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I've ridden all my life, and my older son now has a sweet Harley Davidson Low Rider. My younger son who is 17 (almost 18) has worked really hard this summer, and has laid up some money. He's decided he wants to dip his toe into the world of motorcycles. He has ridden small bike a little bit, and has the balance, clutch, gears, etc thing pretty well figured out. He'd like to find a good starter bike.

Things have changed in the last 35 years since I was riding a Honda CB 360.

I'd love to hear some suggestions for a good starter bike for this young man. He's leaning toward a sport type bike, but would consider a cruiser. I'd hate to see him get a really small bike he'd be tired of in a month, but also don't want him to get too much bike to learn on.

Heck, someone here might even have a nice example sitting in the way in the garage collecting dust.

Let's hear your ideas!

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Its been 30 years since I've owned a motorcycle, so take that into consideration. 🙄

Depends on what he's planning to do with it. Street, trail or both?  Honestly, I don't think there is such a thing as a good street/trail bike. Totally different requirements. If its good for one, it sucks at the other.

For a street/road bike for a first timer you don't want too big or expensive. But it needs to be heavy enough and powerful enough to hang with highway traffic.  I'd suggest a nice cruiser in the 500-600 CC range.  My last bike was a Honda Nighthawk 600.  Great on the street yet handled the Interstate very well. 😉

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When I went from tearing up pastures on a dirt bike and 4 wheelers to legally riding the highway I started on a 650 street cruiser. That was at 14 and I was a kid who hit his growth spurt early. That led to a string of motorcycles over the years so the first one didn't really set the tone other than it was a enjoyable thing to do. I'd go with something older and already dinged so that first wreck crash drop lay down isn't a rough one on him. Get him something appropriately sized. This crowd riding around on a scooter looking like a monkey on a football has me SMH every time I see them. If you are going to put a bullseye on your back (riding these days period) at least have enough azz to make the moving target harder to hit or easier to avoid. I've seen several classics pop up locally for sale and not bad priced. If I didn't already have so many "interests" taking my fun money I imagine several would have a spot in my garage. Good luck on your hunt and if I can be a help up this way let me know.

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Posted (edited)
42 minutes ago, gregintenn said:

I've ridden all my life, and my older son now has a sweet Harley Davidson Low Rider. My younger son who is 17 (almost 18) has worked really hard this summer, and has laid up some money. He's decided he wants to dip his toe into the world of motorcycles. He has ridden small bike a little bit, and has the balance, clutch, gears, etc thing pretty well figured out. He'd like to find a good starter bike.

Things have changed in the last 35 years since I was riding a Honda CB 360.

I'd love to hear some suggestions for a good starter bike for this young man. He's leaning toward a sport type bike, but would consider a cruiser. I'd hate to see him get a really small bike he'd be tired of in a month, but also don't want him to get too much bike to learn on.

Heck, someone here might even have a nice example sitting in the way in the garage collecting dust.

Let's hear your ideas!

Funny you mention a CB360. My childhood friend and closest thing I have to a brother had a 360 basket case him and his dad brought home in the bed of a ford ranger and in several mayfield milk crates. We were probably 13 or so. The former owner apparently watched Easy Rider one too many times as he had made a "chopper" out of it. Unfortunately it was a .50 job because he just lengthened the down tubes and left the neck stock. Add to that a set of ape hangers and highway pegs. Also a nice touch was the glass pack cherry bomb auto pipe he had hose clamped to the end of a 2 to 1 short pipe. He lived about a mile from me and the day he finally got it running for the first time I could hear it like I was sitting right there with it lmao. Death trap for a 13 yo was an understatement but somehow he and I wore that thing to a frazzle riding the country backroads. Good times.

Edited by FUJIMO
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Posted (edited)
20 minutes ago, FUJIMO said:

Funny you mention a CB360. My childhood friend and closest thing I have to a brother had a 360 basket case him and his dad brought home in the bed of a ford ranger and in several mayfield milk crates. We were probably 13 or so. The former owner apparently watched Easy Rider one too many times as he had made a "chopper" out of it. Unfortunately it was a .50 job because he just lengthened the down tubes and left the neck stock. Add to that a set of ape hangers and highway pegs. Also a nice touch was the glass pack cherry bomb auto pipe he had hose clamped to the end of a 2 to 1 short pipe. He lived about a mile from me and the day he finally got it running for the first time I could hear it like I was sitting right there with it lmao. Death trap for a 13 yo was an understatement but somehow he and I wore that thing to a frazzle riding the country backroads. Good times.

Mine was nearly mint except for a tear in the seat. A local elderly lady who did upholstery repaired that for a song. I bought it for the princely sum of $150.

My first bike was a Kawasaki 100. Might have been a KZ. Then came the CB 360. My next bike was a Yamaha 175 Enduro, followed by a 360 Enduro. Those were awesome! Next up was a 79 Honda 125 CR Elsinore. It was FAST! Then A Yamaha 850 Special, complete with fairing and cassette player. My mother thought it was too big for me, so I sold it and bought a 79 Sportster.😁 It looked smaller. Drenched in chrome, blue dot coffin tail light, and straight drag pipes! I loved that bike! Wish I still had it.

 

Sadly, my wife doesn't share my history and love for all things with engines and two wheels. I'm retiring in September, and like it or not, a nice Harley or Indian will be my retirement present to myself. Maybe she'll adjust.

Edited by gregintenn
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In 2011, when I decided to take up riding again after a 25 year hiatus, I was looking for much the same thing - a decent starter bike where I could get my feet wet without spending a lot of money or buying something that would be hard to handle.  I wound up buying a 2 year old Yamaha Vstar 650, with the Silverado package.  It was a nice bike, at the time still under warranty, that handled and stopped well.  I bought it in July, rode it through the fall before putting it away for winter.  If I were doing it again, I would still start out with one of those, or something much like it.  They're available for under (usually well under) $4500 or so, many of them relatively low mileage.  Unfortunately, continuing issues with my back caused me to give up riding again, this time for good, in 2012.  Here's an recent article that pretty much sums up my experience with the one i had. 

https://www.hotcars.com/yamaha-v-star-650-good-beginner-bike/

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Yamaha V-Stars are good. I wouldn’t recommend doing what my friend’s son did, which was a Honda 250 street bike for a starter. Barely enough power for riding locally. Honda, Kawasaki, Yamaha mid-range bikes are good to start. If he already has the fundamentals down he might could bump up a couple of levels for a bike he could use long term. Harley 883 Sportster would be a great choice for something he could use for at least a few years and move up from there. 

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I've owned a bunch of bikes of different kinds.  Closest I've come to a cruiser was a Nighthawk 750, rode several and never cared for them due to poor handling, heavy weight, and low power.  Owned a supermoto for several years and had lots of fun with it.  Super nimble without ridiculous amounts of power.  I always recommended dual sports for, well pretty much everyone, they are tough, fun to ride, comfortable when set up correctly, and versatile.  I've had some that were smaller and geared more towards offroading that were primarily street legal(ish) to get from one offroad spot to another, and others that were set up for street riding, that honestly had offroading capability limited to fire roads.  I've been bikeless for 5+ years now, but when I dip my toes back in it will definitely be a dual sport of some flavor. 

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2 hours ago, gregintenn said:

I've ridden all my life, and my older son now has a sweet Harley Davidson Low Rider. My younger son who is 17 (almost 18) has worked really hard this summer, and has laid up some money. He's decided he wants to dip his toe into the world of motorcycles. He has ridden small bike a little bit, and has the balance, clutch, gears, etc thing pretty well figured out. He'd like to find a good starter bike.

Things have changed in the last 35 years since I was riding a Honda CB 360.

I'd love to hear some suggestions for a good starter bike for this young man. He's leaning toward a sport type bike, but would consider a cruiser. I'd hate to see him get a really small bike he'd be tired of in a month, but also don't want him to get too much bike to learn on.

Heck, someone here might even have a nice example sitting in the way in the garage collecting dust.

Let's hear your ideas!

Honda CB360 brings up images of the movie Billy Jack! 

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Posted (edited)

Maybe even something like a BMW G 650 GS.  A bit of a do all bike but without a lot of the extra complexities of some of the newer bikes.  Also not huge and heavy for a first bike.  One can always add hard cases, etc if one really wanted to take it for trip.  

I should add, I also have been without a bike for a bit, but am also considering getting back to having one.  I am a bigger guy, but will probably end up with something like an  R 1200 or F 850.

Edited by Hozzie
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depending on price range and style, the small 250/300 Ninja is quite strong and durable. They are very light and very quick so a high level of responsibility is needed. I've also had two Bandit 600, they are good long dista nce bikes with sport bike looks and more upright riding position. A true sport bike like the Ninja is hard on wrists and I don't recommend sport bikes for distance.

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Need to consider the size of your son as well, how tall and heavy is he??  Needs to fit his "size" so he can reach the ground, foot pegs, etc.

My first bike was a Honda 750 Nighthawk, a good starter bike but had a bad handlebar wobble at 70mph.  I've ridden mostly bigger cruiser bikes, had a Wing at one time, too big for for.  The Suzuki Intruder line is comparable to the Yammer Vstars, so there is another option.  I don't know if Honda has a touring bike smaller than the Wing, they used to have a ST1100, and may have a smaller version.  GL

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2 hours ago, 10-Ring said:

I've owned a bunch of bikes of different kinds.  Closest I've come to a cruiser was a Nighthawk 750, rode several and never cared for them due to poor handling, heavy weight, and low power.  Owned a supermoto for several years and had lots of fun with it.  Super nimble without ridiculous amounts of power.  I always recommended dual sports for, well pretty much everyone, they are tough, fun to ride, comfortable when set up correctly, and versatile.  I've had some that were smaller and geared more towards offroading that were primarily street legal(ish) to get from one offroad spot to another, and others that were set up for street riding, that honestly had offroading capability limited to fire roads.  I've been bikeless for 5+ years now, but when I dip my toes back in it will definitely be a dual sport of some flavor. 

I think a Honda 230 xr would be an awesome place to start. I told him he might even want to keep it for trail riding after moving up to a dedicated street machine.

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Posted (edited)
19 minutes ago, jpx2rk said:

Need to consider the size of your son as well, how tall and heavy is he??  Needs to fit his "size" so he can reach the ground, foot pegs, etc.

My first bike was a Honda 750 Nighthawk, a good starter bike but had a bad handlebar wobble at 70mph.  I've ridden mostly bigger cruiser bikes, had a Wing at one time, too big for for.  The Suzuki Intruder line is comparable to the Yammer Vstars, so there is another option.  I don't know if Honda has a touring bike smaller than the Wing, they used to have a ST1100, and may have a smaller version.  GL

He’s 5-10/ 5-11, and a buck thirty soaking wet.

I’m inclined to steer him toward a Honda 500 CBR, and looking at used prices, probably a new one, although it’s a bit beyond what he’s wanting to spend. What do you all think of them?

Edited by gregintenn
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Don't think you can go wrong with a Honda, but I would be more inclined personally to go with the CB500X.  Just would depend what he likes.   Too much leaning over on a CBR, but he is young.

One thing is for sure, I would not have a bike now without ABS and those both do so that is good.

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Posted (edited)

Honda CB500F or CB500R. There is no better starter bike if he wants a Street Bike. 

 

This is my opinion.

 

That opinion is based on many years of owning motorcycles and tens of thousands of miles riding them. I currently have a `12 FLHP (Road King Police) that I have done a few Iron Butts on.

 

Honda makes a great motorcycle. Probably the second best motorcycles in the world. Sure that is up for debate, some mistake folks might say they make the best. They are reliable and run forever if you maintain them. Just like their cars.

 

Before purchase I suggest he take an MSF course, completion of which will make getting his endorsement very easy. It also teaches the core skills that will save his life on a motorcycle.

 

Good luck to both of your sons. Riding is a lifestyle and for many, it is a way of life.

 

*EDIT*

When you say street, most motorcyclists will assume you mean a sport bike, Cruisers and Street Bikes are two different breeds. If he is interested in a cruiser, the best starter is a Shadow. Just the right power to weight ratio to have fun and learn the fundamentals. If he has to have a Harley, well, there is always the Sportster, though I am loathe to suggest them as starter bikes. They are great bikes though, cheap and plentiful too. However they are top heavy, and contrary to popular belief, they are better suited to aggressive riding that most cruisers.

 

Edited by Murgatroy
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40 minutes ago, Garufa said:

I want a Honda Monkey.  😂

Appropriately named as I would look like the proverbial Monkey F'n a football on that thing 🙂 

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I've never had a "crotch rocket" as I call 'em, figured I would end up letting my "stupid" take over so I stayed away from them.  I would think you son needs a smaller/light weight bike due to his overall size, a 500cc bike might be just the right size in terms of power/weight ratio, and taking the MSF course is a good thing.  I took it years ago, and the basic skills I learned then saved my butt more than once.  

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I'll add to @Murgatroy... any of the current crop of 300/500cc sporty bikes. They're all good and buy a used one. He should be able to sell it for a little net loss in a couple years provided its still in decent shape. 

I don't recommend a cruiser, especially a smaller one.  They don't go, stop, or turn, and they're low you can't see or be seen. 

20 years ago I started with a used GS500 and moved up to a CBR600 a few years later.  I succumbed to the dirty side when I had kids.  

Get insurance quotes before you buy anything. 

Take the MSF course. 

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Google this: Honda Rebel 500.  I'm thinking about one of these to replace my BMW R1100RS which is just too much bike for this old guy. 

BTW, it's a 1994 w/ showroom looks and under 15,000 miles if anyone's interested......

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