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... buy a Scooter.

Read up on riding tips. "Watch for loose gravel" "Road is slick in the middle" Watch videos of training courses and riding tips.

Buy a helmet and gloves and then buy a cheap, highway-legal scooter - 150 cc is plenty big. Ride it a Lot. Ride in traffic. Ride in curves. Lean, countersteer, go on a 50+ mile round trip on it. Watch videos of training courses and riding tips and use them.

When you are ready, shop around. Take a day and go to as many motorcycle sales places as you can. Sit on them, balance them, ask questions. Have someone take photos of you sitting on the motorcycle, one leg up in riding position, from different angles.

Then, take a MSF Riding course. Ask your riding coach about the top three motorcycles in your list. Ask about what cc's you need to start out with. Ask both during and after the course.

When you are ready to buy, find a deal and pounce on it.

... at least that is what I did.
 

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I don't have any regrets starting out with my Vulcan 500. A person with a small build could probably start with a 250 bike (Suzuki TU250 is a great starter, as are many others). I will keep my 500 much longer than I would have a 250, though. Who knows, if I'd started with a scooter, might have moved directly up to something bigger.

I wholeheartedly recommend the MSF course for all new riders or anyone considering it but not sure.
 

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The MSF course should be mandatory for riders, it is in the military, but i went the other way with my first motorcycle purchase. instead of working my way up to bigger bikes, i bought a 05 2000. once you get over the low speed balance and turns, a bike is a bike. riding a big bike keeps me from becoming complacent and makes you respect the machine. either way you go, there is no replacement for time in the saddle
 

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The MSF course should be mandatory for riders, it is in the military, but i went the other way with my first motorcycle purchase. instead of working my way up to bigger bikes, i bought a 05 2000. once you get over the low speed balance and turns, a bike is a bike. riding a big bike keeps me from becoming complacent and makes you respect the machine. either way you go, there is no replacement for time in the saddle
That is the truth. I try to to tell people what to do when they are learning because everyone learns differently. I started on a 650 Honda Nighthawk and the wife started on a Kaw eliminator 125. Two totally different bikes She said she was glad she started on it because she was a little intimidated by it. Now she can hop on the V2K and take it up the road and back. I did not take the MSF Course, but I wish I did and I still may when I can come up with the extra $450 for my wife and I to take it. (not cheap here). I guess what I am saying is bike preference is up to the rider but before you hit the road a person needs to get some instruction before getting out there and getting hurt. If I took a MSF Course It probably would have saved me a few clutch and brake levers. :eek:
 

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The MSF course should be mandatory for riders, it is in the military, but i went the other way with my first motorcycle purchase. instead of working my way up to bigger bikes, i bought a 05 2000. once you get over the low speed balance and turns, a bike is a bike. riding a big bike keeps me from becoming complacent and makes you respect the machine. either way you go, there is no replacement for time in the saddle
It's mandatory in Florida now, I do believe.
 

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OH yeah and too small can be scary too. There are too many blind intersections here. When my wife had that 125 I avoided several places because I felt like I could not get out and going fast enough if something was to be coming around the corner. I am not I needed to pull and pull a power wheelie but "spirited". That 125 did not have it. It did how ever pull my (at the time) 300lb hindend up some of these mtns at 45 and 50 mph. Can't complain about that but at the top it's tongue was dragging the ground :D .
 

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I disagree about getting a scooter, agree about getting a small bike. I bought a Rebel 250, took the class on an Eliminator 125. Not having to think about keeping a heavier bike upright probably saved me money. The class is an absolute must. I had thought about skipping it and am very glad I did not.

Once I got the basics down, I like riding my Vulcan a lot more.
 

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I disagree about getting a scooter, agree about getting a small bike. I bought a Rebel 250, took the class on an Eliminator 125. Not having to think about keeping a heavier bike upright probably saved me money. The class is an absolute must. I had thought about skipping it and am very glad I did not.

Once I got the basics down, I like riding my Vulcan a lot more.
Agreed. But I would skip 250 step. I bought shadow 750 as my first bike. Vulcan is second.

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I'm at the point where I wish I had bought something much larger. I can't afford something bigger right now and no one generally wants to trade for a smaller bike. Personally I wish I had gone 1200 or larger.

I would say take the MSF course before you even buy a bike so that you know whether or not you really want to ride. Then buy a bike for long term in case, like myself, you can't afford to upgrade later.


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To me the Rebel 250 made a lot of sense because I knew if I wanted to move up I would not get hurt bad on getting rid of the little bike. There are always bikes in that size range available out there from under $ 1,000 on up, mostly under $ 2,000. I actually did not intend to move up when I bought the Rebel since I thought I would pretty much be riding locally, like commuting. Then my daughter decided she wanted to ride and I decided I needed something more suitable for cruising.
 

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My wife started on a Rebel 250 and after 300 miles traded it in for a 750 Shadow Spirit. She also thought it would be a big enough bike for what she wanted, commuting to work and crusing around the neighbourhood. After a few commutes to work she realized it didn't have enough power when she wanted it, such as passing on the highway. My 900 was and still is my first bike. After about 6 months I'm already looking at an upgrade, but not because of the size, more so for amenities. I'd prefer to have a bagger, like a Vaquero. I could always go the poor-mans route and convert my 900 into a bagger, but we'll see!
 

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My wife started on a Rebel 250 and after 300 miles traded it in for a 750 Shadow Spirit. She also thought it would be a big enough bike for what she wanted, commuting to work and crusing around the neighbourhood. After a few commutes to work she realized it didn't have enough power when she wanted it, such as passing on the highway. My 900 was and still is my first bike. After about 6 months I'm already looking at an upgrade, but not because of the size, more so for amenities. I'd prefer to have a bagger, like a Vaquero. I could always go the poor-mans route and convert my 900 into a bagger, but we'll see!
Saddle bags look awesome and cost less than a new bike!


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The VN 900 Classic LT comes with both saddle bags and windscreen. Without those, I would not have gotten it. I bought saddle bags for the Rebel, also a necessity. I also bought a windscreen "purse" for my Vulcan. It gets used constantly. Saddle bags for your Vulcan should not exceed $ 300, for pretty nice ones.
 

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I started out on a Suzuki TC90 back in the 70's. Rode that for a summer, then got a Honda 550SS. There were no motorcycle safety courses back then. After a while on the Honda I did the whole Harley thing for a couple of decades. I quit riding for a few years, then picked up my 01 Drifter 1500 and haven't looked back.

If a safety course would have been available I would have taken it, and I recommend it to new riders. From there, find a smaller bike that can handle you for a while and get comfortable with it. When the time comes to move up, take test rides on the ones you're looking at.
 

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I bought my bike without ever gaving been on one towards tge end of last year. A friend did the test ride and rode it to my house after. I spent the late fall and so ring catching up on all the maintenance since it was an old bike. Took the MSF course in the later spring and finally got to ride the bike I had already spent so much time with. The GS450 was a great first bike, relatively nimble and quick enough to be entertaining. Stop light to stop light it was as fast if not slightly faster than my friends volusia 800. Unfortunately the seat and riding position were perfect at bothering a back probkem I have and I would be in a fair amount of pain after 40 miles. I sucked it up though and took it for a few multi hundred mile rides.

The nice thing about starting with a smaller bike is that they are very easy to sell and if its older you should get what you paid for it. So there isnt much risk. Plus you can get some wrenching experience with a bike you wont be scared to touch.

The vn800b I have now only cost me 600 more than I sold the GS for.

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Moving up in size must be some kind of disease. I've only had my 500 for about three months and am perfectly happy with the bike and the power (don't do interstates yet). But that 900 looks soooo nice.....
 

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Moving up in size must be some kind of disease. I've only had my 500 for about three months and am perfectly happy with the bike and the power (don't do interstates yet). But that 900 looks soooo nice.....
Ahhh, I see the infection is already starting to set in...........
 

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Moving up in size must be some kind of disease. I've only had my 500 for about three months and am perfectly happy with the bike and the power (don't do interstates yet). But that 900 looks soooo nice.....
I am perfect example of that. Where do I go now. I am almost out of options in the "Moving Up" aspect :D:D:D . Gonna have to give up the kaw and go to a Triumph Rocket III. Not really. I like the V2K and the most satisfied I have been with a bike ever.
 

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After having not ridden a bike for over 40 years I decided I wanted to start again. Took the MSF course and loved it. Was looking for a Valkyrie but was steered to a smaller bike by the crew in the Valkyrie forums. Started looking for something around the 900 range. Ended up buying the Vulcan 1600. Was intimidated by the overall weight but I got used to it quickly. Now......I wish I would have bought the Valkyrie to start with! Not much diff in weight and the Valk has a lower center of gravity.
 

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I started with the MSF course which is free in IL. Got the bug and ended up buying a 94 Yamaha Virago 535 which was a perfect starter bike. I put 600 miles on that and wanted a bike that was a little faster and fit me better. The 2000 VN800B actually is easier to handle and more comfortable than the Virago. Keep in mind you should get a bike that fits you, a bike that is too small for you will be hard to handle in strong winds
 
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