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Thread: What's a Good Starter Bike?

  1. #46
    Registered User lkchris's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ClassicVW View Post
    How do you know what she can handle before she even begins to ride?
    Well, you can observe whether she's a total spaz or a smooth athlete. You've an idea of her strength. Can she ski? (I think skiing is a pretty close analogy)

    You can also tell, frankly, whether she drives a car well. Often distracted or on top of it?

    Just as I wouldn't force a daughter into a microcar as a first car (what's safe about that?) I wouldn't by rote assume the smaller the better for a motorcycle. Women spend a lot of their lives being assailed by men as to their incompetence and this is yet another place not to do that.

    I recall setting up camp in the Jackson Hole KOA on the way to Missoula 1984. It was raining and our group had come through major WY road construction where it seemed they'd taken the old road down to bedrock. It was a fun challenge to say the least on my R100RS. Another group of bikers at the campground contained a young woman who had her "maximum bitch" going. She was on some sort of KAW 250 chopper-look bike. Of course she was po'd--she was on probably the worst bike ever for going somewhere. On a comfortable BMW instead--maybe not so much I've always thought since.

    Starting them out on crap is the wrong approach IMHO. Don't think "paying your dues" sells to their crowd.
    Kent Christensen
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  2. #47
    Minnesota Nice! braddog's Avatar
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    I watched for an hour or so when my wife and daughter were doing the riding portion of the MSF. My wife, in her early 40's at the time, had no problems at all using her twist-and-go 125 Vino. My youngest daughter, then 17 or 18, picked up on shifting and riding right away. There was at least one, if not more, that had to completely drop out of the class. I watched one lady who could not ride a Suzuki GZ250, a Honda Rebel look alike. She just couldn't do it. She dropped out about halfway through the first day of the outside riding portion of the course.

    When speaking of family members, unless you've trained them on offroad motorcycles or ATV's, or let them ride your own motorcycle, you really don't know what they can or cannot handle. Finding something a little less powerful and lighter is certainly hedging your bets some. Could it end up costing more? Absolutely, but then the end result could be that the person in question is a better rider for it.
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    Brad D. - Member #105766
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  3. #48
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    Kent,
    Jeez, hold on a minute. Now you're veering off. Nobody said anything about starting on crap, nobody's assailing women or calling them incompetent.

    EVERYONE benefits from starting smaller and lighter. Do you think an INDY car or NASCAR driver started with their present rides? No, they started on go-karts and worked their way up. And these are strong people both mentally and physically and definitely not spazzes.

    As a teen, I rode very light stuff off road. And yes, I even crashed hard once. Even so, when I started to ride on the street, I started on a Honda twin, a 360. I was a 135lb 19 year old. A few years ago I was a 200lb motorcycle cop on a Harley. Does anyone think it would have been a good idea for me to start out on that heavy Harley bagger as an inexperienced 19 yr old? I don't think it would have been fair to me or the Harley.

    A female friend and co-worker of mine just took the MSF beginner course about a month ago. While they were riding, being watched by the instructor, another student suddenly lost control, veered in front of my friend and went down. My friend was able to avoid hitting her, but she lost control too. She says she remembers being on her back looking up at the sky with her bike falling on top of her. She injured her arm, knee, and the bike broke two ribs. To everyone's amazement, she showed up the next day for their test and passed everything without a hitch. I would guess she's glad a 250 fell on her and not a 1600 something.

  4. #49
    Registered User miairhead's Avatar
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    Oil, Tires and Starter bike

    Oil, Tires, and it seems starter bikes bring out the opinions. Agree to disagree?
    Opinions are like ____________ well you know, everyone has one.
    There are many good starter bikes, and must believe a 500+ machine in NOT a good choice, but who to say what is right for someone.
    Tom
    '84 R100RT '04 CLC(gone) Honda NT700V
    BMW
    Beer Motorcycles Women

  5. #50
    Unfunded content provider tommcgee's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ClassicVW View Post
    Does anyone think it would have been a good idea for me to start out on that heavy Harley bagger as an inexperienced 19 yr old? I don't think it would have been fair to me or the Harley.
    If you don't think it was right for you, you're right, though extending that thinking to others and their capabilities is the source of my disagreement. I did start on a big bike at 18 or 19, no regrets then or now.
    Salty Fog Rally 2007, 2009, 2011, 2012, AND LOOKING FORWARD TO 2014!

    -Tom (KA1TOX)

  6. #51
    Rpbump USN RET CPO Rpbump's Avatar
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    Cool

    When I started riding in 1968 my first bike was a 305 Honda Dream. Compared to a modern 250cc bike it is a dinosauer. Big bikes back then were 500cc's or more with poor brakes compared to what we have now. The Rebel, Virago, or Ninja are great bikes to learn on and get great gas mileage to boot. You may be able to flat foot a Harley but a large displacement bike over 700lbs is hardly suitable for a beginner. Just my 2 cents. RIDE SAFE
    Cave Contents: 1980 R100RT/Ural Sidecar, 2004 R1200CLC, 2006 HD FSXTI
    Ride Safe

  7. #52
    Cowboyatheart
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    Anyone familiar with the retro looking new Suzuki 250 TU?

    I.e. I mean have you ridden it, and If so what do you think?
    Neil
    Want to be happy for a day? Drink. Want to be happy for a year? Get married. Want to be happy for life? Ride a BMW!
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  8. #53
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    Quote Originally Posted by tommcgee View Post
    Brand loyalty mystifies me. I like certain bikes and the manufacturer doesn't matter at all. I know that's anathema to many around here, but I'll take the common ground that does exist.
    I basically like all bikes. But I must say, BMW does make quite a variety of road bikes, especially for such a small manufacturer. And, they tend to be built, and perform well and comfortably, for people who like to run the snot out of their machines. Which I think is a good thing to bear in mind when shopping.

  9. #54
    Old man in the mountains osbornk's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jforgo View Post
    I basically like all bikes. But I must say, BMW does make quite a variety of road bikes, especially for such a small manufacturer. And, they tend to be built, and perform well and comfortably, for people who like to run the snot out of their machines. Which I think is a good thing to bear in mind when shopping.
    BMW does make a variety of street bikes but not for those of us with short inseams. Folks with average or longer inseams will never understand. Even theie scooters are very tall when compared to other scooters. I have ridden tall bikes for years but as I have aged, I am no longe comfortable with tip-toeing at every stop. When my R1200CLC dies, I guess I'll not be able to buy another BMW that fits me.
    'You can say what you want about the South, but I almost never hear of anyone wanting to retire to the North.

  10. #55
    Dee G flymymbz's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cowboyatheart View Post
    Anyone familiar with the retro looking new Suzuki 250 TU?

    I.e. I mean have you ridden it, and If so what do you think?
    That's one member of our "250" herd. Great little bike. Nimbler than the Rebel, not as buzzy as the Ninjette. Not as fast as the Ninjette or the CRB250, either. More upright seating that all three of those. It can hold its own on the highway. I was heading down I-5 in Seattle (passing Boeing field) early one Saturday morning, I saw a TU in the rear view, I was doing about 65-ish, it passed me. Guy must have been doing over 70.

    I had pretty much forgotten about the TU. I don't ride it much, I use my Rebel to commute on, since it has Hepco Becker bags on it, I can stuff my work crap on it, our TU is naked and its a PITA to strap stuff to.

    If I had the $$ I'd do something like this to it:



    or even better:

    Too damn many bikes to list

  11. #56
    Registered User lkchris's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ClassicVW View Post
    Kent,
    Jeez, hold on a minute. Now you're veering off. Nobody said anything about starting on crap, nobody's assailing women or calling them incompetent.
    Intent is meaningless--it's effect that counts.
    Kent Christensen
    21482
    '12 R1200RT, '02 R1100S, '84 R80G/S

  12. #57
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  13. #58
    doktortim
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    Quote Originally Posted by MARKAZ View Post
    My 25 yr old daughter has been bitten by the motorcycle bug. She's been talking about a scooter (one of her friends has one) but I'm pushing a standard motorcycle. Any thoughts on a good starter bike that will get her some good experience before she moves up to an airhead? Something that would have decent power and fairly light that would work for commuting and maybe short road rides? I was thinking about something in the 250 cc range...Honda Rebel or there's a Suzuki 250 that I don't remember the model number of. Something we could pick up for around $2k.
    Anyone here know Phil Funnel?? He is a living legend of all things BMW in the Vancouver, BC region. Saw him at a rally 2 years ago and he had his trustworty R90 frankenbeemer. This summer, he has switched to a Yamaha V-Star 250cc all frankened out with his custom fiberglass and bullet trailer. He told me of all the reasons he selected that model to serve his needs.

    Those are purpose made for first learning bikes. Low seat for shorter statures, like Phil's. Very light. Strong seller. Lots of them around with very low miles being sold as owner's move up to a 500-650 bike.

    If Daughter likes that style it would be a good first learner.

  14. #59
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    Thumbs up Phil Funnel

    Quote Originally Posted by doktortim View Post
    Anyone here know Phil Funnel??
    I'm still riding a '78 R100/7 purchased from Phil in 1978!

  15. #60
    Registered User PittsDriver's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ClassicVW View Post
    How do you know what she can handle before she even begins to ride?

    How many beginners get in over their head with something too powerful or too heavy or too tall for them and they crash or have multiple drops in the driveway and parking lots ?

    How many beginners feel intimidated from the beginning with something too heavy or tall and just give up?
    People who attempt things on motorcycles without adequate skills or showing a terrible lack of judgement are called squids. Let's assume the young 1st timer isn't a squid or is not going to exhibit squid like tendencies (because if they're like that don't put them on the bike in the first place). So, if we're talking about a responsible person with a healthy respect for the risk they're assuming and the judgement required to do it as safely as possible, then our target bike can be quite capable and not "get them in over their head." I would argue that a bigger, more capable bike is safer in many respects. Let's be sensible and say that I'm not recommending a liter sized fully faired race bike but heck, why couldn't a 600 to 1200 cc bike that is styled after their use be a good choice?

    How many people decide after about 500 miles that they bought too little bike?

    How much less conspicuous are they on a "starter bike" vs. a more capable more fully featured bike?

    How much more enjoyment are they going to get out of a bike that has greater utility and power?

    I'm just saying you can also make a mistake and buy too little bike for the 1st timer.
    Wes Jones
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