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Discussion Starter #1
My wife has decided that this may be the year she wants her own bike to learn and ride. She has been on the back of mine for years, so she has a general idea about the acceleration and leaning in curves and such. The clutch and brakes and all the other stuff will be new to her. My question is about which bike. I know there are 250's a plenty for her to learn on, but in my area, the used ones are going for the same price as used 650's. I think a 650 with a crash bar would be just fine, but she is concerned about the weight. She is about 5' 4" and about 130ish pounds, so I understand her concern. I have had both models of 650's before, so I know they are very balanced bikes. If we go with a 250, I am afraid she will "outgrow" it faster than she thinks (I know she will). If we go with the 650, I believe she will get used to it just as well as she would a 250. I just don't want her to be afraid of the weight so much that she doesn't want to ride it. I also know that a 650 will be of use for years before she will want to upgrade, not so with the 250. So the overall question is this, do I continue to try to convince her that the 650 is the way to go? Or should I give in to her fear of the weight and go 250? Thanks in advance for any input.
 

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Maybe do what I did.
I took my daughter to the shop, and she tried several bikes. This was all about weight, but not in the way you describe it.

She got on my bike, and was very impressed she could flatfoot my 950. But then she was very disappointed she couldn't even budge it off the kickstand at all.
Took her to the local shop, and she tried several bikes, and got a feel for getting them on and off the kickstands, where she previously only had her 125cc dirt bike at 190lb she was used to.
She handled the rebel 500 without any issues, said it felt as light as her 125cc (410lb vs 190lb). We didn't try a vstar 650 though, and she wouldn't try the bolt, since it looked too much like my 950 and she had in her mind it was heavy. My bike is raised so it sits far over on the kickstand.
 

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Have her take the Motorcycle Rider Safety Course. (Assuming there is one close by.) There were several people who had never ridden a bike before. And the instructor(s) had them riding within minutes. Plus she'll realize that she will want a bigger big sooner then she realizes.
That said, I am a believe that if you are going to ride. Learn what you will want to ride. I have seen women who are smaller then your wife. Ride full dressers. Who are able to pick up the dresser if it is laid on its side. Just practice in parking lots. And practice. And practice.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
My wife can stand my 950 up no problem, I think her concern is being able to hold it if it starts to go down at slow speeds or stationary with the kickstand up. Unfortunately scrum, I do not know of any courses around my area. So it will be me teaching her.
 

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Then Blue, you two really think it is worth the spend of cash to buy a bike she will only ride for a year and then want a bigger ride?

I still think the better option is .... Practice in parking lots. And practice. And practice. And practice. Maybe get a tarp/blanket, lay the bike on its side and show her she can lift it back up. Sometimes it is better to let the bike go, then try to save it and pull a muscle. Tweak a back or eff up a knee. Besides, if she practices enough. She may be a better rider then you. ;)
 

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I think people put too much emphasis on being able to pick a bike up if you drop it.

Dropping a motorcycle is akin to rolling your car. Would you only buy a car if you were sure you could roll it back over off its roof into its wheels by yourself?

If you know how to ride a MC you should never ever drop it, unless you have been hit by another vehicle, or maybe had a tire blow out on the highway, and then getting your bike back up is not an issue, there is a good chance it will not be ride-able, or you will not be able to ride.

The most important thing is being able to sit on the bike with both feet flat on the ground with some flex still in your legs and knees, so you have some wiggle room with your legs. If a bike is so heavy that you cannot hold it up when its already "up" then you need a smaller and lighter bike. You should never need to put you feet down while the bike is moving. You always put the side kick stand up and down while you are sitting on the bike. Never push the bike around standing on one side, sit on the bike and duck walk it.

Im curious where you live where there are no MSF classes nearby, I thought they were everywhere. If she really wants to start with a small bike a Rebel 250 is used in a lot of MSF beginner classes, you can find them used low mileage for $1500 or less, because people do buy them for their first bike then move up. If you buy one new and sell it a year later you will take a bath. If you buy it used and sell it a year later, you might break even.

Another option would be a 125 or 250 dual purpose road/trail bike - they are usually really light, 200 lbs. The only drawback is with a bike that light you can develop bad riding habits, where you are horsing the bike around instead of learning to ride the bike and not be fighting it all the time.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Ok, may have found one to fit the bill. 2003 650 fully dressed, with just under 13000 miles. White/silver paint combo. The only thing this bike doesn't have done is aftermarket exhaust. Going to test ride it today.
 

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Like was said above as long as she can put her feet down at a stop and is comfortable with the reach of the bars and controls, forget about the CC of the bike. Once that clutch is pulled in all the CC in the world makes no difference. All that being said, my wife started out on a Honda CTX700. They can be had for cheap. They are very light to get off the stand. If the clutch is an issue you can get them with an automatic. They are reliable as hell. Again they are cheap to find because for some reason they did not take off. I loved riding hers as a different bike. She had the DCT model. The 650 is a great bike. You know you can't go wrong with a Yammy. Now my wife has 3 Harleys. A Fatboy with a 98 Ci engine and stage 1 kit and a 2018 Street Glide that weighs 780+lbs. She is only 5'4". Maybe 5'3" I forget which. Anyway.. Everyone gets hung up on CC.. Get a bike that she is comfortable on and will do the type of riding you two (especially her) want to do. If all you do is stay in town then the 250 might be a good bike. If you two want to travel not so much. I personally do not like the 650 for travel as I feel it is at the high end of its RPM band and the sound annoys me. Other than that great bike. Hope the one you are looking at has full maint records.
 

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I'm a firm believer in riding only what you can personally pick up, it is after all, a two wheeled vehicle and can drop on it's side whether while riding or while it's parked and the kick stand happens to sink into the ground. There is also an increased risk of this happening with someone just learning to ride so IMO it's worth considering. I would say the XVS650 is a great bike for learners because it's a reliable, pretty damned versatile, easy handling bike with a low center of gravity that can be pushed pretty hard (for a cruiser with limited clearance) on twisty roads yet is capable of highway droning all day long.
 

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I second Diogenes415.. The XVS650 or even a Honda shadow 750 both great starter bikes and keepers for some .Not something they will out grow easily.. and very useable on a highway or the back roads.
 

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I second the opinions above about the vstar 650. When I got back on after 40 years, I stumbled upon one at a honda dealer and it immediately felt right. Could even be her last bike.

Also the safety courses are great idea. I believe you said there aren't any near you. Might be possible to go online to get a layout for a couple of the "obstacle' courses so she can practice a couple of the maneuvers. So even though she does have some experience, it will still be a big deal for her to successfully do the panic stops, the swerves, and tight figure 8s. Takes the fear of the unknown out of the equation. You tell her how, then you do it, tell her how again, and then she does it until she feels comfortable with it. That's how they did it with us.
 

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My 2 cents dropping in the ring.
I'll hit kind of the middle of the road with some of you guys. I agree it is good to be able to pick the bike up by yourself, and that can seem daunting, however in this case, there will likely not be a time that you aren't riding with her early on, so that should mitigate the fear of laying it over at a stop sign or parking lot while building up her confidence. As for ride height, there are several options out there that haven't been discussed. While it might be a few extra dollars added to purchase price, but an aftermarket seat with a lower pan or a lowering kit for the suspension.
As for CC size, haha, well, I have always heard that it's cheaper to grow in to one than to replace one. I started with a Virago 920 and was ready for larger in a few months. Tuned up 1100...well, that held me over for around 6 months. Raider just has me limited by wallet now. haha.
If you are brave enough, have her try getting use to the controls on your 950 doing some crabwalks in a parking lot. Then move to short distances.
As for choices out there, I'm obviously a big fan of Yamahama's, however Triumph are a nice fitting, well performing choice. Shadow's and Boulevard's are a nice choice also that has a lot of aftermarket support.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Update! This is the new to her bike for my wife. 03 White/Silver 650 with only 12850 miles on the clock. Have been teaching her to ride since I brought it home yesterday. Today, she rode it 20 miles around back roads solo. I was behind her on the 950 of course. So far, she has taken to it like a duck to water.

The bike came with a quick detach windshield, saddlebags, highway bar with pegs, sissy bar, brand new back tire, fresh oil change and even a trickle charger and cover. Not bad for $2k. The only trouble we have had with it is that it doesn't like to wake up. Cold start is a royal pain. Might just have to bite the bullet, and go ahead with getting the carbs cleaned. Once it warms up, it runs great, all day long. It does need some TLC with a cleaning rag and chrome polish. Also, just to be on the safe side, I'm going to replace the front brakes (they are a little squeaky), air filter, and spark plugs.

My wife fell in love with the color immediately, and the smile on her face while riding it, is priceless.
 

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what kind of deal did you get on the 650? Find it at a shop or a sale by owner?

the squeaky front brake on the 650 is normal. Sometimes people get soap/wax on the rotor, or the pads might be glazed - in which case a few wipes with some 250 grit sandpaper might quiet them down - but don't worry about it.

Try running 4 ounce of seafoam through the bike with a full tank of fresh gas. The bike might have been sitting awhile or the gas might be old.

Also to start a 650 pull the choke out all the way, let the fuel pump run for a few seconds, and don't give it any throttle till it fires. once it fires you can burb the throttle just a bit, then push the choke in a few clicks.

If the bike does not seem to want to start under those conditions the battery might be old. Once the battery gets tired it cant keep the voltage to the electronic ignition up at 12V, so the starter will spin and sound normal, maybe just a bit slow, but if the electronic ignition does not have enough voltage it will not fire the plugs at all.

One way to check this is let the bike roll down a bit of a hill up to 15 to 20 mph when its cold, then clutch in and shift from neutral to 2nd, let the clutch out and see if it starts right up (same as if you were using the starter - choke set, ignition on...). If it starts right up with a push start then you probably need a new battery.

Also for a new rider recommend you leave the windshield off if its warm enough to ride without it. The wind across your body is an important part of the feedback for the rider to have a sense of how fast they are going. Riding in a pocket of still air can make it seem... well... less real.

I don't see any fork deflectors or lowers on the bike, so if she is riding at highway speeds (over 55) explain to her all about head buffeting. It might take a while to get the windshield adjusted just right, so make sure she understands if her vision is blurred riding over 55mph, and it feels like someone is holding an orbital sander on her skull, that is wind buffeting, and she should slow down till it stops. It will give you a headache in a manner of minutes, its actually a mild form of getting a concussion. New riders do not expect this, and it can really screw them up when its all a new experience.

Congrats on the new bike. They are very reliable and dependable machines.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Thanks for the advice KCW! I will check all of that. I bought the bike from its owner, no dealership (they like to try to rip you off).
 

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...The only trouble we have had with it is that it doesn't like to wake up. Cold start is a royal pain. Might just have to bite the bullet, and go ahead with getting the carbs cleaned...I'm going to replace the front brakes (they are a little squeaky),...
Check to make sure that the airbox, boots,snorkel and all other intake 'plumbing' are connected correctly. Granted I only have experience with two XVS650s (mine and a friends) but both had leaks at the carbs and carburetion issues because the boots weren't correctly seated.

Brake squeal is nothing more than a high frequency vibration. It may be common but that doesn't mean it's normal and it can be remedied. Glazing of the pads can cause squeal and cutting through the glaze with ~320 grit sandpaper on a sanding block can solve that. Dirty rotors are another cause of squeal and cleaning them with acetone is the fix for that. Rotors can also have grooves/pits worn in them and much like a vinyl record acting on a stylus the rotor can cause loose/ill fitting pads to vibrate and make noise... the fix is to lightly resurface the rotor or replace it. Lastly the fit between pads and caliper can be sloppy in that the surfaces aren't square to each other... the pad rocks much like a bar stool or table that needs several coasters as shims... usually this is caused by dirt accumulation or uneven chipping of the paint or powder coat on either the caliber or the back of the pad where they come in contact with each other... the fix is cleaning and using a file to true (remove high spots) on the mating surfaces.

BTW, that's an awesome deal you got and I'm happy for your wife. I don't know about her but I would've been like a kid on Christmas night and wouldn't have been able to sleep a wink last night.
 

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Congrats on the new family member haha. That sounds like a great deal for all the extras that came with it. Hopefully a bit of ride time and fresh gas, along with some minor tinkering will get it where it needs to be. You might check the maintenance schedule to see if anything might be lacking ( i.e. valve adjustments, carb sync, pms adjustments, etc)
 

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Looks like a good deal there Blueblitz. Simple things to fix and you should be good to go. Like KCW said.. the 650's like choke to start. an ex's 650 was picky and it needed it in mild weather (50f ) even when it had been ridden for 30 mins . once it started you could close it and it would be fine .
 

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Discussion Starter #19
New battery did it. Got it running in 5 to 10 mins this morning, vs 2 hours the other morning. I do have a different question now, can a throttle body be gummed up enough to kind of stick or would a problem of high rpms be more in the cable? I can be going down the road, hold in the clutch, and rev the engine and the rpms hold high for a few seconds or sometimes until i release the clutch. Any ideas?
 

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Im pretty sure the 650 has two throttle cables that pull the throttle in both directions. If one of them is broken or loose there might only be a weak spring pulling the throttle shut. You might be able to see the carb throttle link up under the gas tank.

If not, its not hard to get the gas tank off the 650 to see the carbs and get a look. Passenger seat => drivers seat => speedo cable from the back = one bolt holds the gas tank down.

First make sure your choke is pushing in all the way, and make sure your idle speed is correct when the bike is well warmed up.
 
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