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Hey all, I plan on reading this whole thread (or as much as I can) throughout the evening, but figured I'd put my feelers out there for some initial conversation.

First off, hi! I'm Joshua. I've never ridden a motorcycle, but I have ridden my Honda Ruckus for the past year, including this past entire Maine winter. That said, I realize the motorcycle experience is entirely different.

So, I like traditional bikes, not sport bikes (they look fun they're just not my preference), and based on brand recognition, budget, aesthetics and rating I seem to have fallen in love with the 70's era Honda CB350. I got that from reviewing available eBay bikes and 90% of pictures that I wanted to find out more about the bikes, turned out to be Honda's from the 70s.

My problem is that I'm around 5'4". I've spent two weekends googling short riders and most people suggest either expensive ($4k+) options such as Ducati (which I love but can't afford), Harley's (I'm not bike savvy and worry about maintenance), or the default affordable "first bike" suggestion; Kawasaki 250 Ninja.

I'm an open person, and while the Ninja isn't the style I prefer, I decided to give it some research because I'd be treating it as my entrance bike. The positives is that it is a quality bike and highly rated. It's highly affordable and it is a very nice looking bike. The bad is that just like Harley's have a culture, so do sport bikes. And this isn't meant to be offensive to any sportbike enthusiasts here, but I don't really fit into that culture. I won't elaborate because I think I'd offend, but while the bike looks fun to ride, and while I'm still open to it, I'd rather get a more traditional bike.

I hope to make my decision and purchase my first motorcycle within the next 6-12 weeks. I have zero funds currently but have a nack for finding the funds when I need them (not illegally).

All help is highly appreciated and I apologize for such a long first post but I am a writer and find it hard to cut to the chase sometimes!

- Joshua
 

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Yeah I saw the TU250 earlier today, and while reading this thread got introduced to the Vulcan 500 which is pretty enticing. It is pretty obvious that I need to abandon, at least for my first bike, the Honda brand. A bit heartbreaking but livable.

Absolutely the style I'm looking for though, thanks!
 

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Thanks for your response!

I want to try and stick under 500cc for my first bike. I'm not necessarily pro-standard, as I can't even drive a standard car, but most motorcycles are standard so I may as well just learn it so I don't end up limiting myself.

In Harley's, it's more cost than repair that keeps me at bay. I'm sure the newer Harley's are more friendly to your casual riders. Some look fantastic, but to be honest the ones that really excite me show a price tag of over 10k and I'd get a Honda Fury before I dropped that kind of cash on a new Harley. And buying used is a gamble so there's just a few brands I'd feel comfortable saying "10k miles? who cares?!?"

What truly sucks is that now that I'm in the market for a mc every day on my scooter is very frustrating. I mean I'll probably keep this bike for the winter, and store my mc, but when I have to pull over to let a pack of mc's pass me it's very disheartening.

If it will make me a better rider and be easier to break into it, and allow me to get into my dream bike faster, I do not rule out learning on a 250 Ninja.

I know I sort of hated on the Ninja on my first post but the more I talk to people the more I am trying to open my mind. My dad immediately balked at it because our tastes are similar, but then he also said if everyone I talk to is recommending it as a first time bike then maybe I should pay attention to that and not put a wall up.

It's possible that I am prejudice against the culture of the bike. As I said I like the bike although I prefer traditional. But if I had to go with a new low price bike that was respected for quality, then you simply can't ignore that bike.
 

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I actually didn't know that about the standard thing. I figured when I saw the word "standard" that meant shifting, but since most bikes I've looked at require shifting I've assigned myself to requiring that talent.

To be honest, I've really grown onto the Ninja tonight. After really extensive research I'm starting to think it's my best starter bike. Previously I've said I hate "rice rockets" but it looks like a very fun bike to ride and it's so heavily recommended.

I'll do myself a disfavor here and explain my prejudice on the bike:

I mainly dislike the sportsbike because I subconsciously associate it with douchebags. Your standard "ill never die" college boy with no helmet and challenges any non sports bike at every stop light for speed and greed. I have a preconceived notion of bad attitude and intent. I am probably wrong.
 

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Well it's more that I don't those particular riders to think we're automatically going to be buddies, but I realize it's kind of an immature prejudice and mindset. Like I said, I'm trying to open my mind up about it and give it some thought. I very well may get on one and be in love.
 

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Bravo!

Yeah I know exactly what I want but I'm not sure I can have it, at least not yet. Although a guy at work told me today that his friend is about my height had has the cb350 which gives me a little hope. Maybe if his friend's close he could hook me up with a visit so I can sit and decide. Until then it's a search for an alternative. Who knows, may even find something better! Thanks for the great posts everyone. You sure make a guy feel welcomed.
 

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currently dancing between the Suzuki Boulevard S40 and Honda Shadow; leaning towards the Suzuki. A bit more engine that I want (in both bikes) but they just keep popping up.

Under alternative is the Suzuki Tu250, which is a thousand dollars less, and less than half the power of the S40.
 

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Almost entirely sold on the TU250. Going to try and check one out in person this weekend. Going to try and schedule a riders class for asap. Very excited about getting started!
 

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Good luck. Are you going to the bank? Not a bad idea, but don't lock yourself in. Suzuki has some nice financing incentives right now, if your credit is good you can get an incredible rate.
My credit sucks balls. When I was trying to get my Honda Ruckus I tried every avenue. I ultimately ended up having this credit union give me a loan and it had damn good rates. I got 1,500 towards a 2,500 bike. When I called them Saturday they made it seem like my perfect history with them this past year plus non of my info (pay,job, etc) changing meant I was a shoe-in for a great loan. I'm hoping I get a $2k loan as it's really all I need, and it'd be incredibly helpful.

Honda wouldn't touch me. I know that doesn't mean Suzuki wouldn't either, but since I have an established history with this CU, I think I'll get the best deal there. Thanks for the advice though!
 

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I got approved for financing! Means I just need to take the MSF course and come up with around $2,300 (includes all taxes, fees, msf course, insurance, etc). Should be in the seat and on the road in the next 6-8 weeks!
 

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Things are moving fast. Instead of shooting for my endorsement right out the door, I'm going to get my learner's permit and learn on my own terms on the service road connected to my parking lot. So that means I need around a thousand less to get started. =)

I will definitely share my experiences. Also will do a written and video review. Literally my only worry is the seat hight. But I think I'm over thinking it.

As things stand, the plan is I'll have this bike sitting in my parking lot in less than 25 days. I may need to sell a few things that I'd rather not sell in order to make that happen, but it'll be worth it in the long run.
 

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Okay, so for anyone who cares, here's what my experience with Suzuki has been thus far:

I call the main number. It says push whatever for motorcycles. I push it. It gives a telephone number to call, it repeats it twice, it does not say the same number twice. The middle three numbers go from like 868 to 686 in it's repeat.

I figure I was wrong, I call the second number. They say they get calls for Suzuki all the time. Not them. I call the first number. It doesn't exist. I recall the main number, and they say they know about the number problem. I ask what the right number is, they say there isn't one. They give me a number and I call it. No salesmen, just a lone mechanic. He says call frank and gives me yet another number. I call it. Ron answers. Ron talks to me like he's aggrivated that he has to even answer the phone. He ultimately says he can get me to sit on the bike for $500 non-refundable. I call him back and he says he can transfer that deposit to another bike if I don't like the TU250.

Local Suzuki doesn't even have the cruiser I'd be settling on so **** Suzuki.

I sat on the Yamaha Cruiser and it fit like a glove. And turns out someone is selling one locally, half the price, 2006 model, under 900 miles, and they're 2.5 miles from my parents. I'm going to go check it out tomorrow and may own it next week.
 

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They'd have to order it so it's really more of a "non-refundable deposit". So It'd be a gamble. If it fit, great, if not, I'm out $500 or have to buy some other Suzuki. And let's say they didn't have the cruiser 250 in stock. There's no other Suzuki I'm interested in. And if I have to choose a cruiser, the Suzuki isn't my first pick.
 

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I should give some details: This is a 2006 Yamaha Virago 250 with under 900 miles.

And I got this well cared for bike for $2,100. Yep, $2,100.

I'm not sure you can beat that.
 

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Okay. Did some riding for the first time today. It's a nearly traffic free stretch of service road. I'm very lucky to have it branch just off my parking lot.

So, here's my current main problems (and I wouldn't yet dare venture into active traffic yet):

1. Starting to move. Yes, still having a real problem with the transition from neutral to first gear. I either give too much gas too soon, or stall before I even have a chance to give it gas. I feel like getting it right is almost by luck. I know it isn't, it just feels that way when it happens.

2. As soon as the bike is moving, first gear feels too low. It immediately wants to be in second gear to sound and feel right, and as soon as you get into second and give it some gas, it wants to be in third. I know 250s are geared low, and I know the bike works perfectly because I had an experienced rider ride it up to fifth and back down.

Note: 3rd, 4th and 5th upshifting feels natural, controllable, and fun!

3. Downshifting. None of it feels natural at all. I downshift when it feels sort of natural and the bike lurches. At no point does downshifting to first feel natural, even when just creeping along.

Q: Does downshifting too early hurt the bike?

4. Coming to a complete start, keeping the engine running, and then taking off again almost seems impossible right now. I know it will come.

I almost dumped it once to my utter astonishment. I stalled coming out of a stop sign practice turning left. I think that I was in a higher gear than I realized, and there was no gunning or luching, but there was enough weight and momentum to make the bike suddenly want to tip left. I was able to tip slowly and touch the foot peg and bring it back up.

I'm starting to feel really guilty being this inexperienced with such a nice bike. I pray I don't ruin the transmission... or stall at too high a speed and dump it. I never realized how dangerous stalling could be.
 

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As long as I'm using the clutch for my shifting, is there any immediate danger that I pose to my bike while learning through these mishaps? I mean can it take a little abuse during my first few days?

Q: Do you generally find yourself dropping back down into first all all during a ride? What's the highest gear you'd recommend being at a stop light at? I don't mean for quick take offs; I mean what would you downshift to as you approach a stop light?
 
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