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Cruiser for a Returning User

Posted: Wed Dec 05, 2018 7:56 pm
by DAPpy
I am looking for suggestions for a good "beginner" cruiser.

I owned a Honda VT600 Shadow for about 2 years in the mid-1990's but haven't ridden anything since.
So I'm not quite a beginner, but pretty darn close.

Anyhow, the Shadow was easy to ride, fit me well (I'm 5'7", 160 lbs) and was perfectly adequate for my daily commute.
But I found it extremely tiring for the few times I went on extended highway excursions.

Now in my second (or is it third?) childhood, I've developed a hankering to go two-wheeling again.
I want to find a good, used cruiser that I can use for my daily commute but which will also be comfortable for the occasional road trip (I don't want to get blown into the next lane by semis like I was on the Shadow).

My budget is $2000.
I'm not a mechanic, so I need something that's reliable.

And, oh, did I mention it must be a cruiser?
I'm addicted to the look of cruisers and I like the riding position.


Re: Cruiser for a Returning User

Posted: Wed Dec 26, 2018 1:16 pm
by JackoftheGreen

My apologies it's taken so long to reply to your post, 'tis the season to be busy, as they say.

Super excited for you to be getting back into motorcycling! Congratulations, and I hope you have a positive experience.

I can imagine a 600cc Shadow being less than wonderful on the freeway. My wife has a VT750 Shadow ACE and it tends towards buzziness on the interstate. It's also not terribly happy going any faster than about 65-70. A little more OOMPH is definitely in order.

My recommendation at your price point would be a Shadow 1100. I know that sounds like a lot of engine, but they're very mild-mannered and you'll take to it easily enough. For the price point and reliability, you'll have to find an old enough model with few enough miles. Anything from 2000 to maybe 2003 or 2005 might fit the bill depending on prices in your area. The deals are now too, prices depress a bit in the winter.

You could also consider any Kawasaki Vulcan 900CC or larger, also from the same era. Yamaha Viragos from the late 90s might be pretty close too, but I'm not crazy about them. You really can't go wrong with a modern Honda.

As for getting blown into the next lane, well, that's just the nature of the beast. All but the heaviest touring bikes (which will be well outside your $2,000 price range unless you want something from the 80s) are going to suffer from weight turbulence. Just give the semis more room and try to tuck in when you're passing. Anticipation is mitigation.

Hope to hear more from you! See in in the forums!

Re: Cruiser for a Returning User

Posted: Wed Dec 26, 2018 8:01 pm
by jstark47
I agree with Jack on the Shadow 1100 suggestion. Shadow 1100's from the early 2000's are one of the best deals in used bikes going at the moment, IMO. Dirt cheap - my stepdaughter picked one up in 2016 for $500, that "wasn't running" according to the buyer. After charging the battery, and putting gasoline in the tank (seriously, I'm not kidding!) it fired right up. She turned around and sold it for $1000. Solid, smooth, and tour-able motorcycle.

Re: Cruiser for a Returning User

Posted: Thu Dec 27, 2018 6:07 pm
by DAPpy
Thanks to both of you for the input.
I have seen a couple of Shadow 1100's that interested me but were a little out of my price range.
Also, I see posts and articles everywhere insisting that someone with my limited experience should stay below 1000cc for a "first" bike (especially considering my small-ish stature).
Thoughts on this?

I've seen several early-2000s Shadow 750s (AERO and A.C.E.) in my price range.
I like the look.

I also have long been in love with the look of the Suzuki Intruder 700, 750 and 800 from the 90's.
Almost bought one of these instead of my Shadow.

Either of you have any experience / thoughts on either of these options?

Re: Cruiser for a Returning User

Posted: Tue Jan 15, 2019 2:21 am
by brajon
So what did you get? The Honda Shadow 750 A.C.E is a nice cruiser also.

Re: Cruiser for a Returning User

Posted: Tue Jan 15, 2019 9:52 pm
by JackoftheGreen

Again, apologies for the latency.

The following is strictly IMO, and others might have a slightly different take. The typical recommendation to stick with sub-liter bikes is geared more towards either sport bikes, or young riders. Not new riders, mind you, young riders. Absolutely, a 1000cc sport bike would have enough power to get you into trouble even if you're careful and attentive. An 1000+cc cruiser, though, only has enough power to get you into trouble if you're being irresponsible. You'd really have to work at it to let an 1100 get away from you. If you think you'll succumb to your baser urges, then maybe stick with a 750. ;)

Again IMO, this gets less true somewhere between 1400 and 1600cc. At that size, even a low-key cruiser can throw you a loop if you get distracted.

On the other contenders you mentioned. Again, you can't go wrong with a Shadow. The ACE or the AERO are both great bikes and neither of them should be tough to maintain given a clean history. Look for signs that it's been down, and for a quick assessment of how well it's been cared for look for rust on the brake reservoir cap and in other seams or bolt heads.

On the Intruders, although I absolutely LOVE the look of them just as you said, I don't believe one from the 90's is going to meet your reliability requirement. I'd love for you to prove me wrong, and if you get a real good vibe from the buyer and the bike looks just immaculate, maybe take the chance.

For what it's worth, a quick scan of my local classifieds service isn't turning up a lot of great options at $2,000. It's been a pretty warm winter though so I don't think prices have taken a hit like they usually do. The best price for a 2005 Shadow VT1100 I'm seeing is $2,695. So your mileage may vary in your area.

Re: Cruiser for a Returning User

Posted: Tue Jan 15, 2019 10:06 pm
by DAPpy

Thanks again for the assistance and advice.
I've got a good lead I may have to go with.
Close friend of the family in Florida restores and flips vehicles for a hobby.
Mostly 70's muscle cars but also the occasional motorcycle.
He just finished a Shadow 1100 which he claims is now immaculate.
I don't know the year but it's about 27K miles.
Classic red/white paint with sissy bar and leather saddle bags.
Since I'm almost family, he's willing to let me have it for $2000 (I think).
Only problem is it's in Florida and I'm in Virginia so if I go down there to get it I'll have to ride it home.
Pretty long trip for someone who hasn't ridden for over two decades.
Good way to break myself in?????

Re: Cruiser for a Returning User

Posted: Tue Jan 15, 2019 11:46 pm
by JackoftheGreen

Sounds like an excellent deal! In fact it's probably too good to be true, you find something else and give me his contact info so I can report him...
J/K ;)

Seriously though, that sounds like a great option, especially if he does good work. That does sound like quite a trip for someone who hasn't ridden for awhile. Also the logistics could be challenging. Will you fly down there and ride the bike back? Or drive down with someone and then drive back together? It might be worth finding a friend with a trailer and a tow vehicle.

Re: Cruiser for a Returning User

Posted: Tue Jan 22, 2019 8:53 pm
by jstark47
DAPpy wrote:
Thu Dec 27, 2018 6:07 pm
I also have long been in love with the look of the Suzuki Intruder 700, 750 and 800 from the 90's.
Almost bought one of these instead of my Shadow. Either of you have any experience / thoughts on either of these options?
Ditto Jack, apologies for the delayed response. I never rode an Intruder 800, but we once owned a 2004 Marauder 800, and it's the same engine. I found it's performance underwhelming, and that was back in 2005-06 when I had much less experience and lower expectations. Nowadays I would simply say it's a dog.

Back then I also had a 2005 Triumph Bonneville, which is also a 800cc twin (technically 790cc). The difference between the Triumph 790cc vertical twin and the Suzuki 805cc v-twin was night and day. The Suzuki was a slug and the Triumph just wanted to go-go-go!

I bring all this up just to emphasize there's much more to engine performance than simple cubic displacement, like Jack said. There are 600cc I-4's (e.g. Yamaha YZF-R6) that have to be treated with care by even experienced riders, and there are 1100cc v-twins that are tame kitty-cats. Unfortunately engine displacement by itself is too simplistic a criterion to determine what is suitable for an inexperienced rider.