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SirMeowmix_I

@windstream.net

Thinking about a motorcycle, what do I need to look for?

I'm thinking about purchasing a motorcycle to commute on nice days, I'm here in the SE and the weather tends to be decent at least if not more than 1/2 of the year. I'm thinking about a used bike, something that's comfortable but not a rice-rocket. Should I go shaft, belt, or chain, and what else to look for? I've always heard that shaft driven tends to be the best approach but at the same time Civic requires a timing belt change every 100K, so belt driven does have some longevity. Really would appreciate your advice or opinions. Serious replies only if you don't mind.


Hiker
Zeus
Premium
join:2002-10-27
Lebanon, NJ
kudos:1
Oh man, where to begin - well here, I guess. I spent a year researching this very subject. I started riding 3 years ago. Have you ever ridden? 1st take the beginner safety class. Many different styles of bike as you alluded to and sound like you like the look of cruisers.

I bought a used Japanese Vulcan (VN750) it was 5 years old with 4,000 miles for $3,000 Many suggested to go smaller for my 1st bike but, I didn't want to have to sell and buy bigger too quickly. So I didn't want to go too small or too big. It was an excellent 1st bike much more powerful than I thought it would be.

You'll no doubt hear a myriad of opinions as to the +/- of the various drive trains. Shaft needs to be kept lubed, chain needs to be kept clean and lubed, belt seems to be the most efficient and quietest but I wouldn't let any of em stop me from buying a bike.

Gotta go for now, I'm sure other riders will chime in soon.

Keep the shiny side up...
--
"The braggart's pompous tongue Is hated most by Zeus And seeing them advance superb In clank of gold, he struck their first Man down with fire before he yelled Triumph from the walls" - Antigone.


neonhomer
KK4BFN
Premium
join:2004-01-27
Edgewater, FL
Reviews:
·Bright House
reply to SirMeowmix_I
I have both a shaft drive bike (1986 Honda VF700C Magna), and a belt drive bike (2004 Harley Road King). Both of them are good performers.

The shaft drive introduces a little more play, because you have a universal joint or two, plus the gear drive on each end for the shaft. I don't think you can change final drive ratios on shaft drive bikes. Shaft drives require less maintenance, except for changing the oil in the final drive housing. If you have to service them, they can be pricey.

Belt drive bikes are similar to a chain drive, but they don't have the greasy chain to keep lubed. However, it is a belt, and can be damaged by a sharp object, or misaligned rear wheel or drivetrain. Belts can be expensive. (IIRC, the belt for my bike is about $250-300). You can change final drive ratio on a belt drive just like a chain drive, by going to different size pulleys.

Chain drives are everywhere, and I think are the most common, or used to be. Chains are similar to belts, but can take a bit more abuse. However, chains have to be cleaned and lubed occasionally.

Both belts and chains have to be tensioned properly, or they will wear prematurely. Both belts and chains will wear their respective pulleys/sprockets out with use, so they have to be changed.

I'm not going to go into the Metric vs. American argument (American not being limited to Harley, but other American made/owned companies.). Find a bike you like, and ride it. You may find you prefer a metric bike, or you might find you perfer an American bike. I have ridden both. I prefer the quietness of the metric engines (no rattles or valve noise), but prefer the parts availability of American bikes.

Here's a final thought. If you are wanting to learn to ride, take a MSF course first. Best thing to do!! Then, if you want to get a bike to practice on, see if there is a motorcycle salvage place nearby, where you could buy a cheap bike to learn on. If you lay it down, then it is not a big loss. Also, if you learn on a new/newer bike, you will always be afraid of dropping it, which makes learning harder. You can also take the opportunity to learn how to work on a bike if you get a cheap one, as it will probably need some work...
--
"F is for Fire that burns down the whole town...
U is for Uranium...... Bombs...
N is for NO SURVIVORS!!!!!" Sheldon Plankton


SirMewomix_I

@windstream.net
reply to SirMeowmix_I
Good stuff, thanks gentlemen. My motorcycle experience is limited to off-road dirtbike, Yamaha RT-180 oil-injected 2 stroke. I really like the salvage learners bike idea, this is a really good idea.


Lurch77
Premium
join:2001-11-22
Oconto, WI
kudos:4
Not a lot more to say. I will repeat taking an MSF course. Even experienced riders learn something new at these excellent course.
Once you get a bike, you will find your commute will get longer and longer. You'll find the long ways to and from work because it is so much fun.
--
"On a motorcycle, you're penetrating distance right along with the machine. In a car you're just a spectator; the windshield's like a TV." ~ Kenny "Von Dutch" Howard


neonhomer
KK4BFN
Premium
join:2004-01-27
Edgewater, FL
Reviews:
·Bright House
reply to SirMewomix_I
The only thing I have found about older metric bikes is they are sometimes hard to find certain parts for. For example, I have a 86 Honda that the fuel petcock leaks on when you shut it off. The part is no longer available, and I have had my local dealer search all over the US and Japan for one.

Also, parts tend to be more expensive for metric bikes. A master cylinder rebuild kit for my aforementioned Honda is $45. A friend of mine has a 95 Honda, and the flasher relay (which is some specialized relay) is $40. The voltage regulator is $200 (dealer) and the stator is $360.

Aftermarket has some stuff for the older, more popular bikes. Places like J&P cycles, Tucker Rocky, and Bikers Choice are good places to find parts.

You can almost forget finding a salvage Harley. If it's worth something, someone has already bought it and is either riding it or trying to flip it to make a buck.

One more thing, and I can't stress this enough... TAKE THE MSF COURSE!!!! I have been riding for about 8 years now, and I am planning to take the MSF course in the spring...
--
"F is for Fire that burns down the whole town...
U is for Uranium...... Bombs...
N is for NO SURVIVORS!!!!!" Sheldon Plankton


Lurch77
Premium
join:2001-11-22
Oconto, WI
kudos:4

1 recommendation

said by neonhomer:

The only thing I have found about older metric bikes is they are sometimes hard to find certain parts for. For example, I have a 86 Honda that the fuel petcock leaks on when you shut it off. The part is no longer available, and I have had my local dealer search all over the US and Japan for one.
What model Honda? Have you tried the microfiche at sites like Ronnies, Ron Ayers or Bike Bandit? My '93 GSX-R750 is hard to find parts for as well, and my dealer has been of limited help. But I can usually do OK with the sites that carry the OEM microfiche. I ordered my ignition coils through ronnies. They had to get new old stock from a warehouse in Japan. I cannot help you any with the high prices though, rare foreign parts seem to be worth their weight in gold.
»www.ronniesmailorder.com/fiche_select.asp
»www.bikebandit.com/honda-motorcy···em-parts
»fiche.ronayers.com/Index.cfm/Mod···ke/Honda
--
"On a motorcycle, you're penetrating distance right along with the machine. In a car you're just a spectator; the windshield's like a TV." ~ Kenny "Von Dutch" Howard


Cho Baka
Premium,MVM
join:2000-11-23
there
kudos:2
Nice links.

I (with attribution) copied them to the links thread.
--
Striving for Parfection.