Which motorcycle to buy?

I just started riding last summer and i’m thoroughly addicted, i bought my freind’s '83 Yamaha Virago Midnight 920 for $150, and it took about $450 in work to get it running again last year, so for $600 it wasn’t a bad deal

here’s the problem, the Virago is really showing it’s age, it requires leaded gas (or lead substitute), it’s cosmetically rough (that’s irrelavent anyway), and it backfires at around 3000 RPM, mostly when i come off the gas and back on, it’s random and the volume varies, sometimes it’s a little pop, sometimes it sounds like a shotgun blast, and it has the infamous wonky starter endemic to early Yamahas

still, it was (and still is) a good learning bike, but i want something that’s more modern, more reliable, and doesn’t backfire

i’d like to keep the cost under $9000

so far i’ve looked at the following;

Sportster 883 and 1100, test rode the 1100, nice bike, good power, just feels a little heavy, not as quick steering response as the Virago, plus the seat pegs are too far forward

at $7500 it’s the most expensive one i’ve tested so far

no i don’t care if the Sportster is considered a “girls or beginner’s bike”, i am a beginner, and i need a low to the ground, easy to maneuver bike that won’t run away from me

Shadow Spirit 750, it’s a last-years model and at around $5500, it’s a good value, just not sure how much of a power loss i’d notice going from a 1983 era 920CC to a 2003 era 750, also it’s a chain-drive model and i’m a little leery of chain drive (i understand they’ve gotten better though)

the Honda/Yamaha dealer i saw the Shadow at also has a used Yamaha V-star (650 i think) with saddlebags, floorboards, a fairing, full dresser, around 25,000 miles for around $3500, it’s a shaft drive, which i like, but it’s air-cooled, which the salesperson was saying isn’t good (i think he’s trying to get me into the more expensive new Shadow), my Virago’s air-cooled and seems to run okay…

i’m also going to go to another Yamaha dealer tomorrow, they have a “no down payment sign-and-drive” promotion going on, i’ll see what the catch is when i get there

any suggestions for a “cruiser” style bike that combines decent fuel mileage, great handling and performance, and is affordable?

(no Suzukis, please, i just don’t like 'em)

I’m pretty partial to the Yamaha Roadstar Warrior but a new one is probably a tad more than your limit. I lightly used one would do nicely.

Air cooled vs Liquid cooled: It really depends on the bike. I’ve got a BMW that is air cooled and it is very common for this drivetrain to last over a hundred thousand miles and many beyond two hundred thousand.

From what I know, if Honda makes it…it is probably going to run and be great for a long time. The same probably applies to the other Japanese makers.

The Honda Magna is often overlooked, but is a GREAT bike.

I seriously recommend that you try one out because they are super smooth V-4 based.
Nice and easy when cruising and a pavement raging monster if you wind it out. Looks good and has matching pipes on each side. I like that.

If you want something a little off the beaten path that is still a cruiser and fun to ride…check a Triumph out if there is a dealer within 100 miles:

Thunderbird Sport: http://www.triumph.co.uk/site/bikes/page.cfm?BikeID=81
This thing would probably smoke every Harley but the V-Rod and it handles better than most any cruiser as well.

Speedmaster: http://www.triumph.co.uk/site/bikes/page.cfm?BikeID=85
Nice, pretty cruiser.

America: http://www.triumph.co.uk/site/bikes/page.cfm?BikeID=84
I like this one quite a bit too.

I figured you were looking for a brand you might have missed…

You could try out a 1100 Virago since you seem fairly happy with the smaller brother.

I believe that the Kawasaki range of cruisers such as the VN1500 are pretty popular over there but you might struggle to find one in your price range.

One good candidate might be the Moto Guzzi California - its reasonably esy to find, not too expensive and they tend to handle slightly better than a lot of other cruisers, plus they have lots of little quirks which give it a unique character(such as a sidestand that you can onlkt esily use when you’ve actuallly climbed off the bike)

I think i found the right bike, a Kawasaki Vulcan 750, it fulfils all my criteria…

it’s got a low to the ground, stable riding position
it’s got a reliable motor and no wonky starter issues to deal with
it gets great fuel mileage
it’s water cooled
it’s shaft drive, no chain to wear out
and it has alloy wheels, no spokes to maintain

it almost looks the same as the Virago as well, hopefully i’ll find out tomorrow, Tuesday at the latest whether the loan went thru anwhat interest rate it is

(assuming it’s something i want to pay, if it’s anything over 5%, no go)

i’m a little leery about financing a new bike, yes i’m getting a warranty and a bike i’ll know the repair history on, but part of me says it’d be better to go the cheap route and get an older bike and pay maybe $1500 and not have to deal with financing, i’d be taking a risk on reliability though

i don’t want to load myself down with too many bills, i’m trying to save up for a house, but gas prices are just getting worse and worse, this morning it cost me $17 to fill the tank on my Neon with 87 octane, before the gas price hike, i could fill the Neon for $8-10, i’m just glad i don’t have a vehicle with a V6 or V8, i’d love the power, but wouldn’t like to feed it

decisions, decisions…new or used, private sale or finance thru credit union…

This thread is better suited for In My Humble Opinion. I’ll move it for you.

Cajun Man
for the SDMB

This must be one of those that is sold in the US but not in the UK.

Other machines in the range are prefixed VN over here, such as the VN1500, but you know them as Vulcan.

It certainly looks like i would meet your criteria, you also have the advantage that this model has had a long production run so there will be plenty of spares in breakers yards, which means not having to pay for brand new bits.

The reviews on various biker sites seem to show that owners are pretty happy with them.

Oh, should have posted this for you,



Watch out for the hydraulic tappets, easy for a dealer to sort out but maybe you should budget for this work.