What motorcycle to buy?

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  • #1
turbo
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I've put my Softail up for sale because my riding buddies have pretty much fallen off the map. One has inoperable cancer, one built a house and needs to finish it off and landscape it, and the other bought a real fixer-upper house that will consume much of his time for the foreseeable future. I love the bike, but because of its high value (and Harleys depreciate VERY slowly!) I feel stupid paying a value-based excise tax every year to the state so I can get it registered, only to use it a few times a summer for one-person joy-rides. All my regular riding buddies are over 50 (I'm the oldest) and we used to go for day-long tours with our wives, but I don't see that happening again, realistically.

I have always owned a bike, but have had Harleys for well over 20 years, so I'm pretty much ignorant about what else is out there. I have considered dual-purpose bikes (street-legal, but with off-road capabilities) but I'm not sure that's the way to go, if I want to have the capability of jumping on I-95 for a (200 mi round-trip) jaunt to Portland. I'm not sure that a crotch-rocket is for me, either, though. Any suggestions?
 

Answers and Replies

  • #2
Andre
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Well, my son is THE bike expert. He used his exceptional (photographic?) memory to mentally store all data of all bikes when he was teenager. I'll ask him.
 
  • #3
wolram
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Buy one of these Turbo.

http://www.triumph.co.uk/uk/Triumph%20Scrambler_7601.aspx [Broken].
 
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  • #4
ice109
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you have to tell us what you'll use it for. all you've said so far is that it won't be a dualie
 
  • #5
turbo
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Thanks, all. ice109, I know I've been too vague to encourage very specific answers. Most of my riding is done on (sometimes twisty) pavement, though there are lots of gravel back roads in the woods around here, that I've been avoiding for the most part with the Softail.

Yeah, Woolie, that scrambler is one of the bikes that I've got jotted down. It's similar in configuration to a Honda CL 450 that I had back in the early 70's. There are no Triumph dealers in Maine, any more, and that bike is a bit pricey anyway, but it's still in consideration.
 
  • #6
Cyrus
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Live a litte, and try something new for a change:

http://www.roadripping.com/vb/gallery/files/1/normal_GSR6001.jpg [Broken]

Get a bike with some great performance. Harleys sound nice, but they don't go fast. Not even close to the crotch rockets.

Have you ridden a rocket before?

The yamaha R1 is another fast, nice bike.

2004_Yamaha___YZF_R1.jpg


A harley just seems like such old technology to me. These bikes go up to the 10x rpm range.
 
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  • #7
turbo
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Live a litte, and try something new for a change:

Get a bike with some great performance. Harleys sound nice, but they don't go fast. Not even close to the crotch rockets.

Have you ridden a rocket before?

The yamaha R1 is another fast, nice bike.
One of the reasons I bought a Harley in the first place is because I've always liked their looks and wanted one, regardless of their acceleration and top speed. They are massive and VERY stable in turns, too.

I'm afraid if I buy a crotch rocket, I will rack up speeding tickets. I tend not to check the speedometer too often, and often when I look down, I have to back off the throttle. Yes, I have ridden them, and they are plentiful and pretty cheap on the used market - I just don't see myself falling in love with them. I don't need to pull wheelies away from stop-lights or try to red-line a bike that tops out at about 75mph more than any posted speed limit in the state.
 
  • #8
Kurdt
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MM Yamaha R1. *drools*
 
  • #9
hypatia
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I like the Yamaha V Star ..you can get a great used one pretty cheap. Nice classic style. Easy to repair and get parts for too.

http://www.starmotorcycles.com/star/products/modelhome/22/0/home.aspx [Broken]
 
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  • #10
W3pcq
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If you want the ultimate, get the KTM 950 super enduro, or get the ktm 525 exc, both are pricey, and the 950 is a lot to handle. If you want a good reliable dirt worthy bike that will easily do 75-80 on the highway, with good dirt worthyness, get the DRZ400S, but if you do, change the tires immediately they are flat out dangerous in the dirt or grass. Get some MT 21s or 606's for tires. Another option is the suzuki DRZ650 which is cheaper than the 400, less dirt worthy, air cooled, heavier, not as zippy, but better on the highway. A lot of people like the klr650, but I think it is too bulky and stuff. It comes with a windshield though and they make lots of aftermarket stuff making it a good choice for long hauls.

Yamaha will be coming out with a 450 dual sport soon, that may be the ticket.

The husqivarnas look kool, I think they are a 610. Probably not as proven and reliable as the DRZ400, but faster and not that much heavier.
 
  • #11
turbo
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Thanks for the nod to the DRZ650. I wouldn't have guessed that would be cheaper than the 400. It might be a bit of a stretch for me (literally) because of the seat height, but it looks attractive.
 
  • #12
scorpa
361
1
If you want the ultimate, get the KTM 950 super enduro, or get the ktm 525 exc, both are pricey, and the 950 is a lot to handle. If you want a good reliable dirt worthy bike that will easily do 75-80 on the highway, with good dirt worthyness, get the DRZ400S, but if you do, change the tires immediately they are flat out dangerous in the dirt or grass. Get some MT 21s or 606's for tires. Another option is the suzuki DRZ650 which is cheaper than the 400, less dirt worthy, air cooled, heavier, not as zippy, but better on the highway. A lot of people like the klr650, but I think it is too bulky and stuff. It comes with a windshield though and they make lots of aftermarket stuff making it a good choice for long hauls.

Yamaha will be coming out with a 450 dual sport soon, that may be the ticket.

The husqivarnas look kool, I think they are a 610. Probably not as proven and reliable as the DRZ400, but faster and not that much heavier.

The KTM bikes are amazing but you need to be pretty darn tall to ride them. At 5 foot 8 I literally cannot even touch the ground when I sit on one, not even tipped toed. My dad is 6 feet and just touches the ground on them.

I like the KLR 650 and did not find it overly bulky, I rode one for about a year and really liked it. Bit old tech but a great bike nonetheless. There is also no shortage of aftermarket stuff for it which I like.

As I said in the other thread the Triumph Tiger and Suzuki V Strom would be not bad options if you were more into the street side of dualsport (ie nothing more hairy than a gravel road or really perfect dirt path). BMW F650's are nice but expensive considering they are only a 650, I have only ever sat on them but they do feel good, everything seems nicely placed. Have to watch out though, BMW has a ton of 650 version bikes out there now and they aren't all as comfortable. They also have their adventure bike which I believe is a 1200 but they are very expensive.

What dealerships are best in your area Turbo? Personally that is a big factor in a decision for me, a great bike with no dealership support can turn into a hassle. I like the small family owned places rather than the big ones with the superstore mentality. Although if you do have a big motorcycle superdealership around that would be a good place to see all of the brands at one, and then go buy elsewhere.
 
  • #13
W3pcq
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My uncle had a drz650 and loved it. It is actually shorter than the 400, and can easily be lowered with a lowering link.
 
  • #14
turbo
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What dealerships are best in your area Turbo? Personally that is a big factor in a decision for me, a great bike with no dealership support can turn into a hassle. I like the small family owned places rather than the big ones with the superstore mentality. Although if you do have a big motorcycle superdealership around that would be a good place to see all of the brands at one, and then go buy elsewhere.
That's a huge consideration, scorpa. Years ago when bikes were about as complicated as a tractor, I did all my own wrenching - anything that did not require me to run out and buy specialty shop-tools, that is. Luckily, I have a tolerant wife. She would come home on a winter day and find me tearing down an S&S racing carb on the kitchen table (Hey! I used newspaper!) and just shake her head and smile. Nowadays, with electronic "this" and computer-controlled "that", I need access to a dealer with shop facilities and diagnostic machines. I hate that, but it's the way the industry has gone.

All the major Japanese brands are represented locally, and the closest dealership is a KTM outfit with good repair facilities. I like the owner (he has an RV business, and was once the only Ducati dealership in the region), and I would like to give him my business, if I could. The problem with the KTMs is that (as you pointed out) they have really high seat-heights and I am not a tall person. At 5'6", I find them uncomfortable in stop-and-go situations.
 
  • #15
turbo
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My uncle had a drz650 and loved it. It is actually shorter than the 400, and can easily be lowered with a lowering link.
I'll have to look into that. I'm anticipating riding some gravel roads and reasonably smooth trails, as opposed to heavy off-roading, so I wouldn't need as much rear-suspension travel as real off-road enthusiasts. Thanks for that tip. A dual-sport could work with a little tinkering.
 
  • #16
Andre
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  • #17
turbo
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Thanks Andre. I was thinking smaller and lighter, though. I realize my initial request was pretty open-ended. I'm selling the Softail because of its high value/taxation/insurance and hoping to downsize to a bike that will just sip gas when I'm smart enough to stay off the throttle. Most of my biker-buddies have faded away, leaving me doing a lot of one-up riding on my own. I sat on one of those a couple of weeks ago while my wife was at a medical appointment, and that was one CUSHY-feeling bike!
 
  • #18
scorpa
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http://www.motorbike-search-engine.co.uk/2006_Bikes/f650gs.jpg

This is the F650GS if you could find one for a good price it would be fun. Only problem is BMWs are so darn fancy you would likely have to have all work done at the shop and the shop rate for BMW's is ridiculous. At least with this bike if you wanted you could go on a longer distance ride more comfortably than with a more serious dual sport.
 
  • #19
wolram
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Well, Turbo, this is the choice of aforementioned expert:


http://www.bikewalls.com/motorcycles/Kawasaki_wallpapers/Sports/1400_GTR.html

http://www.motorcycledaily.com/063007bottom.jpg [Broken]

http://www.motorcycledaily.com/30june07_2008kawasaki_concours14.htm [Broken]
http://www.motorcycledaily.com/19july07_2008kawasaki_concours14_pt2.htm [Broken]

Complete with home entertainment center, kitchenette, wc, shower, sat nav and butler.
 
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  • #20
scorpa
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Complete with home entertainment center, kitchenette, wc, shower, sat nav and butler.


Bikes like that are just couches on wheels, like the goldwing...bleh.
 
  • #21
turbo
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Bikes like that are just couches on wheels, like the goldwing...bleh.
Yep. I was just tire-kicking and trying to kill 45 minutes or so in a Kawi dealership. I'm open to buying a sport-bike of some kind, though I'd prefer to stay low-tech with a normally-aspirated carb. Ain't going to happen as far as I can see so far.
 
  • #22
turbo
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http://www.motorbike-search-engine.co.uk/2006_Bikes/f650gs.jpg

This is the F650GS if you could find one for a good price it would be fun. Only problem is BMWs are so darn fancy you would likely have to have all work done at the shop and the shop rate for BMW's is ridiculous. At least with this bike if you wanted you could go on a longer distance ride more comfortably than with a more serious dual sport.
BMWs ARE fancy and high-tech with close tolerances and there are no dealerships near me, so every service-call would be $$$$. I had a close friend in the early '70s who rode an R65 and I've got to say that I fell in love with that bike with it's clunky-looking boxer engine and mini-fairing. It was a metallic rust-orange color that kind of grew on me.

BMW's G650X looks pretty good, but I'm having trouble getting details, specs, etc.
 
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  • #23
turbo
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Maybe the BMW F650GS is back in consideration. Don't know for sure. BMWs are pricey and the nearest dealer is about 100 miles away.
 
  • #24
berkeman
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Thanks Andre. I was thinking smaller and lighter, though. I realize my initial request was pretty open-ended. I'm selling the Softail because of its high value/taxation/insurance and hoping to downsize to a bike that will just sip gas when I'm smart enough to stay off the throttle. Most of my biker-buddies have faded away, leaving me doing a lot of one-up riding on my own. I sat on one of those a couple of weeks ago while my wife was at a medical appointment, and that was one CUSHY-feeling bike!

Not sure if it's been mentioned already (I only read part of the thread), but the Honda VFR800 (or older VFR750) is a reasonable compromise between sporty and comfort. I prefer full-on sportbikes myself, but if you are going to be doing some 200 mile trips, a sportbike gets uncomfortable (unless all 200 miles are curves!).

Have you sat on a VFR800?
 
  • #25
turbo
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I've not looked at a VFR800, though the nearest Harley dealership carries Hondas, too. My quandry is that I have owned Harley cruisers (and a couple of years with a Road King) for decades and I have not been keeping up with the field. My future prospects for day-long touring are dim, so I'm looking for a less-expensive bike for one-up riding. I have some really curvy pavement and some interesting gravel roads that are pretty well-maintained (not rock-gardens) and I'm trying to figure out what models to look at. There are just too many models to try to test-ride and I'm hoping the nice PF folks will give me some valuaable guidance.
 
  • #26
berkeman
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Streetbikes do not like gravel roads much. I guess your initial dual sport thoughts may end up being your best bet, but I have to tell you, IMO dual sports do neither on-road nor off-road well. They are scary on the road (not enough power, dicey traction from dual sport tires, high center of gravity), and they are downright dangerous off-road, where their weight becomes an issue as the bumps and jumps get bigger.

My main street ride right now is a Buell XB-12R sportbike, and my off road dirtbike is my CRF450R motocross bike in my avatar. You could probably get both for the price of your Harley (especially if you bought used). Just think, in a few weeks you could be riding standup wheelies (on either bike), and change your avatar!

.
 
  • #27
turbo
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Streetbikes do not like gravel roads much. I guess your initial dual sport thoughts may end up being your best bet, but I have to tell you, IMO dual sports do neither on-road nor off-road well. They are scary on the road (not enough power, dicey traction from dual sport tires, high center of gravity), and they are downright dangerous off-road, where their weight becomes an issue as the bumps and jumps get bigger.

My main street ride right now is a Buell XB-12R sportbike, and my off road dirtbike is my CRF450R motocross bike in my avatar. You could probably get both for the price of your Harley (especially if you bought used). Just think, in a few weeks you could be riding standup wheelies (on either bike), and change your avatar!

.
Yeah, berkeman! I have a few friends with Buells and will consider them, though they are not good candidates for gravel roads, and I would have to trailer (not a good option) to get to those. I have a close friend with 2 Thunderbolts - one of which he modded to nitro and is really scary at the drag track with big soft Avon tires. They don't last long, but they are really sticky and he's got to use a wheelie bar to keep from flipping over off the line. :smile:
 
  • #28
Cyrus
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One of the reasons I bought a Harley in the first place is because I've always liked their looks and wanted one, regardless of their acceleration and top speed. They are massive and VERY stable in turns, too.

I'm afraid if I buy a crotch rocket, I will rack up speeding tickets. I tend not to check the speedometer too often, and often when I look down, I have to back off the throttle. Yes, I have ridden them, and they are plentiful and pretty cheap on the used market - I just don't see myself falling in love with them. I don't need to pull wheelies away from stop-lights or try to red-line a bike that tops out at about 75mph more than any posted speed limit in the state.

LoL, 75mph over. A good sports bike will easily go 145mph over the posted speed limit (65mph). If your bike can only go 75 over the posted, take it to a shop!
 
  • #29
Cyrus
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Yep. I was just tire-kicking and trying to kill 45 minutes or so in a Kawi dealership. I'm open to buying a sport-bike of some kind, though I'd prefer to stay low-tech with a normally-aspirated carb. Ain't going to happen as far as I can see so far.

Why do you want a new bike with 20 year old technology? Get fuel injection. Carbs are a pain in the butt. My friend had a sports bike that was normally-aspirated. Its a hassle. He got a fuel injected suzuki 600 instead.
 
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  • #30
berkeman
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LoL, 75mph over. A good sports bike will easily go 145mph over the posted speed limit (65mph). If your bike can only go 75 over the posted, take it to a shop!

210mph? That's a Daytona Superbike, not a production sportbike. The R1 is more like 175mph, isn't it? The Hyabusa is a bit higher, but not really a sportbike in my book.
 
  • #31
Cyrus
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210mph? That's a Daytona Superbike, not a production sportbike. The R1 is more like 175mph, isn't it? The Hyabusa is a bit higher, but not really a sportbike in my book.


The Hyabusa will go 220mph. A gsxr-1000 will probably do 190-200. My friends gsxr-600 does 180, it just doesn't accelerate as fast as the 750 or 1000cc. I think the top speed is also faster for the higher power models though.


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WxLLDkcIfPk&feature=related
 
  • #32
turbo
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LoL, 75mph over. A good sports bike will easily go 145mph over the posted speed limit (65mph). If your bike can only go 75 over the posted, take it to a shop!
I was trying to be conservative and address the capabilities of the mid-range crotch rockets. There is no way that I am going to spend the bucks and insurance money (and fines) to jump into high-revving 1000cc+ monsters. I have no need for one of them, nor do I want one, even if it was given to me. I have enough troubles without clocking enough radar-speed to pull my license permanently, and believe me, if I had a bike capable of a top speed of XXX mph, I would eventually be tempted to test it. I put my 650 Yamaha to 110 on a very short stretch shielded with hills on each end back in the early 80's and I don't trust myself to avoid that in the future. Yes, when I was riding Harleys, I had a buddy with a Yamaha V-Max that could pull wheelies in every gear. When we swapped bikes for fun, he called my Harley a tractor after I ran away from him on his Yama. By the time we got to NH, he was sore and needed to walk off the ride, and I was fresh. There are trade-offs to each kind of bike, and I'm looking for input.
 
  • #33
turbo
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Why do you want a new bike with 20 year old technology? Get fuel injection. Carbs are a pain in the butt. My friend had a sports bike that was normally-aspirated. Its a hassle. He got a fuel injected suzuki 600 instead.
The point is that I can tear down and rebuild/tune a carb, and I have no way of doing that kind of maintenance on a computerized fuel-injected bike.
 
  • #34
Cyrus
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The point is that I can tear down and rebuild/tune a carb, and I have no way of doing that kind of maintenance on a computerized fuel-injected bike.


Yeah, but you don't have to do that kind of repair often on a fuel injection system, and its programmed for max performance. Its technically more advanced.
 
  • #35
Cyrus
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I was trying to be conservative and address the capabilities of the mid-range crotch rockets. There is no way that I am going to spend the bucks and insurance money (and fines) to jump into high-revving 1000cc+ monsters. I have no need for one of them, nor do I want one, even if it was given to me. I have enough troubles without clocking enough radar-speed to pull my license permanently, and believe me, if I had a bike capable of a top speed of XXX mph, I would eventually be tempted to test it. I put my 650 Yamaha to 110 on a very short stretch shielded with hills on each end back in the early 80's and I don't trust myself to avoid that in the future. Yes, when I was riding Harleys, I had a buddy with a Yamaha V-Max that could pull wheelies in every gear. When we swapped bikes for fun, he called my Harley a tractor after I ran away from him on his Yama. By the time we got to NH, he was sore and needed to walk off the ride, and I was fresh. There are trade-offs to each kind of bike, and I'm looking for input.

Obviously, a street bike isn't a cruiser. But its going to be more fun to ride, and you could take it to a track and let it open.
 

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