This is based on what I use to cummute to and from work. Granted I live six miles from work and am in the country, but I have used this for cummuting in the past in a semi-major metropolitan (Minneapolis) area. A '99 YZF-R6. It is the perfect bike. On trips I get between 40 and 50 mpg. The bikes' breaks are better than I am so stoping is quick in traffic. Fun wise the bike sounds awsome with a leo vince pipe and is quick. Finally, I have all the weather protection I need with the rain suit I always have under the passaner seat. If it's cold, just wear more layers. I have ridden when the weather was in the 40's and once my chin got used to the cold (numb) the ride was fine. Actually kind of refreshing.
Oh yeah, and for storage space I have a really stream lined Tumi back pack that feels like it is not even on, even when it is full.
Now, I know people will complain about comfort, but cowboy up. Spend about 5 min. stretching every morning and the improvment in flexability will make this bad boy totally comfortable. Do some ab work and hold your weight with your mid section instead of your writs and you will be able to ride all day.
Light is right. Small nimble bike and a good set of rain gear in a tailbag on the back. My favorite commuter in my garage is my 1993 DR650 kickstart only. With the jcwhitney $59 tail trunk life is good. Easy riding for sure!
I think you need to add another reason to commute by motorcycle: being able to ride in the HOV lanes even without a passenger.
In Virginia where you cannot split lanes, the size of the bike isn't too much an issue. Perhaps the more comfortable 600 sport (YZF, F4, ZZR, etc) with GIVI luggage, corbin seat, taller windscreen, and aftermarket heated grips - or maybe the new FJR?
Could you help me with that one? I always see it on the back of shiny new pickups driven by the kind of folks I have no respect for: cell phone yammering fake cowboy bad driving a-holes. Yet I assume that no popular trend could be all bad, even the Macarena. Do you have any idea how the whole 'cowboy up' notion got started?
Otherwise, I completely agree, concept-wise, anyway. I haven't ridden an inline 4 in about 11 years, but my idea of a good commuter is a Monster, and I am one of the few who took off the uncomfortable handlebars and put on clip-ons precisely for comfort. I believe the lighter and more fun to ride, the better for anything, including commuting. All the whining about uncomfortable bikes you read in the moto-press strikes me as coming from a bunch of yahoos who don't know how to take care of themselves.
Nice first post.
PS If you get one of those Turtle Fur or whatever the hell they're called neck warmers, your chin needn't be numb.
Since you can buy two (used?) bikes for the price of one car, I recommend taking a split personality approach. I'm a daily commuter (37 miles each way New Orleans area, 25 miles of this is across the Lake Ponchartrain causeway - a great ride by the way) and find that sometimes I'm in the mood to take it easy and other times it's nice to go. My lay back and relax bike is a 2002 Goldwing ($13K in 2004 with 16,000 miles) which works very well for just about everything (except lane splitting in backed up traffic is pretty tight). For a more energetic ride I've got a 2002 ZX12R ($10K new in 2002), with modified bars to give a more upright riding position. Fantastic ride, only problem is keeping the speed down on the causeway, it's just too tempting. So, for the price of one moderately priced car, you can have a commuter that fits your mood to a tee.
For Seattle with all the rain you see a lot of BMWs, VFRs, with hard bags... probably with ABS as well..My Ninja with a tank bag was great for commuting... but have to admit ABS would be nice on those rainy days on I-5 when a bytch yacking on a cell-phone pulls into the HOV lane driving her massive SUV..That happened to me twice.. Scared the crap out of me.. I locked up the back brake in a nice skid but the Ninja stopped in time. Thanks Kawasaki...
I ride a '99 Kawasaki Concours. Granted, it's not quite slim enough for easy lane-splitting. But it's got good weather protection which, living in Eastern Colorado, I appreciate. Two years ago I rode 360 days out of the 366 (leap year). I won't ride if freezing precipitation is predicted, but have ridden in temperatures down to about 12-13 degrees F.
I've got a Givi trunk in addition to the Connie's side bags. My right bag has tools, spares, and foul weather gear (Frogg Toggs, cold-weather gloves). That leaves the trunk for my laptop, the left bag for whatever (and I carry quite a bit of "whatever" back and forth from work). My personal best in terms of that "bag or two of groceries" was $273 worth of groceries in the left bag and the Givi (which wouldn't close) and a 25# bag of ice bungeed to the pillion.
Not only is it economically and ecologically more sound than my Buick, but it makes me feel good and has helped me establish an identity around town -- I'm the United Methodist minister who rides the motorcycle. I've even used it to lead funeral processions while wearing my black pulpit robe and my liturgical stole. I don't do that unless the family requests it, but about six families have asked me to lead the procession in the last three or four years. They always want a picture, too.