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Old 10-22-2012, 09:30 AM   #1
sam handwich OP
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Bike choice - Is this realistic?

Hi all! I'm new around here and currently looking to buy a bike. I've ridden in the past, but not since college 15-ish years ago. I'd love to get your feedback on what I have my eye out for, and whether it's reasonable and realistic given my wants and needs.

I'm 5'2", male, 38, looking for something reasonably reliable (cosmetics are less important), powerful enough for fun but I don't need to get crazy. Due to my size and experience, lighter is better. Lower seat is good, but I don't want a cruiser; I'm assuming that I will probably get lower, aftermarket seat and be on the balls of my feet when I stop.

So, I've been on the search for late 70's to early 80's Japanese standard bikes. 500-750 cc displacement because I think any less won't have enough power and any more will be too big and heavy (750 even pushing it in many cases). And the kicker: Looking to spend under $1500.

Does that seem doable? Should I be broadening/narrowing my search? Obvious stuff I'm missing?

Thanks so much! I've been (re-)bitten hard so I'm looking forward to your thoughts!
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Old 10-22-2012, 02:11 PM   #2
sam handwich OP
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Hmm...Did I post this in the wrong place?
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Old 10-22-2012, 02:45 PM   #3
MightyChosen1
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My suggestion in that price range would be an Yamaha XS-650. The made them for around 15 years and parts are pretty easy to find reasonable. You should be able to find a decent one for $1500.


Do you plan on doing your own maintenance? I have to warn you tht an old bike can put a dent in your wallet fast . A local guy I know bought a nice old CB-750 for $700 but it had not been ridden in years. By the time He paid a local shop to go thru the carbs, mount two new tires and fix some electrical problems He was into the bike almost 2 grand.
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Old 10-22-2012, 03:13 PM   #4
willis 2000
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sam handwich View Post
Hmm...Did I post this in the wrong place?
Posted in the right place, but maybe some specifics would help us out?
Are you a mechanic? Wanna learn wrenching? Most of the used bikes for $1500 need a lot more money invested to be reliable. Charging systems, four carburetors that were not made for ethanol fuel, prior owner mods (many ill-advised), have turned these bikes into a mechanical learning experience with a sharp curve upward, and 20-30 years of use/disuse make these a labor of love.
I would make a suggestion, especially because you're short. Have you considered a Buell Blast? Decent examples are in your price range. They have a robust charging system and only one carburetor. Ride it, enjoy it, when you can afford it, trade up to an evo Sportster.
my .02
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Old 10-22-2012, 03:24 PM   #5
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Something from the CB series, like a 350 or 500 would be one of my top choices. They're easy to handle and Honda produced a ton of them. I really like the CX series, too, and I think they're a more reliable bike (water cooled and shaft-driven) but they are definitely heavier than the CBs. I'm partial to Hondas when it comes to older bikes, in my experience they tend to be more reliable. Not that I haven't seen plenty of solid Yamahas, Kawis, and Suzukis, but Honda's reputation for reliability didn't come from nowhere.

Regardless of what specific type of bike you end up purchasing, it's better to pay a bit more for a good solid runner than to get a fixer-upper, unless you really like wrenching. Find something with a clear title that gets used regularly and you should be pretty good. I'd go for a higher mileage bike that gets ridden over a low-mile barn find that has been sitting for the last dozen or so years. There's a lot involved in resurrecting a bike like that, more than most people assume - plan on replacing everything made of rubber if you do get a bike like that.
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Old 10-22-2012, 04:09 PM   #6
baloneyskin daddy
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A Buell Blast and then move up to an Evo Sportster? Did you miss the part where he said enough power to have fun?The Sporster would be a good starting point if not for cost, but a Blast, hell Buell was ashamed of the damned things.
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Old 10-22-2012, 04:19 PM   #7
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From another short (5' 4") returning rider who likes 70's Japanese bikes, I'd say it's not unrealistic if you want do to your own wrenching.

I ended up with a 76 Honda CB200t. I paid $800 for it (overpaid, giving the mechanical issues I discovered), put another $200 into it sorting various things out, and around another $200 fixing mistakes I made while sorting things out.... (We will speak no more of this!) And I bought it in late fall, so I had all winter to get it back into shape.

It's light enough for me get back upright if it tips over and I sit comfortably flat-footed with the stock seat. I had a longer gap since I had ridden, so I wanted something light (and slow!) to get back in the swing. When I am ready, I'll get something bigger.

So size and budget wise it would have been in your ballpark. But it has WAY less power than what you are looking for. It is absolutely not freeway capable, at least not with me driving. The suggestions above are good - especially about avoiding anything with more than two cylinders and two carbs. Unless you like making lots of fiddly adjustments when you could be out riding. Get something common as dirt and both spare parts and tech tips will be plentiful.

Hope this helps,
Thos/MA
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Old 10-22-2012, 04:20 PM   #8
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A Suzuki or Kawasaki 500 twin 12-15 years old should be in your price range and reliable.
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Old 10-22-2012, 04:30 PM   #9
willis 2000
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Quote:
Originally Posted by baloneyskin daddy View Post
A Buell Blast and then move up to an Evo Sportster? Did you miss the part where he said enough power to have fun?The Sporster would be a good starting point if not for cost, but a Blast, hell Buell was ashamed of the damned things.
You, sir, are uninformed, inexperienced, likely both. A Buell Blast has plenty of power for a 200-lb. rider, not so much for riding double. I was skeptical when I bought one, but I and my riding friends were pleasantly surprised after a ride.
Buell was not ashamed of this moto, the engine was too expensive to continue production.
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Old 10-22-2012, 04:40 PM   #10
baloneyskin daddy
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You're kidding yourself buddy.
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Old 10-22-2012, 04:42 PM   #11
HapHazard
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ADK View Post
A Suzuki or Kawasaki 500 twin 12-15 years old should be in your price range and reliable.
I concur
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Old 10-22-2012, 04:58 PM   #12
willis 2000
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A Suzuki or Kawasaki 500 twin 12-15 years old should be in your price range and reliable.
Good call, but up the ante, dollar-wise.
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Old 10-22-2012, 04:59 PM   #13
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I don't mean to steal this thread but I'm need some advice as well. I haven't owned a bike in years and I'm interested in getting a F800GS. I work for Honda but I don't feel that we offer an adventure bike, at least in Canada. If there is a Honda that would do the job I would be a fool not to consider it. I love all of the photos posted on the site but would only consider attempting about 45% of what I see. Realistically I would be riding on hard top roads 95% of the time. I want a bike that can be comfortable on back roads, logging roads and some trails. I will never have half of the skill as I see in the photos on this site. So is the BMW's character leaning too far to the off-road rider and not enough to the touring for me (which will be 95% of my riding)?
Thanks
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Old 10-22-2012, 05:27 PM   #14
whisperquiet
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Night550 View Post
I don't mean to steal this thread but I'm need some advice as well. I haven't owned a bike in years and I'm interested in getting a F800GS. I work for Honda but I don't feel that we offer an adventure bike, at least in Canada. If there is a Honda that would do the job I would be a fool not to consider it. I love all of the photos posted on the site but would only consider attempting about 45% of what I see. Realistically I would be riding on hard top roads 95% of the time. I want a bike that can be comfortable on back roads, logging roads and some trails. I will never have half of the skill as I see in the photos on this site. So is the BMW's character leaning too far to the off-road rider and not enough to the touring for me (which will be 95% of my riding)?
Thanks
If you don't need the 21" front wheel, I would buy the BMW F650GS (or as it is now known---the F700GS)......lower, smoother off the bottom, and tubeless tires.
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Old 10-22-2012, 05:46 PM   #15
sam handwich OP
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Night550 View Post
I don't mean to steal this thread...
Um...so...maybe you could make your own thread?

Thanks for lots of helpful answers everyone - I'm starting to get a better idea of what I can expect. I weigh 135, by the way. I haven't done any wrenching in the past, but I'm not averse to it. Problem is, I don't have any tools yet. I realize I'll probably have to spend a bit after buying - I'm just hoping to get something rideable to start with. Somewhere there's a sweet spot where I don't have to immediately spend more post-purchase that I could have just spent up-front for something with fewer problems.
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