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Discussion Starter #1
Hey guys, so I'm new to all this and figured you'd be a great starting resource. I'm looking for a bike to go on cross country trips with that will get pretty good fuel economy. I was looking to get a Honda Rebel because it gets great mpgs and I like the retro look, but after doing a bit of research, I realized it probably wouldn't work for me. With that said, here are my specifications.

-I'm 5'10" and 225 lb guy
-I've never ridden a bike in my life (although I will be taking training before getting a bike, so I'll have that experience)
-My weight shouldn't effect it too much
-Not above $8000 new (although that's the ridiculous extreme of what I'd be able to spend)
-I want good fuel economy
-It needs to be able to reach highway speeds efficiently

Other than that I don't have enough experience to have other specifications. None that I can think of anyways. Thanks in advance for your advice guys!


P.S. - I live in Washington where motorcycle specific insurance isn't required but I know that in other states it is. Should I get new insurance to cover a motorcycle? If so, any advice on which?
 

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I would not recommend the Rebel, 250's are more for city driving. I would recommend something around 800 cc's for sustained highway speeds if the cruiser style is what you desire. Just about every bike gets great gas mileage. I'm pretty new and ride a Yamaha FZ-07, which is only 700 cc's and it's getting about 54 mpg. It only cost 7000, but it's not a cruiser.
 

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If you are looking at cross country trips -- as in at least several hundred miles over a couple of days -- you need a LOT of riding time before embarking on that type of riding.
Not knowing your personality or abilities, I cannot even venture a guess as to how much.

No 250CC bike is going to be good for you.
$8000 - new is a serious stretch of the imagination for a good bike suited to that also.

Your best bet is to find a good deal on a Honda Shadow 750 or V-Star 650. I have seen lots of low mileage bikes for $3000-ish, which is ridiculous for bikes of their quality.
You will have a bike on which you can do 200-300 mile days fairly comfortably ...AND it will give you an opportunity to decide if you like the traditional "cruiser" style or want to go for a touring bike -- without blowing $8000 up front.

If you want to go straight to touring bikes, I would recommend checking cycletrader or other search mechanism for used touring bikes in the 700CC to 1200CC range. Other than the "New bike smell," you should be able to find a good Honda, BMW, Yamaha, Kawasaki, etc., well within your budget.

Good luck.
 

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Welcome from Seattle...what part of Washington are you from?

I would have to agree with goalie...personally, if l wanted a cruiser and had no experience l would probably be looking at a Honda Shadow. You can get an older one in a 500, or a newer one in a 600 or 750. They are super dependable and bullet proof. I would not go buy a new bike. This is your first bike, not your last.

I just bought a bike and got back on the road after a 20 year sabbattical. Even though l bought it with cash, l insured it heavily, especially with uninsured motorist and that sort of stuff. The bike is the last of your worries if you get in a significant wreck. I went through Progressive and my policy is about $70 a month.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Thanks for the replies so far guys. I'm living in Renton right now. It too far from Seattle. To go along with what I said earlier, I already realized the Honda Rebel is not the kind of bike I'm looking for. It would probably have trouble just getting me up hills.

I'm not planning on getting a new bike, I just wanted to set a benchmark for the top priced bike I'd want to get. Preferably I won't have to spend more than $3000. I already checked out the advice for buying bikes in that other thread, so I'll be sure to keep that in mind as I'm looking around.

My plan for riding is to get my certification over the next couple of months and then to get the bike in late winter. I plan to start "road tripping" on it around May, so I figure that should give me a few months of getting used to it. I've always been good at learning to handle vehicles, so I figure I should be comfortable enough with it by then to go a couple hundred miles a day. If not, then I'll just have to go in shorter increments and ale my trip shorter.
 

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Insurance is a must in my book. It's insanely cheap compared to a car. I contemplated getting rid of the cars and just riding the bike all year, but I haven't figured a way of getting the weekly groceries on the bike lol!!!

I just started to ride in late spring early summer. I'm just getting to the point now where I feel comfortable enough to open the throttle. It just kicked in this week. It feels more like I'm dancing with the bike now rather than holding on tight with that deathgrip. I can finally take my hand of the bars without feeling worried. But then again, I am different than most!!! Some people can pick it up pretty quick others take a bit more. Just start off with short trips around the 'hood. Get used to the bike, go a little further each day. I always try to take atleast one or two roads I haven't been on each day to try and get used to different road conditions. Always keep your eyes open. Don't ever rely on the car seeing you. Treat them like they are out to get you, as quite of few of them will be.

The one thing that helped me get my speed up was a little tip from a friend that sounded so crazy at the time, but worked wonders. He said if you want to learn how to drive fast (not crazy fast mind you), you need to learn how to stop quick. Once you master the emergency stop, something inside your brain sparks and your speed picks up. For a while I was afraid of 50-55 mph, but now it seems comfy. Practice your emergency stops, it will save your life. Start off slow and slowly build up speed. It's not as easy as one would think. Its easy to do the 20 mph emergency stop during training, but it's a bit different at 55.
 

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Insurance is a must in my book. It's insanely cheap compared to a car. I contemplated getting rid of the cars and just riding the bike all year, but I haven't figured a way of getting the weekly groceries on the bike lol!!!

I just started to ride in late spring early summer. I'm just getting to the point now where I feel comfortable enough to open the throttle. It just kicked in this week. It feels more like I'm dancing with the bike now rather than holding on tight with that deathgrip. I can finally take my hand of the bars without feeling worried. But then again, I am different than most!!! Some people can pick it up pretty quick others take a bit more. Just start off with short trips around the 'hood. Get used to the bike, go a little further each day. I always try to take atleast one or two roads I haven't been on each day to try and get used to different road conditions. Always keep your eyes open. Don't ever rely on the car seeing you. Treat them like they are out to get you, as quite of few of them will be.

The one thing that helped me get my speed up was a little tip from a friend that sounded so crazy at the time, but worked wonders. He said if you want to learn how to drive fast (not crazy fast mind you), you need to learn how to stop quick. Once you master the emergency stop, something inside your brain sparks and your speed picks up. For a while I was afraid of 50-55 mph, but now it seems comfy. Practice your emergency stops, it will save your life. Start off slow and slowly build up speed. It's not as easy as one would think. Its easy to do the 20 mph emergency stop during training, but it's a bit different at 55.
After work tonight l went for as little spin and tried this. Now, mind you, l was just on some back roads and did a few stops from about 40, but l broke fairly hard with both front and back...and l totally get it! It was almost like my brain went, "Ohhhhhh...l see...l can go a little faster because l believe that l can stop if l need to!" Now, l am not an adrenaline junkie and no one will ever accuse me of trying to straighten out the North Cascades Highway. Still, it was nice to build some more confidence and learn something new today. So thank you :)
 

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To the OP: The current list of recommendations are correct. If you are going to be highway riding/driving, you'll be better off with at least a 750cc. The buffeting from the trucks, and maintaining speeds that flow WITH the traffic, will be much more easily achieved with a motor at LEAST that big.

Having a Windshield (I like the full size type) is a wonderful plus as I have found out thru experience.

One of the responses mentioned Honda's, and I'll second that. My experiences on those bikes have all been good, in terms of reliability, durability and performance. True, they may not sound "like a Harley" but you can adjust for that later with modifications to the pipes, if you want.

How you want to "sit" on the bike, should enter your thinking. Do you want to be leaning forward, or sitting upright? (I'd stay, by the way, away from "Ape Hangers" for now, since you are just beginning).

You are a (based on your description of yourself) fairly stout fella for five foot ten. My Honda Shadow, (for example) has a maximum weight limit capacity (per my Owner's Manual) of 375 lbs., (it's a 750cc) so if you at some point want to take a rider one day (many months from now, after you are fully confident on the bike you choose), be aware of the limits of your bike, since you have a good chunk of that weight capacity already on the bike, from your own frame. (Not pickin on ya; just being "real"). Performance is affected by the bike having to work hard.

If you have to tote lots of gear or personal items, having bags of some sort will be a huge help, but again, it depends on the style of bike you want or are considering. "Saddle Bags" on a (what we call) "Rice Rocket" might be a stretch.

Gas tank size is something to take into account. Generally speaking, you will likely find bikes in the 750cc range to have at LEAST a "three gallon" (plus) size. More gas capacity means longer stretches between fill ups of course (just like a car).

The other question to ask yourself is.........HOW do you want to ride? Do you want "all the bells and whistles" as you ride, or are you thinking "the lighter the better."
It's a choice you make between the extreme Goldwing world, (with all the amenities) and a bike with only the essentials to make it run. If you are going to do (or hope to do) lots of long-distance trips, then you will need as much carrying capacity and comfort as you can find, and I'd be looking at Cruise Control, Radio, Back Rests, full Faring,.........the works.

Of course, the money you pay for a fully dressed out "Goldwing" style bike, can be pretty high. I found that there are always "used" bikes out there that will cost you a LOT less, but you need to have someone with you who really "knows" the type of bike you are looking at, to be your eyes of truth. Someone who won't be afraid to tell you if what you are considering is a piece of crap or not.

That's just for starters..........we haven't even TALKED about the "gear" yet, dude!! (lol)

-Soupy
 

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V Star 1300

If you plan to go cross country I would recommend at least a 1300 CC bike such as the V Star 1300. That is what I started on. It is also in your price range for a good used bike. It is better than either a 650 or 950 V Star because it actually handles better. Look at the weight differences between the bikes and throw a leg over them and you will see that the 1300 isn't that much more bike.

I am not bashing Honda, but the 750 Shadow is a horrible bike to learn on. The rake on that bike causes you to flop into a slow turn which doesn't inspire confidence in a new rider. It is also not a long distance bike unless you plan to ride only back roads and not interstate highways. It runs out of power at 60 - 65 MPH and you really don't want to get run over by a semi truck entering the on ramp because there is nothing left on the throttle.

Lastly, when you get a bike go straight to a parking lot and practice. Anyone can ride in a straight line down the highway. Where you get in trouble is in the tight spots at slow speed. Buy a Ride Like a Pro DVD and practice, practice practice.
 

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Okay, guess I'm just the biggest wimp going but I had no trouble what so ever touring on a 400 Honda Hawk. How you set a bike up is more important I think. Yes you feel the wind of on coming trucks but so what. If you know your bike you can deal with it. If I had not learned how the smaller bikes work on the road, I don't think I would be worth a darn on a larger bike. I simply say, learn at your own pace. But truly understand and know what you are doing before you move up. Okay. I'm a wimp. You all feel better???
 

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Buying a bike is like buying a pair of shoes. What fits one person well won't fit another, so find what you are comfortable on first. Take the motorcycle safety course, that is a must.
I have done many long rides, and they aren't for everyone, but they can be great fun filled with some real frustrations.

I highly recommend getting a used bike as has already been suggested. Learn to ride it well before venturing off on a long journey. Look at your body weight and the weight of the stuff you will be carrying with you. Make sure you have a bike rated for at least that amount of weight.

Long rides require the ability to carry stuff, so ideally you would want a touring bike. Problem is most touring bikes are too big and too heavy for a new rider. Now nine grand would only be a down payment on a new touring bike, Goldwing, BMW, ect go well over twenty grand.

So I would get a nice used bike, learn to ride it well and then if you are still excited about touring, invest in a good touring bike.

I strongly recommend not trying to start off with a touring bike. There are many very knowledgeable folks on this forum, and I think they will give you a lot of the same advice. But I'm just an old pud knocker so listen to the advice of some of the old timers around hear.
 

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As another option there would be nothing wrong with getting a smaller used bike for a few months after completing the BRC and getting your license. Then you can get some experience on local streets, and work up to highways.

I would also suggest you think some about what you really intend to do in terms of your cross country trips. Just as an example how many days would you plan to be on the road, and how many miles per day would you hope to travel? That will factor into what type of bike would best work for your trips. I just finished a roughly 2,000 mile road trip on my HD Iron 883, no luggage except what I took in a backpack. On one extreme end of the spectrum if you are able/willing to be very minimal in what you take with you, and arrange a room each night the full touring package might not be needed. On the other hand if you want to tote a decent amount of gear, and/or camp out rather than arrange a room getting something with more luggage capacity might be in order.

In terms of power I started on a VStar 650 and had no issue moving along with traffic on the highway. Sure if I was really pushing it to pass someone I could hit the limit of the bike, but never had issues or felt uncomfortable riding with the flow of traffic at 70mph.
 

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Something else to consider is how you might ride...are you content to just sit back and let the road take you where it pleases? Then you probably want a cruiser? If you are more inclined to ride with a purpose, and can see yourself riding hard and at higher speeds as you become a better rider, then you may want to aim toards a sport-tourer. This gets a little tricky, as there aren't really many small ones, but you might start with an EX500 with a set of saddle bags, then work up to a VFR800 and then an FJR1300, or something along those lines.
 

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Hey guys, so I'm new to all this and figured you'd be a great starting resource. I'm looking for a bike to go on cross country trips with that will get pretty good fuel economy. I was looking to get a Honda Rebel because it gets great mpgs and I like the retro look, but after doing a bit of research, I realized it probably wouldn't work for me. With that said, here are my specifications.

-I'm 5'10" and 225 lb guy
-I've never ridden a bike in my life (although I will be taking training before getting a bike, so I'll have that experience)
-My weight shouldn't effect it too much
-Not above $8000 new (although that's the ridiculous extreme of what I'd be able to spend)
-I want good fuel economy
-It needs to be able to reach highway speeds efficiently

Other than that I don't have enough experience to have other specifications. None that I can think of anyways. Thanks in advance for your advice guys!


P.S. - I live in Washington where motorcycle specific insurance isn't required but I know that in other states it is. Should I get new insurance to cover a motorcycle? If so, any advice on which?
OK here I am at about 5'10" and I clearly remember 225 a few pounds back. I have ridden everything from a 500 cc Honda twin to my present 1731 cc Vision on the highway. My Vision makes a better touring bike than the Honda did but both could ride all day at highway speeds and the Honda gave me 50 MPG compared to my Vision at 40.
I have insurance on my bike just like I do on all my vehicles. Who wants to fight a half million dollar liability law suit on their own?
Once you have that class M endorsement on your license go out to every multi-brand dealer around and sit on every bike in the shop. When you find one that feels right to you, ask to do a test ride. If it still feels right and the price fits your budget, go for it. I would stay away from the 850 pound monster that I ride until you have some experience but a nice light 500 pounds or so bike should be fairly easy to learn on and might be enough for tour riding with the addition of some after market bags.
 

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...........I am not bashing Honda, but the 750 Shadow is a horrible bike to learn on. The rake on that bike causes you to flop into a slow turn which doesn't inspire confidence in a new rider. It is also not a long distance bike unless you plan to ride only back roads and not interstate highways. It runs out of power at 60 - 65 MPH and you really don't want to get run over by a semi truck entering the on ramp because there is nothing left on the throttle................
You're NOT? (lol) Sounds like "bashing" to ME! I tell ya what.........I won't criticize your UGLY bike, (worst looking bike out there these days. looks like a Praying Mantis!) if you will get off my Honda! (lol)

Jesting in good humor and good fun........

-Soupy
 
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