Well, today I ordered a helmet, bought a jacket boots, and gloves. I'[m now searching for pants to match the jacket (if possible) I found one pair of pants that matched perfectly, but they were only available in a 32 inch length.
I was also offered a fantastic deal by one of the Harley dealers we visited today on a used bike. I just don't think I'm ready to drop $12K on a bike 2 months before my rider class.
I've been riding bikes since I was about 10-12 years old and I'm now 50. I can't say anything about the newer Harley Sportsters, but I had a '77 Sportster and if they were all like it was I'd probably have never bought another bike. You couldn't even look in the rear view mirrors and tell if there was anything behind you or not for the vibration. I'm still riding an '82 Yamaha 1100 that I bought new and have ridden it over 500 miles in one day before. My bike wouldn't suit you, because of the seating position and the length of your legs if you are 6'4". Leg position and back position are two important factors to consider whenever you look at a bike especially if you plan to do any long distance riding. You don't want your legs cramped up and you don't want to be riding in a slumped over position all the time. If you're sure you are going to go with a larger bike 1000cc+ I'd recommend looking at the Yamaha full dresser touring bikes, but a bike of 750cc or smaller would be much easier to manuver especially by a new rider. I've never ridden one of the Yamaha full dressers, but have sat on one and seems to have a really comfortable sitting position. Lots of bikes just have the seat and the pegs too close together and cramp your legs. I also experienced a motorcycle accident about 25 years ago where a tractor turned left in front of me causing me to have to lay the bike down in order to avoid hitting him or going under the tractor. The main thing to remember is you'll have to watch for others because most people WILL NOT watch for you. The guy on the tractor that caused my accident told me that was the second time that had happened to him that day. When he told me that my first thought was didn't you learn anything the first time!! I really can't make any recommendations on the newer bikes other than thinking the full dresser Yamaha would be a comfortable bike as far as sitting position and enough weight to take the bumps in the road.
With the forward controls this was a very comfortable bike to sit on. I liked the riding position. As a new rider I was concerned about the safety because it did not have the "highway" engine guard bars. The dealer offered to install the bars, and offered me the bike for $12K out the door (tax, tags, & title included) The original price was $12,495.
My brother in law found some reviews of the pants pictured below online, and after reading about 20 reviews I decided to buy them. One of the reviewers said he had actually wrecked at highway speed in the pants, and they saved his butt, literally. All reviewers said that they performed well in the heat (Of which the DC area has more than its fair share of hot air, both literally and figuratively.) The main drawback that was constantly listed was that they looked bulky, but that's so the pants can accommodate the 2 liners (one water/windproof, the other thermal) I'll sacrifice looks if it will save my butt in an accident any day. On reviewer stated he wore a size 36, and the pants were tight over jeans, so being a 36 myself I opted to go up one size to the 2XLT.
All this conversation and I never noticed where you said you've owned a bike before.
I'm curious, if you haven't, why you think it's a good idea to spend so much money on your first one?
The Ninja 250 I just bought as my first bike (never riden anything, not even a dirt bike) was previously wrecked. I wanted it that way to be honest. It's an '04 w/ 5,500 miles and I paid $1,200 for it. Clean title, but a dented tank and aftermarket front turn signals. I used "QuickSteel" and repaired a leak in the fuel tank and some $3 nail polish touched up the paint dings on the bike to make it a nice 20 footer. Rides great, tracks straight, engine purrs (at 14k RPM redline )
I'm 6'1" and 200lbs, it's comfortable for me. Knees got fatigued last Friday, but I was on the bike for 5 hours and put 140 miles on it of urban riding, just out killing time and learning the bike.
I highly suggest picking up a Ninja 500 (because the 250's suspension is weak for me at 200lbs, but the 500 has stiffer shocks, I'm going to upgrade to them) for $1,500-2,000. It doesn't seem like pulling the trigger on $12k is scaring you much, so why not spend a lot less dough, ride a Ninja 500 for a few months and not fear dropping it, and mid/end of summer pick up the bike you really want and sell the Ninja for the exact price you paid.
That's my plan in a nutshell. I'll probably upgrade to a GS500, R6, or zx6 before summer's end.
I suggest starting on something you don't have too much money tied up in. What if you realize it's not for you. What if you drop it the first day you have it out. What if someone rams you while you're leaving the DMV after registering it?
Actually now, I am looking at a different bike, $9,000. I really do not like the look of the sport bikes at all. I will get the engine guards before I ride, not just to protect the bike, but I consider them a safety item as well. I have looked at the Japanese cruisers, but have yet to find one that really fits me well. Also, looking at the used values, the Harleys don't seem to get much cheaper than about $7,000, even when looking at 80's & 90's models. Yes, I can buy a new Japanese bike for the same money, but a year later I will have a $5,000 bike.
The bike I'm currently looking at is a 2006 Harley Dyna Super Glide with forward controls. A local dealer has one with 15,000 miles on it for just under $9,000. Its in immaculate condition, and has fuel injection and the smoother shifting 6 speed transmission as well. I had toyed with the idea of getting a cheap Jap bike to learn on, but I do not want to mess with buying a bike that I really don't want, and then buy another 6 months later.
The Dyna with forward controls fits me well, and is a little smaller than the Soft Tail bikes which I feel are probably too big for me to learn on.
I'd just HATE myself forever if I spent +/-$10k on something and ditched it a few weeks/months later. Ditching my $1,200 Ninja would only make me part it out and make $600-700 and then buy another one for that price, just older and more used. I'm not really out any money at all.
It's your decision really. I just went into this with the mindset that "sh!t happens" especially to beginners and if/when it does, I don't want to be financially burdened by a payment for something that isn't even roadworthy.
It's just like a teen who first gets their license. You wouldn't want to see them in a new Mercedes because it's inevitable that they'll make a mistake and bang it up. You put them in a Chevy Citation for a few years and if they can manage, then they get something nicer. We are adults, but being new to bikes is just like being new to driving a car IMHO. Start on something cheap, get the basics down, then upgrade. If you do so within a few months, you'll really be out little/no money at all unless you do drop it/wreck it, at which point, you can smile knowing you made the right decision in getting a cheap starter bike rather than dropping your $12k Harley.
I did look at Vulcans, boulevards, Triumph Bonneville, and the Shadow Aero when shopping. They're nice looking bikes, but you still can't touch one new enough to be fuel injected for a decent price. I have scaled back though. Considering ultimately I'd like an Indian Chief Roadmaster, but I feel that's too much bike to learn on. As far as the Harleys go, I really like the Heritage Soft Tail Classic ($15,000 & up used) but felt that was probably too much bike to start with too. I looked at Harley Sportsters, but even with forward controls they're really too small for me. It was suggested to me that I try the Harley Dyna models. They are a good fit for me when forward controls are installed. The price is cheaper than the Soft Tails, and they are really easy to balance.
Of course, I have not made a final decision yet, and I probably won't buy a bike for at least 2 more months, but right now I'm leaning towards a Harley Dyna Super Glide. Its a nice looking bike at an affordable price, and I won't grow out of it in 2 months.