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The reason standards can't win

Gabe, you are right on the money, but misinterpreted one piece of data you found. You are right that it is difficult to find a low mile standard. You are right that that is because they are getting ridden. The problem is that those of us who have discovered your lesson that a good standard gives us everything we could ever need, can't justify to ourselves or SWMBO that we should get a NEW bike. I have a BMW K75 with an aftermarket fairing. It is not sexy, but it does EVERYTHING I want it to do. When I go down and look at a MG Breva, or heaven help me a K1200R I just can't justify the expense. My K75 probably has another 100,000 miles left in it...
 

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That 1500 annual mileage avererage is amazing. I wonder how it was arrived at. What's the source.



I've always said that a lot of people buy bikes because they like the idea of motorcycles, not the riding. Most of these like the idea of belonging to some group or another and a few just like machines.



Some I suspect never learn to trust themselves driving them. And let's face it, the danger is there. Or they get a freight and hang it up. I've heard these stories for years.



Even a Gold Wing can be uncomfortable in hot, cold, or wet conditions. This covers a part of most days in most places.



I drive a ZZR1200 now. It's almost a standard and was cheap. 10K a year or so in the 7 month Michigan season.













 

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Every word is true. But it goes far, far deeper than just motorcycles. The entire North American psyche is tuned in to style over substance at any cost, bigger is better, and I'm more important than you.
 

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I once owned both an '87 GSX-R1100 and a '90 CBR1000F at same time. I loved the GSX-R, but there was no denying the CBR was more pleasant to do 500+ mile days on. For me, the CBR is as comfortable as my R100GS-PD, maybe more so, and have done some 700-800 mile days on it.



The GSX-R weighed about 500 pounds wet, the CBR about 600. At the time, I'd wonder why no one made a bike like the CBR that weighed what the GSX-R does.



When it came time to reduce the herd a little, I sold the GSX-R. I still have the CBR. Some days I still miss the old Suzook, gone these many years. sniff.



The point of all this is I think a sport bike like the CBRs with their little more upright seating position, and full fairing are as practical as a so-called standard, maybe more so because of the weather protection. Easier to clean, too.
 

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Look:

Don't you guys get all semantic on me. I was referring to hardcore sportbikes, not practical, all-arounders like the CBR1000 or the VFR, or the ZZR1200. Those things are good. Yeah!

But hardly anybody buys bikes like that now.
 

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Right on... Please provide more examples of possible contenders...

...I recently sold three motorcycles in the hopes of buying one, "all arounder." My three bikes comprised of: 2000 Monster 900sie for the street/sport riding. A 750ss/795cc track-only bike, and a Royal Enfield 500cc that I mostly bought to hop up and putt around town on. All three bikes have been sold now and I still haven't pulled the trigger on this, "all around motorcycle," as I'm having problems finding it... Ideally, it would be a standard, have fully adjustable suspension, be able to cruise the city, countryside, or the track (a twin would be nice, but that's subjective)... And for me it has to be under 10k. So what does that leave us with? Well, the bike I just sold a Monster (which I'm seriously thinking about picking up another one now), but not the 600-800cc monsters, just the new 1000 and the old 900S models have the fully adjustable suspension, the rest don't make the list. The multistrada is very very appealing on paper, but I may be more vain than I care to admit. An SV1000, but it's a little on the heavy side and I can't see where the weight comes from... The Buell XB9S is something I've almost bought three times now... The chassis, ergonomics, and suspension are all there... I can even overlook the engine technology as I do think it gets the job done just fine... But what sucks in my geeky engineer perspective, is the way the motor is mounted to the chassis, it's not a stressed member and they have these tie-rods extending from the chassis to the engine... It just looks weak as hell and screams, "This motor does not belong here, it is a prototype and we will work out a better way to mount it if enough people buy this version." If I could, I'd buy a Buell XB9s, with a Ducati 1000cc air-cooled engine (properly mounted), hold the desmo and keep the hydraulic valves and belt drive... So what else is available that fits this bill... I'd buy the Yamaha MT-03 in a heartbeat if it came with the suspension bits that are on the prototype, but they haven't stated an intent to even build it. I'd even strongly consider the Derbi Mulhacen, but again, it's not available. Is there anything, or should I just buy a race prepped SV with all the suspension mods for the track, and a decent street standard and give up the single-bike dream?

Additional Readings:

Derbi Mulhacen:

http://www.bikez.com/motorcycleoftheyear/derbi_mulhacen_659_2005.php

Yamaha MT-03:

http://ymedc.introweb.nl/en/archive/street/mt03.shtml
 

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Re: Right on... Please provide more examples of possible contenders...

I understand your pain. However, you say that you want to keep it under 10 grand and then go off on wanting to buy two bikes again or unpriced prototype bikes.

If you are willing to spend a bit more you should look at the BMW K1200R (BMW even has some incredible financing deals).

Upright seating position, 150+ hp, trick hossack front suspension, electronically adjusted suspension (no more getting off the bike and twisting a knob to guess just high tight or loose you want it) just push a button and you can change damper and pre-load. It is being used as a race bike in the BMW Cup series at Moto GP, options include ABS brakes, accessorie bags, GPS , and a bunch of other expensive gadgets if that's your thing.

The looks are something only you can decide on - some love it, some think the design team had one too many late nights at the beer garden - your choice.

Check it out.

And no, I'm not a BMW rep. I just own the S version of the bike and it's a great engine and suspension. I was tempted by the R version, but I fall into the category of those who think the design engineers had a "let's see who can make the front end uglier" contest.
 

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Very interesting article. And I agree with you Gabe. I often wonder if Suzuki made the naked GSXR instead of the naked SV, which I own, that it would have lasted longer than one year. I don't know if they could have made it as inexpensive though. Maybe if sportbike manufacturers made their bikes to look good sans plastic bodywork and made removal of said bodywork a snap with some sort of locking mechanism. And then some sort of adjustable ergonomics with low clip ons that could be raised and pulled back, a seat that could be lowered and moved forward, and pegs that could also be moved around. Sure that would be an extremely challenging engineering and design nightmare. But someone should do it. I think a manufacturer that doesn't take any risks will continue to lose market share to the Triumphs, BMWs, and other bike manufacturers that do. Just my $0.02.
 

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Gabe, you're absolutely right! I ride a V-Strom 6fiddy, so it was refreshing to see something resembling my thoughts. I had a cruiser -- it was not a good motorcycle unless I was going straight and moving slowly to mininimize the sail effect. Never did buy a full-on sportbike because I could never could adjust to my ass sticking up in the air as if I were auditioning for a date with RuPaul. On the street, it looks dumb, feels dumb and minimizes your situational awareness.



But as long as there is human pride, there will be sportbikes and cruisers. Their owners don't ride, they pose. They are pea****s.
 

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Who are you calling...

Who are you calling "hardly anybody?!" I know of at least 2 other VFR's in Houston. With a piddling 4 million people in the Houston area that calculates to a percentage of...

Oh, never mind.

Nice article.
 

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AHHH yes the naked bike, natures most perfect tool. Master of nothing but good at everything. There is nothing quite like strapping my solo camping gear on the bike and escaping for a weekend ride by myself, no groups, no silly outfit.

After 26,000 miles and nothing but general maintenance life is good. So when your tired of being the Hunchback of Notre Dame or riding that two wheeled GYNO chair give the standard a try.
 

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Oh Gabe... your bike is here.

Gabe said: "why do we have to choose between comfort and performance?"

You don't. You can buy a bike now that handles on pavement like a sportbike, has fully-adjustable suspension, is ergonomically neutral and naturally comfortable, has a relatively simple, strong, reliable air-cooled motor, has moderate dirt-road capability, generous passenger space, and even optional hard luggage. All of this comes with minimal compromise in street/sport handling.

Its the Ulysses.

You might not like the way it looks; it is somewhat gangly, (as is the Multistrada), and won't flip the switch for those in need of bad-ass ego-support. But you wanted real-world honest-to-God moto-goodness, and it has that in abundance.

Here's a link to Reg Kittrelle's early review, to get a sense of what Buell has created (review is multi-part):

http://www.sacborg.com/ubb/ultimatebb.cgi?ubb=get_topic&f=1&t=013152
 

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Cruiser riders don't ride, we pose? Really. When I sold my Heritage Softail (an Evo) to get a Roadglide (I know, but beauty truely is in the eye of the beholder) it had over 120,000 on it. I rode that bike through 44 states, 3 provinces in Canada and 19 European countries from England to Poland and Norway to Greece. My last trip was over 9000 miles which took a little less than a month. When I have riding partners they're usually on cruisers too. As far as posing goes, I can tell you from being in the heart of sporty standard land, Europe, there are posers on all types of bikes, sporty standards included.
 

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Gabe, that was great! It never ceases to amaze me how much money people spend on their bikes and how little they ride them. I'll only buy used bikes, so all these low mile bikes are a godsend to me, but as you mentioned, they're all the wrong kinds of bikes! I wanted a cheap standard to ride to work, that was as low maintenance as possible, because I didn't want to have to maintain it every other weekend. There are so few bikes that meet this criteria. Some cruisers did, but I don't want to have to clean all that chrome, and they're not so cheap used either. I ended up with a 1991 Nighthawk 750, possibly the most boring motorcycle ever made. The longer I own this thing, the more I appreciate it. When I rode it home from the old owners house, I'd thought I'd made a mistake. But after a few hours in the garage undoing his sloppy maintenance, and adding useful accessories such as saddlebags, a plexifairing, a backrest, a luggage rack, and god forbid, a centerstand, I've got an air-cooled bike, with hydraulically-adjusted valves, thats built like a tank. I change the oil regularly, lube the chain and thats it. I certainly don't lust after it, bikini-clad hot chicks completely ignore me (that could be me more than the bike though) but this bike really grows on you, because it'll do pretty much anything I ask of it, with a minimum of fuss. I take it out occasionally on a weekend, but I use it primarily for commuting, here in the Detroit area. I do about 10,000 mile a year on it. It never misses a beat. I get about 50 mpg, city cycle, it runs on joe-schmo dino oil, takes regular 87 gas, and cost me a whopping $2000. Cheap enough, in fact, for me to buy a used VFR, with the money I had left over from selling my previous bike!



As much as I like the VFR, I think I would much prefer something like the Nighthawk, only with a more powerful engine and better brakes and suspension. But, as you mentioned, those bikes are only really available in Europe. There are some naked/standards sold here, but few that are capable of having a windshield, bags and a centerstand fitted. Call me boring, but I want my bike to be as versatile as possible!



Maybe you can answer me this......Why don't all street bikes have a centerstand (makes maintenance 100% easier) and hydraulically adjusted valves? Valve adjusting is a time-consuming pain which most people are not going to do, and if Honda can put it on a 15 year old standard bike, why not on the latest crop of bikes?



Nice article, by the way. Alas, you're right, until us Americans look at motorcycles as being fun machines AND transportation, we are going to receive bikes here that serve up the adrenaline fix or the quest for more chrome and louder pipes. Practicality, for the time being, is being mostly ignored.
 

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Since everyone else agrees, I just need to say you are wrong. :) I ride cruisers and put a lot of miles on them, but I do know that I am in the minority. But for me, I am far more comfortable on my Dyna wide glide, riding all day long, than I am on my M2 cyclone or any other bike I have to sit upright, unsupported on. When I go on my long trips I throw a bag on my back seat that I get to lay on for the whole trip. It is as comfortable as sitting on a recliner with my feet stretched.



I also understand that a standard is far better at keeping me alert and paying attention to the road. I am faster to react and the standard has better brakes. I really do feel safer when I am riding legal speeds on the standard. But when I want to go fast, I feel far more comfortable on the Dyna. I know what the bike will do when I come out of a corner and jump on the gas. I know that when the back end slides out I will counterstear. I have ridden it so much that I am just used to how it behaves. The Buell is still full of surprises for me, will it slide, wheelie, I really don't know. Maybe I just need to put more miles on the buell so I get past the unknowing stage.



So to sum up my point of view cruisers can be great for comfortable riding. Even with ape hangers.
 

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Good article, but I think Gabe missed the point a bit. Yes, cruisers and sportbikes may be either uncomfortable for some, or impractical for others, but instead of classifying the motorcycles themselves, classify the riders alone. There are people that ride, and people that don't, regardless of motorcycle type. That will be true for all motorcycle types. I don't buy that supposed fact that there are no low mileage standards, because I have seen and can find plenty out there. If you can't, you aren't looking very hard. Mileage isn't everything either. Some guys may commute every day, most of the year, for 20 miles a day, and have substantially less miles than a guy that takes 3 vacation trips a year, and never touches the bike the rest of the time. Who is the better rider in that case? Standards don't sell well, you say? I lay most of the blame for that at the doorstep of the moto-journos themselves. New sportbikes are practically hailed as the second coming of Christ. NOBODY says the bike is impractical, or uncomfortable for every day street use. Those things are glossed over, if said at all. And on the cruiser side with the journos, well you just ain't cool if you don't have the latest fat-tire contraption. No matter that it rides and handles like a complete piece of shyt. Nobody has the guts to say that in print. Ok, maybe Sean does, but if things were REALLY laid on the line in print about most of these bikes, I doubt any manufacturer would give any bikes for tests. To conclude, if every bike was a standard, I doubt the average mileage would go up much. All you need to do is go back to the 70's boom that led to the 80's bust, because nobody really rode those bikes either, and 90% of them WERE standards. There are riders and there are motorcycle owners. Good article though, but I really need another address to send my homophobic hate mail. Sean is getting sick of mine already.
 

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Tuono or Tuono like?

I have come to a similar conclusion that sport bikes have just about run their course as a street ride. I have a garage full of sport bikes as well as a ZRX 1200. I love the capabilities of the R1 and my RC 51 but they are too much off the track. The power is overkill of course but I like having it available for the two car pass every now and then and I like the handling when the corner gets tight and bumpy. The Rex is much more fun and enjoyable to ride on the street with ample power but after the R1 or the RC, it is a pig the first time you try to corner on it. I long for an Aprilla Tuono but the nearest dealer is three hours out. A standard version of the R1 or the RC 51 (the Hawk is not a standard) complete with the good suspension pieces, the full monty motor and an aluminum chassis is my request-with a good dealer network to back it up please.
 
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