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post #1 of 28 Old Jan 19th, 2012, 3:44 pm Thread Starter
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Opinions on a first bike.

My son who is sixteen wants a bike, I think it is great because I think he is the type that would just take off with me and ride all day. He is too big to ride two up any more and that would leave room for my younger son to go along and let my wife have hers to herself.
So, what do you think would be a good starting point, he is not a little guy, 5'10" 180# so he can hold up a little bit bigger bike but he still has to learn to handle it and of course pick it up a few times so I don't want a big bike or one with a lot of plastic. I personally like the idea of an older mid 70s Honda just because I like those old bike and they take me back a little.
I know the opinions are going to fly now but remember what it was like when you were young and learning to ride. What you wish you had of done differently. I remember wishing I had not went for the cool factor and got something a little more comfortable because right away I decided cruising through towns wasn't as much fun as all day rides to parks in the middle of no-where.
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post #2 of 28 Old Jan 19th, 2012, 4:18 pm
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Re: Opinions on a first bike.

Think you really need to narrow down what he likes: sport, sport touring, cruiser, dual sport...
The list goes on, then narrow it down from there.
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post #3 of 28 Old Jan 19th, 2012, 7:09 pm
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Re: Opinions on a first bike.

I suggest you buy something used and inexpensive, in reasonably reliable condition. Something with a small to medium displacement, but is sized comfortably for your son. Despite being 5' 10" and weighing 180 pounds, your son still needs experience controlling a motorcycle. I have watched too many big strong inexperienced new riders lose control of their motorcycles. How many times did you say, "Watch this!" when you were sixteen?

Consider it a "rental". In a year's time, with practice, he can sell it for nearly what he paid for it. By then, he will have acquired experience and maturity, and will have a much better idea of what kind of motorcycle should be his next one.

1970s vintage bikes are nostalgic for you, but may require too much maintenance and hunting for parts. Your son wants to ride, not tinker. Think about buying a mid-1990s 250-500cc standard or cruiser to start. If you go for a sport bike, I would find something on the small displacement side. 600cc is too fast, powerful, and tempting for a young rider.
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post #4 of 28 Old Jan 19th, 2012, 7:24 pm
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Re: Opinions on a first bike.

I suggest you read this thread that I started a few days ago.

I won't try to rehash it all, but I am still set on ABS as an absolute requirement for my son.

My current candidates are an old RT, or a Suzuki SV650 or VStrom with ABS.
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post #5 of 28 Old Jan 19th, 2012, 9:48 pm
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Re: Opinions on a first bike.

I agree with a cheap light disposable bike that you won't mind if he drops it while learning to ride. Easier to pass the MC license test too. Get independent non-power assist brakes. Like learning the manual clutch and shift then the automatic. Then upgrade to fancy stuff. Hondas are great. I started out on a small Suzuki that could only do 80.

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post #6 of 28 Old Jan 19th, 2012, 10:39 pm
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Re: Opinions on a first bike.

I'm at a simliar point, my son will start riding this summer as he gets his license, I'm debating on letting him ride my K75 because it rather top heavy, but then again it does have ABS... I've been leaning toward something with a lower center of gravity something in the 400 to 700 CC range perhaps a mid 80's Shadow or Nighthawk. I started on an old Kawasaki LTD 440 when I was 17, great bike to learn on light, easy to controll moved up to a 700 after about a year.

-Preston
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post #7 of 28 Old Jan 20th, 2012, 8:54 am
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Re: Opinions on a first bike.

Have you considered starting out with a "dirt" bike, some 250 thing. Have him ride off road for a month or two, fall down, crash, get back up crash again until he gets the idea.

I know it helped me learn how to handel my early bikes when I locked the rear wheel by getting on the rear brake to hard. Didn't panic let her slide a little got off the brake and drove away. Also helps it you get a wet rear and add to much gas.

Of course it simple from here, good luck, play safe.

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post #8 of 28 Old Jan 20th, 2012, 9:59 am
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Re: Opinions on a first bike.

+1 on starting in the dirt. IMHO there is not a better way to learn with less risk. My son started with one of his friends when they were 12-13. By the time they were old enough to ride on the street (legally) they had hundreds of hours of experience and had learned the fundamentals of braking, throttle control, clutch usage, shifting the center of gravity and what it feels like and how to handle a loss of traction as well as other skills. Both have gone on to years of injury free riding on the road as well as racing.
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post #9 of 28 Old Jan 20th, 2012, 10:55 am
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Re: Opinions on a first bike.

My kids learned in the dirt...that sai, get a suzuki Dr 250 and let him learn in the dirt and then surface streets. If you buy a clean 5yr old bike and negotiate a reasonable price....you will sell in 6 months for what you paid for it and get the bigger street bike. Or you might keep it and have a dirt and street bike. He will develop confidence with a light bike.

Ron
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post #10 of 28 Old Jan 20th, 2012, 1:23 pm
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Re: Opinions on a first bike.

Still think we need to know more: how much experience he has, and what he likes/wants.
Do agree with the Wee-Strom suggestion though. One of the best all around bikes I've ridden in a long long time.
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post #11 of 28 Old Jan 20th, 2012, 2:37 pm Thread Starter
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Re: Opinions on a first bike.

he loves the v-Strom type bike, the duel sports. If it were all up to me i would get a n 800 GS just so i could tool around on it, the problem here is the cost of the bike. Im cheap! and he isn't going to put much out for it.
He has rode 4 wheelers most of his life, mini bikes, and raced go-karts.
I also feel the older bike would be easier to work on and give him a little experience in keeping it up and making it run. He will also need something nimble enough to take his test on.
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post #12 of 28 Old Jan 20th, 2012, 3:10 pm
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Re: Opinions on a first bike.

Of all the dual sports I looked into, the V-strom was by far my favorite: nimble, mild mannered on the road, comfortable and very adequate power. Next in line was the Kawasaki KLR, with the major difference being the single cylinder of the KLR v. the twin of the V-strom. Price difference between the two, KLR being much cheaper in my area, would have been enough to sway me to go the KLR route.
In the end, however, I wanted more off-road than on-road, and eventually found a nice DR650 for $1,500. If he can deal with the vibration of a single, it's not at all bad going down the road.
If you can find a nice carbureted bike, it'd be easy enough to work on and maintain.
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post #13 of 28 Old Jan 20th, 2012, 4:17 pm
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Re: Opinions on a first bike.

A lot of good suggestions above.

Maybe it was just the time, but I think that many on this forum started with low powered 250 / 350 / 450 CC bikes and gradually moved up. Starting too large is not the way to go. Get one that is used and plan on owning it for a year or so. A dirt bike is also the way to go. With the right gear, a lot safer too.

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post #14 of 28 Old Jan 20th, 2012, 6:40 pm
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Re: Opinions on a first bike.

My son started on dirt bikes a a very young age.When he turned 16 we got a Kawasaki EX250 for a road bike.He learned at an early age how fast things can go wrong or I would not of let him get his MC endorsement.I think it takes a lot of maturity for a 16 year old to take on that much responsibility.When he turned 18 he got a CBR600.Now that bike scared the crap out of me,but he never had an issue with it.He now rides my old shovelhead, which I think is pretty cool.

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post #15 of 28 Old Jan 20th, 2012, 8:45 pm
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Re: Opinions on a first bike.

Honda Rebel250....Kawasaki KLR250....Ninja250....
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post #16 of 28 Old Jan 21st, 2012, 9:45 pm
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Re: Opinions on a first bike.

Just to add a little more perspective...

My son at the age of 17 bought his very first bike...a brand new Honda VFR.

You became one with the road on that scooter...and he is alive and well today some where in North Dakota.

Was It what I wanted for him..

..NO...

.. but rather what he wanted for himself.

...hes kind of like me.

Dana

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post #17 of 28 Old Jan 24th, 2012, 5:43 pm
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Smile Re: Opinions on a first bike.

Suzuki Savage (now called Suzuki S40 Boulevard) Very light weight, 354 lbs. Extremely easy to handle. 652 cc great bike to learn on, will be OK for a couple years. Will be able to resell easy. Buy it used, can get almost all your money back.

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post #18 of 28 Old Feb 1st, 2012, 7:23 pm
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Re: Opinions on a first bike.

So, WhittleD, are you gonna' tell us what you've decided?
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post #19 of 28 Old Feb 4th, 2012, 3:54 pm Thread Starter
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Re: Opinions on a first bike.

Well, Im kinda looking for mid 70s Honda or Kaw. 500 or smaller. I know it may not be the best mechanical sound bike, but he is not going to foot the big bills it is going to be mostly me. So I want to get something that can be restored and kept and looked back on and will increase in value as long as it is not waded up in a ditch (god willing). I wish I still had the first few bikes I rode now and I have been personally looking into getting some old bike just to fix up and have for sheer enjoyment.
There is no Plastic on the older bikes, insurance would be something he could afford and if we have to rebuild it right from the beginning, he would know every nut and bolt before anything went wrong on side of road.
I love it when i stop in a dealer just to pass time and when i mention this, they always point at a brand new plastic bike that first time he hits the front breaks in our gravel drive it will cost more to fix the plastic than to buy a used bike.
My wife and I both started on 250 bikes and grew out of them fast, I remember when a 500 was a fairly big bike so I think I am going to head back in that direction so he will appreciate the mechanical side of motorcycles as well the reliability of newer stuff when he can afford it.
I appreciate all of the opinions from you guys, and to stir things up a little, what kind of oil and tires should I use?
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post #20 of 28 Old Feb 6th, 2012, 2:12 pm
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Re: Opinions on a first bike.

The Honda nighthawks had 450, 650 & 750 models. Yamaha had the XS series a 400 and 650. Kawasaki had a 650 LTD that was pretty sweet. There were a lot of naked bikes from mid 70s to 1990 that would be relatively inexpensive you just need to do your best to know how it was treated or expect and pay for a project. good luck.

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post #21 of 28 Old Feb 7th, 2012, 10:03 am
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Re: Opinions on a first bike.

My recommendations for first bikes usually run to 600 - 750 Shadows or SV650 type bikes if they don;t want a cruiser. But I am really liking the Suzuki TU 250 too. We use them in the MSF classes and they are GREAT bikes. Probably a little underpowered for a lot of highway miles, but great fun in other situations. Retro styling, big fan base, and plenty of mods can be done to personalize it.

Just a thought.
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post #22 of 28 Old Feb 7th, 2012, 11:26 am
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Re: Opinions on a first bike.

"We use them in the MSF classes and they are GREAT bikes."
Which begs the question: you are sending him to a class, right?
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post #23 of 28 Old Feb 7th, 2012, 1:51 pm
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Re: Opinions on a first bike.

Kawasaki's updated new ZX-14 only has 197 hp. And it comes in metallic green, which would help with visual conspicuity.

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post #24 of 28 Old Sep 28th, 2012, 9:34 pm Thread Starter
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Re: Opinions on a first bike.

Got one, It is a '75 Honda CB200t, Picked up off e-bay and only took a little clean up. Neat little bike and with seems only 15 parts, it is simple to work on. I can strip it down to frame and back before getting bodywork off my LT.
Little rough right now, I can only get it up to little over 50. I will tweek the carbs and timing a little to get a little more but it is a perfect around small town bike. I will probably ride more than him. The best thing is it is small and not intimidating and easy to handle and work on, a good learning tool.
My wife and I was talking about it and decided that it would be good for him to experience the rough running, vibrating, wind turbulence and general crappy riding so maybe he will appreciate the little extras like windshield, fuel injection, horse power.
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post #25 of 28 Old Sep 29th, 2012, 2:07 am
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Re: Opinions on a first bike.

1983-1985 Honda Nighthawk 650.
Shaft drive, bulletproof.

If you want to go smaller, any of the smaller Nighthawks would be good, too.

The Ninja 250s are inexpensive starter bikes. Lots of them are for sale for short money after people learn on them and want to move up.
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post #26 of 28 Old Sep 29th, 2012, 7:05 am
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Re: Opinions on a first bike.

Can't argue with your selection and reasoning. For others who may be in your situation now or in the future...

I'm with Dan on most of these replies, some good advice and suggestions. One factor to consider is the learning curve.Considering a smaller to mid-sized engine (250-450cc) how long until he grows out of it? I am not advocating to start on a larger bike, I'm considering the outlay of money for a bike that will end up sitting in the garage after one year of riding. Have you factored in the resale or trade-in value of a beginner bike?

I got back into riding in 2000 (at 50 years of age) with a 1999 Honda Nighthawk 750. Paid 2500 for it. Traded it in two years later on a 2002 R1150RS and got 2000 on the trade.

They're on the upper end of the recommended sizes, but it seems to me that the 650 dual sports have an advantage. Good, knock around bikes that can handle some rough riding and tip-overs, but will still be usable for years to come even after the acquisition of a different bike. If I had started out with a dual sport in 2000, I would probably still have it in my stable along with the RT. Instead, I just have the RT.

Take care,
Chris

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post #27 of 28 Old Sep 29th, 2012, 7:54 pm
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Re: Opinions on a first bike.

This may have already been said and if so my apologies.... Go buy your son a dirt bike and let him ride it OFFROAD for a while, like until he's 18. Obviously my opinion is kids shouldn't be on street bikes and I have some good reasons for that opinion but you are the parent so you gotta make that call. Both my kids (now well into their 20's) started riding at 5 years of age, but street bikes were an absolute no way until they were out of High School and 18. My daughter just purchased her second street bike at 26, a Victory Cross Roads. When she started street riding and even though she was off on her own, I had two rules; She had to take the MSF course, and she had to ride the entire first summer with ME. She got to hear and see what MSF had to say and teach, and then she got to ride with someone who knows and could teach her far more. She was already a skilled rider from her motocross riding, but street smarts is completely new. So since it appears you are leaning towards street riding at 16, I'd suggest you look into a VStrom or Kawi Versa styled bike. Heck a good dual sport might be the best option (Suzi DR, or Kawi KLR). With these already out there I'll RECOMMEND only one thing; If you are going to buy him a bike, let him pick it, but put some conditions on it. He asks for the bike he feels MOST at home on, not the one that he thinks will impress his friends, or is cool.
You sound like you have a lot of faith in your son, and a good relationship, thats really nice. Keep him safe out there

ps... me, my daughter, her boy friend and my mrs all went out riding all afternoon today, we do it often. I wish you and yours many safe miles together, ride safe...... T
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post #28 of 28 Old Oct 6th, 2012, 9:15 pm
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Re: Opinions on a first bike.

I have a good friend and the only motorcycle he's ever ridden save for the MSF put puts is an R1100RT. (Well, maybe he's riddin other guy's bikes since and he did buy himself an R50/2)

I'm simply unconvinced one needs to start small unless s/he is small.

If you want your son to love BMWs forever, start him out on an R100S.

It's comfortable, not too big, and he can have luggage just like grownups.

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