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Discussion Starter #1
Hello, i'm new to riding and am looking for advice on what bike to get as a first bike that I would like to commute to work and back with. I'm a relatively big guy at 6'2", 240 lbs and live in central Texas and the only other experience riding my friend's Honda cbr 300 which from the time i spent with it seemed very small and manageable. I've been looking into the BMW R series in general and really enjoy the features of the R and RT models. With that being said I am open to other ideas and bike recommendations. The reasons I like BMW R series is due to my height and how I've sat on the bike, mind you i've never rode one. I also like the concept of the final drive system versus a chain or belt, I also currently own a BMW car (not that i've a fan boy), but I have bought several BMW specialty tools that I believe would work with general maintenance of the motorcycle but i'm sure they'd work for most bikes. I also like the idea of long rides and like how these BMW tourer have bigger gas tanks. I also enjoy the concept of a center stand, hand warms, adjustable window shield and many other creature comforts that come with most BMW bikes. Currently I see many early mid 2000's BMW R series bike going for sale around the 3k price range or less and was wondering what input y'all might have about getting one as a beginner bike.

Note: I also have looked at older R series bikes such as the r850r, r1100r, r1100rt, r1150r, and r1150rt but due to age or lack of availability have shunned away from the idea.
 

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Hi, and welcome to the motorcycle riding community,

No one but you can decide which bike is the right bike for you. Consider your skill level, physical ability, streetsmarts, rider awareness and riding style you plan on enjoying. Now consider that the R1200 series are "Sporty" motorcycles, and have a high power to weight ratio. This may be something to consider as it can lead to possible situations you are not capable of handling with a new rider skill set. Comfort level may be an issue considering your size, find a bike that fits you. Start with a smaller engine size that a liter or more, and as your level of skill increases, and your riding becomes more frequent or longer, you can always trade up.

That's just my opinion and it's worth what you paid for it. ;-) But, I am also an MSF instructor and have been riding since 1968. Don't jump in too deep, ease into it and ride something you can fully control and enjoy, there is nothing in this world better for mental health than riding free and safely.

John in CT
 

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Welcome to the asylum!

John pretty much nailed it. If you’re able to, I’d take any bike you’re thinking about out for a spin to get to a feeling for it. Even though the R bikes all have the same engine, each one feels different. So, it’s really going to come down to what works for you. Coming from your friend’s 300, that big R bike is going to feel a lot different.

As I too am an MSF RiderCoach, it might not hurt for you to take the Basic or Advanced Rider Course (depending on your skill level). The nice thing about the BRC is that you don’t have to bring your own bike, unlike the Advanced course. That way, if (when) you drop the bike, you’re dropping someone else’s! :wink:

Good luck with your decision - it’s an exciting time! Keep us posted.
 

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I’d add (as someone who started riding 5 years ago), you’re going to drop the bike a few times as a new rider (parking lot type drops). Consider the expense of repairs to to bodywork from “simple” drops.
I’d also highly recommend the MSF course if you haven’t done that.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 

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I had a yamaha Maxim 700 back in the late 80's early 90s for a couple of years. I rode it a few thousand miles per year, and was never a great rider, never had good confidence, etc... I ended up getting into English sportscars and sold the bike.

Fast forward to 2015 and I decided that I wanted to ride again at 50 years old. I was all but starting over. I ended up getting a used 2005 RT (stripped down model with no radio, ESA, etc...). The day they delivered it to my house, I was pretty sure I was going to drop it right there in the driveway. It was big, heavy, and felt top heavy. I took it for a short ride (like 5 miles) and wondered how anyone could operate things like the radio, GPS, etc... while moving on this thing because it took everything I had to concentrate on not crashing.

I had kept my motorcycle endorsement on my license for all of those years, but decided to the take the MSF course because it didn't even exist in NH when I got my license in 1989. The course helped a lot and I became more confident on the RT. I also ended up becoming an MSF instructor for the state the next year, but that's another story. I dropped the bike once in a parking lot when I came to a stop with the handlbars turned... kind of a slow trip to the ground. I put 13,500 miles on the RT in 2 years commuting from southern NH into Massachusetts for work.

Fast forward to now and I have a 2016 RT that I bought in 2017 when I moved to California. That now has 23,500 mi and I feel confident riding the highways and canyons with my friends that have far more miles under their belts.

My point is that you can't make a bad choice here. If you feel like a smaller bike will benefit you, then start with that. Buy it used and off craigslist or cycle trader because you'll likely be selling it again in a few months when you outgrow it. You can definitely start with an RT as your first bike (or first bike in a long time) its just that you've working with a bigger heavier machine to begin with, so there's a longer ramp up time to becoming comfortable. When you do get comfortable with it, it is an amazing machine!
 

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welcome
Look at 2007 or newer. The 2002-2006 have a brake system that is very expensive to repair if it fails. (the ABS modules in these older bikes are 2300$ and are getting old now)
 

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Just some thoughts about having an RT as a first bike:

My parents intentionally bought my first bicycle "too big" for me so that I'd grow into it. I did. But I was often scraped up and bruised while floundering around with that thing. I understand my analogy is flawed, comparing size to size and power, but the affect is all too often the same.

For the sake of your safety and that of other road users I strongly recommend that you take an MSF course before going out onto the road. When I was done with mine, my instructor told me this: "You are now qualified to ride a 250cc motorcycle around a parking lot in first and second gear." I understood the message to mean that I still had a lot of learning to do and figured that advancing the road skill and road strategies that I had begun to learn in the class would be easier if I wasn't struggling with trying to learn a big bike too. My first bike was a used Honda Rebel 250 (4 months), my second a Honda CTX 700 (3 years) and now I'm enjoying an RT.

While the rules of the road are the same for both automobiles and motorcycles, the strategies and skills are very different. And knowing how to apply that different skill set is what keeps you alive. Here are a couple of internet resources that you might find helpful and that do a much better job of explaining all of this than I can:

DanDan The Fireman teaches skills through motorcycle accident analysis: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC1iNF4BnIucCD7J2QGZYkjg

McRider.com has some of the best skill and strategy information available. I give him high marks especially for his emphasis on strategy: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCC4gEs8RahtTYiBqsiziudQ
 

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Where I live, an MSF type course is mandatory to get your MC license.


My course started with 250cc bikes and ended with 400cc + bikes to qualify for a class 6A motorcycle license which qualifies for any size bike. (there are 6B and 6C licenses for smaller bikes)

First you must pass the theory exam, then you can start the practical:

*************************************

  • Time/Duration
    • 30 days or more
The next step in obtaining a Class 6A, 6B or 6C licence is to register for a course at a driving school recognized by the Association québécoise des transports


Training at a driving school

Here you will practice the proper techniques and manoeuvres to operate a motorcycle. You must take at least 30 days to pass this course, which consists of two blocks:
1st block

Driving on a closed track


  • Theoretical training to prepare you to operate a motorcycle on a closed track
    • 1 block of 3 hours
  • Practical training
    • 4 blocks of 4 hours each = 16 hours
2nd block

Driving on the road


  • Theoretical training to prepare you to operate a motorcycle on the road
    • 1 block of 3 hours
  • Practical training
    • 5 blocks of 2 hours each = 10 hours
If the instructor concludes that you have passed the training, the driving school will give you an attestation.


*****************************************************************************************


Once you have your attestation you need to pass the closed circuit exam and get a "learner's permit"
11 months later you can take the Road exam and get your full license.





My first bike was a used 2007 R1200RT which had 46,000km and is now at 186,000 km and still runs like new. These bikes will run a long time if properly maintained. (It is for sale BTW since I bought myself a 2019 R1250RT as a retirement gift >:) )
Of course I had a couple of parking lot drops and had to have the panier repainted.


The bike needs to get used to, but it worked fine for me as my first bike.


YMMV
 

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My first bike was a VStar 1100 custom, had zero issues with that bike. I've never been down or even dropped a bike in the time I've been riding. You need to be true to yourself, if you can handle a larger bike and control your wrist then go for it. If you don't think you would be able to handle the weight or your wrist then get something smaller till you get the general idea of riding.
 

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I sold my 1985 Kaw 1000 LTD when we had twin daughters and never touched a bike for 28y. At age 61y I decided to take an MSF course, which I took in part just to see if I would find riding fun enough to confirm my late mid life crisis might have some lasting interest. I really enjoyed the MSF course, knew immediately, "I'm in!" and went straightaway to buy a used '13 F800GT. I really enjoyed that bike but when we dicided to do a 10K miler I bought a '16 R1200RT. I put 23K miles on the F800GT in 2y.

I found the older RT's (a 2007 and a 2012), just from 2 test rides, not very sporting feeling and rather 'agricultural'. Just my very limited experience opinion mind you. But the '16 RT was a whole different animal.

Anyway, there is something to be said for picking up something more managable as a newer rider, something where a parking lot drop won't cost $2000 to repair. I dropped the F800GT in the garage and managed no repabooir costs save some spray paint to deal w/ scuffs on its simple black plastic side cases. Other great bike easy to handle, Suzuki Vstrom 650. Nice comfy saddle, height OK for your height. My brother does 1800 mile trips up the coast on his and loves it. He's had several RTs and K bikes as well.

I also recommend David Hough's book, Proficient Motorcycling: The Ultimate Guide to Riding Well as a great overview of so many things I never thought about as a young rider, but worth knowing as an offset to my lack of experience and advancing years.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
I'd first like to take a moment to thank y'all for the amount of replies, I really valuable the more experienced riders opinions. With that said I do wanna say that I am going to take the beginner msf course as soon as possible with my cities current state, but I would also like to ask what sorts of bikes around the smaller displacement do ya'll think would be decent with a larger set guy?
 

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I'd first like to take a moment to thank y'all for the amount of replies, I really valuable the more experienced riders opinions. With that said I do wanna say that I am going to take the beginner msf course as soon as possible with my cities current state, but I would also like to ask what sorts of bikes around the smaller displacement do ya'll think would be decent with a larger set guy?
NEVER and I say NEVER purchase a motorcycle to impress anyone. (That might be the Harley rider's biggest mistake.) Anything 250 to 500ccs should be reasonable. There are cruisers, standards and sport designs in those sizes. Until you actually know how you will be using the motorcycle, I would suggest start with a standard design. ABS is a plus. Sport sitting positions aren't as bad as you would think. Cruisers aren't as comfortable as you would think. And sometimes the saddle isn't as good as you think it should be. (my own opinion of my 1997 R1100RT. Gonna put an aftermarket one on that one.) As long as you sit up straight, standards are pretty good. Comfort does play into how much use you will get from your bike. Uncomfortable bikes spend a lot of time in the garage. Comfortable ones spend a lot of time on the road. Storing a bike you don't use is a waste of money and I don't have money to waste.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Austin area, I travel to San Antonio and Dallas Fort Worth often and with the highways I would like something I can use that can reach the higher speed limits comfortable i.e. 85 mph at a reasonable rate.
 

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85MPH on a bike is not something I would recommend for a beginning rider. At speeds like that, you must have solid skills to deal with drivers who are more concerned about some text message than your life. What if you hit a piece of road debris at 85? I would also imagine that if the speed limit is 85, traffic will be doing 90+. Not trying to dissuade you, just something to keep in mind.
Lots of good advice from the community so far. MSF course is great, but classes fill up quickly, at least where I am. A standard bike with no fairings will be cheaper to fix in the highly likely event that you drop it. I wouldn't want to ride one for long at 85MPH, though. RT's are great bikes, but they are pretty heavy. On the plus side, you will not be outgrowing it quickly as you would with something like a Honda standard. Buy what you want, but start out on rural roads, if possible. There are fewer hazards to deal with in the boonies, and sight lines are generally good.
If your end goal is riding on a highway at 85MPH, you will find an RT to be about as good as it gets. I would just recommend a less intimidating bike to start with. Connect with experienced riders and ride with them. They can keep an eye on you and help your riding progress.
 

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My first bike was a 2011 1200GSA. I'm quite a bit shorter than you, but I loved the bike even with my height disadvantage. That bike caused me to fall in love with motorcycling and touring long distance. I commuted with it every day, rain or shine, 34F or 117F. When I traded it in 3 years later, I had put 73,000mi on it and taken it to Mexico and the Arctic Circle as well as various national parks on the northern border. Sadly I traded it in for a KTM 1190 Adventure which is chain driven and I hated it other than how fast it was. I sold that and bought a 2005 1200RT and have been happy since. It's super comfortable for long rides, great for commuting and easy to do maintenance on. They're not as expensive on the used market as GS bikes are so you can get a decent one at a great price.
 

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I couldn't agree more to the suggestion to get some training ASAP. My first bike was a '72 Honda CB175 and I learned to ride on it, but only after taking a one week Beginner class and then a 2 week Intermediate class from our local university. Besides the training, please invest in the proper riding gear, a helmet less than 5 years old (they do loose their protective qualities over time), the best riding suit you can afford (love my Aerostich 2-piece), motorcycle boots, and gloves. And if you will be driving 85 MPH, use some kind of hearing protection.

Then drive like you are INVISIBLE, because motorcycles are hard to see. I also recommend adding extra lights to your motorcycle, front and rear, and wear bright conspicuous clothing. A white helmet is easier to see than a grey or black one.

Thanks for reading my post, and the best of luck with whatever you decide.

https://www.aerostich.com/

Happy riding,
Red
 
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