Your ideas on a commuter ...

Discussion in 'The Perfect Line and Other Riding Myths' started by ShawnT316, Feb 1, 2013.

  1. ShawnT316

    ShawnT316 Been here awhile

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    I am looking to get a bike again ... My curent job is not going to last much longer, and my next job will be in the Tucson area 85 miles away, my F150 4X4 like the gas too much!

    SO ... a little history on me ... I started out learning on a friends Honda 100 on/off road when I was 10 or 11, then when I was 14 I bought a Yamaha dual sport (they wern't called that back then) 125cc, rode that on the old logging roads in VT till I bought a '79 Yamaha XS400 when I turned 16,(in 1982) it was my only wheels until I bought a car 1.5 years later, as the first winter was "interesting" I kept the 400 through school, at some time later I sold it, then went a year or so without a bike, then bought a '81 XS Eleven, had that for a few years ... then went a few years without, and bought a Honda CBR 600F Huricane '89 I think (I had actually went into a dealler looking for a used dressed touring bike ... but ... Once I took this Used CBR out and cracked the throttle, I wrote out a check!) I kept it for a few years, but sold it again ... We then moved out to AZ five years ago, and I bought an '06 KLR650 to save gas on a 75 mi commute which was about half gravel roads ... Got laid off, and I just did not like the hassle of gearing up to go to my new job 3 mi away ... and an hour on the interstate with the KLR was uncomfortable for me, blown around by big trucks (which I drive) and wind in generall in March/April! My hands got tingly, butt got sore, even though I had a thin gel pad!

    SO ... I'm not new to bikes, but not really much of a "rider" just for the fun of it, they have to have a usefull purpose for me to keep one around.

    What I want (not sure one exists)
    Is it needs to get 50+ MPG

    Be comfortable to ride 1.5 hours

    Less than $4,000.00 (I need to save some money for safety gear)

    I would prefer 400 - 500 cc but not sure what is available will like runing the interstate every day ... mostly for fuel mileage.

    Obviously I need used, I like the looks of the old "standards like my XS 400 & XS Eleven, My CBR was uncomfortable back then after an hour, would be much worse now that I'm 15+ years older (47 yrs old now)

    I'm 6'1" and have a 34" inseam and about 190 pounds ...

    Our interstated out here are 75 mph, which would be about 60 miles of, then about 20 miles of chip-seal 45-65 mph, and 5 miles or so of city traffic ... it does get windy here in South Eastern AZ, 20-30 mph is not unusual!

    I have looked on line, but figured why not ask all of you! Here are a few I have picked out ... that might work, but I REALLY do NOT know about which riding positions being the most comfortable ... I have always hated the obnoxious loud Narly Harly crusiers ... but are the jap quieter cruiser style still comfortable for 1.5 hours??? Which would be more comfortable?

    Honda NightHawk 700

    Honda NC700X (Is this just a more modern model of the above?)

    Kawasawki Vulcan 500 LTD

    Kawasawki W650

    Suzuki SV650

    SuzukiGS500E

    Yamaha Virago 535

    What have I missed? Are any of the above out of the question for what I want it to do?

    I have not actually gone and seen any of these bikes,just looked on line, there seem to be a few online in the price range ...
    #1
  2. GSAragazzi

    GSAragazzi Long timer

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    Second gen will almost get 55 mpg (depending on you right hand of course) and the range is around 180 miles.
    Add to it a taller screen (cee Baileys nd the like), and you should have a great commuter.
    The NighHawlk would also be a great option.

    Thinking out of the box, how about an Aprilia? The Rotax engine is great, very comfortable and for some reason very inexpensive in the used market.

    Mana 850
    Or
    Tuono 1st Gen (not as great on fuel tho)

    Cheers
    #2
  3. GSAragazzi

    GSAragazzi Long timer

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    Forgot to mention AF1 Racing as a resource for Ape stuff and to find a bike.
    #3
  4. motorat

    motorat TBD

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    v-strom 650.
    mine gets between 52 and 63 depending on how much of a hurry i am in.
    i commute 400 miles a week.
    #4
  5. GSAragazzi

    GSAragazzi Long timer

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  6. fierostetz

    fierostetz Been here awhile

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    I've commuted on the following

    1. 1992 nighthawk
    2. 2008 KLR650
    3. 2003 ninja 250

    The nighthawk is a FANTASTICALLY reliable bike, no valves to adjust, gets decent mileage.. but I'm the same height as you and stock, it causes some back pain. No wind protection.

    The KLR is great, though it's not super happy on the freeway. 16t front sprocket and it got a lot better, but still feels... like it wants to be getting dirty.

    The ninja 250 (originally supposed to be wife bike) is actually a lot of fun. I've sustained an indicated 85 for about an hour before and it was fine, despite the high revs. Gets good mileage (not at 85!) and is dirt DIRT cheap to maintain and operate. I swapped out fork springs and installed an ex500 rear shock and it's fantastic. I'd get some lower pegs if I could. I was originally worried it'd have too little power, but it winds up having exactly enough - I can outrun the majority of cars from a dead stop, and I still have passing power on the freeway. Stock seat could use some different/better foam.
    #6
  7. fierostetz

    fierostetz Been here awhile

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    Also, the ninjette was cheap - got it for 1000 with dirty carbs. Cleaned carbs and I had a 3000 mile bike for a grand.
    #7
  8. SgtDuster

    SgtDuster Long timer

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    From your list, the Nighthawk hands down.




    [​IMG]


    :tb


    But a V-Strom 650 would be a great choice.
    #8
  9. ph0rk

    ph0rk Doesn't Care

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    85 miles of highway one-way no doubt

    plenty of hard luggage options and spare wattage for an electric vest/jacket, too.


    in the future, bikes like the nt700 would work great, but right now with your budget it will be hard to top a dl650
    #9
  10. Kommando

    Kommando Long timer

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    DL650. Power. Efficiency. Reliability. Suspension travel. Smoothness. Spaciousness. Good headlight. Available ABS. Luggage. Windscreen. Aftermarket. Dirt road ability.
    #10
  11. High Country Herb

    High Country Herb Adventure Connoiseur

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    The SV650 and V-strom 650 (DL) are similar in that they are both v-twins. The SV is a bit sportier, while the V-strom can do some off road. I think one of those two will suit your needs well, and be about as reliable as an anvil.

    The Honda Nighthawk is a great bike, but might require some maintenance as the carbs begin to age (leaks, etc.).
    #11
  12. mikesova

    mikesova Michigander

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    You'll probably have to wait a while to find a NC700x for $4k.
    #12
  13. ShawnT316

    ShawnT316 Been here awhile

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    Thanks for the ideas, so far ...

    I was just reading an old thread I started on my KLR ... http://www.advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=305253 In there I mention my one heated grip was not getting fullpower/heat, so I would like a bike that can give me some electric heat ... we frequently have morning mid Dec - Mid Feb in the 20's ...

    I did the extra tooth sprocket up front, and got about 54 mpg IIRC with the KLR with my riding style.

    The NC700X got on my list because of the mpg ... but I forgot about how new it was, and the price ...
    #13
  14. ShawnT316

    ShawnT316 Been here awhile

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    So do they have the same engine?

    Same gearing?

    Which is more comfortable on the road? Better seat?

    Which would have better wind protection? (In the winter I wants LOTS, but summer's not so much, if any!)


    I liked my XS Eleven, but I can get a Honda civic for the same mpg, and heat & ac!
    #14
  15. hugemoth

    hugemoth Long timer

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    Not as much fun but a Geo Metro/Suzuki Swift can get 50 mpg and will be cheaper to run than any bike. The old Honda Silverwing Interstate is a great cheap commuter if you can find one in good shape. Good fairing, hard bags, low maintenance and they go forever.
    #15
  16. High Country Herb

    High Country Herb Adventure Connoiseur

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    I haven't owned either of the Suzuki's, but a friend of mine had the SV and loved it. I think they are basically the same engine, with different cam, tuning, and gearing. I suspect the V-Strom has better wind protection, which could be seasonably increased with an aftermarket screen extension. You could probably find a used aftermarket seat as well, since they are so abundant.

    I have owned a Geo Metro. Mine was a '91 convertible 5 spd that got 41 mpg. It had a radiator not much bigger than a phone book, so I had to run the heater sometimes in the summer. Other than that, it was great car.
    #16
  17. davidji

    davidji bike curious

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    Gas tank range. If your bike won't easily do a full round-trip commute, it's not suited for the job.

    If it will do two it will be much more convenient--but harder to find.

    1 1/2 commutes per tank might be the best you can hope for in your price range (without aftermarket tank). I expect a DL650 will deliver? I think the old one has 5.5 gallon tank, and if you baby it maybe you can get 55MPG? At least on non-winter gas.

    I'd recommend a Versys, but it won't even get you 1 1/2 commutes. It does 2+ for me with it's 5 gallon tank, and I love it. But if I had your commute I'd want more range.
    #17
  18. BCKRider

    BCKRider Been here awhile

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    BMW K75's should also be considered. Famous for bullet proof engines, valves that almost never need adjustment, sewing machine lack of vibration, a comfortable standard riding position, average 50 mpg, and definitely in your price bracket. Don't be afraid of an old one (like late 80's, early 90's) or high mileage if well maintained.

    The two real downsides - uncomfortable OEM saddle and final drive failure - have almost certainly been addressed by a previous owner.
    #18
  19. HarryBee

    HarryBee What?????

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    You might want to think of a first generation Kawasaki Concours. They are plentiful, cheap and run forever if well maintained. You'll also get wind protection and hard bags.

    I used to commute in and out of NYC on one - and except for the weight of the bike in slow moving city traffic, it was a great commuter. (It replaced my Honda PC800... also a great commuter in its day)
    #19
  20. PeterW

    PeterW Long timer

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    SV/DL. The SV motor is a bit more lively up top, the DL is a better commuter - better off the line and more torque low down. Not that much in it though.

    The DL has better weather protection, airflow is really good and pushes a lot of air/water around the rider - I only get soaked waiting at traffic lights :huh. Lower the screen on the DL in summer to get more air on you.

    Otherwise, it's 'fit' the DL really suits a slightly taller rider better, or someone who likes/needs a sit-up riding position.

    The DL is probably more comfortable, but if you prefer a crouched riding position the SV will work better.

    Carrying shit the DL is far better. Though, I'd suggest drawing the line somewhere before a large printer/scanner - my nuts may never recover from that trip.

    Pre-2012 should get ~20km/l in stop-start commute traffic, 2012 up 22+.

    And whatever your opinions of ABS, it's worth having on a crappy urban commute.

    Pete
    #20