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Thread: How "Used" is too "Used" for a first bike?

  1. #1
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    How "Used" is too "Used" for a first bike?

    I'm about to take the BRC in a couple weeks followed by MC license and the purchase of a used cruiser. I've been looking around on Craig's list at what people are asking for beginner-level cruisers (750 cc and under seems reasonable) My question is how much mileage is reasonable for a used bike? I'm in no way mechanically inclined so I want something reliable. I'd appreciate any feedback on what a reasonable age/mileage is for a used cruiser. I'm looking at Yamaha Vstars, Kawasaki Vulcans, and Honda Shadows.
    Thanks!

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    Flirting With The Redline 2000 Posts! Kootenanny's Avatar
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    I was gonna say that it's dependent on how mechanically inclined you are, but you answered that question already.

    I will say that age and condition will likely be more important than mileage. Give me a bike that's been ridden regularly and properly maintained rather than one that has been ridden little and then neglected for years.

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    Flirting With The Redline 10,000 Posts! Shadow Shack's Avatar
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    Suffice it to say, this is probably not an ideal purchase:

    43,000 miles, well maintained. Some assembly required...

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  4. #4
    Miles of smiles We've stopped counting... asp125's Avatar
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    Remember that with a few exceptions, most older bikes suffer from lack of available spare parts even if you do have the mechanical skills to fix them. Or you may have difficulty getting certain tire sizes (ie 16") that is no longer common. Generally speaking, an older bike with a good history of maintenance and that is still being ridden regularly will be preferred over one of the same age that has sat for a while.
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    Flirting With The Redline 8000 Posts! Trials's Avatar
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    If I was 'not' mechanically inclined I would want to own a fuel injected motorcycle with electronic ignition, because anything with a carburetor or two, or breaker points is going to need significant service attention every year or two.
    I would want it to have a shaft drive because a chain is going to need service and I'm not big on rubber band drives.
    Suspension will be largely ignored since its a cruiser, so that leaves Battery start as being the next significant maintenance issue, kick start would be a nice backup for when the battery fails every 3 years, but most bikes simply don't have them or are too hard to start with a kick, so you are looking for a motor that starts easy and runs great no matter how much you ignore maintaining it.

    I think such a bike will inherently have low milage.


    As for motorcycle displacement suitable for beginner level riding, I grew up in an era when up to 750cc bikes included the highest performance motorcycles made. Any bike you purchase at this point should be intended for solo only riding, so 750 is plenty more bike then a beginner will need. If you experience inadequate performance on a 750cc bike then it's because you aren't riding it properly, or because it's poorly designed and maintained, not because it needs more piston. A pokey rider on a litre bike or even a 2 litre bike is still just a pokey rider on a really big ride.

    Have fun at the BRC and don't let that tiny little bike get away from you.

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    Yeah, I saw that one on CL...he was asking too much! lol

    Quote Originally Posted by Shadow Shack View Post
    Suffice it to say, this is probably not an ideal purchase:

    43,000 miles, well maintained. Some assembly required...


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    Thanks for the feedback. Fewer maintenance requirements would be better. I think the Hondas are fuel injected and shaft-driven, not sure about the others.


    Quote Originally Posted by Trials View Post
    If I was 'not' mechanically inclined I would want to own a fuel injected motorcycle with electronic ignition, because anything with a carburetor or two, or breaker points is going to need significant service attention every year or two.
    I would want it to have a shaft drive because a chain is going to need service and I'm not big on rubber band drives.
    Suspension will be largely ignored since its a cruiser, so that leaves Battery start as being the next significant maintenance issue, kick start would be a nice backup for when the battery fails every 3 years, but most bikes simply don't have them or are too hard to start with a kick, so you are looking for a motor that starts easy and runs great no matter how much you ignore maintaining it.

    I think such a bike will inherently have low milage.


    As for motorcycle displacement suitable for beginner level riding, I grew up in an era when up to 750cc bikes included the highest performance motorcycles made. Any bike you purchase at this point should be intended for solo only riding, so 750 is plenty more bike then a beginner will need. If you experience inadequate performance on a 750cc bike then it's because you aren't riding it properly, or because it's poorly designed and maintained, not because it needs more piston. A pokey rider on a litre bike or even a 2 litre bike is still just a pokey rider on a really big ride.

    Have fun at the BRC and don't let that tiny little bike get away from you.

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    Quote Originally Posted by asp125 View Post
    Remember that with a few exceptions, most older bikes suffer from lack of available spare parts even if you do have the mechanical skills to fix them. Or you may have difficulty getting certain tire sizes (ie 16") that is no longer common. Generally speaking, an older bike with a good history of maintenance and that is still being ridden regularly will be preferred over one of the same age that has sat for a while.

    Good points.

  9. #9
    Miles of smiles We've stopped counting... asp125's Avatar
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    Of your listed choices I can only speak to the Vulcan. Kawasaki made a ton of EX500's (Ninja 500) - same motor as in the Vulcan, so spare parts and knowledge will be in abundance.

    One more thing.. check with your local shops to see if they work on old bikes. If you depend on a shop to service them, some shops are reluctant to work on bikes more than 10-15 years old. Due to the same spare parts issue. A local independent shop might be better than most dealerships in that regard.
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    Flirting With The Redline 10,000 Posts! Shadow Shack's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by vasenior View Post
    Yeah, I saw that one on CL...he was asking too much! lol
    Well I can guarantee you that it wasn't that one, I haven't offered it up on CL yet. I have put it together and stripped it back down a few times since that shot was taken.
    Sent from your mom's phone
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    3500cc worth of Honda: http://shadow-shack.20m.com


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