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ive narrowed my selection down to two bikes. ive always loved the look of classic street bikes and want to get something from that era. that being said i have found a 1975 bmw r60 with 34,000 miles, a jacket, helmet, original owners manual, and a battery charger. my other choice is a 1978 suzuki gs550e with only 8000 on the odo, no extras. they're both priced exactly the same so my question is this. will it be worth it to save on gear by buying the bmw or should i be more interested in the suzuki with far less miles? keep in mind that im 17 and money doesn't come easy for me. buying gear might take quite a bit if i am to go with the suzuki.
 

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Tough choice. Both good bikes, so I'm thinking the decision will be more emotional. The Beemer has a bit more cache / tradition, the GS a little more of a contemporary look and feel.
Good luck ~
 

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From what I have read... You don't want an old helmet because the foam inside the helmet breaks down over a few years. The helmet will cost you anywhere from $80+. I got a good one for $120. I'd figure $200 for a helmet though, just to be safe.

How much are they asking for the bikes? Check out this retro bike from Suzuki. That whole "money doesn't come easy" thing might rule it out, but it is cheap as far as new bikes go.
http://www.suzukicycles.com/Product Lines/Cycles/Products/TU250X/2011/TU250X.aspx?category=standard
 

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Whatever bike you go with is fine but DON'T use a used helmet. You never know what has happened to it. Even a drop could have compressed the impact liner and compromised the safety of the unit. You can pick up an inexpensive DOT approved helmet starting as low as $40. Your head is worth it.
 

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Id take the Suzuki.

Personally I prefer the GS550. It's quicker, lighter, and has more horse power. And I'm pretty sure parts would cost less and be easier to find. Take each one for a test drive and see which one speaks to you! Motorcycles are like women, you really don't know them until you've been on them.
 

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I'd do the Suzuki over the BMW unless I did some serious looking at the BMW's condition. There are things that can go wrong in areas like the drive shaft splines, caburetor wear, and such. Get some information on what to look for and maybe get someone who knows BMWs.

I will say the Suzuki is starting to develop an "affordable classic" standing as are some of the other "universal Japanese motorcycles" of the 70s. The GS will probably outperform the BMW and be more trouble free if all is good to start.

If the Suzuki is clean and running it would be a good ride. The BMW would be a good project unless it is fairly pristine.
 

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My beginner motorcycle story

Five years ago, I was working 60 miles south of where I lived. Daily commutes were approximately 125 miles. Then, the summer of high gas prices hit. A major portion of my budget was going in the tank instead of in my pocket.
To reduce the strain on my budget I decided to investigate buying a motorcycle. I researched what was the best beginner’s motorcycle. I had previous experience on trail bikes and one street bike, but I had not ridden a street bike in over 25 years. I felt that I was inexperienced, and that a starter motorcycle and the MSF course was the best way to start riding again safely.
I read numerous reviews of potential starter motorcycles, and went to some dealers to look at the various models that were recommended. The Rebel 250 was too small, the Suzuki GZ250 was pretty good, but also felt small. Then I read reviews for the Virago 250. It didn’t look or feel as small as the other 250’s, and because of its v-twin, it seemed to perform (and sound) better. I was never in the market for a “sport” bike, knowing that the higher center of gravity, shorter wheelbase, and extreme power and speed available was dangerous for a beginner.
I found a used Virago 250 in a small college town about 100 miles south of where I lived. But on the day I was to pick it up, the friend that was going to provide a truck was not unavailable. So I had my wife drive me down there, and I rode the bike all the way back home. Believe me, it was scary doing this after not riding for almost 25 years. But I had a co-pilot right behind me, working as a blocker. The ride home was uneventful.
The Virago 250 was a 2006, with only 4000 miles, and immaculate. Everyone praised it, and thought it was a bigger motorcycle. I didn’t have any trouble riding for the first 2-3 weeks, staying local and south of town, riding in the country. However, I must have got overconfident, because I decided to give my wife a ride. On the way home, I hit a water bottle in a driveway and almost dropped it. Of course, this scared the **** out of my wife. She has never ridden with me on a bike since.
I had passed my local learners test and was going to take my driving portion of the test, when something unusual happened. The DMV in my area had decided to “re-paint” all of the markings on the parking lot where they give the driving test. So, they extended my learners for 3 months until the lot was painted, and they let me “practice” on the course anytime I wanted. They even left the cones out over the weekend so I could practice! This was a big advantage in my “re-learning” of how to ride a motorcycle, since I had decided not to take the MSF course (bad idea). But I had a safe practice area in the country south of town, and the course at the DMV. I passed the driving portion of the course easily 3 months later (on my Virago 250).
I rode that little Virago as often as possible over the next 2 years, some of it expressway, and some on back roads, and almost every day to work. I had some close calls and some learning experiences, but overall, it was a great motorcycle to “train” on.
So, after 2 years on the Virago (and over 25,000 miles), I was looking to move up, but the wife had an engine go out in her car. The only available down payment was my little Virago. The dealer was really interested in it, and several salesmen tested it in the parking lot. They all said if I didn’t trade it in for a car, they would buy it outright for the down payment. I parted with my little Virago and drove away in a nice car for my wife (how many guys would do that?).
But, my wife agreed that since I used my Virago to get her a car, the next time gas prices went up (and I had a bonus) I could get another motorcycle. That happened early this year. So I started the search again for a replacement motorcycle.
My bonus came in, but it was less than I anticipated. So I had a limited budget, and a short time to buy. If you wait too long and the weather starts warming up, motorcycle prices skyrocket. My search sent me in the direction of the Shadow VLX. Oddly enough, to some, it is considered a beginner motorcycle. And some complain about the 4 speed transmission. But an older VLX not only fit my budget, but was a very practical “next step”.
I found a 1997 VLX in average shape (very rusted) but with an immaculate engine. It seems the owner had taken the Japanese motorcycle repair course and was using this bike to practice on. So the engine was tuned, the carbs were re-jetted, and it had aftermarket pipes. Complaints about the 4 speed seemed to be unfounded. This bike ran on the expressway with no problems.
I spent several weeks getting most of the rust off, and generally cleaning up the bike. It had been stored in a barn for several years, un-ridden, and was covered with bird droppings and really dirty. Now it looks great, and I get compliments everywhere I go. It is a VLX CD, two-tone red and pearl.
However, the purchase of a new (sort of) bike caught the attention of my co-worker. He then began research on purchasing a bike of his own. It seems gas prices were affecting his budget also, but he decided to take a different path than I did. He settled on a 400cc Yamaha Majesty scooter. Like me, he had not ridden a motorcycle in over 25 years, so he should have considered himself a beginner. But he owned a Honda 750 four back in the seventies, so he thought he could handle a scooter. I recommended the local MSF course, and told him how I had an advantage when “re-learning” to ride several years ago. He decided to buy the scooter and learn on his own.
The first week, he dropped his scooter in his garage. It seems he came in too fast, hit the rail that holds the garage door, and tore off the exhaust cover. He dropped it on the left side with only minor scratches.
The second week, he hit a piece of Styrofoam when turning into a Wal-Mart, and dropped the scooter again. This time the damage was more severe (also on the left side). I brought him a can of matching spray paint to cover up the damage.
We planned a “ride” two weeks later, and my co-worker had plotted out a circular course that would be entertaining. But he never showed up, so I went on and visited my parents.
I called him when I got home, and as it turned out, he had another accident. He had decided to take his driving test that morning, and stopped by the DMV. However, during the emergency lane-change and stop maneuver, he over-applied the front brakes and flipped. He broke his collar bone and several ribs.
He was out of work 3 weeks. I don’t know about the future of him riding his scooter, or even if he will keep it or sell it.
I guess the moral to this story is the following. No matter how much “flak” I may have received from the guys about buying a small bike to learn on, I have never regretted it. It turned out to be the best decision I have ever made. I put over 25,000 miles on that Virago. In the early 80’s, I put about 3,000 on a small Harley (Aermacchi 350). And now I have put over 2,000 on my VLX. That adds up to almost 30,000 miles.
I don’t want to jinx myself here and make any other statements. I just thought that another beginner might read this, and decide not to buy a big sport bike or cruiser to start out with. It just might save their life.
 

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2009 V Star 250

Hope your daughter enjoys her V Star. And take good care of it - the resale value on used 250's is very high right now! A lot of people need a starter motorcycle that gets good mileage. And the V Star 250 is not only a good starter, it gets great mileage and looks like a bigger motorcycle.
I really miss mine, but I am getting use to the Honda Shadow VLX.
 

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I picked up a Kawasaki KZ400, it was right down my alley and looked amazing. Only payed 400 dollars so you might want to check your local listings.

Its a classic looking, standard riding motorcycle.
 

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Based on personal experience, my advice is to remember that suspiciously low mileage is just as bad as suspiciously high mileage. Think about it, the suzuki is 33 years old, and only has 8000 miles on it? That means that it was ridden LESS than 300 miles a year, if it was ridden at a steady pace over the last 33 yrs. Chances are it sat for a long period of time, and that is bad for any engine. Carb cleaning and tires are a must.

I would trust the bmw more, because as a bike that is 36 yrs old, 35000 miles sounds like the owner took care of it and rode it sparingly and consistently. It sounds more likely that it was ridden 1000 miles a year, which sounds reasonable. (not my way, but hey? what can you do?) Even if it was stored for a while, chances are that it was stored for a shorter amount of time. There is also a better chance that you dont have to replace anything anytime soon, assuming that the previous owner has kept up with the service manual.

But the opposite could be true as well. Are they the original owners? Do they have service records?
 
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