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What matters more, performance or looks?

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lover of twins
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Discussion Starter #1
Doser's thread on the new monster got me thinking about what matters most to riders. I think you can say that across all categories these days, the performance potential of most rides exceeds the capabilities of the person riding them, particularly when it comes to "normal" use, ie not a dedicated race bike.This of course probably doesn't apply to smaller displacement bikes, but realistically anything from 600cc and up that's intended for street use.

So what do you think? If you had to choose between two similar bikes do you go with the better performance package or the one that looks nicer in the garage?
 

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backslider
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How about 'the one that moves your soul and quickens your pulse the most' ... whatever the performance/looks package happens to be ... ;-)
 

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Garage appeal has always been important to me. My collection of superbikes from yesteryear, now apexed by a healthy 600 SS, even still I choose to keep them. The kind of machines that make you look back for one final look as you close the garage door. Ultimate performance for the street used to be very important as well. In 2020, that you can have your bike taken away from you at less than 120 km/hr anywhere on the Sea to Sky, and 140km/hr on hwy 1, makes 160+ hp a waste of time honestly. Actually I find it more fun to ride a slower bike hard than a cutting edge supersport sedately.

I'm confident enough in my understanding of what is generally considered an ugly bike, and what is generally considered a nice looking bike. I've also got 3 different types of ADV bikes, and rate all of the machines in this wide category as butt ugly.
 

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I'll buy into Stevie G's attitude. every bike out there these days gives us more than any of us can ride, so 'performance' per se has sorta disappeared as a differentiating characteristic. that's NOT quite true for sports bikes, especially litre sports bikes, where the biggest 'cock' still provokes envy. but, really, while the modern superbikes are absolutely awesome, 205 hp just gives bragging rights over 190 hp, or 180 hp. the 'peak' HP number is a red herring, rather unrelated to the rideable horsepower in anything less than peak RPM conditions. therefore no surprise in that recent test of the old GSXR vs the new Panigale, in which the Suzie whupped the Duc in mutliple ways. yes, the Ducati 'made' way more power... but the GSXR made it accessibly. and back to the original question, beauty is in the eye of the beer-holder... and my bike is the best looking, by far...
 

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track hack
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I'd go as far as to say 99% of riders can't max out the potential of a Kawi 400 Ninja, I know for certain that I sure don't and I've had the pleasure of dumping 10's of thousands of dollars into a Club Racing hobby the past 13 years.

Regardless, I'm 75%/25% in favor of performance over aesthetics when choosing bikes. I've owned beautiful ones, "meh" ones, and insanely gag-worthy ones (2003 VStrom 1000 in putrid yellow) but I know when considering a new-to-me bike it's usually based on what most buyers look for:

  • Value for the buck - aka can I sell it later in similar condition and not lose my shirt
  • heart rate factor - does it make me wanna turn around for one last glance before leaving the garage after each ride?
  • reliability and ease of maintenance - somethings that's increasingly more important to me since my recent frustrating KTM forays
  • is it suited to perform well for MY needs? Am I touring, blitzing fire roads, riding track days, commuting to University, etc... Can you do a TD on a clapped out Vstrom, yes. Is it ideal, or even practical, no.

A bike like the OP mentions in the new Duc Monster is a great balance of the two - looks killer and has the goods to perform on a backroad.
 

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I'd go as far as to say 99% of riders can't max out the potential of a Kawi 400 Ninja, I know for certain that I sure don't and I've had the pleasure of dumping 10's of thousands of dollars into a Club Racing hobby the past 13 years.

Regardless, I'm 75%/25% in favor of performance over aesthetics when choosing bikes. I've owned beautiful ones, "meh" ones, and insanely gag-worthy ones (2003 VStrom 1000 in putrid yellow) but I know when considering a new-to-me bike it's usually based on what most buyers look for:

  • Value for the buck - aka can I sell it later in similar condition and not lose my shirt
  • heart rate factor - does it make me wanna turn around for one last glance before leaving the garage after each ride?
  • reliability and ease of maintenance - somethings that's increasingly more important to me since my recent frustrating KTM forays
  • is it suited to perform well for MY needs? Am I touring, blitzing fire roads, riding track days, commuting to University, etc... Can you do a TD on a clapped out Vstrom, yes. Is it ideal, or even practical, no.

A bike like the OP mentions in the new Duc Monster is a great balance of the two - looks killer and has the goods to perform on a backroad.
Did kawi supercharge that little ninja and give it real suspension?
 

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track hack
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Did kawi supercharge that little ninja and give it real suspension?
I keep checking mine for one but sadly I haven't seen one yet. 44hp stock, all the way up to 52 currently.

Suspension is non-adjustable but for a budget bike it's pretty decent - much better than the R3 and RC390 I owned but clearly not quite the full Ohlins bling I had on my Gix1000 race bikes either.
 

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There has got to be something said for power even when not used to its potential. Having a n400 plated in the shop(my wife's) and my fz1 and being able to choose at will most days which I will ride. Well the fz1 wins hands down. Am I riding either bike to its limits? Not a chance. But the thrill of twisting open the fz1 throttle still can't be denied.
 

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If i wanted something that looks good in a garage, i'd spend $12 and get a poster. I buy my bikes to have fun. :)
I may never need the peak HP my bike has, but having a bike that can effortlessly pass any vehicle in any situation makes backroads a lot more fun.
Although these days heated gear and comfort mods happen before anything related to suspension or motor are considered.
 

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lover of twins
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Discussion Starter #10
The question is about drawing comparisons between similar bikes - not a litre bike and 400cc bike. So bikes that are fairly similar but the difference is that one is better on the performance side and one looks a lot nicer. Is that extra 20hp or .2 second faster 0-60 time worth it for something that looks like a rejected turkey turd?
 

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track hack
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The question is about drawing comparisons between similar bikes - not a litre bike and 400cc bike. So bikes that are fairly similar but the difference is that one is better on the performance side and one looks a lot nicer. Is that extra 20hp or .2 second faster 0-60 time worth it for something that looks like a rejected turkey turd?
IMO - if it's not a track bike, no it isn't.

If I'm buying a liter bike, supernaked, sport touring machine - 20hp is of no consequence to me.
 

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I may never need the peak HP my bike has, but having a bike that can effortlessly pass any vehicle in any situation makes backroads a lot more fun.
yup! that's why I couldn't go back to a smaller displacement bike, after living with that 'easy passing' capability that you get with a thousand ccs of motive force.
 
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license to chill
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Given modern engineering, it's easier to find a bike that performs well enough, and harder to find a bike that looks like "wow", especially subjectively, so all things equal looks gets the priority.
The exception might be if you're heading in the direction of vintage.
 

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Beer League Racer/Asshole
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yup! that's why I couldn't go back to a smaller displacement bike, after living with that 'easy passing' capability that you get with a thousand ccs of motive force.
same here. While the smaller displacements have similar top speeds, I'll take the power for not having to plan passes.
 

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backslider
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Besides, how often does anyone ever really wind up their bike (600, 1000, or whatever) to wfo top speed anyway ... it's all about what happens in the real world of cars and pedestrians and pot-holes and police
 

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Rev it up
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I voted performance due to the lack of choices.
It can be argued that everything is a compromise. Bikes can really expose this, at least to me. I will take a bike that fulfills my needs over a real beauty.
I want some torque, comfort and good suspension without breaking the bank. I have a 05 Multistrada S model with some aftermarket goodies that bring this bike so very close to being perfect for me. The bike looks great from the back, good from the sides but from the front not so much. If the bike was a home run in the looks department it would demand a higher dollar. Love this bike!
 

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so many damn beautiful bikes out there, some of 'em make absurd power,
some 'look' better standing still.. generally speaking, i enjoy bikes that bring that
'something more' to the table.

plenty of bikes now make much higher #s than my current toys, some of 'em are
more aesthetically pleasing.. I have a j.o.b. which 'could' afford me to purchase
just about anything i want.. yet, happy with what i got.

there must be something more to it, me thinks. sometimes i think 'performance'
is something that is about as subjective as 'aesthetics' can be. Plenty of people
rave on about this or that perceived 'ability' in this/that bike and yet it does absolutely
nothing for the next 20 riders..

not even gonna get into the whole 400cc bike discussion. zero interest in said bikes.

having said that. i'm having a really hard time with the two options in this survey.

certain people are NEVER gonna look good on X, Y, Z bike no matter how great
the bike itself looks. So i guess if you 'think' you look great on it, thats what matters.

It wont mean a thing when out on the freeway anyway.

Some bikes make insane performance numbers, but the design team was out to
lunch on the aesthetics. IF that is the case, there's no amount of lipstick that will
make me want one.
 

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I recently purchased an all black '06 CBR1000-RR ... covers the gamut in both (performance and aesthetics) fields !!

Can't wait till spring ...
 
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