Learner/Beginner Bike

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Sep 5, 2010
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With a Commando restoration and only one year till my 17th birthday, Im considering buying a smaller bike to learn on before I grab ahold of the 750 combat engine. Ive been looking around but I havent had a lot of luck finding something I want. I know my dad had a Suzuki x6 Hustler (250cc) before his Commando and I think it would be a great bike to learn on ( I also saw one in Jay Leno's garage along with a John Player Special) and even a BSA 441 has came across my mind. Ive searched the internet and havent had much luck finding either for sale at a reasonable price. Ive seen eBay auctions that have ended and were sold for a good price for a very good looking bike, but nothing like that right now. Im still in high school and have a summer job but I wont have an extremely large amount of money to spend on a bike so Im still searching for that one "bargain deal". Just figured I'd post to hear your guys input, everyone here has pretty good ideas so maybe someone can steer me in the right direction. I am most definitely interested in a vintage bike rather than a modern one - its just hard to find what I'm looking for.

Thanks for you help

Matt
 

gjr

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Honda. Cheap, reliable, common. You won't be writing off a classic when you throw it down the road.

Greg
 

bwolfie

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I had a brace of Honda CB 360's when I was 14, great to learn how to ride and wrench on. And not feel bad when you drop it.
 
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Hey thanks for the replies,

This is what I found, and I think it's a decent price. My dad isn't too fond of the cost however. I still think it's the best deal I've seen and looks pretty much ready to ride. Unfortunately one of the mufflers looks like it's rusted up a bit...

eBay #: 160591385176

Matt
 
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mattthomas4444 said:
Hey thanks for the replies,

This is what I found, and I think it's a decent price.

Matt
Don't know about that part of the world, but 305cc Hondas are generally quite collectable, so the bidding may all only happen in the last minute - don't assume that will be the final price.

However, while it looks shiny (in white ??) note that this doesn't sound like it has been restored or even well looked after - so the mechanical adventures may only just be beginning.

As someone said, if you are only just learning to ride, get something common that can be affordably insured - and repaired - when you throw it down the road. Probably several times...

Nothing worse than being off the road for years chasing rare parts - many riders of older classics own something modern and reliable, when you check inside their garage or the list of bikes they own - for good reason. Keep the classics for fun rides /weekends /special rides.
Modern electrics, good carbs or efi, leccy starters and good brakes make learning easy,...

Each to his own though....
 
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Rohan said:
Don't know about that part of the world, but 305cc Hondas are generally quite collectable, so the bidding may all only happen in the last minute - don't assume that will be the final price.

However, while it looks shiny (in white ??) note that this doesn't sound like it has been restored or even well looked after - so the mechanical adventures may only just be beginning.

As someone said, if you are only just learning to ride, get something common that can be affordably insured - and repaired - when you throw it down the road. Probably several times...

Nothing worse than being off the road for years chasing rare parts - many riders of older classics own something modern and reliable, when you check inside their garage or the list of bikes they own - for good reason. Keep the classics for fun rides /weekends /special rides.
Modern electrics, good carbs or efi, leccy starters and good brakes make learning easy,...

Each to his own though....
Thanks,
That a very valid point, I got a bit carried away I guess. It seems like every time I see a new bike I want to buy it. Then I remember that I'm in high school and have a bank account with $550 in it... (My hopes of eventually getting a Black Shadow didnt last long)

Gotta stay focused!

Matt
 
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Matt,
Go to the Yamaha dealer and look at an XT225, they are under $4,000.00 new, light, low seat height, on/off road is a GOOD thing!

Vince
 
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I think Rohan is correct,
Something 5 to 10 years old, good brakes, suspension and handling. And most bikes in this age bracket are reliable and easy to ride. And cheap.
Buy something off an old bloke, they tend to look after them more than young hoons do. (yourself excepted of course)

Graeme
 
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I have always recomended that people learn to fall down...I mean ride :) in the dirt. Especially to perfect the use of front brakes. To me, its the most important part of the learning curve. As someone mentioned before, a dual purpose enduro style bike gives you the ability to progress from sand to asphalt with minimum road rash. When you can ride through a sand wash with the front brake locked up, you're in control. Also another pet peeve for me is people who ride along with thier feet dragging, learn to keep the feet on the pegs and the shiny side up!

Good luck young man, you must have a wonderful Dad. I started my son on a JR50 Slowzookie and training wheels. You might want something a little bigger w/o the training wheels! lol My son and I became best friends riding dirty bikes in the San Isabel National Forest in Colorado. It was a harsh learning environment but he has yet to have a major incident on the street. (knock on wood!)

Mike
 
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This one would be better it's just a 200 cc 160592125841 They made them for the 1974 model year only so you would get what you paid for it when it's time to sell. With good tires it handles well very light.
 

grandpaul

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The best thing to do is get a 70's Yamaha RD400 or a Honda 350.

That way, you can strip the lights off it and go vintage roadracing!
 

rvich

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I'm in with the enduro crowd. Get something you can ride off the road or whatever they have in your neck of the woods like logging roads. I am convinced that it made me a better road rider to learn in mud, sand, gravel, pastures, the nearby golf course...

Russ
 
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Get something inexpensive that won't cause any heartache when it gets dropped... In the first 6 months you're guaranteed to drop the bike a couple of times in slow speed turns, forgetting to put the kick stand down, parking downhill, braking hard to a stop with the handlebars turned, etc. Anything vintage (particularly anything that is nice vintage) will cost you lots for those mistakes.

That is the advice I've given all my friends who have started riding, and not one of them has come back telling me I did them wrong. The one who went and started on a Ducati 749 had a bike that looked like pi$$ after a few months with cracked up bodywork and scratched up cases. Getting it stolen was the luckiest thing that ever happened to him, because insurance paid him the full purchase price.

I've also had several friends get starter bikes and later decide motorcycling wasn't for them. Not everyone likes to show up sweaty and windblown. A cheap starter bike you can sell for what you paid.

Used Ninja 250s and Buell Blasts are good starter bikes. You won't look cool, but they'll take a beating and after 6 months or so you can start riding your "real" bike. Patience and Craigslist and you can net yourself one of those for well under $2000.

Just my 2c.

Cheers,

- HJ
 
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Hello Matt,
First problem, your mother.

You may have to be a little sneaky here.
Bring the bike home for the first time in bits. Stop up the road from your house and remove the wheels, seat and tank. (you will have to anyway to check the bearings, brakes, etc.)
Tell her it's a rebuild project. She may think that you will never finish it.
After you have spent weekends, nights and all your spare time working on it she will feel sorry for you and won't complain too much when you finally get it registered.
This worked for me many many years ago.

May I suggest you do a good rider training course. Not how to ride, but a good defensive riding course. (cornering and braking) You are INVISABLE to car drivers, even if they are looking straight at you!

And don't forget it's old and you will have to spend money on it. Weigh up the costs against something newer.

Good Luck.

Graeme
 
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Graeme,
I wish you method would work, I'm not sure if I have the balls to try it :D she might kill me if she catches on, which unfortunately she probably will. My dad and I get questioned every day about how much money we are dropping into our Norton project right now. So if she sees another set of wheels or another gas tank sitting around...I might be done for.

However your other suggestion about the riding course will happen - I'm sure.

I'll report back of course if I can sway her to the point it might be possible...

Matt
 
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G'day Matt,
I'm all for learning to ride on something cheap but reliable (Japanese) and preferably light.
Dirt bikes, 2 strokes especially, are easy to repair, which is what you want to learn also.
Don't go too big ( under 250cc ) and ride it till it drops. Hey get it dirty, do some Trials riding,
and some Trail riding, get outa town and on some dirt roads. Throttle controll is the best
thing you can learn. Then there will be minimal brocken bones. They hurt and they are inconvenient.
A 125 will do 60 mph ! Picture your self hitting a tree, it's not nice. So don't show off in front
of your girl friend, and one day she'll be on the back of the Norton... Cruisin down th hiway.
The fact that you'r here asking for advice shows you'r OK.
AC.
 
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I gotta say I agree with learning in the dirt, you can get a feel for what motorcycles do when the traction starts to break loose, lotsa fun too. Cj
 
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mattthomas4444 said:
Graeme,
I wish you method would work, I'm not sure if I have the balls to try it :D she might kill me if she catches on, which unfortunately she probably will. My dad and I get questioned every day about how much money we are dropping into our Norton project right now. So if she sees another set of wheels or another gas tank sitting around...I might be done for.

However your other suggestion about the riding course will happen - I'm sure.

I'll report back of course if I can sway her to the point it might be possible...

Matt
Practice now, it'll only get worse when you get married.

"Gee, honey, I have no idea how many bikes I have..."
 
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