Joined: Jul 2009
Location: Chandler, AZ
Obviously I love cruisers, and have for over 30 years. You really can't go wrong with any of todays cruisers as far as reliability, the V-Star 650 has more power than the KLR. It's also a lot more comfortable. On a cruiser, ANY type of drive is fine, a belt probably requires less maintenance, how efficient it is makes no difference. The vaunted BMWs have shaft drive, only theirs break, Japanese shaft drives do not. One way to go wrong is to buy a too big cruiser. It's not much fun muscling an 800 pound plus bike around. Many people buy huge cruisers to look macho, that's not what it's all about for me. My 750 has taken me everywhere I wanted to go, to the tune of nearly 80,000 miles. It accelerates hard uphill in 5th gear, most cruisers of it's size will require a downshift. Mine is a 1985 design, before the Japanese started copying Harley and building slow, poor handling cruises with the right sound and feel.
I'm going to go out on a limb, and recommend getting a cruiser, because I really don't think you will be disappointed with it. Make sure you fit on it, if you plan on carrying your wife, make sure she fits, don't go too big, and I see no way you can go wrong. Cruisers are great for commuting, and just plain riding. To me, they pretty much are the "new" standards, all other road bikes seem to be some kind of sport bike with an uncomfortable lean forward riding position that puts a lot of your upper body weight on your arms and shoulders. The KLR doesn't do that, and neither does your scooter. I have never been on a VStrom, so I don't know about them. They do seem ton have a narrow seat, and they sit up high. A cruiser has a nice wide seat, and sits low, with a low center of gravity. It's an extremely low effort ride.
I think the new EFI cruisers should come with an electronic cruise control. If they are going to have electronics, might as well get something useful out of them. Just hit the highway, engage the cruise control, kick back and drain the tank. My Vulcan 750 only has a 120 mile range before hitting reserve, I wish it had a bigger tank, but everything else is so perfect I deal with it. I have carried extra gas on some rides.
I would stay in the 650-950 range, any bigger and your just adding more size and weight I'm almost 230, and I would have no problem riding a V-Star 650. I put 20,000 highway miles on a Honda Rebel 250. Don't get sucked into the size game.
As for Harleys, I love Harleys, but do not own one, and never have. The reason, they are just to expensive. If you just want a cruiser, and not a Harley specifically, your better off with Japanese. The only Harley I can afford is a Sportster, and it is to small for me. The V-Star 650 fits me perfectly, it is a physically larger bike than a Sportster.