newbie here! help me choose my victim...KZ,GS, GL, CB?

Discussion in 'Old's Cool' started by 81turbota, Jan 28, 2013.

  1. 81turbota

    81turbota n00b

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    Hello all,
    I'm a Service member stationed in Germany. I recently got into motorcycling, what an exhilarating experience!
    A little about me-
    I am a helicopter mechanic currently, and a former engine builder at a famous speed shop in Southern California. I know how to use a wrench :D I own quite a few toys here in Germany, including a 2009 Corvette Z06 (200mph autobahn MONSTER), 1981 Turbo Trans am (high school car which I can't live without) and a freebie 1986 450 Rebel.

    I completed the MSF BRC Dec 2011, and have ridden a collective 500 miles or so in the 'States. I am in NO way an experienced rider. I acquired that 450 Honda Rebel from a departing SM, but its too small. It's decently powerful enough, but I look like a clown on it...not to mention its uncomfortable for anything over 30 minutes. I am 5'10" 175 lbs.

    The adventure part - I plan on using the bike as a DD on base (parking is horrendous!) on the good weather days, and have some road trips planned. Would like to ride the bike down the coast of Spain and through southeast Europe (Croatia, Slovakia, Slovenia). My Mother is my inspiration...in the 70's she ditched home, found her way to Italy, bought an ex-police Moto Guzzi 500 and rode it to Instanbul, Turkey and back. Successful woman now...go figure.

    I need a bike that will be at home on the Autobahn as much as it is to wheel around a small town. I obviously would ride as much as possible and focus on skills prior to taking on one of these big trips.


    Enough BS - Here's what I've been eyeballing in the order of appeal:
    1. Honda GL1000 - would clean it up and put a triumph S3 seat on it and call it a day - think octane build.
    2. Suzuki GS850 - I hear they are bulletproof and well rounded.
    3. Honda CB750 - Surprisingly expensive in Germany, but there must be a reason why they are so popular..
    4. Kawasaki Z1000 - Huge aftermarket but hear they are pretty unweildy.

    Any input is appreciated! Thanks!
    #1
  2. chiefrider

    chiefrider Chrome won't get you home

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    Welcome to the Asylum!

    Why not an Airhead BMW? In 2010 I rented a '93 BMW R100GSPD in Heidelberg and it did 160 KPH down the Autobahn two up with ease.

    Airheads are well supported for older bikes, and are easy and logical to work on. They are very reliable and handle better than the bikes you listed. A R100 or R90 would deliver enough performance for touring and occasional fast riding. There is a lot of interchangability between models and years. They are well suited for what you want to do, and previous owners tend to take good care of them.

    My $0.02.

    Tom in Salem
    #2
  3. 81turbota

    81turbota n00b

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    Thanks for the suggestion Tom.
    I wasn't looking at BMW's, because they are pretty expensive compared to the models I mentioned before. I can afford one, but it would break my heart to lay a shiny new bike down (I know I will drop it a few times).

    I did find some R90's in my price range, I will add it to my test drive list. Thanks!

    James
    #3
  4. East Coast Rider

    East Coast Rider Just Me...

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    The only bike with which I am familiar is the GS850G. I highly recommend www.thegsresources.com for info on the GS series. Very comfy bike, plenty of power and Suzuki knows how to make a reliable shaft drive, too :nod Watch out for the charging systems, though. Stator and R/R are issues on pretty much every GS ever made, especially once they get some age on them.

    Whatever bike you choose, good luck :devildog
    #4
  5. 81turbota

    81turbota n00b

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    Thanks for the reply. I did a fair bit of research on the GSresources, and drew the same conclusions. I read reviews on the GS850 stating it was a great bike. I found a few in Germany that I plan to go test ride once the weather improves.

    We will see where it takes me...I'm excited!
    #5
  6. Tim_Tom

    Tim_Tom Been here awhile

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    The Suzuki 850G is a fantastic bike. I took mine on a cross the US and back trip this past summer. For an old machine it is very capable and comfortable. Plenty of power, great comfort, with the right tires and suspension it will handle great too.

    Go for it! Also another +1 on the GSResources. Great forum over there and will get you through any and all types of mechanical issues you may encounter.

    Here is a picture of mine, because that's the cool thing to do right? :deal

    [​IMG]
    #6
  7. Carter Pewterschmidt

    Carter Pewterschmidt Long timer

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    The GL1000 will have kind of old man feeling to ride. Much like the BMW bikes. They'll move you around decent but the motor isn't very fun to wind out.

    The GS850 will be a bit more sporty feeling with the inline 4. Shaft drive is shaft drive. Will have some rear jacking under acceleration. I've heard but never tested myself that the BMW bikes shaft drive has the least of this affect.

    A CB750 is cool, but yes, pricey due to demand.

    The KZ Kawasaki bikes are usually the fastest. They were always performance and horsepower orientated. Always noted however is wonky handling.

    The Yamaha XS750 850 and 1100 bikes are in the same price range. Word on the street is they're usually the least reliable of the others, but it's still a jap bike.
    #7
  8. Tim_Tom

    Tim_Tom Been here awhile

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    Have you ever ridden Suzuki GS shafty? They got it right and there is no shaft jacking sensation. Plus no chain to maintain. It's a win-win really.

    All of the UJM bikes can be reliable, it mostly depends on how they were treated and maintained. Whichever model he decides to get will need the usual bit of going over. Things like fork seals and dry rotted tires and dirty carbs are common on all old and ill cared for bikes.

    Speaking of carbs actually, provided you find a Suzuki that is newer than a '79 it will have CV carbs, which once cleaned and set up, will never need adjustment for altitude or anything. They function just as well at sea level as they do at 11,000 ft.

    Ultimately I suppose it will come down to whatever bike you find in the right price range and locale. But I am partial to the Zook of course.
    #8
  9. 81turbota

    81turbota n00b

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    Thanks for the insight guys.
    I have located a few bikes that I intend to go test ride in a few weeks. A GL1000 with 38k km, and a GS850 with 44K km.
    I intend to do as many functional tests as the owners let me (compression, electrical etc).

    Will report back as soon as I find the one that "calls" to me!
    :D
    #9
  10. 81turbota

    81turbota n00b

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    BTW Tim_Tom, beautiful GS!
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  11. Hellracer.nl

    Hellracer.nl What the hack???

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    I've had a GS850, a Kawa z650, a CB750, a R80, a GS 750, several GS 1000 and GSX1100's.
    The CB is the best looking bike,and in the later versions (Bol d'ore) are the sportiest to drive.
    The BMW R bike's are very reliable but boring as hell.
    The GS range is very bulletproof, the GS850 is in my opinion the best bike Suzuki ever build. Start with checkeing every electrical connection and replace the stator and Reg/Rec and you'll have a bike that will run forever. Parts are very cheap, comfort is very good, fuel efficiency is good ( a Kawa is thirsty!) and the shaft and engine will outlive you if you maintain it properly.
    A GS 1000 with shaft is as relaiable as a GS850 and nore powerfull but not as common as a 850.
    An early gsx aircooler is also very relaiable but is always a chain bike.

    Did you consider looking at an older BMW K bike? Very relaiable as well, comfy, easy to maintain and not too expensive if you know anything about standard car maintainance. .It's basicly a car on two wheels.
    #11
  12. Carter Pewterschmidt

    Carter Pewterschmidt Long timer

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    Forgot to ask, can we get some pics of the 81 turbo T/A if you don't mind? :*sip*
    #12
  13. Canuman

    Canuman Crusty & Unobliging

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    A well-sorted GS850 is just a big, comfy huggy bear. It feels well-balanced on the road, and is cheap to buy and reasonable to keep. I find mine a little thirsty compared to some other machines in its class, but it's worth the cost.

    They are notoriously cold-blooded. If your mission profile is to hop on and ride ten minutes to get a quart of milk, you'll hate the GS. If you want to hop on and ride all day, your opinion will change. They ride well with luggage and/or passengers.

    With good shocks on the rear and some mild dual-sport tires, the GS is a surprisingly good gravel runner. You won't finish the Dakar on one, but you don't need to be afraid of venturing off-pavement, either.

    [​IMG]
    #13
  14. Tim_Tom

    Tim_Tom Been here awhile

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    Thanks. Photographs have a strange beautifying effect on my bike. I swear it doesn't look that good in person. Also I think that photo was taken after it's semi-annual bath, so that helps :lol3.


    This. The 850 can go anywhere you want it to. Also it handles a hell of a load with ease. Even on dirt and sand roads!

    [​IMG]
    #14
  15. 81turbota

    81turbota n00b

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    That GS sounds like a great bike.
    Canuman, I'd say half of my riding will be on post, which is maybe 2-3 mile legs. Is the coldblood nature that bad? Will it still give me some problems if I start it, suit up, have a smoke and jump on?

    Loving the pictures guys. Seeing these bikes in those settings is inspirational and fits the bill.

    Carter Pewterschmidt, here's a pic, and no the oil stains on the road aren't from it :D. Don't let the paint deceive you....every functional part (minus the wiring) has been rebuilt or restored. I blew up the original 301 Turbo engine, but kept it just in case. Has a fresh Pontiac 400 in her now. I've owned her since I was 17...so 6 years. Paint is coming winter 2013 :evil

    When she lived in the States:
    [​IMG]
    #15
  16. Canuman

    Canuman Crusty & Unobliging

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    Been through this with another serviceman, actually. Although the other guys on base WILL break your balls, there's nothing better than a small scooter for tooling around base. You should be able to find one pretty cheap. They are made for stuff of that nature.

    I give my GS a 10 minute warm-up if it is cold. It's not so bad when you can store it inside, or during the summer, but they do like to warm up. Two cigs, maybe? That being said, many old carbed bikes suffer the same issues. I have a GL1200 that wants the same warm-up. I suspect the Honda 750 and the Kaw are the same, although I only have passing experience with either.

    Mine's a '79 with pumper carbs. The later models have CV carbs. I don't know if this would make a difference.
    #16
  17. 81turbota

    81turbota n00b

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    Quite a few people I know have scooters, one has a pink Vespa just to attract the ball busting.

    I might consider one, but the problem is we are limited to the number of vehicles we can have registered in Germany. A single soldier gets 1 car and 1 "recreational vehicle" motorcycle atv etc...I have 2 cars with a policy exception letter and will have space for 1 bike. I'm used to quirky vehicles, I'm sure I could work around the GS's short comings if its truly that good of post. I'll look over on GSresources to see if the CV carbs make a difference.
    #17
  18. Canuman

    Canuman Crusty & Unobliging

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    For a bike of the vintage and price, I think they are a top buy. For some reason, they haven't taken off in the collector market. This is likely because they are difficult to make a good-looking bobber out of, although a buddy of mine did so with a 750, and it is a looker.

    They have pretty good brakes, especially compared to many bikes of the era. The suspension is also decent. The seat is one of the best in the business, and they have good range. The bike is mild-mannered enough so it's not a handful for a newer rider. We're talking the "G" model here. I think the cruiser model is a silly-looking beast.
    #18
  19. Tim_Tom

    Tim_Tom Been here awhile

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    I've got CV carbs on my '82 GS, and even when it's 30 degrees out it starts right up. I let it idle for a minute or two while putting on my helmet and gloves, and it's good to go.

    The GS'es are the best kept vintage bike secret around. They are awesome, and because they don't have the 'cool' tag like a CB750 or Z1 you can find compete runners for next to nothing. At least in the states.
    #19
  20. 81turbota

    81turbota n00b

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    Thats great to hear about the CV carbs. I'm sure its all in the tuning as well..

    Bikes aren't as cheap in Germany as they are in the States...so far I've found, prices are converted to USD. All of these are runners.
    1979 1 owner creampuff GS850, 24K miles with a cafe seat for $3000
    1981 GS850 46K miles, spare rolling frame and 2 disassembled engines $2100
    1979 GS850 50K miles, looks a little weathered $1500
    1975 GL1000 22K miles, last on the road in 2008 $2100
    1975 GL1000 46K miles, last on road 2005 $1500

    Unfortunately, in my month of searching I can't find Craigslist level deals in Europe. Price of entry will be higher, but I have an opportunity to ride over here.I plan on looking at them when I get a chance and weather improves.
    #20