month we received a question from a new rider:
"I found a
1984 700cc honda shadow and am wondering if it would be appropriate
for me to
forward than I am used to however the balancing was fine....Do
you know if any of the gals owns this type of bike. If so I would
Any info would be appreciated...Remember I am a beginner who spent
a couple of hours on Drew's BMW and don't want to start with a
rebel 250. I need
a bike to practice on so that i could get my license and cruise
you gals. So let me know..." Barbara
As usual, I sent the question out to the membership for their opinions.
Here's what they had to say:
From Laura J: "The
Shadow 700 is kind of a heavy bike to manage for a beginner so
it is probably not appropriate.
I started out on a Kawasaki 550 LTD which I thought was
heavy too. Dropped it lots of times when I stopped, started or
trying to wrestle it into a spot in my garage. I was really
proud of myself when I finally had it mastered and could
easily flick it around. It took several years before I was really
confident to get a bigger bike. Not to say a beginner couldn't
a big bike, but a smaller bike would give a beginner more
confidence providing a safer, more enjoyable ride."
From Liz Sm: "Sounds
a bit big for a beginner, but I agree with what someone else
said - depends on her skill, confidence level, and one more thing
My first bike right out of the MSF course
was a hand-me-down Honda Shadow 600. I could flat-foot it and in
of my 5 foot 1 inch height, and felt very comfortable on it. I dropped
it twice, but only in situations where I would have dropped
ANY size bike. And yes, I picked it up myself both times.
Now I'm on a 750 Shadow, which has just
a bit more oomph than the 600. Better for highway speeds, and a
more power when the light turns green. Also a bit heavier than the
600, but now I have several thousand miles under my belt (or under
line - if she can try the bike (particularly low speed maneuvering,
say, in a parking lot) - that would be best. Once in motion
on the road the bike's weight becomes much less of a hindrance, and more of a help. Just my 2 cents..."
From Judy H: "No
riding experience at all? For someone with no experience
I'd recommend a Rebel 250 if she wants a cruiser. If she's tall and
thinks that's just too small, a Kawasaki 454 LTD would be good. For
something a little sportier, a Ninja 250 or a Ninja 500 (EX500), or
a Suzuki GS500. Oh, and take the MSF course first if she hasn't already."
From Janet B: "I started
on a 1986 Honda Shadow 500 and rode it for 6 years. It was a great
bike for me and I would
highly recommend it."
From Angela K: "That
might be a little intimidating - I would suggest she take the MFS
safety course before she tries to ride that by herself. I started
on a Honda Shadow 600 and had never ridden before, I was a true
beginning. It was suggested I take the safety course and after riding
for two days I would be ready to ride a bigger bike...and they were
think Honda's are great bikes and the Shadow 600 was a great beginner
From Laura S: "Although
I started with the 800 CC hugger sportster, it was short and most
of the weight was
low. I believe that the Shadow may be too much for her,
unless like Judy said, she is tall."
From Jean L: "I
started on the Sportster 883!!! I spilled once with it and that
was before the MSF course! I had no problem
handling the bike
after I took the class and became more confident. That Honda should
not be a problem unless she is too tall or too small. "
From Linda S: "I
think a great deal has to do with how tall she is. A
VLX has a long wheel base and may be difficult to learn to make tight
turns. A vulcan 500 or 800 has a shorter wheel base and would be
to handle. I think the easiest bike of all is the 650 Suzuki
savage I had. Some of the Intruders are narrow and lighter.
It really depends on how she feels the bike fits her. A
bike with less weight and reasonable power is good to learn
on. An older used bike is a very good choice to learn on. Is
the bike "top heavy" for her if she leans it over. How
does she feel about the bike?"
From Bill D: "It
depends on how big the beginner is and her confidence level. A
might be best served by starting with Alex' Honda 250 Rebel. A 5'10" woman
might be able to start with a 500 Shadow and not drop it too many
times in the first season."
From Michele M: "If
I didn't meet my Honda 250 Rebel (Harley look alike) in my travels,
I wouldn't be riding. That's
because I'm very short.
I feel I had to crawl before I walk. Gave me many happy trails and
the confidence I need. I'm ready for the next right bike for
me. I'll know it when I sit on
it. That's how it happened with the Rebel."
From Cath G: "
I started on a 650 Suzuki Savage. I thought was an excellent beginner
bike, small, low riding, dependable,
easy to control, easy
to pick up and easy to maintain."
All very good advice. The correct beginner's bike depends
on the rider's height, physical strength and feeling of confidence
and budget. Taking the Motorcycle Safety Foundation course
is most important thing you can do. If you are a short rider, check
link for more information on bikes for short riders.