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Discussion Starter #1
Hello,
I recently got interested in motorcycles and am looking to get my first bike. I have decided on the Ninja 500R. This is my first time buying any vehicle, never had a car either so I don't really understand fully the whole process behind purchasing one so I've a few questions. First is the obvious one, since the MSRP listed on Kawasaki's site is $5049, what would be the average price about that I could knock try to knock a dealer down to, and what would be considered a "ripoff"? I do want a new one, not used just because I prefer to know that it was never abused, as well as not knowing really what to look for regarding what could be wrong.
The other thing I am somewhat confused about is insurance coverage for the bike. I don't understand fully what types of coverage (comprehensive, etc) I would need as well as what amounts would be appropriate? Obviously I don't want to end up spending a fortune on insurance and the quote I got from Geico was just over $5,000. I figure it's mostly just because I don't know what to chose on the quote form for each box. ???
The last thing I've been wondering is, I know gloves and full face helmet are highly recommended, what else is essential in the beginning to have? And what could I get in the future, say a couple months down the road once I have a little more money available? I was thinking for now I could get by with having the helmet, gloves and just wear an old leather jacket with thick jeans. Would this be fine or am I missing something?
Any input is greatly appreciated as I don't have parents I can ask these kind of questions to and I don't really know who I can go to to get honest answer I can trust so I figured I'd start here. I just can't wait to get my own bike, I've spent the last month absorbing pretty much all information I could find on the subject.
-Jeff
 

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I wouldn't buy a brand new one. You can usually find a used one for less than $3000 with a couple thousand miles on it. If you buy a new one and wreck it, decide you don't like it, upgrade, etc.. you will be out a lot of money but with a used one you won't lose much unless you totally destroy it. And since it sounds like you've never ridden before you will probably drop it, whether it is going 5mph or 35mph it will most likely happen. I just got my bike a few weeks ago and after riding dirt for 10 years I nearly laid my 500 down 3 times. I couldn't imagine how pissed I would be if I wrecked a brand new bike. After all a 1994 looks just like a 2007. Buy used, learn to ride on it and then if you absolutely must go and spend some money sell your bike for almost as much as you paid for it and then go buy the new one.

As far as gear goes, spend the money now and not later. If you're willing to spend $5000+ for a bike why not spend a few hundred on decent riding gear? Newenough.com has a lot of cheap stuff, especially in the closeout section. An old leather jacket "might" not get torn to shreds if you fall but it definitely doesn't have any type of armor to protect your shoulders, elbows, etc...Definitely get a full face helmet, gloves, jacket and boots a good pair of riding pants is also a great idea. Jeans really don't offer much protection from abrasion and no protection from impacts to your knees or hips. With the right gear a lot of crashes that would have really hurt...i.e. low speed falls that would have taken a lot skin off your body...end up resulting in no real pain and you being able to walk away with some bruises if anything at all.

So do yourself a favor and buy a used bike and take some of that extra money and buy some good gear.
 

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+1 on the buying a used one for your first bike. I know I've dropped mine a few times (all low speed stuff). I won't say you _will_, but some of the important stuff (target fixation, fear of throttle, etc) leaves you at critical points and the bike goes down. You can get an old enough one for $1,000 or so (my second option was $1300 for a 95 with 15k miles) if you look around. Save the money you'd be spending on a monthly payment and use it to buy your second bike next season.

So buy used, just don't buy the first used bike you stumble on. I wish I'd read this:

http://www.clarity.net/~adam/buying-bike-content.html

Before buying my EX. Not because it would have talked me out of buying an EX500, just because I would have gotten a different one (I had two available to me at that time, the one I got just happened to be closer).

If you do buy used, try to find a 94 or later for some good upgrades (transmission is a bit better, rear brakes are disc, etc).

For insurance, if you buy used and cheap, you don't need comprehensive or collision if you can handle replacing the bike out of pocket if something happens. Just get liability (you hit someone, they get fixed). Comprehensive is for acts of god or theft, collision is for you hitting something. Play around with the quotes and find out if it's worth either - for me comprehensive added $30/year, and gives me a new bike for $100 if mine's stolen, a good tradeoff. Don't skimp on the medical coverage. I don't know your age or location, so insurance recommendations are hard - but Progressive gives me a good rate (my 93 is only $96/year for liability, and $230 for comprehensive and 10k/person medical payment). Nationwide gives a discount with AMA membership - and the first year of membership is paid for by Nationwide.

For gear, get a jacket, helmet, and gloves at the very least. Go in and talk to someone and try stuff on. Make sure the helmet fits well - and pay a little more for good vents. Go full-face - there's a guy on here who hit his helmet on his key in an accident.... I love my Shoei RF-1000. I spent almost as much on equipment than I did on my bike, and I still am not happy with my level of protection.

The equipment you mention will be totally fine as long as you keep the bike oriented properly. However, worry about crashing, as that stuff isn't going to protect you in the slightest. Jeans give way in mere feet of dragging. The old leather jacket is probably not thick enough leather - or stitched very well. Neither have impact protection armour. Even the best motorcyclist in the world is in danger of wrecking on public roads - and you won't be at that level of control or awareness for years, much less when you start out...

I would recommend everyone start off with their first bike being used. The maintenance concerns are valid, but ask the previous owner for maintenance history, and use the checklist I linked to above. If the mileage is low, and the bike looks ok, you'll probably be fine for your first season. The money you save alone will make it worth it. Plus, you don't know for sure you want this style of bike - easier to trade up/over from a used bike. If you do have problems, it's probably nothing a few hundred at the shop won't fix - and you'll still be better off financially.

The only real reason I see for not going used is ego (I'm not blaming you of this - but it's a valid reason). It might be embarrassing to ride that ten year old slightly beat up bike, but don't worry about it. Nobody really cares (except for the guy who called my bike an antique at the stop light the other day ;)) what you're riding. Laugh your way to the bank - or to a nice sushi dinner every week instead.

Finally, take the Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF) course. In many (most? all?) states this gets you a license without a DMV/MVA test. It'll teach you fundamentals you need (every single time I've dropped or came close to dropping it was because I forgot something I learned in the MSF course). Plus, you learn on a loaner bike (no need to own yours yet). Take the money you'll save on a used bike and put it towards the MSF course.

I know you said you're dead set on new, but I hope you'll change your mind...
 

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geico wanted 1100 for me
progressive was 340

i bought a new one for some of the reasons you mentione plus i just wanted something brand new of my own
but used is the smarter decision
 

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Discussion Starter #5
I appreciate all the input greatly. I probably should have given a bit more background info though. Firstly, I've been riding a couple months now, mostly just on weekends. I have been lucky enough to have a friend who didn't mind me using his old 250R. I am already scheduled for the MSF course, however have to wait until the end of July to take it. It was one thing I noticed pretty much everyone on this forum recommended. As for the recommendation on getting all the gear now, I was thinking about it, just wondering if I could get away with it for awhile, I guess you just reinforced the need for it so I may as well get it all. Also, the recommendation for Progressive was helpful, down to about $900 for the same coverage as Geico (I'm only 20 next month.)
Now for the recommendation on the used bike. The only thing I've been wondering is, how many miles will a 500R last for about? It seems that you never see them for sale with more than 20,000-30,000 miles. The main reason I wanted new was because I figured if it wouldn't last that long I'd rather start fresh at 0 and get the most mileage I can out of it. This is going to be my only vehicle for probably another year or two (cars, car insurance and gas for a car are way too much for me). The only other reason I kind of wanted a new bike is because I'm not very good with working on cars, let alone motorcycles. Is it an easy bike to diagnose and fix for someone who has very little knowledge of how things work? I was planning on getting the 4 year extended warranty for that reason but if it's something easy to diagnose and fix myself I'd be willing to go used. As far as the ego thing, it really didn't have anything to do with that, I figured I'd scratch it at one point anyways. :-\
Again, thanks for all the input, it's greatly appreciated.
-Jeff

Edit: One more thing, any good websites to look for used 500R's? I can't seem to find any within 250 miles of here, Syracuse, NY, that is.
 

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Ebay, craigslist, and a car mailing list I'm on were my search areas. The mailing list and craigslist ended up being the ones to come through.

I understand wanting new for reliability and low maintenance. I'll be most likely be buying a new bike before the end of the season, and that's one of the reasons (the other main reason is I want a bit more of a dual purpose style bike).

There's no reason the bike won't last for well over 30k, although someone else will have to speak up to known reliability issues with this model. I think there's a good reason why you rarely see high mileage ones for sale. People either ride the bike a lot (commute, etc) and are either going to decide the bike isn't right for their purpose and sell it quickly, OR (and this is more of a factor) most people simply don't put many miles on their bikes. This isn't something I really understand, but for a lot of people a few thousand miles a year is a lot.

I know of at least one EX (mine) with over 40k miles on it. I'm averaging about 3k miles / month on it right now. :D

As far as wrenching, the minor stuff is simple as long as you have some idea of which way the wrench turns. You're going to be doing that stuff (oil, plugs, chains, sprockets) on a new bike as well - with basically the same frequency. Either way you're looking at either doing it yourself or paying someone to do it.

Basic maintenance schedule: carbs, spark plugs, valves, air filter, battery (levels), drive chain (check/clean/lube), oil/filter, general lube, coolant, tires (check), brakes (check/replace pads/fluid check). I didn't get the full list - there's a PDF of the periodic maintenance schedule here - search.

With the exception of the carbs and valves, these are all easy to do without removing much in the way of plastic. A few wrenches (12, 10, 14mm) and a couple of screw drivers are about all of the special equipment you need. Do the simple stuff and take the hard stuff to the dealer, if you must. It'll save you some money. :)

The Clymer's manual is great to have (~$10-30 used-new). So are the Kawasaki factory service manuals (I got those with the bike).

Going new isn't a bad idea if you're sure you'll like the bike - and you can afford to do that (and get proper equipment, too).
 

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I definitly second the MSF course. Make sure to forget everything you think you know before going into the class though. Even just a few sessions of riding on the street prior to actually learning the basics will start you on bad habits. You must break those habits.

As far as your concern on the whole money issue. I bought a 2003 with 1500 miles for $2500. That's 1/2 a new one. Almost brand new a year ago. Find a good used deal. Make sure you have enough money for the bike and the gear.

Insurance wise you will find the rate goes down with you taking an MSF course. Last year my insurance for the bike was $230/year for liability+comp. I was a first year rider and 21. This year it will be less. Oh. Full covered was only like $600-700 a year w/ min deductables but I wasn't about to pay that much for a $2500 bike. I spent over $1k on gear before I bought the bike. I bought a more touring type setup for the waterproofness and warmth in the cold(being in Alaska) and all that. When I get back from this deployment I am buying a full set of leather w/ real protective boots(not just the leather ones) and some better gloves and another helmet. It never hurts to have 2 sets of gear. Then you can take chicks for rides...haha. I won't let anyone get on my bike without atleast a helmet, jacket, and gloves. So basicly I've had no passengers yet.

The bike is great though. Really no issues for me so far and anything that does go wrong you can find a fix for on this site. Make sure to search though. You'll find it. I've gotten over 50mpg every fillup. It's great for a street bike. I think it makes the perfect bike for the street actually. It's got the right amount of power and it's fairly cheap to insure. I love it. I'll have it till it dies.
 

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+1 on the used bike. I paid $5k for my 2003 Concours with 1,200 miles on it and $2,900 for the 500 with 6,200 miles on it. Basically new bikes for far less than new, without the hassle of break-in. The Connie had many of the farkles I'd of gotten anyway, and farkles are basically free on a used bike.

If I were looking at a $5k budget, I'd be looking at a used 650R, not a new 500.
 

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I'll second (or 27th, I didn't count) the idea of buying a used bike. Not only the idea of damaging a new bike, but the fact that you'll be dropping a nice wad of cash on something that goes down in value. I like letting other people take the hit on depreciation. Plenty of people keep buying new bikes, though. It just means they'll be used ones when I'm ready to buy again.

Honestly, though, you could buy a used bike, some gear, and sock away the rest of the cash for repairs if you ever need them. Rarely do these bikes just fall apart, and it's generally simple enough wrench turning involved with repairs. Other than basic maintenance (valve adjustments, oil changes, etc) I strongly doubt you'll see much during that 4 yr. warranty period, and the basic maintenance items aren't covered anyway.

I'm not trying to tell you NOT to buy a new bike, new things are nice, just properly weigh it out before you make a decision.

On the insurance - if you buy new you generally have to carry comp, collision, and liability if there's a loan on the bike (check your state laws). If you do go new and want to get a better understanding of the rates, keeping your limits low (the 25,000/50,000/25,000 numbers) will lower your payment (adjust these based on how much you have to lose if you get sued, so I was told - if you have a nice house and lots of stuff get higher limits). Also, keeping the deductibles higher will lower your payment - the deductible is the amount you pay out of pocket for repairs and claims before the insurance company pays a dime, if you didn't know. Choose your deductible amount based on how much cash you can come up with if you have to file a claim. For the record I have a '90 w/ liability only + $1000 medical and it runs me about $90/yr.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Well, looks like I'm gonna get a used 500 instead. I just wasn't sure of the difficulty of fixing it when something goes wrong but I figure I can always ask the users here if I get stuck in a tough situation. The only downside now is finding one used in NY. Managed to find two but they both wanted about $4300 which I think is a ripoff for a bike that NADA and KBB rate at $1900-2800. Guess I'll just keep looking. Now I understand what kind of insurance to get as well so that'll save me a bit extra towards getting some nice gear. Thanks for all the help, can't wait to get my own bike. Once I do I'll be sure to post pictures of it in the picture thread I saw around.
-Jeff
 

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The EX500 is one of the most user-friendly bikes out there, when it comes to doing it yourself. And, of course, this forum is a wonderful resource for figuring out what's wrong.
 

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Got my '01 with 1600mi. for $2500.Found it on CraigsList.
 

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The only downside to buying a used bike is actually finding the right one. Look for a bike that has had as few owners as possible. Check for damage to the plastic parts/scrapes on the exhaust. Check the oil level just to see if the guy keeps that where it should be. Look for any obvious leaks. Check the chain to see if the owner actually cleans and oils it regularly. Check the tires for good tread and if they do have good tread verify that they don't have any cracks from simply being old. Check the brakes. Try to keep the milage under 10,000, which is pretty easy to do. Another thing is to see where/how the current owner stores the bike. Do they keep it in a garage, outside but covered or does it sit uncovered and unwashed outside? The guy that I just bought my bike from actually kept the thing in his kitchen. And try to take along a friend/parent, whatever that has some mechanical knowledge.

It's more difficult to buy a used bike but in the long run it'll save you a lot of cash up front and the depreciation will be next to nothing. In other words if you keep the bike in good shape you will probably be able to sell it for about what you paid for it after a few years. Try that with a new bike and you will loose a lot of money.



One last tip, money talks. Always have cash but never let the seller know just how much you do have in your pocket, just set a max price in your head and take that much with you. You'll probably walk away with a few hundreds left in your pocket.
 

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I got a used 2003 with 5,000 miles on it for $2750. course I had to drive 500 miles to pick it up but the savings was well worth it.
I know it's just repeating what has already been said but I'll say it anyway. If you buy used for cheaper you have more money for gear with is much smarter than an expensive bike with no protective gear.
 
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