WhyBike Motorcycle Blog

Mailbag: My Sportster is too much for me

By James - 6/29/2006

Brenda emailed me:

My Sportster is too much for me as a first bike. I really like the feel of the Yamaha VStar and the Kawasaki Vulcan, I am not so sure about the forward controls though, are they hard to get used to? I am going to go out on the sporty a few more times but I think I am going metric. I am driving myself crazy, I just want to ride and be happy!!

I started with the Vulcan 500LTD and then moved up to the V-Star 650 Classic. The Vulcan is much lighter and has less torque but does have a higher top speed with a 6th gear. I like the full fender design and V twin of the V-Star better than the “chopped” looks of the Vulcan with the small front fender and parallel twin but that is all preference. Both bikes have performed almost flawlessly. The Vulcan had an issue with a loose connection that would cut out the motor at random times. I replaced the battery connection for about $10 and it fixed the problem.

The larger front tire on the V-Star never feels “heavy” because of the center of gravity and with the higher weight feels more stable at highway speeds. I rode the Vulcan down to Cabo San Lucas from San Francisco and all the Harleys we passed could not believe that I was riding a 500cc bike. I couldn’t understand why you would need a bigger engine just to ride down to the beach. The V-Star has been just as reliable although it has never been out of the country. People always think it is a bigger bike than it is. I think that is because so much thought went into the styling. The Star has a bigger seat, but my butt still hurts on both after a while without the Airhawk Pad.

The forward controls should not be a problem. I switch back and forth all the time and there is no learning curve.

Whatever you decide to do, make sure you are happy doing it. I hope this helps you make up your mind.



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  1. Go to dealers and sit on bikes, if you can. I went to the annual show at the local convention center and sat on an increduble number of different bikes. I feel forward controls, and especially floorboards, are kind of awkward; the bike that felt the best to me was a Suzuki, which really surprised me.

    Comment by Ricky — 6/30/2006 @ 11:02 am

  2. Pardon my ignorance, what is forward control?

    Comment by Ken — 6/30/2006 @ 7:45 pm

  3. Forward controls describe the foot controls on a typical cruiser. I.E. they are in the front of the bike instead of under the rider.

    Comment by James — 6/30/2006 @ 9:46 pm

  4. My first bike, of which I still ride, is a V-Star 650 custom and I love it. It’s been a great bike. My husband has his own, but he likes how mine handles in the turns better than his.

    Comment by Biker Betty — 7/2/2006 @ 8:10 pm

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