Ready to Move On

I don’t know when, but sooner or later, the Sporty’s gone. I don’t hate it, of course. I still ride it every day. And I’m gonna keep on riding it. But, she’s on her way out. Whenever I can, i.e., as soon as it makes financial sense to do so I’m getting rid of her.

Because lately, when I crack the throttle open all the way, I’ve started thinking, “Really? That’s it?” When I hit the curves, I think, “If I could lean just a little more, I could attack this curve even faster…”

I find myself walking into other motorcycle dealers, and looking at the Honda ST1300, the Yamaha FJR1300, the Kawasaki Concours14, and the BMW K1200GT. I’m not even looking at cruisers. And yet, when I walked into the Honda dealership to look at the ST1300–which they really wanted to sell me–I just couldn’t pull the trigger.

I’m the first guy to defend anyone’s right to buy a UJM bike, if that’s what they want. But I really don’t want to ride one myself.

The trouble is, no one makes the bike I want. If I was designing the perfect bike for me, it would have the following items:

1. Good performance, By which I mean loads of torque, great acceleration, good ground clearance and lean angle for cornering, effective–and adjustable suspension, excellent braking.

2. Comfort for a passenger. Chris hates the Sportster, because it just doesn’t give her enough room and the seat isn’t comfortable. I need a bike she can ride for a while in comfort.

3. Full bags, preferably hard ones. because I use the bike for everything, including trips to the grocery store, I have to have capacious luggage capacity.

4. Light weight. Yes, a big bike is more stable on the freeway, but in all other conditions, I really have no interest in lugging around 800 pounds of Road Glide.

5. Weather protection is important, because I ride all year ’round. Cold doesn’t really bother me that much. I have a full suit, so I can ride comfortably in the 30s–as long s I have good enough weather and wind protection to give me a cocoon of calm air in the cockpit. Also, fighting the wind on the freeway is a bit tiring.

6. A frickin’ stereo. Is that too much to ask? Apparently so, if I want to spend less than $18,000 for a motorcycle.

By my counting, I can get more or less 4 out of six of my requirements on most bikes. I can get all 6, but only if I want to pay $22,000 for a BMW R1200RT. I really don’t want to do that, however. Cost of ownership on a BMW is simply outrageous, as is the cost of simply acquiring one.

I’ve noticed, however, that Buell has released a new, shorter, street-centric touring version of the Ulysses, the XB12XT.

It comes close to meeting what I’m looking for. Signifigantly better performance than the Sporty. Very comfortable and spacious seating for both rider and pillion. Full bags and heated handgrips are standard. The weight is more than 100 pounds less than the Sportster. That leaves us with two shortcomings. Poor weather protection, and no sound system.

For less than $200, Parabellum, Cal Sci, and Cee Bailey make full-sized windshields for the Ulysses. That would give me weather protection equal to or better than what I have now, when you consider that the Uly also has handguards and heated grips.

The Uly also comes standard with two standard auto 12-volt outlets, one of which is right in the dash, and the other of which is under the seat. With that, and the capacious storage under the seat, I can put together a decent stereo system, install the speakers on the handlebar cross-brace, and plug the amp into the under seat 12-volt outlet. And I can run all the wiring under the faux-tank “airbox” cover.

And, of course, it’s an American bike. I’d prefer that.

I’d really like to test ride one, though, to see if it’s something I really want.

But, as much as I have enjoyed her, I’m thinking that I want to move one from the Sporty. And not to something bigger, heavier, and slower, either.

But it’s extremely hard to find what I want.

Author: Dale Franks

Dale Franks is the former host of The Business Day, ”a daily, four-hour business and financial news program on KMNY Radio in Los Angeles. From 2002-2004, he was a contributor on military and international affairs for Currently, he a publisher and editor of the monthly political journal The New Libertarian, as well as an editor of the popular web log, Q and O. Dale served as a military police officer in the United States Air Force from 1984 to 1993, in variety of assignments both in the United States and Europe, where he also was assigned to the staff of the Headquarters of Allied Forces Central Europe. In addition to broadcasting, writing, and speaking on various topics, Dale has also been a long-time technical training instructor on a variety of computer software and technology subjects. Dale has also long been involved with information technology as an accomplished web designer, programmer, and technologist, serving as the corporate knowledge specialist for Microsoft Outlook at SAIC, the nation's largest employee-owned corporation. Additionally, he is the author of a number of software user guides used for classroom training by one of Southern California’'s premier computer training and consulting firms. His book, SLACKERNOMICS: Basic Economics for People Who Find Economics Boring, is available from Barnes & Noble.

5 thoughts on “Ready to Move On”

  1. Are you willing to consider speakers and microphone in your helmet? If so, you can have several options on the stereo such as Autocom or Starcom. And these all include an intercom between rider and pillion. Of course the big drawback is the cable to the helmet, but word is that there are bluetooth systems coming soon that will answer that problem.

  2. If Chris doesn’t find the Sportster comfortable, I don’t think she’ll find any of the sport tourers to be any better. I’d love an ST 1300 or FJR 1300 for myself however.

    Take a look at Victory’s new Vision. It was designed for wind protection. Has the lowest seat height on a tourer, a stereo, MP3 player, 106ci engine, and it’s American. But it weighs 850 pounds dry.

  3. I’m in a similar boat. I really enjoy my Ninja 250, but someday I want a better touring bike (that’s not a boat). The R1200RT would be perfect if not for its high price and the low density of dealers if you a have a problem on the road.

    I had not considered the Uly, I’ll have to go check one out.

  4. Are you willing to consider speakers and microphone in your helmet?

    Well, I’m essentially doing that now. I’m a bit uncomfortable with that, however, since it seems to me that I’m cut off from the world around me a bit.

    If Chris doesn’t find the Sportster comfortable, I don’t think she’ll find any of the sport tourers to be any better.

    Maybe, but everyone I’ve talked to says the Uly is actually surprisingly comfortable for both rider and passenger. I’ve looked at it, and it does have a huge honkin’ seat. Easily twice as large as the Sportster.

    Take a look at Victory’s new Vision.

    Well, two problems with that are:

    1. It gets me back into the 800 lb. bike that I don’t want.

    2. For essentially the same price, I’d far rather buy the R1200RT.

    2. Performance…meh.

    3. It’s perhaps the ugliest motorcycle I’ve ever had the misfortune to see.

    Man. It’s like you don’t know me at all. 🙂

    I had not considered the Uly, I’ll have to go check one out.

    The only thing that might irk you is the V-twin motor. It’s an acquired taste, especially if you’re really into the smoothness of a UJM bike.

  5. Dale, I read alot. I subscribe to Motorcycle Consumer News and Road Runner among other magazines. I am obviously on the Internet quite a bit. My reading confirms Steve’s reccomendation on the Honda ST1300. You already dumped a heap into your sporty which you are not going to get back. Try not to make another mistake. How about your previous infatuation with the Triumph Rocket III. Now they have a touring model!

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