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Bigger cruisers - too much for a beginner?

Discussion in 'Bike Reviews, Questions and Suggestions' started by Bravus, May 3, 2008.

  1. So my wife is keen to get her license, and the Q-Ride rules that allow experienced drivers to take some training and move up to bigger-then-250 bikes immediately are going to run out in July this year. So if she doesn't want to be stuck with a 250 for a couple of years she should move in the next couple of months (in fact, she should book this week!)

    She's 5'3" (about 163 cm or so) and doesn't get much change out of 100 kg, and she loves the cruiser look and style, and has a bad back so a sports riding position is out of the question anyway. We've been looking at various cruisers like the Honda 750 Shadow and the Yamaha XVS 750 on Bikesales, as well as checking out any we find in bike parking areas.

    i think she'd be fine to start on a 750 cruiser. The weight is low enough and the seat low enough that she'll have plenty of foot on the road. With some training and practice I think that'd be OK.

    But I could be wrong - I've never ridden any of these bikes. What would they be like for an absolute beginner? Should she go for a 250 Virago instead?

    Or, at the other end, there are some very nice cheap 1100 Viragos around. Would they be just way too much for a beginner?
  2. Yamaha XVS650 is LAMS-approved in NSW, so it can't be too bad even for a complete beginner. Yet it is definitely bigger than a 250cc Virago. Maybe it would be a good compromise?
  3. Well as far as the shadow goes...

    For me they are a heavy bike to turn... they are plenty low enough tho...
    I dont know its a tough call... I would say go with the 250 tho. The shadow felt a bit snatchy in the power for me too.. I would say it would be easy for a beginner to be too clumsy on the throttle and not be able to turn it quick enough to get out of trouble. Low speed manouvers and practice might not be the best for the same reason.
  4. Not a fan of 250 cruisers, as IMHO, they hardly add much to the riding experience if she will be riding with bigger bikes.

    Shadow's a good choice, as is the XVS - but also try VN800 and Suzuki M50 - plenty of women ride these. Also saves you having to go through the hassle of buying a bike, and then selling to upgrade, surely not worth it if she is keen on riding - buy the bigger bike, and if she loses interest at least you tried.

    Get her to sit on as many as she can, see how heavy they feel at rest for her and take it from there.
  5. Cheap comapred to what? If only a year or two older than the others, maybe, the power difference wont be too great, but don't know the weight difference.

    You've been down the older bike route with the GSX, FWIW, try and get new as you can afford as opposed to capacity
  6. Cruisers are confidence inspiring because of their low centre of gravity and low seat height. They also have gentle motors. I wouldn't have a problem with checking out LAMS approved cruisers as a starting point.

    The only thing to watch out for is the distance to the footpegs. Some cruisers have forward controls which might be too far away for short legs.
  7. When you allow your women to trade in old crappy models with not much go they start looking at you as the years go by with a weird look in their eyes...


    That said, most people drop their first bike so maybe you could look at a cheapie virago so its no big loss if you sell later and don't get all your bucks back?
  8. If your wife has a bad back, I don't think the cruiser style forward foot controls are that good. Essentially you can't use your legs to take any of the weight off your bum when the road gets bouncy. I've ridden for long periods on a loaner Virago and once the roads get a little rough, the lower back starts to feel the bumps.

    You want something where the pegs are under the body but not tucked right up.
  9. Yeah, she definitely doesn't want the 'folded in half forward' position with the forward foot controls and a long reach to the bars. Upright seating is what she's looking for, and that might even be more a naked than a cruiser.

    I was thinking about something like this, though:


    That's an XV1100, 1997 (and yeah, I hear you guys on not buying her something old and crappy), and seems to be pretty vertical in terms of seating. Something like that, but newer and smaller, should work OK I think. Will keep looking. The XVS650 seems to be very feet-forward.
  10. At 5'3" I wouldn't be looking too hard at the Suzuki M50.
    She'll be lunging to reach the bars unless she has gorilla arms.
    A mate of mine who is only like 5'6" had to have C50 bars put on his M so that he could comfortably reach them.
    I'd be looking primarily at the XVS650 if I was in your position.
    Or even that Korean thing, the Hyosung Aquila?
  11. Noyes Honda have cruisers for Q-Ride at the Ipswich store, and they do one hour lessons, so maybe get your wife out this way to have a go on a cruiser, or ring around the Q Ride providers and find someone closer to you who teaches on cruisers.

    I went for the RE Licence, and I'm in no hurry to upgrade to a R - I like my 250!
  12. Honestly if you were looking for something to keep for a long time it might actually be worth looking at an 883 Harley. The Sportster model has a fairly upright seating postion, in stock trim they don't exactly have an intimidating amount of power, and they're actually light compared with other mid-sized cruisers. Plus there's plenty of opportunity for modifying the bike to keep it interesting as her riding improves (including taking it out to 1200cc).
  13. I'd say that a middleweight cruiser would make a good learner bike.

    Low CG and seat height so less likely to be dropped.
    Large, soft-tune motor so gear selection is not critical.
    Lazy geometry so difficult to upset by uncoordinated steering inputs.
    Physically large so you get a bit of respect from other road users.

    Might be a bit awkward to manouver round the cones (if that's part of your licensing regime).
    Harder to pick up if it does go over.
    Limited ground clearance to absorb corner speed mistakes. However, new riders ('cept maybe Peaches :wink: ) don't generally lean that much or push that hard.

    If you can find something LAMs legal, within budget and with a riding position she likes, I'd say go for it. Bear in mind that bars can be changed without too much trouble. Footpegs are a bit more effort.
  14. Thanks all for your very helpful and thoughtful responses.

    That's very handy to know, Carol. I know Noyes well because I used to live at Karalee and ride a Honda, and they're probably as close to us in Moggill as anyone else anyway. I'll see about booking her in there.
  15. If you had to teach your wife to drive and buy her a new car to do it.

    Would you buy her a Hummer?
    Or would you buy her a cheap small Toyota hatch back to learn in.?

    The middle weight cruiser for a leaner ,feel like a big heavy truck.
    Go a cheap cheap 250cc ,and let her learn to ride and get what ever she likes after 3 months ,she will have to confidence by then.
  16. That does make a certain amount of sense - though budget definitely is an issue and you're always going to lose money on a change-over.

    But you may well be right that a Virago 250 will get the job done for the first few months or even a year. Once she gets really sick of having to change down 3 to get up hills it'll be time to move up...
  17. She should probably still do Q-Ride before July, though - I can't find the detail on the new laws, but they *might* keep her on a 250 for up to 3 years, which would not be helpful.
  18. When I started reading this topic I thought Oh-Oh...duck straight to the end and reply but.....I read on!......and see that somone has given you good advice.
    To follow on: If your wife has a bad back a cruiser could be the death of her, (your choice :twisted: ) the body weight tends to rest on the tailbone and the spine bends unnaturally.......add this to the seating position of a windsock and she's looking for strife IMO.
    For somone of her statue the forward mounted controls of a cruiser could prove very ungainly and be especially worriesome to a learner. The lack of lower bodystrength/legstrength is of prime concern
    Personally I think she would be better off, for now and down the track, by getting something along the lines of a naked, something more upright, a gentle lean forward which takes the load of the lower back and onto the arms...foot controls directly below, planting the foot will be simple for her and in this riding stance she will undoubtably feel more in control, which believe me, is your biggest obstacle to her staying positive......
    Best of luck
  19. I think if she's enrolled in Q Ride before June 30, she follows the current rules, but after 1st July, she has to ride the 250 for a year before upgrading.... might find the resale on a Virago 250 a whole lot higher this time next year....