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I have a KTM620RXC with 17" wheels. There's plenty of suspension travel to allow for a smooth soft ride, if you like it that way. It might be difficult to get a low enough bar to lean you over far enough, though. A dragbar might be the answer. I am using a KTM spec Renthal Fatbar with late model SX bend, and, while it's farther forward than the CR bend I had, it's not sportbike.



I also have a YZF1000. The suspension is very adjustable, and can be set up really soft. I think if you stay away from late model extreme sportbikes, and try say, maybe a YZF600R (Still available new!), you may be pleasantly surprised.



Of course, all of this points to one of the newer standards, ZRX1200, Bandit 1200, FZ-1, all with adjustable suspension. My brother's B1200 is set up very soft, and it might be the ticket!
 

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Consider bikes that offers many after-market upgrades. If you find after a couple hours of riding that you want different bars or a seat, you can always buy something without buying a whole new bike.



Look at companies like Corbin seats and Helibars. You'll find that they specialize in proper ergonimic fit.
 

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A bit pricy...but a BMW R1150RS has all the right qualities to baby your back. It even goes onto the centerstand more easily than anything I've ever ridden.



A few years ago Peter Egan wrote a column about leaving on a tour from Wisconsin to Oregon. Started on a Road King with aftermarket bars. He got a couple of hours from town and hurt his lower back so badly he had to turn back. Back home he couldn't get comfortable anywhere...not standing, not lying down, not sitting in an easy chair. Then he went out to the garage and sat on his BMW. If I recall correctly, it was an early 80's R100RS. It felt so good he repacked his stuff from the Harley to the BMW and left for Oregon. By the time he reached the Pacific his back was almost completely better. After a short stay in Oregon he and his wife, who had joined him there, rode down the coast to Southern Calif for a wedding. From there Egan rode back to Wisconsin.



Another bike I can vouch for as easy on the lower back was mentioned above...the FZ1. The fully adjustable suspension (front and rear) is on the soft side of sport to begin with and can be set softer. It also goes onto the centerstand fairly easily. The stock bars are somewhat high, but are a long enough reach from the seat to give a degree of forward lean. If you want more lean, you can switch to the drag style titanium bars or keep the stock bars and switch to the lower bar mounts (probably the best bet). Both are available from Yamaha. Its a terrific bike...and $7K less than the BMW.



Or get both.
 

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I remember that column of Egan's, too, and agreed with it both then and now. I've had about six or seven BMWs over the last 30 years, and they are far and away the best for rider ergonomics. The old R100RS or R80 are the best of the bunch, even better than the new R11 series - but you'll have to leave it on the propstand because the centrestand will give you back problems all over again. In that respect, at least, the R11s are a real improvement.
 

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I've been nursing a bulging/slightly ruptured disk in my lower back for nearly 20 years, putting off the surgery as long as possible. What I've found is, each person's situation is unique, unlike anyone else's. Consult with your doctor to determine if your particular case points to a leaned over riding position (e.g. sport-tourer) or a more upright posture. In my case I have found the upright posture to work better for longer stretches in the saddle. That said, I found the best piece of equipment to be an aftermarket seat with a good, tall, adjustable back support. You may have to experiment a bit, but if it gets you back on the bike it will be worth it. Good luck!
 

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Good bike for bad back?

Everybody's situation is unique. That said, I think that your solution would be in a standard or in a sport tourer.

You should probably go to a dealership and site on the bike in a riding potition for at least ten minutes, which will require them to put the bike up on the centerstand or on a rear stand. Then mentally try to figure in what the wind pressure will do.

Cruisers absolutely kill my back, so I stay away from them.

Sport-tourers - For one up, the S-T style bike that I really like is the Yamaha YZF600R. For two up, the VFR. Putting a tankbag on the bike and keeping it loaded with those odds and ends you always need, like a rainsuit, gives you a place to rest your stomach and keeps the strain off of your back. The VFR also has great aftermarket support in different bars, etc. (Heli's kit is an easy install.) The Suzuki Katana is last generation technology, but a nice ST bike as well. There's many other choices in this category, but these are my choice for reducing back strain.

If a standard works better for you, the VStroms, either size, give an upright riding position, as do the SV650 and the Moto-Guzzi Breva. You'll probably want to add a largish windshield to either of these.

Oddly a bike that also babies my back is the Ducati 800 Sport. That oddly-shaped tank can really take weight off of your back, though you may get a little shoulder strain. The SV650S has a similar position.

But I think the most important thing is to go sit on the bike, upright, with feet on the pegs and see how it fits. Give yourself some time in the saddle.

Francis
 

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Re: Good bike for bad back?

I too suffer from a bad back. Osteoarthritis. I researched any number of bikes and after market backrests and eventually bought a BMW R 1150GS and added a back rest from Best Rest products (you can find them on the net easily). The GS has the upright riding position that helps keep my spine alligned and the Best Rest back rest is infinitely adjustable to suit any size rider. I also added a set of Elf Pegs so that I could get my legs stretched out occasionally.

Unhappily, the new R1200GS, from what I can see of the pictures released so far, will not accept the mounting for the back rest nor the Elf pegs. But with a new model out, you may get a deal on a 2003 GS.

The GS is a blast to drive, will take you just about anywhere and I did a 10,00km tour last summer and 8,000km the year before without any adverse effect on my back.

Good luck in your search.

Cheers

Kevan
 

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Corbin Seats With Backrest

I have a bad back as well and have found that a back rest really helps. You might go to www.corbin.com and look for seats that have back rests for the rider by scanning through the different bikes. For instance, the Kawasaki Vulcan 1500 Drifters have a seat that has the optional rider backrest. See http://www.corbin.com/kawasaki/drift_menu.shtml I am sure there are other bikes as well with this option.
 

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you might try an sv1000s which can be had quite reasonably if you shop around. then spend a the money you save over some other models and get the forks/shock redone to soften the ride up if its to stiff. Or, look at an sv650 if you want to go even cheaper. bother are great bikes and being 130 lbs, the 650 would haul with ya on it i'm sure. (I'm 220 personally)
 

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Just remembered a article in Rider about 10 years ago. They had a chiropracter(sp?) analyze the different riding positions of different style bikes.

(note: I've never been impressed with chiro's, but they do seem to know the skeletal structure)

They came to the conclusion that Sport-tourers ahere easiest on the back/wrist/legs as a whole, that standards where next followed by sport bikes being to cramped and cruisers putting to much strain on the lower back (pluss they transfered road impact straight to the lower spine.

All that being said, every one is different. You are going to have to get some seat time on different types of bikes to see what works best for you.

Good luck and welcome back
 

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Like some of the others who've posted, I had herniated a disc, and it seems that each person's situation is unique depending on the nature of their injury. My injury was in the lumbar region, and the bulge was to the rear, so leaning forward was the only way to relieve pressure. My old K100RT barely leaned me forward enough (I'm 6'3"). There was a time when I couldn't stand up straight and walk without pain, but I could ride the RT all day. In my case, something that would have leaned me forward a little more would likely have been even better, such as the aforementioned VFR and others of the ST variety. If your injury is similar to mine, one of these would be just the ticket. As others have suggested, spending some time sitting on one first, and trying to account for the effect of wind would be a good idea.



Good luck,



Kurt
 

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Re: Good bike for bad back?

I'm suprised you didn't recommend the Ural. The Ural also provides regular exercise in the form of frequent maintenance stops.
 
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