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Discussion Starter #1
So I’m an older guy (52) who has thought about riding for some time. But it’s always been something. After being “Covid cooped” for the better part of a year, I’m done. I’m getting a bike, and come spring, I’ll take the class again and begin my new adventure.

Of course I did all my internet homework and came up with a plan. I want a Triumph Bobber, but that’s too big for me to start on, so I’ll start with a Kawasaki Z400, and when I’m ready, I’ll upgrade.

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It’s a “smart“ little bike. Perfect for what I intend to do with it which is mostly inner city commuting, a bit of country roads (60mph) on the weekends, and maybe, but rarely some highway (70+). At $4,500.00, I figure the things I’ll need to do to it to accommodate my 36” inseam, my 6’3” length and my 250lbs of pork will still make this an incredibly affordable way to get into riding and working toward the Bobber.

But when I went to the dealer to order one, I just had to sit on the 650S. It wasn’t set up for tall I don’t think because I was pretty cramped, but ohhhhh... that extra weight. The lower center of gravity. A totally different feel! Like it would be a straight line rocket and a lot more planted than the Z400. A lot more!

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that’s me on the KVS

I swear I feel as though I’d get in less trouble on the Vulcan simply because it’s just a comfortable straight-line bike. Seemingly. I mean compared to the Zed which is so light I feel I can do bunny hops with it... it just would beg to be driven hard I’m guessing!

Either way, now I’m completely torn. I didn’t order either. And just so you know, I’ve taken the motorcycle class before but it never went anywhere because of well, life. And I have messed around on my wife’s bike (she has rides for as long as I’ve known her). But what says you? Would the CVS be a good commuter bike in town? I mean, the thing is 3K more expensive, but I feel like I maybe could ride it for a few mor years then the Z? And I don’t think I’d look so big on it either lol.

Its crazy, but I just can’t decide. Two totally different bikes. What do you guys think?
 

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Welcome to the forum from North Carolina. As I have written here many times, bikes are like boats. Once you get used to the size of the boar you want a bigger one. You are not of small stature. Get the largest bike you can afford. Take the safety course and then practice what you learned. Find a large parking lot that isn’t used too much. Buy some small orange cones and set up a course. Do not fear or concern yourself with the bike’s heft. You are young and tall enough to handle it. It will become second nature in a couple of months. If you buy a smaller bike, you will want to sell it after one season. So members here will disagree, but look how cramped you are on that KVS in the showroom. Even with the extended seat and controls you will be uncomfortable. You should look at a Vulcan 900 or better yet bigger. Make sure to install an engine guard. Everyone drops their bike at one time or another. Be well.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Man, “everyone” keeps saying the KVS will fit me perfectly. I‘m really in no hurry to get a bigger bike, but I don’t want to hate my first bike either.

Back to the drawing board?
 

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KVS is not a big bike.

My 2c since I was in the same boat last year: Get a used KVS 1-3 years old with abs and less than 10k for ~3.5 -4 K $. Drive it for a year without spending money on mods. If you love it keep it. If not, sell for the same in a year.

If you want new get a motorcycle look at a Scout, rebel 1100 or something like that. Z400 is now sufficient for your frame.

The KVS is a lot of fun, but it does not hold its value, so it is pointless to buy new.

ATTGATT
 

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I started (again) at close to the same age as you on a KVS 650. My daughter has a Ninja 400 and while it’s a lot of fun to throw around, it is pretty cramped for my 5’11”, 205-ish frame. I recently bought a Z900 and absolutely love it, but that’s way too much bike for you (I think) at this point. Have you considered the Z 650? Same engine as the KVS, but geared a little differently and more accommodating to taller folk. I eventually found the KVS to be too uncomfortable and ended up replacing it with an Indian Scout. My other daughter rides the Vulcan so it’s still in the stable—great bike, just wasn’t for me long term so I guess the advice to find a used one is pretty solid. Best of luck on whatever you decide and enjoy the ride!
 

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It sounds to me like you want something to get started on, get skilled, and then will probably get another bike that is "your dream" bike. So, don't buy new, buy something used, get skilled, and then with more experience it may be easier to make a decision on your next "dream" bike, and believe me, there will be many dreams in a lifetime!

Good luck!
 
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I'm with Tourer on that one. You're a big dude. I'm 6.3 / 210lbs and believe me, go big. If you buy a small bike now you'll want a bigger one in a few months.
It's not only a matter of power or weight, it's also that at every traffic light you will look at yourself on the shop windows and think "damn, I look like a bear on a tricycle".
Get a big bike now and then later you can buy a cheap, second hand small bike for short grocery runs. Except that you will already have a proper bike, so you will take your time, get the best deal, etc...
As I said, if you buy small now, you will have the urge to go big soon, with less money to spend on it.
Also, the Triumph Bobber is too small for you as well ;). Its a very capable bike, tons of torque, and I have nothing but good things to say about post 2016 Triumph modern classics (I got a Bonnie T120...), but it's small.
Don't get intimated by raw displacement. Cruisers have big engines, but they are also heavy and tuned for low end torque and cruise speeds. There are bazillions of 600cc sportbikes much more snatchy and much less forgiving than a 1000+cc cruiser.
As Tourer said, go for a Vulcan 900 or above. Don't go crazy either with a VN2000 because you don't want a 800+lbs bike for starter.
I would recommend a Vulcan 900/1500/1600, a Suzuki C50/C90 or a Yammy Vstar 950/1100/1300. Then of course you got HD but I wouldn't recommend because they tend to be very heavy and expensive. Sporties are good bikes but once again they're are kinda small for your frame, I've ridden a few 48s and they're are fun bikes but damn small.
Outside of the cruiser style, bikes big enough for your frame are power monsters: Suzy Hayabusa, Yammy Vmax, Duc Diavel, etc...Do NOT get this kind of bikes as a starter, we all know someone who started on a Busa and did well, but we also know plenty of others who wrecked themselves / the bike / both within days/ weeks.
And put some crashbars / bungs, as Tourer said, you will drop it at some point.

Edit: and I'm with chench53 as well, get a used bike. You will save a lot and feel less stressed by the first scratch. Most bikes, with TLC, will outlive you. I got a Yammy XV1600 and know people who put 200K miles on theirs without anything else than basic maintenance. If the bike hasn't crashed, a Japanese model with 30K miles on the clock is almost new, and cost a whole lot less than a new one.

Good luck!
 

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I'm just a few years behind you, and I bought a used 2007 Vulcan 900 for $1,700 plus about $700 to fix it, including maintenance items. It is my first bike (in 30 years). I couldn't be happier with it. Perfect size (I'm 5'10' & 220 lbs) and easy to handle. I agree with everyone else - the two bikes that you are considering are too small for your size. With that said, it is ultimately your decision. Good luck and please let us know what you decide to get.
 

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I am not very large so I don't know what would fit you, being 5'9 and 170lbs, but I do agree with a lot of what's being said as far as picking something that is beginner rider appropriate, fits you well enough to remain comfortable, and buy slightly used to save the depreciation loss in the event you decide to go another route. The Z400 is a great learner platform and unlike the 250-300cc bikes of the past it has enough power to keep people happy longer than a year, however I do think even with a taller seat and modified pegs it will always remain somewhat cramped. The KVS is a great beginner cruiser and much more than a straight line bike, I can take turns on it way better than I would have expected as it is incredibly agile and built with sport bike control to a degree. The beauty of your situation is you have some time to decide so make sure to sit on a few others and get a feel for what you like, or better yet if you find someone local see if they would let you sit on there's for a feel. Getting the right first bike is important, if you buy too much you will slow down your learning and maybe even be turned off from riding in general. If you buy too small the worst case is extra money spent, a used bike in the 1-4 year range will not depreciate fast like a car would so if you go to resell it you may get as much back as you paid originally (private sales, not dealer trade in). Yes it's not common that a first bike is the perfect bike for many years, but learning on something that will keep you safer and learn more to prevent an accident with the next perfect bike is priceless. Good luck with your search and let us k ow what you find!
 

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Why not take a look at the Versys 650 while your at it, same engine again as the KVS but with some extra space for you. My wife has a KVS (and loves it) and I ride it from time to time, but my back doesn't like it for anything more than a 1hr ride. I much prefer upright or slightly leaned forward for comfort, more rear suspension travel doesn't hurt either.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Thanks for all the responses guys. I really appreciate it. Truly.

Im not going to lie, it’s a little frustrating. First off, because this bike will be an around town 90% of the time bike, and because I didn’t want to scare myself, I really didn’t want to go big. Moreover, I really didn’t want to spend the cash on a larger bike. I know everyone says buy used but around here, used isn’t a good deal anymore unless there’s no ABS.

I did try the Versies - it was crazy comfortable, but top heavy. Kind of gave me the creeps. But maybe I should look again.

Others say the Indian 60 - I’ll need to drive some distance to go see one, but I guess I should. Seems huge though.

I’m going to see what a Z650 feels like. I hear the Honda cb500f might fit.

Thanks again guys! It’s all about the journey right.
 

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Unfortunately we all live with these things called "budgets" otherwise I would have a bike for every occasion and then some! I have also pointed out to another member searching for a first bike the Yamaha XSR700 or MT07, the XSR700 has a bit of a cruiser look to it though the foot pegs position does aim towards the sporty side. However, it falls in a category of being appropriate for a mature beginner while having enough fun factor to be kept for a while. When the wife was looking for a cruiser my top choices I wanted her to pick were the KVS and XSR700, but she just fell in love with the KVS look and comfort as she felt good with the forward controls. I too fell in love with it for the same reasons and even though I own a much more powerful and fun bike I still find loads of enjoyment riding hers.
 

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Here's another question, you're looking at two very different bikes, a cruiser and a naked. The cruiser, even a sporty one like the Vulcan S, is still a cruiser. What do you want out of the bike? You can commute on just about anything, so look beyond that. Do you want a low slung laid back cruiser, or do you want a sporty upright naked? How about protection from the elements, the cruiser will actually be better here even without a windscreen, the Versys or similar adv-lite bikes will usually have even more protection from the elements and the charging system to handle heated gear. How about luggage options, need to carry anything and how much? One advantage of the taller bikes with upright seating is how you can see 'over' traffic instead of trying to look around and through cars, the naked will be similar. How about handling? The KVS does pretty well in corners and has a decent lean angle, but it won't compete with something that has the footpegs and exhaust mounted higher up allowing you to lean into your turns more. What are the roads like where you want to ride? Suspension travel and quality can make or break the experience when things get rough.
I think all those questions are why people always suggest buying a used bike, especially your first one. Until you ride a few different styles, it can be tough to really settle on what it is you want.
 

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Couldn't agree more with that statement, as much as I love the KVS if I could only have 1 bike that would not be my choice, my Z900 fits me for best possible choice for what I use it for and this is my 3rd bike, had a ninja 250 to start then a zx6r which I loved everything about except the comfort. I finally found what is perfect for me even though a naked sport bike had never been on my radar in the past. You never know what you will end up liking most without trying them out!
 

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It’s really up to you what you want. But, looking at your size, I’d start with a Vulcan 900. Anything else will seem like a kids tricycle with you on it and you’ll soon find it cramped.
The 900 will have enough torque for you, but it won’t scare you like the Z900 definitely will.
Like people mentioned, depending on budget, you don’t really want something too small to only have to buy another bike later. Get something that fits your body size and with your size I wouldn’t get anything smaller than a Vulcan 900. At 6’, 155 lbs, I started with an 800 Vulcan, bought a KVS650, got rid of it because it was big enough, just not comfortable enough and holds no value. I then bought a Z900 and I love it. Size wise it fit me good, I was sick of the cruiser style after the KVS (but that’s all personal, subjective preference). It feels more top heavy than a cruiser, but I had a few years of experience by this time and could also manage the power.
But with your size, I wouldn’t recommend anything less than a 900 if new in a Kawasaki cruiser and a 500 sportbike will have the power, but it will be like sitting on a kids toy, at your size. You’ll soon get sick of its size.
 

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You do realize that there are two other 650 models, the Z and the Versys, both of which would give you more leg room. All 3 use essentially the same basic engine with minor tuning differences. Additionally there are alternative foot peg mounts and seats which would give you more leg room and arm reach on the KVS
 

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Cramped on the Vulcan - nope you look just right.
Used - you will drop the bike - why drop a new one. Get a used one.
There is no reason that Vulcan cant keep you entertained for many years.
Some on here have the old mentality of start small and get a new, bigger one each year - why?
If you must go much older but dont start on a new bike.
 

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Some old people have the mentality that you have to drop the bike. It’s a necessity for them. Don’t get yourself into that mindset. Do a MSF course and learn how to ride.
You can get into something new, for a decent price if you look around. At least as good a price as some people want for used.
I don’t believe in getting something small just because your a beginner. You don‘t want something huge and heavy or too powerful, but you definitely need something that fits you, unless you want to buy another bike soon. Yes, you can jam all sorts of seats and cushions and pegs on most bikes, but in the end you’ll discover you should have just gotten a bigger bike.
 

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When I drop my bike it just adds another scratch.
And because its NOT new I dont feel bad!
AND yes you will drop your bike!
Do some reading on this site for instance.
Guess you're the exception Vulcanhead!
 
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