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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'm in love, but my experience with two wheels is mostly limited to cycling. Of course, that does mean I'm used to being invisible on the road. That's something, right?

I posted here a few years back looking for help choosing a starter bike. As tends to happen, life went a different direction than I'd expected and I ended up with a Mustang and a fiancée. No bike though.

As happy as I am, I still need a bike. Yeah, I'm saying need here. I love my car, I'll admit it, but I've never felt entirely comfortable behind the wheel. The thought of driving a car doesn't do anything for me, but I've spent more time than I care to count researching motorcycles, figuring out BRC dates, and browsing bike porn (http://www.bikeexif.com/).

So, I've decided to sell my car. I checked out Autotrader.com's Instant-Offer service and was quoted $5,300. I have some student loans to pay off, so the whole five grand can't go towards the bike/gear. I'm thinking around $1500 for the bike and <$500 for a helmet, boots, and jacket. To what extent I'm crazy, feel free to let me know. Maybe just a helmet and jacket for now? Gloves? What is the minimum for safe riding? I'm adventurous, sure, but I'm not reckless or stupid.

Fortunately for me (and my budget), I have a thing for older bikes (and British bikes in general, but the Bonnie will have to wait). A short list of the bikes that have caught my interest (and seem like they might be attainable with my limited finances):

Honda
  • CB750
  • CB450
  • CL450
  • CL350
  • CB350

Yamaha
  • XJ 550 Secca
  • XS650

I'm still actively looking around (yeah, "researching") possible bikes and haven't even gotten to Suzuki or Kawasaki yet (did a few searches but nothing in-depth). Any other suggestions would be excellent. Yeah, I'd love a Brit bike, but finding one within my budget that isn't going to be a major project is probably a pipe dream. That day will just have to wait, I suppose.

I should mention that gas mileage is a concern for me. Of course, so is engine size. I'm not a big guy (6' and 165lbs), so I'm not paranoid about displacement, but I don't want to upgrade within a year or two. Something that can handle highway speeds comfortably is what I'm looking for (what it lacks in other things, at least rural Indiana has no shortage of long stretches of empty highway). I wouldn't mind something that could handle the occasional road trip, but with $5 a gallon looming on the horizon, a bike that isn't getting good gas mileage isn't going to be going anywhere but errands. My car gets between 17-19 mpg city though, so anything on two wheels is going to have a considerable advantage.

If I could find something that checked all the boxes that could also handle some off-road riding, even better. I like the idea of not being limited by paved roads. That, and the high swept pipes on classic scramblers just look badass.

Alright, that'll just about do it. Thank you kindly for the help.
 

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Okay first thing I have to ask, is are you getting rid of your car and replacing it with a bike? In other words you will only be riding year round? If so then stop right there. No way you are going to be able to ride year round in Indiana. Once the snow and ice hits, no amount of skill is going to keep you from wiping out on two wheels. Second of all do not buy into the "saving gas by buying a motorcycle" fallacy. Only a select few people who spend $1K or less on their bike, ride it daily no less than 6 months out of the year and get one that is well maintained will even come close. By the time you factor in the cost of the bike, riding gear, insurance, registration and the fact that even the most maintenance free motorcycle (ie my bike) is still higher maintenance than your average car and it is difficult to come out ahead. I'm not trying to rain on your parade, but these are real factors that you need to consider before purchasing a bike. If you were living in SoCal, Southern Arizona, etc. then I would say your plan would be do-able but not in Indiana.
 

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2007 Yamaha Road Star Silverado 1700
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You would be a fool to sell your car and have a bike as your only transportation. I've been riding for 3 years and I'm a little antsy about having my bike as my only transportation for 2 1/2 months this summer. Its just not practical, and you'll be kicking yourself if you try.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
I appreciate the advice, but I need to clarify. I'm selling the car either way. I have debts that need paid and don't really want to deal with the kind of car I could get for <$2,000 (and, honestly, I just don't want to deal with a car). I also have no plans to ride year around. My fiancée has a car that gets decent gas mileage (at least compared to my car) and I currently work from home, so I won't need to be riding once the roads get bad.

For the most part (and feel free to correct me if I'm wrong here), but a moderately sized bike is going to get better gas mileage than most cars I'd be able to afford right now (and likely over twice what I'm getting now). I don't really understand how it's a fallacy. I'm getting less than twenty miles to a gallon—most of the bikes I've been looking at get at least 40-45 mpg on average (and yes, I know that estimating gas mileage with motorcycles is tricky, but I've been trying to focus on conservative estimates and trying to err on the side of skepticism). I'm not afraid to work on a <$1,500 bike myself. I have a garage and my fiancée's dad has a full workshop. I don't want a project, but I'm more than happy to put in maintenance. I am kind of excited at the prospect of customization though, something that hasn't really interested me with my car.

As far as insurance and registration costs, I've done my research. Both are dramatically lower than my car. I was paying $140 or thereabouts for decent coverage. I now have it down to the legal minimum. Insuring a bike (at least the bikes I've been looking at) would be cheaper still.

Having said all of that, I like to think I'm a smart guy (or I try to be). I'm not selling my car and getting a bike because it's the most practical thing in the world. I'm doing it because I rarely drive my car, I need the money, and I want a bike. My line of thinking is that selling my car and having a bike is better than selling my car and having nothing.

I should also mention, for what it's worth, I'm not a guy going from a car to a bike. I went from a bike to a car and now I want to go back to a bike, just...one that doesn't need to stay in the damn bike lane. Most of the time, I'd actually rather pedal eight miles (used to ride to the county park, hit the trails, then ride back) than drive it. It gives me a chance to clear my head—it's actually kind of calming. I think a motorcycle would have a similar effect, just maybe more intense (intensely calm?).

Really though, I appreciate the pragmatism. I come to a motorcycle forum and have guys wanting to ensure I don't get a bike if I'm going to regret it. That's worth something.
 

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2007 Yamaha Road Star Silverado 1700
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I think if you break it down, you'll realize that buying a bike for gas savings isn't that practical.

Based on driving 10,000 miles a year:

Car MPG: 19
Gas price: $4
Total cost/year: $2105.26

Bike MPG: 45
Gas price: $4
Total cost/year: $888.89

Difference: $1216.37

Now, when you factor in the price of the bike, helmet, jacket, glvoes, boots, MSF course, insurance, and then miscellaneous allowance for maintenance, you're looking at around a $3170 investment.

Using these numbers, you're looking at over 2 1/2 years just to break even on gas savings alone. Now, considering you said you probably won't be needing to ride that much, its probably safe to say that you won't be riding 10,000 miles a year. So, let's say you're gonna end up riding 3000 miles a year. The numbers look like this:

Car MPG: 19
Gas price: $4
Total cost/year: $631.58

Bike MPG: 45
Gas price: $4
Total cost/year: $266.67

Difference: $364.91

At that rate, it would take you over 8 1/2 years just to BREAK EVEN.

THAT is why we say it is a false assumption that you will save a significant amount of money by riding a bike.

Oh, BTW, why would you insist on state minimum insurance when you are using an extremely dangerous form of transportation? Do you think that coverage is gonna do jack if you are t-boned by someone who is underinsured or uninsured? If you value your life and financial future, you'll get decent coverage, i.e. $100,000/$300,000 bodily injury, underinsured, AND uninsured (the last two are the most important). The extra cost will be much cheaper than having to pay your hospital bills out of pocket, I assure you.
 

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2007 Yamaha Road Star Silverado 1700
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BTW, all that was to ensure you don't do something you regret. We all, of course, would love you to join our ranks. Just make sure you do it for the right reasons. ;)
 

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I appreciate the advice, but I need to clarify. I'm selling the car either way. I have debts that need paid and don't really want to deal with the kind of car I could get for <$2,000 (and, honestly, I just don't want to deal with a car). I also have no plans to ride year around. My fiancée has a car that gets decent gas mileage (at least compared to my car) and I currently work from home, so I won't need to be riding once the roads get bad.

For the most part (and feel free to correct me if I'm wrong here), but a moderately sized bike is going to get better gas mileage than most cars I'd be able to afford right now (and likely over twice what I'm getting now). I don't really understand how it's a fallacy. I'm getting less than twenty miles to a gallon—most of the bikes I've been looking at get at least 40-45 mpg on average (and yes, I know that estimating gas mileage with motorcycles is tricky, but I've been trying to focus on conservative estimates and trying to err on the side of skepticism). I'm not afraid to work on a <$1,500 bike myself. I have a garage and my fiancée's dad has a full workshop. I don't want a project, but I'm more than happy to put in maintenance. I am kind of excited at the prospect of customization though, something that hasn't really interested me with my car.

As far as insurance and registration costs, I've done my research. Both are dramatically lower than my car. I was paying $140 or thereabouts for decent coverage. I now have it down to the legal minimum. Insuring a bike (at least the bikes I've been looking at) would be cheaper still.

Having said all of that, I like to think I'm a smart guy (or I try to be). I'm not selling my car and getting a bike because it's the most practical thing in the world. I'm doing it because I rarely drive my car, I need the money, and I want a bike. My line of thinking is that selling my car and having a bike is better than selling my car and having nothing.

I should also mention, for what it's worth, I'm not a guy going from a car to a bike. I went from a bike to a car and now I want to go back to a bike, just...one that doesn't need to stay in the damn bike lane. Most of the time, I'd actually rather pedal eight miles (used to ride to the county park, hit the trails, then ride back) than drive it. It gives me a chance to clear my head—it's actually kind of calming. I think a motorcycle would have a similar effect, just maybe more intense (intensely calm?).

Really though, I appreciate the pragmatism. I come to a motorcycle forum and have guys wanting to ensure I don't get a bike if I'm going to regret it. That's worth something.
So as I understand it, walking/public transport, fiance's car or regular bicycling is your main means of transport? If so, and your car is only for occasional use then I guess that replacing an occasional use car with an occasional use bike would make sense. I just pictured you trying to ride through a midwestern winter and that just isn't gonna happen.
 

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Good points prima, but isn't it unfair to factor in the costs of purchasing and maintaining the bike and then comparing that to just the cost of gas for the car? And besides, it sounds like the OP's current car is more of a luxury than a necessity considering he works from home AND has a fiance with a car.

Great advice about the insurance, though.
 

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2007 Yamaha Road Star Silverado 1700
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Given that compared to motorcycles most cars are relatively maintenance free (when was the last time you did a valve adjustment on a car that actually had adjustable valves?), I don't think its that unfair. In the past year my motorcycles have required more maintenance than my car. All my car has needed was an oil change. My motorcycles have needed oil changes, a new rear brake hub (Marauder), new front tire (Bandit), and some minor brake work (Bandit). My Bandit also needs a valve adjustment, which will probably cost me around $80 for o-rings, tools, and a manual.

Now, to be fair, that whole post was to address the whole "I can buy a motorcycle and it pay for itself in gas savings" argument that we see here all the time (and that I know he didn't use, but he did basically ask for why that line of reasoning doesn't work out).
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
So as I understand it, walking/public transport, fiance's car or regular bicycling is your main means of transport? If so, and your car is only for occasional use then I guess that replacing an occasional use car with an occasional use bike would make sense. I just pictured you trying to ride through a midwestern winter and that just isn't gonna happen.
More or less, yeah. I do drive when I need to, I don't go to unreasonable extremes to get out of it (though I suppose "unreasonable" is subjective). It's just more of a chore to me than anything, more than the other options. A motorcycle, I'm thinking, would give me most of the convenience of a car (or, specifically, my car and in my particular circumstances) without being so much of a "awhh-do-I-have-to?" issue.

Primal, once again, all very good points. I'll see if I can try to explain my reasoning a little better. Or maybe I'm just rationalizing. We'll find out, I suppose.

I think Sons of Thunder is right, my car is a luxury at this point. Really, a Mustang isn't exactly a practical vehicle to begin with (as much as I may love the thing). It spends most of its time just sitting, especially with Indiana winters. It's fun to drive as much as a car can be, but I still rarely drive it anywhere I don't need to, or rarer still, just to drive. Lately, I've been doing even less casual driving than usual—with the price of gas, I've been rationing what's in my tank.

Now, if I were trying to rationalize a motorcycle based on gas savings, I'd have to concede and put a bike on hold. You're right about motorcycling being an expensive sport to get into. That's how I see it though, investing in a sport/hobby/whatever you want to call it. Not just a vehicle. My point about gas savings isn't my reason for selling my car and getting a bike, let me be clear on that. However, assuming that I'm right about how much I'm going to love riding, I'm going to want to ride considerably more often than I've been driving my car. If, like my car, the bike was consistently getting less than 20 miles to a gallon...well, I'd really have to consider if I needed to go wherever I was going before heading out (much like I do now). 40+ mpg average is going to make it much easier to take off and not be too worried about the cost of gas. I mean, Amanda (getting tired of having to alt code the accent mark for fiancée) is looking at hybrids right now that get similar gas mileage. I can handle cruising around knowing I'd have to invest multitudes of what I did in the bike/gear/paying the MAN to get a car that got the same fuel efficiency.

So, I suppose more than anything, I want a fuel efficient bike so that I can ride it more. That's logical enough, right?

About the insurance, I meant that I currently have the legal minimum on my car. My insurance company wouldn't let me put it on storage, so I cut the coverage down. I don't intend to go riding around on a motorcycle with next to no coverage, I swear. I actually got some quotes for the coverage you suggested and it still came back cheaper than what I'm paying on my car right now (my insurance is overpriced, but still).

I'll be honest here. I'm not in any extreme debt or anything like that, but I dropped classes a year ago while I was in school. Long story short, they waited six months, then charged me, tacked on late fees, finally gave up, and sent me over to a bill collector. I don't want to have this hanging over my head and I don't want to see my credit bottom out, so I figured I could sell my car, pay off the debt, get a bike like I've wanted for years (wouldn't want to be completely without transportation), and put whatever was left toward the student loans (they're not actually due yet, but it seems like a responsible thing to do). Even if it's just sitting in front of the house (or, if it's not sitting, guzzling gas), selling the car isn't going to be a happy experience for me, so I was also hoping getting a bike out of it would make it feel less like giving something up.

I haven't checked recently, but I know when I was shopping around for cars before, $3000 wouldn't have gotten me much (around here, anyway). Even if I did resign myself to just downgrading my car, the final cost would most likely end up being more than $3170. A motorcycle may not be a practical replacement for a car in most cases, but I think, in my situation, it's not an entirely irrational option. I could sell the car, pay of the debt, and just not have any transportation for awhile, but I'd rather not if I don't have to.
 

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Of course, everyone has an opinion, and at the end of the day, you're going to have to make your own decision on what's best in your particular situation.

Having said that, I've been on motorcycles and owned a bunch of 'em for over 50 years now, and I couldn't conceive of not owning a car, pickup, or whatever, to use when riding a motorcycle would just be really unpleasant - too far, too hot, too cold....pick your poison.

No matter what other transportation options may be available to you now, circumstances change over time, and there's going to be that blizzard, or line of thunderstorms that just won't stop, going on outside when you desperately need to be somewhere. When (not if) that happens, you'll appreciate these recommendations to keep a 4-wheeler.

I'm not encouraging you not to sell the current car. You can find a beater relatively inexpensively and insure it for liability only, if that's what it takes. But there'll be a time...trust me.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Well, I always welcome differing opinions, but I didn't have a car until pretty recently, relying primarily on public transportation/biking/etc. It didn't bother me then and, honestly, I couldn't conceive of having a car until I had one. Now that I'm living with my fiancée, we effectively have two vehicles. Hers, which she drives to work during the week and mine, which sits out front.

I don't need a vehicle that can handle winter roads well. I've never had one, the only car I've owned is a sports car, and my fiancée's car handles winter conditions without too much problem. There's a good chance she'll be working from home with me by the end of the year. Even if that's not the case, I'm not likely to need 24/7 access to a car in the middle of January. Last winter, the only time mine was started was to spin the tires and get gas while the roads were thawed. My insurance wouldn't let me put it on storage though (even if it was, in fact, in storage), so I had to continue paying liability on it.

It's nice having access to a car, which I have and will continue to have even if I sell mine. That said, I'm not a car guy. I don't feel uncomfortable without one and I don't feel particularly comfortable driving one (I'm a good enough driver, it just doesn't feel...right).

Like I've said, I really do appreciate the replies, but I know my situation, I know my line of reasoning, and I'm really a pretty rational guy. If I decide a motorcycle isn't right for me right now, I'll wait. The responses so far have given me some food for thought, but I have some questions that don't have to do with whether or not I actually get a bike right now:

  1. What is the minimum gear needed for safe riding? Would a helmet, jacket, and gloves cut it?
  2. What would you suggest as far as older bikes are concerned? The older CB750s seem like they're still pretty easy to find parts for. Would that be an ideal starter bike? What about a 90's era Nighthawk?
  3. Does anyone have any experience with Rider Insurance? Any insurance companies you'd suggest?
  4. How well would the typical standard handle dirt/occasional off-road riding? If I can't get ahold of a scrambler, would I be banished to the pavement?

Thanks again.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Might as well ask a few more. I've been looking into the BRC and was wondering a few things. The closest class, according to the ABATE website, is about 50 minutes away (maybe more, depending on traffic, I'm really not sure). The only classes I'm seeing that aren't listed as full are either for the five day courses or likely to be filled by the time I can register.

Anyone have any idea what the odds are there are classes not listed on the website? Are there any options other than the ABATE course?

I get how important the course is, believe me, I do. I'm just wondering how foolish it would be to get a bike and try to figure out the basics on the streets around here before taking the course. I'm in a subdivision outside the city limits, so we have no through traffic (I can count the number of cars I see in a day, and it's normally the same cars). I plan to take the course either way and would stick to just short trips before taking it, but I'm curious how much a person could reasonably learn on their own (maybe with a little reading thrown in).
 

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There was a time- before cruisers and dirt bikes and standards- when a motorcycle was just a motorcycle. If you wanted more traction, you made chains for the wheels. Some folks started installing skid plates, and bending high pipes, along came knobbies, etc. However, there are loads of pictures of old bikes doing whatever the heck the owners wanted to do.
If you plan on getting way out back, you'll need a longer suspension, and standing on the pegs helps negotiate and steer, the big 21" wheel gets over logs beter, and so on. Regular fire roads and gravel are just a matter of technique.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Not that I expect anyone is reading this, but something of an update. I've increased my possible budget to between $2500 and $3000 depending on the bike. If I can find the right bike for less, that's great, but I'll pay more for a better bike.

There's also the possibility of moving to Florida this winter. Yeah, I'm pretty stoked at the possibility of riding year round. There's one issue though. If we do that, I'll need to ride the bike down there. I have no problem going on a road trip, but I'll need a bike that can do 1,300 miles or so.

I know, if pushed, anything that can reach highway speeds could make it. I'd rather not be riding wide open the whole time though, especially knowing Florida drivers. Having room left to maneuver would be extremely helpful (and make me feel a hell of a lot safer). They're something of a rarity on Craigslist, but I have found early 00's Bonnevilles within my reach. I know others have learned on them without any problems, so I'm having a hard time not setting myself on the Triumph. That said, the old Honda CBs and CLs seem promising and for $500 to $1,000 less than the Bonneville. Is the modern engineering and increased displacement worth the price difference? I noticed the weight difference is mostly negligible. Everything else being equal, a little more power would probably be better, right?

Thoughts?
 

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Interesting, I have not driven my car to work in 5 days, I know I have not saved any money but I get to park inside and closer and the ride home is simply MarVelous. Today I had to go to Publix--needed the car.
 

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THAT is why we say it is a false assumption that you will save a significant amount of money by riding a bike.
That's an interesting analysis - were can I get one of these free cars that everybody else seems to be driving?

if you're going to include cost of bike purchase etc., then you have to include the cost of car purchase. Your analysis might be valid for somebody who already has a fully depreciated car they already own that has no value, but in this case the poster is selling a nice car - and buying a bike will probably cost less than the poster will get selling their car.

So based on an equally flawed analysis the poster is actually going to MAKE money going to a bike for transport, it's not only free, it creates money. With that analysis the poster would be foolish to do anything BUT ride a bike all the time. That's an equally flawed analysis.
 

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You can get a pretty nice BMW R65 for around $2 to $2500. They are good intown AND cross-country. Easy to work on should you so desire, tons of on-line support.
 
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