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pinchvalve
pinchvalve SuperDork
5/14/09 9:25 a.m.

REALLY old bikes had a total-loss oiling system. They had exposed rocker arms and such, and you opened a petcock to allow oil to drip down upon them and the oil would basically spash all over your legs. Can you imagine???

rebelgtp
rebelgtp Dork
5/14/09 11:24 a.m.

I have an early 60's Harley/Aermacchi single cyl race bike sitting in a bunch of boxes in my garage. I keep saying I'm going to rebuild it, though I have never gotten to it.

Xceler8x
Xceler8x Dork
5/14/09 12:03 p.m.

If you're just starting out to ride...I'd say get a newer bike. It's going to be trouble free AND much easier to ride than some older bikes.

Older bikes were known for having either flexible frames or frames with poor geometry. It makes for a strange handling motorcycle. New bikes at least have both wheels facing the same direction when you want them too.

Also older bikes tend to have worn out suspensions. As a new rider it will be hard to tell if you bike handles that way on purpose or because the forks are shot.

Don't even get me started on old brakes.

Now, after you have a few years under your belt with something like a Kawasaki W650...

Looks old right?

How about a Kawasaki Drifter?

I'd say after riding those kinds of bikes, newer but designed to look more classic, then step back into vintage stuff. At least then you'd have the experience to ride a bike that is underbraked, potentially has a wobbly suspension, wobbly frame, and is 20 years old.

Owning motorcycles is a purely emotional decision so this may not factor in. If you start old I'd suggest at least starting small. I saw a gorgeous Honda CB500 the other day on Craig's List. Bone stock and gorgeous. That would be a good bike for a beginner because it's still simple enough to wrench on and small enough to lack intimidation.

CrackMonkey
CrackMonkey HalfDork
5/14/09 1:00 p.m.

Heck, if it's just a toy and you don't actually need it for transportation, a late-60s or early-70s Honda lightweight CB would be perfect. I'm partial to the little scrambler, like you linked on the previous page.

914Driver
914Driver Dork
5/14/09 1:28 p.m.

Honda 305 superhawks ROCK !!!!

But they don't do it cheaply.

16vCorey
16vCorey SuperDork
5/14/09 2:48 p.m.

I just traded a VW transmission for a '71 CB175. I'm not quite sure what I'm going to do with it yet, but it's pretty damn cool!

Appleseed
Appleseed HalfDork
5/14/09 7:02 p.m.

Man, you shouldn't have shown me the W650. Every time I see one I get the fever.

stuart in mn
stuart in mn Dork
5/14/09 7:05 p.m.

I have one of those Kawasaki W650s. It's a nice bike. It looks great, rides well and sounds just like a vintage Triumph but it's not very fast compared to modern sportbikes.

rebelgtp
rebelgtp Dork
5/15/09 11:13 a.m.

Also some older bike have the controls in the non traditional locations. Some old bikes have hand shifters. Then there are bikes like my old Harley that instead of shifting on the left they shift on the right.

I took a riders safety course and the instructor mentioned that the shifter is always on the left foot side. I corrected him, he didn't believe me so the next day I had someone bring one of the bikes by.

914Driver
914Driver Dork
5/15/09 11:17 a.m.

I think it was 1976 that things were standardized. Brits used to be right foot shift - left foot brake, as was the Aermacchi mentioned above.

Get into a panic stop and yo find yourself downshifting.

IIRC Indian gave you the choice of shifter side.

Dan

MadScientistMatt
MadScientistMatt HalfDork
5/15/09 12:20 p.m.

+1 on what Mental said. Don't worry if other riders think you're a newb or not. Nobody's born knowing how to ride a bike and everyone has to start somewhere.

I'd also like to add that if you are worried about embarassing yourself, it's easier to look like an experienced, in control rider on something that's easier to ride. FoundSoul and I were on I285 in a traffic jam a couple weeks ago when we spotted somebody on a literbike where it was pretty clear the guy had no idea how to control it. He couldn't balance it at low speeds, it would almost want to squirt away from him when he tried to get it moving, and the bike in general definitely wasn't under his control. We both commented on how it was pretty obvious he was a newb who had bought way too much bike for himself. Now, a guy who picks up a TU250 or a Royal Enfield will take a lot less time to get to a point where nobody can tell how long he's been riding it.

On the original topic, I've thought about getting a Royal Enfield, though I'm not sure how it would hold up to 40 mile commutes all the time. I've also been hankering for a CL350 Scrambler, preferably in a '70s shade of teal or orange.

stuart in mn
stuart in mn Dork
5/15/09 12:28 p.m.
914Driver wrote: I think it was 1976 that things were standardized. Brits used to be right foot shift - left foot brake, as was the Aermacchi mentioned above.

It was right about then, 1976 or maybe 1977. There were some Japanese bikes with reversed controls as well, my '68 Kawasaki W2SS is that way. It was actually my first bike, so I had to re-learn things once I got on a 'standard' motorcycle.

914Driver
914Driver Dork
5/15/09 12:40 p.m.

Ever drive a Binelli with rotary shifter? You start in first, click second, third, fourth, first.... Yeah you really have to pay attention.

I pick up my son's 450 Zuki made into a cafe bike on Sunday. I'll put up pics. Coolass little little commuter that looks British but has Japanese dependability.

Dan

haunter
haunter New Reader
5/15/09 1:03 p.m.
< I'd also like to add that if you are worried about embarassing yourself, it's easier to look like an experienced, in control rider on something that's easier to ride. FoundSoul and I were on I285 in a traffic jam a couple weeks ago when we spotted somebody on a literbike where it was pretty clear the guy had no idea how to control it. He couldn't balance it at low speeds, it would almost want to squirt away from him when he tried to get it moving, and the bike in general definitely wasn't under his control. We both commented on how it was pretty obvious he was a newb who had bought way too much bike for himself.

hey now my clutch needs bleed its releasing at teh end of the levers reach damnit!

rebelgtp
rebelgtp Dork
5/15/09 1:59 p.m.

Yeah quite a few of the original "sport" bikes (pre 76-77) had a right hand shift. I know there were even early Harley Sportsters that had the right hand shift. At some point someone told me this was called Grand Prix shifting but I don't know if that was true or not.

I know many of the old flat track bikes the shift was on the right so it was on the outside of the turn.

Appleseed
Appleseed HalfDork
5/15/09 7:31 p.m.
MadScientistMatt wrote: On the original topic, I've thought about getting a Royal Enfield, though I'm not sure how it would hold up to 40 mile commutes all the time. I've also been hankering for a CL350 Scrambler, preferably in a '70s shade of teal or orange.

Well, if Hindus in India can keep them running with rusty pliers and rocks, all while toting their entire family along, 40 miles isn't much.

skullsroad
skullsroad New Reader
5/15/09 9:59 p.m.

I'm surprised so many are telling me to get a new bike. I guess it really is a safety issue. I can't justify buying a new bike just like a can't (and probably will never) buy a new car. Especially if this is going to be my first time EVER on a motorcycle.

One of the main reasons to buy classic is I want to modify it. If its old and in need of parts, hey, a reason to upgrade! Plus, I won't take any pride in owning a new bike. If I put work into fixing up an old one, I'll feel better about it and may even take better care of it. If I had the cash right away I would pick up the CB750 I posted, sell the stock exhaust and fit a short single on it. Paint the tank satin black along with most of the chrome. Change out the big fender (unsure of the terminology for bikes) on front for a shorty (also black). Swap out the huge tail light and turn signals for cleaner pieces, tune it up and go. The weather was so nice today I almost frowned at my NX2000.

I saw a rider with a leather jacket on today and thought, "damn it must get hot in that thing." I can't imagine sitting at a light in 90 degree sunshine with hot exhaust swirling around you. But safety first I guess.

Oh yeah speaking of safety. I know Arai has a great rep but who else makes good helmets? HJC seems to be popular as well.

grinch77
grinch77 New Reader
5/15/09 10:40 p.m.

it's not that old ones are less safe there usually just big pain in the ass's

Appleseed
Appleseed HalfDork
5/15/09 11:10 p.m.

Things get real old if, on a nice day you're fixing a broke bike , instead off out riding. I suppose the same applies to cars.

96DXCivic
96DXCivic Reader
5/16/09 11:10 a.m.

From what I have seen Honda CBs seem to be the way to go. They are cheap, easy to work on, lots of parts available and can be modified in about in direction you want.

psteav
psteav Reader
5/16/09 2:55 p.m.

I will go ahead an buck convention and tell you to look for an old bike, but: Find one that someone else has already brought back from the dead- i.e., cleaned out and rebuilt the carbs, replaced the dried-up fork seals, put on new tires, and such. Craigslist is full of "I just pulled this out of my barn" specials, but if you look, you can find bikes that have been made reliable again, not just ridable. And they're cheaper than any modern.

MadScientistMatt
MadScientistMatt HalfDork
5/16/09 7:02 p.m.
Appleseed wrote: Well, if Hindus in India can keep them running with rusty pliers and rocks, all while toting their entire family along, 40 miles isn't much.

It's not actually that I'm worried about breaking stuff, more about things like the claims of 300 mile valve adjustment intervals and otherwise more frequent service than a more modern design. They sound like a bit more hassle than I'd prefer to deal with.

(looks at Royal Enfield website) Hmm, now they've got a new engine design, with EFI even. I may have to reconsider that!

benzbaron
benzbaron Reader
5/16/09 8:06 p.m.

Doesn't HD stand for hundred dollars? I'd forget about getting an old harley, maybe you could get a sportster, but the prices are above 3000$ around here, for an old harley.

Learn to ride and you impress more people than your bike. I can take my little buell blast around turns faster than people in bigger bikes because it is controlable. On a big bike either come onto or off the throttle too quickly, or spook and lock the rear brakes and down you go. Get something with cheap body parts, no one piece plastic fairings.

I'd start on something new and work your way back to an old bike, my uncle who swore by kick-start harleys went out and got a 2007 because he was sick of dicking with the thing.

ChristianL
ChristianL New Reader
5/17/09 12:31 a.m.

I'd like to reiterate my feeling that you get either a new bike or, as psteav mentioned, find an old one that someone has cared for. Definitely avoid one of the many "I just pulled this out of Grandpa's shed" bikes. Even something as simple as a rusted (inside) tank on a vintage bike can not only be hard to find, but expensive to either repair or pay the premium for a good one. And believe me, there's a lot of rusted tanks out there. Honda and Suzuki tend to discontinue parts after 20 years, and you can sometimes get lucky finding things like seal kits from K&L and other aftermarket suppliers, but a lot of times we found it to be a crap shoot on the older bikes.

On the flip side, we used to get "pampered" bikes that would come into our shop. They were the typical low mile, barely driven, wiped-with-a-diaper kind of bike. The problem was that the wheel bearings were shot because the owner washed it off in the fall, didn't clear out all the water, and then the water rusted away the wheel bearings over the course of six months in the garage. Or their carbs were completely clogged and needed a rebuild because they didn't put fuel stabilizer in the tank (if you want to torture a motorcycle mechanic, ask him to rebuild the carbs on a Honda Valkyrie...).

Also, definitely skip used sport bikes. I can't tell you how many dumb 17-year-olds came in riding new-to-them bikes that were in horrifically dangerous condition (one had a fairing held together with racing decals).

At the very least, please please please please do yourself a favor, and sign up for a motorcycle safety course before looking for a bike. When buying safety equipment (helmets, jackets, gloves, etc), find someone who will take the time to fit you correctly and educate you on what you're buying. Having apparel that fits "casually comfortable" won't do you any good when you go down.

Appleseed
Appleseed HalfDork
5/17/09 4:20 p.m.

Also, if you can, bring someone with, preferably with some motorcycle experience. That way they can say what they think of the bike with no emotional attachment. That exact thing saved me thousands.

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