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Scooter to LAMS motorbike transition

Discussion in 'Bike Reviews, Questions and Suggestions' at netrider.net.au started by mark59, Feb 11, 2012.

  1. Howdy all,

    here's the thing - I am a noob on two wheels at a tender 52.5 years (why did I wait so frickin' long??).

    I commute 50k in and and out from Eltham to Parkville - going to work has never been such a blast.

    I've got 4500 ks up now on my TGB 101r 150cc. Its light, thin (<700 mm) and slices the carpark I ride through each day like a wicked dream. It'll go 95kpm if I ask nicely and has just enough pluck to get me off the line and away from the Heidelberg Road Grand Prix red light grid. So, what's the problem?

    Well, the el cheapo Taiwanese scoot is made from tin cans and sticky tape and I suspect will be a heap 'o rust by winters end. Plus I am riding the wheels off the thing and I know that I am going to find the limit of its limited performance very soon. Hence, my interest in the what's next. I guess I could look at a better scoot such as the Aprilia Sportcity Cube 300. It has similar non-latte sipping, angular features as the TGB, is light, thin and packs a whallop with its EFI Quasar engine.


    Its still a scooter and I guess I just want a motorbike - and I am sure I don't need to explain that to you lot! Blame it on Brando and McQueen.

    So, I anticipate buying the new wheels in the next 6 months so I'll still be within the LAMS period. Question is, what is an appropriate bike for a scooter rider who does 250 k per week through inner city traffic. I am building my roadcraft with every trip and so am not quite the typical newbie, fresh on their 'L's. Being a mature gent, ahem, I also have the presence of mind not to go nuts and thrash a bike (and me) into an early oblivion. So a 250 just doesn't seem appropriate. As I currently stay off the freeway due to lack of go-go-go, I want a bike that gives me that option, and with plenty of headroom to crack the right wrist and get away from some killer cager. I do not anticipate riding on the twisties to Kinglake or long road trips (mores the pity).

    I've been going around and around on this. Lucky me, I am a 10 minute walk to Elizabeth St and have just about worn out my shoes trekking back and forth! I've been doing intensive homework and seem to be circling around several bikes. The sales dudes are helpful but I am throwing myself on the mercy of the collective wisdom of the NR clan to help sort out my thinking here.

    Bikes I've been looking at seem to be nakeds as I am a bit partial to the rocker thing and have a soft, gooey spot for Bonnies, Commandos, classics of any kind but they are usually too big a jump up for a guy who has cut his chops on a scooter.

    I keep coming back to:

    GS500 (of course)
    Enfield Bullet (thug, thug, mmmmm)
    TU250 (mini Bonnie, but...)
    ER-6nl (ooooooooh yeah baby)
    W400 (too floppy)
    Duke 659 (too $$$$)
    Gladius (too bling bling)
    DR650 (too tall)
    CB400 (too sensible)

    BTW, I am 90 kg and 5' 8" and would like to be flat footed at the lights (unlike my current ride).


    Grasshopper is awaiting your divine wisdom, oh NR Master. Then I can snatch that pebble and wring the neck out of a real bike!

  2. So, you're partial to a naked. No worries, that's a good start. One of my in-laws has a LAMS Gladius, it's ok. Put a smile on my face the first time I rode it. Why do you think the CB400 is too sensible? Guys on here rave about them.

    One thing you haven't stated is your budget, how much you willing to shell out?
  3. Budget? Hmmm. Well, I guess $6000 is a guide, as the TGB was a mere $1500 - paid more for the riding gear!

    I am mindful of advice about getting a second hand bike that gets you to the next level - say a GS500 before a ER-6n full. Perhaps I need to accept that there is another learning phase ahead of me and a drop-able pre-owned GS500 is the ideal option.

    I've thought of waiting out the LAMS period on the scoot and then going to something bigger but I suspect that is way too big a jump.

    The CB400 seems like an ideal bike but perhaps the 4 cylinders may not be appropriate compared to inline pair or V twin. I guess I really need to understand exactly the difference in power bands, vibration etc etc to make an informed choice. This is where your collective experience is so valuable.

    I sat on an Enfield Bullet at Motorcycle City and the nice man fired it up. Thug thug! It is a living thing I tell you!!! I assume the CB400 to be much more refined and I guess I am beginning to get in touch with my inner hoodlum (shameful really!). The raw nature of the Enfield really appeals but they say its not really going to give me the zip I need to get out of tight spots on the freeway. Dunno.

    I just wish I had started 30 years ago and all this would be academic! Still, its a very nice problem to have!
  4. I think your list is pretty good.

    I had a shot of a CB400 the other week and it is super easy to ride (so is a GS500). Not mind blowing performance but I'd happily have one for zipping through the city.
  5. if you wait 6 months, chuck in a few grand more and blow your pants over the triumph naked, from what I hear, you wont look back!!
  6. I like your thinking about the Triumph but how practical/safe/sane would it be to try to make a transition from my scoot to anything over 500cc in the first instance?

    I was looking at the black ER-6nl at Peter Stevens and the sales guy steered me back to the Suzuki TU250, rather than even the GS500. I'd been advised by the Triumph guy at Harley Heaven that a 250 on the freeway would feel like my scooter on a 80kph main road - pretty much at the limit with nothing left in reserve for a power boost when you need it most.

    I guess someone must think that a newbie can handle a 650 the day after they get their "L"s otherwise they wouldn't be on the list - or am I putting way too much faith in the whole LAMS thing?

    Would 15 months city riding on a scoot give me a sound basis to go to an 865cc Bonnie in one step - even if I was ever so cautious? How forgiving is it to, say the GS500?

    Perhaps I just need to hire a few bikes to really get to the bottom of this, eh? Could be a good investment I reckon.
  7. #7 jag131990, Feb 11, 2012
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 24, 2015
  8. CB400 is the one if you don't mind the cost. Yes, it is pretty expensive being only 400cc, but what you get for your money is fewer cc's but more quality of components, materials and fit and finish. It is made in Japan, mainly for Japanese market. It is also a small bike physically so you should be able to flat-foot it with no problems.
    As for being too sensible... it has the engine that loves to rev and will crack 160km/hr, easy. What more do you want? I think it's a perfect stepping stone from a scooter.
  9. Have you had a look at cruisers? I've a Yamaha V-star 650 (it's LAMS) & it's awesome. I commute everyday & it's still good for long rides.

    There's one for sale in the classifieds section here in NR & I know him pretty well. Bike has been looked after as well. Worth a look.

    You can keep it for a year or two & then probably sell it at the same price as they hold their value pretty well.
  10. I agree with RacingTurtles. Having just bought a CB400 so I may be biased, but I'm really happy that I decided on this bike. It's easy to ride and very forgiving. I don't have any trouble handling it on the ground and I truly love riding it. I've ridden a GS500 and while there is absolutely nothing wrong with the Suzuki, I still prefer the CB. I'm 5'8" and around 70kgs but the gentleman I bought it from would have been closer to your size and he had no problems with it from a size perspective. I think it comes down to the bike you like and what you feel comfortable on. Certainly from my point of view, paying more and getting what I wanted has been worth it so far. The CB puts a smile on my face every time I ride it, and for me, that's what it's all about. Good luck with your search.
  11. wait six months. don't buy another underpowered machine.
    meanwhile, invest in training. do courses on motorcycles. get some time in the saddle, borrow or hire.

    then, you've allready nailed your ideal bike. er6n.
    for your intended purpose, the perfect commuter. narrow, economical, sufficient power. and with the right can it sounds like a motorbike amongst the traffic, distinctively. comfortable upright seating and ergos.
    the only thing that can top that in heavy traffic is a super retard. but you may not find them comfortable. though there is a new husqvarna 449, that may be of interest perhaps, around 8 grand
  12. don't be ridiculous
  13. If you are only doing occasional freeway work I think the TU250 would be great. The look stunning and they would be fantastic in traffic. I used to have a suzuki GN250 (Pretty much the direct ancestor of the TU250) and it was great around town and would do 120 km/hr easily before it ran out of puff. Also the wet weight was only about 135 kg, so it will be a much easier transition than some of the heavier bikes.
  14. Some things to consider: on one hand, MT1 has a point - if you only have to wait a few more months to go off LAMS it might well be worth it. Certainly it will open up a lot of possibilities, including Bonnie, my current favourite W800, or ER6 or....
    also, give your TGB a bit of credit - they are pretty solid machines actually and I have no doubt it will serve you until the end of your restricted period and beyond. As for outgrowing its limits... well, I've said it before, I'll say it again: If you just need to commute this whole idea of 'outgrowing the limits' of small machines doesn't make any sense to me because small is actually better in this application. I do most of my commuting on a 150cc scooter not because I am restricted to one but because I find it ideal for that role!

    So it would make some sense to wait a bit longer and just go straight for the bike you really want.

    On the other hand, there is a bit of transition between TGB scoot and larger machines and it has little to do with power or engine size and more with the physical size, weight and riding position. In that way you might find a full-size motorcycle like ER6 a bit of a handful at first and a bit of a pain when it comes to frequent jumping on and off, stopping and pushing it around parking spaces.. Bonnies are very tiny though, in fact they are about the same size as CB400.

    And then there is the truth that many people find hard to admit: for the purpose of commuting in the city, something like CB400 (or smaller) is enough and will always be enough. More power, larger size and more weight just get in the way and add to the cost of the whole affair without actually getting you there any faster.

    Maybe you just need to decide what are your needs, honestly. Do you expect to continue down this path and maybe do more than just commute on your bike? Then it might make sense to wait. Do you know that this is all you will ever do with your bike? Then just get the best commuter you can... and for my money, that might well be CB400.


    Some other points:

    -ER6: you might or might not know this, but there is a new model just released for 2012. But the LAMS version your dealer pushes at the moment is probably the outgoing model. This is something you might want to keep in mind because the new model is somewhat better, and its existence will affect the resale value of the previous models.

    -Gladius: too much bling? Well, you can also get them in all black and I think they look pretty good that way. Good bike as well, though I think I would prefer that new ER6n at this point.

    -Royal Enfield... yeah, it's 500cc but in terms of actual speed and acceleration from standstill, I think you find the numbers it will post are only marginally better than your TGB!
    • Like Like x 2
  15. Many thanks to all - this has been really very helpful!

    I have a way to go yet before deciding and I think the best way to quickly understand the dynamics and limitations of a variety of bikes is to hire a few for 24 hours and use them in the actual situations I plan to ride. Garners in North Melbourne have a wide variety and is very close to my work.

    I'll be able to try them in the congested Heidelberg Road rally as well as the Eastern Freeway at peak hour. Test rides, if you can get them, are not going to give me the feedback a real riding experience will. Buying the wrong bike, big or small will be expensive so the rental will be a wise investment

    And in the meantime, stick with the TGB for the entire LAMS period so that my next bike may well suit my needs for the prime role of commuting.

  16. Hi,

    I am approx in your situation (Age and use wise) and just bought a 2012 ER-6NL . The extra cash is not an issue if you are going to put it on the never never, my payments are around $50 per week.

    Yes I went new just a thing with me.

    I also thought about a CB400 initially but then I saw the new ER-6 and that was all she wrote for a LAMS bike. There is a great tread on here about the CB400 have a look in the bike reviews section, it goes on for a while but just about everything is asked and answered.

    I pick it up next Monday (20th) and would be more than happy for you to come and have a look; I live in Nunawading so not far from you. Send me a PM if you want to or reply here.

    Cheers Jeremy

    PS Racing Turtles - Some well thought out posts
  17. I wouldn't write off the cheap taiwaneses scoot so easily. I've got a Sym and have been in the same boat. Waiting for it to die so I can get a bike. It's got 65000 kms on it now.
  18. Hi Jeremy,

    did you happen to buy the black ER-6nl from Peter Stevens in Elizabeth St? If so, many apologies for the drool slobber marks I left on it early last week. I also have some bike-p0rn snaps of it if you need to look at them prior to Monday!

    How about I let you break her in over the next few weeks and I'll set up a viewing in the near future. BTW - do you commute to the city via the freeway? I'd really like to discuss with you the riding conditions on the Eastern during peak hour as this will be a prime factor in the next set of wheels.

    Had a look at the white CB400 in PS today. Certainly a very competent bike in all respects, though more $$$ than the Ersixenl and no where near as much as presence. Would happily take one as a gift but it just doesn't grab me the way the Kawa does.

    Happy, safe riding - and I'll be in touch.
  19. #19 Jem, Feb 15, 2012
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 13, 2015
    Hi Mark,

    No I got mine from Wayne at Brighton Kawasaki, great bloke and the only one who seemed to know what was going on with the new model and when it was going to turn up, been dealing with him since Nov last year.

    Assume you probably have already found it but if not have a look at the ER6 tread in the bike review section, it has a lot of info on it and BitSar and MrBling have a lot of experience and are more than happy to share, helped me heaps.

    I know what you mean about the CB400,. great bike but IMO a bit to pricey. I was fairly set on one and was going to pay the extra till one day I just happened to walk past an ER6 and went what the ..... is that. Did some digging around and then found this clip about the new model -
    and as they say that was that; my mind was made up, it has been a long 3 months for it to arrive and for me to get it but I used that time to really think about what gear I wanted who I was going to get it from and what I wanted out of it. Some fantastic resources on here to talk to.

    Also have a look here - http://www.kawasaki.eu/ER-6n it's the European site but has a lot more info on the bike than the Aust site, pity the white did not come here still I have grown used to the black and am happy with it.

    I work in Hawthorn so the Eastern is one possible way for me to get to work, but I do not think I will use it in the first few months. I have been studying the maps and have found a way to get to work that only involves 2 right turns and no tram tracks and all 60k limits so I am going to use that while I build my skills while I am getting used to the bike.

    More than happy for you to come over when ever you want, just let me know what suits.

    Cheers Jeremy
    • Like Like x 1
  20. Hey Jeremy, many thanks for the update.

    To clarify, is the ER 6nl your first bike? If so, how did you arrive at a 650 as your first ride? Did you look at the Suzuki GS500? If not, what else have you ridden prior?

    I will be very interested in following your progress. Ride safe mate!!