Thursday, December 26, 2013

Advice bleg: all you 18th level Biker-fu masters

The Big Guy has gotten tired of my whining about not getting the next size up motorcycle and has given me a much needed prodding.  So let me ask the collective wisdom of our little corner of teh Intarwebz for any thoughts on some specific choices.

Top Priorities:
Highway worthy heavy and fast enough to be comfortable

Decent seat with sissy bar for riding 2 up

Low enough to be comfortably flat footed at a stop

Inexpensive enough that there's no reason for me to say no

Will probably only put on 5k miles a year, at least for a bit

Ideally light weight within these parameters
Looking around Cycletrader, there are two offers that seem to fit this list:

1. 2004 Yamaha V Star Classic 650, 32k miles

2. 2001 Honda Shadow Spirit 1100, 16k miles (this one has small bags that would be handy for day trips)

Anyone have any experience with either of these?  What's the reputation of the bikes.  My Honda Rebel seems pretty much indestructible, but I've only ridden it a thousand miles or so since I got it in August.

UPDATE: This Kawasaki Vulcan 750 looks pretty nice, but is about 50% more expensive (still not too expensive, though).  Any thoughts?


burt said...

So, either a (soon to be) 10-year old bike or a (soon to be) 13-year old bike? That's it??

Some choice.

You forgot a very important category in your list: "won't eat me alive in repair bills due to its age and availability of OEM and/or aftermarket parts and labor costs."

Been there. Couldn't get OEM parts for my 11-year old Suzuki Intruder 700 (brake calipers - front AND rear) when they froze up. New parts would have cost me almost 1/3 what the bike was worth. I *gave* the bike away and bought a new one ("new", as in <10 miles on the ODO).

Bikes are not inherently dangerous... but can be very dangerous if you think "cheap" rather than "safe". And the last thing you wanna do is spend good money on an old bike only to find out you've bought a pig in a poke.

Borepatch said...

This is exactly the reason I posted this.

Not interested in a new bike though, Burt.

Otto Gass said...

Legacy parts support from Suzuki I'll agree is poor. I let go an '82 GS850 which I loved partly for that reason. But you did not list a Suzuki candidate. I don't believe the same issue affects either the Yamaha or Honda to anywhere near the same extent. I run a '98 Valkyrie and don't feel especially vulnerable to parts availability.

All three of your targets are shafties, which I prefer. My pick is the Shadow with the bigger engine and the cast wheels. The 650 is nice and low but cleaning spoke wheels is not my idea of a good time. This kind of squeezes out the Kaw for me too although the engine size falls between the others. Kaw not as bad as Suzuki for parts but less confidence than Honda/Yam.

OMMAG said...

In this category of bike I'd consider a Honda Shadow.

As it happens this a bike I've been looking at for my wife.

Atom Smasher said...

I love the Vstar. I still haven't traded up from my starter vstar classic 650, but I feel the need.

Too bad we don't live closer, BP. :)

xmaddad1 said...

Had a Kaw 800 was a daily driver to work 43 miles (HWAY) in between 86 to 158 round trip (no HWAY). Put a belt drive kit on it and thru mis adjustment killed the Drive. Traded for 'new' 2011 Kaw 900 in Feb 2012. Has abt 22000 miles since then and runs like a champ. Son has 2003 800 and it runs like a beast.

Nosmo King said...

Uh, BP....this "bigger motorcycle" you're thinking about getting...are you going to ride the thing or are you planning on marrying it and raising a family with it?

You do realize that one can not just "buy" a motorcycle, but one can also "sell" one? There's a reason it's called "selling" and not "divorce."

Motorcycle owners are just like gun owners in that we are highly opinionated, and most of us endlessly dig into the techno-detail on whatever we own. Or want to own. Or heard that someone owns. Whatever.

Find something that fits your inseam, has a good reliability record, is in good condition and available for a good price, has parts/dealer infrastructure, and GET THE $@#& MOTORCYCLE ALREADY.

Ride it for a year. If you like it, keep riding it. If you don't like it, take what you've learned about riding a bigger bike, sell it and get something else. I think you'd be surprised how many bikes some of us have gone through to get the one we want. It's a learning process, so start learning.

Borepatch said...

Nosmo, it seems like you're pointing out that I over analyze things. It's what I do.


burt said...

What Nosmo said - +1

But make sure you check parts availability on ANY used bike you're considering. Don't trust to luck or any opinions on this or any other blog.

ZerCool said...

My first (and only) bike was a '98 Vulcan 500. I'm 6'1"-ish and it was a hair too small for me to ride comfortably for more than an hour. Not sure how the 750 compares to it size-wise, but the 500 was fine cruising at 60-65mph (and plenty more on tap when I rolled the wrist).

Jay G said...

Of the two, I'd recommend the Honda. 650 is still too small, trust me on this. After a year or two of riding, you'll get complacent and think that you can handle it completely - and you will - but you'll start to push things.

With the 1100, there will still be enough "out there" to keep the ego in check.

I solved it by buying the Harleybago, which is a 1450 and weighs something like 750 pounds. And costs as much as a decent car.

Just so I wouldn't be tempted to get stupid on it...

Nosmo King said...

it seems like you're pointing out that I over analyze things. It's what I do.

I'm a charter member in the local chapter of Anal Retentive/OCDers, and damn proud of it (as soon as we get all the bricks properly aligned we can move into the building and start holding meetings....)

I also understand that time moves in only one direction.

No matter what motorcycle you get, you will find something on it you think should have been done differently. Probably several somethings. You will discover this while you are taking miles that are piled up in front of the bike and moving them behind.

If the list of somethings is short, keep moving those miles to the rear. If it's too long, find a different tool to move them with.

Every day you don't move miles means the pile in front of the bike gets larger. Eventually you won't be able to see over it.

Start moving miles.

jon spencer said...

The Honda.
At a reasonable price though.
It has enough oomph too.
I might / would have someone who really knows Hondas go over it.

And parts are available.

Only about 100 more days of snow here and then I should be able to ride again.

The Old Man said...

I own a 2004 Kaw Vulcan 800 Classic. I only ride locally, so I can't speak for road trips over 100 miles, but it has been very good to me.
Second Kaw I've had - and it is MUCH better mannered than the '72 H1B 500 cc three-cylinder two-stroke that was my first. I'm about 6' and flt-footed is no problem. The thing is so quiet that I don't wake the neighbors at oh-dark-thirty and being a V-twin does not vibrate my butt like bikes I've had before.
Pay attention to Nosmo's tale of the miles. Better a tired butt than a wish for bugs-in-teeth. Do it now...

Tony Tsquared said...

My son's first bike was the Vulcan 750. It is a good bike for around town but it is geared too low for extended runs on the highway - running at 75 mph @ 3300rpm will wear you out quickly. Go for a liter class bike if you want to do the day trips. There are also some very good deals on used Harleys and they do not suffer from hard to find parts for the older models.