Best of the rest in the entry-level world will cover scooters, Harley and used bike purchases.
We rolled right through the major brands in the last two articles, but there are a few things left to discuss.
Scooters are excellent sources of entertainment. They make them from 50cc to the new Aprilia SRV850 Maxi-Sport Scooter. Most people choose 150-250cc scooters for inner-city living and the 500-850cc scooters for highway or mountain travel. There are pros and cons to all and you have to always remember that they are not motorcycles and therefore do not handle or brake like them. The closest thing to motorcycle handling and braking in the scooter market is the Yamaha T-Max 500. There are new competitors all the time so just research it a bit and you will find a scooter that is suitable to your commuting needs.
Harley Davidson was intentionally held toward the last of the manufacturers. Why? The Buell Blast was their only “entry” level bike. Buell, as a Harley product, is gone and that makes it pretty tough to say they have an entry level bike. Since the XL883 models are the smallest displacement motorcycle Harley makes, there is an inherent issue with new ownership. They are top heavy and newbies tend to drop them easily. If you must have a Harley as your first motorcycle then consider the Dyna class. It’s a larger motor, but the center of gravity is lower and therefore easier to handle the weight and turn the motorcycle in tight conditions.
Buy used for your very first bike. Why? Let’s put it this way: You won’t cry nearly as bad dropping a $3,000 bike vs a $12,000 bike. There are excellent choices in used bikes. I spent my first 20 years of motorcycle ownership buying bikes that were 10 years old or older. And it is reasonable to believe that as a new rider mistakes will happen. You’ll be practicing in a parking lot or the front yard when suddenly you are picking your bike up from a u-turn or forgetting to put down your feet when you stop. Don’t laugh. When you go to the Georgia Department of Driver Services to renew or apply for a motorcycle license, ask an examiner how many times a week they see people forgetting to put down their feet when the bike stops.
MIA: Dozens of cool little bikes from Europe, Great Britain and Asia. There are dozens of European websites that do road test on these little riots. A couple bikes that will not be coming to America are the KTM Duke 125 and 200. Sadly, KTM believes that there will not be enough sales to import them, but they should because both these bikes would cause miles of smiles for any seasoned rider. They were designed to be entry level bikes but they look like their big brother the Duke 690. I didn’t mention the KTM Duke 690 earlier because it’s not an entry level bike.
Wrapping up this four-part series, remember that purchasing a first bike used is always better than new, cheap is always better than expensive and find riders to discuss their opinions on small displacement motorcycles. Ask service managers about maintaining bikes you are interested in. Ask friends if they have ridden bikes you are interested in and if possible take a seasoned rider that has a history of owning many bikes. These riders will be helpful in assisting you if you make a private party purchase. Since there is typically no warranty available on a used motorcycle, taking a veteran motorcyclist will help you to decide if the bike’s value is correct.
In the end, the entry level bike is a great choice because it gives the rider time to learn the basics on a bike that is not so powerful that it will scare the heck out of a new rider if a mistake is made. I have introduced people to riding smaller bikes and instead of listening to three decades of experience they trade out of their bikes much too soon. Then, when an accident occurs due solely to lack of experience, they become too shaken to ride again. That’s not the way it’s supposed to be. Good training on a motorcycle takes years and many miles. Then you step up to the next level. People get this notion that they want only one bike. In 30 years of riding I have owned more than 20 motorcycles. You NEVER keep one bike. Your mood changes, your style changes, your bike changes. It happens to every rider. In the riding world nothing is permanent. Think of bikes as expensive toys. You love them until you don’t — then you get a new one. Happy trails Georgia riders!!