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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
It is white. It is a cruiser. It is not very fast. It is a V-Star 650 Classic.



I got the opportunity on accounta a long-time friend of mine recently went through the MSF course, got her endorsement, and dumped her brand new bike the next day. She was at a stop at a T-shaped intersection. Let the clutch out, turned left, didn't turn enough, and went into a ditch. She'll be okay once the stitches are out.

I had offered to ride her bike to the shop. She took me up on it yesterday evening, and it was an interesting experience. To begin with, she showed me where she went down, and all things considered, the damage should have been worse. It is, in fact, totalled on accounta slightly bent forks. But it was rideable, and actually looked better than the America (which wasn't totalled) after the Redhead's get-off.

Now, pre-Bonneville, the Redhead had a Virago 500 that was a total hoot - flat, drag bars, open pipes, real lightweight, ratty but fun. This more modern Yamaha had some of the same DNA (including the rear drum brake and shaft drive), but it's a lot more refined, if you consider refinement to mean "more like a Harley." For a small-displacement bike, the thing is big. The tank is wider than the one on the America, and the foot controls are way out front, almost as far as on the America (which is notorious for having a long stretch). At over 500 pounds, it's heavy, too - way heavier than Speedy - although wide bars help steer it. Power is, to put it kindly, barely adequate. At 60mph I kept looking for another gear. It was about outta steam.

One thing I did like were the footboards - made it much more comfortable than the pegs on the America. I now know what the Redhead's gettin' for a late Christmas present.

Mainly, I was struck by two things. First, it's not a bad beginner bike, but by trying to be more Harley-like, they've made it heavier and more of a handful. My friend is a little tiny thing, maybe 105 pounds if you just pulled her out of a river (or a ditch, in this case) soakin' wet. She shouldn't have started with this much bike (and probably should have been encouraged to go for something smaller).

Another thing that annoyed me is that the dealer talked her into some cool looking Kuryakyn Iso Grips. Huge things. They look great. But they were almost too big for me to be comfortable with (especially with bulky winter gloves), and her hands are much smaller - I'm surprised she could have her hand around the grip and reach the brake and clutch levers.

Those should never have been on there and I'd bet Cheap a set o' powdercoated Speedy parts they contributed to her not being able to get the clutch in and brake on in time to avoid the ditch.

Overall comparisons? I actually liked the old Virago better. It was lighter, faster, handled better, and was more fun. Compared to the Redhead's America, it's night and day. The V-star is sorta like a toy Harley. The America is an honest-to-god motorcycle. And compared to Speedy? Puhleeze!

Side note: The Yamaha dealer here is an interesting place. They've got pretty good inventory, including riding gear. But what's really weird is that it's the first bike shop I've seen with "greeters."

Sorta like Wal Mart, except they hire Hot Chicks (this is a college town - there's an endless supply) who meet you at the door, ask how you're doin', what you're lookin' for today, if you need any help, etc. While I am all for women riding, I am not sure if I approve of this estrogen incursion into the Manly World of the motorcycle shop.
 

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Yea, my mom just traded up from the 1100 V-Star to a brand new 1300 V-Star last week. Even with the 1100 I was always looking for more. It was very heavy with only a little bit of power. My dad's 1800 Honda VTX is kinda fun though. Crazy torque and would walk my nighthawk off the line and I could stay even once I got in the high rpm's. I'm sure the speedy will put him in his place come this summer :)
 

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On 2007-01-03 09:55, R100Pilot wrote:

Sorta like Wal Mart, except they hire Hot Chicks (this is a college town - there's an endless supply) who meet you at the door, ask how you're doin', what you're lookin' for today, if you need any help, etc. While I am all for women riding, I am not sure if I approve of this estrogen incursion into the Manly World of the motorcycle shop.
My dealer is pretty much the same, except they work the front and apparel. And at least some of them ride, and they know their stuff. It surprised me a little at first.
 

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R100Pilot,
It just kills me when I see 'beginners' start out on such big 500lb. bikes. What the hell are they thinking???? They should be on something no bigger than a Kawasaki 250 for the first year at least! I'm all for the european/japanese graduated size licensing laws.
If she can't even make a simple 'left turn' then what's going to happen when a situation comes up where she actually has to try and avoid a dangerous situation. Well she's going to get killed, that's what's going to happen. She's probably afraid to use the front brake also.

As far as greeters go,,,,,, I think its stupid, who the hell needs them? It's just a phoney smile and phoney "HI HOW ARE YOU?" Yeah, like you really care. I especially don't want them in a motorcycle shop!
 

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Side note: The Yamaha dealer here is an interesting place. They've got pretty good inventory, including riding gear. But what's really weird is that it's the first bike shop I've seen with "greeters."

Sorta like Wal Mart, except they hire Hot Chicks (this is a college town - there's an endless supply) who meet you at the door, ask how you're doin', what you're lookin' for today, if you need any help, etc...
Sounds like they know who their target market is very well indeed. :cool:

Interesting take on the Wee-Star. Didn't know how porky they've become. What beginners really need (and especially the small-statured ones) is a smaller, light-weight standard, not a cruiser. A good standard would have more predictable handling, likely a better power-to-weight ratio (though still mild) easy-to-reach and operate controls, and would probably absorb minor crash damage better. In North America, the choices in new bikes of that sort are extremely limited, and that's a shame.
 

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On 2007-01-03 12:15, scratch wrote:
Interesting take on the Wee-Star. Didn't know how porky they've become. What beginners really need (and especially the small-statured ones) is a smaller, light-weight standard, not a cruiser. A good standard would have more predictable handling, likely a better power-to-weight ratio (though still mild) easy-to-reach and operate controls, and would probably absorb minor crash damage better. In North America, the choices in new bikes of that sort are extremely limited, and that's a shame.
The nighthawk is a standard and they make a 250 version of it. The Kawasaki Ninja 250 would also be a good bike to learn on. I went and test drove one for the ex-g/f and it was a blast. I almost wanna one just for commuting to work. It can get 75mpg :)
 

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While they're pretty good starter bikes, the Ninja 250 and 500 aren't quite optimum (IMHO) due to their plastic bodywork. It's too bad Suzuki doesn't still sell a naked version of the GS 500.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
I talked to her when she was shopping for bikes. She insisted on something cruiserish, so the Ninja was out (Side note: There are a lot of little ninjas around - if a used one popped up for a decent price, I'd be tempted to get one, sorta a giant-sized pocket racer).

The Honda dealer talked her out of the 250 Nighthawk and the Yamaha dealer talked her out of the 250 Virago for the same reason - they told her she'd get bored quickly. Now, personally I'd rather be bored than dead or in the hospital, and I don't see why they can't look at it as a way of selling two bikes - one now, that they'll trade up with in six months or a year.

I was pushing for the Suzuki S40 (formerly the Savage). It's 600ccs but a single, very light and very low to the ground. She really is a small girl, and it would have been a perfect mix - something whose weight she could handle until she got used to feeling the balance points, but enough engine to keep it entertaining when she got the hang of riding. But it doesn't have the bling factor of the V-Star and the rest is history. It'll be interesting to see what she does with the insurance money.

Other than the 250 Ninja, there just isn't much in the U.S. in the way of beginner bikes, and I hate to say it but Triumph is guilty too. The Daytona 675? How fast do you wanna kill yourself, kid? How about the basic Bonnie? You're still looking at nearly 500 pounds once you top off the tank.

Ah, for the good old daze of 350 and 450 four cylinders.

Sidenote: I'm really not kidding when I say that old 500 Virago was fun to ride. No, it wasn't the fastest thing around and the brakes kinda sucked, but it was light and comfortable, the straight pipes amused the rabble, and it made me smile.
 

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The reason I wanted to start the ex on a 250 ninja is that she's around 5'5" and weighs about 110lbs. She wanted to start with an R6 and I just laughed at her. Maybe she could handle it, but who knows. Is it worth the risk? She rode her cousins 50cc dirt bike and flipped it over in about 15 seconds, we went mountain bike riding and she fell over when trying to get going from a light. i would be scared if she ever did get a bike. Some people just want to start big though. They will learn from their mistakes eventually.
 

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You can break youself up on a 250 as well as a 1000, its all about the rider.

A 110 lbs 5,5 person on a 600 is no different than a 165lbs 5,10 person on a Busa.

The key is how you handle yourself during a stressful situation.

In order to ride well you have to have:
1. A certain deal of strength
2. Good coordination
3. Great reflexes
4. Undivided attention

If you lack any of these you may find out how much it hurts to fall off a bike.

When it comes to women (we men) are very apprehensive about letting them ride their own bikes.

It may be chivalry or machismo but there is one undeniable fact....There are more men riders than women riders.

and before the flaming begins I am in no way implying that women are inferior to men....I just don't think women can ride because they are always on the phone... :razz:
 

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On 2007-01-03 13:16, R100Pilot wrote:
The Honda dealer talked her out of the 250 Nighthawk and the Yamaha dealer talked her out of the 250 Virago for the same reason - they told her she'd get bored quickly. Now, personally I'd rather be bored than dead or in the hospital, and I don't see why they can't look at it as a way of selling two bikes - one now, that they'll trade up with in six months or a year.
Answer:

Because they're sleezeball salesmen who have no foresight, for safety or money. What a d!ck. If she gets hurt luggin that thing around you should go back and visit the same injuries on that salesman. What kind of jerkoff talks someone OUT of a sale, ESPECIALY when it's the most appropriate for the buyer. Moron.
 

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...and painting their faces.
 

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I know that you can get hurt on any bike, but with a busa you can be going 140 in a quarter mile, while on the 250 ninja you can hit around 110 after 2 or 3 miles. My friend cheryl just picked up a used R6, it's her first bike and I'm kind of worried. Once she gets good and finished her motorcycle course I might switch with her for a day to test it out. When buying a small 250 bike you should already be going to look knowing that you will trade in 6 months to a year. They are bikes to help learn how to ride, not something you're gonna be stuck with for 5 years. 250 ninja's also have great resale value.
 

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On 2007-01-03 13:12, scratch wrote:
While they're pretty good starter bikes, the Ninja 250 and 500 aren't quite optimum (IMHO) due to their plastic bodywork. It's too bad Suzuki doesn't still sell a naked version of the GS 500.
I agree, but the SV650 would make a decent beginner, probably more of an intermediate. I rode one and considering it for the wife's first/only bike.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
I don't think it's horsepower so much as weight (and cg) that's an issue for newbies. The most common mishap is a dropped bike while going slow, usually while turning. A braindead chimp can keep a bike upright in a straight line at any speed. It takes practice to get a feel for how far to lean, coordinating clutch and throttle, modulating the brakes, and the equation changes with speed.

Easier to get a handle on it if you start with a lighter bike.

We have a rather small female motor officer in town who can toss that big ol' RTP around like it's nothin'. It's almost freaky to watch. It's not a matter of muscle, it's a matter of balance and control input - things best learned if you start small.
 

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When I worked for Yamaha, I used to get in trouble for calling them She Stars. They were good relaible little bikes though.
 
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Have to agree that getting a bike license in the UK is hard with a lot of training and you can be limited to less than 33bhp. but the traing schemes are good. The test is hard and yo have an examiner following you for about 45 mins to male sure that you can ride correctly.

Yam 1700 MT01?
 

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I ask people who are planning on riding which bike they're going to get. It's usually a GSXR, but not to worry they tell me, because they're gettting the 600, not the 750.

It's a sad situation right now in the US. There aren't many good "in between" bikes. The gap between 250 and 600cc is enormous. I think there's a handful of dual purpose bikes and 2, maybe 3, street bikes that fit. Bikes in this range can be a lot of fun.

I don't see this changing until a staggered licensing system is implemented. Which is to say, "never".

Anyways, this puts the bike salesperson in a pinch, too. They either sell a new rider a bike they won't want in 3 months, or sell them the bike they'll probably want in 6-8 months... if they survive that long.

If Sukuki would just start making those Bandit 400s again...
 
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