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Tim Cooke
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Howdy folks,

We were all treated to Liutauras showing us his motorcycle a while back and since then I have, and currently am, embarking on getting my motorbike licence.

I know relatively little motorcycle history and am not clued up on the sorts of bikes that I might find on the market when I come to buy one of my own. Can anyone more bike savvy than I educate me some on this topic?

  • What different types of bike are out there?
  • What makes a good bike?
  • What makes a poor bike?
  • For a new rider would you recommend bikes / types of bikes to consider?
  • For a new rider would you recommend bikes / types of bikes to avoid?

  • And just for fun:
  • What is your dream bike? And why?

  • I'm thoroughly enjoying the training and riding and my recent session on Saturday had me riding around Belfast and Lisburn (Northern Ireland) on a 125cc bike. My instructor is happy with progress on the 125cc bike so next time I'll be practicing manoeuvres on a 600cc bike, which is the size of bike I need to ride for the test. Fun times ahead for sure!

    My Wife and Mother are less enthusiastic about the whole thing, which I guess is fair enough.
     
    Campbell Ritchie
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    Are you allowed to sit a driving test on the public road on a 600?

    I know nothing or less about motorbikes.
     
    Will Myers
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    All depends on what you want to use the bike for, I had a SV650 Sport after I passed my test and it was a nice bike to ride, plenty fast enough, and pretty forgiving. My only grumble would be the riding position was a bit too sporty for me, spending a whole Saturday hunched over the bike wasn't very comfortable. The next bike I get will be more upright, maybe a BMW S1000 R if my wife lets me :-)
     
    Tim Cooke
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    Campbell Ritchie wrote:Are you allowed to sit a driving test on the public road on a 600?
    Yes, they've changed the motorbike licence scheme fairly recently in the UK and there are now 3 or 4 different grades of licence. To get the full "A" licence you need to pass the test on a bike no less than 595cc and no less than some power output, I forget the actual figure.

    Will Myers wrote:SV650 Sport
    That's a Yamaha right?

    Will Myers wrote:BMW S1000 R
    I think my Wife's cousin has one of those, it still looks pretty darned sporty to me. A friend has the RR version of it which I'm told is even more lethal.

    I'll be looking for a bike for enjoying the ride so nothing mega sporty and nothing really screamy. Smooth and comfortable is the name of the game.
     
    Will Myers
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    SV650 is a Suzuki, they come in different forms, I just happen to buy a Sport version, it's also a V-Twin so sounds pretty good too, a very good starter bike. I think I did my test on a Honda CBR500 which was also pretty easy to ride. My advice would be get something appropriate for your skill level, also a good idea to do the BikeSafe training, helped me a lot!
     
    Tim Cooke
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    Great advice on the BikeSafe training, I'd not heard of that. Turns out that the PSNI offer BikeSafe for free which is very cool. I'll keep that in mind, thanks.
     
    Bear Bibeault
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    I don't know what's available in your country, but my #1 recommendation is to simply sit on the cycle and make sure that it fits. you should be able to plant both of your feet firmly on terra firma, and easily hold the weight of the bike upright without teetering when at a full stop. Also, don't choose something overpowered for your 1st bike.

    When I was replacing my older bike back in 2005, I sat on a lot (a lot!) of motorcycles. Once I sat on the V-Star (below), it was all over. It just fit like a glove.

     
    Tim Cooke
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    Cheers Bear. I've heard the weight recommendation before. My neighbour growing up was a policeman and rode an old 80s bike, a 600cc I think, every day and his dream when he retired was to get a brand new 1300cc BMW bike. Well he retired, went straight down to BMW and bought his dream 1300cc bike, rode it for a couple of weeks and took it back to swap for a smaller BMW bike. It was just too heavy and he reckoned that if he ever dropped it he'd never be physically able to pick it up again.
     
    Campbell Ritchie
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    My brother in law had the same problem with a large Beemer; he couldn't have picked it up again if it had fallen over.
     
    Pete Letkeman
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    I kind of like the Can-Am Spyder motorcycles (https://www.brp.com/spyder/) if you can call them motorcycles that is.

    However:
    A) The Can-Am Spyder motorcycles start around $20,000 USD. A new car costs between $10,000 USD and $20,000 USD.
    B) The weather in Canada is not always suitable for motorcycles...could probably get six to eight months of possible derivable weather.
    C) I'm not sure, but it would seem like it is easier to steel a motorcycle then to steel a car.

    I should probably point out that I know next to nothing about motorcycles.
     
    Paul Clapham
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    Hey, I saw one of those on the road here in Vancouver just the other day! Only it was bright orange... very cool vehicle. (Like you, I'm ignorant about motorcycles.)
     
    Bear Bibeault
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    Pete Letkeman wrote:I kind of like the Can-Am Spyder motorcycles (https://www.brp.com/spyder/) if you can call them motorcycles that is.

    Heh. My husband and I were looking at those just the other night. They're very modern and look like a lot of fun.
     
    Tim Cooke
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    They do look a bit mad. I think I'll stick to a bike rather than a trike.
     
    Pete Letkeman
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    Tim Cooke wrote:
  • What makes a good bike?
  • What makes a poor bike?

  • I do not know the answer to either of these questions but I do have some advice on both.
    If you can afford the bike, then you can afford the repair bills for the bike.

    For example (talking about cars for a moment):
    The Mini Cooper is a relatively expensive car starting at about $23,000 Canadian.
    Let's say that you saved for five years to get a Mini Cooper.
    In the past the Mini Cooper has had only a two year warranty on some parts like the transmission and other very important parts.
    There are many stories of the transmission failing after two point five or three years.
    In which case you have to get a new transmission in your car.
    However a new transmission for a Mini Cooper could cost as much as $2,000 (maybe more) and it could take the auto shop about a week to replace the transmission in your Mini Cooper (order parts etc).
    Can you afford to have your Mini Cooper in the shop for a week and the $2,000 to get it fixed?

    Once again I do not know too much about motorcycles, which is why I talked about cars in the example.
    But make sure that you do your homework when you have found the bike you want.
    The company may have a history of creating bikes which stop working right after the warranty ends.
     
    Tim Cooke
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    It would be fair to say that my motorcycle budget is "pending approval".

    Bear, I just looked up the V-Star. It has a larger engine than my car!
     
    Liutauras Vilda
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    Just to be clear, I'm not an expect either, I'd consider myself a regular user who research a lot, and then buy anyway what like

    Tim Cooke wrote:What different types of bike are out there?

    Straight what comes to mind, are 3 main types: sports, classic bikes and scooters. Sport bikes may include street bikes too, as well as classic bikes may include several various types as choppers, bobbers, naked ones.

    Sometimes to choose isn't an easy task. One might would think, how you don't know either go with sport or classic bike? Well, such confusion arise more often than people think. Probably need to take into account factors, what are your regular trips may be.

    If to commute within a busy city area - you couldn't beat scooter probably. If you'd love to go on a cruise on Route 66, you probably want what Bear owns, I wouldn't be surprised if his motorcycle has radio receiver so you could even listen the music.

    Tim Cooke wrote:And just for fun:
    What is your dream bike? And why?

    Since I'm always up for classic, my next purchase most likely going to be a Triumph Bonneville. I just love their look, even its name intrigues me. The name itself derived from the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah, USA, where the land speed records used to be reached. There is a naturally dried up lake. Watch movie The World's Fastest Indian, I did so probably several times.
     
    Liutauras Vilda
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    Will Myers wrote:The next bike I get will be more upright, maybe a BMW S1000 R if my wife lets me :-)

    You know yourself, convincing process aren't going to be an easy
     
    Bear Bibeault
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    Tim Cooke wrote:Bear, I just looked up the V-Star. It has a larger engine than my car!


    Bear in mind that the V-Star was my 5th motorcycle and that I had been riding 30 years at that point. It's not what I would call a starter bike, but I brought it up as an example of choosing a bike that physically fits your body well.

    My First bike had a 175 engine (as compared with the V-Star's 1500).

    I've also always thought that the Honda Rebel, at 250 and with a low center of gravity, was a great first motorcycle.
     
    Tim Cooke
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    I like the look of the Honda Rebel, that's a smart looking bike for sure. The new model comes with a 500 engine which would do me just fine. Best start saving
     
    Peter Rooke
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    What different types of bike are out there?

    Like someone has already pointed out, its horses for courses!  Here's my take on it:

    --> Sports - performance bikes that have a fairing, and the latest technology.  It's all about performance and handling, often these bikes can be uncomfortable.  Examples; Panigale, Fireblades, GSX's, R1's, S1000RR's, ZXR's.  (I'm a S1000RR owner, previously had a Ducati 749!)

    Most people will never be able to ride these bikes to their full potential, its always the rider never the ride that is the limiting factor (guess you could say the same about software development!)

    --> Naked Sports - performance bikes without the fairings and latest racing technology.  It's all about fun, performance, handling and a more upright riding position.  Favoured by older folk who cannot comfortably ride sports bikes anymore!   Examples; Triple, MT-10, SV, Monster, Bandits.

    --> Sports Tourer - Large long distance bikes built to cover a lot of miles, quickly and in comfort with luggage.  Goldwing, FJ, ZZR, KT's

    --> Adventure bikes - bikes that will go just about anywhere made popular by TV shows like the Long Way Round.  Popular among folks who like to ride large distances and often on non-tarmac roads (or just the crappy pop holed British ones).  GS's, Tigers, Adventures

    --> Supermoto - a specialist type of naked bike, based on off-road motocross bikes but with road tyres.  Nothing will turn in quicker or handle the twisty roads like these.  Popular with hooligans for their handling ability and upright riding position.   No good for long distance.  Hypermotard, SMC, Duke.

    --> Race - sports bikes that have been modified for racetrack use, but are still legal (V5 and MOT) for the (UK) roads.  Pure performance and handling, often don't have the "comforts" (like mirrors) of the sports bikes having removed these to save weight.  Some race teams sell limited edition race bikes but they cost a fortune.  Normal people just modify sports bikes adding more performance!  Desmosedici RR, RC213V-S, F4 RC

    --> Street Fighter - custom bikes which are often based on sports or naked bikes.  Tend to be sports bikes but with raised and straight handlebars to give a more upright riding position.

    --> Cafe Racers - modern trendy bikes popular with the hipster (script kiddie ;-) ) folk.  Decent performance with a comfortable ride and an old historic look.

    --> Cruser - mostly large bikes built for long distances and comfort, popular in America.  No good for twisty roads, since the weight is on the back wheel.  Built for the long straight American roads.  Harley's etc.

    What makes a good /poor bike?
      In terms of quality/value, really its more of "who" makes good or poor bikes.  You cannot go wrong buying from a Japanese manufacturer since their build quality has far exceeded that of others for many years.  For style, looks, handling, performance it has to be Italian.  Take a look at the motorcycle art MV Agusta Dragster RR

    For a new rider would you recommend bikes / types of bikes to consider?
      Have to say that most bikes offer better handling and performance than most riders will ever be able to use on a racetrack or road (apart from Harleys of course!).  The biggest improvement you can make in terms of bike performance is to get the suspension setup by an expert as described by the Barron Von Grumble.  I'll say that your better off learning to ride well so that you can get the best out of any bike you own.  So possibly consider IAM for road know how, and something like the Ron Haslam Race School for learning machine control.

    What is your dream bike? And why?
    Norton V4 RR as its a British V4!  And the MV Agusta Dragster RR (as above), because - well look at it!   
     
    Tim Cooke
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    What a great (cow worthy) summary, thanks Pete. Really really useful.
     
    Peter Rooke
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    Cheers - I don't visit the ranch much these days, so I'm guessing a "Cow" would be some sort of reward?  Years back, we did route 66.  After a few beers we got talking to a guy from the rodeo, he told us was a "Cow Puncher!" 

    Quite a few obvious questions, but Visor Down - What bike should I buy next?

    Whatever you buy, do a trip over to the Isle of Man!      
     
    Tim Cooke
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    A Triumph Street Cup, apparently. I might agree, it's a nice looking bike.

    You're right about the cows. They're awarded for really helpful posts when a thumbs up just doesn't cut it. They also serve as a handy indicator to identify which users are the nicest and most helpful folks around the Ranch. I don't think a "Cow Puncher" would attract many friends around here, we have a zero tolerance policy on cow abuse.
     
    Campbell Ritchie
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    I thought we were all cowpokes anyway. The important thing to remember about cows is: they aren't given by Bart Simpson.

    And welcome to the Ranch again.
     
    Andy Crowther
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    I've been riding about 10 years now and I think the best advice I could give is start small and work your way up.

    Right now I ride a KTM Superduke R Special Edition -



    It has a 1.3 ltr engine kicking out around 170bhp...  it's far more power than I need (or use) if I'm honest.  I took 9 years to build to that though.

    I started on a 600cc touring bike (Honda Transalp) which at the time felt plenty fast enough.  After 3 years (and mainly because I get lent a CB1000R while teh Transalp was being serviced) I moved up to a Honda Varadeo (1ltr touring... and huge/heavy)

    Then a few years on I plucked up the courage to buy my own CB1000R.  Then after 4 years on that I've jumped to 'The Beast'.

    So, as I say, don't rush it.  Take your time. Gain confidence and riding skill.

    As for what type of bike, Peter made a great list to choose from.  Did I miss somewhere, what you'll be doing with it?  If it's hitting the open roads just for some rides, I would think a touring bike.  If it's commuting look at a naked.  If it was hitting the track, or generally tearing it up, a sports bike.
     
    Peter Rooke
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    Never did post a bike picture!  Here's the beamer up on the northern moors on a cold winters day.  

    I also started on an (RGV)250, then after a few too many years away from bikes, onto a (ZX6r) 600, then a (749) 750.  One thing to note however most modern bikes are a lot more forgiving since they have traction control and ABS. 
     
    Peter Rooke
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    Peter Rooke wrote:Never did post a bike picture!  Here's the beamer up on the northern moors on a cold winters day.  

    I also started on an (RGV)250, then after a few too many years away from bikes, onto a (ZX6r) 600, then a (749) 750.  One thing to note however most modern bikes are a lot more forgiving since they have traction control and ABS. 
    24708357081_ea770933e7_z.jpg
    [Thumbnail for 24708357081_ea770933e7_z.jpg]
     
    Campbell Ritchie
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    Where was the photo taken? It looks a bit like a January afternoon above Danby when the ground frost hasn't thawed all day, but Danby has rather steeper banks than that picture. Or above Gunnerside, but Gunnerside is steeper too.
     
    Peter Rooke
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    Further north in the North Pennines, between Edmundbyers and Stanhope on the B6278.  We do ride in Yorkshire quite a bit, but the Yorkshire police do like to add to their ever reducing budget by taking pictures so mostly it better to head north. 
     
    Campbell Ritchie
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    It's a long time since I have been to Stanhope; I went there by bicycle once with my daughter in tow. I think we got the train to Darlington then rode out via Bishop Auckland, ending up at Edmundbyers YH. On the way back, we went to Durham City (where I went a few hours ago to hear some Monteverdi) via Consett. She got all annoyed about the heavy traffic on Leazes Rd and went home on the train and I branched out towards Peterlee and came back along the Hart‑Haswell cycleway.
     
    It is sorta covered in the JavaRanch Style Guide.
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