Looking Ahead (Getting Older)

Discussion in 'Airheads' started by type918, Dec 7, 2012.

  1. type918

    type918 Adventurer

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    Maybe I should be posting in this on Dr. Phil's website but I don't think he'd get it.

    Here's the deal. I spend a lot of time looking at this Airheads site (current ride is a less-than-pristine R90/6, 8,500 miles this year) and lately a lot of time with Thumpers. 65 years old and counting, reasonable condition for what I've seen. Been riding since 1965. Past rides in order: Harley (Aermacchi) Sprint, BSA 441 Victor, 883 Sportster, Yamaha DT-1, Velocette Thruxton, Yamaha YDS-3 and RD400, FrankenBSA 441 (slow learner, I guess), Suzuki SV650S (torturous even with modifications).

    The people here seem to be a thoughtful lot so this is the question: When you look into the future, do you see yourself looking at lighter, easier-to-handle bikes? I'm currently obsessed with Suzuki's DR650SE, 100 lbs. lighter than my R90 and, from what I read, very capable. Also, about as simple as an airhead, which in my book is a definite plus. Seems like a lot of airheads get put away by owners who can no longer ride them and then they deteriorate (rider and machine). I hope to keep riding for many more years.

    How do you see it?
    #1
  2. rudolf35

    rudolf35 Warped & Twisted Mind

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    I had a DR650 and I am still longing for it.

    With just about the same mix of bikes, ones I have owned, I can only state that the DR650 was one of the better ones. The reason I sold it was that I used it for my ADV ride (quite capable after some modifications) and that lead me to many situations where my willingness, the bikes willingness almost got me off motorbikes the rest of my life (a old hip injury reared it's ugly head). As long as you ride within your body's capabilities the DR650 will make a heck of a bike. With a change of counter gear sprocket it would make a nice road bike. The seat is one item that needs changing; at best a 30 mile seat. But after the counter gear and seat change I would not think twice of taking a DR cross country; mind you on back roads - although I had mine on the Interstate; no fun with trucks and rubbish like that.

    Go to the thumper section of ADV and look up the very long post on DR's. They older ones had ones had one week spot, the neutral switch inside the clutch housing - a easy fix.

    [​IMG]
    Ready for a Oark, AR trip

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/rudolf35/4574318661/" title="DSCN1366 by rudolf35, on Flickr"><img src="http://farm5.staticflickr.com/4054/4574318661_b240fd649c.jpg" width="375" height="500" alt="DSCN1366"></a>
    On the AR fire road
    #2
  3. RaystheBMW

    RaystheBMW 1986 R65

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    I always thought a 650 size machine is just about ideal for everything except extensive 2 up riding. If I want a "bigger" open air experience, I'll buy a convertible. :D Like you, I hope to be riding well into the future and the best approach, as we get less brawny, is to go as light as you are comfortable with. Like the Europeans say about bathing suits: As little as possible, as much as necessary.

    I no longer crawl under cars to work on them but I still like to wrench, and that makes a motorcycle the ideal thing to tinker with. Even if I can no longer ride, I can still enjoy working on them.
    #3
  4. type918

    type918 Adventurer

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    Good point about the wrenching. I no longer crawl under cars any more either (did WAY too much crawling under buildings before I retired) but I do like to fiddle with old machinery and such. Stuff that doesn't necessarily involve cyberspace and virtual reality if you know what I mean.:D
    #4
  5. Moonshiner

    Moonshiner aka "B-dog"

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    I most definitely see myself riding something lighter and simpler. Airheads are basic, but they do require some regular attention. Acquiring a modern, lighter motorcycle as I get older would definitely be in my plan.

    I rode both of my BMW's the other night in breezy 34 degree Fahrenheit weather. I was riding them over to my daughter's garage for their long winter's nap. It was interesting riding an oilhead and an airhead back to back in less than perfect weather conditions. As much as I love my '77 RS, I can definitely see the advantages of a more "modern" motorcycle.
    #5
  6. Airhead Wrangler

    Airhead Wrangler Long timer

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    Being at the younger end of the spectrum (especially for airhead owners), I can't really comment from an aged perspective. I will say that DR650s are great bikes for what they are. They're good enough at everything and great at nothing. They're built to a price point and the difference in build quality between a DR and an airhead is immediately apparent. Airheads just feel more solid and refined. The DR is no-frills, built to go 80-100k miles and then be thrown out. If you want a good, cheap to maintain, do-it-all bike, then a DR650 is a good option. Airheads have a lot more character to them, something which DRs lack completely.
    #6
  7. 100RT

    100RT Long timer

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    Interesting post. I will be 64 in march and am wondering the same situation. I have an 81 R100RT that has served me well and I really enjoy it. A year and a half ago I bought an 03 R1150RT just to experience a newer bike. It does everything so much better, more power etc.

    BUT.... it's taller and a lot heavier and that is becoming a problem for me. I hope to attend the RA rally at the Biltmore and then probably sell the 03. It makes the 81 feel like a moped, weight wise. Also the newer fairing doesnt come close to having the protection of the 81.
    #7
  8. lake_harley

    lake_harley Been here awhile

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    Uniontown, MO
    Well, this seems to be the thread that's bringing out all of the "old farts", so let me in the circle too. I turned 60 in September, but my wife says I'm a sexy 60 year old, but that's probably more important to me than it is here.

    My current stable is a '83 Gold Wing, '75 R75/6, '05 Yamaha FZ6....and I don't really count my old '73 XLCH Sportster (kick only), or the two GS450 project bikes I have. I hope to keep doing some touring on the 'Wing with my wife as long as possible, and I like to have a sporty bike around just to keep me feeling young. The /6 I really enjoy tinkering with (it was a project bike) and love to ride it because it has "soul" and "character".

    When the day arrives that I am concerned about handling the bulk of any of my bikes, I wouldn't be against going down in size if I still want to ride. I have always had a soft spot in my heart for small CC bikes anyway. In fact, I did a +/- 2,000 mile trip on a 250 Kawasaki Super Sherpa a little over a year ago. A couple years ago I had a CB175, but would have liked a little bit more power. To me, as small as a 250 or up to 450 CC would be a good landing spot for an "old age" bike. See the GS450E I already have possibly coming back into play here?? It could still handle hours of 55-60MPH, or faster, riding but not be too tall or heavy. My preference has always leaned to UJM/somewhat sporty-ish type of bike(s).

    Let's not worry about tomorrow though. It'll all work out and seem OK when it gets here:D

    Lynn
    #8
  9. crazydrummerdude

    crazydrummerdude Wacky Bongo Boy

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    My sidecar rig is my "getting old" plan. I hope to enjoy it before I get old, too. :D
    #9
  10. _cy_

    _cy_ Long timer

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    get a G/S, lighter is always better ... about same weight as that DR 650 and most importantly ... it's an Airhead!!!
    #10
  11. Paul_Rochdale

    Paul_Rochdale Been here awhile

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    I am 66 and have been happily riding my ST1100 for the last eleven years but I have to face facts. She is now too heavy for me. My little legs don't quite reach the ground on both sides. No problems when on the move but around town on wet roads, slippery manhole covers and greasy roundabouts? That's why I shall be parting company with her in the Spring and enjoying my R100GS-Paris Dakar I've had stored for six years and am currently restoring, and 100 lbs lighter than the Pan. When that get's too heavy, I have an R100/7 in storage too, plus a Watsonian Monza sidecar if necessary.I have dropped the Pan nine times (I know, I know) during my ownership, always when manouvering her in and out of my workshop.
    #11
  12. Velocipede

    Velocipede Been here awhile

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    Well I'll be 71 come January,and its not the weight of any of my Airheads or my DR650 that bothers me its the seat height.I am a bit of a shortarse,30" inseam.10 years ago it didn't bother me but now the Arthritis in my knees and ankles makes it a little difficult at times especially coming to a stop on uneven ground.

    I hate the thought of selling my GSPD or my K75s but the day is coming I suppose.Riding anything smaller than a 650 doesn't appeal to me and I have given some thought to making my DR 650 into a retro road bike.Maybe fit a front end with shorter forks and dual disks,aluminum fenders,Triumph gas tank and seat and maybe a shorter rear shock.who knows,its fun to play with mental images of the bikes we could build.

    I met an 87 year old guy at a BMW rally once and he was riding a R90s so there is hope for us more mature :lol3dudes yet.

    John
    #12
  13. isdt BMW

    isdt BMW willserv@aol.com

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    Sold the KLR and got a DR350, just built a R-75 ISDT replica for fire roads (kept the estart because of a bum leg), have a R-60 conversion with hollendia sidecar and a 900cc motor, giving my R100S motorsport to my kid, The KLR was just too heavy for dualsport rides. I just do not do long distance touring anymore and the sidecar is handy to have.
    I am 64, spend most of my time restoring now, and going to swapmeets.
    #13
  14. type918

    type918 Adventurer

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    Velocipede:

    I am looking at a DR650 not as a dual sport but making it into a road bike like you. I have a picture in my mind of a Velo I saw racing at Harewood, outside of Jarvis, ON, in 1969--black, high pipe ending in a reverse cone megaphone, a sweet looker and Oh!, what a sound. Straightforward design, simplicity and light weight would be my ideals.

    Sidecars appeal to my eye but I don't think the experience would satisfy me. Please don't take offense, none intended.
    #14
  15. _cy_

    _cy_ Long timer

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    work with your seat profile. reducing width is as important as thickness. I've got 30in inseams and sit almost flat foot on G/S with suspension at stock height.

    R90S sits much lower than G/S or GS.
    #15
  16. darmahman

    darmahman "Illogically Deluded"

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    Fort Collins, CO
    How bout an R80ST?
    #16
  17. Paul_Rochdale

    Paul_Rochdale Been here awhile

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    "reducing width is as important as thickness"

    Very true. On my Pan my legs are almost at 45 degrees. If I had narrowed the nose of the seat as well as lowering it (which I did) both feet would lie flat on the ground. She's still at 650 lb a bit of a monster though.
    #17
  18. Boondocker1

    Boondocker1 Been here awhile

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    Interesting topic. I'm down here in central Florida and my mid-70ish parents just moved down to build right next to us. I'm really looking forward to hanging out with Dad during his "golden" years. He's alway had transportation motorcycles, especially during the 70's... Honda CB's Yamaha DT's, Puch twingle and so on. My mom even sported a Honda Trail 90 for a while. All practical commuters with milk crates strapped to the back for groceries. Well, it's been about 20 years since he's been on a bike but he's hunting for something that he can use to go riding with me and at the moment has settled on trying to find an R75/6. In my opinion, a good low center of gravity mellow motor choice for a road bike and a commuter. I've got an R90/6 and am really looking forward to doing a few memorable trips with him.

    Cheers,
    Claude​
    #18
  19. jackd

    jackd Long timer

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    I'm entering my late '50s now and hoping to ride my R100GS for the next few decades. I've tried sitting on my friend's DL1000 to see what a modern design offers in the way of comfort and realized that my old faithful GS is much more suitable to my needs. A smaller package all around. My friend (a non-Airhead guy) tried mine and was impressed by the much more compact feel to my bike. So the GS and I are going to ride into the sunset together - here's hoping for another 20 years in the saddle.
    #19
  20. caponerd

    caponerd Kickstart Enthusiast

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    I'm another one; just turned 63, and my stable includes (newest to oldest) a 2002 Aprilia Caponord, a 1989 Honda NX650 (my son's bike, but may become mine, since he recently moved to Chicago and got engaged) a 1982 R100RT, a 1970 BSA 441 Shooting Star, a 1966 Royal Enfield Interceptor, a 1965 R69S and a 1958 R-E Indian Tomahawk.

    The Caponord is a wonderful bike, handles fantastically, more power than I have a right to possess, decent fuel economy, and all-day comfortable.
    The problem with it is that it's not much fun anymore on dirt roads, and it's becoming a bit of a handful pushing around the garage and parking lots.

    Someday, I may have to give up on the kickstart bikes, although so far, my legs are still up to the job, and it's possible that the BSA 441 is the only one which is likely to give me problems any time soon.

    To be honest, if I had to pick one, I'd take the R69S. It's lighter than the R100, very easy to push around, and pull onto the center stand. It's also easier to ride on dirt roads than any of the others, in spite of limited ground clearance. The kickstart is easier to manage than the ones on my Britbikes; I stand to the side of the bike and kick it with my right leg, and it rarely requires more than a couple of kicks to get it running.
    If my legs deteriorate to the point where even that kickstart becomes a problem, I suspect I'd have to switch to 3 wheels. Probably look around for a Ural outfit.
    The Enfields will become museum pieces and heirlooms. I've owned them longer than any other bikes, and just couldn't see giving them up while I'm still alive.
    So far, I don't feel any need to make a choice like that though. Still in good shape, and I work out regularly. We'll see what the future brings.
    #20