First time motorcycle buyer

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3,707
Location
southern mo
Thread starter
I’ve had a 150cc moped that’s it. But I have decided I want to get a motorcycle. I’m looking to purchase in the next couple of months or so. I am hoping to spend less than $3,000 and just get a nice cruiser something that’s able to be on the highway and go on long trips. What should I look for and expect? Obviously something with parts readily available is ideal and not to ridiculous to work on. I don’t know much about them so feel free to educate. Thanks !
 
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1,655
Location
Prospect, KY
Motorcycles are not cheap to maintain. They tend to eat tires much more than cars and maintenance is much higher other than oil changes. I have a ninja 250 which many say is a crotch rocket when it really is a sport touring which sits more vertical like a dirt bike position. It can be very easy on gas if you stay low on rpm's but no one including me wants to do that. They can be alot of fun but many drivers don't look out for motorcycles. I would not want to drive in busy city conditions. Great in the country but still need to keep an eye out for other drivers and be ready. I haven't had an accident but they say it's not if just when.
 
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2,401
Location
Deep in the heart of Jersey
I just took a qiuck look on Craigs list and found this one. https://cnj.craigslist.org/mcy/d/old-bridge-honda-shadow/7161231539.html .Something like this one should do what your looking for it to do. You will probably want to ad some goodies for touring like, a windshield, back rest for bingeeing stuff on, gps holder, and other stuff. Now one thing with whatever brand bike you get, repair parts and generally available, but parts like seats, gas tanks, cables, and new fenders, and other bits might be hard to come by if that model is out of production. Spark plus, air and oil filters, and tires can be bought everywhere. Good luck.,,,
 
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6,599
Location
Katy, Republic of Texas
You are going to get tons of opinions, including mine. Take them all with a grain of salt.

Aside from 2 wheels, motor and a throttle, mopeds and motorcycles have lots of differences.
clutch and shifting take some getting use to, as well as having a rear foot brake instead of both brakes being on the hand grips.

Since you have a little experience riding on 2 wheels, I would say anything in the 500-750 cc range being a good starter bike.

The Honda Shadow 750 is a good starter bike IMO, have been around for years and have lots of parts available.
 
I rode for 51 years, so I know what I’m talking about.

1. Contrary to what most non riders think, owning a motorcycle IS NOT CHEAP. You do not save money riding a motorcycle. You ride because you love bikes, not to save money.

2. Tires wear out faster than car tires. In addition, each tire costs two to three times what one car tire costs.

3. MPG not much better than modern cars.

4. Cost of extra insurance.

5. Cost of helmets, boots, gloves, riding clothes, rain suits, etc etc etc.

If you are an empty nester, please don’t get a motorcycle. It takes many years riding experience to learn to ride safe. Nothing like traveling in a car. Younger people learn the “tricks” quicker than older people who “always wanted a bike and now can. Older NEW riders have more accidents than younger new riders.
 
Messages
243
Location
Hedgesville, WV
Since you are looking for a cruiser and want to do longer touring you might want to look at the Suzuki C50. Its a relatively light cruiser at about 530 lbs with a very comfortable seat and low seat height. It handles very nicely on twisty roads and still tracks straight even with moderate cross winds on the highway. Its fuel injected and has a shaft drive and will haul 2 up all day long at 50 hp and 50 ftlb torque. It is the bike I bought when I got back into riding and put 20,000 miles on it in 3 years with several 1000 miles trips. I made the biggest mistake when I traded it in for a Yamaha Roadliner. The Liner is a better highway bike but nowhere near as fun riding in the country and the extra weight makes it more difficult in stop and go or rain. I would go back to the C50 in a heartbeat if I would not take such a bath on the Liner. I would definatly stay in the mid sized cruiser range 750-900 and look for a style that speaks to you. By the way they used to make mini trikes from the C50 so there were tons of parts and I bought brand new rear wheel assemblies with tire and wheel cheaper than a new tire and easily swaped them myself at home.
 
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6,944
Location
The Midwest
I use to ride. Do not fall into the Honda's are more reliable, thus better mentality. The Japanese big 4 Honda~Yamaha~Suzuki~Kawasaki all are about equal in terms of reliability.
Obtaining parts years after the bike was discontinued matters more than anything.
The Honda CB750/Nighthawk is a good older bike. I don't recommend you getting a motorcycle.


 
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8,764
Location
Illinois
I rode for 51 years, so I know what I’m talking about.... It takes many years riding experience to learn to ride safe
Webster's defines safe as "free from harm or risk". This is the first thing that is taught by the Motorcycle Safety Foundation, in their Experienced Rider Course.

51 years of riding experience, congratulations, that is quite the accomplishment.

However, riding a motorcycle is something that is never "safe". One can do things to control the risk, but it is never safe.
 
Messages
2,114
Location
Arizona
OP, you said you wanted a cruiser. If you meant you want a riding position or motorcycle style that everyone calls a cruiser, then I would suggest you look at the Suzukis (like the C50 mentioned), Honda Shadow or VTX series, a Kawasaki Vulcan of some sort, or probably a Star (Yamaha's name for their cruisers).

If you meant a bike to cruise on, but not necessarily the style of motorcycle called "cruiser," then have a look at something like a Honda NC700X. They're super-thrifty, versatile, and reliable. Also pretty new (the 750 version is still in production and sold worldwide). There are many alternatives of course; depends on the style and seating position you like.

For most people I recommend against a 600 or larger sport bike as a first bike, ESPECIALLY for younger people. They just lack the judgment and self-control for that to be a good choice, usually (no offense meant if this is you). You might be better since you do have riding experience, but it'll be a MAJOR difference from what you have now.
 
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4,276
Location
OK
I think your budget and your riding goals do not overlap enough for a first time MC owner. A more experienced rider/MC owner could make that budget work, but a first time owner should get something that will keep them riding to gain experience. Getting a used and abused $3k MC could mean lots of break downs and frustrations for a first timer.

Riding comfortably (for long distances) is not easily done with cheaper bikes, although it can be done with an older bike that is bought for cheap.. if you trust that the older bike is reliable enough to do long distance.

What you'll tend to find is that powerful bikes make interstate riding easier, and powerful bikes are not as cheap as less-powerful bikes. Smaller bikes that are a blast to ride around the city for a few hours often can't hold their weight on the interstate with heavy winds. Larger bikes that are couch comfortable on the interstate can be a pain to ride around a tight city with lots of traffic lights.

But before you buy anything, you should spend a few hundred on a MSF course where you'll be taught everything about riding safely.

 
Messages
415
Location
Kevil,Ky
I also have ridden motorcycles for 45 years accident free. I started on a Honda 90 street bike and my last wast a Goldwing 1500. If I had not broken my hip from falling on ice, I would probably still ride. I loved it and rode year round in Phoenix,AZ. Also rode year round here in Kentucky. My replacement hip is only rated for 250lbs. My Wing was around 900 without me and wife and our travel gear. It got34 mpg on the highway. We have switched to our VW cabriolet. It gets 32 mpg and has heat and air and the top goes up and down. It makes sense for us this way. For your first MC iwould suggest a 400 to 600cc two cylinder. Buddy of mine bought a silver wing scooter and loves it. I wanted to try a Suzuki Burgman but wife prefers the car now. What ever you buy just remember to ride like you are invisible and keep your eyes focus down the road as far as you can see. You will ride better and live longer and be sure the horn works good.
 
Messages
243
Location
ga
Need more info

will you be traveling solo or 2 up?

will long trips be the primary use?

how long did you have the scooter and what did you use it for?
 
Messages
638
Location
Colorado, USA
ram_man,

Thanks for the thread. A few things from someone who got “back” into riding 15 years ago after decades of no riding and having only ridden smaller displacement machines growing up, like you currently have.

First and foremost, you control how much power you put in the ground, period. It’s the connection from your head to your right wrist that can make any bike goes fast or as slow as you were capable of handling at any moment. Choose a bike that fits your physical stature and is comfortable for the type of riding you will do with it. If that bike has a smaller or larger displacement, in the relative scheme of things, you are the one with the control. A 150 cc scooter can break any posted speed limit in the United States, engine size has nothing to do with how you ultimately decide to ride. Therefore the displacement argument has little play here. If you’re responsible, you will be able to handle what you choose.

Secondly, you will need to get accustomed to a heavier bike no matter what. You’re looking at 500-600 pounds, however that is just the nature of the game. Small statured women handle bikes of that size with no issues. Again, get a bike that fits you physically, that suits the riding you will do. You will have to become safe with and accustomed to the different control layout and shifting, however no one would graduate from a scooter if they didn’t otherwise. If you are willing to do things correctly, an MSF course as recommended above will give you the proper instruction in two days time to give you the correct knowledge and initial practice to be successful. Then you have to apply it within your ability and grow from there. Always ride within yourself and your ability at the time and you will grow quickly in technique and respect for the bike you ride.

Third, the riding gear you have for the scooter will work fine with a regular motorcycle. If you don’t have riding gear, get it regardless, even if you were to continue with a 150cc scooter. But that is your decision.

Maintenance wise, I presume you are maintaining the scooter. Expect to do the same with a full size motorcycle. Oil change intervals are similar to what most folks do with their cars (4,000-5,000 miles), which is probably longer than an oil change interval on most scooters such as yours. Tires do not cost 2-3 times what a car tire costs. If you spend $100 a tire for a car, you can find a tire for the same price for your motorcycle that will last 10,000 miles and perform as well as you expect and then some. 10,000 miles is a good benchmark for tire longevity, and easily attainable especially with a cruiser. You may change tires 3-4 times more often than a car based on typical car tire life, however you do not need to spend more on each individual tire unless you choose to do so.

Any of the bikes mentioned such as the C50 and also a Yamaha V-Star 650, Kawasaki Vulcan 750, Honda Shadow 750 or 1100, etc will fill your needs.

I would be so bold as also include a V Storm 650 or Versys 650. These are comfortable, upright seating position bikes that don’t weigh a lot (500 lbs or a bit less), with performance to do what you have described. I would say they are more versatile than a cruiser as well.

Remember, YOU control how the bike accelerates and brakes. Choosing a bike that fits you properly is your #1 concern so you can enjoy it and not compromise comfort or safety.

Last thing I would share is to up your range to $3500-$4000, and your selections will grow. If you are getting rid of the scooter, the $$ from the sale of that can stretch you easily to the $4000 level.

Keep us posted as to what you decide!
 
Messages
4,930
Location
the canyons
I think your budget and your riding goals do not overlap enough for a first time MC owner. A more experienced rider/MC owner could make that budget work, but a first time owner should get something that will keep them riding to gain experience. Getting a used and abused $3k MC could mean lots of break downs and frustrations for a first timer.

Riding comfortably (for long distances) is not easily done with cheaper bikes, although it can be done with an older bike that is bought for cheap.. if you trust that the older bike is reliable enough to do long distance.

What you'll tend to find is that powerful bikes make interstate riding easier, and powerful bikes are not as cheap as less-powerful bikes. Smaller bikes that are a blast to ride around the city for a few hours often can't hold their weight on the interstate with heavy winds. Larger bikes that are couch comfortable on the interstate can be a pain to ride around a tight city with lots of traffic lights.

But before you buy anything, you should spend a few hundred on a MSF course where you'll be taught everything about riding safely.

I absolutely recommend an MSF course (former MSF instructor), but it will not teach you everything about riding safely.

It's a good basic starting point, but I would suggest some advanced riding and even roadracing instruction, to learn even more about how to control a Motorcycle. Even then, riding is a continual learning experience.

I recall one roadracing instruction class that I was assisting in teaching, one guy said he came to the class with what he thought was 30 years of riding experience. After the class he stated that what he had prior to taking the class, was 1 year of experience, 30 times.

Ridng is a continual learning process. Even for the best MotoGP riders.

A little advice: Never assume other drivers see you. Always assume you are invisible.
 
Messages
432
Location
WI
Ok as what the comments say before mine I'm not going to go into what has already been said.


If you are serious about doing long distance riding you are going to want at least an 1100cc bike that is probably shaft driven.

any cruiser around the 750 to 900cc range just can't seem to handle 65+ without screaming at high RPMS unless its been regeared

a bigger bike like an 1100 to 1300 be it a v-twin or a v-4 it will hold the higher speeds better for long distance riding.


I have a Kawasaki Vulcan 800 classic and its a nice little cruiser but it is not ideal for interstate riding.

My father has a Honda Shadow 1100 and a Yamaha Royalstar 1300 and are much better for interstate.


Do you know anybody that has a bike that would be willing to let you ride it around just to give you an idea on what you'd be comfortable on etc?

I know some dealers do test drive expos now and then.
 
Messages
2,401
Location
Deep in the heart of Jersey
Contrary to what some have posted here, here are some real world motorcycle truths. 1. Tire's cost more then you would think, and don't last as long as car tires. 2. maintenance is costly, if you have to pay someone else to do it. 3. insurance is probably half of what you pay for your car. Depending on your bike CC's and the coverage purchased. 4. Your bike will use less gas then your car. Unless your everyday car gets better then 35-50 mpg. 5. most bikes require a 5k service interval per the mfg. No more then cars do. Regular stuff oil ,filter, and a bunch of checks. Mostly just checking bolts for tightness. Usually less work then a car. As a bike has less parts to service. 6. To be prepared for any road rash situations that might come up, buy good gear. $10 Ebay helmets are as good as a Baseball cap. Good gloves and boots are a must. 7. I don't care how long you've ridden, take time to get familiar with your new bike. Just because your old bike felt or reacted a certain way, don't expect your new one to feel the same. A 750 cc or larger bike will feel alot different at first then a moped. 8. If you feel you need to take a class, take it. 9. Practicing turns and fast stops is something you should practice. 10. Don't let people that have never ridden "but know somebody" . Scare you out of doing what you want. Just because they're scared or have no ability to do it.,,,
 
Messages
16,429
Location
NH
I don't want to pile on, but several years ago I contemplated getting a bike, "because they are cheap to commute on". The advice back then was to get a bike because you like to ride, not because of cost saving (which don't exist).

I don't know what it takes to get "comfortable" on long trips. To be a good long distance rider, does one have to ride often?

Personally I'd look into what routine maintenance will cost. Then price out what PPE will cost. I get it, life is short, and bikes are fun, and lots of people enjoy riding. Not trying to rain on anyone's parade. But lots of things are fun right up until the costs (and effort) are figured out.
 
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