Join Date: Jun 2016
Location: The wilds of North idaho
Year/Make/Model: 2004 VN 1500E7
Color: green over white
1. A couple of pair of good gloves are vital- nice lighter weight leather or kevlar for summer, insulated touring gauntlets for cooler weather or rain.
Wear whatever helmet you are comfortable with. I have a full face I use for rain and excessive wind or cold, a shorty I wear most of the time, but I'm getting a 3/4 for the in-between times and for cruising around town, where 90% of accidents occur. I don't like to skimp on head protection. Yeah, you can get DOT approved helmets at WalMart for 40 bucks, but I don't know that I'd trust it in an accident. Leg protection is a good idea too, especially on highways or freeways, as I have been pelted with sticks, rocks, large insects at 70 MPH, a cup of ice someone in front of me pitched out the window without looking behind them, and worst of all, spray from a cattle truck. We get a lot of livestock rigs here out west, which is why I like heavy leather over mesh because it won't soak in that messy slop from the trucks like mesh does and it washes off easier. Whatever your choice of protection, as they say, dress for the slide, not the ride, because few are the motorcycle riders with a ton of miles under their belts who have never laid a bike down.
2. I'd avoid dealerships. Not to step on anyone's toes, but the dealers here are horrible, full of salesmen who might have been selling floor covering last year (as in one dealership here) and mechanics who just got out of school and haven't had a lot of experience with carbs (which my bike has). They work on everything from dirt bikes to crotch rockets to watersport crafts to ATVs. My last two trips to dealers cost me 112 and 177 dollars, respectively, that I did not need to spend. That is not to say there might not be good guys at your dealerships. Find other metric bike riders in your area and ask them where they take their bike. In that way, I was able to find a guy who has worked on nothing but Japanese bikes out of his garage for over 20 years. He does a great job, and charges me about half of what a shop would in labor. Oil I do myself; I use full synthetic and since because of work I only ride these days about 4 or 5k a season, it lasts the entire season.
As for tires, it is not so much mileage but age that is a factor. If the bike sits, especially on bare concrete, rubber rot can set in. I got a 1981 KZ750 from my brother in law years ago. It had been sitting in his garage for 8 years. The rear tire was brand new, he told me, and it looked it. I got the bike home and had the carbs all rebuilt etc and new sprockets and chain. I took it out for a hundred mile or so day ride. When I got home, I parked it and went to get the mail. Walking back up the driveway, I saw a skunk stripe on the rear tire. The rubber had literally worn away down to the cords and steel belts. I had just been flying down the freeway at 75 prior to that. Lesson learned.
3. I wouldn't ride 2 up, especially on a bike as heavy as a 9, until I 1) passed a motorcycle safety course and 2) had a couple thousand miles under my belt to get the feel of it. Regardless, you should definitely take the Motorcycle Safety Course. It may even get you a break on insurance as well.
Hope this helps and welcome to the world of flying without leaving the ground!