Thought I could work this out myself, but that doesn't seem to be happening.
I'm 55, 6'-1"/200#, in OK shape, and have been riding dualsports and dirt bikes since I was a teenager.
I have the little bike/scooter ('75 CT90) and light weight dualsport ('10 Berg FX450) covered.
Even with these 2 wonderful machines, I find myself wanting a third bike. The kind of thing I'm wanting is: good on gravel, better on pavement. Not too fat (< 400#). Good for 2 up. Good for longer rides (300 mile days) and good for trips of up to a week. I'd like fuel injection and 6 speeds. Budget is $5k or so, less would be better.
Bikes I've looked at/considered:
KTM 950 Adv. - Seems best, but it's too big, faster than I need and more complex/expensive than I want. Still might be the best choice. I do like them and KTM's in general, I've had EXC's and a 640 Adv. in the past. 690 Enduro - Maybe, prolly do everything I ask except the "good 2 up" part also prolly outside budget. Too close to the Berg I already have?
Ducati Multistrada - The 1000's and up are too big and fast. I thought one of the 620 ones might work but they aren't really "good on gravel". I do like them (the 620). Elefant - Ticks all the boxes. I like it. Kind of an antique now. Hypermotard - I like the smaller ones. Not really sensible for my use.
Aprillia Caponord - Too big/fat/fast. Pegaso - no 6 speed, single cly., a bit dated. SVX 550 - really cool bike, not remotely sensible for my use.
Cagiva Gran Canyon - Getting closer, still a little fat. Cool bike though.
Buell Ulysses - "good on gravel"? not really. Seems like a fun bike but I'm not convinced I'd like it. A little large.
Kawasaki Versys - Probably a good choice, but doesn't wind me up.
Suzuki V Strom - Ditto
BMW GS - The big ones are way too fat. The small ones - meh. The old ones are antiques.
Triumph Tiger - Too big/fat/fast. Don't think any of the newer smaller ones are in budget.
Anything left that I missed? Any suggestions/comments on the ones above? Am I just full of crap and searching for something that doesn't exist?
Your self-imposed constraints paint you into a corner, and there are no bikes
waiting in that corner.
Either you have to spend more money than $5K or you have to give up
certain of your "wants" because the intersection of the sets of what you
want and what you can afford is empty. In other words, there are no
bikes which fit all your stated requirements, so either you do without a bike
or you relax some of the requirements so you can actually have a bike.
To me the choice is very obvious : a 650 "Wee" Strom does most of what you
want to do. Of course it won't have problems like a KTM LC8 bike will
( and I OWN an LC8 950 so I know first hand of the various issues with
LC8 bikes ) but on the other hand the Wee will get you down the road just fine
and be cheap to own and operate. The Wee is fast enough, handles well enough,
is reliable, can be bought for a price that works with your budget, and will be easy to
re-sell when the time comes. What's not to like ?
By the way, regardless of price, I wouldn't have any of the Italian bikes you mentioned,
or the Buell, or any of the BMW GS bikes. The big BMW GS in particular is one of the most
over-rated and disappointing bikes I have ever ridden. I got back on my 950 SE after
riding a 1200 GS and the first thing that came into my mind was : "Now THIS is what
a motorcycle should be like !" The BMW is a ponderous overweight sluggish thing,
and the control layout is stupid, and the brakes were over-assisted like a Cadillac
or something. All I can say is that the people who own them must not have ridden
many other bikes, either that or they don't care about how a bike feels while riding it.
The BMW is the two-wheeled equivalent of an SUV which would never ever actually do
any serious off road but pretends to be able to do so. Sure, you can take that pig off road,
but why on earth would you want to ?
Hitting that price point, < 5$K, I'd think the Strom is the only one that meets most of your other criteria. Less than 400#'s is tough too, don't think that there are many multi cylinders that are that light.
Going to need to prioritize a little more with that list of wants.....
Maybe a Triumph Scrambler because u like European bikes and its got a cool factor.
V Strom - just doesn't "do it" for me. I know they are good bikes, I just don't want one. So those are out.
Triumph Scrambler - Defiantly cool. Kind of outside the box, but worth thinking about.
I don't think I'm really asking too much and I am willing to give a little on some of the wishes. Hell, my old Transalp did most of it. So far I'm liking the Cagiva Gran Canyon - any comments on that? Otherwise, the 620 Multistrada seems good except for the gravel part. Anyone ever done a 19" front wheel conversion on a MS?
Keep it coming. Thanks.
What's the reason for the $5K limit, poor or cheap? Either way, with the European bikes, like the Cagiva, they're cool, but getting parts for one is only going to get more difficult. If you just want a low buy-in, maybe that doesn't matter.
What kind of gravel roads are you thinking about? Smooth and graded? If so, you'd have more options with a full on street bike. Since you mentioned the Ulysses, maybe one of the older tube frame Buells? My VFR is a fuelie, and you can find those around for less than 5. Maybe an FZ6? Older Bandits are wicked cheap as well (don't think those are FI though). Sub-400#s, fuel injected and less than 5 grand isn't possible.
at your price point, I'd give more thought to a Wee.
you'll get newer than most others on your list (generally speaking) and it will likely have most of the farkles you'd want.
Plus, they are bullet-proof (07 and up).
I would argue with your assertion that the Uly is not good on gravel. Loose gravel, you have a point. But packed gravel? I took mine twice on the Pony Express trail between Salt Lake City and Nevada, and never had any problems. Back when I lived in Utah, I took that Uly all over the place, with the Pirelli Scorpion Syncs. Funniest thing a guy ever said to me was a friend who has a 1200GS. He said "I can see those tires aren't made for gravel because I can see the gravel flying out from under them." I said "Yeah man, because you're behind me."
You can buy a nice used Uly for 5K and it will meet all of your criteria. Try one.
The Uly could ride TKC80s nowadays and be great on gravel, as long as you don't mind wearing out that rear tire fast.
But I sold mine and have a scrambler, and it's a hoot. As good as the Uly for day trips sub 300 miles and sub 90mph. A little better on forest and gravel roads (lower cg and 19" front). Uly is better for luggage.
Both are great bikes.
It seems you are looking for an exotic at bargain basement pricing. Pick one, not both.
Kawasaki KLE500 - cheap 6 speed twin cylinder that is both highway and very dirt capable [mine is a '94 model, love it]
Or Honda Transalp XLV650 - I have ridden a couple of them and they feel quite good.
[if either are available in your location]
The Wee-Strom probably tops the list though [another bike I currently own, fantastic and reliable bike, not for serious motocross type dirt though :rofl ]
When it comes down to it "meh" is not so bad, it usually means something that is not a high strung, temperamental, unreliable, cantankerous and expensive to own bitch :huh
Reliability and cheap to run make for the best riding......and lots of it because of the dollars saved by not going with the "look at me" brands. :deal
The Wee was also my first thought and it's a fine choice. ... buttt. Its that, "I can't love it" factor. I also owned a Caponord, will tour all day, two up at 85. Not lightweight but not difficult to manage, mostly reliable, good net support. But I think too much bike and the Triumph is more manageable but two up will not match the Capo. Pick your poison.
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