Middleweight (used) "adventure bike" with ABS - Choices for a short fella?

Discussion in 'Japanese polycylindered adventure bikes' started by Anby, Jan 6, 2020.

  1. Anby

    Anby Been here awhile

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    Got my motorcycle license delivered last week and I am starting to my search for a used "light adventure motorcycle" with ABS that I can purchase for less than $5k. Most of my rides will be on pavement, but I want to be able to take some light gravel roads when I go to north/central Nevada for my camping trips.

    I was almost sure that a used VStrom 650 would have been the perfect bike for me. So I went to a dealer the other day to check one out. The ergonomics (handlebar & foot pegs) were great but I could barely reach the ground on my tippy-toe. I am 5'6" with a 30 inch inseam. Same with the NC750X. CB500X was a tad shorter but it lacked have the roomy feeing of the Wee and NC750X. None of these bikes seemed too top heavy to me (at least without fuel and all). I sat on a F650GS and the seat height and weight was perfect for me. However I think I really want a multi cylinder bike. The Versys 650 was way too tall for me.

    Another bike I sat on was a W800. Loved it, but it had little ground clearance. I will make a trip to a Triumph dealer next week to check out Bonnevilles.

    I know I can get a VStrom 650 and lower it by adjusting the forks and longer dogbones. Reliability and low running costs are the two most important factors. I don't know how reliable the BMW 650 series bikes are. I don't have my own garage, and I am not that experienced in wrenching. I would love to learn how to do my own maintenance, but I don't think it is feasible in immediate future.

    Should I still aim for a used VStrom 650 and have it lowered or should consider some other motorcycle? Am I omitting any other obvious candidate here? I would like to hear your thoughts on it.

    Thanks,
    Anby
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  2. jrw600

    jrw600 Adventurer

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    The Vstrom is a good choice, decent power etc. I find them to be a bit top heavy,though. If you lower it you do give up ground clearance.
    What about the versys 300? I have one and although I am not flat footing it, it is pretty good. And light.
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  3. William Wolfen

    William Wolfen Long timer

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    I have a 30" inseam as well, though I'm taller overall. I'd say get a Vstrom. Don't lower it. Learn to balance it on your toes or just put one foot down. Most of my bikes have been like this. You get used to it quickly.
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  4. Gustavo

    Gustavo Motociclista Errante

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    Get a bike you are comfortable riding now. I am guessing that the fact you just got your license means you have no previous riding experience, if you had ridden dirt bikes, the seat height/reach to the ground would have been less of an issue.

    You are going to drop it. Multiple times at the most embaracing locations - parking lots, intersections, etc. with people watching. You'll get over it. Buy something that you can afford to drop. It's not your last motorcycle, don't buy a bike for your dream ride, buy a bike to learn and master riding (both on and off road), so you can get to that dream ride eventually.

    Ninja/ER6, SV650, etc. can be had for good prices and would make great learning bikes that are capable of going on road trips. I would usually recommend smaller, lighter, bikes if possible even for people with no inseam challenges. You are right, singles are going to be limited on longer rides, but may be better as a learning tool. The lighter the bike, the easier it will be to master riding techniques and build your riding confidence so you can then move on to an adventure-tourer that may seem too tall right now.

    Oh, yeah, don't forget to leave room in your budget for riding gear. Even though there are plenty of affordable options for almost everything, it still adds up to quite a big sum when you have to buy everything at once.

    Gustavo
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  5. showkey

    showkey Long timer

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    No offense........but.........if your 5’6” 30” inseam, just got your license you don’t need or want a roomy bike. If you can touch the ground as the priority the rest of the ergonomics are a compromise. They can be changed slightly by lowering, bar and peg adjustments.
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  6. Anby

    Anby Been here awhile

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    I will give a Versys 300 some thoughts if I can't decide on anything else.. Back in the days I used to ride a Ninja 250 which belonged to a friend in Thailand. It had good highway speed (or Thai roads at last) but the low end torque was severely lacking. I preferred to take the Enfield 500 (which I absolutely hated due to the vibrations) over it. I have no idea how much power the Versys 300 will have over the Ninja 250 though.

    What do you think of shaving the seat? Does that make it unbearable for long trips? It seems like most of the custom seats are taller than the stock seats.

    Hi Gustavo, thanks for chiming in. I do have previous riding experience, but on South East Asian roads where speeds are much lower and people are more used to seeing two wheelers. I totally agree with you on riding gear being a priority. I am allocating money for good quality riding gear right off the top. Safety cannot be compromised. Actually that is why I am not keen on a thumper. I have not ridden any (non brand new) thumper (yet, but my experience is limited compared to folks here) that didn't have some amount of vibes in the handlebar and mirrors. And not being able to see stuff in the mirror is make me kinda feel nervous.

    I have gone off road on street bikes like Enfields, but by no way I am a dirt racer. I feel like the terrain here is much more rugged with deep sand and rocks. There is also a bunch of off camber pavement around where I live. You are right, I should probably to prioritize the seat height over anything else.

    I have ridden quite a bit in the past. I do go on a 300 mile or so long trip when I go to SE Asia every winter. But I have not owned or ridden one in the US in the last 10 years, and the speed of vehicles in freeways here kinda make me nervous. So I am trying to get a bike with moderate power. The tallest bikes I have ridden so far are the Royal Enfields. But it seems like all adventure bikes are much taller (and heavier on paper) than those.
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  7. twinrider

    twinrider Pass the catnip

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    I've got the same inseam as you and I've owned an F650GS and F650GS Dakar, an 1100GS, an Africa Twin and currently ride a Super Tenere. None of them are too tall for me as I'm comfortable with just the balls of my feet on the ground, or one foot flat. Given your lack of experience, however, I'd suggest you start out on a lighter bike and my recommendation is an F650GS or the later Sertao version. It's a single but very smooth, and is fun to ride both on dirt and on tarmac.

    Btw, I also had a W650. Nice bike but like you said it doesn't have much ground clearance and while I had fun on dirt roads with it, I wanted more clearance and got the F650GS.

    [​IMG]
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  8. eakins

    eakins Butler Maps

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    My solution having 28" inseam
    05 F650GS w/ Seat Concepts Dakar seat.
    Comfortable and all the foot down vs my Vstrom & WR250R...both with Seat Concepts seats too.

    Lower ground clearance as expected. FI, ABS and heated grips.

    It's a better off-road use base packed to start with vs a 650 Vstrom...I know.
    My WR250R is my dual sport
    My F650GS is my ADV bike
    My DL650 is my street touring bike and easy gravel runner.


    20191017_132036.jpg
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  9. eakins

    eakins Butler Maps

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    G650GS is the same and there is a G650X series bike too. These all have 19" front wheels.
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  10. jfauerba

    jfauerba Been here awhile

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    I have a 30" inseam, had a NC700x and currently have a Versys-X300. Both the NC700x and X300 will get lower after you ride on gravel roads a few 1,000 miles. Both I installed adjustable links on back and lowered the front forks when they were new. Both went back to standard height in back after a few 1,000 miles. x300 is still lowered in front and smaller Shinko 244 in front. I also redid the seat on X300 to make it lower and added a second insole in my boots to make me higher. I have no problems flat footing the x300 now with room to spare. I traded in the NC700x for the X300 in Feb. 2019. Have 6,500 miles on X300 now. Almost 1/2 the miles on X300 is gravel forest service roads.
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  11. eakins

    eakins Butler Maps

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  12. Anby

    Anby Been here awhile

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    What are the differences between the F650GS and F650GS Dakar? Is the Dakar the P-twin 800cc engine? And the Sertao? Kinda confusing how BMW managed to call the 800cc bikes 650, 700 and 800. I had never really looked at BMWs before, I kept hearing that they are unreliable and if something breaks down they are super expensive to fix.

    Is the Seat Conpects seat on VStrom a low seat?
    If you were to have just one bike between the F650GS vs the Wee, which one would you have?

    Wait.. Is the G650GS different than the F650GS?

    Why did you trade in the NC700X for the Versys 300? Curious.

    I think the Versys 300 is out at this point. I will keep looking out for a good deal on CB500X.
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  13. twinrider

    twinrider Pass the catnip

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    The Dakar has a 21" front wheel and a bit more suspension travel than the standard F650GS, which has a 19" front wheel. They're both singles, not to be confused with the later twin version. The Sertao is basically the same bike with a new name although the engine I think is made in China.

    The single GS powered by a Rotax engine has a good reliability record, no issues with mine other than the radiator fan needing replacing on the Dakar. This bike is a lot better on dirt than a CB500X and more fun to ride if you want an adv bike that can actually ride rough dirt roads and even trails. It pulls good wheelies and doesn't suffer damage when dropped with the engine guards on it.
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  14. eakins

    eakins Butler Maps

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    I have a thumper a 2005 F650GS w/19" front wheel. Dakar is 21". Last year for F650 is 2007, then it came back as G650GS.
    Google it.

    Yeah I've had to do some fixes on my GS, it's not Japanese appliance. I'm my own mechanic. If you need a dealer for all work maybe look elsewhere.

    My SC on my DL is regular height.
    Dude, you have 2" more inseam than me and I do just fine. I don't need to flat foot, it's really not necessary.

    I would not choose 1 and thus why I have 4.
    The GS is better in the dirt than the DL & the WR better than the GS. They go the opposite for paved.
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  15. mrbreeze

    mrbreeze I keep blowing down the road Supporter

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    Have you checked out the Yamaha MT-07? Not an adventure bike, per se, but any bike can handle a well graded gravel road. I have done gravel roads on a GL1500. There's also a thread in Road Warriors where a guy turned an old Yamaha Diversion 600 into a scrambler, so I would think it could be done with the MT-07 as well.

    Also there is the Yamaha Scrambler SCR950. Based on the Bolt platform. You may want to look at that as well.

    Jamie Robinson turned a Honda CBR600 into a scrambler. Check him out at Motogeo on Youtube.

    Any lightweight Japanese naked bike would be good for gravel roads.
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  16. jfauerba

    jfauerba Been here awhile

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    NC700X is too heavy for fun on gravel roads, 17" cast wheel means potholes worse and have to be more careful of rocks and pot holes. Same would be true of CB500X. The rear rack broke 2 times due to the vibrations and figured NC700x is not made for the pound on gravel roads like a Versys-X300. Insurance is cheaper on Versys. NC700x does get better mpg. Also with Shinko 244 tires on versys, it is a lot more fun on curvy paved roads than NC700x. Versys is just about the same on curvy roads as my ninja 250r except with a lot more power. I traded in by ninja 250r for NC700x in 2011.
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  17. twinrider

    twinrider Pass the catnip

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    Did you have a top box on the bike? If so, that's why your rear rack broke. Same thing happens to some riders on the Africa Twin. Soft bags are the way to go.
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  18. William Wolfen

    William Wolfen Long timer

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    If the NC700 is to heavy, why is my Africa Twin so good in gravel? It's heavier.

    The real reason is the wheels and suspension. I can't speak highly enough of a 21" front for anything off pavement. 8" of suspension travel would be my minimum as well. More is better.
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  19. Kommando

    Kommando Long timer

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    I have a 30" inseam. I ride unlowered DR650s easily. Put just the left foot down.

    I'd go CB500X ABS with 19" front wheel. Put DOT knobbies and a skid on it. Ride anywhere. Adjust ergonomics to fit.
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  20. CaseyJones

    CaseyJones Ridin' that train

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    You say you're short. Are you also light?

    The Kawasaki Versys twins fight at twice their weight. The V650 is an impressive motor, when you roll it on...but it's a tall frame, and without lowering you won't fit on it.

    But, as mentioned, the X-300. It's eighty pounds lighter; it's a bit closer to the ground - and I think there's a lower-seat option. Which is better, since your ground clearance is marginal as is. But it's set up as an ADV bike, although the suspension travel isn't that great...it's a full-size frame, and that engine is like no other 300 out there. It's competition for the half-liter grouping.

    It can easily be fitted with luggage - Givi or others, or homemade. There's how-to instructions here on how to bolt up Harbor Freight utility cases, for $$. It'll boogie down the Interstate - how long you hold it at high RPMs at 80 mph, is up to you. I gave my X-300 a five hour thrashing, as I was running with another retired big kid, with a Concourse. He thought he'd try to lose me, but I held his pace and beat it on curves. No complication from the long hard riding, with 9000 miles on it so far.

    Best part of all, there's a few lightly-used ones in the pipeline, for cheap. I'd seen a couple, with ABS, in the high threes. Lowish mileage - I understand purchasing a mistake and buyer's remorse, but 1200 miles? But their waste is your savings.

    Remember, at this point, what you buy is not going to be your all-time ride. You have to find that out once you get your skills settled, and you decide what kind of riding you like. Or, if you're like some of us, you may never find it (rapid-fire bike trading is costly...ask me how I know...)
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