+2! Very good advice! That needs to be made a common sense sticky somewhere! Would have saved a lot of beginners some trouble!You aren't going to find a "deal" on ebay or craigslist, or any mass market commercial site. You have to be real saavy to find a deal on those places and you just arent there yet (and there is a lot of garbage to wade through).
Here is what I recommend - Find your local bike shop. There have to be at least 2 shops that work on older motorcycles near you - go there, look at their inventory. Don't use the work cafe racer when talking to them. Tell them you want a nice standard reliable motorcycle. Look on their bulliten board if they have one and ask about inventory. Ask about bike nights, shows, and rides. Attend those. talk to people.
do you have a license? have you ridden before? are you even remotely mechanically inclined? do you own REAL tools?
The best bikes usually trade hands word of mouth or at shows. It is pretty much a right of passage that as a newbie you are going to get screwed on your first used old bike anyway so we are just trying to minimize the damage. It is a lot harder for a person to take advantage of you in person than on the internet.
That is basically my plan. I want to be able to ride this for a while, learn the maintenance and then step it up. I just don't want to look like too big of an idiot. I know there is an element of that I can not avoid.I got my first bike from a guy who owned a bicycle shop. I stopped in bc I heard he had some vintage bikes. Walked in and found he had 40! He beat me up pretty good on it but after I learned my lesson he has been more than helpful and we have traded parts and bikes for the last 4 years. You never know where you may find someone who can get you what is best. I think the recommendation here will be that with your lack of experience and tools to get something that is small, stock and running. Learn to ride it and maintain it. Then in a couple years if you want to make changes...do so.
Id find something common and easier to maintain. Any smaller cb or xs for instance. Im sure others will have more recommendations...DO NOT BUY A PROJECT!