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Discussion Starter #1
hi again all. My dad recently passed away in February, and he had two bikes. a '76 sportster, and a '03 softail standard. I inherited the softail, and my brother took the sportster. we kept the bikes, because they were one of my dad's passions, and it seemed wrong to part with them, but in keeping them, my brother and I have both developed the urge to learn how to ride. Neither one of us have ever ridden before. I would like to ride my dad's bike, but I'm mot eager to kill myself, so I'm looking for a starter bike to get some experience. I don't know how die hard you guys are about harleys, so I apologize in advance, but I'm looking for a jap cruiser in the 500 to 600cc range to learn on. Some have said that the jap bikes handle differently than the harleys, so am I ok learning on something like that first, or should I fork out the extra money for a sportster? I was looking to spend about $1500 on a bike to learn, and I know I wont find a sportster for that. Also, my brother is gung ho about hopping on that old sportster, and just going, but it's been opened up to 1200cc, and an experienced rider I know has said that it'll get away from him real quick. I'm worried that his arrogance will get him killed, so please give me some advise to relay to him. the softail is a beautiful bike, and I can't wait for the day when I can ride it. thank you.
 

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I'd say get a cheap disposable bic-lighter equivalent jap bike in the 500 -750cc range, especially if you aren't accustomed to using a manual transmission.
 

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Fat Guy on the Ultra
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Getyong a jap to learn on is a good move that way if you do drop it, then your not out to much, i would suggest you and brother sign up for a local motorcycle learners class and do that before you decided to do anything. Local HD dealer may offer one at a premium price, or you can go to www.msf-usa.org and find a local class. I think they run $100 and its ussually friday 5-9 all day sat and sunday. I dont know you or brother but i took the class, never had ridden a mototrcyxle before and went to MB the very next week and rented a heritage for the week. And loved it i was doubling my gf at the time in a few hrs after picking up bike.
Id say take a class, and go out and pratice on the bike you have, and see if your comfortable. If not get a small jap and ride a year and im sure youll be fine on the Harley.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
I forgot something. The bike has two key fobs, but they don't seem to do anything. They both have keys in them, and the bike has a good battery, and runs. My dad didn't keep them with the keys, so I'm wondering if maybe he had their function deactivated, if that is possible. Help with this would be great, again, thank you.
 

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Your dad may not have had the siren installed with the alarm. It was a separate option in '03 and would chirp when the alarm was enabled/disabled.

Without the siren, all the alarm would do is blink the turn signals when the alarm is enabled/disabled.

If it doesn't do that, the batteries are probably dead in the fobs.
They take a common CR2032 battery available just about everywhere.


Long press on the fob button enables the alarm, 2 presses to disable the alarm.
 

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I would absolutely encourage you to get a late 90's Honda Shadow to learn on. It won't cost much to buy, the engines are really reliable, and there isn't much plastic to break if you drop it.

Also, I heartily second the notion that the first thing you should do is take the MSF beginner rider course. They'll supply the bike, you'll learn good basic skills, and at the end of the process you will be able to get your motorcycle endorsement on your DL.
 

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On Probation
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Just take your new HD out on the neighborhood streets or a large industrial area not used on weekends and practice.
Not really hard to do.
Wear proper protective gear and go ride.
 

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Senile Member
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Go old school and learn how to ride on those bikes.

Go buy shop manuals for them.

Fob hold button for 2 seconds and release, signals flash once, little light flashes on odometer.
push button twice (click click) signals flash 2 times, light on odometer is off.
With security on, bike won't start and flashers will signal.
 

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Harley Rider
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Before you try to kill yourselves, go and take the Riders Edge course offered at your local HD dealership. It is definitely worth the time and money. Once you get through that, you will know if you need to get another bike first. My first Harley was a Heritage Softail Classic. I didn't go get a cheap Jap bike. You will know what to do when complete.
 

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Call me Gig.
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I re-learned how to ride after about a 35 year break from bikes on my brand new SuperGlide Custom. You can learn on that SoftTail.
 

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my first bike was a '97 Suzuki GS500. great little bike to learn on. in my case, i had never ridden a street bike before and only a handful of my buddy's dirtbikes. the day i picked it up, it started to rain. i was young and foolish. luckily i didn't hurt myself. i learned to ride and am still going today. i don't recommend this course of action, i'm just saying it is quite possible to learn on your own, guys had been doing it for decades prior to the safety courses. be cautious, wear a helmet and understand that you are going to drop the bike. you probably don't want to drop your dad's harley though, so a cheap jap bike is a better option if you go that route.

that being said, today the MSF is readily available, much safer and typically has bikes for you to ride. once you complete the course you will likely have enough confidence to ride the old man's softail. this would be the recommended route. from what i have heard when you complete the course many states will take the completion in lieu of the road test and issue a license. oh, and i think you get a discount on your insurance too. many pluses to doing it the "right" way.

kgb
 

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Discussion Starter #12
I appreciate all your advice, and I'll look into the safety course tomorrow. the bike is important to me, because it was my dad's, so I don't want to wreck it. he absolutely loved that bike, and rode every chance he got. I completely understand the importance of the helmet, and proper clothing. Dad was in a bad accident back in the 80's that wasn't his fault. He stopped riding after that until just a few years ago when he bought the softtail. the helmet he wore, saved his life in that accident. Riding the bike, is a way for me to honor his memory.
 

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I too started riding again after 35.years bought a Yamaha 950 rode it for a year and bought my softail . The Yamaha was a decent bike to learn on and you will find the Harley to be much better in all ways. Rich, the MSF class is FREE in PA. Take it and you will a much better rider because of it.
 

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Lost in Space
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I bought a 96 shadow 600 to learn on. Great bike for the first year. Still have it, wife is thinking about learning to ride. Definitely take the MSF class. Then ride, ride ride
 

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I have a 2000 Softail Standard. You'll love riding yours. Definitely take the course and practice on some empty streets/lots. Nothing wrong with getting in some seat time on a metric. It won't take long to get used to the Softail either. Both ways will work, but the course is invaluable, especially to someone with no experience. I took it and I've been riding since I was 14 or so, with a big break the last 15 years. If you're going to get a bike to just learn on, I'd go with a cheap metric rather than fork out the dough for a Sporster that you may not ride again after you get on the Softail. Then again you may like it more. That all comes down to personal preference.
 

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On the loose
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I got back into riding with a 800 Vulcan , I road that bike for 2 years but was ready for some thing else after the 1st 2 months. Just road it tonight before I sold it , great metric but my Deuce is a much nicer ride.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
Thanks for all your help. I'm going to take the safety course, and see how I feel after that. I was surprised to see that they actually supply the bikes. Dad had a lot of money tied up in this bike with the vance and hines pipes, and all the chrome. The bike sounds good, but holly sh*t is it loud. I found a receipt showing that he even paid a dealer to reflash the computer after the exhaust was put on. One thing he didn't get a chance to switch out, was the chrome oil tank that he had bought, so I'll change that out for him. I'm sure I'll be on here looking for more help, as I'm knew to motorcycles, so I'd like to thank everyone in advance.
 

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You should go buy a 250, a 500, a 750 and a 900cc bike. Start with the 250 and work your way up. By the time you get comfortable with the 900, you'll be good to go. In all seriousness, you'll be just fine learning to ride what you've got. When I was young and had no money, I'd ride anything that anyone would let me ride. I remember using an orange crate to get on a CR500 and get going. When I needed to stop, I'd just sort of jump off while holding the handlebars. It worked most of the time. Do take the safety course. It will keep you from developing bad habits that will be harder to break later. Most of the time, you'll be using their bikes, which is a bonus. There is nothing like riding a Harley. One that your Dad loved and rode makes it that much better.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
I just wanted to thank everyone again for their input. A couple weeks back, I went through the motorcycle safety course, and it was a tremendous help. It gave me the confidence to get on the softail. I am by no means an expert, but i've put about 400 miles on it without any problems, knock on wood. It was quite a bit different though from the bike I used for the safety course, a Honda 230 dual sport. I've been riding the back roads to get experience. Before getting on the bike, I changed all the fluids, and checked to see that everything was adjusted property per the shop manual. I've really enjoyed it so far, so thanks again.

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