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Discussion Starter #1
Hello all, I am a new member to this forum and bike riding in general. Ive recently taken an interest in riding and discovered the cafe bike culture and I really love what cafe racers are all about. Aesthetically I believe cafe racers are some of the most beautiful bikes around, and the idea that these machines are built for no compromise speed and handling really appeals to me. So now to my question: (and yes I'm sure someone else has already asked this exact question, I just couldn't find it.)

Like I said, I'm new to riding so I have no prior experience with motorcycles at all. I am 20 years old and I have worked on cars doing light mechanic/body work, so I know how to use my hands, within reason.
I was wondering if anyone could give me some advice on what kind of bike to look for that would serve as a good beginner bike as well as a candidate for a cafe style build. I would like to start out with a reliable and relatively affordable bike, learn to ride it for a while, and then turn it into a cafe bike.

Hope you guys can help!
 

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get yourself a netflicks account and masturbate to any given sunday.....

After that gets old spice it up buy putting some $150 rusty non title piece of shit bike in your living room to feel closer to the culture
 

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Discussion Starter #6
@Geeto67: Awesome! Will I see you there?

@jaguar: Sounds like fun! Feel free to join me!

@texmawby: Nope, I was too tired.
 

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Yup, I do Cleveland steamer Thursdays. They don't call me the firehose for nothing. Just look for the guy wearing all the rockabilly gear trying to look like an extra on the wild one.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
I look forward to it. So any serious advice for me? Or would you rather talk more about your fire hose?
 

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Due to the ergonomics and the intended purpose "cafe" bikes don't make good beginner bikes. In fact, they are probably the worst type.

New to riding? Do a riding course and get a newish reliable bike to start off with (ER6, GS500, etc). Get a year of riding under your belt and then think about what you really want out of a bike.

If you're still keen on building a "cafe" bike after that then you will probably get some sensible answers from this board.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
@hillsy: Thanks for the advice, it makes a lot of sense. If its best to go the modern bike route, what kind of difference is there in learning on something like a rebel 250 and a ninja 250? Is one better than the other?
 

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generic answer - most applies. (you did answer some)

"do you have any experience? how big are you? how much money are you willing to spend (lose).

If you have very little or no experience I would man up and and accept that you will need smaller and maybe not so cool short term bike. Reasons are listed here:

1. You will learn faster on small bike. Really. Were you to spend 1st 1000-2000 miles on small bike you will be better rider at 5000 miles than if you went straight for a big bike. I use miles instead of months as there are a lot of "riders" who have ridden twice a year for 5 years. Small bike is easier to handle in parking lots, easier to pick up when you drop it, less intimidating generally. Its much better to learn on a bike where you quickly feel like the master. Real learning starts only after that actually.

2. Cheap common bikes (ninja 250, rebel 250 or other smaller starter bikes) hold their value great. You can buy a 2500$ ninja 250, put 2000 miles on it and sell it after 10 months and only lose 0-300$ on depreciation. Parts are cheap too should something break.

3. You are likely to drop your bike. If its used older beater its no drama and less $$ to learn the hard way.

4. As a new rider (especially if younger) insurance costs a lot. When you buy a 2000-3000$ bike you don't need full coverage and adding scratch is not going to ruin its value.


Even if cruiser is what you want to ride I would consider a more neutral bike (so called standard) as they are good to learn on. Once you have put some miles you are much better educated on what kind of riding you actually enjoy. Maybe more of a tourer is your thing, or you fall in love with having more speed and control, or maybe back roads are calling for dual sporting (gravel road oriented bikes).

Don't let other peoples ideas dictate you into (or away for that matter) any particular style of biking. Get a bike, ride and decide for yourself.

But again read my list esp. #1 is true - we have seen the fools with giant Harleys struggling with the weight and being visibly uncomfortable - or the sports bike guy who slams on gas on straight but can't take a corner at all in fear of all the power.

You will learn faster on a small bike. Trust me. Then if you ride quite a bit you might be ready to switch to your dream bike in half a year or maybe even sooner - but do the start right.

and buy a full face helmet + proper gear. Yeah it doesn't look s cool on a HD but nose and lower jaw are nice things to have.

bikes:
Buell Blast, Honda Rebel 250, Ninja 250 (little sportier though), etc. Dual sports are actually good for skill but quite far from cruisers."
 

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i recommend standards and dual sports as first bikes all the time at the shop - but no one believes me.


and then they wreck and are in an induced comma for a month.


and i say "i told you so asshole."

also don't buy a ninja 250 as a first bike. the fairings are too costly when you drop it. its more of a second bike or so of someone who really just needs a commuter.

don't buy a rebel or virago 250 or gz if you are a grown ass man. they don't teach you how to drive a motorcycle, only how to ride. plus you won't really fit.

give your self some room to learn how to lean in the curves. every cruiser i ride i scrape something. its obnoxious. its like hitting the curb every time you drive but because your car sucks and not you.

any cheesy old 80's bike that runs and titles is best to learn on.
get as close to the goal as possible or be ready to sell it AND BEFORE you hack at it.

if its not a standard platform (ie broke back) just sell it in as good a shape as you got it .
then find the bike you really want.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Awesome advice kerosene, I'm leaning towards getting a ninja 250 just because of the added "sportiness" of it compared to the rebel. Hopefully I can pick one up in the upcoming weeks. One of these days I'll be worthy of riding a sweet cafe bike!
 

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That bike is a Maxim, not a Seca. The Maxim is the cruiser variant, the Seca is the "standard" version.

The Seca would be better, but still the 550 Yamaha motor is sweet in either guise. Very under-rated and it won't smash to bits if it falls off it's side-stand (like a new 250 Ninja).
 

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I'm disappointed in Little Rock's CL, mostly sucky bikes.

You should have bought this for around $800, but it's sold. http://littlerock.craigslist.org/mcy/2501780247.html

If the seller can come up with a plausible story of why the front fender's gone and I'm not sure if 99's had lowers maybe this; http://littlerock.craigslist.org/mcy/2487360358.html

Corey's right, find a KLX250 or somesuch, add barkbusters, case savers, decent street tires. Go full on hooligan. It falls over, pick it up go again.
 

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Real advice? OK.....

1) stop talking about culture, scene, etc.....That is just a bunch of shit people who have magazines, tv shows, clothing lines use to exploit you into buying a lifestyle that has nothing to do with bikes. Seriously. I understand your enthusiasm but knock it off it makes you sound lame. So does using the word "Cafe" and phrases like "sweet cafe". ick.

2) most of the beginner stuff has already been covered so I'll just hit a few points: The older the bike is the more you are going to have to work on it and the more challenging the projects when it stops running. If you are not up to the task then stick to something from the 90's or newer. Also The more plastic a bike has the more expensive it is to repair after you drop it, and you will drop it. I am not saying you will crash, but pushing it around (like into a parking space), or parking it with the kickstand directly on hot asphalt in the summer (bike sinks in and falls over), or even forgetting to put your feet down at a stop light. It happens.

3) The best riders come from dirt. why? because on dirt you have to be "rider active" instead of "rider passive". Too many newbies get on their beginner bikes and get locked into position, thinking the bike will just carry them like a sack of potatoes. Your weight it a tool in learning how to ride and nothing forces yout o move around on a bike more than trying to go fast off road. To this end I have to agree a dual sport might be the best beginner bike for you - hardly any plastics, you can get all sorts of crash bars, and ride on road and off road. KLR, XL600 honda, DR350 or DR500, these are what you should look for. That isn't to say you can't learn to be rider active on a street bike, but the opportunities to throw your weight around are less, and it is much easier to get in over your head and get hurt.

4) your needs for the bike determine how you mod things. yes "cafe racers" came from the 60's but it didn't die there - in fact it didn't really fall out of fashion until the early 1990s when the first true sport bikes finally became affordable on the used market. The "movement" came from us modifying our bikes because we wanted to go fast and all we could afford were crappy 70's jap bikes. That isn't the case anymore as 60's and 70's japanese bikes are no longer cheap-ish (some are). IT wasn't a looks driven scenario, we wanted roadracers for the street and so we built them, now you can go in and buy a zx10 and get exactly that. most of us still dick with old bikes because now it is what we are comfortable with, and we have had decades of our lives wrapped up in that riding experience, but a lot of us own new bikes too, touring rigs, etc.....point it even tho they are fun a bike is still a tool and you need to have the right tool for the job.
 
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