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sarnali 10-30-2005 07:32 PM

Re: Question from a newbie
Nuthin' too it, just remember, one down, four up and turn the loud handle till blue lights start to flash....

Seriously, Harleys are on the spendy side, if I were you I'd get a GS500 Suzuki or some other standard style bike to learn on, then move up when you have a little practice.

Ready for the best peice of advice you'll get? buy and wear good quality riding gear including a full face helmet, good boots and gloves. Practice braking every chance you get and remember, you're doing it for fun, take your time and learn the trade.

allbikesbiker 10-30-2005 07:52 PM

Re: Question from a newbie
height? weight? personality? i.e. speedracer type. hop along, or "look at me" type.

I have a sportster as my all around ride. great starter bike

buy a cruiser until you find your niche' . honda spirit, or any of the midsize ones.

Dangerousdave_2 10-30-2005 07:56 PM

Re: Question from a newbie
I'm not really a big Harley fan, but if that's what floats your boat, I'd say go for the Sportster. They are probably the best bike for a newby, and after a few years under your belt, you will know exactly what you want the next time. I imagine you know that the first year or so is the most perilous for a new rider; at first because they don't know where the hazards might come from, and then because they think they have seen it all. The best advice I can give any new rider is to just assume you are invisible; sometimes a driver will look right at you and not see you. Always have an escape route in mind. And you never, ever drive a motorcycle. You ride it. Good Luck.

Aero_Doc 10-30-2005 08:07 PM

Re: Question from a newbie
Welcome to this mode of transport... you'll find it enjoyable.

Some advice:

This assumes you want to ride a bike for the long term. I guess there are three elements of riding a bike

1. Choosing a bike

2. Learning to ride

3. Looking after your bike.

Get as much advice as you can, eg reading websites, buying a book(s) that covers the above three elements. It is important to become a student: learn, study, apply, relearn etc.

My 2cents on these points:

1. Forget the HD, wait until you'r sure of what u want, why u want it and that you'r sure u wont drop it very often. Suzuki GX, GS models are reliable (but not perfect). Spend money on the saftey gear and get into the habbit of using it (ie get some good habbits from the start :-))

2.learn to ride slowly - very slowly. Learn to control this beast at slow speed. Learn about traction-how to improve it and deplete it, steering methods (eg counter steering), braking (eg when to use which brake), how to corner roads with different radius of curvature. Learn to ride 1 up b4 u learn how to ride with others and also 2 up.

3. Get a bike thats old enough to be in good condition, and that you can learn to change fluids, plugs, filters etc... Get into the habbit on going thru the same routine of looking over your bike on a weekly basis...

Here's mine - hopefully others will give theirs.

I use the mnemonic TCLOCK (read in a great english riding book years ago)

T: tyres - pressure, tread, pads

C: cables (eg clutch), controls (full and free, rubbed etc), hoses

L: lights, electrics, terminals

O: oils(includes fork)/fluids/petrol - levels and leaks

C: chain(tight-lose-worn sprockets)/chassis

K: kick stand and anything else..

have fun and enjoy :-) - its a cool life style!!

Brent_Meeker 10-30-2005 08:29 PM

Re: Question from a newbie
Find somebody to borrow a dirt bike from and go learn to ride in the dirt first. In the dirt you can learn to deal with a little slippin' and slidin'. That's the place to master bike control, before you have to worry about traffic.

Buy a cheap bike (Suzuki GS500 or Kawasaki EX500 for under $2000) and go to some track schools. Practice braking - you can lock the front wheel for 3/4sec without falling down.

Then, if you still want an underpowered, poor handling, underbraked, and overpriced bike, go ahead and buy that Harley.

jjasper 10-30-2005 08:55 PM

Re: Question from a newbie
If your dead set on a Harley, I say get the 883 Sportster. I know most people will say that is underpowered or girly but that is crazy talk. Go anywhere else in the world and that is a monstrously HUGE bike, not very beginner friendly but the best out of Harley's range for e beginner (not counting the Buell Blast).

Seriously though I would get a used dirt cheap small standard and some good riding gear and ride that for 1 year. You will have a blast on it even though it is not a big expensive harley and WHEN you drop it you wont feel as bad as when you drop that big expensive Harley, then scrape the hell out of it trying to pick it up.

My first bike was a beautiful new Triumph Thunderbird Sport with about 900cc. It was a 500+ pound monster. It wore me out, I dropped it twice requiring expensive Triumph replacement parts, and I rode poorly on it, even after acing my MSF class. After a couple years I sold it and got a Suzuki SV650 and it was like heaven, it did not have half the style and character of the Triumph, but it weighed half as much (or at least felt like it) was soooo much easier to ride and I rode MUCH better because I was more confident. I now ride a BMW F650 which is like a low seat, detuned SV650 with ABS brakes and better wind protection (an old man's bike in many people's mind), but it is my favorite bike by far. It rips along great a speeds under 100mph and with the low center of gravity handles like a MUCH smaller bike, plus it has wonderful BMW touches like heated grips, accessory sockets for GPS or heated vest, ABS brakes, and low maintenance belt drive (like harley). Being a BMW it gets as many looks from people, probably more so since their bikes are fugley weird, but non-bikers always come up saying how cool they think it looks. I want to get a Derbi GP1 250cc race scooter or a Suzuki DR400SM as a second bike because I have come to realize I have a lot more fun wringing out and blasting through the street on a small bike than I do using only 1/4 of the bike's potential trying not to kill myself.

I say start small, you might not ever want to leave small. And your wife and insurance will thank you for being sane.

dmorga1 10-30-2005 09:26 PM

Re: Question from a newbie

I'm going to be the curmudgeonly voice of reason here for a minute, because I hear some serious red flags in your plan (or is that "see"?) Anyway, you're new to the world of motor-sickles, you're thinkin' here's your chance. We're about the same age, and it's never too early for a mid-life crisis. Harley dealerships make 75% of their money off mid-life crises! Harley folks tend to be a different breed (although I AM aware many folks here own other bikes and Harleys), and personally I don't get it. These bikes are RIDICULOUSLY overpriced for what they are. Terrible engine deisgn, underpowered, bad handling. All show, no go. Ergos terrible for actually riding safely. But, I digress. My whole point actually is not related to the choice of motorcycle, it's to this whole decision in the first place.

You have an SUV now. You want to save on gas. This seems like a bright idea. However, the hard-commuters like myself tend to be a pretty rare breed. You have to be ten times as careful, and extremely experienced. Most folks roll out of bed brain dead, throw on clothes, drink coffee half asleep on the way to work. YOU CAN'T DO THIS ON A BIKE.

Why am I yelling?! It's just that I'm not sure you've thought this through all the way. Motorcycling is a lot of fun, and can be a cool hobby that can even grow into a lifestyle. but I would be careful planning the lifestyle before you have experienced the hobby.

As a commuter, let me tell you:

1. Cagers in rush hour suck.

2. Rain sucks.

3. Winter sucks.

4. Carrying lots of stuff sucks.

5. Expensive gear sucks, but saves your butt.

6. Flat tires and maintenance suck.

7. Mechanics who take their sweet time fixing your bike because they think it's your leisure toy suck.

So, I would urge you to think carefully about this. If you have sold your wife on this idea as "gas savings," you'd better stop before she gets wise, because it ain't that cost-effective. Bike maintenance costs a fortune if you don't do it yourself, too. And if you sell the SUV (I sure wouldn't, unless you do #1 below), you may find yourself miserable in a couple of months.

I agree with others that a standard is a much better choice, but then again, I ride a standard and don't understand Harleys at all, except that lots of older dudes in the suburbs trying to relive childhood seem to buy them (*flame suit on*). not that all of them are this way, but lord almighty, I sure see a lot of Harleys for sale with 300 miles on 'em after the crisis wears off and reality sets in.

My advice?

1. Sell evil SUV if not absolutely necessary, like for hauling pianos, enormous boxes, and such. Buy fuel-efficient car for half the money.

2. Use other half to buy nice 500-750 standard with all the gear, suit, helmet, gloves, etc.

Take your time.

yo-me-mo 10-30-2005 10:29 PM

Re: Question from a newbie
the sportster is a great bike for a new rider.

ride it stock for awhile and then if you get the 883 have it jetted. It seems like everyone who starts on a sporty eventually moves on but almost all wish they had kept the bike. Keep in mind that this site is slanted against Harley. Read everything you can about safety. There is a science to this and if you approach it from a safety perspective first you will develope skills that can carry you thru a lifetime of safe and fun riding eventually on the spirited side.

maladg 10-31-2005 02:03 AM

Re: Question from a newbie
Lots of good advice above. Hint: Sarnali gave the best....

So I'll just add this: the best bike for you will always be the one you really like.

And if I wuz you, I'd hold off on a big bike for a season or two until you have some miles under your belt.

jibosch 10-31-2005 02:15 AM

Re: Question from a newbie
Buy and Read David L. Hough's "Street Strategies" Book - available at, and enjoy the ride.

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