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I'm looking at a '95 Honda Shadow VLX 600 as my first bike. It has 17,000 on it but I've heard that Hondas can get up to around 100,000 so I'm not too worried. Will it be good to learn on and possibly do a half-country tour on, even though it's a 4-speed? I plan on learning maintenance and cycle care as well with the bike.
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Double Secret Probation
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It sounds like a great first bike to me. I'm sure it will be fine for long tours if you're comfortable on the bike. A lot of folks prefer big bikes for touring, but smaller bikes can get the job done.
 
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