I’ve put the Sportster up for sale. It’s on a number of online classified ad sites, including Craigslist. I suspect no one will be interested in it, at least at the price I’ve got on it. But, I’ll fiddle around with that as time goes by, and eventually, I’m sure I’ll find a price at which it’ll move.
The real question now is…what do I replace it with. The top contenders, in no particular order, are:
- Low maintenance costs
- Huge dealer network
- Excellent weather protection
- Excellent comfort for rider and passenger
- Extremely long service life
- Tip-over protection for the fairing that works.
- Good handling
- Huge, 8-gallon fuel capacity
- Hard to find, since Honda only imports about 2500 per year to the US
- At almost 700 pounds, it’s a heavy bike–not the direction I wanted to go
- Dearth of accessories. What’s available has to be purchased from Europe, where the exchange rate inflates dollar prices outrageously.
- At $15,000, it’s a bit pricey
- Troubling reports of a high-speed weave, although at over 100 MPH, so that’s probably not an issue, since 100 MPH in California is an automatic trip to jail. Also, good suspension settings and tire pressure seems to solve it.
- Fast and powerful, more so than the ST.
- Excellent handling
- Easy to find accessories
- Large dealer network
- Sporty, but less comfortable riding position
- So-so ownership costs
- Everybody has one.
- So-so weather protection
- Screamin’ hot ZX14 engine is a horsepower monster
- Lowest purchase cost
- Excellent shaft drive technology eliminates drive lash
- Excellent riding position, slightly less sporty than the FJR, but more than the ST
- Kawasaki reliability is…meh. Bad Iron Butt finish ratio.
- Heat management issues (yes, they all have them, but this one is a standout).
- Looks are an…acquired taste.
- So-so weather protection
- Tall. Can’t flat-foot it.
- Extremely comfortable
- Every bell and whistle you can imagine
- Very maneuverable
- Although it’s a boxer twin with less Horsepower, it has great torque, and the lightweight gives it an impressive horsepower to weight ratio.
- Stratospheric price, and ongoing maintenance costs
- BMWs troubling history of final driveline failures
- It owns the twisties, thanks to 23 degrees of rake. That’s aggressive.
- The 1200cc Thunderstorm powerplant is a torque monster that can pull roll-on wheelies in the first four gears.
- Comes with full hard luggage and heated grips standard.
- American made
- 2 built-in 12-volt sockets
- Very comfortable for rider and passenger
- Minimal weather protection
- Harley dealerships not very familiar with them, for the most part
- The 1200cc Thunderstorm powerplant is a vibration monster. All the Evolution-based engines are.
- No farkles. Really poor selection of accessories.
- Tiny 4-gallon tank. That’s a lot of stops for gas on a trip.
- Wicked fast
- Comfortable, with adjustable handlebars
- Very lightweight for a 4-cylinder bike
- All of the cons of the RT, plus so-so weather protection.
- Higher price than the RT
So, these are the bikes I’m looking at. If I had a gun held to my head, by someone demanding I buy a motorcycle right now, my pick would be the Honda ST1300.
As an all-round bike, it’s got acceptable power at 126 HP, although the extra weight limits the performance a bit. It does everything well, though it does nothing great. Wonderful comfort and weather protection. Clockwork reliability. For $400 extra, you can get a 6-year, unlimited mileage factory warranty, which is the best in the business. It has a massive electrical output, enough to power any accessory you can name.
The extra weight really isn’t the direction I wanted to go in. It doesn’t come with stereo hookups in the US–unlike the European version. Still, some of the cops around here ride them and they can ride the hell out of ’em. I’m talking 17-foot figure-eights at 5 MPH. Honda seem to be able to make that extra weight melt away once the bike is moving.
Now, I’m open to arguments in favor of other bikes. I don’t have to make a decision right now. But, If I had to make a choice at this point, I’d pull the trigger on the Honda.