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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello everyone, my name's Matt, i'm 29 from London, England. I've been riding scooters for a few years now, but have recently been bitten by the bug to move on to something a little more serious. My girlfriend has offered to pay for a five day Direct Access course so that i can get my full license. I'll be doing that next month. I can't wait. The freedom of riding really appeals to me, i just hope i don't get scraped off the road by a putty knife at some stage!

I've already started looking at bikes, but i'm a bit confused, because nothing seems to completely suit my requirements. I'm going to buy 2nd hand, in case i break it! Basically i want something that isn't so massive and cumbersome that i can't use it in London traffic easily. It's got to be able to perform well, but at the same time be comfortable enough to do some long-distance travelling as well. I have a dream to ride down to the south of France with my girlfriend on the back! Or just weekend trips to the seaside. I heard that really i need quite a powerful bike to tour with a pillion passenger comfortably - but i'm quite nervous about getting a very powerful bike too soon.

I quite like the look of cruisers, but are they any good at long-distance, are they a hassle to maintain, and do they handle like crap?!

The bikes i've been looking at so far are:

Ducati Monster 600/620
Suzuki gs500e
Suzuki Bandit 650
Honda CBF500 ABS
Triumph Thunderbird
Honda vt750c shadow

I'd very much appreciate all your expert advice to a fledgling biker. Thanks for your time, Matt.
 

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All those look like good choices to me - I'd say it's just a matter of personal taste/deal you can make in which you choose. The cruiser WILL have a bit less ground-clearance, and as such most will relegate that to the "handles like crap" class. But, if the cruiser is what pushes your buttons - goforit.

So far as the "touring" aspect: I've a friend that told me about his touring adventures all across the American Southwest with his wife on a "big" Yamaha 175 back in the '70s.(of course, he's 5'5", 140lb and his wife is barely 5' and weighs less than that)

It's all what you make it.

Take your time in choosing, sit on your "prospects" with your passenger, and take note of how much room you've left for baggage.

All your choices would easily allow myself a full-weeks solo-touring with virtually all my camping gear. Less-so with a pillion. Your situation may differ, of course.
 

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Aging Cafe` Racer
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You've made some reasonable choices there, I'd go with the Thunderbird..(Queen and Country you know..)or the CBF 500 Honda, though I I believe you mean 599 or Hornet or 650 Bandit. All good choices and most likely fairly cheap as there's loads of them around.

Good luck
 

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You have made good choices and any of them should suit your long term goals. As for a criuser- Triumph Speedmaster or America, Moto Guzzi Breva 750 or the new V7 would be my first choices since parts distribution should not be a problem for you. Suzuki makes a bike that they sell in the U.S. under the Boulevard M50 name. Really, this all depends on many factors: age, location and driving record may be issues. If you are looking at new bikes then I'd shop based on who'd give you the best comprehensive insurance deal- I read about several manufacturers buying your first year of comp coverage as part of the sales process. Yamaha just finished such a deal, I believe. If you are only complying with your standard liability laws (insurance wise), you will probably be fine with any bike you have chosen. If you need collision coverage, from the info I've read I would pick Carole Nash as the first company I'd call. They seem to have the best overall customer satisfaction.

BTW- Welcome to the forum and remember that most of these crusty old guys here have a sense of humor that you brits may find offensive- It's all in good fun.
 

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Yes they do seem to have their kid gloves on don't they.
Well, he DID do a bit of research into what he wants to ride, and those ARE good choices, and he HAS a bit of two-wheeled experience.

As opposed to the usual guy that comes in and goes WAH! WAH! I WANNA MOTEYCYCEE - SOMEBODY TELL ME WHAT TO GET THAT'S GOT MORE THAN 200HP 'CUZ I NEVER RODE ONE BEFORE BUT I KNOW WHAT I'M DOIN' AND YOU CAN'T TELL ME THAT I CAN'T HANDLE IT FO' SHIZZLE, YO!!!
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
600cc a must?

Many thanks, gentlemen, for you advice. Sorry for being so green around the gills... Do you reckon that i'm going to need over 600cc for comfortable touring with a pillion? I don't know if build has anything to do with it. I'm 6'1'' and weigh about 180 pounds. My lady is pretty small... Also, am i really going to regret having no fairings if i go for a naked bike?
 

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Do you reckon that i'm going to need over 600cc for comfortable touring with a pillion? I don't know if build has anything to do with it. I'm 6'1'' and weigh about 180 pounds. My lady is pretty small...
In a Word? No. I think you'll find the bikes you've named aren't going to be any "smaller" than something 600cc+. It's all a matter of physical space - not the size of the engine (once it has enough power to lug you around). The GOOD thing about buying from the used market is: if you don't like the bike for your needs - sell it for what you've paid for it, and buy another.

Also, am i really going to regret having no fairings if i go for a naked bike?
Depends on your definition of "fairings". If you mean "covered in plastic sportbike vs. a naked sportbike" - not really. There's SOME protection for the pilot. But, usually the pillion still suffers a bit. That even happens on larger "touring" bikes when they're designed more for aesthetics over functionality (but often, functionality is >/= UGLY).

Altogether, this comes-down to picking the bike that YOU want, that has enough power for YOU, that meets YOUR needs.

Nobody else can do that for you, and it's really harder than you might think. The best moto in the world is a compromise.
 

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Many thanks, gentlemen, for you advice. Sorry for being so green around the gills... Do you reckon that i'm going to need over 600cc for comfortable touring with a pillion? I don't know if build has anything to do with it. I'm 6'1'' and weigh about 180 pounds. My lady is pretty small... Also, am i really going to regret having no fairings if i go for a naked bike?
I use a National Cycle windshield on my naked bikes. They work pretty well and don't add the weight a fairing does. My wife and I have been riding all over the west US for over 30 years on naked bikes with shields.

If you are planning on touring the west US, Canada or Australia you might want a bike bigger than 650 for touring 2 up. I know several people who tour comfortably on the Wee-Strom 650 for example. Otherwise it's mainly overkill. Not that overkill is necessarily a bad thing, mind you. You might consider a BossHoss......
 

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600 cc is completely adequate for two-up touring. You'd be able to ride two-up with a 500 as well. The issue isn't so much engine size as it is the accommodations on the bike - the seat and seating position.

I have a 2004 Hornet (599) and ride without a fairing or screen of any sort. The way you deal with wind is by your position on the bike. If you have a naked bike, you can't sit straight up; you need to lean into the wind a bit. That not only keeps the wind from pushing you around, but it causes the wind to support your torso -- that is, it takes some of the weight off your arms so you can ride with less effort.
 

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You live in London, which my English friend tells me has weather just like Portland. In which case you're probably soggy while you were typing your post. Some kind of weather protection is pretty critical in the way of a windscreen you can get behind, whether it's aftermarket or not. That is if you plan to ride year 'round. I ride my Tuono in the rain, but not much. I ride my Concours and V-Strom daily in the rain.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
You live in London, which my English friend tells me has weather just like Portland. In which case you're probably soggy while you were typing your post. Some kind of weather protection is pretty critical in the way of a windscreen you can get behind, whether it's aftermarket or not.
You've got that right... the weather here is woeful. I can't wait for the roads around Monte Carlo this June!

Hey, does anyone here have any experience with a Suzuki SV650? I thought that perhaps a naked one with a small screen attached might serve my purposes.

I'd just like to thank you all for being so responsive. This is definitely the friendliest and most helpful biker forum, and I joined a few. They were weak.
 

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You've got that right... the weather here is woeful. I can't wait for the roads around Monte Carlo this June!

Hey, does anyone here have any experience with a Suzuki SV650? I thought that perhaps a naked one with a small screen attached might serve my purposes.

I'd just like to thank you all for being so responsive. This is definitely the friendliest and most helpful biker forum, and I joined a few. They were weak.
The SV650 would probably be the best all-arounder of the bunch you mentioned. It just plain works.
 

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You've got that right... the weather here is woeful. I can't wait for the roads around Monte Carlo this June!

Hey, does anyone here have any experience with a Suzuki SV650? I thought that perhaps a naked one with a small screen attached might serve my purposes.

I'd just like to thank you all for being so responsive. This is definitely the friendliest and most helpful biker forum, and I joined a few. They were weak.
SV650 is a great bike, but your pillion may not care for it.
Get an older Tiger. A bit goofy looking, especially with the stripes, but a solid bike that'll do it all.
Of course, I'm a bit biased toward the Bloorbikes...
 

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Yes, the SV650 is a good choice. You could also get a DL650 (V-Strom) if you want better pillion seating and a higher view of the road, though it looks a bit odd (as compared to SV650 standard bike).
 
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