I am the happy owner of a '03 naked Suzuki SV1000 and an '03 Kawasaki Z1000. I've never owned or ridden a Ducati S2R or the Triumph Speed Triple. But I have ridden a Harley V-Rod and beat one in a drag race on my SV1000 (LOL). I can say though that if you like the sound and power delivery of the V-Rod, you will love the SV1000 for these characteristics. Before I bought the SV1000, I did a lot of research and for me, it boiled down to two main things:
1. Purchase price - I bought my new '03 naked SV1000 last fall for $5,500 out the door.
2. Cost of ownership - I'm no mechanic so the latter consideration was major for me. The SV1000 doesn't need it's valves checked until 15,000 miles. And it's really easy to do basic stuff like oil and spark plug changes and throttle body synchronization.
However, after I purchased the SV based mainly on the above criteria and since I had not ridden or even heard one, I was completely blown away by the rich amount of torque and the beautiful noise the bike made. I've definitely been converted to the twin.
I'm sure the Ducati and the Triumph are wonderful bikes too. They are both very pretty bikes to look at. But for the money, you can't touch the the SV1000. And IMHO, the SV is the best motorcycle I've ever owned.
Additionally, I recommend you join the SV1000 forum at www.sv1000.zyns.com. Search around and ask questions and you will get honest and objective answers about the SV1000. That's a great website about motorcycling in general too.
Ride all the bikes...it always amazes me that people buy motorcycles that they have not ridden. Beg, borrow, steal or rent the bikes and ride them. Put them on their centerstands, put on your riding gear and sit on them. Then make your choice based upon YOUR experience and cost.
That's an excellent suggestion. However the only new bike dealers that allow test rides in my area are Buell. I was able to rent the V-Rod and if other bikes were available via renting, I sure would have done that before buying.
I don't know why, but the speed triple leaves me cold, even though owners of them love them, which means it could just be me. The other two bikes you have selected are both excellent machines. The Ducati will out handle the SV, but the SV will likely out run the Duc. In terms of maintenance, the SV is a clear winner. After market support is better for the SV, with higher handlebars, etc. easily available. Try out one of the Buells while you are in this ballpark, like the XB12Ss. Find out what maintenance costs are for the Duc in your area and then do a chart of your costs to ride for 15,000 miles. I had my choice of my last purchase down to the three I've mentioned (SV, Duc, Buell) and ended up with the Buell. Or you can save some cash, buy the SV and ride it happily. All three of these bikes are vast improvement in the fun factor area over the Harley.
Thanks, I appreciate all of the comments and opinions, unfortunately I am in Maine and test driving anything right now isn't going to happen, so I'm just reading reviews and going to the dealers to check them out. I haven't ruled out Buells either, there just aren't any dealers in my local area.
My choice would be the Triple...The Triumph dealers here in the Seattle area give test drives. A friend of mine bought a big Daytona and loves it, no problems or issues. Triumph also has a two year warranty. Ducati does too I think, but the maintenance costs could be a concern. SV1000 you couldn't go wrong with. May not have the sex appeal as the Triumph and Ducati though...
I would stay away from the Buells if you don't have a dealer near by. I have read way too many posts about little things going wrong with the new ones. i.e. nagging items. Unlike big things going wrong with the old ones...
Vlad gave the best advice - at least from my perspective.
If you want more fun and need to feed the inner cheapskate, why not look at a low miles, late model Superhawk. Use only a portion of your saving to update the suspension, tires, handlebars & go have fun. Lots of fun.
If you have a V-Rod you aren't cheap. Why look to save money to have fun? Life is too short. Work the extra hours, beg, borrow, steal and get the Ducati. Most people want to minimize the cost for their first bike. But that's not what you're talkin' about. Fun can be measured by what it looks like standing still in your garage, the odd looks of "what is that?" when pulling up to your favorite joint. The smile factor as you rumble along. And don't forget the hooligan wheelie that we all need in this politically correct world we live in. All the bikes mentioned above are good choices. The Suzuki will run forever and you'll change the rear fender as soon as you get it. The triumph is a wheelie bike too. Superhawk was fun a couple years ago but is now long in the tooth. Don't wait to eventually get your dream bike. Do it now and tell your wife that it was on sale.. Happy Riding
My ST2 has been pretty bullet-proof, but you'll want to junk the stock clutch slave in favour of a Yoyodyne or other unit right from the start. Apart from that, Ducati's 2-valve motors are particularly reliable. The Duck is a bit fussy under 3000rpm but then cleans right up. I have a VStrom 1000 too which has the SV motor. The VStrom is smooth except at 3800rpm where it stumbles a bit. Annoying, but if you like to keep the revs high not a problem. If you'd like to become addicted to adorning your bike with exotic machined bits and pieces, sign your soul away for the S2R.