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Old 06-29-2010, 08:02 AM   #1
jeff10236
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Default I should have listened and bought a smaller used bike- a lesson for other new riders

I bought my first bike not long ago (I have been riding for 2 months and around 1500 miles) and have some thoughts on what I did right and wrong in my search for a bike.

You may have noticed if you frequent the forums that here and on other forums almost everyone says to buy used. There are several reasons, but two of the biggies are that most new riders drop their bike and you won't mind as much if it is "pre-scratched" and simple depreciation- buy used and when you upgrade you won't lose as much money.

They also say to start small (especially on this forum). On other forums they aren't as strict about this, but for sports bikes and standards seem to top out their suggestions around the 650cc range, and for cruisers they tend to go up to the middleweight 750-950cc bikes with some members going up to the 1100cc bikes in their recommendations. One reason to start small is to limit the amount of power- too much power and it is more likely to get away from you. The other issue, the bigger one with cruisers, is weight- too heavy and it is harder to control in slow speed maneuvers.

Well, many of us new riders (especially those looking at cruisers) look at this and think we can get the middleweight bikes (750-950cc cruisers) and get a bike that is acceptable as a starter bike, yet not outgrow it as fast as we would a 250, 500 or even 650cc bike. Some of us older new riders (or younger ones with more disposable income) are drawn to new bikes since we don't know motorcycles well enough to evaluate a used bike and/or we like the peace of mind of a warranty- plus if you add the thinking about the "best of both worlds" for the middleweight bikes (enough power for years from now yet acceptable for a beginner) we don't think we'll be replacing it any time soon so who cares about depreciation.

So, I bought a new 2009 Suzuki Boulevard C50 (an 800cc cruiser).

Let me say off the bat, I have not (yet) dropped my bike and the size has not caused me any trouble. Yet, with just a little experience I now see the wisdom in the "conventional wisdom" to start smaller and used.

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Old 06-29-2010, 08:04 AM   #2
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Here are my specific issues with my choice.

I still think that for many applications and people, the 800cc bikes are terrific. I do really like my bike. However, some of the traits that makes it an acceptable first bike yet one that still will be an acceptable bike for an experienced rider are also its weakness- the "jack of all trades, master of none" syndrome.

The 800cc is low powered enough to be acceptable for a new rider, yet still provides enough power to keep an experienced rider entertained. True, but less power is probably even better as a beginner, and there are already times that, though not necessary, a bit more power would certainly be welcome (merging my 290LB butt onto a freeway for instance).

The 800cc has decent gas mileage and is nimble enough for around town, yet has enough power for the highway. True, but...

Around town it is fine. However, something like the 500cc Kawasaki Vulcan 500, or the 650cc V-Stars would also be fine around town, they'd lose very little personality due to the lower power (since they have more than enough for around town), they'd be more "tossable," they would still have "enough" room (though the C50 definitely beats them here), insurance would be cheaper, and I'd probably get at least 5MPG better than my 800cc C50. Certainly, some standards and sporty bikes would be even more so (bikes like the SV650 get great mileage and are very "tossable").

It isn't a bad bike on the highway. However, after about 45min the vibration can get a little annoying (an 800 v-twin definitely vibrates at highway speeds) and my hands and feet can really start to feel it in 45min-1hr. The seat really gets uncomfortable after a bit over an hour. To make it a true highway bike requires a few hundred bucks on a windshield, $300-500 on a new seat, and a gadget like a Crampbuster and/or gloves with a lot of gel padding due to the vibration numbing the throttle hand. A little bigger would be nice and the extra engine size would alleviate many of the problems (plus a dedicated touring bike usually comes with most or all of the equipment to make it a great highway bike).

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Old 06-29-2010, 08:10 AM   #3
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So, a little smaller (a bike that is clearly a starter bike may be easier to sell) and used is a great way to start. You will find once you start riding that a lot of your ideas of what you want or like will be refined and may change with experience. Even if what you want stays the same, you'll get a better idea about how best to achieve what you want to do with your motorcycle(s). When you refine your ideas and buy a bike that is better suited to it, if you bought used you will lose a lot less money (and you may not have to lose any at all).

In my particular case, what I want hasn't really changed (a commuter and fun around town bike, but one that can go on long trips from time to time as well), just my concept of the best way to get it. Instead of one bike that can do it all, I'd be better off and happier with two. Instead of a new 800cc cruiser, I'd be better served with going used (so I can afford two bikes) and buying a dedicated commuter that gets even better gas mileage (a smaller 500-650cc cruiser, or better yet a 250cc Suzuki TU250 or something like the Suzuki V-Strom 650 or SV650) and after a little experience get a dedicated touring bike for road trips. Since I bought new, remedying my mistake will be more expensive and may have to wait a few years. If I bought a smaller starter bike, I might not even need to make much of a change since it would have made a great commuter bike and I'd only have to add the touring bike when I'm ready. I can still do that (just add the touring bike), but then my 800cc C50 doesn't get the gas mileage of the smaller bikes, which makes them a better choice as a commuter, and it will still be more expensive since my C50 costs more than a Vulcan 500 or SV650.


Anyway, thanks for reading. Sorry it is so long, but I just wanted to get it all out there and hopefully someone won't make the same mistake I made by spending too much money for their first bike (i.e. buying larger and new) which they'll probably just want to replace within a year or two anyway.

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Old 06-29-2010, 08:26 AM   #4
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Out grow a 650? I doubt that more than a handful of people ever actually "outgrow" a bike like an SV650 or Versys. As in their skill level as a rider exceeds the capability of such a bike. Not 1% of motorcyclists ever do that.
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Old 06-29-2010, 09:12 AM   #5
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Out grow a 650? I doubt that more than a handful of people ever actually "outgrow" a bike like an SV650 or Versys. As in their skill level as a rider exceeds the capability of such a bike. Not 1% of motorcyclists ever do that.
"Outgrow" seems to be a relative term with motorcycles. Defining it as "developing your rider skill to exceed the capacity of the bike," most riders probably would never outgrow a 250 (at least the Ninja 250) or any 500. On the other hand, with one of my intended uses (long highway trips), I'd already like a bigger engine than my 800 just so as to have less vibration and for the engine to have a more relaxed and less buzzy feel.

As for basic capability, even with the more relaxed gearing of a cruiser (let alone the more powerful 650s found in something like the SV650), a 650cc V-Star or similar can ride safely at any legal speed of any American highway, as well as the average speed (a bit over the legal speed) of probably any highway. Heck, a 250 can do the legal speed limit of just about any highway out there (though not necessarily the real world speed people actually ride/drive on them). Of course, a bigger engine will be more relaxed and comfortable when doing it.

So, it all depends upon what you mean by "outgrow."

Oh, with all I wrote there, you are really going to pick out just that one use of that one word? (A use that has little to do with the rest of my posting). Really?

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Old 06-29-2010, 09:24 AM   #6
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jeff,

I did quite a bit of research before purchasing my 1st bike. I wanted to get something that was fairly easy to ride, very controllable, looked good, wasnt too expensive, had great gas mileage, and I would be happy to ride it after a few years.

I purchased a 1 year old used Suzuki Boulevard M50, which is very similar to your C50. My brother bought the C50, and I have ridden it as well.

My experience has been terrific on it. The weekend after I did the MSF Basic Riders Course, I took the M50 for a spin. I will admit I was slightly nervous, but after about 15 seconds on the bike, I felt really good about riding it. I rode it home, and cruised around my neighborhood for the 1st day or so, then ventured beyond that. By the end of the week, I was riding on the freeway and such.

I am in my 3rd season, and have 8000 miles on my M50. I have learned a little about maintenance, repair, and have added just a couple of custom parts (fat brake leavers which are very plush, as well as a throttle lock for longer rides).

I have also found that this bike is reliable, responsive, and has pretty good acceleration for city driving. I can usually accelerate in front of most cars from a light if I need to merge soon after that.

I ride with guys who have similar bikes, as well as those who have fast sport bikes. They are usually cool with just cruising with me, and I have also learned how to get a little more power out of my bike with leaning a little more on the throttle, and shifting through the gears more quickly. Sure they can dust me (my buddy has a Yamaha Fz1) but for normal riding, my M50 does just fine.

At this point, I feel great about my purchase. It was a wonderful way for me to learn how to ride, and I still enjoy riding it. At this point, I could choose to sell it and get something else, or I could choose to add a windshield, maybe some exhaust pipes, and an aftermarket intake, and ride it for a couple more years. Either way, its a great bike, and it brings joy to my day when I have great weather, and I can ride it for commuting or a weekend ride.
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Old 06-29-2010, 09:26 AM   #7
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Jeff,

Good of you to share your experience. Hopefully others will read this and make the right choices. I understand the desire to get the bike you really want...who wouldn't? But bikes aren't like a lot of other things we buy for fun. Bikes can kill or maim you. And even if you don't get hurt, the repairs can run into hundreds with a simple drop in the driveway. Thousands in a wreck that a car owner could call a "fender bender."

One more thing Jeff, if you're really racking up the miles, you might be a Sport Tourer at heart. I loved my "cruiser," but even a 300 mile trip left me whipped. 300 miles on my current bike just leaves me wanting more.
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Old 06-29-2010, 09:28 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jeff10236 View Post
"Outgrow" seems to be a relative term with motorcycles. Defining it as "developing your rider skill to exceed the capacity of the bike," most riders probably would never outgrow a 250 (at least the Ninja 250) or any 500. On the other hand, with one of my intended uses (long highway trips), I'd already like a bigger engine than my 800 just so as to have less vibration and for the engine to have a more relaxed and less buzzy feel.

As for basic capability, even with the more relaxed gearing of a cruiser (let alone the more powerful 650s found in something like the SV650), a 650cc V-Star or similar can ride safely at any legal speed of any American highway, as well as the average speed (a bit over the legal speed) of probably any highway. Heck, a 250 can do the legal speed limit of just about any highway out there (though not necessarily the real world speed people actually ride/drive on them). Of course, a bigger engine will be more relaxed and comfortable when doing it.

So, it all depends upon what you mean by "outgrow."

Oh, with all I wrote there, you are really going to pick out just that one use of that one word? (A use that has little to do with the rest of my posting). Really?
Jeez. Take it easy. I just think the term outgrow is used too easily by too may bikers. I don't have any argument with anything you said really.
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Old 06-29-2010, 10:59 AM   #9
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Jeez. Take it easy. I just think the term outgrow is used too easily by too may bikers. I don't have any argument with anything you said really.
Check the smiley, I wasn't upset, just teasing. And I agree that "outgrow" may be overused and used incorrectly, but it is a "natural" word to use sometimes (it just isn't very precise).
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Old 06-29-2010, 11:33 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by redsavina View Post
jeff,

I did quite a bit of research before purchasing my 1st bike. I wanted to get something that was fairly easy to ride, very controllable, looked good, wasnt too expensive, had great gas mileage, and I would be happy to ride it after a few years.

I purchased a 1 year old used Suzuki Boulevard M50, which is very similar to your C50. My brother bought the C50, and I have ridden it as well.

My experience has been terrific on it. The weekend after I did the MSF Basic Riders Course, I took the M50 for a spin. I will admit I was slightly nervous, but after about 15 seconds on the bike, I felt really good about riding it. I rode it home, and cruised around my neighborhood for the 1st day or so, then ventured beyond that. By the end of the week, I was riding on the freeway and such.

I am in my 3rd season, and have 8000 miles on my M50. I have learned a little about maintenance, repair, and have added just a couple of custom parts (fat brake leavers which are very plush, as well as a throttle lock for longer rides).

I have also found that this bike is reliable, responsive, and has pretty good acceleration for city driving. I can usually accelerate in front of most cars from a light if I need to merge soon after that.

I ride with guys who have similar bikes, as well as those who have fast sport bikes. They are usually cool with just cruising with me, and I have also learned how to get a little more power out of my bike with leaning a little more on the throttle, and shifting through the gears more quickly. Sure they can dust me (my buddy has a Yamaha Fz1) but for normal riding, my M50 does just fine.

At this point, I feel great about my purchase. It was a wonderful way for me to learn how to ride, and I still enjoy riding it. At this point, I could choose to sell it and get something else, or I could choose to add a windshield, maybe some exhaust pipes, and an aftermarket intake, and ride it for a couple more years. Either way, its a great bike, and it brings joy to my day when I have great weather, and I can ride it for commuting or a weekend ride.
I think I should repeat something I said in the second part of my posting:

"I still think that for many applications and people, the 800cc bikes are terrific. I do really like my bike. However, some of the traits that makes it an acceptable first bike yet one that still will be an acceptable bike for an experienced rider are also its weakness- the "jack of all trades, master of none" syndrome."

I really do like my bike quite a bit. It may be a bit too strong to say it was a mistake to buy it.

You hint at what is probably its strongest point- cruising around on back roads the midsized 750-950cc cruisers really shine. They still get great mileage, they probably do better at the 50-60mph speeds you may be doing there than the smaller bikes (the smaller bikes can certainly do it, but the 800cc bike's engine will be more relaxed), and they are nimble enough. I love taking my bike on extended runs on back roads. For people who want a cruiser style bike it may be ideal for this role (the bigger bikes can do it, but may not get the mileage or be as nimble, the smaller bikes can do it, but won't be quite as relaxed, the 800-900cc bikes do it quite comfortably with good gas mileage).

However, I still think a new rider is better off used and smaller (i.e. cheaper). I have a lot of different roles I want my bike to fill- as a one bike to do everything kind of bike an 800cc cruiser works, but I think I'd be better off with two used bikes instead of one new one. If I was to do only one bike I think I'd be happier with a touring bike (though that isn't a beginners bike, another reason I should have at least gone used). Some riders may think they are cruiser riders but after some experience find they are really sports bike or standard riders (or vice versa). Some may simply find they don't like it as much as they thought (look at Craigslist or Ebay, there are an awful lot of 1-2 year old bikes with virtually no miles, or 10 year old bikes with 5K or fewer miles).

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