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Old 04-29-2015, 06:59 PM   #1
Transporto OP
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If I may...

Hi,

I'll try to be brief. I've just started motorcycling on march 25th 2015. Here in Montréal, that means in very cold weather, on a 50cc scooter. I love it.

I've come to motorcycling from a transport perspective. I need to be mobile but owning a car in winter is a no-go, and I need to be more flexible than public transit routes and schedules. Adding it up, a scooter is the perfect solution and I really enjoy it. It's great for the city, has good storage and is cheap to use.

But we have horribly bad roads. Dangerously so on a scooter where potholes and cracks could eat up or jam a small wheel. I did not anticipate such a large chunk bandwidth would be allocated scoping the actual surface just in front of me. It's obvious with a larger bike, better suspension, many holes and bumps would be easily digestible.

Since a motorcycle is now my means of transportation, I would like to travel on highways, mountain roads, some country dirt roads, and 2up, with panniers, maybe for weeks with my girlfriend, yet I wish to use the same bike for daily commute to work, for family and to visit friends around town.

I'm considering keeping the scoot for work, but that would slightly restrict my budget.

Initially, I was really looking at the Suzuki TU250. I really like the looks of that bike and all reports about it's drivability seem positive. But it seems underpowered for the mountains or 2up riding. Maybe a crazy lucky deal on a used Honda CB1100 could be a good idea, but 1000cc seems too much, too big & too heavy… But it's a beautiful bike.

Which leads to another ex-though: getting a used classic ('80, '90, '00). But I'm no mechanic, and I don't really have the time for possible challenges. Plus it seems the new bikes handle better and could be safer. I must say, I have no inclination for speed or sport bikes. I like the classics and upright riding position.

So, I'm looking at the CB500x. Right now it's top choice. The Yamaha Ténérés are too expensive and heavy. The SR400 would be a contender, but it's simply not available in Canada. Plus it might be lacking in the more modern features that could make it better or safer. The Suzuki V-Strom seems beefy for daily use, and they're expensive. I'm not going trekking. Just the occasional gravel/dirt road on the way somewhere.

Also looking at the Suzuki KLR650, but it seems to be more of a trekking bike, less prone for city and week-end 2ups. I'll be mostly on city roads (some bad), 80% of the time. No trail biking.

Is there anything else out there in the mid-cc range good for city, mountains, highway, 2-up, good handler, not to heavy? Anything I don't know about, any thoughts?

Thanks for any input. Safe and happy rides to all!

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Old 04-30-2015, 06:06 AM   #2
Tim_Tom
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Yamaha Fz07.
Suzuki SFV650.
Kawasaki Versys.
Honda CB650.

These are all solid and capable entry level bikes from Japan. Any or all of then would work well.

I've done the 80s and 90s machines as only rides. It works great until repairs or frequent maintenance is needed.

You do seem to like bikes with an older, timeless style. Perhaps a newer Triumph Bonneville or Scrambler? Maybe the Ducati Scrambler.
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Old 04-30-2015, 06:41 AM   #3
gknepper
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Honda NT700V?
Hits all the characteristics you mention except the ability to do dirt.
Another option would be a bigger scooter (Burgman,TMax)
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Old 04-30-2015, 06:53 AM   #4
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From what you said, I'd stick to bikes that are less than about 5 years old. Not that you couldn't get a 10 year old low mileage bike and ride it for another 5...but if you don't want to wrench on them, you'd be better served with a newish bike.

If you can't swing the price for the CB500x...I'd think the SV650 would be the best bang for the buck for your intended riding. You can pick up a late model SV650 in the mid $4000US range...some already equipped with lots of farkles.
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Old 04-30-2015, 07:27 AM   #5
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KLR650 is a kawi, not zuk.
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Old 04-30-2015, 07:33 AM   #6
Defconfunk
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I live in Ottawa, I've ridden over a lot of Quebec, here are some thoughts:

Remember that your insurance (and plates, which include basic liability in Qc) will be heavily affected by style of bike and cc. 50hp / 500cc is enough power for one up riding anywhere in Quebec. The Honda 500x is very comfortable, inexpensive to own, and fast enough even if you take a trip and need to pass a slow moving truck on a 2 lane high way, you can do it without issue. On a 250cc the pass will take a bit more planning (about the same as if you were driving a quick car like a GTI). On a CBR125, you may have to wait a long time to make the pass.

Don't plan on 2-up riding yet. The old addage of 10,000kms experience and several 1000kms experience on that specific bike before riding 2-up is conservative, but worthwhile. As you mentioned, there is a lot of things (like pot holes, and montreal's special brand of homicidal traffic) taking up mental bandwidth. A passenger changes a lot about the bike, their body weight/position will steer the bike, and your braking distance will increase. For the first two years, just focus on learning to ride by yourself (or get your GF onto her own bike). I have 20,000+ kms experience, and I find 2-up to be mentally challenging; except on 50cc scooters. Something about scooters just makes them really easy to ride 2-up. Not that I recommend 2-up moto camping on a 50cc scooter

Everyone is going to recommend to you bikes they rode/owned/loved.
As Tim_Tom said, old bikes are great, until they break. I'd stick to something newer than 2000 (and under 25,000kms) if you want really trouble free ownership).

Having owned a SV650, I'd suggest starting on something smaller. 250 - 500 is a really good range. The older ZZR250 was a nice bike, the new CBR and Ninja 250/300 are fantastic bikes. My buddy started on a Ninja 500 and 5 years later still rides it as his daily ride (he picked up a Ninja 600 just for track duty, so it isn't like he's an easy rider). The Suzuki GS500 is just as good (slightly less performance, less maintenance) and comes in faired or naked versions. The new Honda 500 is amazing, if you want new and can swing the money, it is a no brainer.

The KLR/DR650 are just as good for starting bikes as the 250/500 bikes, speed is closer to a 250 than a 500 though. I find it interesting that people who have not ridden a ninja 250 will say it is too slow to be safe, but say a KLR is safe (the KLR and Ninja 250 are basically just as quick on the highway, I think the Ninja has a higher top speed). The downside to the big dual sports is that insurance in Canada tends to rate them the same as the SV650 or Ninja 650, so your insurance will be several hundred dollars more per year (maybe the lower purchase price will make up for that). The KLR is actually a really good in-city bike, if you are tall enough to flat foot it. It gives your great visibility over cars and through trucks.

I've owned an SV650, and I would not reccomend starting on a 650 street bike (Ninja 650, Honda 599, FZ6, CB650, etc). They are great bikes, but they have higher limits than the 500s, and when you start to approach the limits they are less forgiving (if only because you are going so much faster). Kawasaki made a Ninja 400 for a few years that was just a sleeved down 650. It is a fine bike, but I'm not sure why you'd buy it instead of the new 300.

You mention power for mountains. Remember that even a lowly CBR250 (25hp) one-up is going to have similar power to weight as a 150hp compact car. Sure, it won't be a rocket going up the steep mountain roads, but nor will the traffic around you be. You'll be fine.

Lastly, I'm going to recommend two trips you should plan on taking at some point in the near future:

One is to take the 117 up to Val D'or. The trip through the park land is long (200+ kms) and fantastic. It is engaging, but not difficult, and very pretty in an unsual way.

The second trip it to go up through shewinigan to La Toque, then up to Lac St Jean and back down through Sageuny. Mountains, rough landscapes, and engaging roads; it's a great trip. It is a harder ride (especailly if you avoid the big four lane roads and stick to the 2 lane highways going through the parks), and I'd save it for when you have more experience (the weather can turn nasty in an instant -brign raind gear -and some of the roads are very tight), but it is well worth it.

Both trips can be done happily on any of the bikes I recommended with nothing more than an aftermarket seat (or airhawk butt pad) and pair of saddle bags.
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Defconfunk screwed with this post 04-30-2015 at 08:12 AM Reason: fixin' typos
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Old 04-30-2015, 07:54 AM   #7
mrbreeze
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you are wise to avoid the very old bikes. My wife has a 1987 Honda 450 Rebel. Sometimes it runs well enough to actually ride it. Sometimes.

I am on my 3rd V-Strom, and 2nd DL650. I think it is as close to perfect as any bike on the market. I highly recommend it. Got the base model and put a top case on it, and it is perfect for city use. Good gas mileage. Very comfortable. Inexpensive to purchase and operate. Dead nuts reliable.

I also like the Honda 500's, but I have no experince with them. Same for the NC700X, which is especially sweet with the DCT option.

As for used bikes, you might also want to look around for a Yamaha FZ6. Fantastic bikes. Yeas it looks sporty, but it is quite capable of meeting all the requirements you mentioned.

So, my list is:
Suzuki DL650
Honda NC700X (DCT is a plus)
Honda CB500(X or F)
Yamaha FZ6
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Old 04-30-2015, 08:07 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Transporto View Post
Hi, I'll try to be brief. I've just started motorcycling on march 25th 2015.
Welcome to the fun!
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Old 04-30-2015, 08:22 AM   #9
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Given what you've laid out...you probably want a dual-sport.

I don't have recommendations there...the V-Strom 650 has a following; there are many others there. Sturdy enough for bad pavement; and they offer the chance for off-road riding.

You're right to stay away from the CB1100. That's too much bike for a new rider. As well as too high a cost-of-entry for someone starting out. It's something to shoot for; it's very civilized; but acclimate first on something smaller.
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Old 04-30-2015, 09:00 AM   #10
Defconfunk
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The Wee Strom (DL650) has been mentioned a couple of times, and I just want to clarify why I didn't recommend it. It's top heavy. At slow speeds (ie in the city) it is a lot more intimidating than the other bikes (curb weight is 100 pounds more than the KLR). You really notice that at stop lights and when moving it around in garages/parking.

Once you are on the highway, it is a great bike. I've put a couple of hundred kms on my Dad's. Smoother and more powerful than the KLR, not as energetic as the SV650. Still high insurance though. Also, around here, they are expensive used.

One huge bonus to the DL650 is that it is a good two-up bike. The high center of gravity is made worse by a passenger, but it is comfortable for the passenger and has enough power to handle the extra weight without much of a slow down.

One bike I left off, because stock it is so tall, is the Dr400. If you can find a used one that has already been setup for touring (bigger gas tank, different seat, lower links unless you are tall, maybe a wind screen), it is a good bike.

I have question for you: Do you have any friends that ride, and if so, what type of bikes do they ride?

I'm not suggesting that if your buddies all ride R1s you buy an R1. But if all your friends ride street bikes, a true dual sport might be a poor choice, because whenever you go out for a ride, you'll be with street bikes (sticking to nicer roads and passing more often). If your friends have Dual Sports, then you'll end up on gravel roads and highway passing power won't matter.
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Old 04-30-2015, 12:58 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by Defconfunk View Post
The Wee Strom (DL650) has been mentioned a couple of times, and I just want to clarify why I didn't recommend it. It's top heavy. At slow speeds (ie in the city) it is a lot more intimidating than the other bikes (curb weight is 100 pounds more than the KLR). You really notice that at stop lights and when moving it around in garages/parking.
To bring that into perspective: My wife (5'7", 130lbs, athletic) had a V-Strom DL650 with the lowest seat height and lowered another inch through longer shock links and forks moved in the clamps. She hated the bike.

She finds my current standard suspension R1200GS with a low seat (I use a higher than standard seat for myself) less intimidating than she found the V-Strom. According to her the GS feels about the same size, but with better weight distribution. She rides an R1200R now and is very happy with it, but she's also riding for quite a few years now.

Given what the OP has written, I think a CB500X will be a VERY good bike for him. A bit longer suspension, upright seating for good overview, nice and wide handlebars, not too much weight or bulk. More than enough power to ride anywhere. Anybody who thinks that more power is NEEDED or safer or whatever is just thinking with his secondary brain (the one in the pants). People have toured all over the world with Vespa scooters, small bikes, medium bikes, big and heavy bikes - everything is possible and perfectly safe as long as you adjust how you ride (and potentially where in case of scooters or sub 250cc bikes).

I've personally ridden two up with luggage all over Europe and multiple times through the Alps with a 1978 Suzuki GS400 with a claimed 27HP output. No issue at all. It was the perfect first bike for me. A modern interpretation of that would be the current Honda CB500F, which already has a lot more power.

One of my recommendations is: get a bike with ABS. Especially for a beginner, it will help during the nearly unavoidable panic braking.
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Old 04-30-2015, 08:09 PM   #12
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Old 04-30-2015, 08:35 PM   #13
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I would get a used TU250, its fine around town, super easy and fun to ride, does very well 2 up, and forget the high speed roads for a year.
Sell it in a year if you can stand to, for what you paid for it, and get a bigger bike.
The bike is bullet proof, easy to care for, gets 80 mpg on regular gas and takes $40.00 tires.

My wife and I weigh over what the bike does and it did fine and its roomier then most smaller bikes.
Get some miles under your wheels, then take the girlfriend on local rides till you get used to it.

Do not forget, bikes take looking after and service, you do not run them for 5000 miles and get the oil changed like cars, you have valves, tires and brakes, cables drive chains and so on to worry about.

Its so much easier and cheaper to do the service yourself when you have time rather then spend a day at the shop.
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Old 05-01-2015, 06:10 AM   #14
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Old 05-01-2015, 07:11 AM   #15
Defconfunk
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Originally Posted by NJ-Brett View Post
I would get a used TU250, its fine around town, super easy and fun to ride, does very well 2 up, and forget the high speed roads for a year.
Unfortunately, the TU250 is stupidly expensive here in Canada. $5200 new, vs $4500 for a CBR300 or $4000 for a GW250 (Oh, I totally forgot about the GW250, that would work just fine for the OP as well) so very few have sold here, which means very few used ones. It is such a shame.
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