(NA) Motorcycle advice

Discussion in 'Hangar Talk' started by Brian Austin, Jun 30, 2008.

  1. Brian Austin

    Brian Austin En-Route

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    It's been years since I've ridden but driving this diesel tank (2000 F250 SD) to work is killing the budget. I just filled it at $150. Thankfully it will last me a few weeks but still...$80 would have done the same thing a few years ago.

    So I'm in the market for a motorcycle. I'm not a speed demon, feel no need to announce my presence with a loud custom job, nor need shiny pieces and parts on it. Reliable, good fuel economy, and a bit of comfort for a few hundred miles per day trip if I'm so inclined.

    Part of my side business is fine art landscape photography. Phoenix isn't exactly a mecca for that so I need something I can ride up into the mountains or off into the desert on established trails or roads. Nothing particularly difficult. I'd be surprised if I got far off of forest roads, at least on the bike. I tend to hike it more often than not.

    So what motorcycle would fit? I haven't even started the research because I'm a little unsure of where to start. I'd like to keep the costs down (used is fine) but reliability up. I'm thinking 250-500cc in a standard "road" bike like the older Honda Nighthawks of the 80's or some street legal dirt bike with some road amenities (is that possible?).

    I know there are a lot of riders here so I'm hoping for a bit of direction on where to start. Thanks for any input!
     
  2. Trapper John

    Trapper John Ejection Handle Pulled

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    I'm more of a former rider myself, but you might look at the Suzuki V-Strom. There was a 650 and a 1000 cc version. V-twin street bike adapted for some off road ability. There are a couple of BMWs similar whose model numbers escape me, but more expensive than the Zook.

    There are what I'd call streetified dirt bikes out there like the Kaw KLR-650, but I don't think I'd want to ride one long distances. It's a lot of fun, though.

    You might look at the Honda VFR800 Interceptor, a really nice touring bike without being gigantic, but if you're riding on dirt roads with very much loose material, it would be dicey IMO. But it's a really good bike for long distance and sporty enough to carve some corners with.


    Trapper John
     
  3. Ted

    Ted The pilot formerly known as Twin Engine Ted

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    You say "established trails or roads" so I'm guessing that you aren't really planning on doing any off-roading, as such a dual sport is probably not necessary. I am picturing paved or dirt roads that are at least maintained based on your description. Would it be acceptable for a Ford Taurus? How many miles do you expect to ride in a day?

    Keep in mind that in Phoenix you are going to need to get some good, very breathable mesh gear, and probably want to get used to soaking your clothes in water before you get on the bike for evaporative cooling. Overheating your body would suck.

    Any motorcycle, regardless of displacement, is going to give you a significant improvement in fuel economy over your F-250 (my truck is a V10 Excursion). I don't like 250-500 cc bikes because they don't have enough power (and are therefore slow) and plus tend to be too lightweight (read: less stable). If you aren't a new rider but a "born again biker", maybe something in the 600-750 cc range would be more appropriate. You say you aren't a speed demon, is there a particular style of motorcycle that you find most comfortable?

    What comes to mind initially in terms of motorcycles you can get inexpensively but are good:

    - Kawasaki KZ series. The KZ is a great platform. I had a KZ700 that ran great. Retired KZ1000 police bikes are cheap and plentiful, too, and might be a good option for you
    - Yamaha Virago. Also not particularly expensive, good quality.
    - Honda CB series. A friend of mine put tens of thousands of miles on his and loved it.

    Presently, I have a Honda VTX 1800. It is a big bike, and given my 160 lb frame, can be a bit challenging at low speeds (I'm still getting used to it, haven't had it that long). What I absolutely love about it is that once you get above 10 mph, the thing is perfectly solid and it won't budge off course. On the highway I can just set the throttle lock and take my hands off the handlebars, just going up to make minor corrections. If I do my leaning right I don't even need to touch the bars. The smaller bikes I've had in the past tend to be more easily blown around, and also tramline more. Just some things to consider.

    No matter what, take the MSF course to get yourself acclimated with riding again.
     
  4. Ted

    Ted The pilot formerly known as Twin Engine Ted

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    I just sold my VFR800i Interceptor a few months back. It is a phenomenal bike in terms of acceleration, handling, and braking. I really loved the thing. After about 20 minutes of riding it, my back was in significant pain. I have a screwed up bike, but I would not want to take it on a trip. That is part of why I sold it.

    I also had a Suzuki Bandit 1200S. Jesse can attest to its long trip abilities better than I can, but it was far more comfortable, and I rode it all around Indiana. That's a bike I loved and miss.
     
  5. Brian Austin

    Brian Austin En-Route

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    Good question. Yes, I would expect a Ford Taurus to be able to go on the same tracks. It might get hung up in a few spots but, overall, the road conditions would allow a sedan to get through before the feet kicked in.

    Daily commutes are 8 miles one way. Occasional side trips but average wouldn't be more than 20-25 miles a day, total, including to/from work.

    Longer trips would exceed 200 miles, round trip. Typically, I don't go much beyond 400 miles/day without camping overnight somewhere. That's typically an early, early start for dawn's light, shoot for a few hours, park it somewhere and eat lunch, explore, then settle in for dusk/sunset, and head home at dark.

    I'm factoring that into the decision. The commute wouldn't be terrible. Longer trips would reach the high country, with 10-30F drops in temp, in about an hour or so, at least during the summer. At the moment, it's a factor AGAINST riding right now. Protective wear isn't cheap and adding another $1,000 or so for helmet, summer gear, winter gear, etc., is a con I'm taking into account. I don't skimp on safety.

    I hadn't considered the weight/stability factor. Most of my experience is with offroad bikes in my teens and early 20's. I've ridden a few street motorcycles but nothing more than a Nighthawk 750 in the late 80's. I don't even think they make one now?

    Road bikes or cruisers. I liked the Pacific Coast series (almost bought a PC800 years ago) but don't know how they fared on performance or anything.

    Thanks for the starters!

    That's a given. I'll probably go beyond it if training is available.
     
  6. Turboz1r

    Turboz1r Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Brian,
    The Suzuki VSTROM 650 is a really nice bike and if outfitted right can do many things. Good seating position and some I have seen and rode have many options such as GPS,CB, top trunk for storage, and they are cheap to buy. My buddy who owns a Suzuki dealership rides the VSTROM 650 as his choice of bike.

    Mike in NJ
    Motor Sgt (Ret)
     
  7. Trapper John

    Trapper John Ejection Handle Pulled

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    My former riding buddy neighbor had a 1200 Bandit with Holeshot mods. Definitely a bike that will bring out your hooligan tendencies - awesome for wheelies, and like you said, very comfortable.


    Trapper John
     
  8. Brian Austin

    Brian Austin En-Route

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    That's a nice bike. $7,000+ for new is more than I wanted to spend but I'll see what's available on the used market. Thanks!
     
  9. Dean

    Dean Pattern Altitude

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    I would have to agree with the others on the Suzuki VStorm as a good choice. I would also look hard at the Triumph Tiger.
     
  10. Pjsmith

    Pjsmith Line Up and Wait

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    Older BMW R or RS 850 or 1100. Not enduro, but loads of clearance and an absorbant unilever suspension. And relatively comfy on those 200 mile rides you mentioned. You can go a little older on these bikes than others, as the engines are hell for stout.
     
  11. vontresc

    vontresc En-Route

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    Get a BMW R100GS or R1100GS. If you can wait a bit, BMW is gonna come out with their new F800-GS which looks like quite the bike.
     
  12. Ted

    Ted The pilot formerly known as Twin Engine Ted

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    After talking to my friend the motorcycle addict, he recommended the VStrom if you intend on having some off-roadish (but not quite dual sport territory) type of riding involved. You'll want bags for sure. Really, you're the one who knows what is necessary for the motorcycle to be able to traverse. If you drive an F-250 and need the 4x4 on it, you'll probably want something with some sort of off-roadish capabilities.

    A KZ1000 or even a VTX 1300 might be a good consideration for you if want to get a bike that is more along the capabilitise of the sedan, and are willing to exchange not having good off-road capabilities for much better highway cruising abilities. I get the impression that is predominantly what you do. I can attest to how great the VTX is on the highway - when I test rode an 1800, I just got on the highway and opened the throttle. Even at illegal speeds, the thing just goes and goes, straight as an arrow. The Yamaha VMax I had (or the Stratoliner I test rode) was not nearly that good. The BMWs mentioned are good motorcycles, I just don't like the way BMWs ride.

    Keep in mind, however, that a heavier bike will be more stable on the highway (especially in winds), but will be less favorable in low traction situations where you need to exert more pressure with your feet to keep it upright and stable. There, light is nice. When I'm going under 10 mph on the VTX, I miss any of the motorcycles I had before it, doubly so if there's some gravel on the ground. You may want to consider getting a bike that is better suited for the road, and on days when you know you're going to need off road capabilities, just hop in the F-250. I'm sure there will be days when you need the truck, anyway.

    When you go to get gear, I can give you a few suggestions on what to buy. $1000 for full summer and winter gear sounds like a pretty accurate number. I just bought myself some good summer gear, and I've ridden my motorcycles through northern winters (far colder than you'll ever find in Phoenix).

    MSF offers an advanced course that's probably worth taking. I haven't taken it (I probably should), I've only taken the basic and it was extremely worthwhile.
     
  13. Brian Austin

    Brian Austin En-Route

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    Thanks, Ted. I think I'm going to investigate the VStrom for right now. My truck is 2-wheel drive and I really don't need much true offroad capability. Most of the terrain I work in is slot canyons and mesas where vehicles really don't work well anyway.

    Great feedback from everyone. Thanks!
     
  14. PilotSpike

    PilotSpike Filing Flight Plan

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    Generally this is a false economy. Between riding gear, cost of purchase, insurance, and maintenance you will most likely spend more money than you save. Especially if you are only driving 8 miles to work. Moto maintenance can get expensive as well.

    Assuming a fuel mileage of 18 for the truck (its a diesel) and 50 for the bike at $4.75 gal diesel and $4 gallon for gas, you have to put 33,333 miles on the bike to offset a $6K outlay to get started. With gear and such I believe that to be low.

    The best way to save money is to stick with the truck and try to change some of your traveling habits.
     
  15. bjohnson

    bjohnson Line Up and Wait

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    I have a DL1000 and really enjoy riding it. I have taken it on loose gravel roads and find it to be a bit of a hand full due to the weight of the bike. Tires do make a big difference. My tires are more for street than off road. I would prefer a dual sport dirt bike like the KLR if 25% or more of my ridding was off road. The DL650 has better fuel efficiency than the DL1000. I have a friend who gets 55mpg on his DL650.
     
  16. mantakos

    mantakos Final Approach

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    Any decent bike can handle dry dirt or gravel roads.

    Motorcyclists have suffered from "displacement inflation" in the past decade or so. Suddenly, anything less than 700cc couldn't possibly be taken on a highway, and anything under 1500cc makes you a panty-wearing girlie-man.

    Quit thinking so much. Go find an ugly 15-20 year-old standard Japanese bike for less than $1000, anything from 250cc-750cc, take the MSF class if you can find one in your area, get a good helmet, gloves, and jacket, and go have fun. You may or may not save money. You will definitely have more fun.
    -harry
     
  17. Ted

    Ted The pilot formerly known as Twin Engine Ted

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    Yes, but it's a good excuse to get a motorcycle when you previously didn't have one!

    Motorcycling is economical for me because I buy the bike, ride it, and then sell it for more than I paid for it. So far that theory has worked well.
     
  18. Trapper John

    Trapper John Ejection Handle Pulled

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    Boy, that's the truth! I remember when the old Yamaha RD350 was a formidible bike. And I think it was all of around 40 hp!


    Trapper John
     
  19. mikea

    mikea Touchdown! Greaser! Gone West

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    Last edited: Jun 30, 2008
  20. Anthony

    Anthony Touchdown! Greaser!

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    X2! Great post and spot on although I'd get this. :yes:
     

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  21. Trapper John

    Trapper John Ejection Handle Pulled

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    Modernized Commando? Cool idea, but it really deserves real spoked rims.

    Does it have the "backwards" foot controls like the old ones?


    Trapper John
     
  22. Anthony

    Anthony Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Yep its a new Commando. I've not seen one close up and I don't know if they're available in the U.S. yet. Agree on the spoked rims.

    Like this too and this IS available in the U.S. for sure.
     

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  23. vontresc

    vontresc En-Route

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    Love that ducatti. I've seen a few of those recently, but a friend of mine was always bitching about how expensive they were to work on. $600 valve adjustments etc.
     
  24. Trapper John

    Trapper John Ejection Handle Pulled

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    !!!!! For the love of Pete, stop now while I still have my house payment in my pocket!!!!!

    Lordy, that thing is gorgeous...


    Trapper John
     
  25. Bill

    Bill Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    Formidable due to it's somewhat lightswitch like power band!
     
  26. etsisk

    etsisk En-Route

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    BMW makes five separate enduro dual use bikes (off-road/tourers). Check 'em out - they're pretty cool. :)
     
  27. Trapper John

    Trapper John Ejection Handle Pulled

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    But it was fun, though! And not quite as frightening as the Kaw H3 750 with its spaghetti frame...


    Trapper John
     
  28. Ted

    Ted The pilot formerly known as Twin Engine Ted

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    I don't know what's worse, spaghetti frame or electronics from Magnetti Spaghetti...
     
  29. Trapper John

    Trapper John Ejection Handle Pulled

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    Weren't the old Kaw electrics made by Denso? It's been too many years to remember...

    Having worked many years ago on a Triumph Spitfire with a positive ground Lucas electrical system, how much worse could Magnetti be? :D
    The Triumph's Whitworth fasteners were a real treat, too. :rolleyes: But we did learn how to sync carbs, which was interesting, but not a skill much in demand these days...

    Plus, anything with a Magnetti system would be Italian, and their cars and bikes are still cool, even if it's broken and sitting in the garage!


    Trapper John
     
  30. Ted

    Ted The pilot formerly known as Twin Engine Ted

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    Oh, I'm sure Kawa didn't have Magnetti Marelli stuff on their bikes, I was just making the comment.

    Well, you happen to be typing to a Jaguar V12 mechanic and owner. Starting in late 1989, the V12s changed from a Lucas ignition system (based on the GM HEI) to a Magnetti Spaghetti system. The Lucas system may have had a flaw or two (the main one being the explosive distributor cap). The Marelli had a critical flaw in that it ran the engine as two separate 6 cylinders. The cap or rotor would fail for one half of the 6 cylinders, but not the other. This would dump a lot of unburnt fuel into the nice, hot catalytic converter, and set the car on fire, or else melt it.

    Lucas never set a car on fire, it just left you in the dark. Marelli, you'll always be able to see by the light of the fire... too bad that fire is your car! :eek:
     
  31. Trapper John

    Trapper John Ejection Handle Pulled

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    Yikes! So, are there 2 separate distributors? Or, if there's just one, why would they split it?

    I think if I had one, I'd look at a crank-trigger setup...


    Trapper John
     
  32. vontresc

    vontresc En-Route

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    Hah that reminds me of my favorite Lucas (Masters of Darkness) joke.

    The Lucas Three Position Switch - Off, Flicker, Dim
     
    Last edited: Jul 1, 2008
  33. Brian Austin

    Brian Austin En-Route

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    The cost is extremely prohibitive for my intent but boy, does something like this look enticing...

    http://www.aptera.com/
     
  34. Anthony

    Anthony Touchdown! Greaser!

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    LOL! I love Lucas jokes as long I'm not driving an MG, at night, in the rain.
     
  35. Ken Ibold

    Ken Ibold Final Approach

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    Depends depends depends. Your points are valid, but there is more to vehicle cost than fuel. I use my 600 cc V-twin Honda (65 mpg) instead of my Honda Pilot whenever possible. Sure, with the fuel savings at current costs it'll pay for itself right about the time it wears out, but that mileage will buy me a couple more years in the Pilot. And fuel prices will go higher before they get lower. What was the prediction the other day -- $7/ gal in 2 years. Kinda stands the economics on its head.

    Beyond that, bikes are just more fun.

    BTW, I bought the bike new for $4,000 last November.
     
  36. Ken Ibold

    Ken Ibold Final Approach

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    So true. One day I was riding my very unmanly 600 cc Honda V twin past a bar on the beach with outdoor tables. As I rode by, I clearly heard the derisive "Oh THERE's a nice bike" aimed at me.

    So I shot the man. Had to, y'see.

    Seriously, mine weighs 450 pounds, which is heavy enough, but it only has a 4 speed tranny, and it's wound up pretty high by the time you get to 70. Gets a little skittish there, but at 65 and under it's fine.
     
  37. Ted

    Ted The pilot formerly known as Twin Engine Ted

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    It is a single distributor, cap, and rotor. There are two coils (one per bank) and the cap and rotor are set up in such a way that one coil feeds the one bank of cylinders, and the other coil feeds the other. Think of it like an aircraft ignition system only backwards.

    That is in the works for my car.
     
  38. Anthony

    Anthony Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Have him give me a call about how expensive it is to maintain and airplane. He'll feel much better about the Duc.
     
  39. steingar

    steingar Taxi to Parking

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    Yeah, the argument for an against are pretty equally lined up. If you could get your insurance reduced on the truck due to the reduced usage it would tip the whole thing into the for balance. The thing that should really tip the balance is how much you like bikes. Do you like them enough to suffer for them. You will. You'll be hot when its hot, and cold when its cold. You'll get wet if it rains (probably not a worry out there) and are much more likely to die in a crash. If you just want to save money on gas I wouldn't bother.