Motorcycles

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Motorcycles

Postby Arnock » Sun Feb 19, 2012 1:53 pm

So, I've been running into enough car trouble lately that I'm going to need to move into a new vehicle sometime in the very near future.

And, due to a shortage of money, and a lack of an actual need for a 4+ passenger vehicle, I've been seriously considering getting a motorcycle rather than a new car.

I've done a small amount of research on my own, I know that my state requires that I take and pass a motorcycle safety course, and I was thinking that that would provide a way to see if motorcycle commuting would be something that would work out for me.

However, I still know next to nothing about motorcycles, I've never ridden one, and I don't really know anyone who regularly commutes, rides, or even owns a motorcycle near me, and I was wondering if any of my fellow maintankadiners might have any thoughts, experience or advice that they'd be willing to give me.
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Re: Motorcycles

Postby Amshel » Sun Feb 19, 2012 3:08 pm

I don't know what the weather is like where you live but take the safety course when it's cooler, they do reschedule around rain too. I made the mistake of taking mine in a hot area during the summer. The heat was bad; we were lined up in the sun for a long time. The safety course I took provided the helmets, gloves, and bikes but those helmets are disgusting. If you're really into doing this I'd recommend getting your own helmet first. HJC's cost under 100.

I'll let the people who still have bikes or have been riding for years offer actual motorcycle advice. I ended up selling mine a few months after I bought it. Couldn't afford the insurance while jobless.
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Re: Motorcycles

Postby Dibdib » Sun Feb 19, 2012 3:23 pm

I don't know many people who have a bike purely for "practical" reasons and stick with it that long.

Raining? You're going to get wet. Hot? You're going to get sweaty. Need to wear a smart suit? Tough. Want to give anyone a ride? You'll have to hope you have a helmet/jacket/gloves/etc in the right size. Need to transport anything? Hope it fits in a rucksack. Snow/ice? Don't even bother, unless you want your shiny new bike wrapped around a tree.

For these reasons, I know I can't just have a bike; I need my car too. My bike is taxed/insured for about 9 months every year, and tucked away in the garage over the worst of the winter. All the problems above CAN be overcome, but often it's expensive. I want a bike with full luggage and decent winter riding gear but adding it up, I'm looking at about the same as a car.

All that said, I love my bike. I really do. And I wouldn't be without one. It transformed my commute from 3 hours a day of hell to two hours of utter pleasure, gave me an amazing way to spend summer sunday afternoons, introduced me to new friends and much more.

Whatever you decide, above all be safe. I know some people who have had some pretty big spills, and so far they've all come through it OK. Wear appropriate riding gear (not just the minimum required by the laws where you are) and make sure you're suitably trained on how to ride safely. If you get bitten by the bug, advanced riding classes will have the benefit of making you much quicker than a bigger engine :-)
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Re: Motorcycles

Postby Arnock » Sun Feb 19, 2012 4:32 pm

I live in South Florida, so snow/ice isn't much of an issue for me. However, rain might be. How safe is it to ride through heavy rain?
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Re: Motorcycles

Postby Dibdib » Sun Feb 19, 2012 4:53 pm

Arnock wrote:I live in South Florida, so snow/ice isn't much of an issue for me. However, rain might be. How safe is it to ride through heavy rain?


Depending what you meant by "heavy", and with suitable tyres (i.e. not trackday almost-slicks), the right safety-first attitude and adequate experience/training it's safe. Not pleasant though. It's a constant reminder that bikes are inherently unstable, and each tyre has a contact patch the size of a post-it note.

However, be warned that rain WILL get in everywhere. lots of bike gear is labelled as "waterproof", but usually only the expensive stuff is. If I ever go back to 365 bike commuting (two British winters was enough for me), I'll be looking at investing in a Rukka suit and they retail for about £500+ ($1000 US, ish).

Similarly for luggage, do your research - too many times I got to the office to find a slightly damp work shirt in my bag.

Chris (a very weather-battered Brit biker :lol: )
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Re: Motorcycles

Postby Arnock » Sun Feb 19, 2012 7:48 pm

Heh, I commuted to work/school by bicycle for my first two semesters of college, I learned very quickly to not bother with a rain coat, and make sure to check the plastic bags where I packed my clothes/towel VERY closely for holes =P
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Re: Motorcycles

Postby crazyharry » Mon Feb 20, 2012 3:15 am

Dibdib wrote:
Arnock wrote:I live in South Florida, so snow/ice isn't much of an issue for me. However, rain might be. How safe is it to ride through heavy rain?


Depending what you meant by "heavy", and with suitable tyres (i.e. not trackday almost-slicks), the right safety-first attitude and adequate experience/training it's safe.


Must be something wrong with me, I loved riding in the pissing rain.

Advise wise, invest in a decent helmet. An undamaged head is worth way more than any helmet you care to buy and odds are you will come off your bike at least once.
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Re: Motorcycles

Postby Shyrtandros » Mon Feb 20, 2012 2:42 pm

crazyharry wrote:
Dibdib wrote:
Arnock wrote:I live in South Florida, so snow/ice isn't much of an issue for me. However, rain might be. How safe is it to ride through heavy rain?


Depending what you meant by "heavy", and with suitable tyres (i.e. not trackday almost-slicks), the right safety-first attitude and adequate experience/training it's safe.


Must be something wrong with me, I loved riding in the pissing rain.
Advise wise, invest in a decent helmet. An undamaged head is worth way more than any helmet you care to buy and odds are you will come off your bike at least once.


I also love riding in the rain.

I have never owned a car and I've only owned my motorcycles and I've used them for everything everyday for over 4 years. I've dealt with my fair share of rain, storms, hails ( this week in fact ) and I still wouldn't undo my investment into it. Wit that being said literally a little goes a long way. If you want it to be your ONLY vehicle I would recommend looking into either a cruiser or a cruiser / street hybrid.

You want something with a windshield an attached back seat and mounting possibilites for saddlebags at a bare minimum. If I could make recommendations I would say get a backseat with a back rest that has a "luggage rack" and then get some hard saddle bags that can be locked.

A lot of people say "well I don't like the look of a windshield, bags & back seat - it looks like an old mans bike." Guess what they're removable accessories you can use as you like. <20 mins I can take off (or put on) backrest, bags and a windshield.

My saddle bags are just big enough to be able to fit one of those 2x6 fridge 12packs of soda in it with a little room on top for some stuff. My rule of thumb is everything I can fit in one of those hand held shopping baskets will fit in my saddle bags. + more if I want to just bungee cord something like frozen pizzas to the backseat or luggage rack. You'll be completely suprised by the sheer volume you can actually carry on a bike once you're used to it.

The only thing people NEED to understand is you'll have to have some resources or be willing to take the hit for a rental for those "special moments" when you have to have a car / truck but even then it's situational.

In my years of ownership I've paid for ONE service that wasn't your standard oil, brakes, tires, ect ect.. $20 fork seal replacement.. As for my routine maintenence I bought a 3 year package deal that every 4,000mi I bring it into the shop and they take care of w/e maintenence is needed until the plan runs out. I've added up the services that i've had done on the bike and w/o the plan it would have cost me easily 3x what I paid for the plan and i've still got another 6 months left to cash in 1-2 more services. I average 40 miles per gallon but I always drive 80+ MPH.. I can easily get 50 if I drove the speed limit.

So if you're looking at cost of the bike, cost of upkeep ect ect hands down the bike is going to be a HUUUUUGE money saver. I paid my full year of full coverage bike insurance at once and it only cost me a little over $700 which was actually cheaper than my ex's car insurance.

Saving money is great, good incentive but most people will go back to a car w/in 6 months. In order to stay on the bike long-term you'll need your primary motivation to be that you WANT a bike to ride a bike and not just economical reasons.

If you're going to do it then do it right from the get go or else it'll just be a pain in the long run.

Some additional tips I'd give you is.. Don't worry about brand names.. I almost bought myself a great new BEAUTIFUL Harley but it wasn't "Comfortable" to ride for more than 10 minutes, was too small for me, I know dozens of riders and the only people who I know who HAVENT had major bike troubles are on Hondas, Yamahas & Suzuke cruisers, while my Harley friends have had some major issues (and to be honost they are WAAAY better than I am about 'caring for' their bikes.)

As for actual bike recommendations.. Consider a Yamaha VStar 650+CC. Great price, good bike, built like a tank, great accessory options.

Personally I ride a Honda VTX1300cc and looking back I totally could have picked up a lower CC bike and it wouldn't have made any real difference except for saving me some $$.

TL/DR - Make sure YOU WANTING to ride is your #1 motivation to make a bike your mode of transportation or your just going to waste a LOT of money to realize you want a car instead.

If you have questions I'll GLADLY answer any you have. When I'm home I'll try to remember to throw a pic of my bike on here.
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Re: Motorcycles

Postby Fivelives » Mon Feb 20, 2012 3:53 pm

crazyharry wrote:Advise wise, invest in a decent helmet. An undamaged head is worth way more than any helmet you care to buy and odds are you will come off your bike at least once.


We in the trade call those brain buckets. There is no safety helmet ever made that'll stop you from cracking your head open like an egg if you wreck the wrong way at freeway speeds (especially on a freeway) - they just make cleanup easier and help us keep our lunches down when we get called out to scrape your pancaked ass off the asphalt.

Want my advice? Downsize to a smaller car, especially if you've never ridden before. People who grow up in motorcycle culture and have been riding for years, if not decades like to talk about the benefits, and I'll own that most of those claims are entirely right. However, the safety concerns - especially if you're using it as your sole vehicle - are more than enough to offset them. No amount of "super gas mileage" or "increased convenience/ease of maintenance" is worth the tradeoff.
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Re: Motorcycles

Postby Shyrtandros » Mon Feb 20, 2012 6:42 pm

Here's my bike.

I bought it used with 12,000 miles for roughly 7K. I've got a windshield I put on for rainy season or winter, bags can be removed in under 5 minutes due to special mounting so if I want a "sportier" look I can have it.. 95% of the time they stay on the bike though.

If you decide that it's the way to go I'll gladly discuss with you more specific things that will help you out.

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Re: Motorcycles

Postby Shyrtandros » Mon Feb 20, 2012 6:42 pm

Here's my bike.

I bought it used with 12,000 miles for roughly 7K. I've got a windshield I put on for rainy season or winter, bags can be removed in under 5 minutes due to special mounting so if I want a "sportier" look I can have it.. 95% of the time they stay on the bike though.

If you decide that it's the way to go I'll gladly discuss with you more specific things that will help you out.

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Re: Motorcycles

Postby Arnock » Tue Feb 21, 2012 12:02 pm

Fivelives wrote:We in the trade call those brain buckets. There is no safety helmet ever made that'll stop you from cracking your head open like an egg if you wreck the wrong way at freeway speeds (especially on a freeway) - they just make cleanup easier and help us keep our lunches down when we get called out to scrape your pancaked ass off the asphalt.

Want my advice? Downsize to a smaller car, especially if you've never ridden before. People who grow up in motorcycle culture and have been riding for years, if not decades like to talk about the benefits, and I'll own that most of those claims are entirely right. However, the safety concerns - especially if you're using it as your sole vehicle - are more than enough to offset them. No amount of "super gas mileage" or "increased convenience/ease of maintenance" is worth the tradeoff.



Out of curiosity, roughly how many of the motorcycle accidents you've witnessed have been the fault of reckless/careless riding on the cyclist's part, compared to being another party's fault?






Shyrtandros wrote:If you decide that it's the way to go I'll gladly discuss with you more specific things that will help you out.


From the small amount of research that I've done, most beginners shouldn't get a bike much bigger than 250CC. Would you agree with this recommendation?


Also, what do you think of the Honda Rebel?
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Re: Motorcycles

Postby Dibdib » Tue Feb 21, 2012 12:13 pm

Arnock wrote:
Shyrtandros wrote:If you decide that it's the way to go I'll gladly discuss with you more specific things that will help you out.


From the small amount of research that I've done, most beginners shouldn't get a bike much bigger than 250CC. Would you agree with this recommendation?


Also, what do you think of the Honda Rebel?


No experience of the Rebel but Hondas have a rep for being very solidly built.

As for the 250cc limit, that's a good idea. Novice riders over here are restricted to 125cc depending on the test route they take, which I think works well. There is a direct access route for over-21s who pass their test on a larger bike (> 33bhp) which immediately grants a licence to ride anything.

Personally I took the direct access route (and went straight onto a 955cc sports tourer) but I was very grateful for the year I spent on a novice licence and a little 125 Suzuki VanVan first.
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Re: Motorcycles

Postby Shyrtandros » Tue Feb 21, 2012 12:44 pm

Arnock wrote:Out of curiosity, roughly how many of the motorcycle accidents you've witnessed have been the fault of reckless/careless riding on the cyclist's part, compared to being another party's fault?

In my experience most bike accidents could be prevented by the rider. Obviously there are the ones that the rider can't control but I find those less common in my experience.. When you learn to ride a bike you should always be on the "defensive / alert" mode everywhere you go (Which will become second nature and can make you a better driver regardless of being on a bike).. I totalled my first bike on week 3, some idiot with a trailer came around a corner and his trailer was in my lane. He was to blame for having half of my lane covered but I was to blame for being too new to riding to use the other half without flying off the road.

Arnock wrote:From the small amount of research that I've done, most beginners shouldn't get a bike much bigger than 250CC. Would you agree with this recommendation?

Most motorcycle courses will teach you to ride on a 250 or a 450. The only true difference is the sensativity of the clutch, throttle & how responsive the 0 to 60 is. Once you get passed the stage that you kill the bike everytime you try to let out the clutch you'll be fine. I learned in 2 weekends on a 250 then went out and bought an 1100 followed by a 1300.

I will say the benefit of picking up a 250 or a 450 is that they appear to resale quite well since a lot of newer people buy them to "try motorcyling". It would probably be easy to buy a slightly used 1.

Arnock wrote:Also, what do you think of the Honda Rebel?

Great bike but really small, and by that I mean if you're not short you'll probably cramp up riding it. A lady I knew had an awesome rebel and I tried it out for fun.. it was a fun ride but within 10 minutes I could tell anything longer would leave me sore.

If you're 5'7 or taller I would consider a bike with forward controls simply for comfort reasons. (The controls are actually the footpegs you rest your feet on). A lot of bikes come standard with Mid Controls but have the option to be changed easily.

Here's the basic info about Forward Controls.
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Re: Motorcycles

Postby Shyrtandros » Tue Feb 21, 2012 1:22 pm

Dibdib wrote:No experience of the Rebel but Hondas have a rep for being very solidly built.


I can vouch for Honda making strong bikes!
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