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 Any Motorcyclists In The Room?

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Obi-Wan Knievel
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PostPosted: Mon May 12, 2008 7:18 am Reply with quoteBack to top

I would have used the word "bikers", but that might intone that I was interested in big hairy guys with lots of tattoos and Harleys! While I have no problem with those guys (or girls), this thread is geared to all motorcycle riders active and prospective.

I'm thinking of getting my motorbike licence and buying a little bike. Aside from the wickedly cool thing (Fonzie had a bike, Steve McQueen had a bike, Undertaker has a bike), current fuel costs are just too much for my SUV and I want to save as much fuel as I can. It's also a fun and, if done right, very safe and sensible way to travel.

I've been driving a car more than 20 years, but I've always put off getting a bike because I'm a coward. I've ridden 3 bikes in my life, but none of them very well. Does anybody have any tips or suggestions for a bike-newbie? All suggestions are welcome, regardless of experience as a rider.
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MyMyselfAndI
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PostPosted: Mon May 12, 2008 9:46 am Reply with quoteBack to top

I'll play the role of the devil's advocate here. Why not trade in your SUV for something smaller? Like a hybrid or any other car where you get say at least 35 mpg.

How much will it cost to get a bike license? I.e. how much gas would you be able to get for the cost of the bike license? How long will it take to break even? How much will it cost to buy the appropriate gear you need? Because you need a helmet, good gloves, boots and protective clothing (either in leather or goretex with a back protector) because it's insane to ride a bike without wearing the proper gear because any little fall or accident and it gets very nasty, very quickly...

If you do get a bike (and I haven't had a bike since I was a teenager) get something sensible and small. Have you checked insurance costs? Motorcycle insurance tends to be A LOT (and I do stress A LOT) more expensive than car insurance so keep that in mind too as that may cancel out any savings on gas (especially when comparing to buying a smaller car). I'd say don't get anything bigger than 500cc maximum. The smaller the better if you want good fuel economy and also 'cheaper' insurance.

Riding a bike is a lot of fun but I found it extremely expensive (compared to driving the old Volvo I had too) so have a good look at the actual costs involved. Motorcycles need servicing much more frequently than cars too as parts wear down quickly if you use it for your daily commute.

The bottom line: I would never get a bike to save money. I'd happily get one again because it's great fun!

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Rorschach
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PostPosted: Mon May 12, 2008 11:41 am Reply with quoteBack to top

^^^^ Hmm.

I use my bike for my daily commute, and during the day to get around from site to site. Its a Yamaha 600. The total annual mileage isn't huge at around 10,000 but it gets serviced once a year at a cost of around £100. If I could be bothered I could save a lot on that as things like changing the oil, plugs and filters are a piece of cake and brake pads not much more complicated.

Tips:

Regard every other road user as a potential homicidal maniac.

When approaching a junction where a car is waiting to pull out, keep an eye on their front wheel - its often easier to spot that starting to turn than to notice the car adging forward, owing to your rapidly changing point of view.

When travelling along outside slow moving or stationary traffic, be very aware of the possibility of a pedestrian or bike popping out into your path. If a gap in the line of traffic starts to open up, slow right down as it may be a sign that a car is going to pull out or do a U-turn.

Happy biking!

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chevyk10darlin
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PostPosted: Mon May 12, 2008 11:45 am Reply with quoteBack to top

hi Obi darlin! my dad just bought a 2004 honda 1100 with 4800 miles for $5000... but he still wants to take his truck to work everyday Confused .... i'm not a "motorcyclist".... i'm a truck fanatic Very Happy
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Sir Cumfrence
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PostPosted: Mon May 12, 2008 12:00 pm Reply with quoteBack to top

A great deal depends on your needs, expectations and budget as a motorcyclist. If you're rarely going to go beyond, say 20 kilometres a day in work commute mode then getting something small is ideal. If you actually enjoy riding then a bigger bike is the way to go.

In any case I would definitely advise against any bike with small wheels; be it the vesper type of motorcycle or whatever. Small wheels mean less traction and handling control in any kind of riding upset, from riding over a rock to avoiding the homicidal maniac coming straight at you.

Rorschach is absolutely right, when you're on a bike the ordinary everyday drivers turn into people who simply want to kill you so you must become an uber defensive road user.
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Harry Bawls
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PostPosted: Mon May 12, 2008 12:06 pm Reply with quoteBack to top

Rorschach wrote:
Tips:

Regard every other road user as a potential homicidal maniac.


That, in a nutshell is the single most important piece of advice you will receive. I've been riding a long time, and that is what I watch for most. You really have to ride like everyone else on the road is trying to run you down. The single most deadly thing to watch for is a car turning left in front of you. At intersections where I see a car stopped and waiting with it's left turn signal on, I slow down no matter the speed limit, and keep my brake pedal/lever covered.

You have to remember that if you are behind a car and the driver were to hold a pencil up to the rear view mirror, it would totally cover you up and the driver would not be able to see you. You need to do everything you can to be visible to other drivers.

Now that I've scared the crap out of you, enjoy your bike. I have had some of the best times of my life aboard a motorcycle.

MeMyselfandI wrote:
Riding a bike is a lot of fun but I found it extremely expensive


I don't know where you are, but in the States, that is not true at all. I have a 2006 Harley, and the insurance is quite reasonable, and the fuel and maintenance costs are minimal, although I do all my own service.
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PostPosted: Mon May 12, 2008 12:12 pm Reply with quoteBack to top

I biked for twenty years to work in Holland, about 60km single trip. It's cheaper and faster, but in bad weather I would have to take the car again, just to be safe.(and leave 30 minutes earlier) In town traveling, Vespa like things have a bit more storage, are shorter and better on gas. Out of town, something like 500-600 cc would do fine to commute. Take a defensive driving course and buy good clothing, helmet and three pairs of gloves, so you are always dry.

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MyMyselfAndI
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PostPosted: Mon May 12, 2008 12:46 pm Reply with quoteBack to top

Harry Bawls wrote:
I don't know where you are, but in the States, that is not true at all. I have a 2006 Harley, and the insurance is quite reasonable, and the fuel and maintenance costs are minimal, although I do all my own service.


I was in Sweden at the time and I've heard from friends that insurance there is still very pricey if you've got a nice ride (minimum $1,500 per year with maximum no claims).
I drove around 20,000 miles per year so I clocked up a lot of maintenance costs.

I guess like almost everything else it's much cheaper in the U.S. than in Europe. I still want to smack you guys when you claim that gas is expensive over there! Very Happy
We'd think we'd be day dreaming if we saw those low prices over here! Gas is £1.10 at my local Shell and that's per liter which roughly translates to... just below $8 per gallon.

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Obi-Wan Knievel
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PostPosted: Mon May 12, 2008 9:01 pm Reply with quoteBack to top

This is great folks! Thanks for all your input.

@MeMyself: The devil needs advocates, so it's fair game! I could never get a hybrid. Even if they were anywhere near being cool, they're prohibitavely expensive for a good one - thereby nullifying any savings. Hybrids are half the vehicle for twice the price. And bike insurance is what I do for a living, and it truly is a savings up here. Your advice aboot a small bike was, however, very well received. I'm looking for cheap, so I don't intend to go all badass-biker right away. Unless I'm mistaken, smaller bikes are generally what a new rider should learn on.

@Rorschach: Now THOSE are some good tips aboot the front wheel. If you don't mind, I'd like to steal that advice for my customers. I'll be sure to give you credit.

@Sir Cum: No small wheels... check! I wasn't looking at a scooter anyway. I don't think I'll be starting on a Harley, but I'll keep away from the itty-bitty wheels.

@Harry: Thanks for the warm wishes and dire warnings!


See, I've actually ridden 2 motorbikes in my life. One was a Yamaha 900cc crotch-rocket that I couldn't control and put down on its side (boy that was embarrassing), and the other was a Harley FXLR 1340cc that almost turned me gay while I was in the saddle. But now I need to figure out the cost of the training, proper gear (this might also be an excuse to wear badass leather pants), and how to explain all this to Mrs. Obi-Wan!
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Reprob8
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PostPosted: Mon May 12, 2008 9:58 pm Reply with quoteBack to top

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PostPosted: Mon May 12, 2008 11:46 pm Reply with quoteBack to top

I concur with everyone and yes, a smaller bike is best to learn on.
I've still got my honda cg 125. Although i'm now old enough to ride a bigger bike, i can't justify the cost of buying, running and maintaining one.

I'd quite like to build one of these though. LINK It would definitely save money on petrol.
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PostPosted: Mon May 12, 2008 11:59 pm Reply with quoteBack to top

i bought a used high millage bike (kawasaki 305) to learn on. gave $800 for it, and rode it into the ditch and up a tree a few times, droped it in the front yard (grass was wet) but after a while, i kinda got the hang of it. Then in a moment of weaknes on my wifes part i went and bought a brand new kawasaki vulcan,800 and we love it. insurance 150 bucks a year. fat tank and tires, and bright red. i don't ride in the rain, cause it freaking hurts, and i dont go to atlanta, not suicidal. but for round town, and country riding i love it. buy cheap to crash till you get the hang of it. even if it is ugly, cheap is better to crash than shiny chrome. and yes they are cool, love it when strange weomen hang out the window to get better look. Twisted Evil yea, I know: shame on me

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PostPosted: Tue May 13, 2008 2:58 am Reply with quoteBack to top

Bikes I saw Saturday..

I'd buy that far a dollar..

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Harry Bawls
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PostPosted: Tue May 13, 2008 11:05 am Reply with quoteBack to top

^^^Looks like someone is at Myrtle Beach?
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PostPosted: Tue May 13, 2008 11:34 am Reply with quoteBack to top

^^^
R8,

Is that a cardboard cut-out or is that Reverber8 standing behind you? Wink

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PostPosted: Tue May 13, 2008 7:50 pm Reply with quoteBack to top

One word: Motorcycle Safety Course


Get some skills, then start looking for your ride.

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PostPosted: Tue May 13, 2008 9:38 pm Reply with quoteBack to top

http://www.msf-usa.org/

Get to a safety course near you. It's good for an insurance discount too Very Happy . I ride 30-80 miles every day; often through rush hour type traffic in a very large city.

The risk of catastrophic injury is much greater on a motorcycle; however the risk of an accident in general is lessened on a motorcycle (*in my opinion, I donít know what the statistics are*).

I love my bike as a commuter. I'll consider a hybrid when I can find one that gets 70+ mpg and costs less then $3,000 until then bikes are the way to go for cheap transportation.

Consider a Honda CMX 250 or a Nighthawk for a first bike. They're very light and agile, cheap, easy to work on if you do your own maintenance (which I recommend), and plenty fast for commuting.

Donít try to set any land speed records and have fun!
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Obi-Wan Knievel
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PostPosted: Wed May 14, 2008 5:05 am Reply with quoteBack to top

Agreed with the above. A safety course is a must for any vehicle. And I'm far too old and cowardly to try any of that video-game crap in reality. Even when I was young, I realized that nobody ever got laid because they could drive fast!
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PostPosted: Wed May 14, 2008 5:25 am Reply with quoteBack to top

Obi-Wšn Knievel wrote:
I...nobody ever got laid because they could drive fast!

Well, thanks for crushing my dreams...

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PostPosted: Wed May 14, 2008 2:30 pm Reply with quoteBack to top

Please, nobody has ever thought you could get laid by driving fast. Rolling Eyes

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PostPosted: Wed May 14, 2008 3:39 pm Reply with quoteBack to top

If you're in the US, an MSF course is a good start.....
(But I have a relative who teaches them and knows squat about bikes...)

Wear a decent helmet! Screw the dumbasses that talk about 'rights' and 'freedom'. Even a minor tumble on the pavement can do some damage to your heard. In every little mishap I've had, I've always found some gouges or worse on my helmet afterward, but never realized my head hit the pavement. I've been riding since age 15, 38 years. Stuff will happen.

Wear appropriate clothing. Sandals, shorts, flip flops.....on a bike means you are guaranteed to get hurt in even a minor tumble.
Time lost from work......medical bills....etc.
Even bad 'road rash' can lay you up a bit, and at least makes your life miserable for a while.

Whatever you decide to buy for a commuter bike, you'll need to check a few things.

The price of tires! Keep away from 'sporty' bikes. My rice rocket goes through a $350 set of tires in 5000 miles. Before the gas went up, it cost more per mile in tires to operate than it did gas.


The bike I use to flog around town on errands and sometimes to ride to work is a 650cc 'dual sport', single cylinder. It's cheap to run, tires are cheap and if I'm motivated, can mount them myself. Gas MPG is good 40-60's. It looks a bit macho, without having to go the 'butt pirate' route those 'real' bikers travel., Very Happy it's highly functional, and when traffic is backed up....you can use the shoulders of the road to sneak by.

So....a 250cc or so dual sport type (4 stroke) would be a good city commuter, unless you need to spend extended time on fast, busy highways.

Anything larger than you will kill you. To be happy and survive commuting on a bike, you need to pick alternative routes......less traffic, less 'stupid' traffic, and maybe avoiding peak traffic times.


All told, excluding parking fees, you may be cheaper with an econobox that gets 30-40 mpg.

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K[o]
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PostPosted: Thu May 15, 2008 11:28 pm Reply with quoteBack to top

I would agree with the other posters that a motorcycle safety course is the way to go. The ones around here are $200 and can be done in one weekend. Not to mention with this is completed you will also get to waive the riding portion of your license test at the dmv, save money on insurance, and most of the big bike manufacturers out there will have some sort of reimbusement program. For instance Honda Riders Club of America will give you back $100 dollars of it if you buy a new Honda.

When I sold motorcycles here I would advise all new riders to take the safety course and get their license first. Then test ride a few bikes to see what they were after. I personally ride a sport bike but many others feel more comfortable on a cruiser or a touring bike.

If you are going with a cruiser I would not go bigger than a 1300cc V-twin for your first bike as anything more is going to be very heavy and needs more experience to maneuver around. Honda makes a VTX1300C which I mostly sold to new riders and got nothing but very positive feed-back. Some people also go too small and realize later they cannot go on long highway rides without constantly fueling up or doing more than 70 MPH without it sounding like their engine will explode. Not to mention they soon get used to the bike and quickly outgrow it wanting more power. 4 out of 5 people I sold 750's too would return them within the year for a bigger bike and lose their ass on finanacing.

If you are thinking of a crotch-rocket stay with a 600cc as anything bigger is just a ridiculous amount of power to be in anyones hands let alone a beginner. Even if I drive like a nut on an open stretch of highway I will never use my 600 to all of its potential.

Again also you can get a sport/tourer that is a sporty looking bike which has a more straight up seating position and isnt so twitchy on the power like a race bike is. You could look at a Honda VFR800 Interceptor and see what you think. Its the best of both worlds really.

Hope this will help you out, I'm just giving you advice drawn from feedback given to me by my customers that were in your same situation.
Only other thing to say is WEAR A HELMET! Also dont cheap out on one. Only buy a $50 helmet if thats what your head is worth to you.

Let us know what you get Very Happy

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Harry Bawls
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PostPosted: Fri May 16, 2008 12:50 am Reply with quoteBack to top

^^^ The preceding post was brought to you by American Honda Inc. Laughing Laughing

P.S. I agree with the helmet part.
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PostPosted: Fri May 16, 2008 4:51 am Reply with quoteBack to top

rootuser wrote:
123456 wrote:
I...nobody ever got laid because they could drive fast!

Well, thanks for crushing my dreams...


I've heard that "chicks dig scars"... Shocked

Laughing

Re: K[o] I must be a real over achiever. My first bike was a Suzuki GT250. My second was a Suzuki GT 750 (both two stroke and quick). My third bike (after about 25 years off) is a 1507cc V twin (Victory). For me it was like riding a bike, some things one never forgets... Wink


Edited to reflect the change in a user's name.

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Last edited by ParaNoid on Sun May 18, 2008 2:22 am; edited 1 time in total
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PostPosted: Sat May 17, 2008 5:32 pm Reply with quoteBack to top

I'm trying to get my Suzuki 125 commuter machine back on the road. Unfortunately, it's been stuck in the garage since October. The battery's flat & I think the petrol in the tank's 'gone off'. Sad

Hopefully it just needs a bit of a tweak to get it going again. I've been using the car through winter - 24mpg & £5 per day parking against 100mpg & £1 per day for the bike.

On the other hand my daughter's expressed an interest in bike training - I might just let her have it if I can't talk her out of it.

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