Suggestions for a First Motorcycle and Gear
September 2, 2008 1:20 PM   Subscribe

Having never ridden a motorcycle, I took the MSF Basic Rider Course this weekend. Now I'm looking for advice on bikes and gear.

I took the class because I wanted to figure out if I really want to ride motorcycles. I absolutly loved it. Now I'm stuck trying to figure out how to proceed from here. The options are overwhelming. So, what I'm hoping for is feedback on bikes and gear I ought to consider.

As for bikes, I'm not interested in sport, dual-purpose or dirt bikes, but I'm open to anything else. I intend to buy used, with a budget of up to $2,500. Initially I'll use it for short rides as I continue to learn, but down the road I'd like to be able to go for longer trips. I enjoyed riding the Nighthawks this weekend, but have nothing to compare them to. Also, I'm just shy of 5'6", so that may be something to consider.

And as for gear, I'm clueless. I know that I need a DOT approved helmet, that full face will offer more protection, the Snell sticker is a good thing...but that's about it. Other than an instructor saying he likes Draggin' Jeans, I don't know where to begin to look for jackets, pants, etc. What have you used that you like?
posted by kortez to Travel & Transportation (35 answers total) 29 users marked this as a favorite
You need more of a budget. Put aside at least 1,000 for safety gear, such as leathers, or a full racing suit. Skimp anywhere else but here. again, Do not skimp here!! Your life and safety is #1, as you were taught in the BRC (congrats for doing it the right way from the beginning!).

Go to the store and buy a black gray or other neutral color safety suit and a GOOD helmet (meaning, not the cheapest). Expect to pay $900-1400 on just this equipment. I'll say it again, DO NOT SKIMP. You absolutely get what you pay for. And if it saves you from injury or your life at whole, you will thank me.

Remember, its not if you fall, its WHEN. If you dont fall, your not trying to learn hard enough.

Also, consider raising your budget for the bike a bit. I would recommend fuel injection (many less headaches), but carbs will do. Do look for a bike that has been taken care of, not abused, and relatively low miles. YOu will drop it, so dont get something that looks pretty. You are looking for "safe, built well, cared for".

Also, you said you dont want to go sport bikes. I assume you mean supersport. DO check out the standard sports. They look/feel/drive somewhat like the crotch rockets, but you sit almost completely upright. They are realitively lower powered and de-tuned supersports, with better ergos.

That should do for my help

OH! here is the used bike checklist that you need to study: linky

I also recommend the "Proficient motorcycling" book. Will help you GOBS while your learning.
posted by Ryaske at 1:38 PM on September 2, 2008 [1 favorite]

Since you've taken the course, you're less likely to crash, as long as you mind your surroundings. That said, I usually wore leather boots that covered the ankles, normal jeans, leather gloves, full-face helmet, and a thick leather motorcycle jacket. The jacket was the hardest part, in hot weather I needed to use a mesh one, in cooler weather the leather one. Both involved some shopping around and trying on different ones.

Worst I did over several years was tip the bike over twice shortly after getting it before I learned to respect how heavy it was. I've taken 3 courses though.

We have graduated licensing here, M1, M2, and M. M1 is written, M2 you can get by taking the course, I let mine lapse so took it again to reduce insurance, and a third course to get the full M. While it shouldn't expire, I'll still get raped by the insurance companies, for no reason, if I buy another bike, since there will be a gap in my insurance history.
posted by hungrysquirrels at 1:44 PM on September 2, 2008

I would really recommend finding a good, cheap used bike in the 500 - 600 cc range to begin with. As Ryaske said, it's not if you'll drop it, but when. It's a lot less painful to drop an old KZ 600 beater with a duct-taped seat than a brand new Ninja 600.
posted by atchafalaya at 1:50 PM on September 2, 2008

I took the same course years ago and came out of it the same way, except a lot taller. I second everything from Ryaske. I ended up with a Suzuki SV650, and my wife with a GS500, and they were both excellent, and fit into the "standard" category described above. The Nighthawk (also a standard configuration bike) is 250cc, and you'll probably want something more powerful than that. To me, anything 500 and higher is plenty.

I would just go around to your local dealers and see what feels good to you in that range. They might have some used bikes, but even if they don't you might find something you like, and find one used.
posted by Stylus Happenstance at 1:50 PM on September 2, 2008

I had Joe Rocket boots, pants and jacket, and a Shoei helmet, if that helps.
posted by Stylus Happenstance at 1:51 PM on September 2, 2008 [1 favorite]

For gear check: New Enough. Lots of pictures and info and very helpful via email or phone.

It may be too tall for you, but keep an eye of for any of the old Yamaha XS650's. Great reliable old bike with a large online following, good parts availability and classic lines, the engine is all but bullet-proof and easily worked on. Plus it's got a big enough engine you won't outgrow it quickly. I paid less than a grand for my beater and see them all the time for less than 2k for gorgeous examples.
posted by 1f2frfbf at 1:54 PM on September 2, 2008

Here's something that I had to learn the hard way about five times before finally getting it: that "cheap" used bike that needs new tires and new cables and a bunch of other little things? It often isn't so cheap when you add all those costs in. Two tires for a motorcycle can often cost more than four tires for your car, and if they are old (not worn down, but dried out and ready to start cracking) they will need to be tossed. A lot of used motorcycles have sat unused for a few years before someone gets around to selling them, and it can get expensive to bring one up to snuff.

It's really hard to beat simply going and sitting on a bunch of bikes, because measured seat heights are only one component of fit — you also want to think about the distance from seat to pegs, the weight, the handlebars, etc. Is there a dealer near you with a good used selection, or even just with a bunch of new bikes where you can go and sit on them all?

Bike shopping gets a lot easier if you pick a brand or style and can focus your shopping much more. For example, if you decided that the perfect bike for you was a SV650, you can then spend your time watching Craigslist and other sources, rather than trying to remember every acronym from six companies over two decades. So go out and look at a bunch, and try to narrow down what you are looking for as much as you can.

Gear: Fullface helmet, please. DOT certification is adequate, and Snell is not automatically better. (There is a big controversy over this, with competing standards and conflicting claims; read more here, where top rankings went to cheaper DOT-only helmets. There are very strong feelings on both sides, and the low-paid employee at the place you go to try on helmets will tell you something with great certainty that may well turn out not to be true. YMMV.)

Accept from the beginning that there is not one perfect piece of motorcycle gear that will protect you in all situations, be comfortable in the heat and cold, ventilate, and keep you dry. Oh, and look good, too. So buy something adequate and not too expensive, and reevaluate your needs after you have been on the road for a while. Places like New Enough have good prices and decent selections that will get you out on the road with minimal damage to your wallet.

Absolute minimum: fullface helmet, over-the-ankle leather boots, leather gloves, and a motorcycle-specific jacket. Better: gloves and boots designed for motorcycling, pants with pads and abrasion protection, nicer jacket with more protection and waterproofing. Reflective and high-visibility materials are good things if you are going to be riding in traffic; rain-proofing matters if you are going to be commuting or riding year-round.
posted by Forktine at 2:01 PM on September 2, 2008 [1 favorite]

You can pick up a decent DOT approved helmet for $100. Since my first I've moved up to a Schuberth which are very good helmets and cost around $400. I've never had any problems wearing plain Levis and on the typical commute wear khakis or dress pants. I only wear leather during cooler fall weather or when I'm on the expressway. I'd hold off on the expensive purchases until you really know what you are up against and what your style is.
posted by JJ86 at 2:08 PM on September 2, 2008

I'm very happy with my Vanson leathers that I got used on ebay. Definitely get a jacket that's compatible with the GP armor.
posted by electroboy at 2:13 PM on September 2, 2008

I'd suggest getting over to and checking out the forums there. The place is a wealth of information, and was a huge help to me when I was just getting started.
posted by azpenguin at 2:18 PM on September 2, 2008

I think $1000 for safety gear is pretty high. A good jacket will be $200 - $400, a helmet will be $100 - $500, gloves will be $50, boots will be $100 - $300. So, yes, you can spend $1000 on gear, but you can also spend $400 and be just as safe, if not as comfortable.

I have an expensive Shoei helmet (it was $500) but it's no safer than a $89 bargain--what you're looking for is the federal certification. Now, a cheap helmet won't be as comfortable or have snazzy features, but it will be as safe. Be sure you try on various brands, there are definitely Arai heads and Shoei heads. A helmet is the one thing you should buy new; helmets have about a five-year life span and should be replaced it they're dropped, things you cannot reliably know about a used helmet.

There are cordura and other tough-fabric alternatives to leather, but I wear an armored leather jacket, which has the advantage of making you feel like some sort of advanced warrior when you wear it. You can often find lightly used jackets on CL from guys who decide they just aren't into it.

Boots are the proper wear for your feet, but a good leather work boot is OK footwear, you don't absolutely have to have motorcycle boots. Do keep in mind that special motorcycle gear is designed to do things regular boots don't, especially in regards to keeping your ankles protected, so decide what's important to you. Athletic shoes/flip flops/other wankery is never a good footwear choice. Guys wearing wife-beaters, shorts and sandals on a motorcycle will pay dearly if they go down.

Leather pants are a really good idea, but you can wear riding denim jeans if you just can't do the leather pants. I admit, this is one area I fall down on, I ride mostly in regular jeans, which provide a few feet of protection when sliding down the road. I do have a set of leather over-pants I wear for longer rides, and these work well, and can be quickly removed if you end up somewhere where leather pants aren't really what you want to be wearing.

If you do go with pants/jacket, it's always nice to be able to zip them together, so check the compatibility of the brands when you buy. I single-piece suit and make a big difference to comfort on colder days.

If you're going to ride in late fall/winter/early spring, you'll want to be sure you either have cold-weather gear or that your jacket/pants are roomy enough to allow a warm layer underneath. You haven't been truly cold until you've ridden 50 miles at 60+ mph in 38 degree weather. If cold-weather riding is going to be something you will be doing a lot of, consider getting electrically warmed gloves/vest/socks. They make a huge difference. Likewise, there are special neck-guards sold to help keep your neck/chin warm in the cold.

As for a bike, at your budget, I would be looking at a decent used Kawasaki EX500. It's essentially the original Ninja 500 from the 80's, but still a pretty upright and easy-to-ride bike. They've been made forever, and haven't changed in decades; they're cheap and have decent punch without being "holy shit mommy mommy mommy" insane in the power department. You can fit them with bags and they'll be a decent commuting bike.

Otherwise, you can find a decent "standard motorcycle" made by any of the big Japanese brands from the 80's or thereabouts and still stay on-budget. They won't be glamorous, but they will still be fun. For a first bike, I'd stay away from anything fussy, even if you can find something in your price range; that said, parts prices can be shockingly high on the Japanese machines, so don't lightly dismiss something like a bum alternator or broken plastic if you're already up against your budget.

Insurance will be cheap or unnecessary, depending on where you live, but you should probably budget a new battery every year, and of course things like tires and brakes are very critical and should be examined carefully. Stay away from any bike that's been in a wreck, you just don't want to deal with it.

You're coming up on a good time of year to buy, with the folks who bought for the summer but are "through" with the experiment not wanting to store the machine all winter. Bikes really do like to live under cover, just something to keep in mind when you consider buying and keeping the machine.

Good luck and welcome. Motorcycling is a blast and you'll meet some great people while having a great deal of fun.
posted by maxwelton at 2:23 PM on September 2, 2008 [1 favorite]

On preview, lot's of good info, and so I've deleted most of what I wrote.

First bike suggestions:
(also see the Used Bike Prices tab on that page)

JJ86 who commutes daily in dress pants... has not been down (yet).

I hope you do find a great deal on a bike you like.
Good luck and good riding!
posted by artdrectr at 2:38 PM on September 2, 2008

Seconding most of the comments above. As far as sourcing your gear, if you're a guy, sizing will be much easier, if you're female, you need to go to some shops and try gear on until you figure out what fits you (not much does, in my case)

The difference between cuts/brands is crucial not only for fashion, but for safety- how much slower is your response when wearing gloves whose fingers are 1/2 inch too long? I know finding the right gloves (in my case women's kangaroo hide armored topsiders) really made a difference in my response time.

I'd suggest for many of your gear needs. They stock great quality gear, have a no hassle return policy (and will indeed give you 110% of your money back if you take it as credit on a new piece of gear) and occasionally have wild sales, so long as you don't mind pink leopard leather.
posted by arnicae at 3:06 PM on September 2, 2008 [2 favorites]

My two cents:

Once you've decided on a bike, make sure you buy a manual! You should be able to check and change your oil, replace your brake pads and do basic maintenance on your bike. Paying someone else do it for you gets expensive really quick. Most riders I know are great problem solvers and since bikers are generally outside the mainstream, we quickly learn self-reliance and/or build systems of support for themselves.

Down the road, you'll probably want to invest in some decent bike specific tools (if you don't already own some) a trickle charger for your battery and bike lift.

As for a bike, look for something that has been around awhile, Honda CB's, Kawasaki KZ's, Suzuki SV's are all good choices. Find an owner's group for your make online and read through posts, there's a tremendous wealth of experience and knowledge out there and (usually) all you have to do is ask!

Be sure to think about what you want to use your bike for! If it's recreational riding, then ergos and comfort aren't as important on short trips as they are on 500 mile days.

Come join the UTMC!! We're friendly, ride everything and we're everywhere!!
posted by black8 at 3:13 PM on September 2, 2008

Vespa-like bikes are all the rage here just now, and people seem to think they are on a merry go round in an amusement park, and dress accordingly. Ten days ago, I came upon a woman who'd just gone down, some goofy guy stepped out into the street and she hit him, ran over his foot and off she went -- if you could have seen here hands and wrists and ankles and toes (god, her toes just have to still be hurting, a bloody mess) you'd not get onto a bike without a suit of armor. And she was traveling slowly, no more than 30mph, it was completely unavoidable, the guy just didn't see her and stepped on out, she didn't have a chance. She was crying and scared and hurting bad, a broken wrist, etc and etc.

My point? Be Careful! And mind what these people here are saying -- it's not if you go down, it's when, unless you are very, very lucky. People either don't see you or don't care, there is a learning curve wherein you learn to drive hyper-defensively but no matter how defensively you drive a dog can run into the street or a deer or you can hit a hole or whatever. Bikes are a blast but not too many people who work in emergency rooms ride them, if you catch my drift.
posted by dancestoblue at 3:15 PM on September 2, 2008

Something else that was important for me- make sure when you get your gear to wear it every time you get on your bike, whether you're going around the block or on the freeway. EVERY TIME. And buy your gear with that in mind. I'm a diminutive female and don't get on my bike (Honda Nighthawk) without the following:

Sidi Jasmine boots (one of the few good motorcycle boots built for women) - I think having boots is crucial. I've laid my bike down before, after being hit by a senior citizen who couldn't interpret the color red as meaning 'stop' and my boots really saved my ankles/feet. If you're a chick I also recommend the Daytona Ladystars which give you a 2" boost and cost a bundle, as well as the GTX Sunrays.

Topsiders gloves (Racer Multitop) - gloves are also crucial, no matter what the weather, as is armor. What do you think is going to happen if and when you lay your bike down? You will most likely use your hands to save yourself, and your hands will pay if you don't protect them!

Leather/cordura jacket, always zipped/buttoned

Arai helmet- remember, they are only designed to protect your noggin from one impact. If you drop your helmet more than 2.5 feet, it may have to be tossed/sent back to the manufacturer to get it checked
posted by arnicae at 3:23 PM on September 2, 2008 [2 favorites]

I know that I need a DOT Snell-approved helmet...

Fixed that for you. DOT's approval is not nearly the indicator of safety that Snell approval is. Beyond that, get a full-face helmet that you find comfortable. Non-full-face helmets offer very little protection.
posted by knave at 3:32 PM on September 2, 2008 [1 favorite]

Remember, its not if you fall, its WHEN. If you dont fall, your not trying to learn hard enough.

I guess I'll have to disagree here. Falling is dangerous even at low speeds, and I don't think it should be on your agenda. I've never fallen off a motorcycle in 7 years of riding.

I agree with Stylus that 250cc might be a little too weak. A lot of people recommend starting on a 250 and then moving up from there, but if you start with a 500 it will keep you happy much longer. 250s often don't have enough power to safely merge onto a highway, or if they do, you have to rev them to 14,000RPMs to do so. Not pleasant.
posted by knave at 3:39 PM on September 2, 2008

The Ninja 250 (which looks like a sport bike, but REALLY isn't) is the exception to the rule that Stylus and knave mention; it's a powerful enough bike for the highway and very beginner-friendly (light, forgiving, comfortable). The other 250s have a lot less power.
posted by JMOZ at 3:46 PM on September 2, 2008

All I would add is that I found the Ride Like A Pro DVD worth the money. He really shows you how to handle and control your bike doing tight, low-speed turns, where lots of people have the most trouble. Even if he does it in a slightly sexist manner. His "Surviving the Mean Streets" is mostly stuff you get in the MSF course, but also worth the money.
posted by Camofrog at 3:51 PM on September 2, 2008

I wanted to add congratulations on getting into motorcycling the "right way." I see a lot of mid-life-crisis approaches to motorcycling these days (must be my age) where a friend goes out and spends 20-grand (!) on a new Harley without ever having ridden at all. I've taken numerous safety courses (and have been approached to teach them), but learn something every time, even if taking a beginning course again after years of riding.

My first bike, incidentally, was a well-used Yamaha FZ600 sport bike, but sport bikes have always appealed. I recommended the EX500 because a friend started on one and I thought it was an all-around better choice, while still being sporty.

At 5-6 seat height is going to be important, there are a few bikes (90's Triumphs, for example) whose weight and seat-height would be a difficult combination to master (they wouldn't be a cheap or good choice for a first machine, anyway).

I'm knocking on wood here, but I'll second Knave, I haven't been down. I've had a parked bike fall over, and I was backed over (!) by an impatient SUV driver who decided he didn't want to wait for a traffic light. That said, I've been very very close a few times, and I imagine my day might yet arrive.

arnicae made an excellent point above, don't be tempted to "just go to the store" without your gear on--you can think of it like sex in that regard, doesn't matter if you're there for a few seconds or a lot longer (as long as a minute, I hear, but that seems far-fetched), the risks are independent of the time invested.
posted by maxwelton at 3:56 PM on September 2, 2008

I still shout into my helmet that this was the best thing I've ever bought while leaning into corners on my way to work. Motorcycling has given me constant joy and few headaches. I hope you enjoy your time as much as I have!


I have an expensive Shoei helmet (it was $500) but it's no safer than a $89 bargain

Sure, a cheap helment is better than no helmet but have you seen the build quality of some of those? Yikes.

If you dont fall, your not trying to learn hard enough.

Maybe on the dirt or at very low speeds at the carpark. At higher speeds you should generally able to feel the bike slipping away and correct it before you hit the pavement.
posted by simplesharps at 4:16 PM on September 2, 2008

Response by poster: Thank you so much for the responses so far. I was impressed by how helpful and concerned the MSF instructors were, and this feels much the same. It's a good community, and I look forward to being a part of it.

Budget may be an issue, it seems, but I'm not in a rush to buy a bike right away. (My only concern here is not practicing what I just learned.) I don't mind waiting for a good deal on a good bike. I'll expect to drop extra after a purchase for tires, etc.--thanks for that tip.

Particularly helpful are the specific gear/bike recommendations. I've spent the afternoon/evening researching your suggestions, often ending up in other forums. Just needed a jumping off point. And New Enough...what a boon. (I'm male, so it's ostensibly easier to find a good fit, but I'm short...looks like I'll be able to find something at New Enough.)

Keep the suggestions coming as you think of them. I'll be up late looking into them, half fantasizing, half figuring out what I want.

Thanks again.

On preview: (I'm really, really going to try not to fall, slide down the street, high side, etc. I'm hoping the worst I'll do is drop the bike going 0mph at a stop light, but I accept that worse could happen. I'll wear the gear and keep taking courses. I promise.)
posted by kortez at 4:27 PM on September 2, 2008

Falls tend to happen through events that you don't plan -- drivers won't see you, and they'll pull out of side streets at you (happened to me). You'll hit a patch of spilled diesel fuel on a corner that you didn't see because you were checking out the hot blonde at the bus stop. You'll swerve to avoid something falling off the truck in front of you and hit a pothole, or a tram track, or something. You'll get a bit gunny on a nice piece of road, and overcook it one time, hopefully only enough to scare you.

Get and wear the safety gear, whenever you're on the bike.

Understand that, although 99% of drivers are not malicious, they just won't see you. Ride accordingly. Practice your emergency stops in all conditions. Practice evasive manoeuvers, in all conditions.

If you do that, your safe riding just kind of fades into your subconscious -- you don't even need to think about how to ride safely, because it's how you do it. It's much more fun that way.

I have an SV650; before that, a VTR1000 (Super Hawk in the USA); a GPX600; an XS250. All have been enormous fun, and I can't imagine a life without riding.

Welcome to the club :)
posted by 5MeoCMP at 5:30 PM on September 2, 2008

I agree with Stylus that 250cc might be a little too weak.

To offer a counterpoint, 250s (or smaller) are the maximum legal for learners in much of the developed world, and it doesn't seem to cripple most of them. The paucity of smaller bikes in the States means you don't get most of the good 250s, sadly.
posted by rodgerd at 6:19 PM on September 2, 2008

I don't think anyone mentioned this yet: Be sure you can pick it up if you lay it down!

I'm a 5'7" female, and about 25 years ago I had a Honda 450 (approx. weight: 400lbs.) One day I ran out of gas. As I was pushing the bike to the gas station I dropped it in the middle of the intersection and I could not get the bike upright. Fortunately the gas station was right on that corner and there were people around to help, but under different circumstances it could have been a serious problem.

I'll admit that back then the most strenuous thing I did was change the bong water, but under any circumstances dead lifting 400-600 pounds isn't the easiest thing in the world. Just something to consider :)
posted by Room 641-A at 11:50 PM on September 2, 2008

Given your budget, you will be hard pressed to find a bike in reasonable condition that's over 250cc.

250s often don't have enough power to safely merge onto a highway, or if they do, you have to rev them to 14,000RPMs to do so. Not pleasant.

The Kawasaki Ninja 250 absolutely does not suffer from this problem.
posted by yath at 12:17 AM on September 3, 2008

Be sure you can pick it up if you lay it down!

Bikes are pretty easy to pick up if you use the right technique. I'm a pretty skinny guy and I have no troubles picking up my DL650.

Also, I think I became a more confident, safer rider on the asphalt only after I took to the dirt. If you ever get the chance, I recommend giving it a go.
posted by simplesharps at 1:05 AM on September 3, 2008 [1 favorite]

artdrector said: JJ86 who commutes daily in dress pants... has not been down (yet).

Hey! Down in the peanut gallery. We just had the 105th in town and I can guarantee you I was wearing safer gear than 90% of the bikers who rode in from all over the country. While it may make you feel 100% safe wearing body armor, someone blowing through a stop sign and T-boning you will make you realize that the $1k you spent on that body armor doesn't make a difference.

The safest thing you can do on a bike is be aware and not trust any car. Driving in full battle gear is no substitute for driving with common sense so I'd kindly ask you to keep your opinions to yourself and answer the OP's questions.
posted by JJ86 at 6:22 AM on September 3, 2008

Another vote for the Kawasaki Ninja 250. My wife just got one as her first bike and it's a hell of a lot of fun and plenty fast. Definitely a great city bike.
posted by electroboy at 6:59 AM on September 3, 2008

One more note on gear: You don't have to spend $500 on a good helmet, I bought a basic full-face KBC, Which is a Korean brand, with Snell and DOT for around $150. It's not super snazzy, but most of the grizzled vets I hang with can't believe it was that cheap for one with Snell certification and a decent build quality.

I've also been really happy with the two First Gear jackets I've bought. They also offer upgradable armor, in case you feel like the stuff it comes with isn't enough, you can switch it out for sterner stuff.

In total I put down about $400 on the first batch of stuff I got and I've added to it (rain gear, mesh gear, better gloves, etc) gradually since.
posted by 1f2frfbf at 7:05 AM on September 3, 2008

For beginner bikes in your price range I recommend the Kawasaki EX500. It looks sporty but really isn't a "sports" bike.
a pre 94 bike has smaller wheels and a rear drum brake, the 94+ years have bigger wheels and a rear disc brake.

The EX250 is the old ninja 250, which is a decent bike but if you can find the ninja zzr250(available in canada but an import in the states) its a faster bike with an aluminum frame. The new ninja 250 is also nice but probably out of your price range.

There's also the suzuki GS 500 e which is a naked bike so if you do drop it there's no expensive fairings to replace, its a tad slower than the ex500.

You can also find lots of older standards like the CB400, CB450, Knighthawk, and suzuki standards in your price range but they will tend to be heavier, probably slower and might require some wrenching.
Have fun and keep the shiny side up.
posted by captaincrouton at 8:36 AM on September 3, 2008

This is a good forum, too.
posted by Camofrog at 9:57 AM on September 3, 2008

One "final" thought: looking around the web, I see lots and lots of stories of folks first bikes, many of which end up stolen. If someone wants your machine, there's not going to be much you can do about it if you park it on the street. If you're in a living situation where you can't park in a garage at night, you might consider staying away from anything glamorous (in your price range, that probably isn't going to be an issue...).

A bike is typically about eight or nine feet long, overall, a bit less for some machines, and will fit with careful maneuvering through a standard household door, even a 30" one. I kept one of my machines in the basement at my first house without much hassle, though there were no stairs involved.

This thread will stay open a year, let us know what you end up doing.
posted by maxwelton at 5:10 AM on September 4, 2008

Response by poster: Thanks, maxwelton. I have an outbuilding/studio that has plenty of space, so whatever I get will be under cover and locked up.

A week ago I would have told you I wanted some kind of cruiser, but I've been looking pretty closely at the EX500/Ninja 500R you suggested, and other non-cruisers that have been suggested in this thread. I'm going to go sit on some in the coming weeks and see what I think--I want to be comfortable and upright, but the agility of some of the sportier bikes is appealing, too.

I'll post to this thread when I bring something home.

Thanks again for your help.
posted by kortez at 7:40 AM on September 4, 2008

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