“What motorcycle should I buy?” has to be the most frequently asked question by any prospective new motorcycle owner and rider. As loaded as the question is, it’s the right question to ask. The answer depends on what kind of riding experience you want. If you have no clue, don’t worry, you’re not alone. For those who want to ride but don’t know what two-wheeled path to take, you’ll want something affordable, manageable and adaptable, which is why this vintage CB650 makes a perfect first motorcycle.
Describing a bike like this 1980 CB650 as middle-of-the-road isn’t a put down — it’s one of its advantages. If you’re taking the plunge into buying a motorcycle but don’t know what you want, why go in an extreme direction with a stretched-out cruiser, cramped sport bike, or lifted off-roader? A standard motorcycle like the CB650 has the ideal, neutral seating position and ergonomics for anyone getting used to motorcycle controls and handling — your limbs are in the most relaxed position, you’re not hunched over the tank or reaching for the controls. Once you learn the basics of riding on a standard bike and figure out your personal pros and cons for the bike, it’s easier to decide what style of bike you want and where to go next.
Another sticking point to consider is your first bike likely won’t be your last. One or two seasons might go by before you start shopping for a second bike, so affordability and maintenance costs should be kept in check. Hondas are known for their reliability, and the CB650 is one of those bikes that sold in the thousands, so if you do need parts, they’re easy to find and most likely dirt cheap. The mechanical design and architecture of these older Hondas are also incredibly simple, making it an excellent bike to learn simple motorcycle maintenance on too.
First bikes come and go; if you land a good one, sometimes they stick around forever. Building on the basics is the best way to educate yourself, and the CB650 makes for a perfect 101-course teacher.
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