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Old 03-18-2007, 05:08 PM   #71
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Default Re: Need some quick advice on bike choice.

Yes - talk to an insurance agent first, just to get an idea of what you'll be in for. I'm fortunate because I love naked bikes -- I have a Honda 599, which I just love. (It would fit you, too!) They are much cheaper to insure than faired bikes because the insurers don't have to worry about body damage claims.

The 599 is based on CBR f3 technology so it's great fun to ride aggressively, by the way. If you can find a lightly used one you'd be in clover, I bet.
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Old 03-19-2007, 06:03 AM   #72
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Default Re: Need some quick advice on bike choice.

I'm a little late to the game and you've heard it all by now, but I'll throw in my two cents anyway.

If you're 18 and just getting into motorcycles, you have several issues with which to contend. First and foremost is safety, and one of the chief factors in safety for a new rider is horsepower. As in too much ain't a good thing when you're starting out.

The definition of sportbike has changed radically since I started riding in the 1970s. Back then, you had your Harleys and BMWs and a few exotics, or you rode UJMs--Universal Japanese Motorcycles. Some handled better than others, and if you wanted a sportbike you selected one that was a handler. A few of the folks out there will remember that the Kawasaki Z1 was beautiful and a real screamer in a straight line, but handling was, um, not so hot. When Suzuki came out with the GS 750, they nailed the handling, and for years the sportiest rides out there were a series of Suzuki GS models. Suzuki did us one other favor, as well--They made bikes in a variety of sizes that had visibly common DNA. As a result, if you were riding around on a 450, you didn't have to feel like a beginner--or at least you didn't have to feel like you LOOKED like a beginner.

These days all that has changed. Now, the models all change every three years, and in the intervening years they get bold new graphics. If you don't have the latest, biggest, with the newest graphics, you ain't cool or something. As one who has been there and done that, I would suggest unequivocally and without qualification that having the latest, biggest, and with the newest graphics is about as solid a basis for making a first bike decision as some watery tart lying in a ditch distributing swords is for establishing who should be your king.

Back to horsepower. You don't need a lot to get in trouble. Look at the road rags--guys who get to ride GSXR1ZX1,000,000s actually buy and race SV650s. If you watch the sports car blogs, you will also see a bunch of guys that trade in their Corvettes and Vipers and such for Z4s, MX-5s, Solstices and the like because--glory be!--they can actually use all of the car's performance and balance becomes the prevailing value.

A critical rule of thumb for 18-year-old riders should be that i=fp, where i=insurance premium, f=hp, and p=percent plastic. For most young riders, dollars matter, and the more engine you have dipped in plastic, the more exorbitant your insurance rates will be. In addition, most of us object to riding broken bikes, and when the plastic fantastic tips over in the parking lot (and trust me, that's the best place to tip over), you'll not only do $500 dollars damage to the plastic in the blink of an eye, you'll put the bike on blocks for several weeks waiting for parts, paint, and bucks. Tip over an SV, and you'll have to replace a hand grip, and maby a brake or clutch lever, which your dealer will have in stock.

Well, that about covers horsepower and its relatives, so let's move on to the next topic in this missive: rideability. I define this as comfort and usefulness. I won't use the term "practicality," as it turns off the folks who might benefit most by paying attention to it. Sport bikes generally aren't comfortable. Sit on one and see if it feels natural to you. No, really, go ahead and do it. There are reasons why top-flight riders tuck into a radical riding positions to win races. Aerodynamics, balance, and handling on the edge are all affected by riding position, and I'd be lying if I told you these factors weren't also applicable to street riding. However, and it's a big however, for 90-percent riding, comfort is more important. Go down to your Trek bicycle dealer and sit on a high-end road bike, then sit on a bargain basement mountain bike, and tell me which one you'd rather spend six hours on. Comfort is heavily related to usefulness, since if your bike is uncomfortable, you'll be less likely to ride it. Usefulness also involves the ability to pack things along, like passengers, textbooks, and steaks. Get something that doesn't look and feel ridiculous with a rack and/or some kind of bags--at least throw-over softbags.

Speaking of passengers, don't start out with one. Ride until you are confident of the controls and handling of your machine before you put a pillion at risk. If you're like most of us, the person you are most likely to perch behind you is the person you care about the most, so remember to act like it. And if you currently have a significant other, by all means take her (or him) with you when you're trying on bikes. The pillion matters.

I don't ride a Suzuki. Better get that caveat out of the way. That being said, there's a case to be made that all new riders should shop at Suzuki dealers, at least if they are looking for new bikes. The three best entry level values, IMO, are all Suzukis. If you just have to have a sportbike, look at the SV650. The unfaired version is still sporty, and has a very comfortable riding position for most riders, regardless of size. The faired version has a more sporting riding position and would not be the first choice for Texas-sized folks, but for riders of more, um, classical proportions, it would do just fine. If you can stand a little goofy, then the DL 650 is, hands down, the most useful bike out there for new riders. It's fast enough, handles well, has the most comfortable saddle in the world, and accepts a variety of racks and bags if you need to ride to the state university. Fairing and wind protection are okay, but you do have to contend with that whole goofy thing. Probably the bike we all ought to be riding is the DR 650, which is light, tough, reasonably comfortable (although windblast is an issue at highway speeds), can go anywhere, and dealers are dealing. Read Dexter Ford's stuff and Peter Egan's on how the faces of jaded sportbike riders light up when they get on a good dual-sport. Also, amaze your friends on their CBRasakis on cold, wet days or when riding on tight roads consisting primarily of gravel and oil spills.

If you're willing to buy a used bike, all bets are off. You get what you pay for, and if you accept the proposition that you're going to lay it down along the way and can get past the ego gratification that comes with having the latest, biggest, with the newest graphics, you can get far more for your buck on the used market. It's ironic, but I'd advise against buying anything used that has immediate appeal. Placed in context, the same sportbikes that strike your fancy also appeal to every other 18-year-old rider who doesn't stop to think about how much it costs to replace a clutch--or worse, rebuild a transmission. Buy something four years old, with three thousand miles on it, that was ridden by a dentist who thought it would be a hoot to ride a motorcycle but almost immediately moved on to bass fishing.

I've made a short story long, here, but I remember all of the MOFOs who have provided valuable advice and info to my inquiries through the years. Good luck, and remember that the rubber side goes down.


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Old 03-19-2007, 07:03 AM   #73
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Default Re: Need some quick advice on bike choice.

I prefer it to a Reuther board for vaulting purposes.
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Old 03-19-2007, 10:39 AM   #74
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Default Re: Need some quick advice on bike choice.

A dropped (naked) SV usually ends up with a bent handlebar(easily straightened) and dented tank. My wife decided to do it twice to maintain symmetry.
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Old 03-19-2007, 12:20 PM   #75
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Default Re: Need some quick advice on bike choice.

Was she just as happy on either side?
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Old 03-19-2007, 04:17 PM   #76
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Default Re: Just a guess

They were speculating that a user with the word Vioxx in their username was in fact the new improved wholy reborn Ksquid. I was asking why Ksquid would use a painkiller/anti-inflammatory as his user name. If we have him pegged right, he isnt that old.

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Old 03-27-2007, 03:09 PM   #77
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Default Re: Need some quick advice on bike choice.

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