I've been thinking about getting a motorcycle as a nice summer toy, but I've never ridden one before. Where would I go to get lessons? Do you think I need them? What's a good beginner bike? Thanks for all your help.
To answer your question about where to learn to ride check out Honda's motorcylce training course or one of Harley-Davidson's courses. Go to Honda and Harley and look up the info on the website. Harley's will probably be the one located near you, Honda only has four sites where they do their courses. I went to the Honda one in Roswell, GA and it was great! They teach you the basics and typical riding skills. I had been riding with a learner's permit before with my dad and brother for about a year. My dad taught us how to ride in parking lots and in the neighborhood, but the course provides valuable lessons. Harley's course is about 4 days and Honda's only 2 and 1 evening. I recommend the Kawasaki Ninja 250 as a great beginners bike. We have 3! They are cheap, easy to ride, and most important fun! Hope that helps!
I agree with WarEagle, take the class. It was well worth it when I did.
But regarding the size of the bike... The Ninja 250 is a nice bike but after a few months of riding (if that long) you are going to wish you bought something bigger.
Id look into a 500cc (suzuki make a nice one) or 600, like a Honda CBR.
Don't buy anything new. There is absolutely no reason to. There are way too many excellent condition, low mileage bikes out there ready to be snagged up.
The SV650 is a good bike, but it can be a little torquey for a beginner. the Ninja 500 is so antiquated, the only way you should buy one of those is used. It is a good reliable bike though. There are a myriad of choices available. You just need to decide what you want to be riding. You could get an entry level sport bike, a cruiser or even a dualsport.
First, take the class. Learn EVERYTHING you can about motorcycles. The sport is much more enjoyable for the informed rider. I used to sell motorcycles at a large dealership in Denver. I couldn't tell you how many yahoo's we used to get who wanted a GSXR-750/1000 or R1 as their first bike. They knew nothing about the sport....and even against our wishes, they bought tbe motorcycle anyway. Sure enough, we'd see them in the following couple weeks, buying body parts. We always gave them a big "I TOLD YOU SO" when they came limping into the shop.
The allure of speed brings many people to the motorcycle world. However, you have to be VERY careful in becoming proficient at riding before strapping yourself onto a 500 pound machine that makes more HP than your Focus.
The other thing I tell all potential riders is about the "other" side of motorcycling. The proability of you going down is very high. The probability of getting hurt is very high....especially in urban areas. I was hit by a Ford F-150 in 1997, and was lucky to escape with my life. There is no amount of protective gear that will save you from a 3000 pound vehicle moving at speed.
Make your decision carefully. Talk to people in your area that ride. Take the class. Know as much as you can about motorcycles before even looking at one.
I am definately on a "fact finding mission" right now. I probally won't be buying for a year (gotta get some debt hammered down) There is no way that I would make some giant crazy bike my first - as much as I want one
I was looking at BMW for a while, but used ones seem like they're hard to find. Natually, I drooled at the 'busa, and the Ducati 998, but those aren't even close to my league. The CBR isn't one I thought of as a "beginner" bike, but I still have lots of research to do.
Thanks again for the help, I'll put it to good use