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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I bought a Kawasaki Eliminator 125 in March, as a brand new rider. It's been a perfect starter bike, as I am a 5'3" 49 y.o. female, so my height and strength are issues. I have loved how the bike is so light and easy to handle.

I have been looking to upgrade to something inexpensive, but a little larger that can go on the highway. I am a daily rider and this is my primary mode of transportation. I don't have a car, the Kawasaki was an upgrade from a bicycle.

One fellow recommended that I get something around 600-700cc. Oalso am concerned about the weight of the bike. (Salesman at RideNow called me a "little peanut") I saw that the Suzuki Boulevard 650 S40 has a curb weight less than 400 lbs. and that seemed perfect. Found a barely used one for $2800. My most experienced motorcycle friend is telling me not to buy, he says a single cylinder is a piece of ****. He has been building and racing motorcycles for over 50 years. (He is also 5'3" so he understands my needs)

I wonder if he is right, or if he is just being a motorcycle snob. Please educate me about single-cylinder engines!
 

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Single cylinder engines generally do not develop the horsepower that multi cylinder engines do given the same displacement. They are great for urban riding with some of the larger examples able to do light highway travel. They are usually not something I would recommend for extended interstate highway travel or touring.

They are simpler and cheaper to maintain than multi-cylinder motorcycles.

They generally get great fuel economy.

Sticking with known brands, the quality is high. The S40 for example has been around in various forms for many years and is a tried and true design.
 

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Single cylinder bikes tend to be a bit more buzzy too. The S40 probably isn't the ideal bike for interstate speeds(70-75MPH), but it'll do it. The only other newer bike I can think of that meets you criteria of low seat height, twin cylinder and light weight would be the Honda Rebel 500, but that's a lot more expensive. If you want to get more info about the S40 and freeway riding, there's a fairly active Suzuki Savage forum where you'll find a much higher concentration of S40 riders with practical knowledge about the S40.
 

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OTOH, I've met more than a few traveling cross-country on the S40, even an old-timer like me. But, like me, they usually avoid Interstate and similar highways when possible. Not that it won't keep up on the Interstate, it's just a little uncomfortable for extended distances, say, 100 miles or more.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thanks to all of you for the great information. Dodsfall, you're right about the great fuel economy, my Eliminator has been getting 80 mpg. Calculon, thanks for the Rebel suggestion. I am not in any hurry to upgrade, I am just looking in case I find a good deal. Might find one used in a year or two.

Talked to the Harley mechanic across the street, he seems to think I could handle an even heavier bike. Read a review of Rebel 500, writer mentioned more weight=more stability at higher speeds. I have noticed it's scary to ride my 125 in the wind. Considering casting a slightly wider net regarding vehicle weight.

So I'd like to ask for insights on what to look for and what to avoid, should I post it in this thread to keep all my info together, or start a new thread since the topic has changed?
 

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As far as handling the weight goes, in recent years, I went from a '70 CB450, about 415 pounds, to a '05 Suzuki S50, about 475 pounds, to a '98 Valkyrie Tourer, about 910 pounds. I'm nearly 5'7", and about 165 pounds. The only issue I have with the weight of the Valk is getting it up off the side stand, as it leans quite a bit. Technique has a big effect on how hard it is. I'd suggest trying to right any larger bikes you're thinking of; if your normal method seems too hard, try with your right foot on the peg instead of the pavement.
 
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I daily a Buell Blast (500cc single) and a Honda Rebel (250cc parallel twin). If it's important, I'm 5'6" and pretty weak. Like said above, single cylinders (often called "thumpers") make fewer ponies than an equivalent multi-cylinder bike. So while the 500ccs of the Buell sound tasty, the bike's performance is comparable to a 250cc twin cylinder sport bike. And even then, there are 250s that'll leave me in their dust. The Blast also loves to vibrate. I don't mind a rolling massage, but I know others would probably get tired of it quickly.

On the other hand, my Rebel is so very smooth. It purrs like a little kitten, is quiet, and there's very little vibration. The Rebel is my "around town" choice at it seems to love cruising at <60 mph and it's awesomely comfortable doing it.

I pretty much never take the Rebel on the Interstate as it seems to run out of steam a lot faster than I'd like it to. Meanwhile, the Blast pulls decently up to about 90 mph (probably due to its mods), so I have had no trouble doing 100+ mile rides on it.

With all that said, I'm far from a normal rider. I mean, I intentionally seek out oddballs. So I wouldn't recommend a single if you want to do extended highway rides.
 
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I would suggest a small Honda Shadow. This is a 600 and weighs under 500 pounds wet. They are very dependable.

https://seattle.craigslist.org/oly/mcy/d/very-nice-2006-honda-shadow/6662699887.html

As far as your friend goes, he is a racer and has a very different outlook than most. Something to consider is that motorcycling for him is likely different than it is for you. This is why we say to "ride your own ride." Your friend may want to go 100mph while you love to sit back and take your time. Just because you are friends does not necessarily make you good riding partners.
 

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No, I would not do it either, I had an old Honda Sl-125 and it was just great for back roads and around town but I took it on the
hi-way just once, It would do 60 but pushing it and too light, I didn't feel safe on the highway with it.

I think if you could try a Suzuki M50 805 cc with a high 5th gear you would like it, it is a mid size cruiser and would be fine on the
super-slab, just my opinion.I think it has a weight of 600 lbs's .
 

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I bought a Kawasaki Eliminator 125 in March, as a brand new rider. It's been a perfect starter bike, as I am a 5'3" 49 y.o. female, so my height and strength are issues. I have loved how the bike is so light and easy to handle.

I have been looking to upgrade to something inexpensive, but a little larger that can go on the highway. I am a daily rider and this is my primary mode of transportation. I don't have a car, the Kawasaki was an upgrade from a bicycle.

One fellow recommended that I get something around 600-700cc. Oalso am concerned about the weight of the bike. (Salesman at RideNow called me a "little peanut") I saw that the Suzuki Boulevard 650 S40 has a curb weight less than 400 lbs. and that seemed perfect. Found a barely used one for $2800. My most experienced motorcycle friend is telling me not to buy, he says a single cylinder is a piece of ****. He has been building and racing motorcycles for over 50 years. (He is also 5'3" so he understands my needs)

I wonder if he is right, or if he is just being a motorcycle snob. Please educate me about single-cylinder engines!
There is nothing wrong with large single cylinder bikes. Similar to your Eliminator, I rode a 1971 Honda CB100 for a number of years (still have it). Then I rode a 1987 Suzuki LS650 Savage. The Savage (renamed S40 Boulevard) is an air cooled 650 cc thumper with belt drive. Mine was a wide ratio 4 speed, but the only difference between it and the later 5 speed is only 300 RPM in top gear.

I was able to keep up with riders to 75 MPH. Although the engine is 33 HP, it has a lot of torque. This is typical for thumpers. Longest ride I did was from Clovis NM to Chama NM 6 years ago, an 8 hour and 350 mile ride one way. Through the years, I've ridden it on portions of the Navajo Indian Reservation around Gallup NM and surrounding Arizona, to the Zuni Indian Reservation south, from Alamogordo, NM to Clovis on weekends, a 5 hour and 230 miles one way when I worked there 7 years ago. Also used it as a daily rider to work.

I'd show up at a motorcycle rally, riders would tell me, "How could you ride such a tiny thing such a distance?" I'd remind them that a 650 was a large motorcycle back in the 1960's.

Pluses: You can't get any simpler than the S40. There's no cooling system, so you won't have to worry about periodic water coolant maintenance. It gets 50 - 60 MPG depending on how ridden and how fast you go. Traveling at 75 MPH fuel mileage will be slightly lower. I've taken the Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF) basic course and its predecessor several times through the years, a requirement for accessing some government campuses. They supply bikes like the Honda 250 Rebels and bikes like yours. After riding these, when I hopped on my Savage to go home, I felt like I was riding a big bike. You can mount a Harley suited electronic tachometer on it. The ignition is double fire (fires every rotation of the crankshaft, although engine is 4 cycle). I used a Drag Specialties electronic Mini Tach on mine.

Since it has a lower red line of 6,500 RPM, your hands won't feel as numbing as I did riding my CB100 with throttle wide open. (I one time ride it to work 12 miles away, doing wide open at 55 MPH along a rural stretch. Coworkers asked me how the ride was. I told them it was like the scooter ride to Aspen CO in the movie, "Dumb and Dumber".

It is a good bike for daily rider and leaving the area on weekends.

Drawbacks: At 75 MPH, I was turning 5,200 RPM, which is a little under a thousand RPM from red line.
 

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Drawbacks continued: (Please note, for some reason I don't have post edit capabilities.) Passing power at 75 MPH is limited. High speed travel is good for shorter durations of half hour or less. It's forte or sweet spot is 55 MPH and can do 65 MPH all day.

Since it is an aircooled, engine runs hotter than a water cooled. It will consume more oil during hot weather, say above 90 Degrees F. I had to top off with about a quarter quart ever other fill up. This is not oil burning as say with a badly worn out engine. It is just the nature of this aircooled engine. It will consume more oil traveling at speeds above 55 MPH. During cooler weather like Fall under 75 Degrees F, I hardly had to top off at all. You need to keep up with making sure your oil level is always near full. Some have neglected this and paid dearly by ruining the camshaft bearing area. Like nearly all motorcycles, there are no camshaft bearing inserts like on older car engines. The camshaft rides in the machined aluminum head bosses. Ruining that requires a replacement head and other parts, which is very expensive.

The stock seat on my Savage was a 1 hour seat. After that, my rear was aching. I replaced it and pillion with the latest S40 gel pillow seat. Now I had a 2 hour seat, and I could tolerate riding all day with stops every 2 or so hours.

It has a 2.8 gallon tank. This gives you approximately a 100 mile riding radius to next fill up, with about a 20 to 30 mile buffer on reserve. Riding rurally, I made sure I was topped off before I headed to the next rural village or town with gas stop.

Since it is reasonably lightweight, it is easy to tool around on the highway and the roads, does a nice job on twisties. I scraped underneath bolts flat in turns.

Rear drum brake can lock up if you are not careful. I locked it up purposely on a rural road at 55 MPH, did not release until I was down to 30 MPH. There are caveats to drum brakes. Get to know all the ins and outs with your bike, so you know what to expect. Since yours is a daily rider unlike others who ride only weekends, you are at an advantage, since you know how your bike feels, it becomes a part of you.

Since you are upgrading from a 125, the S40 makes for a good upgrade. Have it thoroughly checked out to make sure engine hasn't been neglected or abused. A used one that is say, 10 years old and low mileage, you can get for under $2K. When you go to sell, you'll be able to sell for about the same. By then, you'll know what bike you can handle next.

I know, because I now ride a 2001 Kawasaki ZG1200 Voyager XII full tourer, an 800 lb. bike with a 96 HP engine, with all the bells and whistles including true cruise control. Years of riding my Savage prepared me to upgrade to this bike.

Another bike some riders have upgraded to is the Kawasaki Ninja 250. Although sportbike styled, it is a standard. It is lightweight and highway capable. You need to feel comfortable with your next bike, and yes, weight is a strong consideration. Don't let others make you think that a bike is **** out of their own personal preferences.

Good luck on selecting your next bike.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Thanks to everyone for your input and insights. "Without counsel plans fail, but with many advisers they succeed."


I am learning a lot from all of you. Fortunately, I'm not in a rush to buy, and I noticed there are a lot of used S40's for sale. I think I'll keep reading and learning for at least a little bit. If you have any other advice for things to consider in a bike, I'm all ears!
 

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Jewel, in my very humble opinion, stay away from the S40 unless you just ride it on a very short commute. They vibrate, which is no fun, they may have some low end torque but no acceleration to speak of and that terribly small gas tank is just plain stupid. The engine is based on the DR650 dual sport bike and in that application it was a winner---I had a 1996 DR650 and it was great but it did have a high seat and that spoils it for some folks.

I suggest any Honda Shadow twin, from 600cc's through 1100cc's as they are readily available used at very good prices and totally reliable, hold a good resale value and don't vibrate. They also are good on the Interstate and have enough gas capacity to get outa Dodge.

Sam:nerd:
 

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Look at a Honda CBR300R. Don't be put off by the looks -- it's sport-bikey looking, but in fact the riding position is more of an upright, standard style. 200+ mile Interstate trips have been easy on mine, and I weight 200 pounds. Maintaining 75mph is no trick at all on this bike. It weighs in at 357 pounds, gets over 70 mpg in town and 65 mpg on the Interstate, which means a long ride between fill-ups with its 3.4 gal. tank.
 

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I can not concur on the S40 recommendation for a newer rider. It is my opinion the rake is too aggressive and has too much impact on front end handling especially low speed handling. Gives it a great look but not so great handling.
 
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