I really need to get back in the habbit of checking these noob posts.
Gambit, much love! I was going to suggest to DK that she did just that, find someone nearby (within a few hundred miles, with the mileage she's getting on that 400, lol) that'll let her "Try before you buy". Being a 650 owner, I'd love to see what I've been missing with the lighter weight and maneuverability the 400 has.
Okay, a bit late, but just for others who may be asking the same questions... My 2cents...
First off, I'm a bit of a heavy hitter here. I have over 50K miles on my burg, mostly put there over 3-1/2yrs time, was trained to "really ride" my Burg with a bunch of sport-bike racers (Pro) and everything you imagine goes with that, and not only a member of a chartered MOTORCYCLE club, but also, for the last couple of years, the Road Captain. I ride, and have rode, with every bike you can imagine, do a 46mile daily commute, and I have done my own "Iron Butt" run, from Baltimore, Md. to Sterling, Michigan - 800+ miles, 12+hrs non-stop except for gas, on and off highway and backroads - a few times too many.
I started out with a (older) Vulcan 750 cruiser, and a 250 Ninja "Sport" bike before my 07' 650 (which I bought the next year, 2008, with 16 NEW dealer miles and for $7K, so yes, $9K+ for 3yrs is RIDICULOUS!!!).
As many here know, I'm handicapped. My right leg is partially paralyzed, and right now, the rest of my 43yr old, 6', 236# body ain't doing much better. My left arm, wrist and leg were recently banged up pretty bad in a work injury, and before the Burgie, I only had a few (less than a couple hundred) miles of "riding
" under my belt. I say all of this to address several concerns.
As a noob, having limited experience (to keep a long story posted elsewhere short), and needing to commute to work a few miles out in the inner city of Baltimore, Md., where they have NO, NONE, BIG FAT 0!!, respect for bikers even now (and that's improved greatly over when I bought my bike back in '08 :shock
, I was looking for the biggest, fastest, and most intimidating thing on the floor. Literally, my thought was, "I want them to know that if they hit me, it's going to tear their car to pieces!!!
". I was shown the Burger, but wasn't allowed to pick it up on the floor, because there simply wasn't enough room. It looked like a "hacked-up
" Goldwing, and the salesman and I joked about Suzuki copying parts of other bikes to create "Frankenstein's Monster
" in the bike world. We even took a tape measure out and compared it to the GW's on the floor... 4" shorter from head to tail, 1" higher rider seat (we didn't do the passenger seat), and the exact same width ear-to-ear (mirror end to mirror end). Yeah, that'd be big enough!! (And at the time, it, literally, WAS the biggest these "Maxi-Scooters
" got). The dealer went on to explain to me that the 650's, unlike the 400's, was "not really a scooter
". I thought the man crazy (or maybe just a sales pitch). He explained that a "scooter
" is best identified by the fact that the engine sits under the seat
, on a swing-arm "type
" assembly. They do not have actual swing-arms (like on a "real motorcycle
"). Although the 650 has a "floating gear-assembly
" on it's swing-arm, it indeed has a free-floating
swing-arm, is driveshaft driven (like the GW), and it's engine sits between your legs, just like any other bike (albeit laying down flat and low... a "new type of engine
" BMWs use called a "Parallel-Twin
So, when I finally went out to buy it, at another Dealership, I simply went over and righted it onto two wheels to see how it'd feel. It felt considerably lighter
than the Vulcan. Yes, you felt the weight was there, but it sat so low that it was a no-brainer, like picking up a 25lb bag of charcoal for the grill. It didn't feel
like a 600+lb bike at all.
A mechanic there wound up riding it back home for me, as they were afraid to put it on my 4x8 trailer with a wooden floor, saying the bike was far too heavy and would probably punch through it. I thought that to be a lark of bull, but didn't want to take a chance. When we got to my house, I asked the mechanic, who had never had the opportunity to ride it before, "how did it feel?". His answer, "Like any other large touring bike; maybe a bit sportier".
So, my first experience riding it was up and down the alley beside my house. It felt like riding a bicycle, without peddling, down a hill. The throttle was smooth and VERY EASY to get used to. The "small tires" had no problems over bumps or even small potholes in the alley. I did drop it (stop and drop) at the end of the alley in a large pothole, but that was because I tried to stop. If I had hit the throttle instead of the brake, it would've just ridden over it (experience has since taught me). Going back and forth to work, from light to light, in the inner-city and in heavy traffic, it felt like a large bicycle with a LOT of POWER!!, and that was when keeping it under 4K RPM (break-in period). I found that I could easily reach 40mph, much faster than most cars, and never exceed the 4K RPM limit. With a little time, even 60mph. It was necessary to throttle into turns (they'll teach you that at the Safety Course), but other than that, it was pretty easy to handle, even when stopped at the light (remember, partially paralyzed, which means most times, I only had my good leg down, and I had to LIFT
my bad leg up if I put it down while moving
Taking it on the highway was a dream!!! Riding two up, even when your passenger did something STUPID
, was easy, and easily recoverable, with a little "blip
" of the throttle.
So, there's nothing wrong with the 650 as a 1st bike, and it's not "too much bike" to handle. I can upright it from the side-stand with my legs, which I now, HAVE TO do because of damage to my wrist. It's not too heavy, but it is a heavy bike and not something you want to fall ON YOU (as was stated, if it starts to fall, let it! Then get someone to HELP YOU pick it up - and yes, you can pick it up yourself, in an emergecy, but if you don't have to...).
As to whether to get a 400 first, if you "know" your wife will want one too, it wouldn't be a waste of money.
But to end this (PM me if you want more details)...
Just a few words on riding 2-up...
1. Establish RULES!!!
, and do it BEFORE
you get on the bike! If she sees something she wants to show you, point past your head with her hands, [b]NOT HER BODY!!!
2. When the bike is moving, move her head, NOT HER BODY
if she wants to see something.
3. DO NOT ANSWER HER PHONE
when the bike is moving unless she has a blue-tooth headset on; the phone stays in her pocket!
4. DO NOT FALL ASLEEP!!!!!!!
And yes, they WILL
5. Hand signals. One to let her know you have only one foot down (she stays still on the bike), one for having both feet down (she can adjust herself while you hold up the bike, like at lights), and one for when you MUST hit the throttle to accelerate like in an emergency (she needs to hold onto your waist immediately and tightly!). For the last, I use 2 quick slaps on the thigh. You never know what might happen and you need to use the throttle.
That throttle is your best friend! Learn how, and when, to use it! If there's a need to lean, swerve, or hit something in the road dead on (like an small animal, sorry to say), hitting that throttle can save yo' tail!