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Old 03-14-2012, 07:48 AM   #1
6Paragon OP
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Question Help: Looking for my 1st bike

Location: Northern Indiana
Skill Level: Beginner (I rode dirt bikes when I was kid. I occasionally ride 4-wheelers)
Age: Mid 40's small build
I've been looking to get a bike for over 20 years. I've been looking at BMW's. F 650GS is of interest to me. Though I like the 1200GS, I know it's too much bike for me. I plan on road trips and some trail riding (but only after I get my skills up to snuff).

Thanks-
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Old 03-14-2012, 09:10 AM   #2
Bill_Z
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Smaller, Cheaper, Easy to ride

I've been around the block a time or two. Done some long distance rides as well as a little off road. I had a Harley as well as a Goldwing and a few bikes smaller, down to a 125 Benelli when I started riding when I was 16, many years ago. Right now, I'm in love with my 650 Suzuki Vstrom. Cheaper to ride because if regular gas, 50+ mpg, lots of support for modifications and repairs, extremely reliable and mostly easy to work on, if you're into that sort of thing. It's real easy to ride, is accused of being heavy for off-road because it weighs about 600#s but will do fire service roads and gravel very well. The seat height can be lowered or raised depending on your need and these bikes can be found used at very reasonable prices; $3,000 to $5,000, depending on year and accessories. It'll run down the freeway all day long, literally, at 70mph without a care in the world. The Wee is wonderful around town for short trips too. It can handle two up riding easily. Two up touring will stretch it's capabilities and you may want to consider the 1000cc model if you plan to do a lot of touring/long distance riding, but then, you many want to consider a more specialized bike for touring, if you're gonna be doing a lot of long distance riding. The 650 Vstrom, or Wee, as it's commonly referred to, is the pickup truck of motorcycles. It ain't the prettiest bike on the road, and it ain't the fastest, but it is very accomplished as basic transportation for a very modest investment. I highly recommend it for just about anyone.
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Old 03-14-2012, 09:55 AM   #3
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Buy something used, small, cheap, common, and easy to ride and keep it for a year.

Use it with the intention of getting your skills up to speed, and moving on to something bigger/newer/faster.

After riding it for a year, you will have a much better idea of what your needs really are.....more street oriented, more dirt, etc.
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Old 03-14-2012, 09:58 AM   #4
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Get yourself a cheap Suzuki SV650 then decide on what you want after a year.
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Old 03-14-2012, 03:46 PM   #5
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Dr650

A woman friend of mine has been an MSF instructor for about 20 years or more. She owns a sweet 1978 BMW R100 and a 2001 Suzuki DR650SE with the factory lowering kit... and the BMW pretty much sits in the garage. When I had my 1998 DR650SE I also had a 1999 Kawasaki ZRX1100. Guess what I rode 90% of the time - yep, the Suzuki. Change the seat and the tank, do the (easy) carb mods, go with better tires once you wear out the Trailwings and you're golden. You can always get a bigger/faster/more expensive bike later on but don't make the mistake of selling the Swazook... it covers about 80% of the bases, and your newest wonderbike may often find itself alone in the garage with the yard tractor and the kids' bicycles. Just sayin'....
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Old 03-14-2012, 05:12 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LexLeroy View Post
A woman friend of mine has been an MSF instructor for about 20 years or more. She owns a sweet 1978 BMW R100 and a 2001 Suzuki DR650SE with the factory lowering kit... and the BMW pretty much sits in the garage. When I had my 1998 DR650SE I also had a 1999 Kawasaki ZRX1100. Guess what I rode 90% of the time - yep, the Suzuki.
+1

I have a few bikes too and my DR650 is my favorite. Inexpensive, super reliable, plenty of oomph for interstate speeds, but also fun on trails. Not sure exactly what you mean by "small build", but I am 5' 8" & 110 lbs and it is a perfect fit for me.
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Old 03-15-2012, 03:03 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 6Paragon View Post
Location: Northern Indiana
Skill Level: Beginner (I rode dirt bikes when I was kid. I occasionally ride 4-wheelers)
Age: Mid 40's small build
I've been looking to get a bike for over 20 years. I've been looking at BMW's. F 650GS is of interest to me. Though I like the 1200GS, I know it's too much bike for me. I plan on road trips and some trail riding (but only after I get my skills up to snuff).

Thanks-
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Old 03-15-2012, 05:51 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 6Paragon View Post
Location: Northern Indiana

I plan on road trips and some trail riding (but only after I get my skills up to snuff).

Thanks-

What do you mean by trail riding? Pretty much any street bike can do dirt roads and easy fire trails. If you are thinking about anything close to real offroad then dont get anything bigger then a 650 single. (The above mentioned DR650 is a great bike)
The BMW F650 single is super heavy for a single.
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Old 03-17-2012, 09:12 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 6Paragon View Post
Location: Northern Indiana
Skill Level: Beginner (I rode dirt bikes when I was kid. I occasionally ride 4-wheelers)
Age: Mid 40's small build
I've been looking to get a bike for over 20 years. I've been looking at BMW's. F 650GS is of interest to me. Though I like the 1200GS, I know it's too much bike for me. I plan on road trips and some trail riding (but only after I get my skills up to snuff).

Thanks-
Get the easiest-to-handle-offroad used bike that is fast enough, smooth enough, and stable enough for the pavement you want to travel. A 400lb+ bike with a pronounced bias towards pavement is going to be a bear offroad for a small novice. A 367lb curb DR650SE is about as big and heavy as I would recommend starting out with. If you can find a lighter bike that will still comfortably suffice for your pavement desires...WR250R, XT250, XT225, KL250 SuperSherpa, KLX250, KLR250, DR250/350, CRF230, etc., I'd try the lighter bike. Find a good deal on a used bike. If it's not right for you, you can sell and try something else without taking a huge $$ hit.

I love the simple stoneage-tech DR650SE. It's a darn versatile bike. I just rode mine 140 miles up to Daytona Bike Week and back, 2-up, on the I-95 speedway. It has no trouble running 80MPH+...in the dirt. It's steady and smooth on the slab too. It's light enough for me to repeatedly pick it up from the dirt. It'll run singletrack fine if you set up the suspension and use good tires. The seat can be made pretty low too, to make it easier to stay upright when you're faltering on rough ground. I've never heard of this air/oil-cooled motor overheating either. The aftermarket is pretty darn good too.

Somebody would have to offer one hell of a nice short-person do-it-all dualsport, with all of the DR positives and none of the DR negatives, for under $6K MSRP, for me to not have a DR anymore. I'm not gonna hold my breath.
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Old 03-17-2012, 10:05 PM   #10
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Personally, if I were your size ht/wt. I would look at the Yamaha TW200. It is a BLAST! Super fun, great commuter, excellent off road, can handle highway use. Very light and just fun as a lawn tractor on acid! Seriously, they are fun. Ask anyone who has ridden one. I rode one for 2 days straight during my motorcycle training endorsement and just fell in love with it. Unfortunately, it's just a tad too short because I am 6'4 tall. I wished it were just a taaaaaad longer and I'd have one in the garage yesterday.

So, as it turns out, I have a KLR which is a great dual sport for what you're looking to do but, unless you are planning on lowering it, it might be a bit tall. YMMV of course.


Or buy the Yamaha 250WR dual sport or the Suzi dr-z 400
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Old 03-18-2012, 12:17 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by zora View Post
+1

I have a few bikes too and my DR650 is my favorite. Inexpensive, super reliable, plenty of oomph for interstate speeds, but also fun on trails. Not sure exactly what you mean by "small build", but I am 5' 8" & 110 lbs and it is a perfect fit for me.

I'll never understand why the number of CC's dictates if it can go on the highway or not...

My NX does 90... And it's a 250. And it has a tach so I can SEE if I'm in the red (like I care) or not.

Now a CRFail230 not being able to 60 is one thing... But cc's is hardly an indicator on it's oomph-ability.


I've toyed around with the idea of saying we should abandon "cc's" as a mark of a bikes power or ability before... Now I think that's what I'm gonna do...

So without further adu...

I'd say get a bike with over 25hp and under 60, and have at it... There. Not a god$%^& thing to with make, model or dic... engine size.


Save the air-cooled 230-250 or Ghey-Hawk250 for the (scrap heap) one's without riding aptitude and just exercise some proper/self control.
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Old 03-18-2012, 12:50 AM   #12
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plus one

Quote:
Originally Posted by Domiken View Post
Get yourself a cheap Suzuki SV650 then decide on what you want after a year.
You've been waiting 20 yrs., this is a great route. Small build? Many dual-sports are tall. Ride the street bike first, get used to it.

willis 2000 screwed with this post 03-18-2012 at 12:56 AM Reason: removed some byzantine reasoning
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Old 03-18-2012, 04:20 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by willis 2000 View Post
You've been waiting 20 yrs., this is a great route. Small build? Many dual-sports are tall. Ride the street bike first, get used to it.
Im riding a 2001 sv650s right now. Great bike, my first big bike. Same engine as a WEE. Its quite low already but you can also get lowering links and seat modified to get it really low. Get a naked one and you could manage very light offroad, but dropping it would be a bitch.
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Old 03-18-2012, 09:00 AM   #14
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Originally Posted by IheartmyNx View Post
I'll never understand why the number of CC's dictates if it can go on the highway or not...
The only reason I mentioned the highway speeds/oomph is because he said he planned on "some road trips". Of course you can avoid interstates, but it sure is nice to have the option to hop onto them if you'd like. I have a DR200 and that lil sucker would never make it down the interstate, my WR250R wouldn't be ideal on 70+ mph roads either and even when I have ridden my husband's DRZ400 at those speeds it felt like I was murdering the poor thing.
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Old 03-18-2012, 09:39 AM   #15
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Originally Posted by IheartmyNx View Post
I'll never understand why the number of CC's dictates if it can go on the highway or not...
I don't think anybody said that, but there are general trends. How many 250cc-or-less bikes are currently offered in this country that can sit on 75MPH all day, with power to accelerate when some cager decides to take your lane, and stability when passing turbulent vehicles on windy days? How many of these are singles that would also be durable, geared, and suspended for riding trails? I mean singletrack trails, not gravel roads. How many 400cc-or-less bikes even? 650cc-or-less?

CCs aren't the end-all and be-all of highway ability, but they tend to be an indicator. That said, while a DR-Z400S might be highway capable, I wouldn't want to ride one with dirt gearing very far on an interstate with a 70-85MPH posted limit. It doesn't have the gearspread to not be screaming. Power is not the issue, as some people are making over 50WHP with a DR-Z, but stability seems to be a bit of a concern for some on dirt tires and suspension. I wouldn't really want to ride some sportbikes very far on the interstate either, as the riding position is not conducive to long-distance comfort. Honda XR650s and KTM 640s tend to be more vibey on the slab than some bikes with smaller engines too.

Quote:
My NX does 90... And it's a 250. And it has a tach so I can SEE if I'm in the red (like I care) or not.

Now a CRFail230 not being able to 60 is one thing... But cc's is hardly an indicator on it's oomph-ability.

I've toyed around with the idea of saying we should abandon "cc's" as a mark of a bikes power or ability before... Now I think that's what I'm gonna do...

So without further ado...

I'd say get a bike with over 25hp and under 60, and have at it... There. Not a god$%^& thing to with make, model or dic... engine size.

Save the air-cooled 230-250 or Ghey-Hawk250 for the (scrap heap) one's without riding aptitude and just exercise some proper/self control.
Some air-cooled bikes with less power are actually OK on slower highways, sitting on 70MPH. The DR250 can manage it when geared and uncorked. 'Same goes for the Rebel and Nighthawk.
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