Picking the right motorcycle

Discussion in 'The Perfect Line and Other Riding Myths' started by racingxtc7, Aug 12, 2018.

  1. racingxtc7

    racingxtc7 Been here awhile

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    First, you have to ask yourself a couple of questions in which can really narrow down the right bike for you.


    1) How many miles a year do you ride? (less than or more than 10,000 miles)

    2) Do you want to do single track, woods riding? (leisure, aggressive, race pace)

    3) Will you bring lots of luggage and/or passenger?

    4) How much highway do you plan on riding? (short or long distance)


    If you’re riding more than 10,000 miles per year than you’ll want to look at bikes with lower maintenance schedules and designed for longevity. Riding less than 10,000 miles you can really pick any bike because none of them will need any major services during the season.


    People get all up in arms about motorcycle weight however they only time weight is really an issue is if you’re trying to ride single track, woods riding or picking the bike up off the ground. Comparing race bikes from the Dakar Rally and the International Six Days Enduro, they are both offroad race bikes but have just about nothing else in common. The point is that most bikes can do desert, gravel roads, dirt roads and even two track so you’re not really limited on your choice selection. If you’re doing single track, woods riding than deciding how fast you want to ride it will impact the best bike for you.


    The luggage and/or passenger question is one of hardest to predict what you really need. Single people get married and there significant other may or may not want to ride with and/or change their mind. Add kids into the equation and all of a sudden dreams of cross country riding disappear. Then camping and cooking play major roles in the amount of luggage needed.


    Highway riding requires larger displacement bikes and/or bikes with wide ratio transmissions. Short distance of highway can be accomplished by most motorcycles. Riding for hours at a time will require a larger bike with more fuel range. Stopping every 100 miles on even a 300-400 mile day trip isn’t fun.


    There are many popular dual sport bikes for many different reasons. The WR250R gets its popularity because of its ultra low maintenance with a chassis and suspension that satisfies all but the hardcore single track, woods riders. The DR650 and XR650L give up some single track, woods riding due to the extra weigh and dated chassis/ suspension however the extra power and torque make it easy to ride leisurely both on and offroad. Those looking for more performance though will look towards the KTM 690 and Husqvarna 701. Both of which are awesome machines and some of the most road worthy dual sports with the only real down fall being range and expense to increase fuel capacity. With people wanting more longevity and lower maintenance the street legal enduro race bikes have come a long way. While manufactures are keeping to the race level maintenance schedules, most of them are going +10,000 miles before major services (rebuilds). There are lots of aftermarket companies making all kinds of great parts and components for them. Their only down fall being the cost of engine rebuilds however with the average rider doing less than 3,000 miles a year, the $1000ish dollar rebuild will last 3-4 years ($250-$350 annual costs).


    Most adventure bikes aren’t capable of single track, woods riding. Manufactures are seeing peoples desire for adventure bikes to be more offroad capable which is bring some great new bikes to the market. There are so many different adventure bikes on the market and they range greatly in size. The new BMW G310GS is the lightest in class with the most suspension travel. While it may not be single track, woods ready, it can certainly tear up some two track. However, those looking for more luggage capability and/or passengers will probably want something larger like the Africa Twin. Those who don’t need as much offroad capability might look at something like the V-Strom 650XT or CB500X. The compromise between size and power is up to the rider.


    Scamblers are the latest craze and offer great around town riding and the ability to handle gravel roads, dirt roads and maybe even two track. They give up some range to the adventure bikes however generally smaller and lighter.

    Just some food for though.
    #1
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  2. foxtrapper

    foxtrapper Long timer

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    By and large, I agree with what you say. Just a few addendums if I may?

    Ergonomics. If the bike doesn’t fit, or can’t be made to fit, it’s the wrong bike.

    If your interests are wide, like trail riding and cross country travels, two different bikes might be a better idea.

    As the owner of an 800 pound pig, weight sure matters with this bike. Don’t discount high weight with big bikes.

    A good saddle is almost priceless.
    #2
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  3. canoeguy

    canoeguy Long timer

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    I will throw in another. Tastes change and whatever bike you buy today may not be what you want tomorrow.
    #3
  4. DesertPilot

    DesertPilot Been here awhile

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    Almost? What do you mean 'almost'? :D It IS priceless! I'd almost say, "Find the right saddle and pick a bike that goes with it."

    This promises to be a great thread. I'm looking foward to watching it.
    #4
  5. TheProphet

    TheProphet Retired; Living the Dream

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    My advice is simple:

    Choosing a bike is very much like choosing a wife.

    Be very patient, look around, only accept what YOU want, and NEVER accept one based strictly upon someone else's advice.

    Choose wrong, and you will be very, very unhappy. Be patient, and eventually one will appear that ticks all the right boxes.

    YOU will know it when you see it. Good luck.
    #5
  6. klaviator

    klaviator Long timer

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    You are over thinking this. Just buy multiple bikes, one for every type of riding you do:D
    #6
  7. ABBlender

    ABBlender Adventurer

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    For me, finding the right bike involved having the wrong bike initially. This allows you to see limitations of certain bikes and keenly aware of characteristics you need on the next bike. Started with a "sport"-ish bike (Suzuki SV) and although it was a great bike and very fun, I was taking it places that it wasn't intended to go. After this, I realized I needed a long-hauler that was still fun on pavement, better riding position, capacity for a passenger, and able to do gravel roads/easy jeep trails. The Super Tenere fit the bill perfectly and been happy ever since.

    Any bike will get you thinking about your needs and it's great to ride anything.
    #7
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  8. Pantah

    Pantah PJ Fan from Scottsdale

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    Even at my age, no motorcycles needs to be my last, so I can change my preferences. I like riding my old Ducati sport bike, but not much. I use a Honda Africa Twin for two-up and long trips. I have a KTM 690 for more technical dirt, but I am not doing that much anymore. Being able to pick it up myself was an important factor in purchasing that bike. Last year I had the hots for a KTM EXC-F 350 dual sport because it weighs under 250lbs. I was considering trading my 690 on one. I am glad I didn't today because the 690 is less dirt worthy, but more travel worthy. In fact I am riding it in the 2018 Alcan5000 which starts next Monday from Seattle. There is no best bike for me because I change up the type of riding I do.
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    #8
  9. canoeguy

    canoeguy Long timer

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    And after almost 25 year of riding I now know about the Alcan5000. I appreciate that. It sounds like a blast!
    #9
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  10. Pantah

    Pantah PJ Fan from Scottsdale

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    Well, you should try the Alcan5000. The next one is 2022. This will be my third and last attempt. For me it was not a vacation tour through the great white north. It was a grind and required a lot of focus for navigation and speed through the timed sections. But it is a truly great experience that can't be replicated by yourself. We have a hotel every night and chase trucks to collect the damaged. We have fuel trucks for those remote areas with no gas. We have vans to haul our luggage and extra tires. The entry is $2000 per bike, $3k per car. It is a freakin' bargain!
    #10
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  11. CaseyJones

    CaseyJones Ridin' that train

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    To pick a bike, you have to know WHY.

    Do you want to slam the trails?

    Do you want to commute, split lanes in traffic?

    Do you want to get out on your down time, explore the road not taken?

    Do you have friends who go out riding (often it's brand-specific) and you want to join them?

    Know why you buy. What makes a great tourer does not make a good commuter. Neither make a good trail-rider.

    A commuter bike like a VanVan, is going to be a sorry ride on an overnight trip.

    I have made this mistake a couple of times. Got a good deal on a Honda CB1100...be a great day-tripper; it was really more a cafe racer, but fine on the highway. But a bit cramped.

    I found myself on extended layoff, in the center of some of the most-interesting geography I've never seen. Time and a new bike...ROAD TRIP!! But, alas, the CB1100 was a joke, loaded up. And it wasn't good for eight-hour stretches of saddle time, either.

    I sold it, at a loss, to buy a Wee-Strom. Half the engine size, but more bike for what I wanted.
    #11
  12. Ginger Beard

    Ginger Beard Instagram @oneworldcycles

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    That's a lovely assortment
    #12
  13. BetterLateThanNever

    BetterLateThanNever Long timer

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    This. My spouse gets my loyalty to the end. Bikes are the one place in my life I can be promiscuous and flaky AF without losing anything worse than a little depreciation.

    And I hope I don't know what my last bike is until I'm looking back on it.
    #13
  14. Ogre_fl

    Ogre_fl Long timer

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    No, its nothing like that.

    I have had one wife and TONS of bikes (at the same time even).
    The very few times I was close to unhappy with bikes (I have never been very, very unhappy)......I sold them and bought something else.
    If justed wanted something different or my needs changed.......I sold them and bought something else.

    You don't marry a freaking bike.
    Too many folks think this way and get wrapped up in a tizzy trying to get .......... the right one.
    I have found several great bikes I may not had even considers just because I said....what the hell, lets see how this is.
    I have learned a lot of what I do and don't like that NO "research" would have taught me.

    Now the key to this.......don't buy a new bike, buy used.
    #14
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  15. TheProphet

    TheProphet Retired; Living the Dream

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    I am wrong... and you are right.
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  16. Meriden

    Meriden Yea whatever

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    There is a saying that the fastest way to build a wooden boat is to build three: build a small one and throw it in the dumpster, then build another small one and sail it, and only then build the boat you want.

    Buy your first bike because of whatever reason you want, doesn't matter. Ride it and sell it. But another bike and ride it some more, then sell it. Wash, rinse, and repeat until you quit riding, all the time riding with some experienced riding buddies. Skip the formulas and over analyzing the selection process, with experience you will know what suits you. And if you only have enough money to buy the one right bike one time, and therefore have to get it perfect, spend that money on tuition.
    #16
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  17. andykeck

    andykeck Been here awhile

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    In the case of some of my purchases, the 'today' and 'tomorrow' bit are quite literal.
    #17