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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Hey guys, that time has come. I've been talking with a friend of mine for a while about taking his 1988 Ninja 500 off his hands (sorry in one of my intro posts I mentioned it was a bit newer than that, but yeah...'88). Today I finally took it out for a ride and it was a blast. I didn't go anywhere with much twists, but it was still a learning experience. Realized that I have to get myself more comfortable with slow speed maneuvers. I took my MSF course a last summer and didn't get to ride much since, so I see some parking lot figure eight time in my future. :p

Okay, now to the meat and potatoes of this post. The bike has been laid down at least twice. Once by the previous owner, onto the left side. Once again by my friend who put 'er down on the right. There has been some plaster work done on the front fairing, and the plastic on the sides have let go of their screws. Also, the break lever has some rash to it, but nothing major, and the only thing bent is the break pedal, which still functions just fine.

Some of the things that do concern me a bit more are the runnings of the beast. The throttle was a bit stiff. From what my friend has told me, he's replaced it after putting her down on that side. I'm wondering if there's something simple that can be done to fix that or not? The other thing that REALLY concerns me is that after coming back from my test ride, I've noticed that there was oil on the side of the bike. Mostly on the right, but there was a spot or two on the left. No real chance to examine myself what it is, but I trust him to look into it and report back. That said, in the event that it's a valve cover gasket or something, what's the repair difficulty level involved?

So the question is, to buy or not? He's looking to get a $1000 for it. It has about 26K miles on it, and not in the prettiest shape. In comparison, I've found a 1989 EX500 for $1500 around Detroit (where I'll be moving in a couple of weeks), and that bike apparently has 4500 miles to it (or somewhere around there). The kicker here is, since I'm finishing up my degree and am in between switching jobs, my friend says he wouldn't mind if I pay him a few hundred each month. Do I try to work him down a few hundred if the oil is something serious or consider a small personal loan and pick up a newer bike in better shape for a few extra pennies?

EDIT:
So I just found out the oil was nothing major. Apparently one of the hoses was disconnected at some point. At the same time, I found a purdy looking 1992 GS500 for sale close to where I'll be in a few weeks for the $1000. I've been eying the GS500 for a while, and finally found one for a decent price. Down sides, not sure if it'll be around in two weeks, and the easy financing option isn't there.
 

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Do you have all the gear you need? That's going to cost about 1/2 of the price of the bikes you're considering. You need to buy all your gear first, then look for a bike. If you need a loan for a $1000 bike, maybe you should wait until you save up some cash. Don't start thinking that you have to have one particular bike right now. There are always good bike deals that come along, and it's better to wait and do it right than be strapped for cash.
 

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The stiff throttle probably just needs the cables lubed
 

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$1k is too high. My '84 VF500F cost me $1k some 6 years ago and it was in great shape. As keeney said, hoard your cash and gear then start looking for a bike. Having payments isn't a good idea, IMHO, on something that isn't a necessity.

For the bike you described I'd be thinking $500. Your friend would be sad, but that's what I think it'd be worth merely based on your description. Looked at the frame and subframe? Make sure there aren't any dents or substantial scratches. If anything is bent on them the whole thing's a no-go.
 

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That's a pretty tough decision.

Your buddy's EX-500 sounds pretty beat. Not sure if it's worth $1000. A cherry GS-500 for the same price sounds a lot better to me.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Go figure, the GS-500 got sold five minutes before I called. They were loading it up when the lady answer the phone. Anyway, I think I've decided to wait until I'm downstate to search for a bike, as well as save up some extra cash for pants and gloves. Got the helmet and leather jacket covered. Oh, and I still need better boots. No sense in dedicating myself to the first busted up bike I see, and the only one available up here.

One quick thing... simply out of curiosity so don't flame, since I am dedicated to looking for a 500, but would a older 600, say early 90s still be out of the question for a possible starter?
 

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I'll say yes, but a few people on here will disagree (I'm looking at you cookie!)

The thinking goes like this. 600's are tuned for max hp, and thus they are very peaky and tough to handle. Older 600's did not have EFI, exhaust butterfly valves, and other tech which smoothes out power bands, and so they are just as peaky, if not more so, even tho they produce less power.
In my expirience, virtually everyone crashes. squids with liter bikes crash, guys on old 600's crash, people with 250's crash. Most of the time, it is not the bikes fault, and its not even that the bike was hard to handle. Its that the rider starts out having a great time, finds himself in an unexpected situation, gets scared, panicks, and stops thinking. Then riders either fixate on a curb or a stop sign, or just drop their bikes for no good reason at all. Most of the time new riders make no effort to avoid the accident at all. Often times, they activly steer towards it. On the occassions when they do try to avoid it, they do so in the worst possible way, like stab the crap out of the rear brake. Its sort of simular to what happens to 16 y/o drivers who freak out and push both pedals to the floor.
So, with all that said, chances are, you are going to crash your first bike, regardless of what it is. It ok, most people here survived more than one wreck. Get your gear, wear it, and have the sort of bike you can walk away from if you total it. I.E. one that is real cheap, that you dont owe any money on.
Good luck :)
 

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One quick thing... simply out of curiosity so don't flame, since I am dedicated to looking for a 500, but would a older 600, say early 90s still be out of the question for a possible starter?
I still say the the early '90's CBR 600s are fine learner bikes. But that's just because I learned on one. No 2-wheeled experience whatsoever before I set foot on it, and I rode it for over a year...no wrecks. But it's all about the rider too. I let one of my friends hop on it once and he wrecked it in a cul de sac within 5 minutes.
 

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I'll say yes, but a few people on here will disagree (I'm looking at you cookie!)

The thinking goes like this. 600's are tuned for max hp, and thus they are very peaky and tough to handle. Older 600's did not have EFI, exhaust butterfly valves, and other tech which smoothes out power bands, and so they are just as peaky, if not more so, even tho they produce less power.
In my expirience, virtually everyone crashes. squids with liter bikes crash, guys on old 600's crash, people with 250's crash. Most of the time, it is not the bikes fault, and its not even that the bike was hard to handle. Its that the rider starts out having a great time, finds himself in an unexpected situation, gets scared, panicks, and stops thinking. Then riders either fixate on a curb or a stop sign, or just drop their bikes for no good reason at all. Most of the time new riders make no effort to avoid the accident at all. Often times, they activly steer towards it. On the occassions when they do try to avoid it, they do so in the worst possible way, like stab the crap out of the rear brake. Its sort of simular to what happens to 16 y/o drivers who freak out and push both pedals to the floor.
So, with all that said, chances are, you are going to crash your first bike, regardless of what it is. It ok, most people here survived more than one wreck. Get your gear, wear it, and have the sort of bike you can walk away from if you total it. I.E. one that is real cheap, that you dont owe any money on.
Good luck :)

So I stab the rear brake real hard fish tailing can be fun...and its only because i have a phobia about the front brake in low traction conditions...:)

I'll take an EX500 over a GS500 any day
 

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Discussion Starter #10
So I'm back on the look. While the chances are that the first bike I have will get "put down", I'd rather the damage be done by me :p As for the GS, can't say I've ever ridden one, so I can only go by looks. I really like the naked look on those, and with that comes a slightly lower repair cost... right? My only hope is that all the bikes still in good shape aren't sold off in the next two weeks. Doesn't help that craigslist seems to have a fairly quick turnover rate.
 

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Strength and Honor
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If you can force yourself to not be in a hurry, you're more likely to find a better deal in a month. This is prime selling season for bikes and related materials.
 

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So I'm back on the look. While the chances are that the first bike I have will get "put down", I'd rather the damage be done by me :p As for the GS, can't say I've ever ridden one, so I can only go by looks. I really like the naked look on those, and with that comes a slightly lower repair cost... right? My only hope is that all the bikes still in good shape aren't sold off in the next two weeks. Doesn't help that craigslist seems to have a fairly quick turnover rate.
Actually, crash damage when laying down a naked bike vs. a fully faired bike is usually MAJORLY less expensive, as in a fraction of the cost. Bodywork damage can easily run a couple of grand for even a relatively minor wreck. On a naked bike- replace a brake lever, maybe a mirror or turnsignal, a case cover at worst and you're on your way again.

Your best bet for finding a really nice bike at a good price is patience. Trust me, the right bike will come along, you just have to take your time and hold out for the good stuff. It can easily take a month or two, and you might have to look at a half dozen or more crappy bikes along the way, but stick to your guns and it will pay off.
 

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Both of the bikes I wrecked cost me a grand a piece to fix (single side plastics + tail) and that was getting some of the stuff on e-bay. But I still prefer to have the fairings. It's all personal preference though, especially for a learner bike.

And I'll back up what kanwisch and ZX said, hold out until you find a good deal, because it will come along.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Yeah, patients does usually pay off... but it's like a drug man! Haha!

I'm just hoping to get as much season in as I can, but what's a season if I spend half the time trying to fix the bike, right? That said, here starts the waiting game. I may or may not need someone to restrain me at times of weakness.

11 more days till I get downstate and can start shopping around in person.
 
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