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Thinking about motorcycles

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I'm getting sick of taking the train to work and getting stuck every time it rains or is too hot, and driving to work is just too expensive to do often (~$35 per day in tolls, parking, and fuel - that would be $140 per week compared to $45 per week on the train), and sometimes it doesn't save me any time if traffic is bad. So I'm somewhat interested in the idea of getting a decent motorbike to reduce time and costs (although obviously the initial outlay could be anywhere up to 10k).



I've watched a lot of YouTube videos recently and have convinced myself that it doesn't look that hard if you take it easy and following some helpful guidelines to avoid being hit by others. I've booked in a whole day of training and a learner permit test next month which will help confirm/deny that theory. :)



So now comes the tricky part, finding a bike that I like. I'd welcome your input, but as a guide I'm looking for the following:


~400-600cc (~47 HP) - LAMS (learner) approved (parallel twin/V-twin (2 cyl)).

More upright riding position to help see over traffic (and is more comfortable)

Fairing would be preferred + also a windshield as they reduce buffeting

Decent mileage per tank of fuel

Liquid cooled (not air cooled)

(Relatively) Quiet on start-up so as to not wake up the neighbors in the morning

Easy to read dashboard (i.e. can easily glance at speedo with sun-glare or at night). A Gear indicator would be handy I reckon, although these are uncommon.

Reliable, not expensive to service. Leaning towards Japanese brands for this reason.



So far standouts include bikes such as the Honda CB500X or Kawasaki Versys 650L or maybe Yamaha FZ6R or possibly the Suzuki GSX650FL (has a great dashboard but seems over the top). Those 600+cc bikes appear to be detuned from high performance models, which means you're paying for more than you're getting (and they're probably less learner-friendly than the Honda), but the upshot is that once you get a full license you could pay another $800 or so to have the restriction removed via ECU tune. That's assuming I actually want to go any faster.


From what I've seen the Honda CB500 is quite torquey at lower revs (it only revs just beyond 8000rpm anyway), and can do 0-100 in around 6 seconds which is a little faster than the Golf, which I think is probably the sweet spot in terms of power for a learner.



I haven't spent much time researching older bikes that may be discontinued (I think the learner power limits have recently been increased which is why there aren't many options above 300cc going back a few years), but if you guys have time and find something I'd be interested in having a look. Especially if you can find it for sale around Melbourne (and it shows the price).


List of bike sales websites: Smilies - turboduck



Here's what I've looked at so far...


Honda CB500X



Kawasaki Versys 650L



Yamaha FZ6R



Suzuki GSX650FL


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Trouble is they almost cost the same as the more powerful ones, so why wouldn't you get the more powerful one and just ride it slow for a year or so. If it's still Learner Approved then it can't be too difficult. To be sure I still think the Honda 500 (~480cc) would be the best engine for me compared to the other bikes.

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Yes, for that reason I've made sure to watch plenty of YouTube vids of different riders on each bike to see what they think and to compare how they accelerate. I'd put the Suzuki into the 'too powerful' category I think but the bike itself has other good features. Of course I haven't found out how much they cost yet. I only know the Honda is around $8-9k new.

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A car commute comprises of parking ($20), tolls (~$13), and fuel (~$5), and usually takes 75 minutes. Better if the roads are quiet (school holidays, RDO, etc), or much worse if there's an accident up ahead. The alternative of taking the train is ~$13 per day, and is often slow/delayed/annoying.


A bike commute would benefit from free parking, half price tolls, and almost half the fuel usage (the Honda can do ~80mpg). I would have to change clothes but others at work do it, so it wouldn't take long, plus I'm one of 2 people who has access to the IT server room which is seldom entered so it's more private than the toilets if that's a preference.


Of course it would take a number of years for these savings to add up to ~$10k, but part of the equation is that riding is inherently fun (although also dangerous). And the time savings would be good - once I'm confident enough to ride on the motorway and lane filter I should be able to reduce commute times to ~40mins.



So if I do some maths... let's say I work 16 days per month. 16x $38 (car) = $608 per month. Whereas 16x $10 (bike) = $160 per month. Possible saving of time and $448 per month. So in 2 years (22 months) it will roughly have paid for itself (assuming that I currently drive to work every day... which I don't). I could also possibly trade off some time savings for money by avoiding the toll roads, so then I would only be paying for fuel only.

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If I were you I wouldn't shell out 10 grand for a bike, especially if it's just for commuting. I don't know much about bike values in your area, but If you could get a bike/scooter for around 2-3, it would pay for itself sooner. Don't forget other costs like insurance/maintenance. Driving a bike for 80 minutes of your day may not be the most comfortable thing either.


Also, how long is your train commute? I feel like changing in and out of bike clothes will get really old really fast.


I probably sound like a huge pessimist. If you can afford it go for it. I feel it's worth experimenting if you can get a cheap bike. Otherwise just drive for the convenience. Or, save that money and live closer to your job! (Latter depends on way more factors though :lol:)

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I haven't done extensive searches, but on one website (bikepoint) the cheapest ~500cc bikes started from around $5000 (but were the awful Suzuki G500S model that looks like it hasn't changed since it was designed in 1989 - it doesn't even have a fuel gauge. Then at $6000 there was a decent Yamaha. If I'm gonna spend that much I might as well go the extra amount for something new. I'll have a look at other websites as the month progresses.


Train commute is 90 minutes each way, minimum. Recently I've been stuck on packed trains for over 2 hours when there have been faults. With Summer approaching I'm aware that train air-conditioning and infrastructure faults become more common as well.


Bike comfort depends on the model. A sports bike would become uncomfortable and not great for commuting. The 'adventure' style bike where you sit upright is more comfortable. Reviewers have driven 500km on them in one go and felt fine.

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What abiut these weird-looking BMW C1 scooters were quite popular in Munich in late 90's, mostly BMW employees had them. :p




Jokes aside. What about maxi-scooters? Since you'll be using it for commuting most of the time, I think this is a better solution. The BMW C650 is about 10k USD, so Honda/Suzuki/blabla should be under 10k. I know nothing about motorbikes, they're out of my interest but looking at the bikes you have posted look too sporty for a 2 hour commute.

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Don't get a scooter. That's like buy a New Beetle Convertible! :lol:


Thing is, get the bike, if it's get too much of a pain, you lose money, but you can always sell it.


Edit: Also Mercedes, the bikes he posted, they are not really sporty for commute. They are not Harley's, which are good, but also heavy, big and expensive, but they do the job.

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Not interested in Scooters with their tiny wheels, etc.


What makes you think I'd never use the bike besides commuting? I'd probably be riding around somewhere today with this perfect weather.






Keep the ideas/questions coming guys, I'm sure eventually there will be something I haven't thought of yet :)

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  • 1 month later...

So after sitting on a few bikes I found the sportier CBR500RA had a wider and much more comfortable seat than the 500X and it's also ~$1000 cheaper and looks better, so quite the easy decision there.


Haven't worked out how to attach the GoPro anywhere yet (misplaced some of my mounts) so I'll just attach some other Aussie's review of the bike (warning language)



Mine is White (Tri-Colour) and has ABS, and immobiliser and steering lock built in. I've ridden it 3 times now, filled up the tank today (which is a bit of a faff) for $15.



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Just riding around the local area building confidence and then probably mainly commuting in decent weather with the odd fun ride. It's about 15 meters away. ;)


Running a bike is hardly any cheaper to run/maintain than a car somewhat surprisingly. Annual registration and insurance are only slightly cheaper than the car, servicing costs are the same but at more frequent intervals (every 12,000kms for the bike compared to 15,000 for the car, or every year for both), then I've been told tyres only last something like 5,000kms and are a few $100ea to replace. Chain maintenance is a bit of pain (DIY) otherwise replacing them sooner is also expensive. Not to mention the $1850 I spent on riding gear (none of which is rated for winter). Then there's money to be spent on further training courses. So we'll see how we go.


If anyone is still in touch with Tom (Sponge) I wouldn't mind getting his thoughts here :)

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