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First bike
tegwin - 3/5/18 at 09:50 AM

Aloha! So I know a few of you are keen motorcyclists so after some advice....

I used to mess about with field bikes/quads etc as a youth but am only now just getting my license.... Going DAS so could get anything if I wished.

I fancy getting a bike to use to get to work but would also be nice to be able to explore on it and have some fun.

I am 6ft2 so I look a bit daft on a sports bike. I love the look of supermotos and the fact you can have fun without doing mach2.

Question is what do I get for a first bike?? Do I go for something small and light and under powered and ride for a bit before I go for something nicer?

Considering a 125 so I could practice pre test but I suspect I would get bored of that pretty quickly.

I quite like the look of the Suzuki DZR400 SM although the design is pretty dated and its heavy given the power. The KTM 690 duke also looks nice but I hear horror stories about KTM reliability....

I am in two minds re budget... I could either spend around 3-4K on something "nice" or get something for around 1500 to learn on and to prove to myself that biking is good for me before I invest in a more expensive bike...

Thoughts on a postcard please

HowardB - 3/5/18 at 10:18 AM

spend most of your money on protective gear, boots, full suit and a really good helmet,... re asses your budget after that expenditure.

tegwin - 3/5/18 at 10:24 AM

Originally posted by HowardB
spend most of your money on protective gear, boots, full suit and a really good helmet,... re asses your budget after that expenditure.

Thats a good shout, I have a little extra budget for gear although a quick google throws up a confusing range of gear with differing prices... Some research required I think to figure out what I actually need to spend.

Can see the merits in a full suit but for more casual riding a decent pair of trousers and a jacket would be my preference.. Perhaps a full suit for the winter.

Daf - 3/5/18 at 10:24 AM

Interesting one this, many sources will tell you to get something slow and steady as your first bike - the reality is if you can trust yourself not to be an idiot then you can get whatever you want. My first bike was a 160mph+ sport bike, but I treated it with respect (and fear) and had much fun without binning it. So before anything ask yourself deep down can you trust yourself...

I wouldn't bother with a 125 to practice on, I did my DAS years ago with no bike experience whatsoever - do exactly what the instructors tell you and apply all your driving experience and you will sail through.

I can't offer any major advice on bikes as I'm still on sport bikes whilst I'm still able to fold myself in half to get on one! However I did ride my friends Yamaha MT09 last year and what a bike that is - you feel like you could ride it for hours without getting uncomfortable and it's got some serious grunt too.

Daf - 3/5/18 at 10:31 AM

Originally posted by HowardB
spend most of your money on protective gear, boots, full suit and a really good helmet,... re asses your budget after that expenditure.

That is the best single piece of advice you could possibly get.

Back protector is a good investment, one of my friends is wheelchair bound due to an Tesco van

Charlie_Zetec - 3/5/18 at 12:49 PM

I was in exactly the same position you are a little over 5 years ago now, and asked around biker friends for advice about bikes and gear. Did my CBT/DAS in about a month around work, and passed first time.

Firstly (as has already been said), spend a reasonable about on proper gear - that includes jacket & trousers [I opted to avoid all-in-one leathers due to a) my size @ 6'2 and 18 stone, and b) you don't look as silly if you're not riding a sports bike], as well as gloves (I got all-rounders to start, but later added a pair of summer gloves), then boots, and most importantly helmet. At the time I went to the local Hein Gericke shop and got their own brand kit, which has been absolutely fine for me. In the summer months I sometimes ride in a pair of Draggin' Kevlar jeans, but that's personal preference. Helmet-wise, I opted for an HJC; it's not as expensive as AGV or Shoei or other top end items, but is comfortable and still serves me well. Built-in tinted visor is a bonus, and I also got the anti-fogging insert.

As for bikes, I did my CBT on a Honda CB100, then training and Mod 1 & 2 on a Kawasaki ER6-N (upright bike). Nice, but basic. First owned bike was a carb'd 1999 Honda CBR600 fX superlight - sports tourer. Not full frog-squat as you see on most sports bikes, but enough that it felt fast and I didn't look like a pimple on a haystack when riding. At 110bhp-ish it wasn't slow, but it wasn't the full on R1 power, and I kept up with bigger bikes through technique rather than outright power. Very reliable bike, that required nothing other than servicing and general maintenance (sprockets and chain), and I balanced the carbs as a matter of course post-service. It taught me a lot about riding, and I kept it for 3 years (including a few weekend trips away - couple of pannier bags, rear seat bag and tank bag, and away I went) before upgrading.

I now own a 2008 KTM Superduke 990. Totally different bike being a big ol' v-twin, and more upright riding. A bit more powerful at 132bhp, the torque is amazing (as is the twisty right hand noise that goes with it), but it doesn't like slow riding (if you ever do that). I've not had any issues with mine, but it's only covered about 6,000 miles (third of that in my ownership). I have read issues around water pump failure, but mine is religiously serviced and maintained, and I've never had any problems in almost 3 years. The only niggle is around the plastic fuel tank that has suffered bubbling/osmosis, which is a common failure that KTM refused to officially acknowledge. New tank is 1,550 so I'll just get mine keyed up, re-painted and the inside POR tank-sealed to prevent re-occurrence. Best bit about the bike for me is that (apart from the grin factor) it's something different to a lot of the other bikes you see on the road.

As an overview, you'll get good reliability from Honda (and presumable most other Jap brands, but I've never ventured into them), but don't be afraid to go off at a tangent. Avoid Chinese reps as some of them are really made of cheese, and difficult to get spares for. If you're feeling flush, look at Ducatti's, but expect to sit on it in the garage making noises, as it'll spend more time on a paddock stand being fixed than ridden (I think of them as the Alfa's of the bike world). But look at something circa 600bhp that you won't get too bored of, but leaves room to upgrade from if you feel like it.

Any questions or if you want to chat about anything, feel free to drop me a PM!

Nickp - 3/5/18 at 01:18 PM

My first bike was a Yamaha YZF600R, pretty sporty and good for about 160mph, which is fine as long as you don't go daft too soon. I then graduated to a Aprilia 1000 V-twin. Amazing bike, loved it. But saying that I probably had as much fun at lower speeds on the Big Trailie I had. It was a Honda XL1000 Varadero. Great riding position and you can really fling them about with the wide bars. I fitted more road biased tyres and WP suspension and it'd keep up with sports bikes through the twisties no bother. Most manufacturers do an equivelant, Suzuki V-strom, Triumph Tiger etc etc Deffo worth a look for a first bike and really suit us bigger lads

Mash - 3/5/18 at 01:33 PM

I've had various bikes over the years, but I'm definitely a 4 wheel man now, so I'm selling mine. Advertised this last year, but never got around to getting back to the people that pm'd me. I'm about to start again, but if you're interested:-


ChrisW - 3/5/18 at 02:23 PM

Like a couple have also said, I was in the same position a few years ago. I'm 6'4", and a fat bastard, so no way I was going for all-in-one power ranger style leathers!

I've ended up with matched leather trousers and jacket that can be zipped together at the waist if I'm planning on pushing a bit harder with the ride. Like someone mentioned, I also have a pair of kevlar-lined jeans that I wear on the bottom for less exuberant rides.

Helmet, I have always subscribed to the idea that the head is the most important bit and spent good money there. I have a Shoei GT Air. As mentioned, flip down sun visor and anti-fog insert are worth having.

Add in decent boots and a couple of pairs of gloves (for warm and cold days) and you are looking around 1500 worth of kit I guess.

For a bike, I bought a Yamaha MT-09. It's an 850cc in-line triple 'naked' with 120-ish bhp, so it's quick when you want but doesn't have you flat on the tank. Being my size I would look ridiculous on a sports bike and probably be uncomfortable as hell. I thoroughly recommend it as a first bike as long as you have the self control to not open it right up until you have a bit of experience under your belt.

Worth saying that a couple of mates had 600's (eg Kawasaki ER6, Yamaha MT-07) for first bikes and got bored of them really quickly. Sounds silly, and I didn't believe it when a dealer said that to me when I was looking at them initially, but it is absolutely true.


ianhurley20 - 3/5/18 at 09:38 PM

For what its worth I think the first thing is to make sure you have PROPER safety equipment on!
I have ridden bike since I was - 13 - no I am sure it was 16 really - oops.
I am now 50+ years older.
I started smaller and gradually built up to bigger so by the time I was 21 I had the fastest production bike in the world at that time. I have invested over the years in as much training as I could and became a member of the Institute of Advanced Motorists having passed tests etc.
I really think that you need to invest in training and ride defensively and build up to the bigger bikes after learning how to handle the less powerful ones first.
I can claim to have never come off a bike and to that end a few years ago I sold my Honda Pan European after a sudden attack of common sense and built a Haynes Roadster.
I would love to have a bike again but recognise that my record of never coming off is a bit fragile and most of the things a bike gives you can be had in relative safety with a self build car

If you really want to get a bike go for something that is relatively cheap but will provide the experience of biking maybe a Suzuki GS500F or similar. 500cc - not stupidly powerful but well able to hold its own and lots of cheap well looked after examples. Also no stupid electronics etc and cheaper tyres/ chains etc - and - not a lot - but a little weather protection from the fairing.

Have fun whatever you do

Simon - 3/5/18 at 10:22 PM

I stopped motorcycling 11 years ago (long after I started building toy car) so this year decided it was time to get another. Suzuki have some good deals so I got myself another Hayabusa (first ever brand new bike ) 3k deposit and 57/month. Had to get all new kit - RST jacket/trouser which zip together/boots, HJC helmet, and some decent gloves which was about 800.

Don't buy underpowered because you will get very bored very quickly. A the end of the day, it's your right wrist that controls speed so just be sensible. Getting back on the bike after so long I then had to run in my bike - 5500rpm for 600 miles so that tempers any stupidity while getting back into the swing of things. I'm still limited to 8k till 1000 miles.

From a common sense point of view, I'd look at the Street Triples from Triumph. Cracking looking bikes, switchable power modes 120ish bhp and just over 8k new. Even better secondhand

Also, once you've passed your test, join the IAM or RoSPA and do one (or both) of their respective advanced riding tests (and you'll gain a great m/c social life too)



hughpinder - 4/5/18 at 08:13 AM

If you aren't too bothered about road speed, the BMW GS 700/800/750/850 might fit and is a real 'adventure/exploring' type of bike. Newer ones can have the engine power deliberately programmed to half the usual. At your budget you would be looking at an older one though.

Have fun, but keep safe! Don't forget leathers/boots/gloves can be bought used, but only ever buy helmets new.

tegwin - 4/5/18 at 09:20 PM

Some really good advice thanks guys

Will check out those bikes and see what fits.

I passed my theory yesterday which is a start

StevieB - 5/5/18 at 07:55 PM

I've had a quite a few bikes over the last few years, doing a lot of green lining and have also competed in a couple of All Terrain Rally Challenges too.

I picked up a 125 while I was getting my license sorted, which was a 1985 Honda XL125R - great bike, Honda reliability and also sold it for 50 more than I paid for it (being a classic).

From there I got onto a Triumph Tiger 955i, which was a bit of a mistake - not very confidence inspiring as a first big bike.

I've had a few trail bikes, including a CCM 604 and a Husqvarna WR250 (fairly serious 2 stroke enduro machine - hard work to live with to be honest).

My current stable is a BMW G650 GS Sertao and and RGV 250. The beemer is honestly one of the best bikes I've ridden, design and quality is great, reliable, comfortable and will chew the road miles up as well as take on the trails as well.