Perfect easy to maintain bike?

Discussion in 'Old's Cool' started by jordan325ic, Jan 9, 2013.

  1. jordan325ic

    jordan325ic Been here awhile

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    My rain or shine daily rider is a 1979 Kawasaki KZ400 that is as UJM as can be. I love the seating position, the luggage capacity, the aesthetics, the reliability, the fuel economy, the affordability of consumables.

    But what I love most of all is the ease of maintenance. I enjoy getting my hands dirty and I love working on a simple, old-school design with minimal electronics. I love that I can disassemble the entire bike down to the frame with the 10 piece toolkit under the seat. I love that the sparkplugs hang right out there in the air. I love the centerstand. This is a motorcycle that was designed to be maintained regularly and easily by the home mechanic. Mechanical purity I guess you could call it.

    What I do not like is the exhaust note, could use a little more power for big Texas highways, and almost every bike I've owned up until this point has been a parallel twin and I want something different.

    I am happy with my bike now, but I want a bike that will be my daily rider for the next decade. I am looking for my perfect bike.

    I want my next bike to have:

    Minimal electronics
    Straightforward and pleasurable to maintain (frequently is fine),
    No plastic fairings.
    40+hp at the rear wheel
    45+ mpg
    Air cooled
    No more than 2 carbs
    Cheap, available parts
    Durable (50k+ miles) engine
    I know this is subjective, but a decent exhaust note.

    I know this list seems very picky but if anybody has any ideas of any bike that meets these criteria I would love to hear them. I've thought of many bikes that almost make it but I've yet to find my winner (sportsters can't have centerstands, cb750s have too many carbs).
    #1
  2. concours

    concours WFO for 41 years

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    V-strom
    #2
  3. hugemoth

    hugemoth Long timer

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    The CX/GL Hondas are my favorite for everyday transportation. Yes, they're liquid cooled but that's my preference. Shaft drive, tubeless tires, good storage, standard seating position, large gas tank, legendary longevity, very low maintenance that's easy for a DIYer, 50 hp, and a really nice exhaust note.

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    #3
  4. Growl

    Growl Adventurer

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    a fairly modern Harley Sportster would satisfy all of your requirements
    #4
  5. zataomm

    zataomm Been here awhile

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    You'd have to give up your centerstand requirement but a Sportster would do it for you, especially an "R" model with mid-controls. I have an XL1200R and have changed the stock seat to a Harley Sundowner (way more comfortable), added saddlebags and a small National Cycle windshield and couldn't be happier. Hydraulic valves, belt drive, single carb --- very low maintenance. Had to swap out the starter, but other than that it hasn't needed anything other than regular service.
    Very easy bike to own.
    #5
  6. Airhead Wrangler

    Airhead Wrangler Adios Mexico

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    airhead?
    #6
  7. mitchxout

    mitchxout Been here awhile

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    Isn't this the Old's Cool forum? Are you guys lost? V-Strom, sheesh. :norton
    #7
  8. davevv

    davevv One more old rider

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    Check Moto Guzzi, they are all pretty easy maintenance wise. They do require occasional valve adjustments, but most are 5k mile or greater intervals and they are screw and locknut adjustments on heads that stick out right in front of your face while you're doing the work. Otherwise, it's pretty much a change fluids and ride proposition. They have been made in sport, sport tourer, standard, and cruiser configurations and from 650 to 1200cc. If you want no valve adjustments the 2003-5 Californias have hydraulic lifters, but make sure all the recalls have been done on the bike.

    The new Triumph Bonneville series would also be a good fit. Valve adjustment intervals are 12k IIRC, but they are shim and bucket type. Otherwise, maintenance is dead simple and they are very reliable bikes. If the Bonnies feel a little small ergonomics wise, try the Scrambler as it feels quite a bit different.
    #8
  9. jordan325ic

    jordan325ic Been here awhile

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    I actually like doing maintenance, so I don't mind short valve adjustment intervals or anything like that. When I say "easy to maintain" I don't mean that as a function of time. I'm sure the V-stroms/PC800s/KLR650s are quite reliable and would require very little of my time overall. What I mean is that doing maintenance is a straightforward and pleasurable experience, even if I am doing it every weekend.

    For example, I've got an old ninja 500 I'm putting together. Relatively simple bike, but every time I have to unscrew the fairing, take off my gas tank to put my specially-purchased 18mm thin-wall into a deep crevasse just to pull out a spark plug, it makes me certain that this bike is not for me.
    #9
  10. lrutt

    lrutt SILENCE.....i kill you

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    how many miles per year?

    Honestly, my Triumphs are a marvel of simplicity and have been stone reliable. I've added oil filters to them and with proper maintenance they will go the 50k you state. You can hardly get any easier to adjust valves (just look at them, no need to remove the tank), and it's a single carb. If you went as far as putting a belt drive primary it would be even easier but not necessary.

    You will be hard pressed to find even a modern bike where you can get parts as easy as a nice old 60's or 70's Triumph.

    My 70 Tiger or 71 Trophy hits every single thing on your list in spades (although the HP will be close depending on what reports you read and assuming you want an 'old school' bike).

    I'd also include my Norton, which has been just as reliable but is a bit more of a challenge to start than the 650 Triumphs. Takes a healthy leg to be sure. They Triumphs are a piece of cake by comparison.

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    #10
  11. Tim_Tom

    Tim_Tom Been here awhile

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    How about a Suzuki GS500. Not the original 4 cylinder motor, but the 89 and up model twin cylinder. Makes about 50 hp, great mileage, dirt cheap to run, and only has two carbs. Not to mention it's lightweight and can be ridden quite sportingly. Seems to meet all of your criteria. Get the standard naked model with no fairings to get in the way and everything is easily accessible. It has been built largely unchanged for 20+ years so parts are aplenty.

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    I would also recommend a bigger Suzuki GS shaft drive. While they do have 4 carbs, they are incredibly simple, and easy to maintain. I can have the airbox and carbs off of my 850G in about 10 minutes. Simple. Another plus is shaft drive meaning no chain to mess with, and they handle excellently. No shaft jacking or similar problems. Plenty of power to comfortably cruise on the highway, it will run 85 mph all day without breaking a sweat. If you are looking for a bike that could be capable of touring for longer distances the Suzuki is great. Very comfortable for one, or two people.

    I know you said you wanted something with two carbs, but the GS's CV type carbs really are a set and forget thing. They work just as well at sea level as they do at 11,000 ft. A good clean, and sync (very easy to do) and the GS will run like the dickens. It's an overbuilt engine that has been proven to run 100K+ miles easily, provided the owner keeps up on the scheduled oil changes and valve adjusts. Both are simple and rewarding to do, and easily handled yourself.

    My GS850G. I took this bike on an 8,000 mile cross country ride this past summer, and it performed fantastically for a 30 year old machine.
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    Hope you found my post helpful.
    #11
  12. Martian

    Martian Long timer

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    May I suggest a 90's era BMW airhead like this one.

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    It is available, too.
    #12
  13. Eddy Alvarez

    Eddy Alvarez Long timer

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    I vote for any 80's 650 Nighthawk with hydraulic valves, hydraulic front brake/clutch, shaft drive and centerstand. Give it one day of love in the garage every six months and it will give you 20+ years of faithful, quiet service.

    650 V-Strom, 2005 or newer Sportsters/XR1200, KLR, Suzuki GS500, Moto Guzzi V7, late 80's/early 90's Shadows or any 90's air cooled BMW are good choices as well.
    #13
  14. jordan325ic

    jordan325ic Been here awhile

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    Guzzi's - The 80s V50s and V65s definitely look like they could be the bike for me, but what about parts availability? I can't even find a used V50/V65 for sale. Are all the necessary parts available?

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    Oh man, and they can even come with a kickstarter... I want one! Too bad there isn't a single V50 for sale anywhere.

    The GS500 looks good on paper but having worked on one... no thanks. I hate the double petcock system and the shim-and-bucket valve adjustments.

    CX500's are definitely pretty cool bikes, but I seem to recall there are a few pretty major internal seals/gaskets that tend to go bad and are now unavailable?

    Old BMWs... I don't know enough about them really. I've read about high technology, paralever problems, and they're expensive. Plus I don't think they sound good. Isn't the fuel economy not that great either?

    There are a ton of great, reliable, old-school UJM 4 cylinder bikes, but the complexity of a 4 cylinder/4 carb motor just doesn't appeal to me, bulletproof though they may be.

    A sportster 883 ticks all the boxes and this country is overflowing with bikes, parts and dealers. Character, old-school design, fuel economy, longevity... if only I could add a centerstand...
    Does anybody know what exactly the problem is with adding a centerstand to a solid-mount evo sportster? I think most Harley guys don't care about a centerstand so I haven't found too much information about it, just that it can't be done.
    #14
  15. Gham

    Gham Long timer

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    I like the looks!I guess I never thought about a 70's Kawasaki being all that reliable though.Shame on me.

    Something about a mid-displacement twin always makes me think Honda.
    #15
  16. Bmblbee

    Bmblbee Dust Monkey

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    Probably a bit too pricey and perhaps a tad less reliable than some, but an early '80's Ducati Darmah is a fabulous machine.
    #16
  17. RustyStuff

    RustyStuff Been here awhile

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    Mabey look at the Honda Ascot vtwin? 500cc, shaft drive, But it's Liquid cooled.

    Mabey convert a 4cyl UJM to 2 carbs? Wouldent be easy or cheap though.

    I'm not sure what bikes exist that fit your wants other than Jap' Parralel twins and a few Vtwins. I'm not sure if guzzi's fit the bill on parts availabilty.
    #17
  18. Bmblbee

    Bmblbee Dust Monkey

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    The VT500 Ascot is a GREAT bike!!!

    Possibly a Suzuki VX800 as well?
    #18
  19. baloneyskin daddy

    baloneyskin daddy bikaholic

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    It seems that what you're looking for is barely more than what you have now.Run the wheels off the Kawasaki.
    #19
  20. caponerd

    caponerd Kickstart Enthusiast

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    +1. Keep what you have, it's exactly what you're looking for.

    But a Suzuki VX800 is an intriguing choice. Just old enough (in my opinion) to qualify as old's school, and they have a 45 degree cylinder alignment, so with the right exhaust system, they'd sound just like a Harley, yet they're built along more sportbike lines.
    #20