Bike choice - Is this realistic?

Discussion in 'Old's Cool' started by sam handwich, Oct 22, 2012.

  1. sam handwich

    sam handwich bikeless and looking

    Joined:
    Oct 21, 2012
    Oddometer:
    24
    Location:
    Danbury, CT
    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!
    #1
  2. sam handwich

    sam handwich bikeless and looking

    Joined:
    Oct 21, 2012
    Oddometer:
    24
    Location:
    Danbury, CT
    Hmm...Did I post this in the wrong place?
    #2
  3. MightyChosen1

    MightyChosen1 I wanna be sedated

    Joined:
    Sep 17, 2008
    Oddometer:
    1,414
    Location:
    Central,IL
    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.
    #3
  4. willis 2000

    willis 2000 neo-quixote

    Joined:
    Oct 15, 2011
    Oddometer:
    3,940
    Location:
    idaho
    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
    #4
  5. SloMo228

    SloMo228 World Class Cheapass

    Joined:
    Sep 22, 2012
    Oddometer:
    1,867
    Location:
    SE Michigan
    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.
    #5
  6. baloneyskin daddy

    baloneyskin daddy bikaholic

    Joined:
    Oct 21, 2009
    Oddometer:
    2,177
    Location:
    southcentral PA.
    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.
    #6
  7. ThosMa

    ThosMa Adventurer

    Joined:
    Sep 26, 2011
    Oddometer:
    15
    Location:
    Village of Menotomy, Maffachufetts-Bay
    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
    #7
  8. ADK

    ADK ____

    Joined:
    Dec 5, 2005
    Oddometer:
    8,245
    A Suzuki or Kawasaki 500 twin 12-15 years old should be in your price range and reliable. :deal :norton :freaky
    #8
  9. willis 2000

    willis 2000 neo-quixote

    Joined:
    Oct 15, 2011
    Oddometer:
    3,940
    Location:
    idaho
    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.
    #9
  10. baloneyskin daddy

    baloneyskin daddy bikaholic

    Joined:
    Oct 21, 2009
    Oddometer:
    2,177
    Location:
    southcentral PA.
    You're kidding yourself buddy.
    #10
  11. HapHazard

    HapHazard Waiting for Gudenov

    Joined:
    Dec 30, 2009
    Oddometer:
    2,371
    Location:
    Central CT
    I concur:freaky
    #11
  12. willis 2000

    willis 2000 neo-quixote

    Joined:
    Oct 15, 2011
    Oddometer:
    3,940
    Location:
    idaho
    Good call, but up the ante, dollar-wise.
    #12
  13. Night550

    Night550 n00b

    Joined:
    Oct 21, 2012
    Oddometer:
    1
    Location:
    Wasaga Beach, Ontario
    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
    #13
  14. whisperquiet

    whisperquiet Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Aug 24, 2007
    Oddometer:
    988
    Location:
    62298 in lovely corrupt/bankrupt Southern Illinois
    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.
    #14
  15. sam handwich

    sam handwich bikeless and looking

    Joined:
    Oct 21, 2012
    Oddometer:
    24
    Location:
    Danbury, CT
    Um...so...maybe you could make your own thread?:huh

    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.
    #15
  16. cybrdyke

    cybrdyke In the Dark

    Joined:
    Dec 4, 2010
    Oddometer:
    311
    Location:
    way back up in the woods among the evergreens
    I just saw a 2003 Suzuki SV650 go for 1600.00 on ebay. That would have been a good choice.
    Check there, sort the results by price.
    #16
  17. sam handwich

    sam handwich bikeless and looking

    Joined:
    Oct 21, 2012
    Oddometer:
    24
    Location:
    Danbury, CT
    Ah right forgot ebay! Been scouring craigslist
    #17
  18. usgser

    usgser Long timer

    Joined:
    Nov 6, 2005
    Oddometer:
    2,322
    Location:
    Westside WA
    Some good suggestions previously but I think your glitch is going to be your $1500 budget since you don't do your own work. Anything remotely old you buy is going to need work...period. At least figure the carbs are going to need cleaning or rebuilding, brake fluid flushed and likely tires. If a shop has to do it budget another $500 minimum. Expensive hourly shop rates apply if they're rebuilding a motor or just changing your oil. Most folks generally don't sell off perfectly running wonderful motorcycles usually sell off stuff that's going to need money invested soon or bikes they haven't used in a long time and been sitting and will at least need major servicing to be reliable. I think your plan is good but your budget is weak.
    #18
  19. davevv

    davevv One more old rider

    Joined:
    Aug 17, 2006
    Oddometer:
    2,409
    Location:
    Just north of Dallas
    For an idea of what can be available in your price range, check out the "cheep bike challenge" thread.

    http://advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=482885

    If you're looking for a great buy from Craigslist, several things are important. You need to know exactly which bikes you would be satisfied with. You need to be able to buy, or at least look at, a bike that looks like a good deal as soon as you see the ad pop up on the list. Check the list several times every day. Great buys show up on Craigslist fairly often, but they don't stay there long because people who are able to act quickly usually snap them up in the first few hours after they are listed.
    #19
  20. sam handwich

    sam handwich bikeless and looking

    Joined:
    Oct 21, 2012
    Oddometer:
    24
    Location:
    Danbury, CT
    Any thoughts on a Kawasaki KZ650?
    #20