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Discussion Starter #1
Hey all!

So within the next month I'll be buying my first bike. I've scoured the internet reading reviews, experiences, watched videos and have narrowed it down to two choices (Vulcan 650 S, 900 Classic/Custom). I'm 5'7", 160lbs and will be riding a lot doubled up with my wife who is 4'11 and 105. Most of the riding out here in PA is through country-like roads with the obvious major routes. It's a hard choice as there are a lot of posts out there, but I feel more of them are aimed towards either bigger or more experienced riders.

What I have gathered on each, and PLEASE correct me if I am wrong is as follows:

900:
-Smooth ride when on longer cruises due to size and seats
-Ample space for two riders and saddles
-Ample power for two riders
-Handles really well when more experienced. Have heard the exact opposite though that it is slow in turns and a bit more cumbersom
-Heavier bike. I'm not sure if working out regularly will help with this(some say it might what with my smaller size) in anyway aside from if it goes down. 600lbs is heavy either way.
-Lots of used bikes and after market pieces due to time on market
-Large fuel capacity
-Belt driven so weekly maintenance wont be as involved/messy
-Has a more classic cruiser look and feel to it. This of course is kind of personal.
-Should replace stock tires. Seems to be the recommendation on both bikes

650 S:
-Does okay longer cruises, but seats tend to be uncomfortable
-Conflicting reports for two riders, but I get the feeling our sizes wont be much of an issue.
-Seems a little more up close when doubling up, but may not be an issue due to our size
-Seems to be more of a "fun" ride as it handles tighter due to the size and engine.
-Lighter bike, so quicker stops, accel and handling
-Used bike market is slim with prices making it that you may as well buy a 2015 new
-Smaller fuel capacity but excellent mileage so it evens out
-Chain driven so a bit messier to maintain. Not sure which has the benefit here though.
-Bobber look, so a bit more sporty but still has a nice look, albeit different than a classic cruiser
-same with the tires. Seems to be more heavily recommended on this bike.
-More beginner friendly. Seems very subjective as some people recommend light and lower power/torque for first time riders.
-Nice dash display that makes it easy to read at all times, especially on sunny days

Again, this is all that I've digested that seems unbiased (though of course I am sure some has slipped in there). I'm not expecting too much to be said on the 650, as this is the 900 forum, so please...any thoughts, experiences or hell, pictures to show off would be really appreciated. It's unfortunate that I seem to love both bikes and know I'll only be able to get one (this year).
 

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Rode a 9 for years,great bike,good for 2 up,moved up to a nomad,but would get a 9 again,think I will when the nomad gets too heavy,Cant say anything about the s,seem small to me,The 9 is about bulletproof,plenty of bike for most
 

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If you go for the 900, stay away from the early one's. They are known for the stator problems.
One thing I would like to add: Where ever you live in PA, take the MFS Course. It's free in PA. You get to practice on their bikes and your Motorcycle Endorsement is issued at completion.
 

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Discussion Starter #5 (Edited)
If you go for the 900, stay away from the early one's. They are known for the stator problems.
One thing I would like to add: Where ever you live in PA, take the MFS Course. It's free in PA. You get to practice on their bikes and your Motorcycle Endorsement is issued at completion.
The MFS course is exactly what I'm taking, especially since it's free of cost.

Though regarding the stator problems, how early are we talking? I'm trying to not look at anything before 2012 as I don't want a bike too close to 50k miles (I've heard this is kinda a milestone for bikes)

I chose Vulcan 900 Classic and I love it. It is great for riding two up. It is very easy to handle. It does not feel heavy. There is a lot of stuff you can buy for it. I have a few videos about VN900. You'll find more in the playlist.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=raNVfmu1TRw
have you done long rides two up? While not often Id love to take a 3.5 or so hour ride up towards New York. Thanks for the video links btw.
 

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Though regarding the stator problems, how early are we talking? I'm trying to not look at anything before 2012 as I don't want a bike too close to 50k miles (I've heard this is kinda a milestone for bikes)
Not to worry, the stator problem seems to be 2006-2007 most common.

With bikes, it's not too uncommon to find older bikes with just a few thousand miles on them. Some people will go out and buy a new bike before they find out that they're not really into riding so it just sits. The modern bikes have been known to go 100k or better with proper maintenance.
 

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If you asked me 3 months ago I would have said the 900 may be too big for a first bike. But after 10 yrs on my 900 cutom I bought a Vaquero last year. My son decided to get his MC license so I held onto the 900 for him. I was concerned about the size and weight for his first bike but since I bought it new back in 07 I figured that it would be the best deal for him. Two weeks before his safety course I took him to the local high school and showed him the controls and let him ride it around the lot. The next weekend we took both bikes out on the road and rode around for about an hour. When he got his license he had about 5 hrs total on a bike. The following week we rode to Baltimore to visit his sister. That was 320 mile each way. City roads, country roads and super slab. He had no problem handling the bike in town or at 80 mph on the highway.
 

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If you're going to be riding 2up you should go with the 900. IMHO.

The 650 is a more agile bike. But to say that the 900 isn't wouldn't be exactly true. Let me explain.

I've been riding all my life since I was a wee lad. If there's anything I've learned in all those years of riding it's this; Each bike is different...obviously. But even if you get on a bike that is the same in relative size and weight it will handle and perform differently. After awhile riding a particular machine you will become more adept at handling it. I discovered that some bikes may seem 'big' or 'sluggish' when you first start riding it. We always seem to apply those attributes to the physical bike. This results in riders giving false impressions after riding a bike they've never been on before.

The 900 is one of those bikes. Once a rider becomes accustomed to the bike it will start to feel much more agile! I enjoy taking my cones out and setting up riding courses all the time. She corners around through the course with ease.

That's one of the reasons I chose the 900. It's big enough to function well as a long ride machine but also agile enough to Cruise around comfortably. It has plenty of power for both applications.

So...here's my obviously biased list for choosing the 900:

--A proven machine. Very stable and solid build resulting in dependability and long life.

--Huge aftermarket mods and parts availability.

--Great for long trips.

--Great for Cruising!

--Almost any issue you may have has been solved and riders on the forum here can help you with proven solutions.

--Is at the top end of the recommendation list for first time riders. (ie...I wouldn't recommend any larger a bike) That means that once you get accustomed to it you shouldn't need to upgrade to a larger bike!

--Put the right pipes on it and even the HD guys will envy it's sound!

--Fitment for MODS isn't a problem. Since 2006 the Classic and Custom are still the same bike. Plenty of members have learned the easy/hard way about how MODS fit and don't fit along with how they look.

--Has just the right shape and size making it a thing of beauty. (obviously biased opinion)

--Can be converted into a Bobber with relative ease.


You're going to hear a lot about, "Looking for that sixth gear..."

I for one don't have a problem with the gearing on the 900. I like the ability of being able to just roll that throttle when I need a burst of power when in fifth without the need to downshift. The ability to react to a situation in a split second is crucial! Every step that can be removed in a reaction scenario improves a riders chance of surviving.

I feel that most riders (IMHO) describe the desire for a sixth gear as expectations based on previous riding experience. They simply 'expect' another gear. This bike is geared differently. It has advantages once a rider becomes accustomed to it.

Good luck in your search for the right bike. It's all about the ride. Your first and best choice was to join this forum.

A link for you:
http://www.motorcycle.com/top10/new-rider-ten-steps-becoming-motorcyclist.html
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Not to worry, the stator problem seems to be 2006-2007 most common.

With bikes, it's not too uncommon to find older bikes with just a few thousand miles on them. Some people will go out and buy a new bike before they find out that they're not really into riding so it just sits. The modern bikes have been known to go 100k or better with proper maintenance.
Good to know. Guess the people who had told be about 50k were long time riders who out of habit stuck to that number. 100k sounds a LOT better and definitely opens up more of the used market for me.

If you asked me 3 months ago I would have said the 900 may be too big for a first bike. But after 10 yrs on my 900 cutom I bought a Vaquero last year. My son decided to get his MC license so I held onto the 900 for him. I was concerned about the size and weight for his first bike but since I bought it new back in 07 I figured that it would be the best deal for him. Two weeks before his safety course I took him to the local high school and showed him the controls and let him ride it around the lot. The next weekend we took both bikes out on the road and rode around for about an hour. When he got his license he had about 5 hrs total on a bike. The following week we rode to Baltimore to visit his sister. That was 320 mile each way. City roads, country roads and super slab. He had no problem handling the bike in town or at 80 mph on the highway.
That's awesome! That's the type of stuff I want to read. I've been heavily leaning towards the 900, but get discouraged when it's almost vehemently said that a larger bike is an absolute no go for a first time rider.

If you're going to be riding 2up you should go with the 900. IMHO.

The 650 is a more agile bike. But to say that the 900 isn't wouldn't be exactly true. Let me explain.

I've been riding all my life since I was a wee lad. If there's anything I've learned in all those years of riding it's this; Each bike is different...obviously. But even if you get on a bike that is the same in relative size and weight it will handle and perform differently. After awhile riding a particular machine you will become more adept at handling it. I discovered that some bikes may seem 'big' or 'sluggish' when you first start riding it. We always seem to apply those attributes to the physical bike. This results in riders giving false impressions after riding a bike they've never been on before.

The 900 is one of those bikes. Once a rider becomes accustomed to the bike it will start to feel much more agile! I enjoy taking my cones out and setting up riding courses all the time. She corners around through the course with ease.

That's one of the reasons I chose the 900. It's big enough to function well as a long ride machine but also agile enough to Cruise around comfortably. It has plenty of power for both applications.

So...here's my obviously biased list for choosing the 900:

--A proven machine. Very stable and solid build resulting in dependability and long life.

--Huge aftermarket mods and parts availability.

--Great for long trips.

--Great for Cruising!

--Any issue you may have has been solved and riders on the forum here can help you with proven solutions.

--Is at the top end of the recommendation list for first time riders. (ie...I wouldn't recommend any larger a bike) That means that once you get accustomed to it you shouldn't need to upgrade to a larger bike!

--Put the right pipes on it and even the HD guys will envy it's sound!

--Fitment for MODS isn't a problem. Since 2006 the Classic and Custom are still the same bike. Plenty of members have learned the easy/hard way about how MODS fit and don't fit along with how they look.

--Has just the right shape and size making it a thing of beauty. (obviously biased opinion)
Everything you've said here, aside from being good for a first time rider, is how I felt about this bike. After market parts are pretty important as I'd love to make this ride my own, even if I plan on buying used. Long trips matters as well seeing as going anywhere but in to town requires about an hour drive which is simple enough in a car but comfort is different with a bike.

Input from everyone here has been great, btw. I have to go drive off to a wedding 7 hours away, but ill definitely check back once Im no longer on the road.
 

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I own a 900 classic but a good friend has the 650 s which is a great bike but definitely more suited to single rider stuff. My choice would be to plum for the 900 particularly if you plan to munch the miles 2 up. Although the 9 can be heavy it handles like a dream and after you put a couple of rides under your belt you will realise that the weight manoeuvres round the twists with ease.
 

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I have first hand experience here. I took the MFS course in April, bought the 2017 S in May, sold the S in July same day I bought the 2017 900 Classic LT. I loved both bikes for different reasons. I went in to buy saddlebags for the S and laid eyes on the 900. It fit me very well. I am 5' 5" 170 lbs. It would have cost me about $1000 to upgrade my S to be more of a cruiser. invested in the 900 instead.


The S was a great first bike for me. at 500 lbs, it was very manageable. I had the black on black which look very cool. Very comfortable on this bike. the throttle was very sensitive and made it a bit difficult to shift smoothly. I was looking for something to go on longer rides.

The 900 checked off all the boxes for me. Bigger windshield, more comfortable seats. floorboards. saddle bags. second seat and sissy bar. I don't think I needed the larger engine but the throttle is much smoother. the 900 has 5 gears vs the 6 on the S. The ride is completely different. much much smoother and comfortable. it is 150 pounds heavier and handles very differently so I am still getting used to it but it is much better at higher speeds as well.


All that said, if you feel you can handle the 900, get the LT package as you will want all of that if looking to do some longer rides. I did not like not having saddlebags. it will work out better for you in long run. 650 lbs is not that heavy. The Harley's for more comfortable cruiser/touring are over 1000 lbs. Too intimidating for me. 900 not much heavier than the S.


Lastly, I picked up my 2017 900 Classic LT for $7000 all in except for taxes and tags brand new. that was another factor in pulling the trigger so fast. I bought my S for $5500 (plus $500 for accessories I already installed), sold it for $5250 with 565 miles on it. So, for an extra $2000 about, I got a bike to last for a long long time. A no brainer.
 

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Great to hear you're thinking about buying a bike and getting into riding. All the comments in this thread are valid many good comments. For my 2 cents on the basic question don't waste time or money on the 650 go for the 900. I wonder why you're interested in riding? Have you ridden at all? If so what? Do you have friends who ride? If so what do they ride?

That said I'd like you to consider this. I'd like to see you get a season or two under your belt before you get your gf on the back of the bike. If you've never ridden I'm certain there's a cheap carburated, certified cb400 or cb550 or dr400/650 or the like out there you could grab for not alot of money to ride around alone (or with your girl for short hops) for a season to get your legs, you'll probably be able to sell it after a season for exactly what you paid for it. And you'd be able to decide if you like riding and if you're able to find time and enthusiasm. You'll also know much more what you're looking for in a bike, be able to make a much more informed decision and be a much more confident, competent rider for when your sweetheart puts her life in your hands.

In any event, lots of opinions on the forum this is just mine, glad you're thinking about riding and glad you're seeking some opinions and doing research before buying. Good luck and ride safely.
 

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I guess it depends on your riding style. Do you enjoy a laid back pace or do you want a sporty bike you can throw around and play in the curces
 

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I guess it depends on your riding style. Do you enjoy a laid back pace or do you want a sporty bike you can throw around and play in the curces
Great point, especially when just starting to ride. I started out with a beat up Honda Shadow 600 which was good to learn on. I wasn’t concerned if I dropped it and figured I would get a better bike once I learned the basics. I bought a new 2013 Vulcan 900 Classic and, while a big improvement over the Shadow, long rides (200+ miles) weren’t all that enjoyable. And riding in the twisties was never really confidence inspiring.

I rented an R1200RT and did a 1500 mile trip out of state to see if a touring bike was a better option for me. I like the looks of the Nomad but that’s too much weight for me, so I tried the BMW. The RT trip was a blast but still too big of a bike for me (5’ 8”). That trip had me realize that as much as I liked the look and sound of my 900 Classic, it wasn’t as much fun to ride. I sold my 900 Classic and bought a BMW F800GT — kind of a mini version of the RT. Lots of fun on twisty roads and 1500+ mile trips were no problem. It still had some limitations with power and being a bit buzzy at highway speeds, which made me want to look at other options. I traded that bike in on a new 2017 R1200RS which has been a great bike so far.

I guess my point in this long-winded post is that riding motorcycles is a journey (no pun) and where we start versus where we end up can be very different. Starting out on my journey I was convinced I was always going to be on a cruiser. I still like the looks but a sport touring bike just suits me better —- for now. :smile2:
 

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I have been riding a lot on my 900 classic. At the start it was a good bike but as I started to take longer trips I found that is not so good for me on the longer trips. It is not a touring bike but a cruiser. Two days back I did a 6 hour trip and my butt was aching at the end of the trip. It seems to be very good for about a 4 hour ride. It came with the stock seat and I have been told that the Mustang seat is a lot better for long distance riding.
Again it comes down to personal experiences.
As for power yes it is good enough for a single person and light enough to throw it around. I saw someone mention about the 6th gear and yes I am one of them who would like to have That 6th gear on the highways.

I feel that most bikes are light enough when you are riding it and becomes heavy when you have to push it or pick it up. LOL.
I did test ride a Triumph Rocket 3 too and I felt it was light when I was riding and the weight became obvious when I had to push it.
That said I love my 900 Classic but I am looking to buy a bigger one for long distances. Not because of lack of power but because I feel that the 6th year is also important for me when I am cruising on the highways.
Certainly a 900 would be a big improvement on the 650 or even the 800. As for a starter cruiser the 900 cannot go wrong.
 

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I have also owned both and for your intended purpose by far the 900 will fit the bill. For the price this is one hell of a motor cycle. I have lost count of all the bikes that I have owned but my garage will never be without the 900 cruiser and my trusty BMW GS. I paid $7200 for mine brand new and have never looked back....Awesome ride for the price. For the 650 S, not really my cup o tea, just a little too small and Revie for my tastes. I think that it makes an awesome urban assault vehicle and short distance commuter but a little too buzzy for long distance. Hope this helps.
 

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I am not much different from you.. (5' 7", 185, wife 5' 3", 125)
I got my first street ride-able bike about 4 months ago. I went with an 82 Yamaha Virago XV750. It is ok for short distance but the stock seat/pegs is not great for long distance. It rides great but, without a better seat and highway pegs I would not want to ride it out of town.....again.
That said...I just bought a 1999 Vulcan/Nomad 1500 G. As I have not actually ridden it yet I can't tell you much about it other than it sits "way" better. I am pretty sure I will be able to put in a long day on this with no trouble. I got it because I wanted a "Day Trip" bike and I have no doubt this will do what I want. (100-300 miles in a day +/-)
For much longer trips I have my eye on a Goldwing. Nothing like a couch with wheels!
In hind sight I wish I would have got a 900 or an 1100 to start with but..the 750 is a blast..would not trade it.
Good luck! Ride safe!
 

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My experience is a little different. Many years ago, I rode a Honda CB250-K4 (1972 model), and rode it several thousand miles before selling it. I didn't ride again for years, then in early 2017 got the bug again. Took the MSF course while shopping for a used bike, and was originally looking at the Suzuki S40 (light weight, low maintenance belt drive). I liked the 900 but thought it too heavy for a returning rider. After I got my license from the DMV, I decided to rent a Suzuki M50 (800cc), so i could ride and test the weight before buying. I rode it all day, even met my wife for lunch (though I took it slow and easy the first hour). After riding all day on the M50 (close to 600 lbs), I knew I could handle the weight of the 900. I shopped for weeks and finally bought a clean used 900 classic LT (2013 model) from a dealer in Houston, and rode it all the way back to Dallas, with an overnight in Waco. I bought cones and set up courses at a nearby church parking lot, so I could practice with the 900 in the only area I was really weak in during the MSF course, which was low speed handling. Now I do quite well at that skill. The 900 is an outstanding bike. I have read that it's not the best bike for many tasks, but it's an all around good bike at nearly every task. I don't think I'll even buy another bike (for the time being anyway). I also miss the sixth gear, but otherwise it's a great bike, and I love working on it (I like to tinker).

There's a website called www.cycle-ergo.com where you can get a good idea about how you will sit on a bike, reach to the ground, how your back is bent, how your hips are bent, etc. Great website for testing how you will fit on a bike. Put in your height and inseam, and let it calculate for you, for each bike you are looking at. You can also put a second person on the test bike.
 

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Hello , I'm also 5' 7" only heavier 200 lbs and my wife is 5' 1" and 110 lbs and my experience is as follows . Just like jbiggers I rode a lot in my younger days then stopped and then started to ride again after many years , so when I started again , under the wise advice of a good friend instead of buying a big or medium bike I went out and bought a 180 cc Bajaj Avenger which is basically a Kawasaki Eliminator built in India under license with an indigenous engine , a nice entry level cruiser. Being a small bike both engine and sizewise I was able to re learn to ride in a more relaxed way , and after a year I was ready to upgrade I was going to go for something in the 500 cc region , but fate had it that another friend was selling his bike for a very reasonable price , my current bike a Vulcan 900 Classic LT . And I've been in love ever since , my advice to you is start with a small cheaper bike and if you get a hang of riding then switch to the 900 it is really a very dependable bike and lots of fun to ride . I wish you luck whatever decision you make and hpoe to hear from you soon.
 
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