OT: Question about motorcycles and scooters

Submitted by Braylon1 on March 1st, 2017 at 5:00 AM

Never owned a motorcycle or scooter. I'm moving to Florida in the next year and plan on getting one or the other but am hesitant because of my inexperience. I'm not looking to spend a ton of money and am definitely looking to buy something that's easy to drive. I have never had a speeding ticket in my life. I am not interested in going fast or doing tricks, etc. Just looking for something to get around town now and again.

Thus far I've looked at the Sym motorcycles and the SSR Rowdy scooter.

Any suggestions on what to look for or what to buy? Looking for something simple and relatively inexpensive.


Monkey House

March 1st, 2017 at 5:10 AM ^

depending on your size I wouldn't get anything bigger than a 1200cc motorcycle. if you are a bigger guy than 1200cc or less is going to be way too small.


March 1st, 2017 at 9:23 AM ^

I don't think a big guy NEEDS a 1200.  I got my 700cc when I was over 350 lbs, and it moved just fine.  I never had a problem getting up to highway speeds and it accellerated quickly.  Now, it would've been nice to have a bigger bike, but mainly for comfort rather than speed.

Having said that, it definitely moves better now that I'm 200 lbs.

SoDak Blues

March 1st, 2017 at 12:16 PM ^

My first bike was an 84 Honda Magna (500). That thing was fast, nimble, and super easy for a first time rider to get comfortable on the road. Definitely suggest starting smaller until you are comfortable. Most classes start you out on the 250 cc bikes...


March 1st, 2017 at 3:49 PM ^

This advice will get you killed..

First off, if you're talking about a 1200CC cruiser, that's still a shitload of torque for a newbie to handle, regardless of size. If you're talking about a non-cruiser, then you're talking about a 200mph bike and that will get you from 0-dead real damn quick.

Also cruisers are crap bikes to start on because they're immovable land yachts, which is hard for a new rider to avoid obstacles with something heavy and sluggish. Also hard to pick up when you invariably drop it.

Your first bike should be upright and small, so a CB300/CB500 if you're normal height or a KLX250/DRZ400 if you're taller. If you're Jaba the hut and think you need the extra torque, then get a sv650. But anything above that is asking for trouble and will teach you bad habits. A small light bike will help you learn how to shift your weight on the machine and reach the limits in a more forgiving fashion.

Also read a twist of the wrist to learn about how to control a motorcycle.


March 1st, 2017 at 2:55 PM ^

Mom was never lucky.

Fell though the ceiling above our garage triggering the electric garage door & trapping her inside with a shattered ankle (where was Billy Sims when I needed him?)

She had a stroke and the Ambulance caught fire on the way to her house (that was not so funny)

I've got hundteds of stories.


March 1st, 2017 at 6:18 AM ^

That's a good question. A cousin of mine has had multiple frightening incidents with elderly drivers while riding his scooter.

One memorable case: Wife (who'd lost her license but not her vision) was guiding the husband (who'd lost much vision but somehow still had his license) down the road. Somehow didn't see my cousin (who should really consider another vehicle) ...

ND Sux

March 1st, 2017 at 7:44 AM ^

is the perfect starter bike, IMO.  You can buy one on E-bay with very low mileage for about $3,000.  Dependable.  I honestly wouldn't bother with a scooter. 

It is dangerous out there.  Get your endorsement, read up on the tips for riders, and assume everyone is trying to kill you, will pull out in front of you, etc.  A couple of years experience builds confidence and you learn what to watch for.  Stay out of blind spots...ride the edge of the lane to put yourself in the other driver's mirror.  There are a lot of tips out there to help you stay safe. 

Der Alte

March 1st, 2017 at 9:13 AM ^

When you take your riding class you'll probably learn on a Rebel or some similar 300cc bike. But when it's buying time, a 700-750 Shadow is a perfect starter.

The situational awareness you develop when riding will actually make you a better automobile driver as well. As the other posters have noted, drivers are often unaware of your presence on the road --- you have to make sure you see them and they see you. That's why a lot of bikers fly national flags on their bikes. Not so much as a show of patriotism (although for some it's that too) but as another way of announcing they're on the road.

Last I knew FL will allow you to ride without a helmet if you carry certain health insurance minimums. Don't do it --- make sure your health insurance is current and wear an approved helmet at all times when you're on the bike.

ND Sux

March 1st, 2017 at 10:03 AM ^

is a pretty good bike too, just a tad heavier than the Shadow.  Can buy one of those online for about the same price.  I bought one in Des Moines for $3,500 with only 1900 miles...mistake was riding all the way back to Grand Rapids the same day.  Hoo boy, any more than 300 miles or so (per day) and your ass is like hamburger. 


March 1st, 2017 at 9:21 AM ^

I've never driven a motorcycle, but in my late twenties, I got the bug and began looking into which bike I would get (before the wife was pretty hard against it). The Shadow looks good and looks like it can carry a second person easily. I know the wind shields make them easier to drive, but I always liked them much better without them. I prefer the 5 spoke rims to the wire rims, but that is just a preference.  It was also much cheaper than a lot of the other bikes and loked like it had much better reliability. 

Frank Booth

March 1st, 2017 at 2:43 PM ^

I agree with getting a Honda. Honda makes a really nice motorcycle. I have a 98 magna, and I love it. Virtually no mechanical problems after a year of owning it. I went back and forth between getting a shadow or a magna for weeks before I made up my mind. I ended up going with the magna since it's a faster bike. The 650cc shadow is a four speed if I'm not mistaken.

Also, my two cents: get a smaller bike until you get the hang of it. Nothing wrong with a 750cc but the bigger bikes can be very heavy and harder to handle if you're not accustomed to riding a motorcycle. I taught myself how to ride on back streets in a big city.


March 1st, 2017 at 6:33 AM ^

I lived in Florida for 10 years and rode a motorcycle for most of my time there. 

First, if you are under 25, just wait on getting a motorcycle.  Chances are you are just going to die.  I have seen many, many people end or ruin their lives in this state because they were not ready.  Florida has so many incompetent drivers you really need to be on your game every time out.  Second, please do NOT get a scooter.  Don't be that guy.  You will cause traffic jams and everyone will hate you.  

To get a motorcycle license cert in Florida you are required to take a training class.  Usually they teach you on something small - 600-800 ccs.  Good to learn on, but most people grow out of anything 600 cc's or under.

If you are not looking for something fast (I assume this means no sports bike/crotch rocket), your options are cruiser style or maybe a Harley.  I second both posters above - Honda cruisers are great.  Also you definitely don't need anything above 1000-1200 cc's unless you want to race.  I can pretty much guarantee 1200 cc's will be more than you need under any circumstances.

I currently own a sports bike, 1000 cc's (just about a liter), and in 5 years have never opened full throttle.  But that will still get you above 130mph.  The market for purchasers is small for motorcycles, so you can usually get something very nice used for under $3000 with some searching.  

/my 2 cents


March 1st, 2017 at 5:48 PM ^

If you move to the right spot.  Apologies to any Miami-ists, but that city is awful.  Parts of Tampa are great, as are parts of Orlando. The Keys....yeah.  A large part of Florida is simply no-go, and that makes it a bit tougher.

Also all the crazy people.  Many places say "the people here are crazy!" But a huge portion of the people in Florida are actually crazy. 

If you're a city person, find the nicer parts of North Tampa or the non-disney parts of Orlando.  If you aren't, all along the west coast (gulf side) are fantastic spots within 150 either way of tampa.  The middle of Florida is mostly a swamp, and Miami......bad. 

Go Blue in NC

March 1st, 2017 at 6:08 PM ^

As someone originally from SC and currently living in NC, you should consider the Carolinas. SC, and to an extent NC, can have muggy summers but the winters are nothing compared to MI and many folks are moving down here as they get older and get tired of dealing with the northern winters. Places like Greenville, SC and the Triangle in NC are really inexpensive to live, the people are nice, and the weather is wonderful, provided you can handle the warmer summers.

Sac Fly

March 1st, 2017 at 12:06 PM ^

My brother and all of his friends still ride, I don't.

It's just not worth it anymore. Between living in a state with extremely poor road conditions (Illinois) and an infinite number of distracted drivers it's only a matter of time before something bad happens.


March 1st, 2017 at 6:33 AM ^

bikes are fun but to learn down in blue-hair land is not a good strategy.  if you do it, keep your head on a swivel at all times, ride with another bike, etc.

its never the motorcyclists fault (okay, almost never) when they get wacked.  first homicide i ever did back in the '80's was a guy riding his honda gold wing to work, minding his own business, and an old guy turned left in front of him thus exploding the motorcyclist's chest cavity on the front of a 1970-something ford truck.  

find good riders to learn with.   know that  you are invisible to lots of other drivers and it's their fault, but your risk. 


March 1st, 2017 at 6:55 AM ^

A great comment, but I want to add something.  Many people have ridden for decades, and never had a problem.  Some people ride 6 months and get in horrible accidents.  My friends call them "skidmarks" because that's what they eventually become on the pavement.

Yes, there is a way to ride where you can avoid just about any accident.  Always assume every other driver is going to kill you.  Can a car pull out?  Assume it will.  Always have an out.  Some people cannot be convinced bikes are anything but an invitation to get hurt, and I get that.  But it's not true.  

Find good riders to learn with is some of the best advice any new motorcyclist can ever get.  +1

Everyone Murders

March 1st, 2017 at 7:54 AM ^

I agree 100% that motorcycles are dangerous and that bike-car accidents typically are the fault of a car driver.  Howevah, if you live in a city, you see all sorts of insane bike activity.  In traffic jams, you'll see bikes riding between lanes (I understand this is legal in some jurisdictions, but know it is insane everywhere).  In lighter traffic, you'll see riders accelerating at unsafe rates.  You see unsignaled rapid lane changes and excessive speed all the time.  In both the U.S. and in Czech Republic I've also seen bikes doing wheelies/hand stands/etc. at or above the speed of the flow of traffic.  Bike drivers' behaviors often create or contribute unnecessary risk.

The bottom line is that, if you must ride, always do so defensively and assume that the other drivers around you are texting, distracted, drunk, or stupid.  They aren't all, of course, but a surprising percentage are. And to Xtra M's point, regardless of whose fault a bike accident is, the bike rider(s) nearly always get the worst of it.

Also, if you want to double your chances of dying on a motorcycle, ride a cafe racer.  They are cool as all get-out, but the fatality rate on those versus cruisers is markedly higher.


March 1st, 2017 at 3:48 PM ^

I have to agree. You always see the bumper stickers imploring you to watch out for motorcycles, and I absolutely agree with that. Their size makes them easy to miss - and besides, too many cars are driven by inattentive people who (as my late father so eloquently put it) "have their head up their ass."

But the same thing can be said for motorcycle drivers. I've lost track of how many times over the years that I've been cut off by some jackass on a crotch rocket, weaving in and out of traffic and basically acting like a stunt driver in the latest "Fast and Furious" movie. Whether the vehicle has two wheels or four, too many of them are driven by idiots.

I think we can agree on this: Neither one of us wants your blood on my bumper. So how about we both drive with that goal in mind?

Gucci Mane

March 1st, 2017 at 2:29 PM ^

When riding a bike you have to assume that the cars will do something stupid. There is no room for mistakes. A rider must not only avoid doing something wrong, but must also act proactively to prevent cars from doing things wrong. PS all this talk about wimpy bikes is making me cringe. I say get a Harley, or get a scooter. Don't get something in between.
PPS. there is a lot of safety equipment you can buy beyond a helmet if you think your life is worth it.


March 1st, 2017 at 4:33 PM ^

He called motor cycles, donor cycles since he harvested so many organs from dead riders with head injuries.  When my uncle was killed riding a motorcycle, my Dad took away my Honda 100 dirt bike and I was never allowed to ride. Never thought about riding but if you do, you would need be an extreme defensive rider.


March 1st, 2017 at 6:34 AM ^

Riding a bike or scooter in traffic has risks associated with it, so the first thing you should consider is how much prep work do I need? Take a weekend training course run by the MSF, that should help with getting properly licensed in Florida. Get some protective gear and discipline yourself to always use it. Buy a copy of David Hough's "Proficient Motorcycling" and get smarter about risk mitigation strategies. As for what kind of bike, your first one is less relevant than you might think, get a used Japanese unit of smaller displacement (I would suggest less than 500 cc) with the idea that you will be moving on from it in a year or two. I prefer a proper motorcycle over a scooter because they generally have better suspension, brakes, and acceleration. Get some experience in traffic and pay attention in Florida.

That said, riding a bike is a wonderful experience. Good Luck with it.


March 1st, 2017 at 6:36 AM ^

If you just want to get around and not have it be too complicated, I would recommend a scooter.  Otherwise, if you really want to ride a motorcycle, I wouldn't get anything more than a 600cc model because anything else would be excessive if you don't speed...

I see a bunch of Yamaha TMax scooters around here... they are 530cc.  They also have an SMax model that is 155cc and doesn't cost an arm and a leg.



March 1st, 2017 at 7:02 AM ^

Motorcycles are the most exhilarating and freightening things ever. The problem is distracted drivers with their cell phones. They aren't watching out for you. You have to drive ultra-defensively and keep your eyes three cars ahead.

Depending on your size, you can buy an import 750cc (my first bike was a Honda Nighthawk). I'm a big guy and that bike was fine for skipping around town.

Check Craigslist constantly. There's always a ton of bikes with low miles for sale by guys who thought owning a bike sounded cool.

Reminder: It's not IF you'll lay the bike down, it's WHEN.


March 1st, 2017 at 7:08 AM ^

I would say that anyone who's ridden has gone down. It's gonna happen. Anyone who's ridden will also very likely know someone personally who's died from a crash. Majority of the time it wasn't the riders fault. Not meaning to be a negative Nancy but just telling it like it is.