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

Friday, March 23, 2007

Commitment Issues

I sold my Kawasaki KLR650 last Saturday morning so I did the only logical thing and spent the rest of the day shopping for another bike. My wife was out of town visiting her dear 'ol mum so what better opportunity to get into motorcycle mischief?

The KLR had just arrived in December but if you've been reading 40on2 for any length of time you'll know that I change motorcycles more often than I go to the barber. My neighbor Jim keeps bikes and cars until the odometer shows six numbers at least twice over and is a psychologist of good reputation. I suspect that he views me as having "motorcycle commitment issues" but I'm not going to ask him. I have this long standing fear that someday I will discover that I am "Subject A" in a published study entitled "Eccentric Motorcycle Behavior of Middle Aged Men Who Lived Alone Too Long."

I have been thinking about replacing the KLR with something more dirt worthy like a used DRZ400 but have also thought about buying a big touring bike so the wife is more comfy on rides. For some reason she doesn't find my Aprilia Caponord comfortable. Go figure. Anyway, I ran across two bikes at good prices that caught my eye, an '05 DRZ400SM (super moto version) and an '01 BMW K1200LT luxo touring barge with less than 18k miles on it. Could there be two more different machines?

I managed to walk away from the 400SM as I could not think of any actual use for the bike beyond doing wheelies and sliding around corners on the way to work. Come to think of it, those are perfectly good reasons to buy it.

My next thought was to do what any red blooded motorcycle guy would do and buy them both.

Tuesday the wife and I and I took the big LT for a ride and it was nice enough although lacking in power compared to our now departed Honda ST1300. The Mrs. felt there was too much vibration in the passenger's part of things and I was put off by some minor points but over all enjoyed the ride. I've done a bit research now on the BMW Luxury Touring web site and found that there have been a large number of final drive failures (over 100) in '99 - mid-'02 LT's, enough of a problem that I'm not willing to risk $ on a specific bike with no record of having the final drive bearings upgraded to the newer design parts that BMW finally released. So the LT is a no-go also and I'm kind of disappointed, really.

With H-D well off the list because of vibration, price, and a refusal by me to be part in any way, shape, or form, of their silly "lifestyle," the ST1300 gone for assorted comfort and low speed handling reasons, and the BMW K1200LT now shot down, once again I'm back to Gold Wings.

Funny thing is that when I was looking at the ST1300 in '05 the wife and and I had just start dating and I thought she might be more comfortable on the 'Wing but I didn't really WANT one and knew that if I bought one she'd dump me for some reason and I’d be stuck with a new Gold Wing I didn't want. So I bought the ST1300, the ST didn't work out, and now many thousands of dollars later I'm back to the 'Wing. I really do better, at least with motorcycles, when I follow my instincts. I probably should have bought that DRZ400SM last Saturday. I wonder if it's still there?


Steve Williams said...

My friend Paul has one of the DRZ400's and he got it so he could learn to do wheelies. I've ridden it a couple of times and it sure has a lot of torque!

Definitely doesn't have the plush ride of the Vespa though. Paul just had a smaller sprocket installed on front so he could do wheelies easier. His top speed has suffered and now the Vespa GTS can outrun the Suzuki.....

Steve Williams
Scooter in the Sticks

Anonymous said...

Eventually I'll end up with a Goldwing...

have you considered a BMW 1150/1200 GS.

My wife hated an LT I had hired, lowed the GW, but absolutely loves the GS. She finds it very comfy, and I love it since it will get me anywhere, even off road (I followed the Dakar race with a GS).

Doug Klassen said...


We test rode an R1200 boxer and she hated it! :-( Debbie has some health issues that make her hypersensitive to vibration so it seems that anything but an ST or 'Wing isn't going to do the job. I think we may wait some time on the 'Wing though as riding season is winding down here in AZ.

-J. said...

I use a DRZ400SM as a daily commuter in heavy San Francisco traffic. It's about the most fun I've ever had with pants on.

Lucky said...

I understand your dilemma, and we share many similar points of view. Although not middle-aged (only in mid-thirties), I’ve often pondered the thought of getting a more touring-oriented bike than my current ride (Suzi V-Strom). My wife loves touring as a passenger, but she’s got bad knees and no matter how I modify the footpegs on the ‘Strom she still ends-up limping at the end of a day’s ride. I’ve kept my distance from cruisers - not just HD - because I’m simply not into the whole retro look. I “get” why a baby-boomer would like these chrome altars, it’s a kind of melancholy... but it just ain’t my thing. Ditto on the GoldWing. Don’t get me wrong, the Wing’s a great bike in many ways... but I just don’t feel that old yet, eh? So I tried out a friend’s K1200LT last year; it was an ’05 with the slightly peppier engine and new-design final drive. I liked it! Although huge by my standards, it just doesn’t seem to have the Wing’s heft (at least, not aesthetically). I’m still looking for a decent used one without too many miles, but for me it would have to be an ’05 or later... There are rumours that BMW will be coming out with a new LT soon since it’s the only bike in their lineup that hasn’t been redesigned in the past two years. Maybe that’ll push the price down on the current crop of used LT’s?


Doug Klassen said...


The BMW dealer we visited is also a Vespa dealer. I confess to looking at the Vespa's and thought of your adventures there in the sticks. I wouldn't mind at all have one as a third bike to ride around town and such. However, years of adrenalin soaked riding have now left me hooked on the stuff so something zippy that tests me a bit seems to be almost a necessity.

Mike, We took an R1200CL for a spin also. I thought it was great fun but the vibes instantly turned off the Mrs. Ah well...

Lucky, thanks for the assorted thoughts. Debbie and I talked again yesterday about the LT and the possibility of changes out or modifying the the passenger footboards to be free of vibration. Her final comment was "I really tried to like the LT but just couldn't." Bummer as I found it quite a nice bike even though it was the slightly older version. I'm with you in that an '05 or new edition would be a very nice bike and a bit more sporting than the Gold Wing, plus you get to wear gray and blue BMW Euro clothes and look very Euro cool. ;-)

After talking about the Beemer again Deb and I went off to look at Gold Wings for the umpteenth time.

J, against all logic I still find myself thinking about the DRZ400SM. If I lived somewhere that actually had curves in the roads it would be a done deal.

Anonymous said...


Do not buy a DRZ 400. If you do you will find yourself getting up in the middle of the night just to go out into the garage to sit on it. It's that addictive!

Ride Safe,

Ron Petitt

Paul said...

I cannot believe you sold your KLR!

Paul said...

Hi Doug. Your comment "do what any any red blooded motorcyclist would do buy both" is the key phrase. I can't count the number of times I've heard (the young usually) argue about which bike "is he best all purpose" bike. Well there isn't one! (grin) Even in scooters there are 32 flavors. I have that DRZ400sm and that's good for driving over curbs and thru the weeds when steve is taking photos. And I have a 64 vespa for putputputing between the buildings down town and to park between the telephone pole and the wall. I drive my harley to my girlfriends. Pant pant...you probably get my point. You need several motorcycles. This is America by crackie!! - Paul of State College

Doug Klassen said...

Paul, someone said that 5 is the ideal number of motorcycles to own:

touring bike
sport bike
dirt or pavement track bike
vintage bike
dual sport bike

(that's my list anyway)

I know you and Steve W. would add a scooter to that list also.

I'm good with that concept although the execution is one I've never been able to achieve. I remain hopeful though!

Anonymous said...

How about this for a bike quiver:
1,a bike to ride to work every day/shop/eat at McD's.
2,A bike to show up at local gatherings on.
3,a bike to ride 2-up 800mi days for a week on.

After 55yrs saddle time,this is how I see bikes. Purchase price usually makes the choices pre-owned bikes in my case.

Doug Klassen said...


53 years of riding? I salute you sir!

And as with you, the passing years seem to make buying new less attractive or at less less important. There are some great values to be had if one doesn't need to be seen on a brand new machine.

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