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Tigercub 10-31-2005 08:11 AM

Re: Question from a newbie
I shouldn't reply to my own post, but I just read all the responses and have to make a couple comments.

1) Don't worry about dropping your bike. It happens or it doesn't. Most likely, you eventually will have a tip-over in your garage or parking lot. So what!! You won't do much damage to it and Harley's are easily repaired.

2) Who says you can't own and ride a Harley like any other bike. You don't have to buy a lot of chrome and leather bits for it, or clean it for that matter. I once saw a five year-old '92 FLHS with about 70,000 miles on it. It was a filthy mess, but obviously was a runner as far as the owner was concerned.

3) Harley's get good gas mileage. They produce less power to do it. Those high performance bikes don't get that performance for free. Their mileage is worse than a Harley. If you are worried about gas mileage and need a good commuter vehicle buy a Honda Civic. If you want a motorcycle buy a Sportster.

Tigercub 10-31-2005 08:15 AM

Re: Question from a newbie
OK, I promise this is the last comment.

You will never (never) have to explain to anyone why you bought a Harley.

sportbikebandit 10-31-2005 08:22 AM

Re: Question from a newbie
You make a great point about the resale value. Also, I don't know how maintenance costs of a Harley compare with a Metric V-Twin, but compared with valve inspections of an Japense inline 4 supersport I assume the self adjusting valves of Harleys and Buells is another cost advantage.

m_t_yeo 10-31-2005 08:38 AM

Advice I wish I had known a year ago ...
1. Buy the protective gear in advance. If you can't pony up for the proper gear before you even lift a leg over a bike, then you aren't really serious about riding.

2. Invest in a copy of your local buy and sell paper. Check out all the late model bikes up for sale and do some hard thinking about why there are so many of them. The dream never fits the reality quite like people expect it to and every one of those bikes up for sale is likely somebody's broken dream.

3. Buy some decent tools and get yourself set up for doing your own maintenance, including buying a shop manual for the bike you end up buying. Paying someone to do repairs for you means that your cheap transportation ends up just as expensive per mile traveled than any SUV. Instead of paying for gas, you are paying repair and maintenance bills. Buying one of the least reliable brands on the road is just going to make this aspect of motorcycling worse, so at least be prepared.

4. Ignore the pull of the 'lifestyle marketing' for at least a little while and buy a different bike as your starter. A cheap, small, agile, fuel-efficient standard is the ideal bike to cut your teeth on and ... it just happens to be the best type of bike for daily commuting. You can drop it and still have a running chance of getting it back onto its wheels, repairs when you do drop it will be cheap, it will run inexpensively while you learn, and it will be agile enough to make driving in stop-and-go traffic at least tolerable. Once you are confident in handling this bike, graduate to the Harley, but keep the little bike around. I'll bet you go back to it after a month of driving the Harley on the commute.

5. Talk to someone who commutes on their bike every single day, rain or shine and get their advice. People who ride day in and day out buy different bikes, different gear and different accessories than people looking for the image ... but they are still riding year after year after year, long after most of the poseurs have sold their bikes and have gone back to the cage. Chrome can't keep you warm and all the black clothing is pretty tough to see at night.

6. Invest in some good, fitted earplugs. I won't pretend to understand why you think Harley's sound cool, but cool or not, they are godawful loud. You will destroy your hearing on that bike - guaranteed - unless you protect yourself right out of the gate. On that same note, make friends with your neighbours because when you spark the bike up in the early a.m. to go to work, you aren't going to have many allies on your street. Make extra special efforts if you have parents or seniors on your street, because the complaints *will* start rolling in and your Harley *will* measure over the local noise limits, even as stock. My building recently evicted a tenant because of his new Sportster and it got so bad, tenants bought dB meters and video-taped themselves taking measurements while he revved up his bike in the morning. There was lots of screaming going on, let me tell you.

7. 883cc is a HUGE bike by world standards. It is only in North America that we have this ridiculous idea that a Sportster is a beginner bike.

I bought an 854cc Triumph Thruxton cafe racer. I, like you, intended to commute ever day to work. I dropped it twice in the first month, costing me $500 in repairs. I paid another $300 to put raised bars onto the bike because my arms were killing me in traffic leaned over like I was. I added a small $350 fairing to deflect some of the worst wind on the highway. I bought all weather clothing to replace the normal riding gear that got soaked and nearly froze me in the first rainstorm. I bought a backpack to haul my stuff, then a bigger one when that got too small, then some saddle bags when that backpack turned out to be less than aerodynamic and nearly pulled me off the bike in a cross wind. I bought a reflective vest when a fellow motorcyclist nearly ran into me at night. I bought tools one at a time as I needed them for this bit of maintenance or that bit of a repair.

When all was said and done, my cafe racer is now more or less back to being a standard and it has all the scars to prove that it rode the learning curve with me. It also cost me over 4k more than I initially budgeted for all the extra junk I needed to actually ride every day.

jjasper 10-31-2005 08:51 AM

Re: Question from a newbie
I hate to reply to my own comment, but I was thinking I never appreciated heated grips, wind protection, ABS, and low maintenance till I started riding full time (I don't even own a car).

Get sport touring compound for your tires, you will be happy for the extra tread life. My bike is a very simple 650cc single banger, it is actually very smooth too. Learn to do your own maintenance it will save you an ass load of money. My bike also runs better on cheap gas, go figure, and gets 60MPG on the highway. A small single standard will be much easier on the gas than a large displacement heavy bike (they are also better for lane splitting if you live where it is legal). I say a 250cc is a great starter bike.

When you were a little kid and learned to ride a bicycle you didn't hop on a full size grown up tour de france bike and head out into rush hour traffic. No you started small and worked your way up. It is best to do the same with motorcycles.

I don't think the Sportster is a terrible choice, my MSF instructor also rode his year round (didn't own a car) between Dayton and Cincinnati, OH. Personally I wouldn't ride during the winter there but more power to him he was hard core. He also wore a full face helmet, full leathers, and a neon reflection vest over top, all bright colors. A true safety guy.

My ideal bike would be a 400-500cc twin, supermoto style, super light weight, heated grips and heated comfy seat, a small wind deflector, great storage options, belt drive, and low maintenance, uses cheap gas too and gets at the very least 50MPG while cruising at 80MPH. Aka the ultimate commuter.

Pretty much if BMW took their CS, got rid of a lot of lard, put in the Aprilia little twin and heated the seat. I would be one happy camper.

sportbikebandit 10-31-2005 08:53 AM

Re: Question from a newbie
Do I have to say it (gym thing)? Ooops I forgot you do go to the gym. How about those White Sox? Longride took a full week to recover from the party. Tell the Chargers thanx for knocking off the Chiefs. Go Broncos!

Fenton 10-31-2005 09:07 AM

Re: Question from a newbie
"Practice braking - you can lock the front wheel for 3/4sec without falling down."

On average, how many times should I fall down before I figure this one out?

Buzglyd 10-31-2005 09:19 AM

Re: Question from a newbie
200 miles on the Brutale feels like the 1200 I just did on the Geezer Glide.

I'm sure Bronco fans everywhere are scrambling to take their bets off the board after you just endorsed the Donkeys.

You sure do know how to pick 'em.

Buzglyd 10-31-2005 09:22 AM

Re: Advice I wish I had known a year ago ...
Gee you sound like a real Harley expert.

How many miles have you ridden one again?

longride 10-31-2005 09:24 AM

Re: Question from a newbie
Broncos??? Yuk Yuk. Be assured that Jake the Snake will be exposed as the choker he is. How you did 200 miles on that little beast is amazing. It's fun as hell, but I would be in tears after 200 big ones. How was the Yosemite trip? Better yet, don't tell me. I already want to cry just thinking about winter here.

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