Total rookie and in need of Bonnie advice! - Triumph Forum: Triumph Rat Motorcycle Forums
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post #1 of 34 (permalink) Old 04-20-2017, 10:03 PM Thread Starter
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Exclamation Total rookie and in need of Bonnie advice!

Rode a bike last year for the first time (35 years old) and fell in love.

Took the MSF safety course last week and loved every 20MPH second of it.

Picked up my new license from the DMV and I'm on the hunt.

I was originally looking at cruisers, but came across a 2005 Bonneville T100, 19k miles and $4500 at a dealership.

I'm sure you all deal with a bunch of new riders all the time, asking about a good starter bike. I've asked a dozen people thus far, and have been astounded by the friendly nature, outgoingness, and generosity of the people in the motorcycle community I've met thus far. Half intimidated to ask this question, to the group of people who may know these machines best, but screw it, who better to ask than you all???

Is this bike a good choice for a beginning rider? I'm 5'10", 165, and relatively strong. When I saw the styling of this bike, I couldn't take my eyes or mind off of it.

Just curious if you think this is more of a bike for an experienced rider, or if it'd be a good choice to cut my teeth on. I live in upstate NY, with a short 3-4 month season, and would use this mainly for cruising around the finger lakes on country roads, with some minimal expressway travel.

Thanks so much for any feedback, and apologies if I come across as a total nerd. I'm totally out of my element here, but want to make a smart decision.

BRIAN THE NOOB
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post #2 of 34 (permalink) Old 04-20-2017, 10:09 PM
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You could do better for starter bike. Something cheaper, something you don't mind dropping. But I also think the controls are progressive enough to be friendly


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post #3 of 34 (permalink) Old 04-20-2017, 10:32 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by brianthenoob View Post
I'm 5'10", 165, and relatively strong. When I saw the styling of this bike, I couldn't take my eyes or mind off of it.
You must be my long lost twin brother.
I have a 2008, the last year for carbs. I bought mine roughly two years ago with (I think) around 7000 miles on it for $5300. So that price seems high to me. I'd browse CycleTrader to see what prices are averaging out to be. As far as a good first bike or not, I'll list some pros and cons.

Pros: low seat height means easier to balance when stopped. Good power. Cruises at highway speeds no problem provided you can stand the 70 mph wind blast to the chest unless you install a windshield. Reliable. Tons of accessories available. Good looks. Shifts well. Easy to work on.

Cons: harsh rear suspension. No ABS. HEAVY compared to older Meriden Bonnies and may feel cumbersome to a beginner. World's dumbest tail light design. Useless standard mirrors. 125 mile fuel range. Not fuel injected until 2009 (not a deal breaker but you'll need to really do proper storage over the winter to avoid problems).

The Bonneville is a very versatile machine. Perfect for back roads, decent on the highway, can be used for touring with creative application of luggage and will do gravel with proper tires. Acceleration is capable but won't pull a wheelie every time you twist the throttle which I think is a good thing for a newb rider. In my opinion it is very important to buy a machine you really like and excited about vs what a spec sheet or some 'expert' tells you makes more sense. Some will suggest a smaller bike to start with, or something that handles better, or, or, or. My first bike was too tall, too heavy and had poor brakes and mediocre performance. But, it is what I learned to ride and master and after a few months I felt right at home on it. That was two bikes ago and I have moved on to better machines that do more of what I want. It is entirely possible the Bonnie will thrill you for a year, merely please you for a year and then get traded for something else. Or, you may keep it forever. Just keep in mind that no bike needs to be permanent. Buy what you think you will like but be open to change if things start to bug you about it.

Other bikes with a similar look you may consider:
Suzuki TU250X (light, nimble, super reliable and has more performance than you'd expect)
Yamaha SR400 (a decent bike but not terribly exciting. Kick start only.)
Royal Enfield Bullet (super cool looking, questionable India build quality, spotty dealer network, unhappy over 65 mph)
Moto Guzzi V7 ($$$)
Harley Sportster (cheap, antiquated, dealers galore, mediocre performance for its size, Harley stigma)

The main key to happiness with a bike is finding one that fits you. Trying to force yourself onto a machine that doesn't feel right is a huge mistake. I find the SR400 uncomfortable, for example. Sit on a bunch of them. I don't like cruisers AT ALL nor sport bikes.

I would not look for cosmetic perfection in your first bike as you WILL drop it at some point. If you can find the inexpensive one with the first drop damage already in place you will save both money and future heartache.

Let us know what you decide!

2012 Tiger 800, 2008 Bonneville T100 Black
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post #4 of 34 (permalink) Old 04-20-2017, 11:21 PM
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I think it's a great bike for a variety of reasons. Is it the perfect starter bike? Maybe not. But I still recommend a Bonnie for you, just maybe not that one, as the price seems WAY high for that mileage.

I grew up riding dirt bikes, but then didn't ride for 15 years before I had the opportunity to buy a new Harley Davidson Fatboy for $5K below dealer invoice... (Overseas military sales.) So I took the MSF course which had Suzuki GZ250's for the loaner bikes. It was such a fun little bike, I went out and bought one since the Harley would take 6 months to deliver. I was very glad I did that because the Fatboy is a HUGE bike, and I didn't want my first street-riding experience to be that...

That said, while the Bonnie isn't nearly as light as the GZ, it's still a pretty light bike (almost half the weight of the Fatboy). Personally, I'll never go back to Harleys (bought another one after that Fatboy). I've ridden many other motorcycles since, from a range of types. My T100 is the best-riding bike I've ever ridden. It's not perfect, but I love it.

I say get one! But shop around--you can find a much better deal on one!
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post #5 of 34 (permalink) Old 04-21-2017, 12:11 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by brianthenoob View Post
Rode a bike last year for the first time (35 years old) and fell in love.

Took the MSF safety course last week and loved every 20MPH second of it.

Picked up my new license from the DMV and I'm on the hunt.

I was originally looking at cruisers, but came across a 2005 Bonneville T100, 19k miles and $4500 at a dealership.

I'm sure you all deal with a bunch of new riders all the time, asking about a good starter bike. I've asked a dozen people thus far, and have been astounded by the friendly nature, outgoingness, and generosity of the people in the motorcycle community I've met thus far. Half intimidated to ask this question, to the group of people who may know these machines best, but screw it, who better to ask than you all???

Is this bike a good choice for a beginning rider? I'm 5'10", 165, and relatively strong. When I saw the styling of this bike, I couldn't take my eyes or mind off of it.

Just curious if you think this is more of a bike for an experienced rider, or if it'd be a good choice to cut my teeth on. I live in upstate NY, with a short 3-4 month season, and would use this mainly for cruising around the finger lakes on country roads, with some minimal expressway travel.

Thanks so much for any feedback, and apologies if I come across as a total nerd. I'm totally out of my element here, but want to make a smart decision.

BRIAN THE NOOB
I've got you beat. Started riding at 43. First bike was a 2010 Bonneville picked up used for $3500. It is a great first bike that you more than likely won't outgrow. It is such a great bike that when some guy took me out, I got another used 2010 for $3200.
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RIP 2010 Bonneville Base
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post #6 of 34 (permalink) Old 04-21-2017, 12:58 AM
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I think it's a good question and the right place to ask it, although bear in mind most of us here love our Bonnies warts and all, and will therefore have a bias. The way you describe the kind of riding you are likely to do and the fact you are 35 is in favour of buying a Bonnie. I always advise a noob to start with something light, inexpensive and easy to resell, but there's nothing inherently dangerous or intimidating about a Bonnie if you're sensible and let the game come to you. When you're learning, it's the kind of bike you are more likely to lose control of in a gravel parking lot or accidentally tip over at a stop because of the weight rather than overcook a corner (although that is always a possibility for anyone, any time, on any bike).

Overall a Bonnie is an easy bike to ride, surprisingly versatile, infinitely modifiable to whatever your taste, and an absolute joy on a country road. Plus it's nice to look at and that gives pleasure even when you're not riding. 19,000 miles is nothing on these engines. Plenty of testimonies here of guys going well over 100,000 miles.

I can't comment on the fairness of the price because I don't know the supply and demand or going rate in NY but it doesn't seem outrageous to me. I have noticed a tendency on this forum whenever somebody says they're looking at a bike for X dollars, inevitably there are responses that say "Nah mate, you're paying wayyy too much!" They're probably trying to help you out and they may even be right, but the only way for you to know is to do your homework and shop around. You also have to ask yourself how much your time is worth and how far you want to drive to save money.
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post #7 of 34 (permalink) Old 04-21-2017, 04:44 AM
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No way should you start on a Bonnie ......unless you have the maturity at 35 to know your limitations and take it steady and progressively up skill. I returned (after a 35yr lay off!) to a similar spec bike and just love it. It is fast enough to get into trouble but the biggest downside for a newbie is weight. Provided you can come to terms with its relative bulk I would swallow hard and take the plunge - just take it steady for a few months.
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post #8 of 34 (permalink) Old 04-21-2017, 07:04 AM
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The Bonnie's probably a decent choice of first bike and possibly a bike that you would keep for a while as opposed to spending a short time on a "suitable newby bike" and then buying the bike that you really want. However, my advice would be to buy a trail bike and use it "off road" at every opportunity, especially in the wet and learn more about machine control in 2 months than you would on tarmac in 2 decades.
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post #9 of 34 (permalink) Old 04-21-2017, 08:23 AM
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My first bike was a Kawasaki KZ400. I bought it new back in the 70's. 9It was about the same size as a Bonnie and it had a similar engine layout.) It was a great starter bike for me. A Bonnie was what I wanted at the time but I couldn't find one.

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post #10 of 34 (permalink) Old 04-21-2017, 12:59 PM Thread Starter
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Thank you so much for the responses.

I test rode it today, (albeit around a few large parking lots) and was blown away. I could obviously tell that it was much more powerful than what I rode during the safety courses, but by being respectful to the power it has, I felt fairly comfortable.

I was able to bring the price down a few hundred, and pulled the trigger.

Insurance is set up, and I pick the bike up tomorrow morning at 9:30.

I'm slightly terrified of pulling the bike off the lot and getting into traffic, as I truly have 10 hours of experience, all of which is under 40mph.

My 45 minute ride home tomorrow morning will be backroads only, and hopefully I'll START to get a feel for the clutch and throttle with a good amount of low mph start and stopping.

I've enlisted a friend to give me 2 hours a week of training on mechanics, care, and upkeep, for the stiff price of a pizza.

I truly appreciate all of the advice, and will post a photo this weekend, and look forward to being a part of this community, and learning about this bike. There's so much to learn.

Brian
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