Perfect Bike

Discussion in 'Road Warriors' started by Royal Panda, Jun 5, 2021.

  1. Royal Panda

    Royal Panda Adventurer

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    It's not out there. I know. I've looked. Here is a list of the bikes I've owned over the past few years:

    Suzuki V Strom
    Honda ST 1300
    BMW LT
    BMW RT 1200
    Kawasaki C-14
    Harley Electra Glide Standard
    Harley Ultra Limited
    Harley Road Glide Ultra
    BMW RT 1200
    Goldwing (non tour)
    Harley Street Glide Special
    Harley Ultra Limited

    That list is chronological, all bought new. I have spent countless thousands of dollars trying to find the perfect bike and I'm still searching. Some have been closer than others, but there was always something that was a deal killer. My primary areas of concern have been:

    1) Vibration. I hate vibey grips. The best have been the BMW LT, Honda ST 1300, Honda Goldwing and the Harleys for lack of vibration. The worst was the Kawasaki C-14 and the BMW RTs.

    2) Buffeting. I know it can be sorted out with aftermarket shields to some degree. The best were the Goldwing and the BMWs. The worst were the Suzuki, Honda ST 1300, and the Harley Ultra Limiteds.

    3) Heat. The best by far have been the BMWs. The worst by far was the Honda ST 1300. The Goldwing was good too.

    4) High speed stability. Best was the Honda Goldwing followed closely by the Harleys. The worst by far was the Honda ST 1300.

    5) Weight. I'm 60, so weight is starting to become an issue. My current ride, the Harley Ultra Limited, is extremely heavy. Too heavy. The non tour Goldwing, even though heavy, didn't feel heavy as the center of gravity is so low.

    5) Dealerships. Harley hands down has the best dealership network. The worst, for me, has been Honda. I live in Northern Virginia and it is almost impossible to find a good dealer. BMWs are problematical as well, but I've always lived fairly close to a dealership. But, if, like me, you like to go on long trips, hard to beat Harley's network. It gives one an amount of confidence that if something happens, there will be a dealer close by to help out.

    So, there you have it. I'm looking for a smooth, stable, mid weight bike that won't bake my legs and has a reasonable dealer network. My current thinking is I might try either a Road King or a Sport Glide.

    Anyone out there find the perfect bike ?
    #1
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  2. hyena

    hyena Long timer

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    Road King does it for me, for 7 years and 48K miles now.

    Have you considered a Heritage Softail? Way lighter than your Ultra. I took a 20 minute test ride recently at my dealer's demo days, and liked it. I don't like the saddlebags, but I see Hogworkz offers color matched hard saddlebags to replace them. More vibration that my King, because I believe the engine is solid mounted, but not objectionable, especially in the handgrips.

    I test rode five bikes at the demo days. My favorite? Getting back on my Road King for the ride home.
    #2
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  3. AwDang

    AwDang Enabler

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    Yup, it doesn’t exist. Find one thats close and fills 95% of your needs then farkle it for the last details.
    #3
  4. exhdrdr

    exhdrdr Been here awhile

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    Here's a clue to the perfect bike. It is the next one you haven't bought yet.
    #4
  5. coast range rider

    coast range rider I'd rather be riding my Stelvio

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    Suzuki 650 V Strom
    #5
  6. JoToPe

    JoToPe JoToPe

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    I agree, especially when it comes to the ADV/ dual sport world. Current Africa Twin rider, and it’s far from being a unicorn without a lot of farkles and suspension work. I don’t have a BMW budget, and even if I did, that much weight goes against my criteria for what I need in a bike. I might be biased, but my alter-teenage ’74 Yamaha DT 125 did everything I needed it to do.
    #6
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  7. rider33

    rider33 Long timer

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    You mention distance, weight, and heat but you don't mention your size. Bigger bikes I've generally found to be most comfortable for long distance. The Adventure variety give you lots of leg room but you are up there which doesn't help in crosswinds. The sport touring bikes handle wonderfully but I've generally found them not to be as comfortable for long distance and as you say for the ST1300, it can get hot. The one I keep coming back to is the Road King. It's lighter then an Electra or RG and feels it yet gives you most of the protection. It's no flyweight tho so if you are not too big, you might look at the new Softales. They are not really as long distance oriented but if you fit on one (I do not, comfortably) it might work. Goldwing's really are the distance champs but I could just never warm up to all the buttons & plastic. I have not tried the newest incarnation tho, it just sort of seemed like an ST1800 to me.

    I don't think there is a prefect bike but there are some that get close to it for a specific application. The problem is, if it is stable at 85MPH for days on end it's likely overkill in the city and no fun at all on a gravel road. If you can, the best solution is multiple tools for multiple jobs. Otherwise, there is always going to be some compromise.
    #7
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  8. Garry

    Garry Bleeds Orange...

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    Interesting that your criteria for "perfect bike" have little to do with performance and handling. It's primarily subjective comfort issues for munching miles. I'll be 61 in a week and my criteria would be very different than yours, but I'm interested in SPORT-touring and you seem to be more about touring. It's a great time for motorcycles that anyone can find something that checks most of their boxes. I would argue that my KTM Super Duke GT is as close to perfect (for my needs) as I could expect a mass produced bike to be. Good luck in your search!
    #8
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  9. tooter

    tooter Been here awhile

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    Perfect will always be different for each of us, because each of our individual purposes. And since nothing is perfect in this world including us we each seek out what's best.

    I'm a little 135 pound guy. I'm also 72 years old, so I ride small lightweight bikes under 300 pounds for transportation. I put 35,000 miles on my DRZ. My latest bike is as nearly perfect for me as I could ever find.

    IMG_0176.JPG

    Lowered to 30 inches unsprung seat height. Lightened to 291 pounds curb weight. Zero vibration alloy racing clip on bars. Simple, reliable, comfortable, 65 mph freeway, 80 miles per gallon, user friendly.
    #9
  10. Blackshirt

    Blackshirt Long timer

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    You have a long tradition of really heavy machines. I find that BMWs combine light (ish) weight with stability best. Also, the electronic rider aids (ABS, TC, cruise, heated grips, integrated GPS, quick shifter, etc) make them great in unfamiliar areas. If you find one that looks good to you, they make pretty great rides. The liquid-cooled boxer twins are particularly nice.

    https://www.bmwmotorcycles.com/en/models/tour/r1250rt.html

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    #10
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  11. djauofd

    djauofd Aged Wine

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    Perfect bike. These are subjective terms. Every bike is targeted to optimize what the company believes the end consumer wants in that model. How and what your end use is determines in large part what you want.

    There are no perfect bikes. Why because we generally want bike to perform the task at hand. But you can make your bike more versatile making it fill larger gaps in your defined perfect world. This is my approach. I have two bike both KTM’s both have bee modified.

    Take into account first I am 6’5” , 270 lbs. First I have a 2019 790 Adv R. I got this bike because I did the Colorado and Utah BDR’s on a 2016 1290 SAT.

    I am no Chris Birch so some of the inclines and declines were really a handful with the 1290 SAT. at 570 lbs plus and 80 lbs of gear and hauling my ass. Any hoot after that trip I KTM brought out the 790 Adv R snd I took it hook line snd sinker.

    At that time I had another bike a 2012 BMW K1300 S. I used this to bike to quench the burn for a Spot Touring Machine. Loved the BMW just to cramped. So I started thinking how to get on road performance out of the 790 because off road it was the chisel.

    I settled for making a second set of wheels for the 790 Adv R. Warp9 racing made me a set of Supermoto wheels for the beast. It was incredible. 120/70 R17 front and 160/55 R17 rear, Metzler M9 RR’s. . It is unreal through the twisties.

    My buddy was following me on a road trip we did and the more I drove it the more confident I became. I was pushing it faster than I have ever ridden a bike before. It is usually hard for me to keep up with him snd I was just pulling away hanging all over it. My buddy was saying Dave no one will ever believe it. He gave me a new nickname name that day Steve McQueen.

    So is that the perfect bike. I don’t know you change the wheels and you go from s radical off-road touring bike to s crazy hooligan twisties machine. But no it still is not perfect. Because while it is very quick from 15 mph to 70 mph. It just does have the guts of the 1290 in terms of raw power and smoothness .

    So I sold the BMW and started looking for the touring machine that would fit me. All the Sport Tourer are just to compact. On the 1290 Super Duke GT I just felt like I was already leaning over the front bars.

    So I did s ton of reading and looking and test riding. The closet for fulfilling this was the 2020 KTM 1290 Adv S . A littler heavier than the 790 Adv R a lot smoother and not as edgy ast the 790 Adv R. Ergonomics are spot on. but it can’t off road. Well it can but can’t touch the 790 off road capabilities. At least with me riding it.

    So I get the 1290 Super Adventure S with luggage. And the machine is s blast but I just miss the responsiveness of the 17” front wheel like I had on the BMW or the 790 Adv R in the twisties. Always searching for my perfect definition of what I want the bike to ride like or feel like.

    Again If they don’t build what I want I can make accommodations. After researching I buy a 2020 Super Duke GT front 17” wheel make custom 5 mm spacer fort the front rotors, and get some Galfer wave rotors, with a moto composite carbon from fender. Just to finish off the attitude with the new beast I took a $114 takeoff super Duke GT exhaust has a bracket made for it and the sound is awesome. It really growls now.

    Took off the stock Pirelli Scotpion Trail 2, and put on Metzler Sportec M9 RR’s. 120/70 R17 x 180/55 R17. The new 1290 set up is the bomb. It is the epitome of a sport touring machine. You can ride it all day just cruising the country roads or laying the gamer down.

    Is it the perfect bike? No. No bike is perfect because ultimately we want bikes to do different things well. Everything is a compromise. Wind protection on either of the KTMs is not exceptional and driving super slabs all day at 85 or 90 sort of takes it toll on you. But put each of these bikes in their element and they are each stellar. If that is what you want out of them.

    I am thinking maybe having the 790 Adv R and the 1290 SAS is overkill. Either machine could easily do what you wanted in an acceptable manor. I could seek the 790 Adv R but the I would not have the very off road capable, hooligan machine that the 790 is. I could make a set of 21 x18 off road wheels for the 1290 and make it more off road capable. But it will never be the 790 .

    The 1290 will never handle like the 790 Adv R off toad. It will never be the absolute hooligan bike the 790 is when wearing it 17” sneakers.

    By the same token the 790 will never be the absolute torque and power monster the 1290 is but together these two bikes cover everything I want. I am not a super slaber . I ride twisties. I ride off road snd between these two machines and the iterations I have made for them they have all of what I want covered.


    Bottom line, perfect is what perfect does and it is a moving target. So you pick what fits your main driving themes you want out of a bike and then devise alternatives to bring out more performance you want in a specific area. Or you can get a bigger garage and get 5 or 6 bikes. Why because no bike is perfect.
    #11
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  12. djauofd

    djauofd Aged Wine

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    Looking st your current lineage of children I would judge you are looking for a touring type of ride experience. So fir met the new BMW 1250 RT would be the way to go.

    Unless of course you can get a bigger garage.
    #12
  13. hypersports

    hypersports Been here awhile

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    The mods on the SAS to convert to the SDGT front 17 inch wheel sound like a huge success. Did you get the idea from @rick danger ? He did the same thing and has reported that the bike is transformed.
    #13
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  14. mrbreeze

    mrbreeze I keep blowing down the road Supporter

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    I’m surprised you have a buffeting issue with the ST1300. The power adjustable windshield always took care of that for me. The heat was the problem I had with it. I replaced it with an FJR. It’s hard to beat the FJR. The wife didn’t like it though.

    Now I have a 2012 Goldwing and I love it. Very comfortable, handles well for a huge bike, can carry a ton of stuff, stone axe reliability. If I were to replace it, I would have to have another Goldwing.
    #14
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  15. djauofd

    djauofd Aged Wine

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    Actually I wanted to do soon after getting the bike. So not wanting to reinvent the wheel, I started searching the forum I found Rick Danger had done it. Seeing his pics and results only spurred me on. He got a conversion kit from somebody in France. I decided to go a different path and had a local friend who was a retired machinist make me the appropriate rotor and axel spacers and tone ring to convert a Super Duke GT front wheel to Super Adventure status. Like Rick Danger I agree it has transformed the bike. It make the bike feel so much snappier and responsive. You don’t have to push the bike into turns.
    #15
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  16. Carl Childers

    Carl Childers Ghost in the Machine

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    There is no such thing as the perfect motorcycle, multiple bikes are the solution. The closest I've come to the perfect bike in 54 years of riding is a big dualsport ( 09 GSA) goes most anywhere while still being a good touring platform. I did 260 miles on that bike yesterday on all surfaces at elevations ranging from 6k' to 12k' and a temperature range of 54 - 80 degrees in both sun and rain, cruising speeds of 85mph with more left and came home with a smile on my face. Five years of ownership and I still look forward to riding it. Still it's not the perfect bike, I think the bare minimum is three motorcycles, dirt bike, cruiser (for me a Harley) and big dualsport. I buy my bikes used, change my own tires and do my own repairs so my hobby is affordable. I do know which of the three I'd keep if I only could have one and that would be the Beemer. YMMV.
    #16
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  17. Haven't Ben There

    Haven't Ben There restless soul

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    I would suggest a HD Switchback. I have seen some really nice used ones with low miles for sale on Cycle trader.
    As I am sure you know they look a lot like a Road King but a lot less weight.
    #17
  18. whiskeygut

    whiskeygut KMAG YOYO

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    After years of trying I have found MY unicorn. 2015 Honda Goldwing F6B Deluxe with a Russell Day Long seat. Powerful 1833cc engine, cruise control, stereo, center stand, low cost and easy maintenance. It's heavy, but doesn't ride like it's heavy. My riding distance is only limited by those who I'm riding with. I've yet to pull up to a hotel or campground without thinking that I could easily ride several hundred more miles. Obviously, my adventures are found on pavement rather than dirt, but it works for me.
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    #18
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  19. alekkas

    alekkas Long timer

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    The perfect bike is all gassed up in my garage awaiting. It is a beautiful day and my wife and I are taking a 1.5 hour ride to brunch. Detouring on the ride home for layover at a winery.
    #19
  20. tooter

    tooter Been here awhile

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    The joy of riding is the same for everyone
    regardless of the bike they are riding. :-)
    #20
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