View Full Version : First Bike Blues

27th December 2004, 16:30
Just sifting through some old pictures and found a picture of my first Harley, a 73 Sprint. She was a sweetie and I learned many things from her. I lament the fact that Harley no longer makes these novice class bikes. Growing up in Germany I had the good fortune to learn on some good Teutonic machines, 250 BMW (with sidecar no less) and 250 NSU. The experience I gained on these machines was invaluable. By the time I bought my 350 Sprint, I had a couple thousand miles under my belt already. Now my youngest son wants to get into cycling. I heartily encourage him to do so, but I am DISCOURAGING him from buying the bike he wants, an 883 Sportster. A novice rider can get into very big trouble very fast with predictable (and often tragic) results on an 883 Sportster. But Harley no longer makes entry level machines. He will have to resort to a Jap learner. Even these bikes in the 75 to 250 cc range are getting harder to find. Subsequently he will probably get enamored with the Japanese machines. Fortunately , or unfortunately , depending on your point of view he is quite yuppified and these gleaming chrome and plastic road rockets have an understandable allure for him, but then again Harley offers nothing for him to learn on. Youth rider and safety programs are one of the main reasons the Japanese have virtually taken over the motorcycle market. I want himn to experience the thunder and raw power of a Sportster, but even an F-15 pilot didn't learn on an F-15, he learned on a primary trainer. And McDonald Douglas not only makes the F-15, it makes primary trainers too .


27th December 2004, 16:49
I go for the 883 , a 400cc-650cc japper can out run a stock 883 and go a hell of a lot faster and if he gets into organdonor bikes he just might end up being one(hell a 650 crotcher can do 160 and if the bike can do it the kid will do it)

the 883 is a relativly safe learner bike and it has cool writen all over it , plus it has a lot of room for upgrades in the future when he is more profitiant with a bike

Moved On
27th December 2004, 16:53
C:\Documents and Settings\Farley Fox\My Documents\My Pictures\mysprrint.jpgFor some odd reason I can't see the picture that's on you harddrive :rolleyes: You need to get it into your gallery here, or onto a website somewhere else for the link to work.
Edit: I see you got it, cool!!!

Getting an older Jap bike isn't such a bad idea. One of the guys in the local HOG had his son start rding with us last year on a 350cc something? He rode that for a year and just moved up to a Low Rider. I think the kid is still in high school, that will be a great ride for the senior prom :tour


27th December 2004, 17:16
That's what I'm thinking. I think I'll try to steer him towards something in the 350-400 cc range. Something that will have plenty of zip around town and can cruise 60-70 mph on the freeway. He'll want a bigger bike for sure in short order. But he has never straddled a bike in his life and I definately want him to make all his mistakes on a smaller machine. I don't want him wrecking a new Sportster riding it home from the dealer

27th December 2004, 17:18
I was thinking if you wanted to stay American, how about the Buell Blast? Crotch rocket stance with "'Merican" motor!...or throw him on a dirt bike for a year or so to get a feel for bikes...of course then you'd have to buy one, too, so you could teach him the basics!

27th December 2004, 17:22
look into a blast or a rebel

the blast is a 500cc buell so its like a crotchrocket
the rebel is a 250 or 400 cruzer style honda twin

or moto morini has a 350 v-twin thats kinda kool

27th December 2004, 17:39
First time I got onto a bike was an Eliminator 250 at the motorocycle school I went to. Rode that for a few days, passed my test, and got my 883. The step up to the 883 wasn't a tough one; it really helped that I picked up a new bike becuase I HAD to take it easy for a while per the break in instructions from the stealer.

27th December 2004, 17:46
Get him a Ninja 250. You can find them lightly used for around $1500. They've got great performance for a small bike, 14K redline, 6 speed transmission, disc brakes front and rear, tach, full fairing, etc. Also, they're only about 350 lbs wet, so manuvering is easy. They've got a fairly standard seating position, so they're comfortable for all day rides as well.

On top of that, they've been on the domestic market in their current state for about 15 years, so parts are plentiful and cheap. And you can ride the piss out of them and not be committing felonious speeding.

As far as motorcycles go, it's vastly superior to the other quarter liter bikes available.

27th December 2004, 17:48
Good Idea. I think 500cc might be getting a bit muscular. But a 350 v-twin, how cool is THAT?!?!? :clap :clap :clap :clap :clap :clap :clap :clap

Besides He's signed up for school to get his motorcycle endorsement . So Who knows? He might be ready for 883.

27th December 2004, 17:51
they made a 250 twin too in the 70's don't know if they still do


I'd like to get a 3 1/2 for a mini chopper , that would be kool

here in 87 they made an ugly bike called an "excaliber"

27th December 2004, 18:04
Probably not :( there has been a major paradigm shift in motorcycle buyers in recent years. The new bikers are mainly (but by no means all) older guys like me who after years of being out of the bike scene with raising families sending kids to college et al are finding themselves finally with enough disposable income to get back into cycling. Subsequently most manufacturers are catering to this market with larger and larger touring type machines. Hell they're up to 1800 cc these days. Well out of pocket book range for younger riders.

27th December 2004, 18:05
they made a 250 twin too in the 70's don't know if they still do


I'd like to get a 3 1/2 for a mini chopper , that would be kool

here in 87 they made an ugly bike called an "excaliber"

Looks like they were going for the mini chopper look :laugh Extend the fork, rake the neck and HEY! :laugh

27th December 2004, 18:19
looking at the web site it looks like they don't make the 31/2s anymore just a 9 1/2 and a 1200 with around 110 hp don't think you will want your kid on one of those beasts

27th December 2004, 18:30
I agree with Gary, start him out in the 200-300 cc range, without thinking of the OEM. He needs to learn all the basics of a bike- maintenance, riding, inspection, scares, etc. Not only the punch of an 883, there is also a weight factor. Better to learn small and light rather than bigger and heavier, when it comes to control. I'm sure you will stear him to the correct Harley once he's got time and experience under his belt.

27th December 2004, 19:02
You never said how old/big/mature your boy is? My first bike was a Honda Magna and it went like hell. I never had a problem though because I respected the potential for disaster and rode accordingly. Once I got VERY comfortable I opened 'er up from time to time, but only when conditions were very predictable. I guess my point is if the kid's got a good head on his shoulders and is a reasonable size an 883 shouldn't be ruled out. In fact, a bike with some 'nads can boost you out of some situations that would leave you squished if you were wanting for gitty-up.

27th December 2004, 19:19

Try beginnerbikes.com (http://www.beginnerbikes.com/) for some ideas. My personal faves are anything that uses the Honda 400-450 twin (indestructible & lightweight). Other bikes not posted yet that I like:

Kawi EX500, Kawi Vulcan 500, Suzi GS500E, Honda HawkGT (NT650), Honda GB500, Honda Ascot, Honda Shadow 500.

Also, depending on how tall he is, a DR350 Suzuki or XR350 Honda dual-sport could be fun.

If you could get a Buell Blast for less than $2,500, that might be a good deal too. Very low maintenance.

27th December 2004, 20:48
We got a '73 sprint 350 for my wife this past summer, its damn fun to ride, its so light, like a dirtbike for the street, she likes it. Was it ahead of its time?? like 30 years before supermoto?? :clap

27th December 2004, 21:19
I had a total blast on mine . had plenty of zip for the street, and would cruise 60mph quite well. Went over the high side a couple of tiems on it, but fortunately the speeds were low enough that the only thing bruised was my pride :) It was very low maintenance, just keep the oil changed. It was this bike that taught me to carry an extra plug and wrench though :laugh

27th December 2004, 21:47
I'm gonna agree with planb. Dirt bikes are the best way to start out. You get used to a bikes handling, without having to dodge cages while learning. The absolute first rule is " Ride like you're invisible".

27th December 2004, 23:55
IMO, if someone has never ridden before a dirt bike is the way to go. No traffic to deal with, you can drop it without running into big money repairs, etc.

Sportsters aren't hard to ride, but they are top-heavy, and might cause a new rider trouble during slow-speed turns.

My father-in-law picks up a '70-something Jap bike every few years for a couple hundred bucks and rides to his heart's content. One of these would probably fit the bill for a new rider after the basics are learned on a dirt bike.

Just my 2 cents...

28th December 2004, 00:38
My first bike was a 1978 Kawasaki KZ 650. I did go down on it after owning a month but I don't thinks it waws a result of the weight or power. It was a result of being 20 years old and hungover from the night before.

My 10 year old has already told me he wants a bike but I told him that he needs to drive a car for three or four years first so he can a feel for what otyher drivers do and so I can see what type of driver he is going to be.

Some people should never ride a bike. My younger brother is a perfect example. He will be driving down the road and go through these humungous potholes. I ask him why didn't you drive around that pothole and he looks at me like "What pothole?". He is oblivious to what is going on around him (outside his car).

Lastly I think it depends allot on luck. I am now 47 and I don't know how I made it this far (allot of boozing and partying in the 70's and 80's) with all the foolish, reckless things (driving like an idiot both on two and four wheels) I did in my younger days?

28th December 2004, 01:26
were fun to run with my '65 Honda 305 Super Hawk way back then....never did lose to one, or the Duc singles of the day either. Now when I met my first Suzook X6 (250) Hustler in '66...owch, literally SMOKED me....geddit??!

For a pure street bike I should think the (s-l-o-w) Buell 500 Blast would be good: light, flickable, simple, used ones don't have strong resale unlike Sportsters. As far as Japanese 250s go, most would easily outrun the Buell Blast; my '74 RD 250 will leave it way behind...yes, I still own my RD, it will about run a 1/4 with a 883 Sportster....lo 15s.

Have fun riding with your son! DFO :)

28th December 2004, 03:52
Yeah I agree with the buell blast. Nimble, not too fast, not too slow, predictable powerband, right amount of kool factor! A rebel would be ok.....for about a month. Remember what a kid's learning curve is like. Just be like velcro with him while he's learning and break any bad habits right away. Take some long mellow rides on country roads and slow walking speed stuff in parking lots. pretty soon it'll be like a second set of legs! Too small a bike will be frustrating for both of you when you wanna do that 200 miler and he just can't hang with ya!