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BIG pre-rider looking for advice

Discussion in 'New Riders and Riding Tips' started by Pugsly, Mar 31, 2013.

  1. Hi,

    I've been reading the forums for a week or two now, and am at a point where I need to ask a few questions.

    Summary (or tl;dr):
    I'm looking for comments on the training facilities I have nearby (SE Melbourne)
    I need advice on secondhand bikes (~$5k, what is too many km, what to lookout for); and
    I need advice on where to get gear for a big (fat) 6'/150kg bloke.


    I'm looking at a few training facilities nearish to me currently to do my rider training and testing at. They are:
    HART in Kilsyth (a bit of a hike)
    RikeTek at Sandown (probably closest); and
    Motorcycle Motion in Moorabbin.

    Can anyone recommend any one of these over another, or provide a warning about any of them?

    Now, I'm a big bloke. 6' tall, and 150kg. Yes, I'm fat. I'm working on that, but it's slow work.

    I'm in my late 30s and am looking at buying a house in the outer SE of Melbourne. This means a longer commute time, or having to get up at stupid-o-clock to drive and park at a train station. I've started thinking a bike may help reduce costs to some extent, and more importantly commute time compared to my mid 90's Jeep Cherokee that is currently my daily driver and weekend plaything (reduced fuel, tolls and parking - I understand servicing costs will be higher for a bike).

    I'm looking for a bike for commuting. Being big, I'm thinking that nothing under 400cc is going to cut it, though I have noticed a lot of 250cc bikes for sale second hand. I'm no speed demon, I got that out of my system in my youth, but I want something powerful enough to keep up with freeway traffic, and can get me out of trouble where needed. Is it worth considering a 250? I wear a suit everyday and I may not end up at the same work location everyday, so having lockable storage on the bike is a must. The bike should be able to store my suit + shoes, laptop bag and wet weather gear, and alternatively my helmet, and protective gear when I'm not on the bike. Finally, the bike also must be quiet, that is, no louder than your average car. I sometimes have to leave for work early, and I don't want the whole neighbourhood knowing that I'm leaving (or arriving home). I personally dislike noisy cars and bikes.

    So reading the above, you can forgive me for considering a maxi scooter. I don't give two s#!t$ about what anyone thinks about my masculinity or sexuality, so I'm considering them, but I'm looking at all options. If practicality was to be damned, then cruisers are probably more my style for a bike, the problems I've heard about them being if it rains, then all of you gets wet. Scooters also seem to be a lower cost item, and for the price have things like EFI and ABS.

    With a pending house purchase, I don't have a lot of disposable folding stuff to play with. I'm thinking $1k for gear, and maybe $4-5k for a bike, plus onroad costs. So obviously second hand bikes are front and centre for me. What I don't yet understand is what constitutes high kms for a bike, and what problems to look for with a bike. I know a spanner from a screwdriver so am not completely useless in that department.

    Bikes that I'm vaguely considering (but really I have no idea) are:

    I'm not in a position to test ride any until I get my Ls, and even then it's going to take a while to get my confidence to put any bike through it's paces for a test, so I'm really reliant on other experienced riders.

    Finally, like everyone else, I need gear. I've a big head, but not off the scale, my feet are a relatively average size, but the bits in the middle are well above average - where can a big guy go to get a jacket and pants? I am slowly losing weight, so what fits today, is going to be too big in a years time. For that reason, I want to keep cost under control. Safety is an absolute priority though, my wife and my son demand it!

    Sorry for the wall of text, I'm trying to give enough information so that I can get meaningful advice. I'll continue reading the threads on the forum to get as much info as I can before I spend any dosh.

    Thanks for your time!
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  2. the gs 500 is a good solid bike theres one for sale in the classified section
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  3. Don't be shy about looking at the maxi-scooters such as the Burgman 650 ... they have good amounts of storage and, being auto, are quite snappy off the mark. In practised hands they fair scoot along (pun intended).
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  4. Can't comment on the others but have done L's and P's at Ridetek in Sandown and they were good (small groups and helpful instructor). You'll also get to ride fairly average 250's so you can see if they're OK or not.
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  5. Have someone show you how to do basic servicing (oil,oil filter, air filter, chain oil/adjust and basic safety check) and you will be able to cut your servicing costs alot.
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  6. I did my Ls at Ridetek as well and was very happy.

    I also thought I'd get a bike because it would be cheap.... Have not stopped spending money since... Just so much cool stuff to buy, I love it!
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  7. Another Ride-tek fan here. Did both Ls and Ps there and very happy.

    Can't comment on bikes as there's more experienced people here for that, but for larger sized gear, try Bikers Gear Australia in Ferntree Gully. They do large sizes, and will custom size for a small fee. Obviously something like Tiger Angel would be better, but you're talking big $$$ then.
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  8. GS500 is a good choice. You would most likely need stiffer fork springs and rear shocks though.
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  9. Don't discount bikes like the KLR650 and DR650. They're taller, torquier and well suited to larger blokes with longer travel suspension and being a bit taller have good visibility to see over and around cars etc. They're also cheap to run, reasonable to maintain and capable of most things. The DR is also quite nimble for a 650 single both on and off the tar. They're both also LAMS approved and have huge after-market parts availability. Neither one is a red hot scratcher, however, but then most LAMS bikes aren't.
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  10. ^^^Forgive the aside, but what is their tank capacity like? I hear people riding these sorts of bikes concerned about fuel stops on group rides. PITA if you're filling up all the time.

    Understand that still might be a better option for this person, just asking....
  11. The KLR has about 21litres and gets up to 400Km on a tank. The DR is about 13litres with a correspondingly lower range.
  12. #12 twistngo, Mar 31, 2013
    Last edited: Mar 31, 2013
    Could also look at a BMW F650. Another LAMS 650 single.
    The Suzuki Burgman 250 scooters are good as well. (and I'm selling one at the moment but its not on netrider as I didn't think it was the right market)
    • Like Like x 2

  13. Mars Leather's in Elizabeth St Melbourne, have a huge range of leather and wet weather gear that comes in a lot of larger sizes.
    I bought a Leather Jacket last week for $150 in a larger size, it was a run out style but could not leave it there as a second jacket.
    Also they can custom fit as well if you do find that there sizes are not suitable.

    Another option is Tiger Angel, they custom fit leather gear, Full race suites and Jacket and Pants. http://www.tigerangel.com/
    I commute everyday on the Monash to the CBD and I wear a suit at work as well, I have found a couple of suits that I can wear the pants and shirt under my leather suit. The suit pants are a bit wrinkled when I first take off the Leathers but after about 10 minutes most of the wrinkles fall out and they look fine.
    I just leave the suit Jacket at work and we have Dry Cleaners in the building so just run them through when needed.

    Cheers (y)
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  14. Thanks for all the replies!

    With all the positive feedback on RikeTek I'll give them a call on Tuesday.

    Thanks for the heads up on Bikers Gear Australia in Ferntree Gully and Mars Leather's in Elizabeth St Melbourne. I'll check out Mars when I'm in the office next and will check out Bikers Gear Australia on the weekend. It's good to know that custom gear is an option.

    For helmets.. Is there a generally accepted brand/model to go with, or to avoid? I've seen full face that flip up so you can sort of have an open face helmet, and I've read about some that have a built in sunglasses/visor type thing. Apart from fit and AS adherence, what should I be looking out for here?

    Bikes.. sheesh, this is the hard bit..

    The GS500F gets a good rap, and the maxis seem to be ok too.

    If I focus on the GS500F for a moment, I note that the RRP (plus onroads) is $6490 which seems really cheap. I guess the lack of EFI, ABS and other niceties are the reason. If I look at the secondhand market for these, I see a 2012 demo bike with 250km on it for $6490 ride away...

    Then I see a bunch of bikes varying from 2007 to 2011 from 5k to 12k kms for around $5k to $5.5k. The bike on the classified here is roughly in that range.

    So.. two questions here. What constitutes a lot of km on a bike? When is an engine going to start needing work? How often do chains and front and rear spockets need replacing, what are the big ticket items I need to be concerned about?

    Buying a bike for $5k, and then needing to do $1500 of work on it would seem to be a false economy. Conversely, what on road costs am I looking at for a brand new GS500F (apart from insurance) and given the RRP is there any wiggle room for negotiating a better price from a Suzuki dealer?

    Thanks again for the replies!
  15. Brett at Madbiker in Ferntreegully does pre purchase bike inspections.
    Well worthwhile. The exact cost depends on how far he has to travel. Forget the cost but its over $100. He also knows what bikes are worth and can help with the bargaining.
    With helmets go for fit first. The peter stevens clearance centre (upstairs in Elizabeth st) is a good place to start. Like all bike shops, they are like sharks so be wary. $300-$400 should get something decent.
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  16. yes all good questions, lams bikes tend to hold a higher % of original value .km isnt as important as service history. that one you were looking at earlier seems ok maybe a tiny bit steep but its really up to you to negotiate a price your both comfortable with
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  17. AMX Bayswater is another option for riding gear. Plenty of helmets on the racks. I tried a few places and eventually got an AGV helmet from AMX, price $180.
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  18. Hey puglsy - welcome to Netrider :)

    I was in a somewhat similar situation. Six foot, 120kg, late thirties and a day one learner. Difference is my plan was for a toy rather than a commuter - so different outlook I guess.

    I wasn't interested in scooters, and noise isn't an issue for me, but I kept hearing from people in the know, don't get something too small or it'll drive you nuts. Very very true. I went with a 650cc BMW as my starter bike. It's not exactly what I was looking for, but it put a tick in every box. Upright seating position, good visibility, wide handle bars, and a good engine capacity. Others have mentioned the KLR and similar "adventure touring" bikes - I highly recommend you check these out. Mine is an F650CS, and can only think the GS model would be perfect - check em out for sure.

    It's got "a lot of k's" I suppose (50k+) but for a 10 year old bike, I think that's fine. Service history is crappy, but seems to be rock solid. It's also got a belt drive rather than chain, so less weekly maintenance too :) Suits me to the ground - I'm ok with the tools, but I'd prefer to ride than tinker.

    For gear, I walked into Peter Stevens, walked out with helmet, gloves, boots, jacket and pants that all fit nicely, for a fraction off $1200. They seem to do a pretty decent in-store discount, so don't just go by the listed price. I found they had a pretty good selection of sized gear, some that was too big for me which is pretty unusual, although most stopped at my size.

    As for the helmet, I went for the Shoei XXL which fits nicely. I tried on the cheaper ones, but all seemed to be made for egg-heads, not spheroid ones like mine. Go for comfort and quality over price with head gear. Mine was listed at $700+ but paid just under $500 in-store. Buy the whole kit, and they can knock more off the total. I'd suggest keeping away from the articulated ones, more for price, but also the old rule that the more complex something is, the more likely it is to break. Grab a standard brain-bucket and you'll be set.

    Ask lots of questions, and if you need/want help test riding, there'll likely be plenty of offers of help :)

    Best of luck with it all.
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  19. AMX Bayswater seems to have a decent range of gear in larger sizes and seems pretty good about working out a deal if you buy a lot of stuff from them in one hit. I picked up jacket, draggins, boots, gloves and helmet from there recently. Full price was close to $1500 but I only paid $1200 after some negotiation.

    There's a Peter Stevens clearance store in Ferntree Gully as well where I picked up my original helmet - Arai Vector (original, not Vector 2). RRP is about $550, but they were clearing them out for $280 at the time. Might be worth checking out if you're in the area.

    As for the bike itself, have you considered a cruiser? I hadn't when I first started looking, but then I sat on a VStar 650 and it suited me better than anything else. With the stock exhaust, they're a reasonably quiet bike, they can haul a decent load very nicely and might suit you. They can be a bit expensive, depending on age and condition (anywhere from $5000 to $10000 usually) but you never know, it might be your thing.
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  20. Agreed about the GS500. Got a mate who is 6'8" and that thing still hauls ass with him weighing it down.

    Don't discount the Hyosung GT650 though. I know there are plenty of horror stories about their reputation, and people will be like blah blah don't be a homo, but seriously, out of all the learner friendly bikes I've seen, ridden and hung around, nothing has more torque than the GT650 so far.
    I'm not saying there isn't one with more, but you'd be hard pressed to find something that'll significantly top it.

    I can be doing 50kph in 3rd at like 1.5k rpm, twist the throttle and she'll go Brrrrrrrrmpphfff. She doesn't care.
    Might help a lot with getting off the line and getting out of tighter situations being a bigger bloke as you said, since you won't be forced to wait for that higher powerband that most bikes have.
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