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Enough power for the Interstates?

3301 Views 16 Replies 14 Participants Last post by  hogcowboy
Right here at the start I will say -- I am not looking for an answer to the question in the title. I think I already have the answer for me but, hey, it's a subject for some discussion.

My "big" bike is a 2008 Suzuki Boulevard C50. Plenty of folks have told me, "That's a nice bike, but you'll regret not having more power on the Interstates." Will I? Here's the thing -- my normal car is a 2013 Toyota Corolla. I have driven this car from SC to Maine and back on 4 occasions. Last year at this time I drove it to Seattle and back. And I drive at least a few miles in it on Interstates every week. When it comes to power -- 123 HP and 128 FT/LBS torque -- it is puny compared to hundreds of other car models; yet, I have never once felt any significant need for more power in my travels. Why? I think it's because I am just not a power-dependent driver. My road strategy involves what I call "driving in the holes". I try to maintain good speed, but I don't allow myself to get in to contests with the other traffic on the road. No compelling urge to lead the pack, just a desire to get to my destination safely and in a reasonable time. 300 HP in the same car wouldn't change my driving style in the least.

Now of course, the Corolla has nearly three times the horsepower and torque of the C50 -- but then, it weighs five times more, too. Both have top speeds somewhere just slightly north of 90 MPH, and in the quarter mile the C50 would leave the Corolla far, far back in the dust -- even accelerating from 60 MPH. So in terms of getting from Point A to Point B in a timely fashion, Interstate travel or not, what compelling need have I got for 1200 or 1400 or 1800 CC's? I ride solo, so passenger weight is of no concern, and on the Interstates I ride as I drive -- cautiously.

Yesterday I took a round-trip excursion of 300 miles to meet my son-in-law for lunch and drop in for a short visit with my mom. Fully 200 miles of it were on I-26 in heavy traffic , a good 75 miles of it in the mountains. The weather was severely threatening, with thunderstorms moving through the area, but luckily aside from a few sprinkles I hit only one brief patch of real rain. In the 10 minutes or so of that event, everybody's speed went down to about 50 -- it was HEAVY rain! -- and I was happy to slow down right along with them. But most of the time I was rolling at 70-75. The bike never stumbled and never felt strained, I never felt I was going to be run over, and I never felt in the least underpowered.

So the answer for me is -- maybe more would be nice, but for my style of riding 805 CC's is aplenty.
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My truck has 261 HP and 281 ftlb of torque, the only time I need it is when I tow the boat
My Yammy is a bit tweaked @ 100 HP and 97 ftlb of torque. I occasionally blow the cobwebs out of it.
My Sol is a bad, bad boy @ 297 HP and 297 ftlb of torque it temps me constantly, and I must admit to falling under it's spell. I mean how can you ignore the siren call of a whining supercharger? Do I need it no, is it nice to have yes. That being said I don't use it on the highway, I also find an open spot and maintain it as much as possible.
So the answer for me is -- maybe more would be nice, but for my style of riding 805 CC's is aplenty.
I agree its plenty, and I'm a spirited rider at times that loves power & the speed on two wheels where appropriate. My main ride is a Moto Guzzi Griso 1200, But I also ride a Kawasaki VX-300, for me the VX-300 is not powerful enough for the interstates, so it doesn't go there. So really it boils down to how each individual likes to ride their machine. As long as you're not a hazard on the interstate to others and can maintain the necessary speed to keep up with traffic flow, your 805cc's is plenty.
You can use it for riding on highways but it is small. After a couple of hours you will tire of the high rpm's and sense of stressing that little motor out.

My last small bike was a 1983 Honda 550 Nighthawk I bought new. I could have driven it everywhere but I would not have wanted to.

Since then all my bikes have been liter bikes. They make a huge improvement for traveling high speed roads.
You can use it for riding on highways but it is small. After a couple of hours you will tire of the high rpm's and sense of stressing that little motor out.
That's just it -- I spent 4.5 hours on it yesterday. Never felt the rpm's were particularly high, or the engine particularly stressed. Going back to my Corolla -- the one I owned before this one was even lower-powered than the '13 I have now, revved like crazy to make 75, and was sold in good running order when it had 248,000 miles on it, the most major repairs being two alternators and one water pump. The assumption that an engine running the revs the C50 turns can't last just doesn't make much sense to me. From what info I can find, at 70 it makes about 4100 rpm, and the rev limiter kicks in at either 7600 or 7800, depending on what you read.
I never said the engine would not last.

I said you would get tired of the high rev's after a few hours.

You are turning 4100 rpm @ 70 mph. My bike is turning 3100 with a rev limit of 8500. I have put 1400 km's on it in a day. For a small bike that is a challenge.

If you only need to go for a couple of hours then go for it.
When I was young, I rode a '66 BMW R50, 30 hp, 500 cc. That bike would run all day at 60 to 70, and often did. Highways were no problem.
Now I ride a 1500 Goldwing.
Good God! I've had cars that had smaller engines than this bike!
As I watch the engine sizes creeping ever upward in the bike world, I have to ask, How much is enough?
Years ago, a 750 was considered a BIG bike!
Now it's not suitable for freeway riding? Really??
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140 hp and 160 foot lbs of torque here, but most of the is just for fun, lol. Sounds like your bike is more than fine for the freeways. Keep riding!
..... As I watch the engine sizes creeping ever upward in the bike world, I have to ask, How much is enough?
Years ago, a 750 was considered a BIG bike!
Now it's not suitable for freeway riding? Really??
I hear ya.
My old KZ650 had somewhere around 60-ish HP I believe. The wife and I rode two up on that bike anyplace we wanted, including interstates.
If we got in a tight spot I'd just bang down a couple of gears and gas it. Worked well enough.

My main ride these days is said to have 141 HP and has an 'indicated' top speed of about 163~164.
That works too. I can blast my way out of a tight spot.
On the KZ I had to use a little more brain power... :wink:
Y'all are stressing out over nothing. When the national speed limit was 55mph, I took my first bike, a little Honda 185 Twinstar on several 1k+ rides. Yep, I had that puppy wide open for hours. These engines can take it. Did the same with my Honda 400 Hawk only it wasn't wide open all the time and the rides were much longer. I say just ride what you have. I would bet, actually I know, riding these bikes is better on them than having them sit in a garage for years.:devil:
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I have a 1997 Suzuki Marauder, which is the precursor to the Boulevard. I've done numerous long trips on it and have never had a problem, nor much discomfort. I have a couple other bikes, but nothing that you would consider a touring bike. I just did a trip this past summer from New Jersey to Florida on a 1200 Sportster. I'd talk with people during fuel stops and many were surprised that I'd take the Sportster on such a trip.

I think a lot of people say you need a bigger bike because of the comfort aspect. A touring bike would be much more comfortable, but that's not the reason I ride a bike. If I wanted comfort, I'd take the car!

I have nothing against folks who have touring bikes, ride what you have and enjoy it!!
I've never owned a car with more than 100bhp. My slowest car made 64 at the crank when it was new in 2005 and who knows how many of those ponies are still alive today in that 700cc engine. It will clear 90 mph on a day without too much wind and that's more than enough for any highway journey for me. :)

Bikes are another story, but I've even had a 150cc Japanese scooter clear and maintain local highway speed limits.
Size, horsepower, and weight of motorcycles has gotten crazy. It all started when kick starting was replaced by battery power. Think about trying to kick start a 1200 cc twin with over 10 to 1 compression.

When I first started riding, one of the fastest, expert level bikes was a Triumph Bonneville (the original). They had about 47 horsepower, which is the same as my Honda CBR 500R, which is now considered a "beginner bike".
I rode my 2012 Triumph Rocket 3 Roadster on my 11 mile, one way commute to work @ 50 mph many, many times and enjoyed it a lot. I also enjoyed my Yamaha ZUMA 50cc, 2 stroke scooter for the same ride as about 9 miles of the ride are on beautiful, rural country roads.:grin:

I had a new Suzuki 800cc Volusia, many years ago and it was fine for the interstate and any other roads and I wouldn't have hesitated to ride it from Missouri to California to see my kid's, if I had nothing else more suited. At he time, I had the premiere touring bike, a BMW K1200LTc and a BMW R1100GS so I had choices.:grin:

When you ride a new HD Electra Glide, Goldwing, Yamaha, Kawasaki or BMW touring Bikes, their engines are just 'loafing' along at Interstate speeds and the comfort and ENTERTAINMENT makes a 1,000 mile day easy.:smile_big::wink2: CRUISE CONTROL RULES:smile_big::smile_big:

My current CTX1300D Honda, based on the ST1300 only more user friendly, loves high speed touring and the Fuel injected V4 engine just eats the miles up:kiss:

I do like me some power though and my new Ford F150 is the current KING of HP, torque and 0-60 mph acceleration. My past 2 Dodge 400 HP, Hemi powered trucks don't even come close in the thrill per mile category :surprise:

Make do and be happy with what ya have:wink2:

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For just me I'm more than happy with the performance of my little Vulcan 900 on the interstate don't need to lead the pack just got to keep up with the flow. However if my wife started riding long distances on the highway with me I then believe I would want a little more power.

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My FIRST bike, many years ago, was a 500cc. I took it on a four hour ride on the Interstate once (longest on THAT bike). It was BRUTAL! I could maintain Interstate speeds of 65 mph, (no Cruise Control) but had no windshield or amenities.

Fast forward to my HD Road Glide Ultra, with ALL the extras, and I was doing LOTS of Interstate miles!

(I had a couple of bikes in between these two, with a good amount of secondary as well as Interstate miles).

When I finally (and I would argue, 鈥渞egretfully) sold the Road Glide and bought my Royal Enfield, I did so (as I have told others) to be more 鈥渂ack to basics鈥 again. (No windshield, no Cruise Control, etc).

The 500cc motor WILL do 65 mph, and the 鈥渇un鈥 of a Sidecar is part of the package, BUT........I miss the amenities that make long-distance riding more endurable.

Then add to that, the wear and tear that the body goes thru (PARTICULARLY on a bike with less comfort features), and Doctors strongly suggesting that if I DON鈥橳 stop it, I will 鈥渓ikely end up in a wheelchair,鈥 and suddenly it all seems so much like a waste!!

I鈥檓 THANKFUL for my years on bikes........but I question the value of the cost!!
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You nailed it soupy. A windshield or fairing makes all the difference. Everyone said I was crazy for putting a fairing on my 185 Twinstar but it helped a lot. Mileage actually went up. A 400 mile day on that little thing without the fairing and I felt like I went 12 rounds with Muhammad Ali. With the fairing it felt like just 3 rounds. Still tired as can be but the fairing took a lot off the body. Super long days in both cases.
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