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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
I'm a beginner rider who will be getting his learner permit tomorrow. Will be signing up for the BRC once I have it.

I understand that at the course, there will be different bikes to ride (cruiser, sports, standard) so you get a feel for which bike is more comfortable for you.

Initially I was looking at cruisers on FB/CL (v-star, shadow, savage, etc) but I think I would prefer a standard bike. Can someone suggest models that I should check out?

For Honda, I think this would be the CB series (CB300, CB500). But what about Suzuki, Kawasaki, and Yamaha? What's their equivalent of the CB?
Kawasaki - KLE ?
Yamaha FZ6
Suzuki SV ?

Looking at bikes, I find it sometimes hard to tell a standard bike from a sport bike. Is there an easy way to tell them apart? It's the handle bars and foot peg location that you need to look at but I still have trouble determining. I usually plug the model number into the search and see what bike reviewers classify it as. I guess after awhile, I'll start remembering which ones are standard and which are sports.

Last question, what do the letters mean after the numbers? The only one I think I figured out is "R" for racing and I should avoid bikes with R for a first bike. Some bikes have "ABS" which is for ABS brakes. Checking out the ads for preowned bikes, New England Powersports - Preowned Vehicles - New England Powersports
I see these for Hondas:

CB650FA
CB500FH
CB300F
CB500X
CB300R (racing?)
What do the letters F, X, A, H mean?
 

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1995 VT1100C2
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the letters are not a great clue since they dont really correspond. Sport bikes will typically have a sleek fairing. I think what you are looking for is called standard or "naked" so look at Honda CB500F, Yamaha MT-03, Kawasaki Z400, Suzuki SV650 also Rebel 500 for a slightly different riding experience. An interesting test would be test riding a CB500F and a Rebel 500 since they both have the same engine but tuned differently.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
the letters are not a great clue since they dont really correspond. Sport bikes will typically have a sleek fairing. I think what you are looking for is called standard or "naked" so look at Honda CB500F, Yamaha MT-03, Kawasaki Z400, Suzuki SV650 also Rebel 500 for a slightly different riding experience. An interesting test would be test riding a CB500F and a Rebel 500 since they both have the same engine but tuned differently.
Since this will be my first bike, I think I want to get a used model which is why I'm checking out FZ6. I just noticed that Wikipedia is helpful for understanding the model numbers. For example, Honda 500 Twins listing has this info:

Code:
The Honda 500 twins are a series of straight-twin motorcycles made by Honda since 2013.

CB500F standard/naked bike
CB500X adventure touring bike
CBR500R sport bike
CMX500 Rebel bobber
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Here's the CB500F. It does have a partial fairing but I guess it's still considered to be a naked bike. A CB500R will have a bigger fairing that covers the bottom of the engine.
 

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Here's a thread from last week to further help or add to your confusion? 2003 Ace vs. 2020 Phantom My vote would be the CB1100 as it would have been my option before my Valkyrie but too much $$$ at the time. May still be an option now momma doesn't ride anymore but the Valk doesn't cost me anything and gives me "oh hell yeah" moments when needed. :p BTW my old arse is @ 165 lbs. so don't be intimidated of a bike's weight or power.
 

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Another vote for the CB1100.. told the Wife not two days ago, …well ..“told“ is a bit of a stretch, but said to the Wife two days ago. Want One! :0)

Almost bought one, came >< this close…but was in the market for an adv bike at the time. :0/
 

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Here's the CB500F. It does have a partial fairing but I guess it's still considered to be a naked bike. A CB500R will have a bigger fairing that covers the bottom of the engine.
I'm not a fan of any bike that has a big gap between the rear wheel and fender or a angled up tail section:
295987

295985


That's just me though
My most recent "standard" VX800
295986

V-Twin, shaft drive
Old, no longer available new though :(
 

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I'm not a fan of any bike that has a big gap between the rear wheel and fender or a angled up tail section:
…just means we have to eat more donuts to get our bikes sitting-pretty is all. :0)
 

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I'd consider the Shadow RS a Standard more than a lot of those, The FZ6 has around a hundred horses, can go way too fast way too quick sometimes. And I seem to remember a more bent-over sportbike feel. The RS is only around 40 hp, more upright riding position, won't do any real unexpected things if you get carried away with twisting the throttle. or the brakes. FZ6 brakes are good enough it can do "stoppies". The CB500x is a more all round bike if maybe a bit dual-sport. Versys 650 is popular, again taller and more horsepower than the 750 cruisers. I like my VT750CD Ace for all-round general riding, lighter than my 1100, A more relaxed ride than my Versys. I like all three, 3 different types of ride. That said, The 750 Ace is what I took on a trip in May, 1700 miles riding 2-up, it did fine.
 
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I can vouch for the RS as a beginner rider. Cruiserish looks, handles nicely, not too heavy, enough power to get you up to highway speed but it won't rip your arms out at the shoulders.


I'd consider the Shadow RS a Standard more than a lot of those, The FZ6 has around a hundred horses, can go way too fast way too quick sometimes. And I seem to remember a more bent-over sportbike feel. The RS is only around 40 hp, more upright riding position, won't do any real unexpected things if you get carried away with twisting the throttle. or the brakes. FZ6 brakes are good enough it can do "stoppies". The CB500x is a more all round bike if maybe a bit dual-sport. Versys 650 is popular, again taller and more horsepower than the 750 cruisers. I like my VT750CD Ace for all-round general riding, lighter than my 1100, A more relaxed ride than my Versys. I like all three, 3 different types of ride. That said, The 750 Ace is what I took on a trip in May, 1700 miles riding 2-up, it did fine.
 

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My recommendation in standard bikes:

Royal Enfield 650 Interceptor. I understand this machine has become the #1 seller, in it's class, in UK and New Zealand. 3 year warrantee in many markets.
Interceptor 650 - Colours, Specifications, Reviews, Gallery | Royal Enfield

If considering a used bike, RE's 500 UCE single has wonderful handling and feel, and moderate, but adequate power. Discontinued in India, getting scarce in the US, but still shown as available in Australia.
Classic 500 - Colours, Specifications, Gallery | Royal Enfield

I own a RE Classic 500, and two Shadows, '96 1100 ACE and '01 VT600C. There is no comparison in the handling. I blame it on what I consider excessive rake in the front forks of the Hondas. 35 degrees and 25 degrees are quite a long ways apart. Folks who have only ever ridden cruiser bikes may not even be aware that there are radically different experiences out there to be had.
 

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That RE650 looks a LOT like my old 1970 BSA 650 Lightning, (which I sold way too cheap 40 years ago).
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
I own a RE Classic 500, and two Shadows, '96 1100 ACE and '01 VT600C.
What a collection! I'm a big fan of the Royal Enfield look. Saw a bunch of them when I was in India.
Since this is my first bike, I think I want to get a "cheap" used one to make sure that I stick with the hobby before buying a new one. There's a dealer in the next town over from me that I should check out considering that all other dealers (Honda/Yamaha/Suzuki/Kawasaki) are not close at all. There are very few RE used bikes for sale. None on CL. A few on FB. One is a 2014 Bullet for $3000 with 2K miles. The guy says he's selling for his nephew who did not know how to ride it so it has some scratches/dings. Trying to fix the electric start but it runs great.
295999

What do you think of this one?


296000
296001
 

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I'd think it's running too lean from the looks of the pipes, been hot enough to blue them.And maybe that's normal for those and the reason theres a cover over that area in the last shot?
 
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What a collection! I'm a big fan of the Royal Enfield look. Saw a bunch of them when I was in India.
Since this is my first bike, I think I want to get a "cheap" used one to make sure that I stick with the hobby before buying a new one. There's a dealer in the next town over from me that I should check out considering that all other dealers (Honda/Yamaha/Suzuki/Kawasaki) are not close at all. There are very few RE used bikes for sale. None on CL. A few on FB. One is a 2014 Bullet for $3000 with 2K miles. The guy says he's selling for his nephew who did not know how to ride it so it has some scratches/dings. Trying to fix the electric start but it runs great.
That 2014 Bullet looks stock, right down to factory rubber. The REs are rare 2nd hand, but the ones that do come available are almost invariably low mileage. Mine is a 2012, very similarly equipped, similarly priced with even lower mileage, a few years back when I purchased it. Classics have the same engine but different sprocket and 18" rear tire vs 19" on Bullet, 2 piece sprung seat, and various cosmetic differences.

I'm of the opinion that the REs will hold a greater percentage of their value than the Hondas, et all you mentioned. The Bullets sold new in the USA for less than $5K. RE announced the discontinuation of the 500s 18 months ago, and the price of 2nd hand bikes in the US has since moved up consistently. The $3K is a good price, in my opinion.

I'm of the opinion that the standard, (brit bike standard, that is) geometry of the 500 singles makes them easier to ride than most other bikes suggested for beginners, at least out of the limited number that I've ridden, however the seat is fairly tall. My RE C5 has very light, neutral steering, is responsive and goes where I think. CG is low, torque band is wide available in useful amounts from idle. A favorite trick of mine is to leave the bike idling in first, drop the clutch and ride down the alley, no throttle, no clutch, at just slightly over a walking speed. Try THAT with a Shadow! Even the Honda 250 Rebel, at over 100 lbs lighter than the RE, steers "heavier", in my opinion, because of the cruiser geometry it uses.

These machines are no Honda's, they don't tolerate being ignored, and will give the most satisfaction when owned by a rider with mechanical sensitivity. To the rider who likes the feel of a wrench in hand, and enjoys communing with his mount, there are huge mechanical benefits to the simplicity and ethos of the design. These machines were engineered with ease of maintenance under crude conditions, very high on the list of priorities. I've worked on a fair number of machines, and of anything more complicated than a briggs and stratton lawnmower, my RE UCE is very first on my list for ease of access and repair. I do all my own mechanical work. Not a single fastener has stripped or broken. The only plastic is the turn signals. I changed a cam in less than 90 minutes, on my first go. Where Honda is not shy about requiring the use of pages of special tools, I was able to take a 1999 Bullet down to a large pile of parts with only ONE dedicated puller, a less than $17 item on Ebay. Parts for the REs are extremely cheap, if one is willing to order from India and wait a few weeks, although a major component like a spare engine can be expensive and hard to find. The 500's top out about 75 mph, power limited, and there is no balance shaft. They are considered open road machines in India, but not adequate for US highways. Having a kick starter and a center stand may seem "old timey" to some, but when a chain needs replacing, a puncture needs patching, or a battery has become sketchy, these can make the difference between riding home and calling for transport. Some guys take the UCEs further toward their roots, carburetors and ignition systems from previous models are bolt on replacements for the EFI system, ECU and fuel pump. Lastly, the machines have considerable panache. Average people on the street will come up to you and congratulate you for restoring and riding a 60 year old classic, which is what they think they are seeing.

Honda Shadows are much more plentiful, and definitely cheaper, which is why I bought my Shadows, the 1100 to have a machine better suited for interstate highways, and the VT600 because a left turning driver did serious damage to my RE two months ago, and I wanted a commuter bike while I'm fixing it. I got both at very attractive prices and expect I'll eventually make a small profit, when I move on, but flipping Shadows is no way to make a living, because even the best one is still relatively cheap. I have not been favorably impressed with the ease of maintenance and repair on the Shadows. Honda may have a reputation for reliability, but when they do break, they are not the easiest to fix. Being so ubiquitous, parts for many models are inexpensive.
 

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On a note single cylinder "thumpers" are a hoot to ride but not the smoothest in engine vibration. As for single cyl. bikes, the Suzuki S40 Boulevard would a plenty for a 1st. time ride. 2016 - 2019 Suzuki Boulevard S40 @ Top Speed
The S40 has a balance shaft and folks who own them really seem to like them. More power from the 650 than a Royal Enfield 500 which makes them better able to handle highway rides. More common on the used market than Royal Enfield, but just barely. At least around here, these come up very rarely 2nd hand, and generally with a higher ask price than a Shadow 750 in equivalent condition.

I thought about the S40, but these bikes also have the, what I consider extreme, 35 degrees of neck rake. They do have a narrow handlebar, which is a plus for the kind of riding I want to do, and I store my commuter bike in the gangway between buildings and hate scraping my mirrors all up coming in and out. Air cooling sure simplifies the amount of plumbing on the machine, and the maintenance, a big plus in my book. My 25 minute commute, will only just barely warm up the engine to operating temperature for half the year anyway, air or liquid cooling won't change that much.

One thing that didn't appeal to me about the S40, there's something about the exhaust note, a bit raspy and anemic. To me the RE 500 sounds bigger and juicier.

One bike that has an impressively big sound from a relatively small engine is the Honda VT600C Shadow. That 583 sure sounds like a bigger machine. I believe it's a single crankpin design, and we know what that means, ... "potatoe".
 

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The way I look at it is like this,,,

Standard - almost straight up sitting position, foot pegs around front of seat, and a short rake on the front forks.

Cruiser - straight up to slightly reclined sitting position, foot pegs forward of the seat, and a bit longer rake on the front forks.

Sport aka crotch rocket - forward leaning sitting position, foot pegs to the rear of the seat, slightly shorter rake than standard.

Those are very generalized descriptions and many models fall in between.

Eric


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 

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When you're looking at the CB bikes, you'll want an F model, not the R. Visual differences are the handle bars. The R models are "clip-on's" meaning they're clipped to the risers... typically sitting very below the top of them. F models actually have a bit of a handle bar sitting up from the bar. There are some other ergonomic differences as well. CB (F) models are excellent standard bikes and make excellent first bikes. The new Yamaha/Star MT series as well as their XSR700, Tenere, and are also great bikes. All will have much better performance as well as better agility and much better mileage than the Shadow or any other cruiser. While you're out looking you'd be wise to check out the BMW GS models as well as our British friends' Triumph offerings. The Bonneville has the classic styling with up to the minute performance that appeals to many and the Tigers will get you anywhere, and I do mean anywhere with comfort and dependability.

Best part about being a new rider is you get to go bike shopping. You'd do yourself a disservice if you don't go find and sit your butt on just about every bike of every manufacturer out there. Personally, I started life riding cruisers and enjoyed most all of them. Once I sat and rode my first standard bike I never looked back. Problem with standard bikes is they're like gateway drugs. After them I started enjoying performance bikes and dual sport/Adventure bikes. I'll never own a cruiser again.

Check them all out. Let us know what you find, what you decide and why.

Enjoy
 

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Shadows are great, I had a VLX600 for over 10 years and just sold it with 114k miles on it. Most reliable machine I've ever owned. The reason I sold it is because I found a '93 Nighthawk in mint condition at a good price so I couldn't pass it up. The Nighthawk is a "standard" bike, but this thing freakin' screams compared to the Shadow. If you can find one that is in decent condition give it a look. I've owned a lot of bikes over the years and this one is the most fun, hands down.
 
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