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      05-30-2019, 01:43 PM   #1
mfindigital
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Thinking about getting a motorcycle to commute on

Hi everyone,

So I have a brutal commute (17 miles takes 85 minutes to get home) and it's the only thing that ever has me considering a new job (love it here). The only solution I've come up with is to start making this a 2 wheel drive instead of 4 wheels, I figure, even on the streets, I'd save 40 minutes on my drive home, probably 15 in the morning.

I'm not a youngster looking to smash the pedal and do wheelies, I'm a 36 year old father of a toddler happily married that doesn't want to die

I know motorcycles are inherently more dangerous, but I'm a responsible driver. I have very limited scooter/motorcycle experience and am looking into a class.

Since I have very little experience and no real interest in going super fast, I'm looking at small displacement bikes (and scooters too).

The bikes I'm looking at are the KTM Duke 390 (seems to be the favorite of this group by a mile), BMW G 310 R, and the Honda CB500F. All are about 4-5k in newish (or very new in the ktm and bmw) condition.

Does anyone have experience with any of these bikes? Can they be comfortable enough for a 40 minute ride? I'm leaning towards the bmw, because, well, bmw. But I don't want to regret the decision immediately.

This isn't about fun, it's about saving 5 hours a week of my life. Any info greatly appreciated!
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      05-30-2019, 01:54 PM   #2
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I can only comment on the Honda CB500F as it is the only one on your list that I have owned. It is a fantastic starter bike and as comfortable as that style of bike can be. Unfortunately that's all it really is, a starter bike. I owned it for only 6 months before trading it in for something with a bit more power. If you are trying to stay around that price range I think it will serve you well. If you want a bike that is the same style and is going to keep you satisfied long-term I would recommend one from the list below.


Harley Sportster Roadster
Ducati Monster
Ducati Streetfighter(this was the last bike I owned and absolutely loved it)
Indian Scout Bobber
BMW R9T
BMW S1000R(not the RR)
Triumph speed
Suzuki SV650

Last edited by Shiza; 05-30-2019 at 02:02 PM..
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      05-30-2019, 01:57 PM   #3
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It will take a long time, even if you go to the track a lot, to learn to competently control the bike. If you just ride on the street you will never ever have competent control of the bike in emergency situations.

Also, you need to understand how to deal with traffic and control your space and options as much as possible at all times. Most people just don't get that stuff. If you get upset at what other drivers do more than once in a blue moon, you should not get a motorcycle. Getting mad at other drivers is a sign that you didn't expect them to do whatever they did.

Other than that, riding is tons of fun and bikes are by far the best way to commute and get around / thru traffic. But you need to be 100% honest with yourself about what you're getting into and what can happen. Even an expert at all the above is only human and can get squished if he doesn't pay attention for one second.
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      05-30-2019, 02:02 PM   #4
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The KTM Duke 390 is a little small for everyday riding (comfort) unless you're short, get something small for splitting but big enough to be comfortable. Sv650, CB500F CBR650F are all good bikes that fit this category - there are many others too. You'll want to start on something smaller (500F would be fine though) to really get comfortable with riding and probably move up later, a 500F/SV650 would probably last you a while and can be a starter bike. Don't buy anything new for a starter bike, buy it used, you WILL drop it at some point. After a few thousand miles get rid of the starter scratch and dent special to something else you want, usually by then you have enough skill not to drop it.

If you want to stay with something smaller Ninja 400 is best in it's class if you want something more sporty like the KTM. Before you decide anything or buy anything, take a class first they generally have multiple types of bikes you can try to figure out what you want. It'll also help you find out if riding is for you or not without investing (losing) anything.

I probably rode about 15,000miles last year in a fairly small city compared to LA. It's not worrying about yourself, but other people which are completely unpredictable and pay zero attention to the road. Someone else will ALWAYS do something stupid on a ride generally that you will need to avoid. Motorcycle riding is 100% not for someone who's head isn't on a swivel and hyper alert these days. I had a driver attempt to literally squash me (merging sideways into me several times) for telling them to put their phone down when they were swerving lanes almost hitting me and multiple cars... Although a truck can't keep up with a bike...

If you don't do it for fun now there's a 100% probability you will. Be ready for wanting to have fun and realize that it gets expensive quick down the road.

If you value your skin getting good gear will cost you at least $1k-$2k don't forget this in the budget. You'll probably want a Sena and a decent helmet cam too, I wouldn't go anywhere without a helmet cam nowadays, usually if you don't have one you'll be blamed regardless of what the driver did.
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      05-30-2019, 02:06 PM   #5
omega2733
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Quote:
Originally Posted by The Wind Breezes View Post
Also, you need to understand how to deal with traffic and control your space and options as much as possible at all times. Most people just don't get that stuff. If you get upset at what other drivers do more than once in a blue moon, you should not get a motorcycle. Getting mad at other drivers is a sign that you didn't expect them to do whatever they did.
This is extremely important. Anger, forgetfulness, inattentiveness on a motorcycle can and will get you seriously hurt. It always requires practice and training to stay safe.
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      05-30-2019, 02:10 PM   #6
mfindigital
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Thanks everyone.

My motivation is purely to save time. I have no interest in going fast, racing on a track, carving canyons, any of that. Not only do I not have interest, but no matter how fun those things may be, I will never ride this bike in a sporty or fast fashion. I'll keep my track time to my car where I'm nice and safe.

My average speed home is about 13mph in my 135i. Traffic is very, very, very slow on the 10 East in the afternoon. My only interest is something light, easy to maneuver, comfortable enough to do 30-ish miles a day, and reliable enough to handle that drive. It will never be ridden over 50-ish mph since there is no area along my commute that I would ever feel comfortable doing that in.
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      05-30-2019, 02:18 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mfindigital View Post
I have no interest in going fast, racing on a track, carving canyons, any of that.
Honestly, every one of those activities you listed are about 100x safer than riding in traffic with inattentive drivers. Either way, for 30 miles a day, you'll want something large enough to be comfortable. We're not talking engine size here, but smaller bikes have smaller frames which means worse ergonomics.

Also don't be fooled into thinking a SV650 or CBR500 etc means it's fast. CC's mean nothing and are just a number. Everyone has listed bikes that fit your needs, not crotch rockets. Check out https://cycle-ergo.com/ to find something comfortable for you after you've sat on a few bikes.
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      05-30-2019, 02:46 PM   #8
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I was going to ask how a bike would save you time.

If you are seeking comfort, which is tough on a motorcycle, engine vibration being kept to a minimum is one key factor to comfort.
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      05-30-2019, 02:52 PM   #9
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Are you willing to share more precise details of where you are commuting from/to?

There are a lot of paved paths in SoCal and the weather is typically nice year round. These factors make it ideal for e-bikes and other similar forms of electric mobility. Seventeen miles is a long way, but depending on your exact situation, you might be able to do it in well under an hour without even getting on the road.
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      05-30-2019, 02:55 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mfindigital View Post
I have no interest in going fast, racing on a track, carving canyons, any of that. Not only do I not have interest, but no matter how fun those things may be, I will never ride this bike in a sporty or fast fashion. I'll keep my track time to my car where I'm nice and safe.
You've got the dangers backwards as the gentlemen a couple posts above me noted. If you don't get too ambitious, that stuff is all a lot safer than being around other traffic. And that doesn't mean sporty riding isn't dangerous.

And what you're basically saying is you have no interest in learning to be in control of the bike. Think about that for a second.

Cars will show up where you don't expect them. People will try to turn left in front of you when it may not be safe (or even possible) to stop. Cars will pull out of places you didn't know existed. If you don't practice riding hard, a lot, you will have zero chance of swerving your bike out of the way in those scenarios. It just won't be possible for you.

Also, as a frequent lane splitter I can attest that other drivers can and will move over on you and even do stupid shit like open doors when you are totally sure they won't. Even if you are a very skilled rider and can stop or swerve very quickly, you are still gambling and can still get hit.

A dude who wants to stay alive and not maimed for the sake of his family and who doesn't intend to practice riding his bike hard so he can control it in emergency situations that arise during normal riding is REALLY gambling. It's just a bad position for you. Sure, you might ride into your 70s without a major wreck but from what I've seen so far in this thread it's far more likely you'll scare the shit out of yourself and stop riding within a few thousand miles.
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      05-30-2019, 03:14 PM   #11
mfindigital
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Quote:
Originally Posted by omega2733 View Post
Honestly, every one of those activities you listed are about 100x safer than riding in traffic with inattentive drivers. Either way, for 30 miles a day, you'll want something large enough to be comfortable. We're not talking engine size here, but smaller bikes have smaller frames which means worse ergonomics.
I wasn't insinuating that people were suggesting I'd be reckless, just wanted to further clarify my desire to get into a bike. Sorry if it came across that way.

Quote:
Also don't be fooled into thinking a SV650 or CBR500 etc means it's fast. CC's mean nothing and are just a number. Everyone has listed bikes that fit your needs, not crotch rockets. Check out https://cycle-ergo.com/ to find something comfortable for you after you've sat on a few bikes.
I like the CB500F quite a bit, the CBR500r is too racey looking for me. I love the look of naked bikes, not a fan of full fairing bikes.

I've heard that the SV650 is a great commuter bike, I'll take a look at those as well. Ironically, I shopped for bikes when I was 22 (actually was in the process of signing for a ninja ZX-6r before I amazingly realized I wasn't ready or mature for one yet, walked out of the dealer with paperwork half signed) and that was one of the three I checked out.
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      05-30-2019, 03:25 PM   #12
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I know you think it'll just be a commuter bike right now but you'll end up loving it and riding for your own enjoyment on the weekends. Get a bike you will enjoy. SV650 is a great choice btw
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      05-30-2019, 03:32 PM   #13
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You just can't trust people on the road today.
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      05-30-2019, 03:53 PM   #14
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I used to ride every day in the Bay Area. My commute was Highway 17 (somewhat infamous road). I was never in an accident and never laid down a bike, and I used to ride hard. I did have a couple close calls.

The SV650 is a great choice. I was always a Ducati guy, so I like the V-twin. Especially for a newer rider the power is much more progressive and controllable, in my opinion.

The things that I feel kept me with the rubber side down are the following:

1. Use medium speeds in traffic are where people are blindly changing lanes and will not see you. You are pretty safe when traffic is stopped and pretty safe when traffic the at the speed limit.

2. Do not ride in the middle of your lane. That where oil and dirt is, and you will be out of view of people mirrors.

3. You can look in peoples mirrors and make eye contact, or at least see if they are paying attention.

4. Don't cruise in somebody's blind spot. Either hang back enough to be in their side mirror, or get in front of them.

I think it is more dangerous now then it was when I was riding simply because of the smart phone and people being generally checked out.
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      05-30-2019, 04:48 PM   #15
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If you want to get on two wheels, you need to view riding as a more difficult task over driving. Anyone with a pulse can drive. There's really no skill involved in sitting in a car, putting the car in gear as most people drive autotragics, pushing on the gas to accelerate or pushing on the brake to stop, and moving this round thing called a steering wheel. Even though doing the aforementioned is simple, most people still manage to screw things up royally. You have to keep this in mind. In my opinion, people need to be forced to pass how to ride a motorcycle before they get their driver's license.

The big issue you're going to run in to is there is so much involved in riding a motorcycle, the chances of something happening for a beginner is exponentially higher than even someone with years of regular caging experience. You'll be focused on just operating the bike which takes away attention you need to focus on the idiots on the road in 2 ton urban assault vehicles. You need to be pretty competent in operating a motorcycle to be able to minimize the risks of riding in heavy traffic.

I would suggest signing up for an MSF BRC class. The class is very structured and provides on range practice with very basic skills needed to operate a motorcycle. But you shouldn't just stop with the BRC. You should take the next step up with the MSF classes with the ERC which requires you to do the same skills set (with some additional ones not in the BRC) with your own motorcycle. There is also a class called Total Control Clinic developed by Lee Parks. It's more comprehensive than any of the MSF classes but not a full on track school. You do the drills in a parking lot setting. The skills you learn in these classes are visual acuity, braking, throttle control, etc.

On the type of 2 wheels to get. Since you mentioned scooters as an option, I would look at the Suzuki Burgman 400. It puts you on two wheels but lessens the number of things you have to master to get going; freeing up your attention as a new rider to focus on the idiots on the road. The Burgman are not the scooters people think of...ie Vespas. They're larger and require an M endorsement to operate as they'll get up to some decent speeds. They also don't require you to manually shift gears and operate a clutch. I myself am considering a Burgman 650 for leisurely rides that my full on sport bikes don't really support. The Burgman 650 will get up to 120 MPH and can transport two people comfortably along with decent underseat trunk space.
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      05-30-2019, 05:23 PM   #16
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I’ve been a rider for more than 20yrs.

Definitely take a course, I recommend the MSF course, and definitely do advance courses. I recommend Yamaha Champion Riding school, Penguin, California Superbike School, etc. The better you understand the bike and your limits, the safer you’ll be.

Definitely get proper gear including air vest or air bag type jacket/suits... always were the gear cause you have no control what the other guy does.

There are 2 type of riders. Ones that fall and ones that are going to fall... be prepared... it is inevitable, but the gear helps, training and experience more so.

Yamaha R3 and Kawasaki 400R are excellent bikes as well.
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      05-30-2019, 05:52 PM   #17
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I live in LA, didn't own a car for 4 years, commuted only on my motorcycle, although my commute is only about 5 miles.

Here are some thoughts of mine:

Since you have no experience riding, this is probably the worst city in America to learn to ride. I generally discourage people who live in LA from LEARNING to ride here, unless they are 1,000% determined. It is just SO dangerous with the amount of traffic and people being distracted on their smart phones, which were not a thing when I learned to ride in 2004.

another point - those bikes you listed such as a KTM 390, they are way too underpowered for freeway commuting. I would suggest something like a Ducati Monster 821. But a Monster 821 is also a lot of bike for a beginner.

My last point... while switching to a motorcycle will save you some time, it will add stress. You need to be hyper aware and hyper vigilant the entire time.

I basically think you shouldn't bother unless you want to turn motorcycling in to a hobby as well, and plan to do it sometimes for fun on the weekends which will increase your skills faster than if you only used it for commuting.
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      05-30-2019, 06:54 PM   #18
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If it were me, I would check out a Zero Motorcycles electric bike. https://www.zeromotorcycles.com

Check out some videos: https://www.youtube.com/results?sear...ro+motorcycles
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      05-30-2019, 07:14 PM   #19
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+1 to the SV650 it's a great commuter and beginner bike plus the aftermarket is so insane for it that you can turn it into a bike that fits the kind of riding that you will discover. Your goal with a first bike is something that's forgiving and can grow a little with you on your journey in motorcycling.

Also doesn't hurt that it's easy to work on and inexpensive.

I'd steer you away from new beginner bikes because you WILL drop it and if it's new you'll feel bad/crappy about it.

If you haven't don't so already I'd recommend doing an MSF course as well a few times and the advanced rider course afterwards.

Hope this helps, i'll keep an eye in case you want to know something specifically about those bikes you listed. I have strong feelings about the KTM390.

And lastly, welcome to your new addiction.

Sincerely,

Guy who's sole mode is a BMW R1200 GSA while waiting for his M2 comp to be built and delivr'd.
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      05-30-2019, 09:21 PM   #20
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I would look into public transportation or leaving California before I would take up motorcycling, but I have been riding a motorcycle for over 50 years. Commuting on a motorcycle is not fun due to weather, and expense. Owning and caring for a motorcycle is not cheap even with 75 MG little bikes.
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      05-30-2019, 09:21 PM   #21
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I would look into public transportation or leaving California before I would take up motorcycling, but I have been riding a motorcycle for over 50 years. While it is true that motorcycles are dangerous, risk can be managed. However, commuting on a motorcycle is not fun due to weather, and expense. Owning and caring for a motorcycle is not cheap even with 75 MG little bikes.

If you only want to ride it to and from work, get a little Vespa or something to keep costs down.
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      05-30-2019, 10:45 PM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Efthreeoh View Post
I was going to ask how a bike would save you time.
You get to ride in the HOV lane.

Not sure about Cali but here in WA it's the whole reason I commute on a bike. 45 minutes home in the car vs. 10 on the bike. All because of the carpool lane. Added bonus, I get to ride through the swing-up arms at the parking garage downtown and park for free. So, about 45 minutes shaved off the commute to and from work and $16 saves in parking. Love it!
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