I'm (still) thinking about getting a motorcycle...

Yes, that’s right. Almost two years ago, I started this thread about how I wanted to get a bike to get around here in San Antonio. Well, that time has come and gone, and I’m still in exactly the same position I was in then. I have since become more knowledgeable on motorcycles in general, and I also have a better idea of what I want. So here’s what I want:

  1. A sportbike that has the versatility to let me learn on it, and last a long time without me outgrowing it.
  2. The bike has to be comfortable enough to allow me to take out of town trips (150+ miles) back home every so often.
  3. The bike has to be in a reasonable price range, preferably below 8 grand.

I was leaning toward the Suzuki Katana 600, but after hearing other people’s opinions, I decided that I would outgrow it all too soon and be yearning for something bigger. So now, I’m thinking about the GSX-R600. I want a full fairing bike (so the SV650 series and the like is out), something that has already been used, and that leads to the question of how many miles should be on a used bike that I plan on buying. I plan on going to a dealership around here in the next couple of days to see how the bikes fit. I’ll post about it as soon as I have that info.

A few considerations:

-The smaller and lighter the bike the easier it will be to handle and manuver in town, however, long trips on highways can be a bitch since every passing car and truck feels like it’s going to blow you over.

-I’d recommend taking a bike safety/riding course first. Especially if you want a “full-fairing” bike that gets damaged very easy if you lay it down, drop it, tip it over, etc.

-150+ drives are possible on forward/agressive riding position bikes but not very comfortable. Rides over 2 hours cramp the legs and put strain on your wrists.

-I’ll agree with going the used route. However, I don’t know if i’d go to a dealer.
My bike was $13,500 new. When it had 6K miles I wanted to sell it and found a dealer selling the same bike asking for $11,000. I found private sellers on line (cycletrader.com, ebay, etc.) asking and getting about $6,500 for the same bike.
Dealers seem to be way overpriced even on used.

-Wear a helmet and drive like you are invisible to other drivers. Being cut off is a daily occurance for bikers.

-You can’t go wrong with Yamaha, Honda, Suzuki. Triumphs, Ducatis, Aprillas are nice but costly to fix and maintain.

The slingshots are fun sport bikes and they look great but they are hardly what I’d consider a travel bike. It’s strictly a short distance, haul ass, crotch rocket. I think you’ll feel really tapped when you travel that 150mile distance.

Still, if I was considering a bike in the 600cc displacement range, I’d seriously look at the Yamaha YZF-R6 or the Hondas CBR600RR and 919 .

The latter reminding me of the Ducatti Monster. It also seems to have a more comfortable riding position for the longer ride. All these bikes are in the $8,000 range, brand new.

Of course, for me, the 1000cc class supersport bikes are what really makes my mouth water and fingers twitch.

Oh yeah, those 1000cc supersport bikes are hella crazy (Suzuki’s Hayabusa 1300 and GSX-R100 come to mind). Another thing to consider: I’m about 6’ 150 lbs. Would my choices be limited because I’m a lighter rider than some of the other guys that ride bikes? Does that have any effect on what I should choose?

I also forgot to mention that the primary reason I want this bike is for convenience: lower gas prices, parking (especially here where I go to school), and just an easy way to get around town, and so I can finally get a real job. Like I said, the long trips would be few and far between, but I would also want a certain level of comfort so that I wouldn’t be discouraged from going home to visit the family every so often.

After looking at the specs on the Yamaha R6, and listening to what a friend (who has an R6) has to say, I find that I’m overwhelmed by the similarity of the R6 and the GSX-R600. What should I look for in a bike, that fits my criteria? How would I go about talking to a dealer to make sure I get exactly what I want, and not just something that someone else tells me I should want?

The Hayabusa is a sick bike. Very fast but has a very long wheelbase. It’s not what you’d call tossable around corners. Of course, at 150mph, you don’t want tossable.

You’re right of course. The honda=suzuki=yamaha in the 600 and 1000 cc classes. Very hard to tell the difference visually and performance wise. At least when you’re talking about daily rides in traffic. Typically, Honda has the reputation for having the most comfortable riding position… all else being equal. Ultimately, you have to pick the bike that fits your riding style best. Test drive them and see what you think.

Like Hampshire said, you can’t go wrong with any of these bad boys.

The Yamaha YZF 600R should also be on your list. It’s supposed to be a bit more comfy ‘day-to-day’ than the R6.

A black R6, though, that thing’s a beaut.

mack: The YZF 600R is much the same as the Katana, which is what I had originally planned on getting, but I figure that I’ll outgrow it as soon as I learn to ride better. Right now, I’m seriously looking at the Gixxer 600 and the R6. Any other bikes that fall into the 600cc range that can be had for just under 8 grand?

Do you have prior riding experience? Any of the current crop of cutting-edge 600s (the Gixxer, the R6, or the CBR) is gonna be a handful. You’re also pretty tall and the riding position on those things might be a little tight. I think your first choice might be the answer - the Katana 600. Maybe the Suzuki Bandit, although it lacks the full fairing. I have a riding buddy who just loves his YZF-600, too, and I can personally affirm that it’s plenty quick. A very capable and user-friendly bike.

And “outgrow it as soon as I learn to ride better”? 99% of the riders out there will never get anywhere near the maximum performance potential of the Gixxer or R6.

If you really want to go cutting-edge, I’d recommend looking for a good used CBR600F4 or YZF600 and ride it for a couple of years. Put some miles under your belt and work on your riding abilities. Then decide if you want something bigger and/or faster.

Don’t skimp on riding gear, and take the MSF course if you haven’t already.

1986 Yamaha FJ1200
2003 Suzuki Intruder Volusia

And don’t forget to carry an organ donor card.

I’ll second what TheInterruptingCow said. Bigger bikes are a handful when you are first starting out.

Have you thought about buying a smaller used bike to learn on, then in a year or so trade up to a bigger bike?

You can even take your trips back home on a smaller bike---- just plan on getting off of it more often. Take back roads and smaller state highways. Enjoy the trip.

I just went to the dealership, and I must say that I’m pretty overwhelmed all over again. I had never sat on top of a bike, and was pretty surprised that they’re alot bigger than I had imagined in my mind. The Gixxer felt the best between my legs, but the R6 was just so pretty and shiny (especially the one in black drools).

I also talked to one of the sales reps, and he said that I really shouldn’t go for the Katana or its equivalent because I’ll end up sinking money into it, and losing in the trade up to an R6 or Gixxer. Maybe I’m just a cynic, but I felt like he was just trying to convince me to get more now, seeing as how these guys work on commission and whatnot, not keeping my best interests in mind. Needless to say, I felt like I had a sign painted “sucker” on my back.

So I’m convinced that maybe I’ll go for something smaller, but I want the closest possible match to one of the bigger 600’s and something I won’t outgrow too soon.

p.s. Quartz you’re my hero.

Well, there’s the Kawasaki Ninja 500R and the Suzuki GS500F.

I’ve been looking at bikes in this range for years. I’ve only been riding a couple of years. Right now I have a Yamaha XT225 dual sport. It’s definitely not an intimidating motorcycle! Most of the roads where I ride are hilly and twisty and don’t even lines on them so it’s not like I need a fast bike. I imagine the San Antonio area is a bit different.

I was thinking of getting a 600-650cc bike this year but I don’t think it’s in the cards budget-wise. I don’t need to go any faster than what the XT does anyway. I don’t have riding buddies to keep up with. I could certainly use a bit more comfort, though.

You don’t have to go smaller , just tamer. The bikes you’re looking at are (excuse me) violent little bikes for the uninintiated. Yeah, they’re damned fast…but they don’t make decent power until the’yre well up in the rev range, and they come on strong. You’re better off with something more “streetable”. A bike that has some all-around “manners” and real-world rideability. I see far too many squids on mid-size race-replicas, and they don’t have the riding talent or experience to handle the HP these things produce. Do yourself a favor…ignore the salesmen and listen to the better angels of your nature…

I’ll third what TheInterruptingCow said. If this is the first bike you’ve ever sat on, you sure as hell don’t want to get a top of the line brand new sport bike.

Get a decent starter bike so you can learn how to ride. There are plenty of sickles out there that will hold onto enough value that you can re-sell em to another new rider without being out much dough. Whether it takes you six months or six years to get comfortable, beware of that feeling. Riding means total concentration and other vehicles can throw you a surprise at any moment.

It’s nice that the salesman was helpful and all, in advising you to buy a more expensive bike to save money in the long run. What a considerate fellow. BTW, this is about the absolute worst time of the year to buy a new bike- right before summer and right about when folks are getting their tax refund checks. For Og’s sake don’t go to buy a brand new motorcycle, jet-ski, etc. on the first warm day in mid-spring and expect to be able to negotiate a good price on the exact model you want.

Thanks for all the advice so far. My original thread was about which bike I should purchase, and what I wanted to look for in a bike. I guess this thread is really about how I should go about buying a bike, and deciding which one I should actually get. Thanks to all who have contributed so far to help enlighten this newbie on the politics of bike buying.

mack: your original suggestion, the YZF 600R, is actually looking pretty good to me right about now. Do you have any personal experience on one of these?

Not beyond sitting on one at the dealership.

My brother had a CBR600; back in '96, he took a performance riding class to augment his 4-5 years of experience. He was concerned about “pushing the bike to its limits” and asked the instructor about it, who just chuckled and replied, “There’s nothing you can possibly do at this point to push that bike to its limits; unless someone is actually racing it, they’ll lose their nerve before even getting close.” Having borrowed it now and again, I can testify that that’s pretty much accurate.

As to actually choosing a bike, my experience is fairly minimal and about a decade old (I’m kinda jealous…man, do I want to get a bike when finances permit). My other brother had a Ninja500; good for a beginner, but you’ll definitely outgrow it. (Interesting factoid – at least back when I had one, the engine in the Vulcan 500 was the same as the Ninja500.) A friend had a YZF600; it was alright, but definitely wasn’t as pleasant as the CBR. Neither the kick nor the comfort. Now that I think about it, the brother who had the CBR (got stolen) replaced it with a YZF – he ended up letting it sit because it just wasn’t as much fun to drive as the CBR.

Me? I’m a cruiser kinda guy, so I’d never want to take a trip longer than an hour on a sport bike. Trips from NYC out to the 'burbs (about 30 miles) were enough to cure me of that notion. And that was back when I was 22.

Just had to add my $0.02. I’m sure you’ll enjoy whatever you get.

flood, do yourself a favour, take a MSF class and go get your license FIRST!

And while you’re doing that, go ahead and search all the other motorcycle suggestion threads like the ones here, here, and here. This one too.

Then go buy yourself a piddly used 250 cc bike and run it into the ground while you drop it half a dozen times. Because you will drop it. And you really don’t want to drop your brand new bike with the fairings, because they’ll crack and then you’re stuck taking them off and driving around a naked bike :wink:

Then, when you have your license, and you’ve been riding for several months, and you know that you want to stay on this thing, but it’s time to go for a little more oomph, go ahead and buy the 600cc bike of your dreams.

I’ll chime in and say get a used bike. All the asian 600’s are so similar it’s hard to say ones better than the other. Look at a Ford, Chevy , or Dodge pickups. Small differences really.

Having owned several Honda’s I say the fit, finish and reliabilty are top notch. They aren’t always the most exciting or flash, but good all the way around.

However I looooove my Triumph. Two of my friends bought Triumph’s after riding mine.

Now my patented safety nazi lecture. I see kids in $400 helmets but wearing shorts and a tee shirt all the time. Oh I cringe, I cringe.

Full face helmet, gloves are essential. Why gloves? If a little old lady in a Lincoln Towncar decides to pull into a garage sale RIGHT NOW without and warning and you panic and grab too much front brake during my (oops “your”) first month of riding you want to be protected. You can recover from losing some meat out of an arm or leg, but a hunk of flesh out of your hand is a serious forever injury.

Also I never leave home without wearing boots and a jacket with armor in the elbows, shoulders and hips. Leather is way too hot for Texas look for a nice textile well vented jacket.

Have fun and keep the shiny up.