February 25, 2005

Motorcycles: Idle Speculation III

With my bike dying on me (again), this list has whole new meaning for me... I found out that the owner previous to the fellow I bought this bike off of has a miserable reputation for his treatment of bikes: he's gone through six new bikes in five years, hearsay has it.


In any case, we're at the big bikes now: 650cc and up. The price limit has kept some manufacturers off the list so far, making their first appearance here. Goody!

Kawasaki Z750 - $8,999
Kawasaki Z750S - $9,499

A sports bike with less plastic, these two are all business. Quite an agressive seating position for what's theoretically a naked bike, the "S" version has finally realised what speeds this bike can go and added a fairing.

Kawasaki ZR-7S - $8,499

Retro-cool and more comfortable than the Z750, it's got a 22-litre fuel tank to carry you where ever the road goes. The passenger seat is good enough to take someone with you, too.

Kawasaki Vulcan 800 Classic - $8,499

Vulcans have been around so long, the "Classic" is redundant. Very smooth running bike, low-tech, okay power. Has a chain drive, which is odd for a cruiser.

Yamaha V-Star 650 Custom - $7,899
Yamaha V-Star 650 Classic - $8,399
Yamaha V-Star 650 Silverado - $9,699

One bike, lots of variations. Not particularaly powerful, but some of the best looking of the Japanese cruisers. I like the Silverado, new for this year and all set for touring with passenger.

Harley-Davidson XL 883 Sportster - $9,299
Harley-Davidson XL 883L Sportster - $9,899

H-Ds entry-level model, these bikes just scream to be modified by the vast aftermarket Harley has. The classic look is what sells this bike. The L model has a lower seat and shorter reach to the handlebars for the vertically challenged.

Suzuki Bandit GSF650S - $8,799

Actually 656ccs, the little Bandit is a bit of an odd duck. Comfortable with adjustable seat and handlebars, good mid-range power, and good for just about anything; but its bigger (1200cc) sibling is twice the bike with teh same styling for only $2,000 more, and Suzuki makes a better all-rounder in the V-Strom.

Suzuki SV650 - $8,499
Suzuki SV650S - 8,799

One of my favorite bikes, the SV has a very responsive V-twin engine that frequently gets mentioned as the best for the size and the price. A naked look I love, and one of the funnest bikes I've ever ridden. The S model has a bikini fairing.

Suzuki 750 Katana - $9,699

A venerable bike: not anywhere near cutting edge technology (no updates since 1998), but a rock solid inline four engine that has a meaty feel to it. Corners like it's on rails, great price.

Honda VT750 Shadow Aero - $8,499
Honda VT750 Shadow Spirit - $8,499

Same bike, different modes - The Aero is geared to a cruising look with fat tires, full fenders and 2-to-1 exhaust; the Shadow styles itself a dragster, with a 19-inch front wheel and bobbed fenders and a chain drive to cut weight. The Spirit also has twin carbs and the dual exhaust improves performance over the Aero. You can get two-tone paint for another $200 on either.

Moto Guzzi Breva 750 - $9,900 (approximately)

Moto Guzzi has always made some of the most beautiful bikes on the planet (and a few of the ugliest), and for the brief time Aprilia owned the company (Piaggio has it now) the technology and quality of finish skyrocketed. This bike is a serious push to make people who've always wanted a Goose consider it. Tough to find: I'm still holding out for the Griso.

Triumph Bonneville - $9,999

A 790cc twin engine in a nostalgic frame. At this price, it just comes in basic black, which is a shame because Triumph has the best factory paint in the business. It's not too nostalgic, though, as the electrics (and the rest of the bike) work perfectly well. Be ready for old guys with misty memories to start talking to you, though.

Suzuki S50 Boulevard - $8,299
Suzuki M50 Boulevard - $8,899
Suzuki C50 Boulevard - $8,899

Streamlining their cruiser models into the Boulevard, here's what you need to know: the S is a sporty model with slash-cut pipes, drop tank and drag bars; the M is the more powerful engine with an 8-valve v-twin and fuel-injection; and the C is the reto-cruiser with full fenders, scoop headlight and a hardtail look. Got all that?

Suzuki DL650 V-Strom - $8,999

Strange name, odd styling, brilliant bike. Showing up on a lot of Best Of lists, for good reason. With the SV650 engine in a tremendously capable frame (from the DL 1000 V-Strom) and a vast 22-litre tank, the only thing that could make this bike more trouble-free would be a shaft drive. Its bigger sibling is only $3,000 more: but unlike the Bandit, this is the better bike.

If I only had one bike to buy for the rest of my life (okay, never going to happen; but this whole thing is hypothetical anyways) the V-Strom wouls be it. Hedging further, if I was mostly commuting short distances or living in the city, it's the SV650. But (and this surprises me) I like the Katana the most of all of these bikes. Not the fastest, not the most stylish, certainly not the newest, but the comfort and modest sportability really appeal. I'd like one in a solid metalic colour, though: not a big fan of splashy graphics.

Well, that was fun.

So of all new bikes under $10,000, it comes down to the Ducati 620 Monster or the Katana 750 - Style vs. Substance in a classic matchup. Simple enough solution: at this price, sell off my truck, ride the Duck in Summer and the Kat in winter. Perfect!


Figure I should provide links to parts one and two, eh?


posted by Thursday at 12:23 pm


Blogger Boy said...

I came across your blog during a hunt for motorcycle info... Nice site, I must say. Interesting thought on the V-Strom too... I keep hearing great things about it. Thanks!

7:33 am  
Blogger Thursday said...

Lots and lots of professionals are buying this bike - the latest I know of is Max Burns from Cycle Canada.

Brilliant bike, this. The 650 is getting better review that the 1000, too. That SV650 engine is simply one of the best ever made. The only mark against the bike is the same one that Honda's VFR 750s and 800s have - it's too good to be interesting!

Somehow, I think I'd be able to live with that "flaw".

Thanks for the comment.

12:36 pm  
Anonymous Jaime said...

Suzuki Bandit, japanese quality and stability with a great design. I had the GSF1200N and it always impressed me how much the bike insurance was. for the power I would have thought you would need to pay more as you do with car insurance.

5:52 am  
Blogger Thursday said...

Jamie -

Depends where you live, of course: I'm in British Columbia, where we don't have private insurance for autos - you can still get ancillary stuff, but for the basics you've got to go with ICBC. Considering how difficult (and expensive!) MC insurance is in the rest of the country, I've got to say I'm happy with that!

That being said, the categories out here are divided by engine size; meaning my screaming little RD350LC, which pulls 100 km/h in third gear (with three to go) costs far less to insure than my Honda CB650, which gets to 100 km/h "eventually".

Love the Suzuki engines - not so hot on their finish. The Bandits are a solid bike, though, and a favorite among the sport-touring crowd.

12:04 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dam those bikes are expensive! Think I will stick with my scooter its far more economical on fuel! I bet the motorbike insurance is sky high as well.

9:28 am  
Blogger Thursday said...

First off, check the other two lists if price is more important to you. Or go second hand - you can save thousands by letting someone else drive your dream bike off the lot.

Second, I'm not sure you've priced out modern scooters - ones approaching the performance level of these bikes are very expensive themselves (some well over $10,000).

Third, British Columbia has a crown corporation providing all the insurance for the province - for far cheaper than the private companies are providing it to riders in Ontario, for instance.

Plus the private insurance companies are royally screwing riders by simply not insuring motorcycles; skyrocketing prices with no warning; denying bikes insurance by their shape, highlighting their own ignorance.

In other words, while Carole Nash may be a useful company in the UK, in Canada they're about as useful as teats on a bull.

Lots of love for Two Wheels Only, though - great mag, even if it is British! 8)

7:01 pm  
Anonymous Samuel said...

My Passion for bikes has been from child hood i have dirt bike and Iam looking for another one which is around 1000 or 1500 cc

12:51 am  
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1:52 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Suzuki Bandit, japanese quality and stability with a great design. I had the GSF1200N and it always impressed me how much the bike insurance was. for the power I would have thought you would need to pay more as you do with car insurance.

12:53 am  

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