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BigCanoe 01-10-2013 11:37 AM

Good commuter, under 10k
Hey all,

I am thinking of upgrading my little dual sport to something I can ride to work. My commute is 30 miles each way, on a 2 lane (each side) highway. I would need something that I can ride on nice days, but not necessarily when the weather is bad (have a truck for that). Still the more riding the better. Safety, reliability, service cost, MPG, comfort and of course price are all important. I don't have to carry anything to work besides myself.

I was thinking of one of the following:

Suzuki DR650
Suzuki VStrom 650 ABS
Kawasaki KLR650
Honda CBR250 ABS
Triumph Bonneville


Antiquar 01-10-2013 12:04 PM

The Bonnie is a good bike but you can do better in terms of fuel efficiency. I commute on my Thruxton (50 miles each way, freeway with occasional traffic) and get 40-45 MPG. It's better than my car, sure, but it's terrible compared to commuter bikes.

Also, given the fuel efficiency, I could do with a bigger tank. I have to fill up every day I commute on it. You'd get about two days of commuting per fill up.

BigCanoe 01-10-2013 12:07 PM

Good point. It would be hard to beat the CBR250 from the MPG perspective I think.

Offcamber 01-10-2013 12:07 PM

Take a look at a Kawasaki Versys....

Fun, good fuel economy a really great all around sport bike....

ph0rk 01-10-2013 12:09 PM

What factors are the most important for you? (Pick two or three)

Total cost?
Luggage options?
High speed stability?
Low speed agility?
Seat height?
Cruise speed?
Maximizing cold weather use? (that is, pushing down your coldest ridable temp)
Weather protection?
Self-wrenching ease?
Tank range?

As for bikes, Don't neglect the new honda cb500's or the nc700x, nt700v, svf650, ex650r, etc

motorat 01-10-2013 12:09 PM

from your list i have commuted (43 miles each way) on the bonneville, dr650, klr 650 and vstrom 650abs
for my money it's the vstrom every day.
in 38000 miles all i have had to do is change the oil/tires and 1 chain.
valves checked at 19k, still in adjustment.
the bike delievers 54-65mpg on regular gas and i heard the 2012 on up are better.
my plan it to keep the bike for a few more years, or until i get to about 100k then buy a new vstrom 650.

BlueLghtning 01-10-2013 12:17 PM

The Vstrom fits that bill very nicely out of all your choices and they can be found pretty reasonably. Although you have the ABS model, so not sure if that would be a must have considering many of the other bikes you listed don't have ABS.

What dual sport are you riding now? Although the KLR & DR are both 650 size, they still are singles so depending on the highway you'll be riding on and speeds, they can still get a bit buzzy there. Of course everyone's opinion of what is acceptable is up them.

I've had 5 vstroms and keep coming back to them. I work from home now, but I spent many years commuting on a bike and the Vstrom was the one that kept winning me over time and time again. Their reliability is awesome and they handle stuff like a commuter with ease. I owned a KLR for a while and my commute was either 45mins via interstate or an hour on back roads. I absolutely hated that bike on the interstate, so I tended to take the back roads, but it still just didn't do it for me nearly as nice as the strom did. I also have a DR650 now and it would not be a bike I would choose to commute on over the Vstrom unless I just had to.

The more comfortable the bike is and the better you are able to carry everything you need and stay warm and protected in bad weather, the more often you are likely to ride. If it becomes a pain or just not fun, you'll probably not commute as often.

Someone mentioned a Versys and that is surely another option.

DAKEZ 01-10-2013 12:19 PM

Scratch the CBR250. A small thumper will wear out too quickly being used that way.

If you are not too tall for one I would suggest you find a Pre-owned Street Triple.

BlueLghtning 01-10-2013 12:29 PM

If you have to carry anything on a regular basis like a laptop or even extra gear when the temps are changing, any type of sport bike or anything without luggage makes that more difficult. And it gets very old wearing any kind of back pack day in and day out. That's one reason I lean more towards a bike that has luggage options available since being able to carry extra stuff really turns out to be a huge convenience when commuting every day.

BigCanoe 01-10-2013 12:30 PM

I have a DR200, not highwayable :)

I think either a new or pre-2012 Strom might be the best bang for the buck. Comfort/utility/economy/etc.

The dealer closest to me is a Honda/Suzuki shop, so thats a plus too.

I had forgotten about the new Honda's as well.

Treedguy 01-10-2013 12:34 PM

03 Civic. :D

BigCanoe 01-10-2013 12:36 PM

I have one car that's good on gas, and two paid off cars that are not as good. My wife will drive the Fiat mostly. Plus, any excuse to get another/different bike I figure. I will drive my truck on bad days, and my new bike on good days :)

BlueLghtning 01-10-2013 01:51 PM


Originally Posted by BigCanoe (Post 20447656)
I have a DR200, not highwayable :)

I think either a new or pre-2012 Strom might be the best bang for the buck. Comfort/utility/economy/etc.

The dealer closest to me is a Honda/Suzuki shop, so thats a plus too.

I had forgotten about the new Honda's as well.

Oh yeah, the DR200 is definitely not. My wife has an XT225 which is actually a bit faster than the DR, but still not that great for something to commute on that kind of distance.

Just to give you a quick over view on the strom's since I've owned 5 of them. Each year there were only 2 color schemes available.
04-06 - Single Spark DL650's. 04's had silver frames. 05+ were black
07-11 - Dual Spark DL 650's and 10mm longer swingarm to accomodate ABS. Only 1 color out of the two even had ABS as an option and even then for the color that had it, it was still an option. (no 2010 Vstrom's BTW).
12+ Redesigned DL650.

I've owned both the single spark and dual spark DL650 and the dual spark has a bit of the advantage of being a bit smoother and gets a bit better mileage, but for a good price I wouldn't pass up a single spark model. The 12 models are based on the Gladius motor, so even smoother and better fuel mileage yet.

The 1st generation Vstrom's have a 5.8gal tank so 200-250+ miles per tank are pretty common. I've pushed mine to over 300, but that's getting 55+mpg. The 2nd gen 2012+ strom's dropped fuel tank size to 5.3gals, but the better mileage is suppose to make up the difference.

07+ can get 50mpg pretty easily on back roads. MPG drops more towards 45mpg when you start runnning 70-80mph.

Depending on your height, the stock DL650 seat sucks and the stock windscreen is a really crappy setup. A DL1000 seat or something else greatly improves the comfort and a madstad bracket with a different shield really helps with the wind protection. Everything else is just personal preference.

Mambo Dave 01-10-2013 02:27 PM

I've never owned one, but for commuting as the OP described I'd consider anything that didn't have a chain that would get my pants/hands/whatever dirty, and also didn't require lubing... and with that being such a strong point in my mind... might I also suggest a Harley Sportster with a belt drive?

The 883 motor reportedly gets incredible gas mileage, it would be an interesting ride (especially if set up well for commuting with a neutral riding position like one of the older 1950's utilitarian Harleys or like a dual-sport), and it would differ enough from your current stable.

eatpasta 01-10-2013 02:56 PM

This new Honda CB500X is supposed to be priced under 6 grand...


looks like a sweet little bike

or that new NX is pretty cool too

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