Joined: Jul 2009
Location: Chandler, AZ
I guess I don't see the Sportster as being big. I'm 6' 220 with a 34" inseam, and it is too small for me to fit on without forward controls. In fact, I find the Stella more comfortable, though I can just manage to flat foot it at a stop. That seat is anything but low. I don't have the measurements, but the Stella seat is much higher than the Sportster's.
All of those Japanese bikes and the Bonnie look great, and I would own a W650 or W800 on looks alone. But the few W650s I have seen for sale (none local) have been priced about the same as MSRP (about $6500) the W650, like the GB500, is a very rare classic, and sellers know that when they price them.
But if I'm understanding what Kitty wants, it's not just looks, or an imitation, it's the real thing. That is something very few people want, and it takes a special type of person to love something like that. The Stella is quirky, it buzzes, it has that (to me) great 2 stroke smell, it has a rough ride, the handling and brakes are so-so, it has a clunky hand shift and clutch, and they have been known to break down. A decent mechanic with the parts and tools could rebuild one on the side of the road.
I'm the type that would buy an Enfield, but I don't like the poor build quality and especially the crappy metal they are made of. Very similar to a Chinese scooter. You can never get them fixed right, because there are no decent parts available. The Japanese bikes have the look, and they are reliable, but they are drop dead boring. They are like riding sewing machines. They have too much in common with new cars, which are the same. About the Mustang, I'm the type that would buy a '60s Mustang. I own a '64 Fairlane convertible and love it. I own an '01 Malibu transportation car, and hate everything about it but the A/C, which is why I got it. I loved my '66 Bonnie despite (or maybe because of) it;s problems, it was a machine, something I could work on, not a mass of computer circuits covered with plastic.
The only late model bike I know about that still both looks and feels and sounds like a vintage bike is a Harley. I see no reason why anyone who can comfortably ride a Stella in traffic would have any problems with a Sportster. The displacement is a lot more, but not the power. You can't compare the Sportster's ancient air cooled v-twin to a modern bike of that size. It certainly does not have enough power to get anyone in trouble. I have an EX500, and it has twice the power of a Sportster 883, it has a high seat, twitchy handling, and feels more top heavy than the Sportster, though overall it weighs a bit less. IMO, it is a far more dangerous bike for an inexperienced rider than the Sportster. Yet they are constantly pushed as "entry level bikes" It is also very uncomfortable for anything but actual sport riding on curvy roads. The bars are too low, the pegs are too high, the riding position is downright painful. A Sportster has an upright riding position, and a nearly 90 degree knee angle. Very much like the Stella. You can get a really nice Sportster 883 used for well under $6K. An Iron 883 costs $7999 new, plus sales tax, title, registration, freight, and dealer prep, putting it very near the $10K mark OTD.
Yes, I seem to be pushing the Sportster, and I admit it. The Sportster is far closer to a vintage bike in every way than any other late model bike, but still has modern reliability, and parts availability second to none. Next to the Sportster, the only other bikes I can think of that fit the bill (for someone who loves the Stella) would be a real vintage British bike. But now your getting into big money. I always said I would own another vintage British bike, and deeply regret selling the '66 Bonnie. But it now looks like I will never be able to afford one. The Sportster would be my only other choice, hands down.