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Hello All-
Brief intro.  Took the MSF course and have had my license for about 4 years now.  Ridden a couple SV's and loved em.  Also a few rides on a 883 sportster.  I am feeling as if I'm nearing the time to actually buy myself a bike.  I have a couple close friends who ride, as well as 4 people at my office (in a group of about 12 no less!).  I apologize in advance if these questions have been posted elsewhere.  Searching didn't seem to come up with many difinitive answers.

Regarding the SV:  Here in the bay area, used ones seem to be selling for fairly high prices.  I am a little reluctant to spend a ton of money on an older bike and have considered buying new, which I know some say is a no-no.  In addition, I am also considering the Kawa 500r.  There are many used, later model bikes for a good less than a comparable SV.  I am 6', approx 200lbs.  I am looking for a bike thats easy to ride fast, but more upright and comfy.  I also don't want to grow out of it quickly.  Recommendations?

This leads to my second question.  After stopping at Bike World in Sunnyvale (I live in the bay area) and learning about the two bikes, the guy came out and said "we can definitely work well with you on price for a SV".  I realize this could be dealership BS, but it didn't seem to come across as such.  Just more as "we have several SV's, they're not rare or hard to get, and getting to the end of the model year there is decent wiggle room."

What is a fair price out the door for a new bike?  What would you consider as an excellent deal?  If not bike world, who in the bay area can generally offer the best pricing?

Lastly, the gear.  I want very very good protection, but also a good value.  I don't care so much about brand as much as I want my money to go the furthest.  Recommendations?  Good shops?  Obviously cycle gear.  Motojava.  SF Moto, road rider san jose.  Anywhere else?

Finally, how did you get over that side of you that says motorcycles are just too dangerous and you're crazy for buying one?  I am an incredibly safe driver, never been in an accident in 10 years on the road.  No speeding tickets.  Realize there are no guarantees, but whats the real deal on intelligent riders vs those who aren't and skew the statistics?  When I'm on a motorcycle, its like no other feeling in the world.  When I sit on the computer, my smart side kicks in and I think I'm crazy.  I love my Miata, but its not a vault by any means.  Yet I don't feel like I'm in a death trap with that thing.  And of course everyone knows someone who knows someone who died on a motorcycle.  I guess I still am going back and forth.  The feeling of freedom vs the fact they just aren't as safe and people just don't see you.

Anyway, long post.  My apologies.  Any advice, especially on bikes is recommended.  Even if it isn't an SV, if there is a better value starting bike out there, I'm open to em as well. EDIT: Opinion on the SV standard vs the VStrom 650 as well.
 

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Jerome81 said:
Finally, how did you get over that side of you that says motorcycles are just too dangerous and you're crazy for buying one?  I am an incredibly safe driver, never been in an accident in 10 years on the road.  No speeding tickets.  Realize there are no guarantees, but whats the real deal on intelligent riders vs those who aren't and skew the statistics?  When I'm on a motorcycle, its like no other feeling in the world.  When I sit on the computer, my smart side kicks in and I think I'm crazy.  I love my Miata, but its not a vault by any means.  Yet I don't feel like I'm in a death trap with that thing.  And of course everyone knows someone who knows someone who died on a motorcycle.  I guess I still am going back and forth.  The feeling of freedom vs the fact they just aren't as safe and people just don't see you.
That side of me is still there and that's probably a good thing. A little fear is healthy as far as I'm concerned. You are vulnerable on a bike and having that in the back of my mind helps to keep me looking around and anticipating danger.
It's the reason I don't try and push way past my limits on the street. It's part of what makes it exciting.

As to why riding is worth doing despite the danger.. well, you've experienced how great it feels. Like the rest of life it's a question of if you enjoy what you're doing enough to justify the risk.
Get yourself some decent gear, ride at a pace you are comfortable with and assume the worst of everyone driving around you... and you've done what you can to minimize the risk. Then enjoy the experience.
 

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I don't live anywhere near the bay area so can't help you with prices for the area.

For the other questions....

Why ride with the risk: Read Proficient Motorcycling by Somthing Hough (can't remember the guys first name). The book talks about street strategies to stay healthy and goes over the Hurt Report (Hurt is the name of the guy who did the study--strange I know). The Hurt Report gives motorcycle accident statistics. Personally, I enjoy the freedom, great gas mileage, and the ability to NOT listen to the radio and/or passengers. The accidents I fear are the "freak" ones that are very difficult to control, such as getting rear ended. Most accidents are avoidable...do a search for 'crash'. Ride smart on the street, avoid hooligan mode and you are relatively safe. When you feel the need for speed and aggressive cornering...go to the track. Fun, safe (more or less), and improves your skill.
Continue training by doing the advanced MSF course, going to parking lots and practice quick stops and emergency maneuvers. Really practice quick stops...they come in handy to avoid wrecks at times...also, as the MSF course says, make sure your vision is concentrated several seconds ahead of the bike.

On to gear....everyone will have their own opinion of course. I like Fieldshear b/c they make inexpensive gear that uses CE certified armor. Their mesh jacket includes some leather on the back and elbows...areas you will probably drag in a wreck. I use an HJC helmet b/c it fits my head well and is a good value. I personally use a full face, DOT/SNELL approved helmet. If commuting I will occasionally wear Draggin Jeans as a compromise to safety/convenience. I never ride with regular jeans, shorts, etc.

On to bikes...for a first bike I would recommend the Kawi 500 over the SV. I would also recommend the Suzuki GS500. You will not outgrow the bike in the first year (some people never do). They are cheap, have adequate power and can help you from yourself sometimes. Many people like the VStrom. It all depends on what kind of riding you will do and what is more comfortable. If you are not sure, that can be another reason to try a 500 bike. Buy the first bike used. Cheaper and you won't be overly upset if/when you drop it.

HTH, good luck.
 

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EX500 or GS500 for the first year- you won't outgrow it (ignore anyone who says you will) in your first year of riding. Get one that's mechanically sound but maybe a tad, uh, cosmetically challenged- that way you won't feel too awful after the inevitable newbie mistakes.

I'll second the Fieldsheer recommendation. Great quality at a great price. You'll find more models at a lower price online, but support your local retailer if you can. As far as helmets go, a $90 DOT/Snell helmet will protect as well as a $500 one- the difference will be in stuff like materials (lighter weight) and development (takes time and money to make a quiet helmet). By all means, though, the most important thing is fit. Diffeent people have differently-shaped heads, and different manufacturers make helmets in different shapes. Try on various brands, and even different models from the same manufacturer. A good shop with knowlegeable salespeople will be a huge benefit here.

As far as the whole self-preservation thing goes... I used to bicycle from college (Berkeley) to home (Fremont) on the weekends. Having AC transit buses blowing by with inches to spare, dodging tire-grabing sewer grates, and pedaling through some of the more, uh, interesting neighborhoods in Oakland made motorcycling seem incredibly safe by comparison. So I guess it's all relative. But seriously, the Hurt Report shows that the stuff you learned in the MSF course will hugely reduce the likelihood that you'll be involved in an accident. The vast majority of the trouble out there is avoidable, if you've got your head screwed on straight.

Welcome to the board!

Bill
 
J

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I appreciate the input. Will be sure to keep following the boards.
 

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+1 to what's already been said. A little fear is normal, not the OMG fear but that little voice of reason keeping you from being a hooligan or a target for careless cagers.

About those folks in your office who ride. Don't be in a hurry to group ride with them. Get some miles under you before riding with more than two others. Better yet, find someone who's experienced and not a squid to ride with and give you feedback on your form. You won't "outgrow" the 500's, more like you'll want something different down the road. Welcome and hang out here even if you don't ride an SV (.. yet?).
 

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Firstly, the dangerous question: Since I was a kid I always thought bikes were cool and always wanted to try riding. It was not until I was on my own and financially secure in my late 20's until I could afford one. By that time I was (semi) responsible and knew I had kids to come home to etc. therefore I would not be engaging in extra high risk behavior ie stunts on the bike. Surprisingly gear will do alot for your confidence by knowing you are being as safe as possible while engaging in a semi dangerous mode of transpo.  Even still, during mundane commutes, I play out scenarios in my head such as "what if that red Honda pulls across the intersection" I think every good rider does this among other subtle techniques as taught by the MSF. When riding, I am riding, nothing else, no kids, no money problems, just staying alert, so fear is not really entering my mind. There has been a few mornings, I woke up and had a "6th sense" that says "don't ride today" and I listened to it. Probably just crazy but I'm a firm believer in listening to that.

If you haven't ridden regularly after taking the MSF, might be good to take a refresher, maybe even the advanced with your own bike?

As for the 1st bike, buy used. I started on a $100.00 '73 Honda CB450 two years ago.  It was underpowered which was good because it made me focus on the little details, proper turning etc. instead of " I wonder what 120 feels like." If it were not so undependable, I would have kept it and probably been satisfied to this day. Well maybe ::)

as far as gear, get the best gloves you can. everyone else on here will make good recommendations for helmets/jackets.

Sorry for the long response but you seem intelligent and genuinely interested so I wanted to add my .02

Best of Luck, Ace


edited for spelling ;)
 

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Part of me is always scared when I ride... the day that part of me isn't there is the day I sell my bike and confine myself to the steel cage of a car. That scared part keeps me alert.

As for prices, I can't really help out either as I'm at the other end of the country (and the sales tax here is 9.75%).
 

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Jerome81 said:
This leads to my second question.  After stopping at Bike World in Sunnyvale (I live in the bay area) and learning about the two bikes, the guy came out and said "we can definitely work well with you on price for a SV".  I realize this could be dealership BS, but it didn't seem to come across as such.  Just more as "we have several SV's, they're not rare or hard to get, and getting to the end of the model year there is decent wiggle room."

What is a fair price out the door for a new bike?  What would you consider as an excellent deal?  If not bike world, who in the bay area can generally offer the best pricing?
Everyone has posted some great comments on the rest of your questions, but I thought I would offer some insight into the Bike World pricing. It might be valuable because I JUST bought my '05 SV650 there last week! (I live in La Honda and work in Palo Alto - fun commute!)

Dennis (the sales manager) hooked me up with what I thought was a very fair deal - I paid 5800 out the door for the bike. I also got a set of alpinestars track pants (to go with my existing jacket) frame sliders and spools all for wholesale prices - which seemed very reasonable.

All in all, the process took about 20 minutes.

In any case, either of the bikes you mention are available there, and they are both lots of fun. I was moving from a Kawi Zx-6r (first gen) and I had grown tired of the sportbike ergos and spiky powerband, so I went with the SV - unfaired of course.

I'm on mile 326, and I can't WAIT to get out of break-in. I can already tell this is going to be the bike that I keep for a long long time. The tires aren't super wonderful (I am used to D208s, and these can't be expected to stick as well as a pure sport tire) and I have locked up the rear once. I was coming down pescadero road, and I loaded the front up too muchunder braking so the rear got lighter than I remember my Kawi getting (yay soft forks...) and I was clearly being overzealous with the rear binder. Felt like my dirtbike though, and I just eased off slowly and avoided drama.

That being said, I think the SV is a great bike, at a great price.

Good luck and ride safe - whatever you choose.
 

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IMOP I think you will outgrow a gs500 or a ex500 in a year. When I 1st purchased my ex500 I had never ridden a street bike. I had rode dirt bikes for some time before and own a quad. Some somewhat newbie. Well after almost 13,000miles and 15months later I was ready for something a little more modern. No my "skills" never exceeded the bike, but the need for better suspension and a bit more room. I'm also 6'0 and 200lbs. The ex500 can get cramped and i felt so huge on it. So moving up in size I did. Please don't get me wrong get a 500 and ride the hell out of it. The skills you learn from them will help you in the future. There very forgiving, even more so than the sv. Again this is just my opinion. good luck.
 
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Hwy84 said:
Dennis (the sales manager) hooked me up with what I thought was a very fair deal - I paid 5800 out the door for the bike.  I also got a set of alpinestars track pants (to go with my existing jacket) frame sliders and spools all for wholesale prices - which seemed very reasonable.
Sounds quite reasonable. What was the breakdown on the costs, if you don't mind going into detail of course.


Opinions on the V Strom DL650? I must say that I think maybe this might be a good fit as well. Surely not as fun, but if enjoyable (and better than a 883 sportster) I am thinking that the windscreen and fairings might make it a great all around bike. Just wonderin....
 
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