How to find the right bike
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Thread: How to find the right bike

  1. #1

    How to find the right bike

    So I have a cruiser, and a enough riding time that it's been serviced twice. Ya, I bought my first bike new. Dumb move? Maybe. But it's got a service plan, and it's not the kind of bike that you take to the track. It has saddlebags for carrying my uniform to work, a reasonably comfortable passenger area just in case I ever find a girlfriend, a nice, high fairing for reducing wind, and a comfortable, upright posture.
    The problem is, it still leaves me "wanting." It's loud, it's shiny, the "chicks dig it", and, in a straight line, it's fast enough. But then I come to a corner. Things like weight, wheelbase, lean angle, and seating position all come into play. It's a lot like a Cadillac. Lots of power, very comfortable, ride it all day on the highway. Couldn't stay competitive for a single lap at Laguna. That's just not what it's for.
    So gotta get a sport bike. Problem is, how do you find the one you want?
    Litrebikes are out. Not even a question. I'm not ready for one. Don't want a sport-tourer. I already have a bike that's basically purpose-built for touring. I have the airliner, now I want the fighter jet. Don't want a streetfighter, don't like the look. Pretty much left with the 600's, or the 500 Ninja.
    I know any of them are far more capable than I am. I don't need the lastest, greatest, fastest, most advanced, newest, hottest street ride. Just something that'll put a grin on my face when I exit a turn. I'd rather be talking about what I can do on my bike than what Sport Rider's professional tester can make my bike do. I don't care if the bike I get was number 3 in the dyno comparison last month. I don't ride well enough that .05 seconds is going to matter. Magazines, for the most part, are no help. They're all great at telling us how the bike does on the track. Haven't read an article yet that mentioned what it performed like in rush hour. I've never seen a multiple stop light test done, or a review of parking lot performance. The right bike seems to be very individual. Do you fit on the bike, or not? That's so hard to tell in the showroom. Not one bike I've sat on causes wrist, shoulder or back pain in the showroom. But how do you find out what they're like after an hour? How is control placement after 15 minutes in the city?
    I'm not a racer. I will probably never be a racer. I ride because I love being on two wheels. I started riding this year, and I'm hooked. Action's SloMo created an addict. But buying a bike for it's stats makes no sense for me. I want to buy one that's got high performance capabilities for those hot summer nights on the Coq, but that I don't have to rest for 20 minutes every 50 kilometres.
    I also plan on keeping it for a while. I'd love to have the money to buy a different bike every couple years. But if I did, I think I'd be better off taking that money and investing in a long series of advanced riding courses. Instead of spending 15k on three learning bikes, I'd rather spend 10k on a bike, and 5k on schools learning to ride it well. The bike may never see the track. It also may never see 150. I don't care about it's straight line speed.
    Any riders around 5'7", what bike works for you, and which ones don't? Why is that? I've heard the F4i and the YZF600 have less aggressive positions. Someone else suggested a Katana. What are the thoughts of the masses? How did you find the right bike for you?

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  3. #2
    just like a Weeble Array Wobbles's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2004
    '93 GSX 1100G

    Suzook SV650 or SV1000

    An excellent bike, that routinely gets "best of class" reviews, is the Suzuki SV650S (and its big brother, the SV1000). Not a pure performance rocket like a Gixxer or other 600 class sportbike, but still a very sporty ride - just more comfortable. It's also a V-Twin, with good bottom-end torque, and is rock-solid and well-mannered around town.

    With the addition of a lower fairing, (see pic here, the SV650S is also one good looking bike.
    My dog says he is the Anti-Christ, but I don't believe him. The little bastard lies all the time.

  4. #3
    Yup. that is a nice looking bike. But I think I sort of got off topic a bit in my first post. Basically what I was wondering was how do you get saddle time on the various bikes out there? Do the various manufacturers offer ride days? Are there demo bikes out there? Once you've been through the reviews, and looked at the pictures, done your research, how do you actually get the butt-on-bike experience without dropping 8-10 grand and hoping it works out?

  5. #4
    Demo days at the dealers are way earlier in the year. i am sure if you come off fairly serious and have a licence and money a dealer will be happy to let you ride any used bike on the lot.
    YZF600R-i was looking into those for a while, sounds like it would fit your needs as it's not the latest and greatest but it's not a back/wrist breaker like some latest supersports and still has great handling/good power.
    Katanas are junk IMHO. i owned one and though mine turned out to be a project from start to when i sold it, i think as a whole they have no redeeming qualities.
    Last season i went on suzuki demo ride, rode a SV650S and then a SV1000S back to back. i thought theyre reasonably comfortable in the showroom, after about 20 mins on one, 20 mins break and 20 mins on the other i was sore as hell. i think the 1000 got me worse than the 650(i got the older model 650) very impressed by the power of the 1000. but from my owners experience won't be caught dead on a suzuki.
    Maybe you should look into a Kawasaki ZZR600? similar deal to the YZF600R,sporty but not painfull.

  6. #5
    Registered User Array Chumly's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2004
    Honda & Suzuki
    That is the tough question because sometimes you have to live with the bike for quite a long time before you finally know if it is for you. Long term reviews from a publication you trust will help some. Staying with a very popular bike / model will help too for ease of buying / selling and the likelihood that that bike / model is popular for good reason.

    For me I wanted a "do it all" medium sized bike with ABS (sport-touring-commuting) so my choices were very limited indeed, hence the 2004 Interceptor ABS.
    Last edited by Chumly; 08-21-2004 at 10:35 PM.

  7. #6
    Old Dirty Bastard Array masonjarz's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2004
    White Rock
    2008 Honda XR650L
    Good post.

    I'm in the same boat with the same kind of questions.

    I wish they made more bikes like the Honda 599. It would be my first choice, but I can't afford to buy new and they just came out in 2004.

    The 599 has more than enough power, brakes and handling for anyone other than a real racer and it has great ergonomics. Chris from Action has one and can't say enough good things about it.

    If buying new is not a problem for you (and you like either yellow or asphalt as there are no other colour choices), I encourage you to look at the 599.
    Last edited by masonjarz; 08-22-2004 at 07:57 AM. Reason: error

  8. #7
    Ride Solo Array GSP's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    The 'Wack
    SV track, VFR road
    Organized demo days aren't very useful because you ride slowly in a pack of riders you (usually) don't know--not the best environment for evaluating a bike. If you've got the $$ burning a hole in your pocket, go around to the dealers and seek some test rides. As for the magazine tests, I'd recommend that you look to Cycle Canada--I think that their tests do a far better job of giving you a more complete picture of the bike (they go beyond track times and don't read like ad copy). Some of the British mags are good for this too, but you're not going to be finding back issues at the local library like you will with Cycle Canada.

    As for dismissing the "sport-tourers", remember that anything that isn't absolutely cutting edge gets branded with the "sport-tourer" label. If you're coming from a Harley background, you might appreciate a V-twin like the SV's mentioned above or a VTR 1000 (it's a "litre-bike", but the power is nothing like the CBRGSXZXYZF1000's). The previous generation ZX-6R and CBR might be good places to start if you want a 600.

    You seem to have a good idea of what you're looking for in a bike, so just keep doing your research. Spend some time looking around because good deals are just around the corner as most people's riding season comes to an end.

    Good luck with your search.
    "When in doubt accelerate.
    It may not help you avoid the problem,
    but it'll end the suspense."

    WMRC #96 (retired)

  9. #8
    The YZF 600R was raced in the mid '90s. Now they call it a sport-tourer. Go figure.

    Don't go by 'class', but go by what the articles/tests actually say. I think it was Cycle Canada that had the Daytona 600 "lose" their 600cc shoot-out; but then turned around and said it was the best for the street. Unfortunately, if you want to ride before you buy I think you'll either have to find an agreeable private seller, or wait for the start of the next season.

  10. #9
    Member #899 Array Squire's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    2008 Beemer (touring)
    I guess you need to look at whether you want a v-twin or an inline 4, a naked vs. full fairing bike, an aggressive seating position or a more relaxed one, a 600 cc or a litre-bike... this year I just purchased my second bike and I went from a naked 600 cc to a full faired 600 cc - totally different bikes as my first one was a sport tourer (Bandit) and this year I have a CBR F4. Both are relatively comfortable but there is definitely more weight on my wrists now (as the Bandit was more upright).

    I have ridden a few bikes and I know what I don't like. Leg room on the Kawi 6R was great but too hard on my wrists. The Honda 954 was waaaaay unfortable. The zx9r is a comfortable sport bike & will give you everything you need. The CBR is great for me & fits. So I guess what I'm saying is, if you can, check all of these things out either through a test ride or if that doesn't work just sit on the bike for a while and you'll get the idea (I think).

    I like Cycle Canada for its reviews of the newer bikes... I have some back issues so if there's something in the last couple of years that you're looking at I may be able to dig up the review.

    Good luck & have fun!!
    Taking It to the Track

    Website: Pitt Meadows Track Days

    WMRC Racer #911 (retired)
    PCMRC Racer #911 (retired)

  11. #10
    Some new thoughts that come to mind. Being a Harley rider, I'm familiar with aftermarket. Let's face it...they make frikkin' EVERYTHING aftermarket for those things (the custom, chromed seat mount washers are a good example.)
    What's the aftermarket like for metric bikes? I'm pretty much narrowed down to ZX-6R or F4i, with the Ninja in the lead for the engine's midrange (good town riding, and a little more forgiving if you're cornering in the wrong gear.) But how about bar placement? Seats? Grips? What can be done, and what can't, and how easy is it to find stuff?

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