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Discussion Starter #1
I'm so excited. I will be starting my MSF course next week and I can;t wait. The wife bought me a helmet for my birthday last week so now I am just going to buy some gloves and glasses and I am all set for class. Still looking at getting a Vulcan 900 custom but now I think I'm leaning towards the classic because I am 6'5 and will need to make some adjustments. Does anyone know a good price range? I have found a few in my area for for 2-3000 and some around 4-5000. I am trying to keep it under 5000 for my first bike. I think i am also leaning toward the 2009 model as well. Ill check back in after my class to let everyone know how it went.
 

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Model year is not really important. $2-3k is a good range. Dealers are usually around $3-4.5k.

Welcome to the club! :)
 

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Awesome, Rob! I thought the MSF would be rather boring and more of a formality when I signed up for it, but it was definitely much better than I originally anticipated!

Depending on the amount of add-ons and such, 2-3.5k seems pretty doable where I live (Kansas City, Kansas) for a fairly basic setup and 3.5-5k will get you a pretty tricked out bike with bags, rack, windshield, low miles, etc... You can definitely get a solid 900 with that price range.
 

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The Custom actually has a more feet forward position. But the 900 in general is a pretty laid back position. You'll do fine with a Custom or a Classic. Get the one you want!
 

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Custom looks cool with thin front tire, but riding with a thin tire has tradeoffs. It is easier to turn but less traction and it catches the grooves in the road more than a fatter tire on classic. If you ever want to go on long rides you might prefer fat front tire to a skinny one. Also pavement in our state of California leaves a lot to be desired compared to other states in the union. Depending on what you are looking for in the bike you might want to consider classic instead. Have you ridden bikes before? If not, you will find familiar roads strangely unfamiliar :)
 

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Yeah the fat front tire is a much nicer ride on longer rides. Remember your tires ARE a part of your suspension. A skinny tire on a big rim looks cool but cuts down on your 'suspension'. A big fat tire doesn't handle as well but rolls right over the pavement nice and stable and smooth.

That doesn't mean a Custom isn't a capable long-distance ride. And not everyone is into long distance riding.
 

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That doesn't mean a Custom isn't a capable long-distance ride. And not everyone is into long distance riding.
Yeh. Agree with that statement. You can go long distance on custom too. On the bikes whenever you add/subtract something you always compromise. You gain something and you are losing something. For example. Add Küryakin footpegs and you gain three positions for your legs/feet. This is very comfy on long distance ride. You can have your feet on floorboards, hill on the floorboard and toe on the peg or completely on the peg stretching your legs. You lose in width. Now you are wider. Add a fairing/windshield and you are protected from the wind. Again good for long trip, but you are losing the wind feel on the short runs. Add super fat rear tire. You gain super cool look, more grip but you lose a little in maneuverability. Add loud pipes, you get noticed in traffic, but your neighbours plot against you. Get a sport bike, and you gain in speed around corners, and take off speed from the line, but you sacrifice comfort on long distance. I can go on. But you get the point. It is all about trade off. What is it that YOU want. We are all different kind of bikers. This is why we have different kinds of bikes. Vulcans are very good platform for customization. This is why they are so popular. If stock setup does not "fit" your needs, customise it. :)
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Ok thank you for the insight. No i have never ridden before, I just know I like cruisers and that's what I plan to ride although some people say I might change my mind after the class but I don't think so.

I have thought about riding long distance but if I do I think that's a yr or two out as I want to gain as much experience as possible before I take any long distance trip I am thinking anything over 100 miles.

I do want as smooth and as comfortable of a ride as possible. I also like fairings and bags and plan to add both I just have to buy the bike first lol. I was also thinking crash bars too but I'll see. I've been finding bikes on craigslist just worried about purchasing off their, but I know I don't want to buy from a dealer paying dealer prices. I guess it's a trade off like you say: buy private you gamble on condition etc. Buy dealer you have to pay higher price but less likely to be buying a bike that will break down 10mins later. Anyways thanks for the advice I've stored it away for later retrieval.
 

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@robacycle It is good that you are taking MSF course. They will give you the riding test on a small 250cc bike. Those bikes are all beat up, but if you can ride that piece of junk you will be able to ride anything. I've done that course years ago when I got my class M endorsement.

You did not ask for advise, but I am going to give you one anyway. As I wish someone would have given me one when I started. (but no one did).

Do not be afraid of the close quarters maneuvers. This is the thing everyone is scared off. You have to do a figure 8. You go in to a box, in first gear, balancing clutch and throttle, make a sharp left and make almost a complete circle than sharp right, come out of the box. Points are deducted for touching the ground with your feet, not looking through the turn and getting outside of the box. You have 2 attempts. However. This is such a minor thing, that if you have to put your foot down do it. Dropping the bike will fail you immediately. Loosing a point will not. Besides they will teach you how to do it anyway. You will be ready by the time they test you. Other tests are turns, swerves, emergency braking gears up and down... Something else. I do not remember anymore...

Once you get your license to be a badass and once you get your badass bike, take it easy at first. Ride it on the streets that are no faster then 35mph. Get used to how it feels. Where the tipping point is, how to balance it. It will feel heavier than the bikes you will be doing your test on. Make sure you NEVER stop with your bars turned to the left or right, especially on an uphil. Once you release your brake the bike will try to roll back. If you have your bars turned it will scoot from under you and you will spill it. Remember that. You will thank me later.

When you are comfortable with 35mph get up to 45 streets and boulevards. For your first 300 miles stick to that. It will be heluva scary at first, but every day you get home you will feel better and more confident. Set up small goals and achieve one small goal at the time. Do not rush things. Take your time.

You will notice how different the roads are when you are on the bike. Suddenly it is a three dimensional world, and the road is a curved convex thing. It wants to pull you to the right or left. Roads has roots and grooves on them. When it catches your tires it scares you. Once you get used to that as experienced biker you will not notice that anymore. It will be so automatic to you, that it will no longer bother you at all. But it will scare you at first. The trick is to know what it is and how to handle that, which gives you confidence and that in turn battles the fear.

When you are confident with 45mph get up to 55/65 mph. This is where things change. You need more time to plan look further ahead. And really know how to lean the bike properly at speed. This is something they will fail to teach you at MSF because you never go fast enough.

Starting at 30mph and higher start to learn how to counter steer. MSF will tell you to "press on the bar" and you will be diligently pressing on the bar towards the ground and nothing will happen. :) Press away from you. This is the trick. If you want to go left press left with left arm and relax your right arm. Make sure your arms do not fight each other. Do not wrestle with yourself :). Press left (away from you) go left, Press right (away from you) go right. It is really easy once you get the hang of it. After your first 1000 miles go on a twisty road and try that. It will be scary at first. Go slow. Let people pass if they tail gate you. Get the feel for it. Get scared, but do everything to get home in one piece. Every-time you comeback home in one piece you are a winner, and a little wiser too.

At first you will have all the cages behind you, passing you, going way to fast. But after your first 2000 miles you will have all the cages in front of you, going to slow. ;). Mark my words. I've been there, done that got a T-shirt :).

Take it in easy stages, setup and achieve one small goal at the time and you will do fine.
Keep us informed of your progress. There are plenty of knowledgeable and helpful folks on this forum to help you out. Just ask us.

Good Luck!
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Ok thank you for the advice. I never thought about how different the road would feel or how I would feel when I encounter bumps or grooves in the road that I can feel. Yes I defenitly want to take my time and gradually get better, baby steps is fine with me. Have you ever taken any classes after the MSF like defensive maneuvering or any other more advanced classes? I hear they help in the maturation process. After your tradeoff post I am really rethinking the custom and now the classic is looking better and better to me plus I feel like the classic might fit me better personality wise. Now that I kinda of know what to expect at the MSF class I think I will be alright.
 

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@robacycle please do not let me or anyone else sway you from your dreams. Custom has it's own benefits that classic does not have. Remember, it is all a tradeoff. On Custom for instance you do not have spoked wheels. That means tubeless tires, and that means easy road-side repair. (But of course you can mod your classic too) so. Really, go with what you feel fits your lifestyle better. They are both good bikes.

I have never taken any other classes. I do have ¾ million miles in US between bikes cars and semi truck, as far as road safety goes. But that does not teach you how to handle bike.

MSF will not make you are super biker, but it will give you tools to develop with. I can recommend a good read. [ame]http://www.amazon.com/Total-Control-Performance-Street-Techniques/dp/0760314039[/ame] "Total-Control-Performance-Street-Techniques". It is written by Lee Parks a race rider and adopted to street and highways. This works on cruisers too. I did some exercises from that and discovered some techniques. The book is old now, but still apply. If you want to take that class you need 3000 miles or one year experience.

You will need to pass DMV written test.
Burn through this: http://driving-tests.org/california/ Car and bike. On exam you will have 18 questions on car and 34 on the bike. (Unless CA has changed rules). The tests in CA DMV are similar to these, but not the same. In DMV the questions are setup to fail you. So be ready. If you can burn through 150 questions marathon on that site the DMV is not a credible threat. ;) Also do not take that site as source of truth. Use DMV book instead.

You will have total of 4 tests.
50 Question test at the end of the MFS class. So get their book study before you go.
1 riding test at MSF and you get your certificate
2 tests at DMV - car and bike.

You will do fine.
 

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did a 1000 IBA ride with a custom, stock seat too. just over 17 hours. So the Custom will get you there. But like DonR said, get what talks to you.. what you feels is right... that's what makes the bike special
 

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@sbg8r 1K on stock seat!? I bow deeply to you. You are better man than I. I could only manage about 80 miles before I had to stop and take a walk. The seat was the first thing I've moded on my mule.
 

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It was tough, but was use to a R6, so this did feel better at first.. I'd put my feet on the back passenger pegs from time to time, was constantly moving in the seat. My brother in law did it with us, on a CBR1000RR, his thighs and back was killing him.. I have to say, that wasn't the brightest. Ride was uneventful though, bike performed excellent.. Shortly after that I did get the saddlemen seat
 

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@robacycle Do not be scared of Vulcan while reading @sbg8r talking seats. ;)
The "stock seat sucks" problem is true for just about every bike. I've heard that on new Vulcans Kawasaki has remedied the problem somewhat, but I do not have a first butt experience with them. On anything in your price range 2006-2009 stock seats are awful. I've met only one person on this forum that likes stock seat. The rest of us get aftermarket seats. This is true for just about every bike out-there. The manufacturer can't make seat that ergonomically perfect for everyone. So instead they are making it comfy to seat in a show room while talking to the salesman. Once you are on the road, the soft foam collapses and you sit on a single point of contact. This is down right painful. When I went to Corbin to get my custom seat made and than later to get my hard-bags there were all kinds of bikers getting seat for their ride. Hadrly Davidson riders, Kawasaki, Honda Goldwing etc etc. Every make under the sun.

After market seats are made more of a bucket shape and most of them need a brake in period so that they form to your body shape. After 1500 miles or so they are fantastic. Stock seats do not do that. So do not let a stock seat put you off any bike. 90% of them suck. You will probably end up getting Mustang Saddlemen or Corbin or something. That is a standard procedure for an "accomplished" biker. A sort of a rite of passage if you will. ;)
 

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^^^^
100% agreed!!!!
 

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Discussion Starter #20
Ok a lot to take in but again thanks for all the advice, and I'd be lying if I said I wasn't already thinking about mods and the look I want for my bike. I wonder what kind of handle bars would work cause I know stock won't work as I am 6'5" and I heaRd while turning the bars hit your legs. I don't think I like ape hangers but never actually tried them.
 
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