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  1. #1
    You're fired. Lol. Antimony's Avatar
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    Default Buying a Motorcycle

    I would really like to buy a motorcycle, but really am not sure where to start looking, or what to start looking at. I would like something smaller (I am 5'3), nothing flashy, and nothing loud. Well, nothing starting out loud.

    I'm a relatively new driver, but I drive well, probably better than most. However, because I haven't ridden a motorcycle, I think I'd like to play it safe and get one that handles well.

    Also, because I am young, and lacking money, I'd like one for a reasonable price. Of course, I probably won't find one that meets all of these qualifications, but I would like to hear advice, opinions, and anecdotes on getting motorcycles.
    Excuse me, but does this smell like chloroform to you?

    Always reserve the right to become smarter at a future point in time, for only a fool limits themselves to all they knew in the past. -Alex

  2. #2
    Self sustaining supernova Zoom's Avatar
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    I have ridden for a couple of years now, and still have my first bike: a Kawasaki Ninja 250R. I am 5'6", and can go flat-footed on it, and for a first bike it could be a good option to look into due to its reliability, fun handling and lower price (especially used ones, they're golden finds on CL oftentimes). A Honda Rebel could be a good option as well - also a 250, but with more of an upright seated position when riding.

    Also:
    • Do you know what kind of bike you want? (Sports bike, cafe racer, street bike, etc)
    • What do you want to use your motorcycle for - commuting, fun weekend rides on the twisties, going for long touring rides?


    Depending on where you're located ye might be able to take a riding course to get your license - this would circumvent the test at the DMV. It is available in my state (OR), though I don't know if it is so elsewhere. It's normally a three day practicum with a certain amount of in-class instruction, with the rest of the teaching done on motorcycles (all 250's) - not on the streets of course, normally in a huge parking lot. They teach students everything one might be tested on at the DMV: slow turns, stopping, swerving, running the motorcycle barrels, etc - along with everything practical from turning on the motorcycle to the proper way to change lanes (SMOG - signal, check the mirror, over the shoulder and GO).

    Craigslist is honestly a good place to find bikes - learn what kind of bike you want (or a few different types), what the specs indicate when reading ads and what the average price for a used ______ should be. You can get the idea of many of these by looking through the ads for a week or so - all the Kawasaki 250 Ninjas, for example. It's an easy way to learn what you might be looking for and what would best fit you in terms of price and all that jazz.

    Also, a used bike for your first bike is... a very good idea, if I may say. There is a good chance you will do something in the first year of riding - lay it down, scratch it up just a tiny bit, etc - and buying a shiny new bike only to lay it down three months later is... disheartening.

  3. #3
    You're fired. Lol. Antimony's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zoom View Post
    I have ridden for a couple of years now, and still have my first bike: a Kawasaki Ninja 250R. I am 5'6", and can go flat-footed on it, and for a first bike it could be a good option to look into due to its reliability, fun handling and lower price (especially used ones, they're golden finds on CL oftentimes). A Honda Rebel could be a good option as well - also a 250, but with more of an upright seated position when riding.
    I was considering a Honda 250, but can't find any particularly cheap ones- though I hadn't checked CL yet and think that is an excellent idea. Would a Kawasaki be fine for my height?

    Also:
    • Do you know what kind of bike you want? (Sports bike, cafe racer, street bike, etc)
    • What do you want to use your motorcycle for - commuting, fun weekend rides on the twisties, going for long touring rides?
    Sports bike. I mostly want it for commuting and fun twisties though until I feel really comfortable, I want to wait on that. Fuel efficiency is a huge factor in me deciding to get one, because I get to pay for my own gas. Probably will do a lot of city/in town riding too. Long touring rides, I doubt I will do much.

    Depending on where you're located ye might be able to take a riding course to get your license - this would circumvent the test at the DMV. It is available in my state (OR), though I don't know if it is so elsewhere. It's normally a three day practicum with a certain amount of in-class instruction, with the rest of the teaching done on motorcycles (all 250's) - not on the streets of course, normally in a huge parking lot. They teach students everything one might be tested on at the DMV: slow turns, stopping, swerving, running the motorcycle barrels, etc - along with everything practical from turning on the motorcycle to the proper way to change lanes (SMOG - signal, check the mirror, over the shoulder and GO).
    Okay, I live in North Carolina and will definitely look into something like that. I was wondering about how I was supposed to be learning. How long are the classes?

    Buying a used bike is definitely something I would like to do, but I am worried about buying one in poor condition. My price range is probably anywhere from free to 2k. I might be able to afford a little more than that, but the cheaper, the better. But I want a decent bike at least.
    Excuse me, but does this smell like chloroform to you?

    Always reserve the right to become smarter at a future point in time, for only a fool limits themselves to all they knew in the past. -Alex

  4. #4
    Self sustaining supernova Zoom's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Antimony View Post
    I was considering a Honda 250, but can't find any particularly cheap ones- though I hadn't checked CL yet and think that is an excellent idea. Would a Kawasaki be fine for my height?
    I believe it would be - but ye have to sit on one and find out, honestly. I wear steel toed boots and what kind of footwear you have can make a difference as well as how comfortable you are balancing. It can feel odd at first for almost any height - you have ~500 lbs of metal between your legs and are simultaneously balancing on it and making sure it doesn't tip over. It's fun! Like a bicycle for adults. *dodges pies thrown by cyclists*

    Sports bike. I mostly want it for commuting and fun twisties though until I feel really comfortable, I want to wait on that. Fuel efficiency is a huge factor in me deciding to get one, because I get to pay for my own gas. Probably will do a lot of city/in town riding too. Long touring rides, I doubt I will do much.
    250 sports bikes are great for all of the things you want - a Kawasaki 250 Ninja gets around 60 miles to the gallon, and rides on a bloody dime around turns; it is superb at handling at high speeds because the low weight and lovely handling just... *sighs girlishly* Anyway!

    Okay, I live in North Carolina and will definitely look into something like that. I was wondering about how I was supposed to be learning. How long are the classes?
    Like I said, three days - ye'd essentially give a weekend up to do it. When I took it it was a couple of hours on Friday night, then a few during the day on Saturday and Sunday - and they do the classes rain or shine, because wondrous skillsets wait for no one.

    Buying a used bike is definitely something I would like to do, but I am worried about buying one in poor condition. My price range is probably anywhere from free to 2k. I might be able to afford a little more than that, but the cheaper, the better. But I want a decent bike at least.
    Here is a good example of a spiffy deal from Craigslist - it's in my city, but ye get the idea. It's in your price range, low miles, in good shape, etc - and it wouldn't be too hard to find one for a couple hundred less. In terms of poor condition - there are options for when you buy one. If you know anyone who rides regularly, take them with you. Kick the tires, go for a test ride (or the person you bring if you can) if the owner is amenable to it - it's just like a car in that regard.

    Also: Online fora are angelic creations given to us like a fine ambrosia from the gods. Honestly. I barely scratched the surface in your are and found one specifically for Carolina riders. They can be a great source of information, tips and to meet people in a non-creepy setting who also ride. I'm a member at PNWRiders.com, which is one in my area. I just went to a rally last night.

    VROOM VROOM.

  5. #5
    Klingon Warrior Princess Patches's Avatar
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    I'm shorter than you, and I went for a Honda Shadow 600cc - but it sounds like you're leaning towards a crotch rocket rather than a cruiser. I've never ridden a crotch rocket, so I couldn't be of much assistance there.

    I will say, however, that I highly recommend going for a Motorcycle Safety course. My state offered one that would lower your insurance slightly for taking it, but it was incredibly valuable. They actually had us out on the bikes in a huge parking lot practicing braking/figure 8's/etc. I found it very helpful.
    “Everybody has a secret world inside of them. All of the people of the world, I mean everybody. No matter how dull and boring they are on the outside, inside
    them they've all got unimaginable, magnificent, wonderful, stupid, amazing worlds. Not just one world. Hundreds of them. Thousands maybe.” -Neil Gaiman

    ~

  6. #6
    nee andante bechimo's Avatar
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    A 600cc bike is way too much weight and power to handle for a beginner female but the course is a excellent idea!

    Beginner's consideration should focus on if you end up dumping your bike and if you can prevent dumping your bike. Can you pick it back up? If not, go smaller. Do your feet sit flat on the ground? If not, go smaller. How's the steering? Easy or a struggle? If a struggle, look to a different bike, one that's probably less power and is lighter.

  7. #7
    figsfiggyfigs
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    I feel like such a loser in here, with my little red moped. . .

  8. #8
    Self sustaining supernova Zoom's Avatar
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    YWIR, moped riders come to the rally sometimes - and are not knocked for what they ride.

    For Antimony's price range and what she wants to do, a 250cc bike really does seem like the best option, both for size, price, and learning the fine motor skills of riding the first time around.

  9. #9
    figsfiggyfigs
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    Great, Now I feel like I'm sitting at the little kid's table.

  10. #10
    Rainy Day Woman MDP2525's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Antimony View Post
    I was considering a Honda 250, but can't find any particularly cheap ones....My price is anywhere from free to 2k...
    Zoom's advice is spot on. The Honda just came out with their 250 so give it a year or two on the market to find used ones. You can find Ninja 250's in that price range right now (2008 has an updated body style and probably around 2K). If you really want to wait, I hear Kawi is coming out with a 400cc in the U.S. (currently they are in Canada) in the next year or so but that's around 6K new.

    400's and lower cc bikes will have more useable power (i.e. their power will come in at lower rpms and be broader across the powerband) rather than the punch at high rpms that the 600cc and liter bikes do. This is why 600's and liters are often not recommended for beginner riders because their power "kicks in" at high rpms or they kick immediately! They can surprise a novice rider and you need to be confident in your ability to control the throttle, know where your power is, and feel confident using it. As a beginning rider your concentration should be muscle memory, getting used to shifting/downshifting/braking, handling the bike and traffic awareness. Above all, your deciding factors should be a bike you feel comfortable and confident on.

    Also, if you buy one from a private seller make sure you bring someone knowledgeable who can look the bike over.
    ~luck favors the ready~


    Shameless Self-Promotion:MDP2525's Den and the Start of Motorcycle Maintenance

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