need a lot of practice. I don't expect to have a real long learning curve, but I know I need to work on bike handling skills.

In thinking about what bike to consider, I was first thinking about a used 650-750 cruiser style bike. A buddy of mine escorted me down to the local shop where we were looking at a used 1100 Honda Shadow. Nice bike, but an awful lot of bike. In sitting on the bike and listening to my buddy, I realized I'm not ready for that.

I've read all the suggestions for newbie bikes and I was seriously blowing off all the talk about the 250 Ninja because.... I've never been a fan of the sport bikes. Then, I started noticing all the used, low milage 250 Ninjas for sale, just like everybody says. I went to Chapparal to look at Ninjas, but they didn't have one on the floor at the time. The did have the Honda CB250R and I took a liking to it. I sat on it, looked it all over, drooled on it and decided I needed to rethink the possibility of a 250. Oh, I did look at the Ninja 650R. Suprisingly, I liked it. Like I said before, I never really cared for the sportbike look and style and didn't see me ever owning, or even thinking of owning one. Really, there isn't much choice these days. Even a lot of the dual sport bikes take some of their styling from the sport bikes.

I decided to rethink, or at least broaden my horizens for bike possibilities to include, but not limit myself to the tamer sport bike styled motorcycles. This puts me in a precarious spot with SWMBO because she's not supportive of the whole motorcycle thing, anyway. She really doesn't want me riding again, but has said she will not tell me I can't. A sport bike, even a 250CC sport bike shaped object, will not amuse her in the least and may, in fact, bring out the beast in her.

I spoke to some of my motorcycle riding buddies about the 250 Ninja idea and got a mixed reaction. Most of them had to take a knee until they quit laughing. It's still my money and I'll get what I darn well want, fully realizing this bike will only be the first step along the way.

I'm still kind of buzzing on the notion of the Ninja. As it turns out, it only puts out about 2 hp less than what my old 440 LTD was getting to the pavement. I think that's a decent start at getting back on the road.

The bottom line is; I'm still floundering around a little, trying to decide what to get. I'm still a ways away from laying out any cash and still trying to figure it all out. I have decided to include some of the tamer sport bikes in my list as well as some of the smaller CC sport tourers. I have crossed off dual sport bikes. Not my cup of tea. I'm falling off the cruiser wagon more and more, though honestly, that will probably be what I end up with after my initial purchase of a learner bike.

It sure is fun trying to get it all sorted out!

Mark

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Re: Just when I think I have it figured out...

#2 Unread post by ceemes » Sun Jul 10, 2011 12:34 am

don't be put off by the sport bike cosmetics of the Ninja 250 or Honda 250. While they look like full on racers, they actually have a standard upright riding position. And I believe the same holds true for the Ninja 650R, if I am not mistaken in more of a standard ride then a crotch rocket ride. Some here say that its not a bad bike to start off with as well.

As for she who must be obeyed, try getting her into riding as well, it might just win her over and you will end up with two bikes in the garage. Its what I am planning on with my missus to be, she is not overly thrilled that I ride but talking it over with her, I have gotten her to the point where she is now showing a wee bit of interest in learning to ride herself.
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Re: Just when I think I have it figured out...

#3 Unread post by JM0111 » Sun Jul 10, 2011 10:18 am

try the honda shadow 600, i got it to learn on i love it. There are some downsides i wish i had the 5th gear i find myself wanting it on the highways, the bike is great other than that, not heavy has good power looks sharp, great starter bike. Im very happy with it.

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Re: Just when I think I have it figured out...

#4 Unread post by agraebner » Sun Jul 10, 2011 12:07 pm

The VLX is a great bike. Dropping 2 teeth on the rear K&N filter and stage 1 jetting, mine pulled a little harder than stock and rev'd less too. Throw in a set of EBC Kevlar brakes and you have a bike that feels like it cost a LOT more than it did. I loved mine if I were not limited so much by income right now id still have it........ Any of the 250 bikes will be able to get what you paid for if you get used so you have to appreciate a free step in the process. A used VLX does make a decent bike if you have any experience at all. It might save you buying another bike in the long run. In my area there are a TON of used bikes really cheap if you are at all mechanically inclined (mainly carbs that need cleaning) throw on a set of tires (dry rot) you can ride a year and sell for more than you paid.
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Re: Just when I think I have it figured out...

#5 Unread post by zeligman » Sun Jul 10, 2011 2:28 pm

if you are thinking back to cruisers too - i LOVED my suz volusia vl800 - now the c50. It wasn't a light bike - but it was low to the ground, easy to balance, good power, but MOST IMPORTANT - it was forgiving - noob mistakes (with leaning, throttle/clutch, etc) did NOT put me on the ground or in the hospital. 800 was plenty powerful to move my XL o-ring - even on the highway - but it wouldn't win any speed races.

but it sure sounds like fun to be thinking about all the possiblities! :)

zman
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Re: Just when I think I have it figured out...

#6 Unread post by MarkB » Sun Jul 10, 2011 4:06 pm

Maybe a little breakthrough today. SWMBO and I took a little road trip this morning and on the way home, we passed by another MC shop. I mentioned someday I'd like to stop by and see what they had and she agreed to stop with me! Whoa!

We looked around and I asked about the Ninja. They didn't have one on the floor, either, but they did have one of the Hondas. SWMBO looked at it and didn't say a negative word about it. Maybe I'm getting somewhere!

Mark

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Re: Just when I think I have it figured out...

#7 Unread post by MarkB » Sun Jul 10, 2011 4:16 pm

ceemes wrote:don't be put off by the sport bike cosmetics of the Ninja 250 or Honda 250. While they look like full on racers, they actually have a standard upright riding position. And I believe the same holds true for the Ninja 650R, if I am not mistaken in more of a standard ride then a crotch rocket ride. Some here say that its not a bad bike to start off with as well.
Yes, you are correct about the 650R. I could get into that, for sure.
ceemes wrote:As for she who must be obeyed, try getting her into riding as well, it might just win her over and you will end up with two bikes in the garage. Its what I am planning on with my missus to be, she is not overly thrilled that I ride but talking it over with her, I have gotten her to the point where she is now showing a wee bit of interest in learning to ride herself.
Way back when, before we moved from the Midwest to California, SWMBO liked riding on the motorcycle, but never showed any interest in actually taking control. When we moved to CA, the motorcycle did not and she has been very anti motorcycle ever since. That I have gotten this far is a minor miracle, in my opinion.

Getting her inside a motorcycle shop today was nothing short of a major miracle. She was shocked I didn't sit down with a salesman to talk financing. I think my slow and steady strategy is paying off.

Mark

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Re: Just when I think I have it figured out...

#8 Unread post by NorthernPete » Sun Jul 10, 2011 7:05 pm

How's about going back to what you started with. Kinda. Lol. The kawasaki 500 Vulcan is a great starter cruiser. Its forgiving, but at the same time has the same power plant as the ninja 500. With a 6 speed transmition it really boogies if you want it too. But has the cruiser look too. If that's your cuppa tea. Plus easy to unload after you want to move up a notch.
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Re: Just when I think I have it figured out...

#9 Unread post by MarkB » Mon Jul 11, 2011 10:17 am

NorthernPete wrote:How's about going back to what you started with. Kinda. Lol. The kawasaki 500 Vulcan is a great starter cruiser. Its forgiving, but at the same time has the same power plant as the ninja 500. With a 6 speed transmition it really boogies if you want it too. But has the cruiser look too. If that's your cuppa tea. Plus easy to unload after you want to move up a notch.
Good thought, thanks! It's all going to boil down to what's available when I have cash in hand. I am now including bikes as possibilities that I never would have considered before, so it should be a much easier thing to find that first suitable ride. I can't wait!

Mark

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Re: Just when I think I have it figured out...

#10 Unread post by totalmotorcycle » Mon Jul 11, 2011 11:53 am

:welcome: Mark to the community!

I'd like to give you a pat on the back for not giving into peer pressure nor giving into buying something that you are unsure about re-starting on because your friends think it's cool.

A 250cc Ninja is a great first bike and as you have discovered very comparable to your old 440 in power, but it will handle amazingly better and be smoother too. As you have rode before you might want to consider a used Ninja 250R as I think (due to your previous riding experience) you will outgrow it sooner than a new rider, but they are cheap used. The Ninja 650R is a good next bike after that if you are still "into" the sport bike riding style. Otherwise, there are plenty of 750cc cruisers out there and 650cc/800cc adventure bikes.

Mike
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Re: Just when I think I have it figured out...

#11 Unread post by Brackstone » Mon Jul 11, 2011 6:47 pm

TBH I always thought I'd end up on some kind of cruiser, and part of me still wants one. I didn't want a sport bike but I didn't want a cruiser so I went naked! :)
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Re: Just when I think I have it figured out...

#12 Unread post by vampfiend687 » Tue Oct 04, 2011 9:54 pm

If you want the best of both worlds (looks of a cruiser, power of a sport bike) try to find a old Suzuki GS or other Japanese bikes form that era. If you are mechanically inclined, keeping a vintage bike running is a breeze. I have a 82 Suzuki GS 750 that I LOVE more than I love my car or dog. It's powerful enough to satisfy me but light enough and easy enough to control that I'm not terrified of it. Not to mention, I picked mine up for $1000 and have put maybe $50 into it over the course of one summer.
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