IndigoTea (indigotea) wrote in dykes_on_bikes,

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Shopping for the dream bike...with a twist.

I'm looking into acquiring my first bike, and so I'm doing my research now. I will preface this with the following statement: I am a new grandmother (41), and I will want to be able to allow my granddaughter to ride with me in a few years, after I'm more experienced. I also have a strong preference for cruisers, as folding up like a jackknife is a bit tougher on the knees than it used to be. With this in mind, I'm shopping with an eye towards being able to have the bike modified to carry a sidecar rig.

My absolute dream would be to have a vintage Indian Chief with sidecar; well, that's out of my price range at the moment. However, after doing a bit of shopping, I've come across the Kawasaki (yeah, I know) Drifter, in both 800 and 1500. This bike was designed to be an Indian clone, for those of us who can't yet afford the real deal. According to the consumer reports, the 800 is designed to be more comfortable for the vertically challenged (5'2", right here), and has many ease-of-riding features. I am looking at the Champion Legend sidecar, as it's got good consumer reports, and the fender style looks like it'll be a good match for the fender style on the Drifter.

Now, here's where I open it up for the potential smackdown; does anyone here have experience with the Drifter, or know anyone who does? Anyone here have experience with sidecar rigs, and the pitfalls thereof? I'm looking for real feedback - I will not be offended by observations and comments meant in a spirit of positive input.
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I don't have the Drifter, but I do own the 1600 Classic. They now make a 900 Classic that might fit your height. I'm 5'9", so no real issues there for me. But even on the 1600, my more vertically challenged friends can almost touch. The smaller Drifter is likely low slung enough. The Classic is merely a lighter, streamlined version of the Drifters. The larger bikes are shaft driven and fuel injected, which makes starting on cold mornings or after long sitting periods a snap. I have never had an issue with any Kawi bike I've owned. The maintenance is easy, the bikes are smooth as glass and I think you'd be happy with it.
I appreciate the point-by-point description of the benefits; there's a lot about the mechanics of motorcycles I've yet to learn. It's good for me to know these things, and hear about the pros and cons from a pragmatic standpoint.

To me, all bikes are beautiful, but some just make you go "Well, helloooo there." - the lines of the Drifter have that gorgeous vintage swoop and glide of Art Deco, and I was suckered at first sight.
:chuckles: You're welcome.

:nods: Absolutely the Drifters are gorgeous. They are essentially the same bikes as the Vulcans, just different aesthetics, for the most part. :grins: I love the artsy lines of the Vulcan and the lack of extraneous parts. It's all chrome and paint. The Drifter or Nomad were the other two options I was considering.
I have no recommendations or suggestions for you, but I wanted to say: congratulations on becoming a new grandmother! It's very cool that you want to be able to take your granddaughter on rides with you. I hope you find a most excellent bike.
Thank you! I have a total of six kids (mine 'n' his), as well as various fosterlings, all of whom are awesome people. My eldest daughter's training to be a mechanic, but she's specializing in cages at the moment. I'm hoping I can talk her into taking advanced classes to work on bikes, but that's her call.

My goal is to make sure my granddaughter has memories of me that are as amazing as those I have of my own grandmother. I only hope she continues the family tradition of strong, smart, life-loving women!

I have a question. Do you have any experience riding motorcycles? I'm asking because an 800 is a rather powerful bike for a beginner and you don't want to buy a bike that is, well, 'too much bike' for someone, especially a 5'2" someone :) (I'm 5'4", btw, so I can understand the pain of finding a bike that isn't too frustrating!). I've been riding for half a year (not so much now because of winter) on a dilapidated 26 year old 650, which probably doesn't have 100% of its power, but is still pretty peppy nonetheless. I recently tried an 800 (actually, it was a '96 Kawasaki Vulcan custom! ;) and it was waaaaay too much bike for me. Gearing down almost made me lose control and as much as I liked the power, I'm nowhere near ready for that much cc's.
Welcome. I love my Vulcan 750, which I know from friends who ride will also work with a side car. ;-)
I'm 5'2" when I stretch and can just about flat foot my Vulcan. The biggest problem with the 750 Vulcan is that 2006 was the last production year for them. The last of the 800 Vulcans were made in 2005 I believe, the 800 is being replaced by the 900. As yet I haven't heard if they are going to make something to replace the 750 in their lineup.

If you haven't ridden I'd suggest something in the 250 to 600 range to start with and definitely start with a used bike don't spend thousands on something new until you've either gone down once or have a season or three under your belt.

Also just in case it hasn't been mentioned take a basic or beginner rider course. Your local motorvehicle or police can steer you to a class as can the motorcycle safety foundation.

Did I mention I love my Vulcan? She's a 2002 and her name is "Guthrun" I've added yet more 'extras' since my icon pic I need to take a new one. :-)
Vulcan love!
Yup! :-)
Do you know about the VROC board?
I do, I am a member, though I confess it's been quite some time since I logged in. Need to get back on there.