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Hi Folks.

I'm looking for a used Japanese cruiser - mid-size (~700 cc), V-twin. This will be the first bike I've personally owned. I've done a lot of riding - but that was before two spine surgeries.

I'm 48 and (relatively) stable and common-sensed. The purpose of a used Japanese cruiser is to see if my spine can take the riding before I buy myself a new bike for my 50th B-Day.

I've been focusing on Yamaha Viragos or Honda Aeros (Shadow or Spirit)

I looked at a 1985 Virago (700) yesterday. It only has about 6700 miles, new tires, a couple of scratches/chips on the tank. Excellent condition for 22 years old. The owner says its cherry - which it isn't quite and wants a lot of money for it ($2200). (no bags, no fairing, no sissy bar, a small & scratched windshield) Kelley Blue Book for a really good model is ~$1760.

Owner says he put $1000 into it last year. I've asked him about the seals and the compression and he says they're good. I saw no signs of leaks but he had it on a different part of the gravel driveway than where it was stored.

Can you please tell me if there is a known history of failures or any other high maintenance needed on this model.

Ditto about all Viragos and all Aeros?

What bike would you suggest? My budget limit is about $3000.

Thanks in advance

Jordeane
[email protected]
 

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Get something that has an upright riding position, so your back doesn't get fatigued. Viragos are comfy, but beware the early ones, that had problems with the top ends wearing out (from Yamaha crossing the oil lines).

Any good in-line 4 cylincer Japanese bike will do fine, especially the ones with a big, overstuffed seat. For three grand your choices should be limitless.
 

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Just wondering, also, why you think you want a cruiser. Many of them, especially bikes with forward foot controls, have poor seating position and force your back into an improper curve. Also, Cruisers usually have short-travel rear suspension that will not be too hot at insulating you from road shocks.

Keep in mind that motorcycles MOVE. You'll be going through air at speed and you'll get pounded by pavement irregularities at speed. What may seem comfortable in a shop, when it isn't moving and you can put your feet on the floor, will not necessarily be comfortable under way. You need to look for dynamic comfort, not static comfort.

So, as Ms. Cuddy recommended, look for a standard that you can sit upright on (or even lean a bit forward.) You'll get a better fit and a more comfortable ride.
 

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JDG, depending on what part of your spine is giving you problems, you'll need to consider your posture whilst mounted on the bike.

Cruisers, especially those with forward controls, are really tough on the lower back because your riding position forces an unhealthy curve to the spine.

Race-replicas, or full-up sport bikes are tough on the middle back and neck, because your @ss may be higher than your head, which is very tiring for the back, and you are forced to crane your neck fully back to see down the road.

The most comfortable rides are those where you can change your position while riding, like most Standards will allow; or the slightly forward posture you get on the Sport-touring bikes.

Whatever bike you lust for (or your wallet allows), try to sit on it in the appropriate riding position for several minutes. Your back will let you know if the bike is a good choice.

Good luck!

EDIT - Apparently, Queen Frappe types faster than I do...
 

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My back is fine till I ride a cruiser, low seat hight and long legs dont mix. That feet up lounging position is sure comfortable until you add bumps and a 70mph head wind, then its just brutal on my lower back. Trying to fold up on a sportbike is almost as bad. Hence my only bike now is a ergonomically designed BMW with a slight forward lean riding position and all the bikes I currently lust after are either adventure bikes or SM's. There is definitely a new KTM in my future, but which one...

As for under $3k check out a used KLR 650 if your tall, pretty close to the same power as a mid /small cruiser and all the long travel suspsension you can handle for the street. Or maybe an old sportster if you can find one in that range thats not too low on the seat. Still like Pushrod states, its all depending on where your back is bad on what you should look for.
 

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Suggestions

I grew up on Yamahas. Don't trust 2nd gear. The gears are weak and tend to bend the dogs or rods. It's not something you'll notice at a putt-putt speed. They are only worth about $1500 tops. Never offer more. If you must choose a Yamaha choose the Maxim. The 4 cyl motor is much better.

Honda Shadow or Magna would be better bikes if you're sticking in the 80s. Kawasaki made a bike called the Eliminator in the 80s in 900 and 1000 cc form and in the 90s made a great 600.

There are probably factors that we are unaware of. Fact is, as much as I like Yamahas the Virago in the 80s was simply junk compaired to the competition. If you check out the early Suzuki Intruders you'll be happier. Hondas always make it to the top because it's easy to source parts. And the Kawasakis were just fast and fun- that's a qualifier for me.

Good luck on your search.
 

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Junk?

"Fact is, as much as I like Yamahas the Virago in the 80s was simply junk compaired to the competition."

I owned the first year of the Virago ('81 Black & Chrome). Put some straight pipes on it, got rid of the goody handlebars, and it was one of the nicest running/looking street bikes I ever rode.

That year Yamaha had some starter ring problems, they also reversed the oil lines on a few bikes, and it cooked some top ends. When I took mine to the Yamaha shop for a carb synch, (just traded an XL600 for it) they gave me a whole new top end, for free. Both cylinders. And a new starter ring too.

When you look at the early Viragos, with the silver mono-shock swingarm, and the leading axle forks, they look clean (exept for the stock bars & pipes, gag).
 

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I'll back up what everybody else is saying about back issues. I thought my back was fine until I rode my brother's Triumph Adventurer. The bolt upright seating posture shot every bump directly up mu lumbar region.

I much prefer the slightly forward posture of standard bikes. Or even sport bikes.

Remember this when buying an older bike. Bikes usually don't wear out, they die of negelect.

If prices in N. Idaho are like they are around here, it's buyin' time!
 

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If I were in your situation, I'd buy a used Ninja 500 (which has a standard riding position), and then sell it when I decided to buy a new bike. You could look for a Vulcan 500, which is the "cruiser" version of the Ninja 500, but it's not going to be as heavy a bike as an Aero or its equivalent. If you're buying used, you should be able to take test rides on any bike you like, so do that and just pick the one you like best.
 

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I was thinking the Ninja 500 would be perfect also. Cheap to buy, easy to ride, and easy to sell.
+1 on the Ninja 500 really it's almost the perfect all round motorcycle in my book. I had a 1991 put a tail trunk on it and it was a great bike!
nice I never had to worry about it either it was so cheap.

Unlike most bike with a standard riding position it has a bit of wind protection as well which might help you back. Keep in mind as you go faster say freeway speeds it's nice to have a position that has you leaning forward some to balance out the force of the wind. Leaning forward is harder on your arms and wrists in my opinion and doesn't seem to effect the back too much.

(EX500 has you leaning forward a bit)
 
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