~Since 2004~
A site about memories, thoughts, photos, and unrepentant opinions about motorcycles and motorcycling after four decades of twisting the throttle.

Friday, September 02, 2005

"I Fell Into A Burnin' Ring O' Fire"

Johnny Cash was singing about love and lust but could just as well been singing about moto-love and moto-lust. Neither love nor motorcycles make a great deal of sense most of the time but millions of people plunge ahead despite advice from friends, common sense, or lack of funds.

So in pondering the new bike thing I've added some possible candidates and a twist or two. First, the next candidate, the Honda ST1300:

You have to admit it looks pretty sleek for a Honda.

Reviews talk about the ST1300 being automotive-like, almost too purrfect, too clean, too tidy. Functionally that's probably true as it's a Honda and Hondas work even if they lack any real soul. I may decide that function...the ability to drag my decrepit body down the highway in comfort, is more important than sizzle. It is a very pretty bike, the folks at Honda did a nice job on the curvaceousness of the critter and they do come in red and red is my favorite color for bikes.

But what about a wild card pair? Can you think outside the box when it comes to buying a motorcycle? Further outside the box than buying a left over 2004 out-of-production Italian bike like the Aprilia Futura?

The Futura, BMW, and Honda machines stretch the wallet from about $11,000 to maybe $16,000 if I haggle a bit (and I always do). That's a fair chunk of change and what if I wanted the most bang for my buck, the most goodies for the garage, the most riding possibilities?

What if, for the same money as one Futura / BMW / Honda, I bought a...

2005 Kawasaki Concours. Not exactly modern but no slouch either with 100+ HP

AND... (GASP!!)

2005 KLR 650. It's not easy bein' green

Both of the Kawasakis are dinosaurs, 1986 technology that has lived on and on because they work and work pretty well if not great. The tooling to build them must have been paid for by 1988 so the bikes have remained at bargain prices for machines of their class and displacement. Kawasaki has talked about killing the KLR650 and the Concours for years and every time they do people rush to buy one before they are gone. Both bikes have avid enthusiast followings and accessories are plentiful and not real expensive.

The 2001 Concours I had gave me one of my best riding days ever in 2001 when I took off one morning with my friend Tom to do a break-in ride and we racked up 495 miles that day. The Concours does gobble miles and does it pretty painlessly even of the suspension is not exactly supple.

The KLR650 has been called "the Swiss Army Knife" of motorcycles. Owners have ridden them everywhere including around the world. With some KLR owners it's almost a point of pride to beat the bikes senseless because they just keep jugging along like nothing happened. Hanging the most clunky old made-from-surplus -ammo-can "saddlebags" on the bike is extremely cool. I even owned a KLR650 once upon a time but sold it because it seemed too tall. After the Caponord the KLR no longer seems too big or too tall for the inseam challenged to take into the dirt

My neighbor Jim has a red KLR650 and thinks the green one is hideous so there's a good reason to buy it too. We can harangue each other about who's bike is uglier. "Yeah, well, at least mine doesn't look like a Campbell's Soup can!" "Yeah, it looks like the pea soup IN the can." Great fun and we're not even out of the driveway yet.

Two bikes for the price of one? That's a lot of fun there even if it's not spicy Italian or cool German.

Anyway, tomorrow I'm off to look at the Futura and ponder that. I'll stop at the BMW dealer too and see how serious he is about wheeling and dealing. The R1200ST is very nice in person, maybe the nicest BMW in a long time and almost the spiritual successor to the R90S.

Decisions, decisions...


PC said...

Awesome choices, you have clearly spent some time reading and made your decison to spend more time riding and less time working on the bikes, huh?

If money were no object, the ST1300 and the KLR would make the ideal garage duo.

Jim said...

Tough choice, if I still lived in your area with all that open range I think I would want both worlds: pavement and dirt. I think the BMW GS is the perfect machine, but am also inseam challenged and can only love it when its moving.

subcon said...

I am partial to BMW's (so I will suggest a GS) but the inseam thing is a factor, I'll admit. That being said, the Concours & the KLR seem to be a great way to mix things up. Your neck of the country must have some great riding territory.
I do have a lot of respect for Kows as I had a W650 (you know, the "I'm not really a Bonneville knock-off, I'm just trying to look like a British bike without the oil leaks" bike. That was a great around-the- town bike that held its own on the expressway. It made a Kawasaki believer out of me.

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