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Well, I've been thinking about learning to ride and getting a motorcycle since this spring, mainly because I think I would enjoy it, and if I get comfortable enough, it will give me a vehicle that might be easier to keep on campus, and that I can use when the Taurus is down, excepting of course winter and in adverse weather conditions. Of course, before I buy anything, I want to take the Motorcycle Safety Foundation class, so I was wondering if any of you guys could tell me about it, as far as cost, difficulty, and just relate your experiences about learning to ride a motorcycle.
 

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Well, as an avid motorcycle rider I would certainly advocate some kind of safety training. I must say that I have not taken a motorcycle class in some twenty years, but it is good to know the basics, and to learn what the bike feels like in hard cornering and braking situations...it's pretty easy to lock up the rear wheel and end up on the ground, even on a bike with a drum rear brake. I love riding, but you do have to be "uber-aware" of simply everyone around you. Riding is wonderful till you have to lock it up because someone pulls out in front of you. People just don't "see" motorcycles. Even the most experienced riders fall victim to complacency and unfortunately, I've seen it too many times. I've talked to lot's of people who have taken the MSF classes on some motorcycle forums, and from what I understand, they take you through things like emergency braking, cornering, figure-eights, etc, etc... I think the prices are set by whomever is sponsoring the course...I took a look at TN on the MSF website, and they all appear to be put on by various places, like motorcycle shops, community colleges, etc... and the prices looked like they are between $150 and $400...but they are all "MSF approved" courses. You may want to check with your insurance company as they may be able to set you in a good direction to a course that will also save you some insurance dollars...although, bike insurance is cheap. I added my '05 Shadow to my car insurance...cost me like $70..........a year. Anyway, yeah...I would definitely say take some kind of course for sure, and definitely....definitely wear appropriate gear and a helmet. A helmet saved my life many years ago.
 

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I agree with the above, that's some smart advice right there. MSF Basic Rider Course is a must. Wearing the proper gear is also a good idea. Helmet, gloves, protective jacket, long pants, and work boots at the minimum. It's a plus if this gear is bright/reflective. Anything to help you be seen by cars. Riding a motorcycle is totally unique, and the freedom it gives you is unparalleled.

As for a good bike for a beginner, I would say anything between 250 cc to around 800, depending on the weight of the bike, and of yourself. I think a cruiser or standard motorcycle will be easier to start off with, and won't have too much power to give the bike a chance to get away from you while you're still learning.
 

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I took the MSF BRC after a few months of learning by doing with very experienced riders. The BRC is a good start, but it does not give you ALL the information or skills needed. They fully admit that too. Cost varies from free and up. Depends on your state. Some states it is free for nothing, here in CT it is 200 bucks. Well worth it for the comfort of practivcing figure 8's on someone elses bike!

They will have you on little 250 nighthawks/rebels/etc. The bikes are light and easy to manuever. What type of bike are you looking into? I would disagree with Steve and say a Ninja 250, Rebel 250 or similar would be the easiest to learn on as a first bike. These are smaller and weigh less. A cruiser is heavier. Not being one to go easy, I started on a Honda Shadow ACE 750. Bike was great. Well balanced, heavy, but not TOO heavy, comfortable. I actually miss it.

Buy something used so you will not be heart broken if it gets dumped. Careful with purchasing, as once you get comfy you quickly want to move up.

here is my Yamaha V Star 1300

 

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i agree with getting a starter/ slut bike. The starter bikes can be found cheep and if you decide to move / change your bike, the starter bikes will usally sell for about when you bought the bike for.

I bought my 06 Buell blast for 2.8K with sadle bags and under 1K miles. The bike has had 3 owners now and droped 2 time by the previous owners. But the drops were all drive way (not moving) type. FYI: it does get the 70mpg that buell claims.

I were full gear 2, jacket, pants, gloves, helmet, and ear plugs. My boots are just regular Coast Guard issue for now. All of the bike store around me have Harly style or motorcross style.
 

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Randy, I have to agree with you that the 250 like the ones used in the BRC are the easiest to learn on, especially to get a good handle on low speed maneuvering. However, outside of that, those bikes can be underpowered. I still have my first bike, an 02 Yamaha V-Star 650 and weighing in at about 500 lbs, its a good balance between power and lightweight, and I can throw it around in figure eights just as easily as the 250 rebel i learned to ride on.

Another big thing to consider when youre looking at the engine size of a potential bike is how much highway riding you're planning to do. If you want the bike to be able to take to work or whatever and save you gas on the freeway, then you may find some of the 250s to be underpowered, topping out at around 70-75. The 250 ninjas however, are also a good choice, as is the buell blast.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Well, I called today and they start running classes on Feb. 28, and the cost is $225. They run every weekend until November. I'll probably try to take one of the early ones, so I can go ahead and start looking for a bike and be comfortable on it by summertime.

Do you guys recommend a year range for a starter bike? I was hoping to find one for $1000-ish, or less for a fixer-upper. Most of what I'm seeing at that price is from the 70's or 80's. Given that I'll want to use it to commute to school in the summer, I need something that can go 60+ comfortably.
 

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you can probly find a blast for 2K. the limited amound of plastics will probly be scrached up but the bike should be very solid.

You could probly find a 2000 ish bike with under 10K mile.

This blast has the large OEM windshile and sadel bags http://knoxville.craigslist.org/mcy/985576115.html

This one has some nice upgrades http://knoxville.craigslist.org/mcy/983830960.html

check out badweatherbikers.com in the thumper section (single cylinder bikes) for info.

FYI i am crackhead over there too.
 

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the msf cost me 345 at a community college in the county over.
in my county it costs 175, but the class fills up too quickly for me to get my schedules done.

its a good class, 3 nights of classroom, and 2 days of on bike training.
it def is fun to ride a bike, the freedom, the seemed speed, the feeling.
i wouldnt buy a new start bike ever, anything under 600 is great to start off.

Honda rebel, nighthawk
suzuki gs500, gz250 S40/Savage
kawasaki ninja250, ninja500, 500vulcan
Buell Blast

those are the ones i can think of.

all fun to ride.
if you're good with a wrench and have the time, you can get a bike that is in non-running order and is a simple fix. buy it and fix it up.



EDIT:also what kind of bike are you looking for? any old bike? or are you looking for a cruiser? or maybe a crotch rocket?
when you start, i suggest getting "generic" gear, some work/hiking boots, thick jeans, and thick leather/jean jacket. that way if you find you dont like the style of riding, you wouldn't have spend large amounts of money for gear you cant swap over. Because nothing looks more stupid, than looking like a power ranger on a cruiser bike.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mwWfU18boOI <---only cavemen would wear sport leathers on cruisers.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
According to the two ladies I spoke with yesterday, here they run 8AM to 5PM on Saturday and Sunday. For a first bike, I'm not going to be picky. They two biggest factors will be price and engine size. I will probably shy away from sport bikes until I've got more experience. I like the style of the 80's Kawasaki Vulcan, but I think they're only 700cc, so that's probably more than what I want. What's considered high mileage on a motorcycle?

I would love to find a fix-it bike; it would give me a good chance to learn, since I've never worked with carbs before, and I'd feel better riding if I was familiar with the mechanicals.
 

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I completely agree with all of the above, I dont think you will find to many riders who dont think those classes are a good thing. I never took the class, but did read all the book material and riding tests on my own. I learned to ride on dirt bikes when I was 9 years old and bought my first street bike when I was 25. I bought a used honda CX650 custom, I loved that bike ( V-twin, water cooled and shaft drive ). I bought that bike from a dealer, rode it for 2 years with just normal maint. and traded it in for what I paid for it on a used 1100 goldwing interstate.
Personaly. I owuld not get a crotch rocket until you ride for a couple years, stick with a cruiser style and I wouldnt get anything smaller than a 650. I took my license test on the 650 without any problems, it wasnt hard to control. A 650+ bike will give you good performance in the city and run smooth on the highway also without working to hard. I always felt that its better to have more power if you need it than to worry if you have enough power to be comfortable.
The big thing I learned, like most others, dont get to comfortable, always respect the bike and watch around you more than anything. I was out on the goldwing on the open highway, just rolling into the throtle (full windshield and bags, a rolling suitcase) and the next thing I knew I was doing 120+ and it didnt feel like it. I was one of the lucky ones, never crashed or dropped the bike, but I always wore long pants, boots, an d a helmet no matter what the weather, even after almost 10 years of riding on the roads.
 

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You don't realize how little regard people have for other motorists until you've ridden a motorcycle. When at a stop, always have an escape route and always watch your back. I can't count the amount of times a car or tuck stops last minute and I have to shimmy off to the side to avoid becoming the meat in a cage sandwich.
 

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Randy, that is definitely the scariest thing about riding. I hate redlights and stop signs. I can't count the number of people who have tried to turn left in front of me when I'm going through an intersection. It gives me a chance to practice my swerving I guess. Riding a motorcycle makes you so much more aware of your surroundings. You can even notice the difference when you're back on 4 wheels, how much more you see.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Well, I think I have come up with my "short list" of starter bikes. I've been watching auctions on eBay and checking the Knoxville, Asheville, and Atlanta Craigslist to get an idea of what $1000 can buy, and these seems to be some of the commonly sold bikes. Tell me what you think, and don't be afraid to say I'm being too cheap or too greedy on engine size:

Honda CB 500/650/750
Kawasaki KZ400
Kawasaki Vulcan VN700/750
Honda VF 750
Yamaha XS 650

I know these are older motorcycles, from the 70's and 80's, but I have no problem putting some work in to get them running. I do that with my car all the time now anyway :D. I am a little leery of getting into something too big, since nearly all of these are 500cc+, but I will take it on the highway once I get confident.

I also spoke with my dad today, since he had a bike that he sold when I was born. He said to get something 500cc or bigger for the highway. He also said he thought I'd be fine on it, since I'm more responsible the he was at this age :lol:.

One of my friends wants to go to the class with me, so I'm going to see what dates are good for him, but we will probably sign up for Feb. 28, as long as it's not full yet.
 

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the 2008+ ninja 250 is wayyyy better then the older 250s. the engine has lot more power can redlines at 14k. so, you make up for displacment with rpms.
 

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Randy, that is definitely the scariest thing about riding. I hate redlights and stop signs. I can't count the number of people who have tried to turn left in front of me when I'm going through an intersection. It gives me a chance to practice my swerving I guess. Riding a motorcycle makes you so much more aware of your surroundings. You can even notice the difference when you're back on 4 wheels, how much more you see.
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QFT Always watch those mirrors and anticipate EVERYONE within eye shots move, and those you can't see. That includes the kid playing in the front yard


Well, I think I have come up with my "short list" of starter bikes. I've been watching auctions on eBay and checking the Knoxville, Asheville, and Atlanta Craigslist to get an idea of what $1000 can buy, and these seems to be some of the commonly sold bikes. Tell me what you think, and don't be afraid to say I'm being too cheap or too greedy on engine size:

Honda CB 500/650/750
Kawasaki KZ400
Kawasaki Vulcan VN700/750
Honda VF 750
Yamaha XS 650

I know these are older motorcycles, from the 70's and 80's, but I have no problem putting some work in to get them running. I do that with my car all the time now anyway :D. I am a little leery of getting into something too big, since nearly all of these are 500cc+, but I will take it on the highway once I get confident.

I also spoke with my dad today, since he had a bike that he sold when I was born. He said to get something 500cc or bigger for the highway. He also said he thought I'd be fine on it, since I'm more responsible the he was at this age :lol:.

One of my friends wants to go to the class with me, so I'm going to see what dates are good for him, but we will probably sign up for Feb. 28, as long as it's not full yet.
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Personally, I would go with the Honda 750 or the Vulcan. That Honda form that era is actually more powerful than the newer 750's IIRC.

the 2008+ ninja 250 is wayyyy better then the older 250s. the engine has lot more power can redlines at 14k. so, you make up for displacment with rpms.
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True, but a friends son has one as his first bike. Wasn't even a full week of riding before he started complaining about how it was uncomfortable.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Well, I signed up today to take the class on March 7 and 8. I'm excited! Should I start riding a bicycle for practice? :D
 

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Nice! I can tell you, I love riding. :D


For a n00b, you WILL learn quite a bit from the MSF BRT class. In Illinois, it was free and sponsored by the Department of Transportation. So one good thing IL has, but very hard to get into the classes... I was lucky to get a walk-in... The MSF class was completely worth it, and I ended up donating $40 to them since I had amazing instructors, and the program was completely beneficial. (And I passed, which meant I did not have to take a road test at the DMV :D )

My starter bike (Still have it too) Is a 1996 Suzuki Savage LS650. I am hoping once I get a better job, to upgrade to something nicer like a Harley.

Something they teach you is to ride at your own comfort level. If you do not feel comfortable, don't do it. When I first got mine... I first took it up and down the street. Then I got comfortable enough to take it around the block, then eventually around the neighborhood, until finally I worked my way up to highways.

Always be alert too. I have avoided more accidents with my bike than I can count. People just don't see you. So ALWAYS predict the worse. Car next to you? Predict they will merge into your lane, and be ready for it. (That is my problem... People always want into my lane... I need a bike with louder pipes... That way people hear I am there :p )

I can't wait to move down to NC... Where riding more is possible... Right now, my bike will barely start in the single digit weather we are having :p
 

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Well, I signed up today to take the class on March 7 and 8. I'm excited! Should I start riding a bicycle for practice? :D
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lol riding a bicycle, if anything impairs your motorcycling skills.
 

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I agree with everything everyone has said. I have been riding for 37 years with only one relatively minor incident of road rash. Back when I got my cycle license, no one offered classes.... you learned how to ride and how to be safe on your own. When I look back on the "old days", I consider myself to be lucky to be alive. For your first bike, get something that wont do 0 - 60 in 3 seconds.... you will likely kill yourself. After a few years experience, get a fast bike. My current (modded) bike has straight pipes, so the moron in the car next to me knows that I am next to them due to the extreme exhaust noise :) ALWAYS wear a helmet. A helmet WILL save your life.
 
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