Looking for the "perfect" all-arounder

Discussion in 'Road Warriors' started by AlecMyrddyn, Oct 11, 2011.

  1. AlecMyrddyn

    AlecMyrddyn Been here awhile

    Oct 5, 2011
    Saco, Maine USA
    (Walks up to the microphone, stares out at the sea of crazy riders... Nervously scans the crowd before squeaking out his first words...)

    Umm... Hi everyone... :huh (crickets chirp)

    So... I'm looking for some advice about what to test out for my next ride. The "short" version (I'm a bit verbose...):

    • I'm 5'6", ~30" inseam (maybe slightly more), 140#.
    • Looking for a good handling road bike that can work for spirited fun riding on the sometimes crappy local roads in Maine & NH, some light-duty touring as well as highway commuting to work. I'm not planning on any off-roading at all, maybe some maintained dirt roads from time to time as I explore, but nothing more than that.
    • Looking for a fairly upright riding position. Despite not having yet hit 40, my back and neck just don't like too much of a forward lean.
    • Looking for a reliable bike that:
      • is fairly light (around 500# ready to ride).
      • can take hard luggage (factory or aftermarket).
      • has ABS.
      • that my girlfriend can sit fairly comfortably on the back of for day/weekend trips.
      • around 100 hp
      • as for wind protection, a little would be nice, but I'm not sure it's a requirement...
    I'm not looking to purchase until next year (I hope, finances depending), and my list so far contains the following to look at between now and when I buy:

    • BMW R1200R
    • BMW R1200GS
    • Triumph Tiger 1050
    • Ducati Multistrada
    • and... (what else would you suggest?)
    The longer history of me, my experience, bikes, and why I'm looking for what I'm looking for.

    I started riding in 1997 on a Honda CM400E. (We all gotta start somewhere, right? I fondly remember a trip from Bangor Maine to Wolfsboro NH on that POS... It think it was 45 and raining, and I was woefully unprepared.)
    After it died in 2000, I picked up a Yamaha V-Star 650. Fun bike, great sound, but hated the cruiser seating position and lack of good handling & power for highway rides.
    In 2005 I traded the V-Star in on a Yamaha FJR 1300 for my (now ex) wife and I to ride. Loved the power, smoothness, overall riding position, hated how heavy it was to push around. Weather protection was great when it got below 60, annoying when it got warmer. Also found the tank to be a bit wide, would like something a bit narrower to grip with my knees. The FJR almost had too much power (feels like blasphemy to say that...); that said, I never got myself in trouble, just never felt like I could use it all on the street. There's something to be said for having a little extra in reserve, but at the price of the extra weight and heat from the engine, didn't do it for me. The FJR has since been sold to a friend.
    A couple years ago now I bought a '99 Ducati Monster 900 that had just been thrown down the road, and nursed it back to health. Tank is all dented, but it rides great now that I put new shocks and springs on it, new tires, etc. Probably only mid-60's for HP, which is definitely enough for me to have loads of fun, but I want more for two-up and a heavier bike. I'm keeping "Igor", for solo fun, to tinker on, and maybe do a few more track days with.

    So the new girlfriend would like to be able to ride with me, and the Monster won't cut it for passenger comfort. I'd also like something that might be a bit better suited for cooler weather riding. I'm so exposed on the Monster that even with good gear I get cold pretty quickly. She rode on the back of the FJR before I got rid of it, and her comment is that it's too much of a touring bike. She doesn't want a seat that big. :clap

    The new cam-head R1200R (2011 or 2012 model) tops my list right now: the riding position felt absolutely perfect sitting on a 2011 in the local showroom; I also really really like its appearance and features. I've kind of lusted after the R since the 1150 came out. I unfortunately haven't had a chance to ride the cam-head version yet. Despite it being naked, from my reading it looks like with the sport shield, shape of the tank, (and the option for heated gear) it'll be pretty good even in cooler weather; plus there are larger (if uglier) shields available should I want to go that route.

    I want to keep an open mind though, and make sure I'm looking at everything that might fit the bill and pick a bike I can be happy with for several years. I'm slightly worried that the lack of wind protection on the R might be a real problem in the long run. The GS, Tiger and Multi all seem to look great on paper, but I'm worried about them being a bit on the tall side. I prefer to be able to at least get the balls of both feet down at a stop. I could just about flat foot the FJR without a passenger. I'm also not sold on the looks on any of them. Oddly enough, my main beef with the GS is the luggage options. Can you use standard BMW cases on the GS? And while I have a soft spot for Ducatis, the Multi is also the priciest of the bunch, and again more power than I think I want or need. I have a good friend with one, so will ask him if he'll let me take it for a test ride at some point to get a feel for it.

    I've also taken a look at or have thought about:

    Triumph Sprint GT - Too sporty a riding position, otherwise seemed really nice, liked the looks.
    Suzuki GSX1250FA - Haven't sat on one yet. Look okay on paper, maybe a bit heavy?
    BMW F800ST - looked perfect on paper. Test road one, felt completely gutless and uninspiring. It should have been about the same if not better performance as my Ducati, but really didn't feel like it. Might have all been psychological from the sound of the exhaust... If they could just take this body design and put the cam-head R engine in it!

    If you've managed to wade through all that, and have any input, let me know what you think. I'm in Southern Maine, work in the Portland area, live a bit south of that, in case anyone is nearby and wants to get together. Thanks!

  2. Boxer-lust

    Boxer-lust Banned

    Aug 21, 2011
    I would go with the 1st on your list...
    Perfect bike except for the windprotection but then it would be the R1200RS...:D
  3. Grainbelt

    Grainbelt marginal adventurer Super Moderator

    Feb 14, 2006
    KTM 990 SMT is conspicuously absent.


    I wouldn't count out the non-XC (standard) version of the Tiger 800 either.


    Kawasaki's Ninja 1000 (read: not the ZX-10R) gets ABS for this year, and meets all of your criteria. I test rode one and it was brilliant. Adjustable windscreen, power in any gear, surprising comfort, those bars are higher than they look.

  4. RoteEddie

    RoteEddie Been here awhile

    Jul 25, 2007
    Fjords of Norway
    The GS is probably the better bike for the passenger. It also has a usefull windscreen. The the original vario cases are very practical for touring. You need to ride both the R and GS to feel what works best for you :1drink
  5. AlecMyrddyn

    AlecMyrddyn Been here awhile

    Oct 5, 2011
    Saco, Maine USA
    Boxer-Lust & RoteEddie;

    I'm definitely planning on test riding the GS as well as the R when I get closer to decision time. Still not sure I can get over the boxy luggage on the GS, as useful as it could be. *shrug*


    Nice suggestions, thanks!

    Don't know where the closest KTM dealer is, probably why I hadn't considered one.
    The smaller Tiger might do, I worry I'll want more power than it can provide though.
    The Kawi... wow! Hadn't heard of that one yet. Nice price on it too from what I can tell. I will definitely have to go have a seat on it. Unfortunately, the local Kawai dealership doesn't usually allow test-rides on "sport bikes". :confused When they do, they limit you to very few miles. Definitely an option to check out though, thanks for pointing it out!
  6. IRideASlowBike

    IRideASlowBike Banned

    Feb 11, 2010
    SE PA
    Harley Road King with ABS, or Dyna Superglide

    Kawasaki Concours 1400, or the older 1000 (no ABS though, but ridiculously cheap). Although I see you've had an FJR before, so maybe that will be too much of the same thing.

    Suzuki VStrom
  7. AlecMyrddyn

    AlecMyrddyn Been here awhile

    Oct 5, 2011
    Saco, Maine USA
    Thanks for the ideas, IRideASlowBike!

    Looking for a fairly lightweight bike, around 500 lbs ready to ride if possible, which is what took the FJR out of the running in the first place. The HDs and Concours are too heavy for sure.

    A Vstrom 1000 might do the trick, assuming I can reach the ground from the saddle. I fear the 650 would be a bit anemic power-wise in the long run, same concern as the Tiger 800 or BWM 800s.
  8. LuciferMutt

    LuciferMutt Rides slow bike slow

    Aug 19, 2008
    New(er) Mexico

    Not possible, given the rest of your criteria.
  9. plugeye

    plugeye dreamer

    May 11, 2007
    Garland, Texas
    you & everyone else
    perfect is the best deal you can get at the time. live with it
    or not
    what a waste of bandwidth for fucks sake
  10. DAKEZ

    DAKEZ Long timer

    Mar 18, 2007
    Begin Op Zoom
    +1 on the Tiger 800. :deal
  11. AlecMyrddyn

    AlecMyrddyn Been here awhile

    Oct 5, 2011
    Saco, Maine USA
    *scratches head*

    Which part isn't possible?

    ABS is a yes or no question.
    Luggage capability is a yes or no question.
    Comfort for myself and my passenger is subjective, and will require looking at bikes, which is why I'm putting a list together to look at seriously.

    If you are talking about the weight or power...

    R1200R: 491 lbs ready to ride. 110 HP
    R1200GS: 505 lbs ready to ride. 110 HP
    Tiger 1050: 539 lbs ready to ride. 113 HP
    Tiger 800: 462 lbs ready to ride: 94 HP
    Ninja 1000 ABS: 509 lbs ready to ride: 136 HP
    Multistrada 1200: ~480 lbs ready to ride (?): 150 HP

    Those all seem to be right around what I'm asking for.

    If it's the ability to put both balls of my feet down at a stop... well, good question! :lol3

    I'm actually seriously interested in what specifically makes what I'm looking for not possible.
  12. AlecMyrddyn

    AlecMyrddyn Been here awhile

    Oct 5, 2011
    Saco, Maine USA
    That's why I put "perfect" in quotes. I understand completely that "perfect" is completely subjective. What I find perfect, you might hate, and vice versa. I'm just looking for the opinions of others who have had saddle time with bikes I might not have considered, so I can add them to my list and try to get a chance to check them out before I drop a load of my hard earned cash on another bike.

    Love the irony of your reply BTW, perfect! :freaky
  13. Roam

    Roam If you want to

    Jul 25, 2006
    Ktm smt ftmfw.
  14. Wolfgang55

    Wolfgang55 Long timer

    Dec 24, 2006
    Only N flowin river emptying in an ocean
    Suzuki DL1000
    This V twin is not going to bust your wallet & will rarely see a dealer.
    This is a very good touring bike & you can put a Power Commander on board & watch out.

    But if it is mostly going to be just you then look at the DL650. I have toured two up across country & both of us had a blast at 50+ mpg everywhere & at freeway speeds. The DL650 is about 35 lb less & has 65 hp.
    The DL1000 has bout 30 more ponies & still under 500 lb w/ a full tanks of fuel.
  15. SomethingClever

    SomethingClever sick life

    Aug 10, 2010
    So much communicated with so few letters. And no vowels at all. Hemingway would be proud. :D
  16. Adv Grifter

    Adv Grifter on the road o'dreams

    Jan 18, 2010
    Passing ADV Stalkers in California
    Both Vstroms should get a test ride. I put 80,000 miles on my '02 DL1000 Vstrom. Rates in my top five out of the 50 Plus bikes I've owned. Great bike, low maintenance, great two up. About 520 lbs. wet with center stand and crash bars. Lose 18 lbs. with aftermarket mufflers.

    I am not a BMW fan. I love riding the R1200GS but its too tall and heavy for a Shrimp your size. (I'm the same height! ... but 40 lbs. heavier)

    I didn't read your whole long post but what about price? A Ducati Multistrada is an awesome bike ... but it's $20,000! A fully kitted new R1200GS is pushing $17K with a few extras. Lot of money for farm equipment. :lol3

    I sold my Vstrom only because I'd had it for years and wanted a change.
    It never had one single problem. I did ALL maintenance myself.

    I bought a Tiger 1050 and am happy with it. It's a sportier bike, not quite as comfy two up, and much nicer looking, IMHO. The Tiger has much better brakes and handling is better once suspension is dealt with.

    The Tiger is a bit taller than the Vstrom but I manage. Lowering links available ... or low seat. The 1050 needs suspension work for sure. Other than that it's stunning everywhere ... with the best, most engaging character of about any bike I've owned.

    And did I mention the Tiger 1050 can be picked up for a song used? $7000 range. So can the DL1000. Ride as many as you can ... follow your gut! :freaky
  17. Rapid Dog

    Rapid Dog bikes, booze, broads...

    Oct 28, 2003
    Strangel Living West of Hell, SoCal
    ...:D...funny stuff...me, I've had new and old BMWs, sport, dualsport, big KTMs, 45 years riding,yadda yadda. I just turned the ol' six-oh and need easy ergos...and I can't 'spress how much I'm diggin' this '06 Multi! O/K/ well I guess I'm sayin' it again cuz it's twue...:raabia.

    Light, brakes like a mofo (no-ABS), low seat, so smooth I think it's a triple, shear sit-up and have FUN...
    Perfect commute and mild touring machine....and you can find'em cheap.


  18. Jim K.

    Jim K. Long timer

    Jan 14, 2011
    New Haven, Ct.

    Interesting question. It struck me that we are both the same size, (I'm 5'8"), weight, (145 for me), inseam is 29" , & our needs are very similar, I am retired now, but used to commute by I-91, ride for pleasure on weekends, I take 2 road trips each summer involving 2000 - 4000 mi with full camping gear. Also, after a long history on 2 wheels, (dating to 1966) and a variety of motors, each one grew in size & weight, culminating in a liter sized sport tourer. I've just down sized to a Suzuki GSX 650 F , a leftover that was very attractively priced. I'm more than thrilled with her after 5000 miles since May '11.

    #1 She weighs 475 dry, probably 505 lbs with a full tank (5 full US gal.) I'm getting 49 -55 MPG BTW.

    #2 She looks like a real Gixxer, but she's a sheep in wolfs clothing. Ergos are much better, real bars, not clip-ons, lower pegs, etc. Seat-peg-bars relationship is almost identiclal to my old Concours. (unfortunately, our local troopers also assume scrutinize it as a Gixxer)

    #3 I've found I can carry every thing I used to on my old tourer, with throw-over bags & a Renntec rack. (I hate top-boxes)

    #4 It's a delight to be able to flat-foot a bike again! Sport riders scoff at her weight, but after a 600 lb. + sport tourer, she feels like a bicycle to me.

    #5 She's got 85 hp @ the crank, hardly modern sport bike levels, but mid 12 sec 1/4 mile & 140 + top end is all I need. In addition, she's the smoothest of any of the many inline fours I've owned. The fueling is smooth & flawless.

    #6 The bike("new" 2008), plus heated grips, luggage rack, aux. power outlet , center stand, came in under $5000 + my 11 year old Concours, out the door, including registration!

    #7 ABS is only available on the 2010 model & beyond....unfortunately, Suzuki has yet to bring it's whole line up back to america, but "10s & '11s with ABS are available up in Canada & may be here for 2012.

    BTW I spent the coldest 4th of July in my life on a sailboat in Biddeford Pool a few years back!
  19. 20valves

    20valves Yamaholic

    Sep 16, 2010
    Yamaha FZ-1 is a great all rounder that's fast and reasonably light and can most definitely do a track day.
  20. 0ldhippie

    0ldhippie Been here awhile

    Nov 29, 2010
    I am a BIG Z/Ninja 1000 fan for everything you want. Great all rounder. I thought the Tiger1050 gonna be my all rounder and bought one. It is tall, offers little wind protection and is just Quirky! but the motor is sweet. Sold it after a couple months. The multi is more sport than all rounder imho plus $. The last ones may fit ya better. The KTM seems like a good fit for ya too, as does a FZ1. Not a BMW guy, sorry.