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Old 06-13-2011, 05:13 PM   #1
durandurand
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Default Looking for a hobby bike - Suggestions?

I want a cruiser that I can learn how to work on and eventually ride. I want to buy something cheap that I can put money into and fix up. I have little mechanic experience but I am confident that I can pick it up using a manual. I do not care about the make, model or year but would like to start out with something that is not too complicated. Any suggestions?
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Old 06-14-2011, 03:23 AM   #2
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None as far as which bike you should buy. Honestly the problem with project bikes is that no matter how hard you work on them or how much money you spend they always have quirks. In theory an air cooled single carb bike (ie Honda Nighthawk 250, Suzuki GZ250, Buell Blast, Suzuki Savage) would be the easiest since by nature they have fewer parts and no carbs to synchronize.
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Old 06-14-2011, 07:30 AM   #3
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Thanks for the info!
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Old 06-14-2011, 09:34 AM   #4
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Craig's list is your friend.

Here are a few hints, the older a machine is, the eaise rit is to work on, yet the harder it is to get parts for.

The more cylinders it has, the more complicated it is. A single cylinder two cycle is way easier to learn on than a 4 cylinder 4 cycle.

I had a CL350 Honda, single cylinder, 4 cycle, which was real easy to work on. You many not be able to find one. A Yamaha 650XS twin is a very stable platform.
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Old 06-14-2011, 09:57 AM   #5
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Would the Yamaha 650 be tough for a newbie to learn to ride on? Also, would the 80's be a good range of years to search for?
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Old 06-14-2011, 12:56 PM   #6
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Depends on the 650. are we talking an inline 4, V-Twin, etc. The Yamaha 650 Maxims from the 80s era are great bikes, but IMHO are a little too much power for a newbie. Keep in mind that these bikes were the start of the superbikes. The only inline 4s I could really recommend for a newbie would be the likes of the Honda CB350 or the Honda CB400, or the Kawasaki KZ440.
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Old 06-14-2011, 02:14 PM   #7
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I have been looking at some Honda CB350's from the 70's on Craigslist. Would it be difficult to find parts for a bike this old?
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Old 06-14-2011, 03:28 PM   #8
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Yes, arguably they would be since there aren't a ton of them around. By scavenging a motorcycle salvage yard or searching on the internet you should be able to find most parts but you will probably find a few that are difficult to source. I did just check my local dealership and it looks like they are still able to get most of the parts for them (although they will almost certainly have to be ordered). The point is that if a given dealer is able to source them then most dealers should be able to get them. That being said I would not recommend any inline 4 for a project bike due to the natural complexity of the machine itself. So if you get one, get one in good running condition. This is what I was able to find:

http://www.carlscycle.com/fiche_sele...1973&fveh=2902
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Old 06-15-2011, 11:42 AM   #9
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Any suggestions for bikes in the 80's year range?
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Old 06-15-2011, 12:35 PM   #10
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The early Yamaha Virago's have the "cruiser look."



Really, any bike made by the big 4. My gut says Honda's will be the easiest to find parts.
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Old 06-15-2011, 01:24 PM   #11
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The 535 Viragos are definitely cool looking bikes, although they are gas pigs (about 40MPG) with very small gas tanks (range of about 120 miles with use of the reserve). Personally of the Virago line the only one I would trust is the 250 and that probably won't be enough power for the OP. From the 80s era depending on what style you like:

Street Bikes

Kawasaki KZ440/550
Honda CB650
Honda CB400
Honda CM400

Sport Standard

Honda VF500F
Suzuki GS500E (it's a stretch but they started production in '89)
Kawasaki Ninja 250 (from '88 to '07 they are all the exact same style)

Cruisers

Honda Shadow 500 or 600 (although in the 80s I believe they were 4 speed models)
Suzuki Savage (4 speed model)
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Old 06-15-2011, 01:29 PM   #12
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What is the major differences between a Honda Shadow and Honda Rebel? Which would be easier to repair/maintain?
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Old 06-15-2011, 02:19 PM   #13
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The biggest is the engine size. The Rebel is a 250 air cooled parallel twin single carb. The Honda Shadow 600 is a 600cc V-Twin config with liquid cooling. The shadow also has dual carbs. The shadow will be the more powerful of the two bikes, that is for sure, the Rebel will definitely be easier to repair or maintain. So the question you need to ask is how important are highway capabilities to you as that would be the biggest difference in terms of performance between the two bikes. The Rebel is not really equipped to handle the highway (unless you never have to go about 55-60MPH on a regular basis). The Honda Shadow definitely is capable of being able to do the highway.
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Old 06-15-2011, 02:23 PM   #14
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Thanks a lot!
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Old 06-21-2011, 02:29 AM   #15
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Honestly for parts... Harley would be the best bet for finding parts for any year (there are so many aftermarket makers). I would suggest an older dual sport (single cylinder, 1 carb, usually not too much else), I had a 75 yamaha rd 200. dual carb, twin, 2 stroke. the engine wasnt the problem, it was the electrics. that was the year yamaha started electric starters/generators (cant find them anywhere) I also had problems finding random elecrical parts (most of the engine parts could be reused with a little tlc). anyway i ended up selling it because i couldnt find parts in america (very popular bike in the uk). and because I had to fix my truck...again i suggest an old dual sport or dirtbike(learn on it offroad or put a dual sport light kit and make it street legal depending on the laws in your area, vintage dirtbikes can be made legal with a light kit.) make sure you can find parts for before you buy it. ive heard suggestions that project bike are worth about $1 per cc depending on the condition of the body.(i paid 350 for the 200 but the tank, headlight bucket, seat, and fenders were in almost perfect condition, almost no rust on the chrome)
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Old 08-01-2011, 04:12 PM   #16
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So I took the MSF class this weekend and got to do all of my training on a Honda Rebel. It fit me really well and I definitely liked the look more than any of the Suzuki's or Yamaha's in the class. If I am not looking to ride much on the highway or any long commutes then would this be a good first bike for me? My main goal is to learn how to do all of my own maintenance as well as enjoy the ride. I am 5'11" 195lbs.
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Old 08-02-2011, 03:28 AM   #17
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The Rebel really isn't cut out for highway riding (unless you don't need more than 60MPH on a regular basis). My recommendation would be the Suzuki Savage/Boulevard S40. It is a 650, but only has 30HP (the Rebel sits somewhere between 15-20HP). It would still be great around town and would give you some extra power to easily handle local highway riding if you should need it. The weight is only about 70lbs heavier when fully fueled than the Rebel. I think you will find that as far as feel goes the seat height, etc. is comparable. The nice thing about the Savage is that it is a good starter bike but unlike the Rebel, there are a number of people who hold onto it afterwards for it's simplicity and versatility as a commuter.

The bike has the following:

Single Carb
Single Cylinder
Belt Drive (no need to worry about oiling a chain)
Between 55-60MPG
Roughly the same seat height as the Rebel.

IMHO it is a much smarter bike for a longer term investment.
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Old 08-02-2011, 06:21 PM   #18
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Thanks for the info! Is there a difference between the Savage and the Boulevard?
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Old 08-02-2011, 08:56 PM   #19
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I've got an 86 Honda Shadow VT700C that I bought as a project bike. I wanted something I can paint, fix up, learn to work on and not worry if I jack it up. The older Shadows are easy to work on and parts are dirt cheap on eBay. If you check Craigslist you can find older Shadows for really cheap. I think any of the 1980's metric cruisers are cheap, easy to work on and parts are easy to find.

My 86 Honda Shadow VT700C that I'm fixing up. It was completely covered in rust and not ridable when I got it. I now use it to commute 70+ miles a day.
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Old 08-03-2011, 08:16 AM   #20
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That's a pretty bike! It's hard to believe that was ever covered in rust!

Is a belt driven bike easier to maintain than chain driven?
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Old 08-04-2011, 01:54 AM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by durandurand View Post
Thanks for the info! Is there a difference between the Savage and the Boulevard?
The S40 Boulevard and the Savage are the exact same bikes, they just relabeled it from the Savage to the S40 Boulevard in 2005. Hence the reason why I paired them together as they are the same bike. Personally I think the name change was dumb since Savage sounds cooler than S40 Boulevard, but that's just me. As for Belt versus Chain, personally I prefer a belt, a belt in general will last longer and require less maintenance (no worries about keeping a belt properly oiled, making sure the sprockets aren't worn down, etc), then again a lot of it depends on where they were stored and how they were kept. Hence one of the many reasons why I am shooting for a Savage/S40 Boulevard for my next bike.
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