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Help me choose a motorbike

Discussion in 'off topic' started by Mike P, Sep 15, 2020.

  1. Mike P

    Mike P pfm Member

    Yesterday I got my full motorcycle license and so it's time to sell the 125cc and go bike shopping. :)

    The trouble is I've not been interested in bikes for long and I don't really know what to go for.

    A bit of background...

    At heart I'm really a classic car guy but we moved house a few years ago and I've now only got a cramped single garage which isn't really roomy enough inside to be able to work on a car. So, I had the bright idea of getting myself a classic bike to tinker with instead.

    I had a 1950 BSA Bantam for short while which was a charming little thing but I quickly realised that is was too under-powered for the steep hills around here and not a very sensible bike to develop my riding on.

    So the Bantam went and I replaced it with a Yamaha YBR125 custom which has been a great little bike for developing my riding on but it's time to upgrade to something more interesting and that's going to give me greater pride of ownership.

    The original intention was to get a classic bike as a substitute for a classic car. Something British and from the 1950's-1960's but having ridden around on a modern 650cc Suzuki for my lessons and test I'm starting to see the appeal of a more modern bike.

    I've a feeling that 70's Japanese or BMW might be the sensible middle ground in which you can still have a classic bike but one with performance that can keep up with modern traffic but with much better reliability than bikes from a generation earlier.

    I like to work on my own bikes so something relatively easy to work on with good parts availability is a big plus point.

    I'm not a big chap (5' 8" and 64kg) so I don't want a bike that's too tall or too heavy and I don't want a 2-stoke.

    The bike I'm currently favouring is a Honda CB 400/4 Super Sport which I figure ticks all of the boxes for me.

    Your thought please gents.
  2. cutting42

    cutting42 Arrived at B4 Hacker Erg \o/

  3. Darren L

    Darren L pfm Member

    Depends very much on budget but I'd recommend a W650 , modern with classic looks and a good bike, 50's and 60's Brit bikes and your into fairly big money for something that won't break your heart. 70's and early 80's Metric bikes have shot up in price over the past 15 years, though there is some real nice bikes especially CB's and Z's.
    The larger parallel twins, Triumph T120, Norton commando, would be adequately quick enough for modern traffic but the brakes are shite, even the duplex drums.
    Really depends on how much time you want to spend tinkering V's riding.
    wow&flutter likes this.
  4. Tony Lockhart

    Tony Lockhart Avoiding Stress, at Every Opportunity

    Buy a modern CBR600 for riding on, and a large box to put all the bits of a classic bike in ;)

    As above, budget is king here.
  5. Mike P

    Mike P pfm Member

    Thanks for the replies chaps.

    I'm hoping that if I buy wisely I can get a bike that will at least hold its value, if not increase in value.

    Absolute max budget could be £8k but I'd be much more comfortable keeping it below £5K and I've no objections to spending much less if I can still get a bike that ticks all the boxes on a lower budget.
  6. Mike P

    Mike P pfm Member

    Is there much/any difference in build quality between the 1970's bikes from Honda, Kawasaki, Yamaha and Suzuki?
  7. cutting42

    cutting42 Arrived at B4 Hacker Erg \o/

    I had no experience of Kawasaki but the others seem much of a muchness although my Yam experience was with the 2 strokes.
  8. Rug Doc

    Rug Doc pfm Member

    I’d buy a younger bike to ride that you can trust to be reliable and then get a Triton or bigger BSA to tinker with and take out on sunny days.
  9. Mike P

    Mike P pfm Member

    The bike will only be a toy used for sunny days anyway.
  10. -alan-

    -alan- pfm Member

    There are fanboys who will swear that one brand is much better than the others. The general perception round here is that the Big H tended to put slightly better bikes together, with longer lasting finish and better design. In general the variation between between models will be more of a factor. The original 750/4 and 500/4 Hondas were deemed to be well finished and bulletproof - but the 400/4 that they released subsequently had a reputation for short lived top-ends and cam-chain woes. Every manufacturer has rolled out a turkey or two in the past (and still continue to do so..).

    With any bike from that era though - the most important thing will be how it has been looked after throughout its life.
  11. Graham B

    Graham B pfm Member

    If it’s to be a sunny weekend toy and you’re not a big lad, how about a Ducati Monster? Small, light and simple with good brakes and low down power, enough to be fun but not mad, and more interesting than a simple Japanese road bike. I had a test ride on a 900cc model which was great fun, but I’m 186 cms and found it uncomfortable.
    Yank, Sue Pertwee-Tyr and Snufkin like this.
  12. -alan-

    -alan- pfm Member

    ^ Modern 'quirky' bike with decent performance and brakes - and a bit of character - would be a good call imo.

    This man speaketh truth. It can be very satisfying to finally crack some particular little bug on an older bike and get it sorted - but sometimes you just want a decent quick run on something modern and fast.
    A two bike stable..perhaps :)
  13. Mike P

    Mike P pfm Member

    How about the CB550? A friend of mine had one and loved it.
  14. Enfield boy

    Enfield boy pfm Member

    I bought a new RE Interceptor 650 last year and really like it. It replaced a Triumph Sprint ST 955i that I'd had for 16 years. The Mrs and I toured France, Spain, Italy and Germany on that and it was brilliant but at 63 and after a year of crap health it was too tall and heavy. I had an early Hinckley Bonnie for a couple of years when they first came out too, it was nice but the Enfield is better IMO.
    As with stereo all our ears/ar5es are different so get out their and have some fun making up your mind!
    Jonboi and stevied like this.
  15. awkwardbydesign

    awkwardbydesign Officially Awesome

    Moto Guzzi V50 Mk.3 If you can find a half decent one. Very easy to work on (I bought mine to learn mechanicking on) lowish seat height, lots of spares and enthusiasts, reliable enough (points not electronic ignition) apart from occasional valve problems, different enough to be interesting, handles and stops well enough. I sold mine to my son, who commuted on it, but broke the gear selector with his commando boots! Fixed it quite easily and sold it for more than I paid for it ( only way he was going to pay me!). Not as bullet proof as the bigger Guzzis (I've had 3 of those), but great fun.
    I added a Le Mans Mk.1 screen to mine.
    I've just noticed the top box. Still using that 25 years on, and I bought it second hand!
    I am now down to just the Suzuki SV650S, but having given up track-days I would love another V50 instead.
    stevied and Snufkin like this.
  16. Arkless Electronics

    Arkless Electronics Trade: Amp design and repairs.

    Suzuki GS550 or 750 for total reliability (other than an alternator now and then until you fit a Superdream rectifier/regulator). Better than the Honda models which they were intended to take on and beat, but the 550 is rather large and heavy for a 550. For a "modern classic" a Honda VFR750 is a very nice bike indeed and about the best build quality out there. Very reliable but fiendishly complicated to work on if it ever does go wrong....
    cutting42, wow&flutter and Snufkin like this.
  17. david ellwood

    david ellwood Kirabosi Kognoscente

    Hondas are nice but built for small blokes. I lust after a BMW K1300RS but also like the look of the Moto Guzzi Griso.

    Yamaha R1 are bulletproof reliable and a hoot.
  18. Thorn

    Thorn pfm Member

    A Moto Guzzi V7II or III. Classic styling, modern in every other way. I'd put a picture up, but have still not worked out how to do It, despite many explanations.
    stevied likes this.
  19. SteveG

    SteveG pfm Member

    This is my mid-80's Honda, an XBR500, which would make a pretty decent first bike and a good commuter etc.:

    Something like a CB500 (either the current one or the last generation) would also be a pretty good choice.

    My son is currently learning on our little MSX125 and I'm giving some thought to what his first big bike will be once he gets around to passing his test. The CB500X is definitely a candidate although he fancies the idea of a Royal Enfield and I'm thinking a BMW 310GS perhaps.
  20. -alan-

    -alan- pfm Member

    Good enough bike if you can find a decent one. A later model than the 500, so supposedly a better bike all round.

    I also had (until recently) one of Arkless' little V50 Guzzis. Light enough weight and good handling - but desperately slow for a 500 even by 70s standards. Build quality definitely wouldn't be up there with the likes of the bigger engined Tonti Guzzis.

    On the old vs new debate - this might be worth a watch. The guy tends to split opinion, but I like him, and his vids are always informative:

    Mike P and stevied like this.

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