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Beginner Motorcycle Gear - Open Knowledge — LiveJournal

Dec. 4th, 2003

03:47 am - Beginner Motorcycle Gear

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Ever since I was a little kid, I've wanted to learn how to ride a motorcycle. However, when I was still living at home, my Mom wouldn't have it, and when I got older, I was frightened by the 16X higher fatality rate (per mile traveled) of motorcycle riders compared to auto drivers. Most of those increased fatalities are due to a) not wearing a helmet b) alcohol intoxication c) speeding. I don't drink, and I always plan to wear a helmet. Speeding may be a problem (I sometimes speed in the car).

However, I think the sheer fun of riding outweighs the risk. The biggest obstacle for me right now is that I live in an apartment complex, and don't have a covered garage to store the bike. The risk of theft is therefore quite high. I plan to mitigate the risk by buying an inexpensive bike which may make it less likely to be stolen, as well as a decent bike lock.

Here's what I estimate the costs to be:

Honda Rebel 250 -- $1500
Aerostitch Roadcrafter two piece riding suit -- $750
Shoei RF-800 helmet -- $270
Cruiserboots Classic motorcycle boots-- $230
Abus Steel-O-Flex 1000 lock/cable -- $150
MSF riding course -- $110
insurance (annual) -- $400
repairs (annual) -- $200
Draggin Jeans -- $80
Draggin Shirt -- $80
Joe Rocket V2 Glove -- $60
black silk undershirt -- $35
Bikemaster Covermax Bike cover -- $50
Abus WA-50 floor anchor - $50
motorcyle registration -- $20
gasoline -- ? (depends on how much I ride)


Bike: $1500.00
Gear and ancillary expenses: ~$2500.00

Suggestions and comments are welcome.

Comments:

From:ex_nostradom25
Date:December 4th, 2003 03:16 am (UTC)

Suggestion...

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Also get some of those 'wafer-thin' insulated longjohn thingies. You will find yourself postponing the inevitable "I cannot ride any more this year, put the bike in the garage" event.

Some of these expenses are a bit... over the top. The boots, for instance. You could very well go to the surplus store (if you have one around) and pick up a pair of boots for half of that. You also don't truly need a riding suit. You could either get one used, or go with the traditional $100 leather biker jacket strategy. I know these things look cool, but you may not need to go to much of these expenses. Helmets do not perform miracles; in fact, in some cases, you are more likely to break your neck because you had a helmet on, and they even say right there on most of the helmets "does not protect over 5 mph". 5 or 15. I can't remember. Anyway, in knowing that, you may not need that particular helmet. Anything with more than half coverage would be suitable.

I don't know what your living situation is, but if you're in a big city you would certainly do well to keep your bike in a storage lot and drive out there to ride your bike. That can cut down on the likelihood of getting crushed.

And do make friends with the local bike mechanic, unless you're going to pick up some zen through the art of motorcylce maintenance. ;)

Good luck, and enjoy!
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From:apotheon
Date:December 4th, 2003 09:02 am (UTC)

Re: Suggestion...

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Make sure, though, that you get boots designed for a motorcycle, if at all possible. They feature additional ankle protection, which is one of the most important protective characteristics of motorcycle gear. If you do something as simple as drop your bike at a stop sign, you could easily crush your ankle and cause yourself to walk funny for the rest of your life, if your boots aren't properly protective.

The "does not protect" clause on the helmet refers to direct impact speed of the helmet with a hard object, not the speed of the motorcycle (or, more specifically, the rider). If you have a full-face helmet and you have a high-speed accident, you will be lovin' that helmet for the rest of your life — it just saved your face from being stripped off your skull by high-speed road rash. The bouncing around might have caused brain damage, too. Frankly, I'd rather have a broken neck (and die quickly) from the helmet than spend the rest of my life looking like Quasimodo and unable to perform simple arithmetic functions.

If you're worried about motorcycle theft, I might recommend getting a used bike (particularly one that looks used). Generally, people are less likely to steal motorcycles than cars, because vehicle thieves and their customers are often unable to ride the damned things anyway. If they're going to steal it, though, having a new, relatively inexpensive bike is probably a more tasty target than an older, not as inexpensive bike would be. Getting a small one for the first bike, though, is a good plan. You don't want to start out with an 1100.

Whatever you do, don't make your first motorcycle something that you will be inconsolable over having dropped. As I've been told many times by riders more experienced than I, it's not a question of if you'll drop your bike, but when you'll drop it. Apparently, it usually happens when you're doing something stupid-simple, like starting from a stop, and generally in front of the largest, most embarrassing crowd you could manage to drop it in front of, probably with your girlfriend watching. She'll then get on some other guy's bike.
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From:daddygod
Date:December 4th, 2003 04:35 am (UTC)
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I don't know you at all, but I'd suggest ditching the Rebel plans and getting something at least 500cc's. That extra power could be the difference between an adrenalin rush or painting the hood of a car with your face.
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From:kittles
Date:December 4th, 2003 05:02 am (UTC)
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Totally, totally agree. You'll be tired of the 250 within one week, two max. If you really like that style, look at Nighthawks and Shadows, and you could easily start in the low 700cc range.
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From:rachelmills
Date:December 4th, 2003 05:32 am (UTC)
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My advice - always check Ebay for stuff. You'll be amazed. I found two HOUSES on ebay that I like. :)

But beware of fraud for items over or around $1,000. Check feedback ratings and don't buy from anyone outside the US or possibly Canada. If anyone suggests an escrow service other than escrow.com, split. If you understand how the fraudsters work and what to avoid, you can get a STEAL on Ebay, new OR used. If in doubt there is a community message board where you can get a pretty good idea if you're being scammed. But - its easy to avoid.

Ebay rocks my world.
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From:crasch
Date:December 4th, 2003 10:13 am (UTC)
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Thanks for the suggestion! Ebay does indeed rock.
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From:litheum
Date:December 4th, 2003 08:02 am (UTC)
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Alright well...

If you are riding on a cruiser, there's no need for a riding suit. You'll look rediculous, and it's expensive. Black silk undershirt, unnecessary. The boots, eh.

All you need is a pair of jeans, a white t-shirt, a leather jacket, a pair of sunglasses. And yes, you should wear boots, but they don't have to be riding boots. Any old pair of work boots will do.
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From:apotheon
Date:December 4th, 2003 09:07 am (UTC)
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I disagree. If he drops is bike when starting from a stop in a right-hand turn, and it falls on his ankle when he's not wearing appropriately protective boots (riding boots designed to protect the ankles), he could easily end up walking funny for the rest of his life.

Get riding boots, particularly if you've got a heavy bike (as cruisers tend to be).
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From:joe_tofu
Date:December 4th, 2003 09:03 am (UTC)
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Don't forget the "If you can see this, the bitch fell off." tee shirt (slogan on the back of course). That's a classic, it makes me chuckle every time.
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From:crasch
Date:December 4th, 2003 09:58 am (UTC)
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Oh, definitely. And the "naked trucker lady" on the sissy bar.
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From:jjsaysblah
Date:December 4th, 2003 10:29 am (UTC)
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right on... love to see people getting into motorcycles, especially in as intelligent a manner as you are. that you've budgeted money already for the MSF course shows me you are serious about safety, and i really don't think you'll have any problems. don't forget insurance... you never know, after all. i haven't had any problems in my twenty plus years of riding, but it's nice to know that a hospital won't think twice about me, with that card.

anyway, i've been riding almost as long as i've been able to walk, and i have a couple of suggestions that you might find valuable.

bike - 250cc rebels are almost toy category... if you are just puttering around a college campus or only using it to run back and forth for little errands on quiet suburban streets, it would be fine. but you really do need at least 500cc's to safely navigate busy streets... and it's the lower limit for safely travelling highways. i saw the bike recommendations, and i'd like to add a couple ideas. an older Honda Nighthawk 650 or 700s would be perfect... they were my first couple of bikes when i was learning, and they aren't intimidating at all. a more modern option would be the Suzuki SV650 (and my personal recommendation). el cheapo priced bikes like the suzuki ex 500 are an option, but something like a nighthawk or the sv650 will keep you happier longer.


helmet - this is NOT something to skimp on. try out the higher end Arai's and Shoei's. and spend just as much as you possibly can afford, and a little bit more. it's your head, after all. besides better safety and construction, the higher end helmets like the Arai signet or quantum or Shoei's top of the lines are lighter, quieter, and have better venting - all of which adds up to less rider fatigue and a more enjoyable ride.

gear - you mentioned needing stuff between you and your gear. go to a ski shop and buy 'silks'. comfortable, inexpensive, and will go a long way to add to a comfortable ride.

after a helmet, the most important part of gear is the gloves and boots (they are what hits the ground first in a crash and breaks the fall) so don't cheap out on those, regardless of what other people here tell you. look at Held for gloves, and Frey Daytona for boots.

leathers are what i prefer for a riding suit, other opinions vary. just so that you are completely covered with something that will last long enough in a crash to keep you from getting that road rash should be fine... armour and a back protector is a good idea, imho. but you make up your own mind on that.

good luck, and welcome to the sport!
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From:apotheon
Date:December 4th, 2003 10:38 am (UTC)
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That's about the best post I've seen on the subject so far. I couldn't agree more, in general.
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From:chutzpahgirl
Date:December 4th, 2003 10:53 am (UTC)
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Everyone's made such substantive points, I only have a few things to add.

Most motorcycle accidents are single-vehicle accidents, therefore it's frequently due to the stupidity of the rider. Hint: don't be stupid.

I have no idea how tall you are, but make sure you buy a bike that you can sit on and have your feet flat on the ground. If you're on tippy-toe you're much more likely to drop your bike (as I learned riding someone's bike who was about four inches taller than me -- I'm 5'6").

Helmet: might seem simple, but make sure it fits. Different companies make different shapes and sizes of helmets. For example, Arais don't work on my head at all. Make sure it's DOT and Snell rated.

Make sure the jacket you choose fits tightly at the wrists. Otherwise you'll have a lot of whipping fabric.

Mechanically speaking, motorcycles (esp older ones) tend to be less complicated than cars. Depending on how much of a gearhead you are, you might want to learn a few basic things about your bike, like how to change your oil.

Though they'll tell you this in your MSF class, don't ever ride when you're tired.

Oh, and don't know if it bothers you, but Rebels are the bikes favored by lesbians. I found this out when I bought one several years ago, and found it rather humorous that people assumed I was a dyke because of what I rode.
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From:crasch
Date:December 4th, 2003 08:29 pm (UTC)
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Thanks for the tips! What did yhou use to secure your bike? How did you store it?

Oh, and don't know if it bothers you, but Rebels are the bikes favored by lesbians. I found this out when I bought one several years ago, and found it rather humorous that people assumed I was a dyke because of what I rode.

Heh. I like lesbians. That said, I'm 5'11" 180 lb guy, so I don't think misidentification will be a problem.
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From:ehintz
Date:December 4th, 2003 01:16 pm (UTC)
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I'll go with other posters that you may regret the small bike shortly after purchase. Two items to avoid that issue: first, assuming the MSF course supplies the bike, do it on theirs instead of yours. Second, if you really want to start small, do it right and get something *really* small(and cheap, and relatively disposable). I started on a Yamaha QT50K, a 50cc shaft drive scooter with a max speed of about 30mph. I was on a learners permit at the time, and the rules in CA said I couldn't ride a bike after dark or with pax, but the scooter was good for that. At the same time, it was considered an MC as well, so I could take my drivers test on it(today CA has a small and big m/c class so that stunt won't work anymore-you have to get the big bike license on a big bike). So I rode the scooter for about 4-5 mos, and learned about things like not going over railroad tracks at an angle. Going into a sideways slide on the itty bitty scooter is really easy to recover, on a real bike I'd have laid it down and slid off the road. The day I passed my drivers test I started riding my Suzuki GS850GL, which I put about 100k miles on for the next 4 years. Many was the time that some jackass in a car didn't see me and drifted into my lane on the 405. On the 850 a simple twist of throttle and 2 seconds later I'm 50 feet in front of him, on a 250 you'd have to do the emergency brake thing and hope the guy behind isn't going to hit you.
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From:crasch
Date:December 4th, 2003 08:26 pm (UTC)
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Thanks for the advice. I think I'll look into getting a Honda Nighthawk instead. What do you use to secure your bike? Did you have an alarm?
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From:fitz99x
Date:December 4th, 2003 07:31 pm (UTC)
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Looks like lots of people have weighed in with all the right info: learn to ride and buy a good helmet, buy a bigger bike but one thing you may want to do is get a LOUD horn. Most bike horns arnt punchy enough; swap it out with a nice used horn ($5 bucks at the wreckers) and dont beafraid to use it. Its so much better to be "that asshole who honked for no reason" than "the biker I didnt see".

Oh yeah: watch out for guys in their mid-life crisis in sports cars; much more deadly than any pack of old farts in Lincolns or Soccer Moms.
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From:crasch
Date:December 4th, 2003 08:27 pm (UTC)
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Thanks! I'll make sure I have a good horn.
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From:(Anonymous)
Date:December 6th, 2003 09:40 pm (UTC)
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you guys are my best friends through thick and thin we've always been together we're four of kind having fun all day palin' around and laughin away just best friend best friends are we.
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From:crasch
Date:December 6th, 2003 10:59 pm (UTC)
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Huh? Who is this?
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