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13 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
First, a bit about myself. I am currently 35 years old and looking to purchase my first motorcycle withing 9-12 months. I will be taking the MSF course in June. I am looking to spend $7,000-$10,500 on a new motorcycle. I see recommendations on starting with a used bike as well as financing/not financing. My plan, however, is to get a new motorcycle from the dealership and putting $5000-$7000 as a down payment and financing the rest over a 24 or 36 month period. I could possibly buy the bike outright, but I don't see any harm in building up my credit a bit while paying off the loan. I can always pay it off early if I so desire, anyway. Current credit score 750+. Luckily, I currently do not have any accidents or infractions on my insurance record.

I plan to use the motorcycle as a secondary vehicle and ride mostly on paved roads, but I occasionally plan to ride off-road on dirt or gravel trails, but nothing too rough. In order to begin riding safely, I plan to mitigate the possibility of being involved in an accident by traveling on relatively low speed/low traffic roads, NEVER riding while distracted or inebriated, avoid riding at night, always traveling at or below the posted speed limit, avoiding highway riding for at least 6-9 months after purchasing the bike, avoid riding in the rain or at night, and driving cautiously and alert. Some of these beginner bikes have engines perhaps more appropriate for more experienced riders, but I am an adult and don't ever speed or drive dangerously in my current vehicle. This is not to say that I think that I can handle larger engines better than any other beginner. This is just to say I will be taking it slow and being patient while learning which will, hopefully, keep me safe.

I am currently considering these bikes. I am not listing them in any particular order other than the tiered system for how much I think I would want them. If you have any specific information (recommendations/experience/have owned/etc.) with any of these motorcycles, please do not hesitate to relate that information in your reply. You may notice I don't have any bikes manufactured by Aprilla, Ducati, KTM, Royal Enfield, or Triumph. I am sure these are fine bike, for example, I would love to have a DesertX. I either don't want to start with these specific manufacturers or don't live their models enough to purchase as a beginner rider.

Bikes I would love to have: CB500X, MT-07, Tenere 700, XL 750 Transalp (possibly)

Bikes I would definitely consider: F 850 GS, F 850 GS Adventure (this bike costs more than I would prefer to spend, but I would consider it because of the 3-year warranty)

Bikes I like somewhat: F 750 GS, CB500F, MT-03, Versys 650, KLR 650, VStrom 650/XT, VStrom 800 DE/Adventure (possibly), Norden 901

Bikes it would take some effort to convince me to buy: z650, z900, Versys X300, 701 Enduro, SV 650, GSX S750, GSX-8S (possibly)

Again, any relevant information on or comparisons of any of these bikes is more than welcome. Convince me if you want!
I also have tons of questions regarding motorcycles or riding in general. Some of these may seem like dumb questions to you. I am a beginner and just trying to increase my knowledge. Be easy on me, please. Consider answering:
  1. Most motorcycles downshift into first and upshift through the rest of the gears. When you shift from 1st to 2nd, do you have to go through neutral and upshift twice, or does the bike go from 1st to 2nd with 1 upshift?
  2. Is a riding jacket with armor sufficient protection or do you also need base layers when riding?
  3. Are riding pants with armor sufficient protection or do you also need base layers when riding?
  4. I have tried RevZilla/Cycle Word, but I can't find jackets or pants sorted by CE A, AA, or AAA rated protection. Is there any site on which I can find protective gear sorted by its A/AA/AAA rating?
  5. As far as motorcycle armors inserts, is there a material that is best for protection? Also, what are the pros and cons of each armor insert material?
  6. In general, what type of material is most protective in the case of an accident/crash/skid?
  7. Should you/can you/do you wear external elbow and knee guards over your riding gear with internal armor inserts i.e. riding pants with internal knee armor with an external knee pad on top?
  8. Could you please recommend a DOT and ECE rated motorcycle helmet with an internal drop down sun visor for under $300?
  9. Could you please recommend a protective summer riding jacket for under $300?
  10. Could you please recommend protective summer riding pants for under $300?
  11. Could you please recommend full length motorcycle boots for street and light off-road riding for under $300?
  12. Could you please recommend warm weather riding gloves with vibration reducing palm padding, hard knuckle protections, and a palm/side hand slider for under $120?
  13. Can normal cold weather clothing be worn over protective riding clothing for colder weather? Or is a separate cold weather riding jacket and cold weather riding pants recommended?
  14. For upgrades I am currently looking to eventually upgrade tires as well as adding a skid plate, engine guards/sliders, a new front or rear sprocket if necessary, radiator guard, and chain. Could you possibly recommend a good manufacturer for a skid plate? engine guards? engine sliders? front and rear sprockets? a radiator guard? an after market chain?
I understand that this post is very verbose and somewhat in-depth. I VERY much appreciate anyone that will take the time to read and respond to this post. You definitely did help me and hopefully some other people who view this thread. Again, this is a pretty lengthy post. I highly appreciate ANYONE who takes the time to read and respond. I understand that your time is important to you and am humbled that you may have chose to help me. Have a great day and stay safe!

13 Posts
Discussion Starter · #8 ·
You didn't mention your height, and that can be an important factor for a new rider in choice of bike. You need to be able to flat foot both feet when stopped, and many of the bikes that are set up for some off-road travel have a fairly tall seat height. I also would recommend the CB500X as it is not too tall and not too powerful and also not too expensive. If that is too tall for you, try the CB500F.
Sorry, I am 5'11" 185-190 lbs. I guess that could make a big difference.

I would ask why you'd want to spend the money for a new midsized motorcycle, which is likely to take a big depreciation hit as soon as you drive it off the lot or worse if you drop it(very likely), that can easily exceed your skill level as a newly minted rider?
I just figured with the current price of used bikes currently meeting or exceeding the price of new bikes that may be my best bet. And, you're right, attempting to get into this new hobby and skill I have so much information going into my head right now it is difficult to parse.

Also, thank you DannoXYZ I didn't realize that was how most accidents occurred. Thank you RogerC60, Kuiil, and gunsmoker for your time and replies. I really appreciate it.

13 Posts
Discussion Starter · #12 · (Edited)
It's true the gap between new and used has been squeezed of late, but don't forget on a new bike you're going to pay at least $1,000 in freight, setup and whatever else they can think of unless you're a really good negotiator. Plus, there's always people who buy bikes and for whatever reason it doesn't work out so the sell it down the road for a nice discount. Some patience may be required these days and since you're not taking the class until June, you've got plenty of time look and figure out the market.

My first bike was an 80s UJM that offered similar specs to the MT-07 my friend helped/talked me into buying. It was a good in the sense that I didn't pay much for it, three figures, so would not be out much if I crashed it and was in good mechanical condition as my friend, who is learned ways of motorcycle repaired, could confirm, but it had so much power, I felt overmatched by it as someone who had little experience other than a rides as a little kid and the riders course. This is why the class is important because there's somethings you can only grasp by doing them. I only mostly rode around the neighborhood, but did take it on the highway a few times, which confirmed I was not ready for that much power.

I ended up selling it and buying the bike I used in class. It was only 250cc and had 15hP, but was a good fit. It was light, which made it easy to handle. I put an aftermarket pipe on it that made it sound way faster than it was, which is kind of half the fun. I could pin the throttle without feeling like I was going to wheelie and flip the bike. I ended up selling it too and getting a bike with three times the power, but half the fun, though it was more comfortable on the freeway.

I'm not saying you can't learn on a bigger bike(I guess you'll have to decide for yourself on that one) and there's some merit to going new with prices nowadays, but as always, perfect choices are elusive.
Thank you for your thought and input. I guess I could possibly get an older model Vstrom or KLR and learn on that and see if riding even suits me before getting a new/larger bike. Since those models have been out forever, it may be easier to find a good deal on one where I wouldn't be eating a majority of the depreciation.

As you have evidently pre-rejected any good advice, I wish you the best of luck.
I don't believe that I am demonstrating any obstinance to any idea or advice being encouraged. Keep in mind, I haven't made any decisions yet. I am doing my best to plan. If you don't want to take part in the conversation, that's OK though. Have a good day.

13 Posts
Discussion Starter · #14 · (Edited)
Welcome from the Missouri Ozarks!

Lots of GREAT, thoughtful questions, and lots of good advice here!(y) One thing I will take issue with a little bit is gear selection. I'm a RiderCoach; I recommend that my students buy the best gear that their budget will allow. With the motorcycling budget you've presented here, I would suggest spending a little less on a first bike (Your first bike won't be your last bike, trust us!!:D) and a little more on higher quality gear, especially your helmet. Yes, a $300 DOT/ECE helmet made by a reputable manufacturer will do its job in the event of a crash, but a helmet with a Snell rating will offer you even more protection. I tipped over on my bike while wearing a $300-400 reputable helmet, smacked the back of my head on the parking lot, and suffered a mild concussion for two weeks; the bike wasn't even running. Conversely, I came up on the losing end of a Honda Pilot at 30-35 mph, high-sided 30 feet (flew and landed in front of the bike--you'll learn more about that in class) and landed on my left side. The full-face Arai helmet I was wearing did its job and I suffered absolutely no head injuries. I was also wearing Motoport jacket and pants which left me unscathed and were able to be repaired by the company. The only injury I had was some overall stiffness for a couple days.
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Every crash is different. But there's a reason that racers wear what they do. Sure, you won't be doing 200mph on the street, but you really do get what you pay for when it comes to motorcycle gear. The "Big Box" motorcycle stores will carry a wide variety of helmets, but you have to dig a little deeper for higher quality jackets and pants, such as Motoport and Aerostitch. This gear is custom made and is truly an investment; it's understandable to want to make sure motorcycling is really for you before doing so (The Motoport is so good that they'll let me wear it at the track for street skills--not racing-- schools so I don't have to rent leathers(y)). Just a note, you won't need to have all of your street gear for your class, except for a helmet (if your site doesn't provide loaners). You'll also need eye protection if your helmet lacks a face shield (prescription eyewear or sunglasses are fine for class), long sleeves, long sturdy pants, full-fingered gloves (not necessarily motorcycle gloves), and sturdy over-the-ankle boots (hiking boots are a good choice). So you can really take your time to explore all the options out there.

In what state will you be taking your class? MSF is in the process of transitioning to all online classroom content so I'm curious as to where you're at so I might be able to clue you in on what to expect (if I can find out what each state is currently offering). Were you instructed to complete an E-course prior to your class?
Thank you for the great information. I will be taking the class in Louisiana. I haven't been notified to take any online courses at this time. This is where everything gets so confusing. Large, respected YouTubers like FortNine seem to suggest that ECE is a better overall certification...if I interpreted that video correctly. You are saying to go with a Snell certified helmet for the increased impact resistant rating. This is great information to know. So, I should start with somewhat decent protective gear and then possibly get more expensive gear when I am sure that the hobby suits me? I really appreciate your time and input.

Also, I have taken some aforementioned advice to heart and have been searching cycletrader/FB marketplace/classified for possibly a more affordable/less powerful starter bike - around the $3,000-$4,500 range. It's hard right now to find bikes for less that aren't complete beaters.

13 Posts
Discussion Starter · #18 ·

13 Posts
Discussion Starter · #19 ·
ECE is designed to allow for some twisting during impact which lessens basal skull and neck injuries. I'm in process of replacing all my helmets with ECE versions.

That brings up another idea, is you don't have to do everything at once. Start with basic ECE helmet, mesh jacket and gloves. You can always get additional gear over time as you get more experienced and more comfortable. Full leather suit is hot and pain to get on & off, so I only use it for racing on track. Most of time, I use 1-piece Fieldsheer touring suit so I can wear my office clothes underneath.

Take your time getting bike. Do MSF class 1st and see how it goes. There's quite a few people that decide afterwards that riding moto's really not for them. Get in as much practice as you can and crash their bikes, not yours.

Then what you can do afterwards is rent bikes of different types and see what you like. I've had great rentals from Twisted Road: Motorcycle Rentals . Personally I don't like bikes that try to do everything, they end up failing at everything. Dual-sports and ADV bikes just don't race that well at track and don't do off-roading very well. That's why I have razor-edge CBR600RR for track and lightweight 125 2-stroke for dirt. Impossible for any generic multi-purpose bike to do as well on either environment. Frankly, i find them extremely disappointing for anything other than commuting.
Yes, my first inclination was to go with ECE, but BAZININJA had suggested a Snell. Honestly, I looked around for some FIM rated helmets, but they were a fortune.

I searched my area for motorcycle rentals. The 1 bike offered was a 2017 Indian Roadmaster.

13 Posts
Discussion Starter · #27 ·
While the latest ECE cert seems to be a little better than DOT (and a Snell cert is over and above either of those, so if you see Snell, it will also be DOT and/or ECE), state helmet laws often specify DOT helmets. I actually have a Shark modular that I use for teaching classes and commuting to and from class. It came from Germany (It's the only way I could get a GREEN one!!:D:ROFLMAO:) and is certified ECE. The DVD manual that came with it made a big deal of making it perfectly clear that it doesn't comply with United States' helmet laws. There are no stickers on the helmet for either DOT or ECE (It's not Snell, and not the quality of my Arai, so quite honestly I'm not as confident in its protection as I am my Arai. Fortunately, I ride with it in relatively low risk environments i.e. not in the twisties). Missouri no longer has a helmet requirement for riders age 26 and over, and since it's unlikely to get worn out of state, I shouldn't have a problem. I see that Louisiana doesn't have a DOT helmet specification.

I also looked at the Louisiana motorcycle safety program website and I can infer from it that you'll be using the same curriculum that Missouri has been using, meaning that your classroom content will be in person, assuming you're in an early June class (They'll have to transition by July 1 in order for their coaches to get credit for teaching courses, and probably to keep their testing waivers in effect). Fair warning: You're in Louisiana. In June. It's going to be freaking hot and humid in the parking lot!!!!! 馃サ馃サ馃サ Wear the lightest weight clothing that you can, such as a long sleeve wicking shirt, or a wicking short-sleeve or tank top under a mesh jacket while you're on the bike. Drink LOTS AND LOTS of water, starting the day before, along with an electrolyte beverage or electrolyte supplements ( I use these Trace Minerals Electrolyte Stamina 300 Tabs - Swanson庐). I assume since you're living there, you know how easy it is to get heat exhaustion, but the risk is amplified in a parking lot especially if it's asphalt.
Oh, trust me. I will have plenty of Powerade Zero with me when I do my riding instruction. So, helmet is something on which I should not skimp. Snell rated preferably.

Also, I should go with a slightly smaller engine/bike with ABS if possible since I won't be on the highway much at all. Honestly, I would love something like a used MT-03, but I just don't see many fairly priced used ones in my area. I will keep looking.

Use good, fairly bright and effective protective gear and a white helmet. I was personally leaning toward brighter gear anyway in order to attempt to make myself more visible. Thank you guys for all of your help.

One more question. What do you guys think of modular helmets?

13 Posts
Discussion Starter · #28 ·
Looks like you'll need to furnish a helmet for your class. That's the one thing I wouldn't skimp on. While most classes are incident-free or have minor drops and such, students do make mistakes and I've seen some doozies over the years. Having said that, I can pretty safely say that the incidents occurring in my classes involved students wearing DOT (not Snell) helmets, often the inexpensive ones we provide for class. I'm not aware of anyone having any lingering head injury issues beyond maybe a headache or something short term, but it's not my job to follow up later so I don't know. It's all about risk management. If you're reasonably sure that you'll pass the class and go on to enjoy motorcycling for a long time, then buy the dream helmet. If you're not so sure, then a less expensive DOT model (full face or 3/4) will likely suffice for class, given that the prescribed exercise speeds do not exceed 25mph. This is another reason that full street gear is not required in the training environment. If it turns out that motorcycling isn't for you, then you're only out a couple hundred dollars or so on an entry level helmet, plus your course fee.

Bike prices are really screwed up, just like car prices. I've been trolling for a used NINJA 400 as second bike for awhile, specifically a certain 2018 model. You would think that I could find a decent specimen in the $3000-4000 range. But one of the used bike dealers that had one with 12,000+ miles on it (kinda high mileage on a 400), an aftermarket slip-on muffler, and a few scratches, wanted $6200 for it. That's completely insane. I've seen some reasonable deals on FB Marketplace since then, but I've decided to wait until I have cash in hand (a much stronger bargaining chip with my husband..) and hope that prices will continue to come down on a now-five year-old bike. The nice thing about going through a dealer for your first bike, especially if you're not mechanically inclined, is that the fluids will be fresh, the tires will be safe, and you'll have some reasonable assurance that it's roadworthy. If you can find something for $3500-5000, you should be in good shape. (y)
Yes, we have to furnish a helmet, gloves (not specifically riding gloves), long sleeve shirt, pants, and boots/shoes that go over the ankle.

As far as the pricing, I know exactly what you are talking about. On FB marketplace near me a guy was trying to sell a 2005 CRF 250 that was in OK condition but obviously heavily used for $4,500. Other sellers are attempting to sell very old bikes not even in running condition without a key or title for $1,500-$2,000. It's crazy out there. Hopefully, when I am ready to purchase, things will be a bit more reasonable. At the moment, however, it's not uncommon for me to see a low mileage used bike for sale for $500 OVER MSRP. That's the only reason my first inclination was to buy new, but I think I will just keep looking for a reasonable deal. The only problem I have is I don't really know what I am looking for. I wish a could pay someone more knowledgeable than me like $50-$100 around buying time to go over the bike for me. Then I would be scared of getting robbed though because the person would know I had the money on person to purchase the bike. What makes me even more cautious is that a friend of mine bought a used bike a few years ago not knowing what to look out for and apparently purchased a used bike from a private seller with a bent a-frame. He got ripped off and couldn't even really ride it.

13 Posts
Discussion Starter · #34 ·
The Kawasaki Versys 300 or BMW G 310 GS, both of which can had with ABS, might be worth a look. I think they've both been around since like 2017ish, so you might be able to find used options. Check on CycleTrader, where you can search by zip code. The wider you can cast your net the more choices you'll have. Both have enough oomph to get you on the freeway, though that's probably not their forte, and can do some off road if your expectations are kept in check The KTM 390 is probably the best of the mini adventure bikes, but it didn't come out until 2020, so used options won't be as plentiful if at all. When buying a bike with a smaller dealer network like BMW and particularly KTM, make sure there's a dealer in the area cause having to take your bike a long way for service can be a pain.
I actually wouldn't mind a Versys, and I actually really like the BMW 310 GS. I've been trying to broaden my range as you guys suggested. Personally, supersports are not really my thing, but I have recently been looking at adding maybe a used z400 to my list. I think that's about as much power as I want to go with now, after talking with all of you guys. I have heard good things about the KTM adventure and Duke, but, yea, not as many used options available yet.

Along those same lines, a deer totaled our Prius shortly before Christmas, 2021. So we had the joy of having to purchase a new car in the post-COVID nonsense world. We got lucky and found a 2022 Corolla Hybrid that we liked that was already built, scheduled to be delivered locally in February, and, miraculously, did not have anyone else's name on it already!!(y)(y) My husband really wanted to drive one before we shelled out the money for it. We got lucky and the dealer had a 2021 rental return there with 18,000 miles on it that was identical except for color. He drove it and really liked it. We could've driven it home that day if we had wanted--for $3000 OVER MSRP.:eek::eek::eek: For $3000, we could make do with my Bug and our truck for a couple months, thank you very much...
Oh, tell me about it. I had to do some used car shopping a little over a year ago. Luckily, I was able to get a decent 2014 Accord in great condition from a nice old lady for a decent price.

I suggest taking any used bike to good mechanic for pre-purchase inspection.
This is a great idea that really never crossed my mind. I guess I would have to come to an agreement with the seller to do this ahead of time? BTW, I can only hope to have your mechanical skills one day. As of now, my skills are limited to plugging a tire, changing oil, and swapping out an air filter. One step at a time though. I would eventually like to be able to fix some if not most issues with my bike on my own.

13 Posts
Discussion Starter · #35 ·
As to buying a brand new bike versus a used one, I think the ideal situation would be to get a used one that's got a few dents or scratches so you won't cry if and when it falls over at low speeds. If you ride it for a year and put several thousand miles on it and you feel confident you won't drop it again, sell it and then get that new bike.

I bought my first real motorcycle for street use in August 2022 for $1000. I got one that had been spray painted black and already had a few dents and scratches on it. I haven't dropped it yet but I did accidentally kick over the detached fuel tank while I was working on the carburetors, and the tennis ball size dent doesn't really bother me much.

I don't plan on restoring the bike to beautiful condition --I just want it to be safe and reliable to ride for a year, after which I intend to sell it and get something nicer, newer, and new enough that parts are readily available, and any and all shops around me will work on it.
(many shops in the Atlanta Georgia area will not work on a motorcycle that is more than 12 to 15 years old.)
Trust me, I have been looking more and more. I don't know if it is just bad timing or luck, but I thought I would find more deals in the "off season" than I seem to be. It because I'm in Louisiana and basically have summer, summer, slightly colder summer, and summer as the 4 seasons so there is really no "off season". Perhaps when I am done my course and have my gear and am ready for purchase I can ask here for thought on a specific bike.

I just want to thank everyone here that is contributing and trying to help out here. It means a lot that this community is so embracing. This post initially got removed from Reddit /motorcycles because it included questions about a bike recommendation. I feel like that website is losing sight of what it is supposed to be with so many rules/restrictions rather than open discussion. I am really glad that I came here, though.

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Discussion Starter · #37 ·
Any seller's who's legit would have no problems dropping off bike at mechanic for inspection. You can even tell them it'll help sell their bike if you don't want it. Usual items to look at;

  • engine compression, tells you state of engine innards
  • frame & fork straight
  • tyres
  • brakes, lines and fluid
  • any fluid leaks
  • chain & sprockets

These maintenance items can cost thou$ands if you had to do them immediately. Although changing all fluids when getting bike is good idea.
Thank you very much. I'm actually going to save this as a checklist in the future. Appreciate this because I really wouldn't know where to start or even what to ask the mechanic.

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Discussion Starter · #43 ·
If you're going to consider the Z400, a fine machines, then the Honda CB300F or BMW G310R might be worth a look too. They offer a more upright searing position, which tends to be more comfortable, but by all means go have a look for yourself to see what works for you.
Yes, I am also looking up information on these bikes as well. I am trying to learn as much as I can from pretty much every entry level bike from most manufacturers including Royal Enfield, Honda, Yamaha, Kawasaki, KTM, Suzuki, BWM, and recently have been looking into the Husqvarna Svartpilen and Vitpilen 401. I don't know if I will be able to find these particular bikes in my area, but I just think they look so great and have heard good things about them.

As far as modular helmets go, after reading the posts here and doing some research about them in other places, I believe that a regular full faced helmet would be the safest. I like the functionality of the modular helmets, but, as a beginner, I would prefer the safer option.

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Discussion Starter · #47 ·
Thank you all for your input over the past 2 weeks. It's very cool for the community to support a new rider. I have moved up my MSF class, and I am currently looking for a helmet for the class that I can also use in the future when I get my bike/endorsement. As far as a bike goes, I like so many models, but I think I will listen to most on here and start with a smaller bike like an MT03, G 310GS, z400, Versys 300, CB300R, or maybe even a Rebel 300.
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