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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Yes, I am planning to head out to some dealerships and sit on some bikes. Yes, I do pretty much know what I want.
But before I talk to salesmen, I'd like some advice from all you helpful and experienced type guys. (And you too Lori!) I hope some opinions from real-world experience will give me information to counter an over-enthusiastic salesman's spiel. :cool: And I don't think the dealership would let me take each bike for a couple of days to thoroughly test ride.
My current bike is an 01 Intruder 800. I like it a lot, but there are times it feels small, and when I'm on a long 2-lane just cruising along I feel like the rpms are too high and there's a lot of buzz and vibration that gets tiresome. I'm constantly hunting for that non-existent sixth gear. It's also old, and while I've put money into maintenance, I'm not sure how much I trust it for a long distance trip. I haven't yet firmly decided to give up on Bike and get something different but the shopping is interesting.

I've been spending my evenings reading reviews and watching ride videos and paging through cycle trader. I'm finding my favorites to be the Vulcan 900, the Vulcan S, certain Boulevard models, and some of the Rebels. I don't want a big heavy bike that I can't easily take care of and move around. I'm not really drawn to the dual sports or the sport bikes. I'm also not into a huge amount of chrome and giant exhaust pipes. I don't like fairings, excess plastic, or the crazy fender that points at the sky. In fact, if I were to buy a bike tonight based just on looks, it would be a Rebel or the Vulcan S. But I have a few things I'm wondering about.

Bike capacity - would the Vulcan S with the sixth gear, even though it's only a 650, be more better for spending a few hours at 60-65 mph without feeling like the bike is over-revving? Are bike transmissions built differently enough that a newer bike with just 5 gears wouldn't feel like it was working too hard? Do any big guys ride the smaller bikes and can you say if a 500 or 650 cc bike would have enough power to haul my fairly buxom carcass around? I don't feel any lack of power in my 800, (I tried once and it easily hit 80 mph but it wasn't fun with all the buzzing) but I'm afraid a smaller bike might cause the polar bear on a tricycle effect.

Gravel roads - Bike doesn't like gravel roads! 馃ゴ We managed when we had to, but it was sketchy. To be fair, I rode all summer on only one carb so slow speeds were an issue. He might do better this year now that the carbs are done. But there are a lot of gravel roads around here and I'd like to explore without the skittishness. Is the ability to handle gravel a function of the bike's geometry? Would I have to have the knobby tires and longer shock travel of a dirt bike or dual sport to head down those back roads? I'm not talking BDR stuff, just normal, relatively maintained county roads that I am accustomed to traveling at 60 mph in my truck. Or can a cruiser handle roads like that, and I just need to have a bike that can handle slow speeds without snorting over it, and spend time practicing?

Distances - as I get more comfortable back on 2 wheels again and relearn the skills I had 30 years ago, I want to go father. I'd even like to go all the way up across the Mackinac Bridge and explore the UP. What are your experiences in using a smaller bike for a road trip? I'm not talking Iron Butt stuff, just maybe 200 or at most 300 miles in a day, taking my time and exploring. Would a 650 with a good seat would be sufficient, or would a 900 be necessary to keep me from feeling like I've been putting up small bales all day?

Inquiring minds want to know. :geek:
 

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I'd say based on you wants, an adventure bikes looks like the best fit. Upright tends to be the most comfortable for longer hauls. Depending on tires, it can likely handle the gravel quite well, The problem with an adventure bike is they're taller in the saddle and can be harder to handle for shorter people. There's lot of choices for adventure bikes. Everything from 300cc to 1200cc and lot in between.

Much of what you ask is highly subjective too. People cross the continent on Honda Trail 90s, so it's more about what you can accept. I personally think my 279cc scooter is perfectly fine humming along the freeway at 75MPH and 7500RPMs as long as it's not too windy, but i'd bet not everyone does.

I'd agree fit is very important, so you want get that dialed in as much as possible. As much as I'd like to give you the fruits of my knowledge and be able help you figure this out, ultimately, you're the one who have to live with it. It's also hard to help someone you just met. In my experience any time I spend big bucks on a purchase like this, there's things I enjoy and regret about it, so pick the one you like and make the best of it is how i try to go about it. Good luck my friend.
 

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A cruiser can handle gravel roads just fine, I ride on them when they come up with no issues.
BUT
Reading through your list of things, you might be very happy with a mid sized adventure bike.
My wife has a Vstrom 650, it's perfectly happy on the interstate at 80mph or on mud and gravel too. It's light, fun to ride and while not fast it can easily exceed 100 mph, even with my overweight carcass on it, I'm on the wrong side of 250 pounds for the record.
I steal it periodically and it's fun, I may buy myself one sooner or later. She rode it at stock height for a couple of months but then we lowered it an inch and it's a better fit, this is VERY easy to do on a VStrom.
It's her daily ride to work, she also rode it on a 5000 mile trip to Wyoming and back and it did both just fine, the engine is humming right along at around 5K at 80 mph but it will happily do that for 100K miles and ask for more. She has 3 bikes and actually rides the Vstrom more often than her beloved Indians
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.........
Reading through your list of things, you might be very happy with a mid sized adventure bike.
My wife has a Vstrom 650, it's perfectly happy on the interstate at 80mph or on mud and gravel too. I.......
Another very similar option is the Kawaaki Versys 650, another mid-sized adv bike. Both are more road-oriented than dirt-oriented. If you check "Revzilla Daily Rider" on youtube, there's a review of the Versys, and I think there's a review of the Vstrom 650. Also, the Versys 1000 and the Vstrom 1050 are both reviewed.
 

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I concur with Mike and wwb. Either of those bikes look like great options. They're a smidgen heavier than Bike, but not too much. The woman who bought my NT700V had a PC800 that she loved, but she was having trouble getting anybody to work on it so she bought my NT. That's one of the challenges of having an older bike if you're not mechanically inclined. Also, it's not fun being on a trip and not trusting your bike to make it; having that stupid chain issue last year really put a damper on things that first couple days. And newer bikes are usually fuel-injected (no more dealing with carburators) and have an ABS option (a nice safety net, but not a substitute for having the skill to execute a proper quick stop). So from those perspectives, a newer bike makes sense.(y) Have fun shopping!!!!!:cool:
 

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As for engine-revs at highway speeds, you can adjust that with sprockets. When I got Ninja 250 for commuting 35-miles to S.F., it would happily zip along @ 80mph revving at 11K-rpms. But it did feel a little frantic. So I installed 2T larger larger sprocket in front and 1T smaller in rear. This increased gearing ratios so that it only revved to 8.5K-rpms @ 80mph. Aahhhh, much calmer! :)
 

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Nah, gotta downshift 2-gears for top-speed runs. ;)
 
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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
LOL, I'm old and not-quite-so-slow, so I've paid my dues. But there's a lot of folks with more 2-wheel mileage than me and I like to hear from people with experience.
Being confident enough in the bike to venture farther from home is a major consideration, so a newer bike with fuel injection is part of the plan. Comfort for long rides and having enough power are the other priorities.
Frantic is a good word! Bike just seems to rev so high at cruising speeds. Maybe he's happy that way; doesn't seem to have any issues with it. Without a tach I have no way of knowing if he's getting into the danger zone. But the buzzing and "franticness" of it is simply not comfortable for long rides.
Changing the sprockets might be doable with my brother's help; something to consider if I keep Bike as my main ride.
Mike what year is your wife's Vstrom? Your comments about how it perform are helpful. It looks a little different than what came up when I pulled up a Suzuki page.
I like the idea of a bike that doesn't mind mud but can still cruise the pavement, but I really don't care for the looks of the adv bikes. Three quarters of it is ok, but the cowling/fairing whatever it is up front and the pointy, extra bits on the nose are too much.
I'll try them out when I visit a dealer, who knows, maybe I'll fall in love with one despite his looks. I'm researching dealers within a three hour drive and hope to start driving around in the next week or two.
Tomorrow is supposed to be 40 and sunny, I'm hoping to be able to get out for a ride. Who knows, maybe Bike will be all smooth and happy-like and convince me not to go shopping. 馃ぉ
 

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Candy鈥檚 Vstrom 650 is a 2021 XT ABS, the only real difference is the XT came with spoke wheels which she wanted. She added a the trunk obviously.
Mechanically these thing have been virtually identical for years, they changed the styling a few times, the last couple of years have that beak on the front.


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........, but I really don't care for the looks of the adv bikes. Three quarters of it is ok, but the cowling/fairing whatever it is up front and the pointy, extra bits on the nose are too much.
I'll try them out when I visit a dealer, who knows, maybe I'll fall in love with one despite his looks. I.........
You may not care for the styling, but the more upright position is a lot more comfortable on a long ride, and the handling is much better that a cruiser-style bike. Your choice, but to me, function trumps style every time.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Yeah, it's the beak on the front and the extra cowling plastic that looks so silly to me. But I've never seen one in person, so maybe it won't look so cumbersome up close.
Sitting upright is more comfortable for me, that's one reason I like Bike, I can sit with my back straight and don't have to lean forward.
Has the adv style bike been around very long? I'm not seeing used ones in the inventory around here. Hundreds of dirt bikes and lots of cruisers, but no dual sports or adventure bikes.
 

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Yeah, it's the beak on the front and the extra cowling plastic that looks so silly to me. But I've never seen one in person, so maybe it won't look so cumbersome up close.
Sitting upright is more comfortable for me, that's one reason I like Bike, I can sit with my back straight and don't have to lean forward.
I agree. Most of the new adventure style bikes look just plain ugly to me.
Beaks. Lots of goofy angles. Plastic parts that seem to have no purpose being there.
And upright is the only way for me. I could never ride one of those sport bikes very far leaning forward on the handlebars like that.
 

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Yeah, it's the beak on the front and the extra cowling plastic that looks so silly to me. But I've never seen one in person, so maybe it won't look so cumbersome up close.
Sitting upright is more comfortable for me, that's one reason I like Bike, I can sit with my back straight and don't have to lean forward.
Has the adv style bike been around very long? I'm not seeing used ones in the inventory around here. Hundreds of dirt bikes and lots of cruisers, but no dual sports or adventure bikes.
They have been making the Vstrom 650 since 2003 or 2004, there were 3 generations, mechanically they are all very similar, early ones had some charging issues but anything in the last 10+ years is solid as a rock. First and second generations don't have the beak, the headlights are different too so you might want to look into those too. It is VERY comfortable sitting upright on it, I was amazed, so was my wife when she test rode one, she had always ridden cruisers before. She didn't buy the used one she test rode, she liked it but the owner wouldn't come down on the price but she immediately went to the dealership and wrote a check for the new one they had on the floor.
Look on cycletrader or other classified ads, you will find used ones for sale, they made millions of them.
Here is a front view of an older one ( a coworkers, I think it's a first generation) and it's also in the picture behind my wife's. No beak and instead it looks like a bug eyed monster :)

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I only got my first real street motorcycle six months ago, and with almost 40 years of experience driving cars and trucks including big rigs, I have a preconceived notion about what proper engine RPMs are.

2000 feels / sounds right.
3000 feels borderline high

and anything above that makes me think that I'm torturing the engine and in the wrong gear.

But, the logical side of my brain says that's not how it works-- if you take a motorcycle out on the highway and bump it up to 65 or 75 miles an hour, you are supposed to be pulling higher RPMs than the engine of your cage would be turning.

My decades of driving automobiles has caused me to have unrealistic expectations of how my motorcycle should work.
 

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It all depends on the bike, some are designed to run much faster engine speeds, it all depends on the design.
My Vision is turning 3000 rpm at 80 mph in top gear, redline is 5400 rpm, my wife鈥檚 vStrom is doing about 6000 in top at 80, redline is around 10000.

Both are happy at that speed/rpm, they are right in the sweet spot of the powerband but they sure sound different.


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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Been watching a used Vulcan S on a dealer's website for a while. Had today off so my checkbook and I journeyed half way across the state to check it out....but I didn't buy a bike today; they had sold the one I was interested in yesterday.
I did enjoy looking around though, and sat on a lot of bikes.
I discovered I don't like the adventure bikes. Not comfortable to me; just enough forward lean to bother my back, and I'm too awkward and clumsy to trust myself not being able to easily flat foot the bike. They also had crazy cell-phone like screens with lots of tiny print that I'd never be able to see without my reading glasses - which I can't wear while driving - and too many toggles to do too many things.
I found I liked everything about the Vulcan classic 900 except the crazy big exhaust. Two huge pipes that actually make me bowlegged on that side when I put my feet down. The rest of the bike was blacked out, so the chrome looked even more over the top. If it had a neatly tucked up, non-chrome exhaust I probably would have pulled out my checkbook.
The Vulcan S felt just a bit small and low compared to Bike, but it was also quite comfortable and if the horsepower is good I could easily adapt.
The Harley sportster 883 was really uncomfortable. (I don't want a Harley but just had to try it!)
I didn't test drive any because they wanted to keep copies of my DL and CC and I wasn't about to allow that. But I learned a lot and have narrowed down some choices.
Next up is to try to find some more bikes to try at a dealership closer to home; hoping some places might get more inventory as spring approaches. And I need to research as to whether the whole keep a copy of my license thing really is a state law or a dealership thing. I don't have any problem showing it to them so they know I have the endorsement but I don't want them to keep a copy of it on file. If they're worried about surety I'll leave my truck keys with them while I test ride. My truck is worth at least three of those bikes.
 
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