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My main character is a 21 year-old female college student who drives a motorcycle that she bought herself after her mother died. I know nothing about motorcycles except that they look really cool (e.g., Verizon commercial, Ducati motorcycle).

What type of motorcycle is affordable for a student to purchase that most women like? A Ducati?

Also, do people who own a motorcycle refer to it as a "cycle" for short? In my story, the main character calls it her "cycle" but I'm not sure if that terminology is realistic.
 
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A Ducati? That isn't a motorcycle. That's a kid's toy.  ;D

I don't know anyone who refers to their motorcycle as a cycle in the U.S. In most cases, they refer to it as their bike. Of course, everyone I know with a bike has a proper bike, a Harley-Davidson.  ;D :D

The type of bike someone rides depends on their purpose for buying the bike. Some people ride motorcycles because they are more fuel efficient and "greener" for day-to-day city driving. Lots of college kids, both men and women, prefer motorcycles to cars because they cost less to drive and have lower maintenance costs. You can often find reliable used motorcycles for only a couple thousand dollars. Some people drive motorcycles for the thrill, and therefore want something with speed and power. So the type of motorcycle she would have will depend on her reason for buying it.
 

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College students are riding everything from cars to harley sportsters. The sportster is around seven grand new.

Looking back, I wish I had bought that instead of my eclipse.
 
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I know a few motorcyclists and they refer to it as their bike, not cycle. How serious is she about riding? If it's a runabout for use in towns she'll want something different to if she's touring each weekend.

A Ducati might be out of her price range (unless she sold a house or got a large inheritance), and the insurance and running costs for a student would be huge. A used Honda, Yamaha or Suzuki would be more common, especially if it's her first bike. It depends how much tinkering and upgrading she wants to do - the proud owner of a BMW tourer I knew spent all her weekends on it or upgrading it.

 

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My college-student neighbor for several years had an old Honda touring bike as her sole form of transportation. It was cheap, comfortable, could carry a couple bags of groceries, and not "stupidly loud".

She always referred to it as her "bike". Or "the guy magnet". :)
 

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Bards and Sages (Julie) said:
A Ducati? That isn't a motorcycle. That's a kid's toy. ;D
SQUID! lol.

Yup, its ride, not drive. Think of it like a horse, not a car. Yes to "bike" which confuses the public non motorcycle peeps, so I go back and forth bt bike and motorcycle. I usually call it a bike when they are speaking in my books. There are squid bikes - the plastic things that go WOOOSH. And there are cruisers - think Harley's and chrome. There are bikes in the middle, but most ppl lean one way or another. Do your research and get someone to give you a ride, if you can.

Cheap new bikes start around $4K. Harley's start around $20K. I think the Ducati is a u-sneeze-u-die bike and cost a butt load more. College kids around here (and me) had older cruisers. 1st time bikers usually dont get something bigger than a 500 either, and girls have issues with certain bikes and holding them up b/c we gots girly hips.

Go look at a bike forum and read about entry level bikes and pay attention to the lingo. Im in the US. Lingo may be diff elsewhere.
 

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My uncle was a biker. He used to tell me - "If you can pick it up you can ride it."

And, one of my very first professional sales was to OUTLAW BIKER.

A "real" biker will ride a Harley. That's pricey for a college kid - unless she's got money.

Mind you, nowadays a lot of college kids ride scooters. It all depends on the character. If she considers herself a biker she'd most likely get the best bike she could afford. If it was a Honda or a Suzuki she might refer to it as a "rice burner". She might also be planning for the day she can afford a real Harley.

If she is just a college kid who needs to get back and forth from class to her home she might go the scooter route and refer to it as her "motorcycle" until someone else corrected her.

That's what it really boils down to. Who your character really is. Is she a biker or is she just somebody who wants a cheap intercity vehicle?
 
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Steve Vernon said:
My uncle was a biker. He used to tell me - "If you can pick it up you can ride it."
At first I thought you meant Captain America style, then I realized you probably just mean standing it up from its side.

...you do mean that, right? ;D
 

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glutton said:
At first I thought you meant Captain America style, then I realized you probably just mean standing it up from its side.
Or bicycles. Before I put some money into it, my old Schwinn grocery bike weighed a bit over fifty pounds. :eek: Right on the verge of things one could pick up, Captain America style. I always used to joke I locked bike racks to it, so nobody would walk off with the bike rack. :)

With new wheels and some other stuff, it's down to a "mere" 43lbs, or so, now...
 

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Most younger riders I know seem to favor a sport bike rather than a cruiser like a Harley. The exception being people really into the Harley thing, but that is skewing older and older from what I see.

Either way they laugh at me. I own a Vespa.
 

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I commute on a Honda CBF, it's cheap to run and small enough for me. It's very popular with women. I'm in the UK so the terminology might be a bit different, but it is still a bike over here  ;)
 

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Not a biker myself, but daughter of one.

A Ducati would likely be too expensive for a college student, unless she has wealthy parents. Younger bikers such as college students tend to drive used Japanese bikes, mostly models like Suzuki Bandit, Yamaha Fazer, Honda Hornet or CBF, whatever the smaller Kawasakis are called, etc..., because those bikes offer decent quality and performance for an affordable price. Maybe, if she's very price conscious, she might even go for a cheap Chinese no-name brand bike. Though young people here are more likely to drive scooters than motorbikes anyway. Dirt bikes are also more common among younger bikers, though more men than women drive them.

Harleys as well as other premium brands like BMW and the various Italians tend to be driven mainly by men in their fifties and older. Ditto for bigger Japanese bikes. The Harley biker demographics may be different in the US (in Germany it's mainly a brand for rockers and older men), but those bikes are mostly too pricey for young riders. Never mind that young riders, even when money isn't an issue, tend to favour faster sports bikes over cruisers.

Another issue to consider is that women tend to drive smaller bikes, because many models are too big and too heavy particularly for smaller women. A classmate of mine in college drove a 250 ccm Japanese bike, i.e. a very small model, because she was very petite and most bikes would have been too big for her.

 

 

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Around here a college student is liable to own something along the lines of an older 400 Yamaha. They are cheap, lightweight, easy to ride and easy to fix. They don't look too ugly either.

I don't know about other big cities, but Toronto is being taken over by the scooter craze. You can park them just about anywhere and don't have to pay for a meter. The will carry 2 people or a couple bags of groceries. The bigger ones (125cc+) have more than enough juice around town, can do 70 mph, but the tiny wheels on the smaller ones (50cc/40 mph) can get stuck in the trolley tracks.
 

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Linda Castillo said:
My main character is a 21 year-old female college student who drives a motorcycle that she bought herself after her mother died. I know nothing about motorcycles except that they look really cool (e.g., Verizon commercial, Ducati motorcycle).

What type of motorcycle is affordable for a student to purchase that most women like? A Ducati?

Also, do people who own a motorcycle refer to it as a "cycle" for short? In my story, the main character calls it her "cycle" but I'm not sure if that terminology is realistic.
The main issues with girls and motorcycles are simple. First, it has to have a saddle low enough for her to be able to have both feet on the ground when stationary. Two, it must be light enough for her to lift it back onto its wheels if dropped. The Sportster - as others have mentioned - is regarded by many bikers as a "girls bike" - because it is popular with girls. Most guys in my bike club would not be seen on one for that reason. (I ride - have since age fourteen.) Then there are bike types, dirt, utility, sports, cruisers etc. Most cruisers are too heavy for girls, though I certainly know some who ride them. A lot of the women cruiser riders in our club ride Yamaha Viragos and their descendants. Although shaft drive, they are low enough and light enough for a woman.

Maybe you should consider what more female students actually do ride - motor scooters. Check the campus parking lots.
 

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Linda Castillo said:
My main character is a 21 year-old female college student who drives a motorcycle that she bought herself after her mother died. I know nothing about motorcycles except that they look really cool (e.g., Verizon commercial, Ducati motorcycle).
I'm a motorcycle rider in Europe, but I'm also an inmate at ADVrider.com. If you have no experience with motorcycles, it's important to get your terminology right. I ride an old Vespa scooter, a BMW R1100GS dualsport motorcycle, and a Moto Guzzi Mille GT [1000cc Grand Touring] sidecar rig.

Linda Castillo said:
What type of motorcycle is affordable for a student to purchase that most women like? A Ducati?
Ducatis are expensive Italian motorcycles, and difficult to maintain [so service is expensive]. Harleys are also pretty much out of budget. If you want a cheap reliable ride, the best choice would be a Honda/Yamaha four-cylinder motorcycle. If your student does her own maintenance, she might ride a BMW R80/100 boxer motorcycle, which allows for easy valve adjustments and are foolproof long-distance machines. Another thing to consider is the student's inseam - if she has short legs, her choice will be limited with the seat height. If she rides a lot of urban traffic, she might ride a scooter like a Suzuki Burgman, but that's referred to as a 'scoot' or 'scooter', not a bike. If she's into vintage scoots, she'd ride a Vespa P200e, with a nearly indestructible two-stroke engine [requires mixing the petrol with two-stroke oil every time you pump gas].

Linda Castillo said:
Also, do people who own a motorcycle refer to it as a "cycle" for short? In my story, the main character calls it her "cycle" but I'm not sure if that terminology is realistic.
Riders [you drive a car, you ride a motorcycle] tend to have more knowledge about their ride/bike than a cage [car] driver. So you need to know a bit more about the difference between two-stroke and four-stroke [two stroke=mopeds/old vespa scooters, four-stroke=most motorcycles], two-cylinder, three-cylinder and four-cylinder [more cylinders is mostly a smoother running engine], torque [more torque is more power], RPM [rounds per minute, how often the engine cycles at different speeds], and so forth.

A true rider also knows a lot about riding theory, especially if they ride a lot of curvy mountain roads.

For motorcycle theory, pick up David Hough's Profiscient Motorcycling, which explains the basics of motorcycle riding.

Motorcycling is not like heroin - you can easily partake without ruining your life forever, so I suggest you take a few motorcycle lessons or ride pillion [as passenger] with an experienced motorcyclist.

If you have any questions, let me know. I promise I won't laugh at your ignorance - lots of things that motorcyclists are intimately familiar with are totally unknown to non-riders.

 

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If she's got a sense of history - and a real reason for it - you might give her an old-school Indian - they were the motorcycle driven by the US Army. The company went out of business, but I believe there is a company that makes them now.

And you REALLY ought to see the movie THE FASTEST INDIAN with Anthony Hopkins.
 

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Steve Vernon said:
If she's got a sense of history - and a real reason for it - you might give her an old-school Indian - they were the motorcycle driven by the US Army. The company went out of business, but I believe there is a company that makes them now.

And you REALLY ought to see the movie THE FASTEST INDIAN with Anthony Hopkins.
A college student who uses an old Indian for transportation? The parts and maintenance alone would make that cost-prohibitive.

If you ride because it's an economically viable means of transportation, you ride an UJM [universal japanese machine], with the possibility of getting secondhand parts and service from any mechanic.
 
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