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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I am an 18 yo girl who will be attending UIUC in the fall. I am very interested in learning to ride a motorcycle and, eventually, buying one for myself. I live close by a Harley Davidson dealer, so I would like to buy from there. I am not at all familiar with motorcycles or the mechanics and technology behind them, nor have I ever been on one. I have just a few questions.

1.) As a college student I probably won't have much money to spare on gear and a bike. So purchasing a used bike does sound appealing to me because of this. But, after reading about all the things that could go wrong when buying a used bike, it makes me want to purchase a new one instead. I feel like choosing a new bike would be the safest option for me since I am not familiar with the mechanics and would not know how to fix up an old bike. Since I wouldn't know how to fix it myself, I'd have to have someone else do it for me -- and this might end up being more expensive than just getting a brand new bike. Am I right on this?

2.) How much money does the average rider put into their motorcycle per year, month? Is it cheaper than owning a car?

3.) I am 5'8, 128 lbs, not particularly muscular, and I would like something I could use to ride to work, home as well as something I could use to go out on the open road for fun. The whole sports side of motorcycles does not appeal to me in the slightest, I want something practical and affordable. What types of Harley Davidson (since there's a dealer near me), or other reputable brands should I look for when I am buying?

4.) If I am not into sporty bikes, then what gear do I really need? I don't want to spend too much money on gear, but at the same time safety and very important to me.
 

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The first thing you should do is take a riding class. https://www.msf-usa.org/

If you are dead set on a new Harley for a first bike, I would recommend a Street. At your size, you will not need anything bigger. (please note, I said need, not want.) 2017 Street 500 | Harley-Davidson USA

As a beginner, I would look at something else. Honda, Suzuki, Kawasaki, Yamaha all make smaller cruiser style bikes. I understand wanting new, but used is still not a bad idea. Look at some of the dealers in your area, often they have a certification for their used bikes, and do stand behind them.

Are you looking at a bike in addition to a car or in lieu of a car? I don't recommend a motorcycle as your only means of transportation. Imagine this scenario: break coming up, you want to go home or wherever, next couple days look like heavy rain. Are you going to stay in the dorms so you don't get your laptop wet in your back sack?

Gear is up to you. There are some ATGATT (all the gear all the time) riders that will tell you that you NEED pants, full face helmet, jacket, gloves, boots. If that is how you want to ride, then yes, you need all that. Personally, I think you should ride your own ride. I wear a half-helm, gloves, boots, t-shirt, and jeans. I do not disparage anyone for the gear they decide is right for them.

What you spend is also up to you. I bought an old 700cc Yamaha, and all told I have spent around 1500 including the bike gear class etc since February. The improvements I have made on the bike, I could probably turn it for 1200 now.
 

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Lightly used is another valid option. You can save a lot of money versus new by buying a motorcycle that is a couple of years old.

Many new riders end up going the "cheap" route and buy a really old bike, only to find that it will end up costing more than it's worth to get it on the road safely. I would strongly advise staying away from vintage bikes unless you have the experience to restore them and can source the parts needed.

The big-four Japanese companies all make quality cruisers, so you aren't limited to Harley Davidson for choices. Shop around and find what you like the best.

Take the course before buying, or even shopping for a bike. I've taught some students who put the cart before the horse and bought a motorcycle, only to find out that they didn't like riding at all after they actually tried it. I imagine some ended up getting soaked on resale, or were left with a vehicle taking up space that they will never use.
 

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Many new riders end up going the "cheap" route and buy a really old bike, only to find that it will end up costing more than it's worth to get it on the road safely. I would strongly advise staying away from vintage bikes unless you have the experience to restore them and can source the parts needed.
This is what I did. I got lucky, and it's obvious. It could use a carb rebuild, but I can't do it, can't afford to pay someone else to do it.
 

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...... Is it cheaper than owning a car?
My usual response: .

This response: one would think half the vehicle, half the cost, right? Yeah RIGHT! This can get to be a rather expensive undertaking. You should get better fuel mileage though.

If I am not into sporty bikes, then what gear do I really need? I don't want to spend too much money on gear, but at the same time safety and very important to me.
Gear should be about the same for whatever bike style you choose.



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Discussion Starter · #7 · (Edited)
Thank you all very much for your input. Now that I've been looking more into it, I'm thinking I will probably go for a used Suzuki/Yamaha/or Honda bike -- Harleys are waay too expensive for me.. Just a couple more questions that I have concerning gear: what is the best helmet that I could get for $200 max? If a helmet is under $100, could this be indicative that it is not safe? Also, besides the helmet, will full-length leather gloves, jacket, possibly chaps be good enough? Is armor underneath necessary? Again thank you all for your advice, you have given me a lot to think about.
 

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I was able to get a 2013 Shadow with only 733 miles on it, new they go for about $10K and I got this one 7 months ago for $4700. It's an excellent first bike.

also... if you're wanting an open face helmet (like me cause I didn't want to feel closed inside a head box) I went with the Bell 500 and am very pleased. I got the RSD version.
https://www.revzilla.com/search?query=bell+500&commit=Search

Good luck, and welcome!!!!!!

oh... and if you want a Full Face helmet, I suggest looking at the Scorpion 510
https://www.revzilla.com/motorcycle/scorpion-exo-t510-helmet
I have heard many good things about Scorpion regarding getting a lot of value for the money without going into the crazy expensive makes. This is the one I would get if I decide to go FF.
 

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Thank you all very much for your input. Now that I've been looking more into it, I'm thinking I will probably go for a used Suzuki/Yamaha/or Honda bike -- Harleys are waay too expensive for me.. Just a couple more questions that I have concerning gear: what is the best helmet that I could get for $200 max? If a helmet is under $100, could this be indicative that it is not safe? Also, besides the helmet, will full-length leather gloves, jacket, possibly chaps be good enough? Is armor underneath necessary? Again thank you all for your advice, you have given me a lot to think about.
Absolutely nothing wrong with those bikes. Best of luck in finding one that fits you like a glove.

As far as helmets go, those sub $100 helmets should be fine AS LONG AS THEY ARE TRULY DOT CERTIFIED! Any helmet that is at least DOT certified has passed testing that says it meets the government criteria to help you survive a crash.

Read this on helmet fitment:
https://www.revzilla.com/common-tread/motorcycle-helmet-fitment-101

Or this in shorter less entertaing form:
http://www.helmetcheck.org/thefit.aspx

Your gear choice sounds ok to me. Armor is not a necessity, but helps protect the pointy parts (knees, elbows, shoulders) in a fall. Sometimes back padding is included in this too.

While choosing gear, dont forget OVER THE ANKLE, footwear with NON SLIP SOLES. Motorcycle specific boots usually have some additional ankle protection.



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Check your town for a Cycle Gear or some such store, it is good to be
able to look directly at gear rather than just scan ads on the Internet.

Look at mesh jackets like Joe Rocket that have pads and rain liners.

Cycle-Gear-like stores have a million helmets, look at full coverage
ones that you can afford. My Shoei costs $600, but that just means it
is kind of light and the visor works good, in a crash a $100 helmet would
probably be just as good.

Boots comfortable enough that you'll wear them.

Gloves.

I wear all this even when it is 95 out. When it is 95, everyone
is hot.

-Mike
 

· Hero of Legend
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I am an 18 yo girl who will be attending UIUC in the fall. I am very interested in learning to ride a motorcycle and, eventually, buying one for myself. I live close by a Harley Davidson dealer, so I would like to buy from there. I am not at all familiar with motorcycles or the mechanics and technology behind them, nor have I ever been on one. I have just a few questions.

1.) As a college student I probably won't have much money to spare on gear and a bike. So purchasing a used bike does sound appealing to me because of this. But, after reading about all the things that could go wrong when buying a used bike, it makes me want to purchase a new one instead. I feel like choosing a new bike would be the safest option for me since I am not familiar with the mechanics and would not know how to fix up an old bike. Since I wouldn't know how to fix it myself, I'd have to have someone else do it for me -- and this might end up being more expensive than just getting a brand new bike. Am I right on this?
I've owned 3 bikes. Not one of them new. And not one problem with any of them, that could be attributed to the bike, itself.

As for being more expensive to have someone do the work for it....it just depends. If you know someone who'll work for cheap, or do you a favor, then you'll get off a lot easier. If not...then obviously not.

Also, being brand new does NOT mean zero maintenance. There is a term in the industry, "Break in maintenance". After so many miles, you're expected to get some preventative care done, to make sure things are still good, and the bike is not defective. And if you have spokes, you're expected to get them tightened after the first 500 miles.

So either way, you're going to be paying for shop services. A used bike gets you a lower initial price point, and you shouldn't need any maintenance other than typical "full servicing" ( oil change, check the primary chain and final belt, and all the other little things you really don't want to neglect ).

2.) How much money does the average rider put into their motorcycle per year, month? Is it cheaper than owning a car?
Eh...I've never kept a record, myself. Also, it depends on whether or not you're going to be doing any customizations ( custom pipes, custom handlebars, that sort of thing ). Prices can add up. But I don't know that it would be any more-so than any other vehicle, putting your own mark on it.

Fuel WILL be cheaper, because being only 2 cylinders, you can make 5 gallons of gas go a LOT further than even an economy "4-banger" ( 4 cylinder car ).

HOWEVER! With Harley, specifically, you are expected to use premium fuel. It CAN NOT be more than 10% ethanol, and they really strongly prefer 91 octane or higher, due to the precision tuning involved. I've known people to ignore that, and use regular, but I wouldn't recommend going against the book.

So you'll pay more per gallon, but you'll probably get a fair bit further between fill-ups. And I'd estimate the difference in what you pay favoring the bike.

3.) I am 5'8, 128 lbs, not particularly muscular, and I would like something I could use to ride to work, home as well as something I could use to go out on the open road for fun. The whole sports side of motorcycles does not appeal to me in the slightest, I want something practical and affordable. What types of Harley Davidson (since there's a dealer near me), or other reputable brands should I look for when I am buying?
I'm 5'4", and I'm no powerlifter, myself. I can handle a 700lb Softail, just fine. Don't sell yourself short. They only LOOK intimidating.

If you're insisting on Harley, I have 2 viable suggestions: The Street 750, or the Sportster 883.

The Sportster is basically the original "Beginner Harley", but has enough appeal and power, that many people stick with them, permanently. And for good reason. They're battle tested badasses. Perfect for good highway scoots, but tend to be a little rough for extended "tour" rides. You'll have to toughen up a bit, if you ever want to go interstate.

The Street is a much newer addition to the family, and way more updated. It has a liquid cooled engine ( more ideal for long stops in traffic jams, or such ), and is probably a little better on fuel economy. It's literally designed for scooting around city streets, but I'm told they're not quite ideal for highways. I can't confirm or deny it. And they're absolutely not going to be a good fit for interstate tours, if that ever becomes a goal for you ( and give it time, it will ).

As for how comfortable the Street is, I can't say. I've never actually ridden one. I'm told they're pretty decent, though.


4.) If I am not into sporty bikes, then what gear do I really need? I don't want to spend too much money on gear, but at the same time safety and very important to me.

Whatever you're comfortable with. Typically, what is recommended is a helmet ( often required by state law ), full finger gloves of any sort ( totally optional, though ), long sleeve shirt, full length pants, over the ankle boots, and eye protection ( goggles or sunglasses are ok, but keep night riding in mind. Tinted sunglasses are fine in daylight, but you really want something clear lense during moonlight rides ). Any clothing made of leather, is considered ideal, but far from necessary. Especially noting cold weather days. Cotton doesn't really insulate well. Leather does.

And with the exception of the helmet and eyewear if state law requires, the rest are entirely optional. Just what you're comfortable with.

Hope this helps.
 

· Hero of Legend
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Thank you all very much for your input. Now that I've been looking more into it, I'm thinking I will probably go for a used Suzuki/Yamaha/or Honda bike -- Harleys are waay too expensive for me.. Just a couple more questions that I have concerning gear: what is the best helmet that I could get for $200 max? If a helmet is under $100, could this be indicative that it is not safe? Also, besides the helmet, will full-length leather gloves, jacket, possibly chaps be good enough? Is armor underneath necessary? Again thank you all for your advice, you have given me a lot to think about.
Being a lower price does not necessarily mean being a lower quality. It usually just means less extra stuff, or not as "showy".

My helmet is an LS2 3/4 helmet with a detachable flip-up visor. All the helmet you really need, and it only cost me $100.

LS2 Track 569 Solid Matte Black Open Face Helmet | 752-978 | J&P Cycles
 

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My helmet is an LS2 3/4 helmet with a detachable flip-up visor. All the helmet you really need

Except when you're sliding down the road on your face ...

-Mike
Then she probably should learn how to ride without sliding down the road on her face.
Always the best option, but **** can happen to even the most careful rider sometimes. Just sayin'.

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Thank you all very much for your input. Now that I've been looking more into it, I'm thinking I will probably go for a used Suzuki/Yamaha/or Honda bike -- Harleys are waay too expensive for me.. Just a couple more questions that I have concerning gear: what is the best helmet that I could get for $200 max? If a helmet is under $100, could this be indicative that it is not safe? Also, besides the helmet, will full-length leather gloves, jacket, possibly chaps be good enough? Is armor underneath necessary? Again thank you all for your advice, you have given me a lot to think about.
I've only owned HJC-16 helmets. Less than $70 and kept my head intact when I got t-boned. Look for DOT certification. I can exchange the clear visor with smoked or reflective visors.
 

· Hero of Legend
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My helmet is an LS2 3/4 helmet with a detachable flip-up visor. All the helmet you really need

Except when you're sliding down the road on your face ...

-Mike
That's why most people learn not to do that. I mean, in worst case scenario, the human neck is able to twist so that the face points either left or right.

Oh, and there's the matter of the visor, which won't offer much impact resistance, but would certainly protect the face from the old blacktop grinder.
 

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Grace,

Is UIUC in Champaign Il? Just curious. Spent a little time at Chanute AFB many years ago. There was a pizza place there that had awesome pizza.

As far as your questions, make sure you take a motorcycle safety course as others have said. Do that before anything else. If there is a lot of traffic around your area, I'm going to suggest not riding the motorcycle in high traffic areas for a long time. You may be better off to stay out of the heavy traffic for months or years. Get experience riding in low traffic areas, out in the country. Safety should be your primary concern. Riding a motorcycle is fun but also dangerous.
 

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Thank you all very much for your input. Now that I've been looking more into it, I'm thinking I will probably go for a used Suzuki/Yamaha/or Honda bike -- Harleys are waay too expensive for me.. Just a couple more questions that I have concerning gear: what is the best helmet that I could get for $200 max? If a helmet is under $100, could this be indicative that it is not safe? Also, besides the helmet, will full-length leather gloves, jacket, possibly chaps be good enough? Is armor underneath necessary? Again thank you all for your advice, you have given me a lot to think about.
Helmets and riding gear is easy. It must be comfortable to you. If you wear the helmet it can save you but if it is not comfortable you will find excuses not to wear it. For me, an HJC helmet is a good fit so that is the right helmet for me. Who knows what you will find when you start trying on helmets at your local multi-brand dealer. Almost any helmet you find will carry the DOT sticker so just find one you like.
I like armor in my jacket but for summer riding the Joe Rocket mesh works just fine for me at around $100.
Leather in general is pricey. My winter jacket is a rather expensive FXRG sold under the Harley Davidson brand name but I got mine in a fabric rather than a leather format because I just could not see spending the extra $300 or so for leather.
Gloves only do you some good if you are skidding along after a fall and you need to hold yourself away from the paving. For that function, you need good wear characteristics on the palm and the knuckles of your gloves. I would look for wear pads in those areas for a glove. I am not a glove user so have no idea what brand to recommend.
Chaps are not something I use but think again about what function they will serve. They give you zero impact protection so again we are looking at abrasion resistance while you slide along after a fall. IMO they do very little for that because they are on the wrong part of your legs and hips. What are the odds of you sliding on your knees or face down? If you want lower body protection, I would go with full riding pants, not chaps. Chaps can be a fashion statement and can be useful if you will be riding in sub-freezing weather by protecting your legs from the wind, but in that situation thy are not safety equipment.
 
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