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Hey everyone, I'm a new rider, as in the most powerful thing with two wheels I've ridden is one of those little foldable razor scooters. I've always wanted to get a motorcycle, so I'm just finishing up my MSF safety course and I'm shopping around for my starter bike.

I'm looking around in online forums and speaking with some more experienced riders to get an idea what I'd like to start out on. I definitely want a used cruiser (nothing against a crotch rocket, just not for me), any thoughts on a good starter bike? I've pretty much narrowed it down to a 5 or 6 year old Vulcan 500 or VStar 650. I'm not looking to spend too much since I hear you "grow out" of the first one in not much time at all. Any comments on these two bikes or any other options would help. Also, anyone in the San Fran Bay Area who knows of a good shop, a heads up would be great. Thanks much, ride safe!
 

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Pegasus trapped in a human body on a motorcycle
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Both are excellent bikes. The Vulcan 500 actually breaks away from the normal Vulcan mold by running the same engine used in the 500 Ninja.

The only cavieat I have about the Vstar 650 would be that the friction zone in the clutch is VERY small, so it may take more practice time to get used to. Still, I personally know someone who learned on one of them, and he had no problems.

My recommendation is that you sit on them both, and if you can, take each for a testride. Pick the one taht you feel is most comfortable to you.

As to other options, the 750 Shadows are pretty good, or the VLX600 Shadows as well. As to others, I am not certain on, but I do hear good things about them (just not enough experience to rate them)
 

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I agree with you about the friction zone on a VStar 650. When I had mine I bought one of those attachments you put on the cable that makes them easier to shift. That made all the difference in the world.
 

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I have that Vstar....but I love it. It does take some getting used to the clutch, but with some minor changes and lots of riding ....you can master it fairly quick. The 650 is my very first bike, I ride it everywhere, it handles everything from interstate highways to mountains and twisties and a little bit of not so good terrain like gravel roads, wooden bridges, median strips...etc....

Out of the stock tires I got over 17K on them, just 12K in 9 states this year alone, and just ordered new tires (same as stock) had one tune up, changed the oil myself every 2K (keeps her running quiet), changed the fuel filter once, and the air filter once. The only expensive item was the carb adjustment, but after Christmas I am buying my manual and carb kit and learning how to do that myself too (saves $200).

I would def go with the larger engine, not sure of your size, but you might outgrow even this one in about two years, depending on the amount of riding and where you ride too...
 

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I own a V-Star 650 classic, and it's a great little bike. It will cruise all day at 70 mph, looks great, and will keep up with your buddies if they aren't too crazy. I would have to agree about the tricky clutch, though. I've had mine since new in 2003, and it's been 100% reliable. Since I bought it I've acquired a H-D Heriitage , but I still enjoy the V-Star for solo riding and wouldn't dream of getting rid of it.
 
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