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I consider myself a new rider despite having grown up on dirt bikes. I am 24 and my ultimate goal is to take an extended bike and camping trip from Mexico on up the coast to Washington with someone on the back of a bike. I would like to do this in five or six months. My second goal is to learn to the mechanics of motorcycle maintenance and repair. I am lucky in that I have the opportunity to ride and work on these goals at least five days out of each week for three to four hours a day. I am very good at research and quite methodical in my learning practices.

Now that I have outlined my situation I would like to ask some questions:

1. What books should I start with to begin learning motorcycle mechanics, aside from a manual for whatever bike I am working on?

2. I have been riding an SV650 on and off for the past three years, although it is not my bike and it has not been at regular intervals or long distances. Should I spend more time on the SV650 or should I acquire the bike that I plan to ride up the coast? Or is there another option? I do feel comfortable in heavy traffic and on windy roads, but the SV650 seems to be a forgiving bike.

3. What bikes should I research and test ride if I plan to take a long distance trip with two people and scant luggage on the bike? How and when do you practice riding with someone behind you?

4. What gear would be best to pack for a multi-day ride?

5. Please alert me to anywhere I might be doing something poorly or not thinking something through.

Thanks!
 

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1- Pick up Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. Don't know if you'll learn about wrenching but every rider should read it.

2- Keep riding the SV. Technically, you'll never out grow it. They make great club racing bikes.

3- refer to 2 or buy a DL650 (the SVs ugly duckling sister)- awsome bike.

4- gear is subjective. some won't ride without leather. I like textile stuff because it's useful in most riding conditions including rain.

5- no alerts.

Buy the motorcycle manual for your bike. If you have any mechanical aptitude you'll be fine. If you're a mechanical moron (Not to be confused with MOron- our members) just sign up for some technical school classes.
 

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Hi all.
I am new with bikes too. I want to buy a bike, but I have been reading and reading before take a decision..

Some people and forum tell me about to get maybe a gs 500, ninga 250 , 500 or something like that to begin..

I dont want to be running like crazy or to have "the most big bike".. NOT, I only want a bike, sport bike to learn and I can maneuver in case of emergency.. have some fun..and maybe run it in a track day.. :D

But I like the sv650.. some people say it could be a good one to begin and other people say not and other say it depends of myself... if I will be running without learn first and get confident better get a gs500, ninga 250 or 500.. I like naked bikes.. I think it can be easier to maneuver...

Today I read that yamaha fzr or faser 600 could be a good one to being, is this true?

Another option that I like too is the DRZ400SM ... what about this? is secure to ride in the street?

I live in Miami, and I want a bike that react fast in case or emergency and maneuver?

And the first thing I would to is the MSF!!

Sorry for all I wrote, so much questions and doubts as the newbie I am hahahah..

thanks
 

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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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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.
Have you seen the Suzuki TU250 yet? It is a new bike (new to the US) and it has fuel injection and modern electronics. But it also has the styling of the older UJMs (universal Japanese motorcycles). Check it out on the Suzuki website. Another similar option is the Nighthawk 250.

If you can find a low mileage older model CB, that would be a decent starter bike. Keep looking. Something will come up.
 

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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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Joshua, another newbie here, I get my license in 3 weeks and I bought my first bike about a week ago (it's sitting at the dealer for 2 more weeks, then he'll deliver it so I'm ready to go once I'm done with the Rider's Edge/MSF course).

I'm with you on not being into the sport bike style. I'm a high school teacher, and my students love them, and I did at their age too, but as a 290LB (soon to be) 40 year old I think I'd look silly on something like that (plus I just love the relaxed look of the cruisers and the, well, standard look of the old fashioned standards). Heck, even most of the current standards look to me a lot like the sport bikes (see the Suzuki Gladius or SV650).

On this and other forums many people strongly suggest dual purpose bikes for first-timers, but you will probably find them too big. I'm almost 6' tall, but I have a short inseam (30") and I found them too tall. If you can find one that fits it may be worthwhile.

You like the UJM, how about other older style standards? It may be over your limit, but the Triumph Bonneville is a great looking bike (I don't know what it goes for used). It is a 650cc, but one of the main complaints is that it is a bit underpowered, and one of the things I often see praised is the smooth delivery of power and forgiving clutch- all features that might make it a good bike for us beginners.

The Suzuki TU250 has already been mentioned. Read up on it, every review I've seen has been absolutely glowing- other than the Ninja 250 it sounds like the best overall 250 out there in addition to having a cool (and today, unusual) design. Just enough power for short trips on the highway, fun, but easy to ride for us beginners, good price (under $4K new), 80-90MPG, and it is different. Had it been available locally (the closest dealer that seemed to have one in stock was nearly 100 miles away) I probably would have bought it instead of my Suzuki C50. Once my car is paid off I may buy one as a second motorcycle for around town when my main motorcycle's 50MPG just isn't good enough.

Your reason for ruling out Harley seems to be outdated. I thought they were less reliable myself, until I started researching bikes. It sounds like they are about equal with the other big brands, and they may be easier to work on if you are mechanically inclined and want to do your own work. Most of the Sportsters (other than the Custom) have controls almost directly below the seating like a standard, not the feet forward of most cruisers. The 883cc of the Sportster may sound like too much as a beginner, but from most of what I read they are very underpowered for the size and the power delivery is very smooth and forgiving so it may not be too bad (and they are easy to add performance mods later when you are ready for more power). The biggest criticism I've seen of it for new riders is that it is top heavy, making it more likely to be dropped.

I really like your new option, the Vulcan 500. I came incredibly close to buying one (the best of the used bikes I looked at was one, and I thought about buying one new as well). They are nice bikes, and everything I read about them make them sound like nearly a perfect first time bike, if you want a cruiser style. Since you seem to prefer standards you do want to be sure you like the feet forward stance of a cruiser first, but if you do, this bike has been made for a long time so you should be able to find a good example whatever your price range.

Why is not buying a Honda "heartbreaking?" If you are that brand loyal, why not a Honda Shadow 750 or 600 (since you are willing to try a cruiser anyway in the Vulcan)? On many forums, both are put forth as good beginners bikes. The 750 is supposed to be pretty beginner friendly despite the 750cc, apparently a very easy bike to ride. The 600 is a bit less popular due to its 4 speed transmission, but can be found used for pretty reasonable prices. Also, how about a 1980's Honda UJM, a bit newer than the '70s versions, and some are supposed to be nearly indestructible?
 

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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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Jofaba: I'm not sure if this'll help, but I might be able to clarify something.

When a motorcycle is described as being a standard, what it really means is the seating position: not really leaned forward like a sport bike, but not laid-back with feet forward like a cruiser. Your feet are kind of underneath you, and your back is more vertical or maybe slightly angled forward.

With the car comparison, it kind of sounds like you're describing a manual transmission (clutch lever and gear shifting). Almost all motorcycles have a manual transmission whether they're sport, standard, cruiser, etc. Just thought I should put that out in the open. :)

And yeah, I really had to look into the Ninja for it to grow on me, but in the end I came to the conclusion that they're awesome first bikes and I would've really enjoyed one. Very few people will not recommend them as starter bikes. Even then it's with the "you'll outgrow it too quickly" or "but you won't have power to get out of anyone's way" arguments. Both arguments hinge on the fact that the Ninja (250) doesn't have gobs of power. That also happens to mean that when you F up, there's less of a chance it'll be so bad that someone gets really hurt. In other words, it's forgiving. Like a starter bike should be.

Now grab some hot cocoa and pull up a chair. It's story time.
I started out as a definite cruiser guy, was impressed with the standard style during the MSF course, and somehow ended up on a Suzuki GS500F. My point is that there are many good first bikes of various styles, and it was helpful that I kept my options open and found a good deal on something I'll really learn on. It can be nice to narrow your choices so you know what to look for, but don't miss out on broadening your horizons. This'll kind of be like a no-strings-attached affair for the GS and I. We'll eventually say our sweet good-byes and keep each other in our hearts. Maybe I'll become more of a sport bike guy, or maybe I'll find a standard or cruiser next. The nice thing is that I'll learn, have a great time, and I'll have a better appreciation for this style of bike and the fellow two-wheelers I see on the road.

Honestly, though, I'm really curious what you mean by the sport bike culture. You mentioned it twice, but didn't go into any detail. Help us help you! Do you like the bikes?
My knowledge is minimal (being a newbie myself), but feel free to pm me what you mean. You're basically anonymous and I'm very difficult to offend. I might not be able to help much if it has to do with orientals, hispanics, blacks, teenagers, ********, college kids, racers, drug dealers, tollbooth operators, stuntaz, thieves, or any other scum. I haven't learned to tolerate everyone. :wink:
 

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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, just look at youtube, and you'll see you're right about the douchebaggery...part of the time. I have no idea of the percentage, but not everyone's like that. Just like not all Harley owners look down on metric bikes and crotch rockets.
So, the next question is: Why does the douchebaggery bother you? If it's that those types of people will challenge you, just ignore them. People are people, and the d-bags simply manifest their nature differently on different motorcycles. The solution's kind of the same: ignorance. Er...you know what I mean.

If it's that people will think you're a d-bag based on appearance, you're limited to either controlling your own self image or picking a different bike with similar characteristics. What I mean is that there aren't any James Bond disguise kits for Ninjas, so people are gonna know what it is. You can:
1. deal with it, telling yourself that you are the exception (and will probably meet a lot of other cool exceptions just like you).
2. get a pre-'08 model which doesn't look as ultrasporty. When I considered this, my only extra consideration was changing the front suspension spring thingy (forget the name). That's kind of the only thing that wasn't "perfect" about those bikes, from what I can tell.
3. find another, but kind of similar bike. I can't help here, because the only other similar bikes I can think of look kind of...you guessed it: similar. Maybe someone else'll chime in.
 

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Well, just look at youtube, and you'll see you're right about the douchebaggery...part of the time. I have no idea of the percentage, but not everyone's like that. Just like not all Harley owners look down on metric bikes and crotch rockets.
So, the next question is: Why does the douchebaggery bother you? If it's that those types of people will challenge you, just ignore them. People are people, and the d-bags simply manifest their nature differently on different motorcycles. The solution's kind of the same: ignorance. Er...you know what I mean.

If it's that people will think you're a d-bag based on appearance, you're limited to either controlling your own self image or picking a different bike with similar characteristics. What I mean is that there aren't any James Bond disguise kits for Ninjas, so people are gonna know what it is. You can:
1. deal with it, telling yourself that you are the exception (and will probably meet a lot of other cool exceptions just like you).
2. get a pre-'08 model which doesn't look as ultrasporty. When I considered this, my only extra consideration was changing the front suspension spring thingy (forget the name). That's kind of the only thing that wasn't "perfect" about those bikes, from what I can tell.
3. find another, but kind of similar bike. I can't help here, because the only other similar bikes I can think of look kind of...you guessed it: similar. Maybe someone else'll chime in.
Excellent advice, Sartorius! Said another way: People will percieve you, Jofaba, for how you ride.
 

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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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There are stereotypes everywhere and the bottom line is be yourself & dont feel like you have to fit the mold of whatever you think it is people expect of you.
I was in my early 20's on my first real cruiser and knew no one who had one. Everyone I knew had dual spots or supersports, and I rode with them all on & off but wasnt into trail riding on a vulcan 800, or weaving traffic at 100+ MPH.
I liked cruising, and thats what I did. Even after I found a small group (club) of cruiser owners (through a co-worker who invited me to a few of their events), they didnt like my "jap bike", and had N.S.B. (no stock bikes) and other opinions, and would rather spend 6 hours hitting 5 beer joints then actually riding, so I diddn't fit in with them either. Now I'm in a nice club who I do feel like I fit well into, but still do the majority of my riding alone, or just with a passenger. Having a motorcycle isnt a status symbol or a social event for me, it's something I enjoy, so I do it. I don't have pins & patches on my gear, helmet stickers, or flags on my bike, nothing wrong with that but to me thats status, or attention seking, sure it makes for good conversation, and most in my club are pretty decorated people, but it's just not my thing.
I know I got off track here but do what & ride what your gut tells you, you arent doing this for anyone else. It's your money, your time & your life & limb on the line so you make the calls.
 

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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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Excellent advice, Sartorius! Said another way: People will percieve you, Jofaba, for how you ride.
Thanks! It's all a reflection of what I've already learned from this forum, and I'm just payin' it forward. Being immortalized in a sticky is merely a bonus. :cool:

I can't wait to see people say "You want me to read all 50 pages of that thing?!"

Jofaba, all nice picks. I'd love to ride a TU250 some day.
 

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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.
All good choices. From what I read, the Shadow, whether a 1980's 500, a newer 600 or a 750, is a great starter bike. They are supposed to be easy to learn on. The S40 of course is a great starter, I just didn't really consider them because they were a bit small for me (and I liked the Vulcan 500 better- but that's me). The TU250 is a great choice. You may wish for more power sooner than the others, but from all I read it is a lot of fun, and it may be cheap enough to consider keeping as a high MPG but fun choice even after you "replace" it with something bigger. If a dealer around here had one I probably would have bought that instead of my C50, and I'll probably buy one eventually anyway. Given your choices, if it was me, I'd probably pick that TU250 if anyone around you had it, and if not, I'd probably go with the Shadow (if it is the 1980s 500 or the current 750, I'd probably go with the S40 over the Shadow 600).
 
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