I write stuff. A lot of it is about cars and motorcycles.

Renaming the Blog?

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:


HONDA ST1300
Pros:
  • 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

Cons:

  • 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.


Yamaha FJR1300

Pros:
  • Fast and powerful, more so than the ST.
  • Excellent handling
  • Easy to find accessories
  • Large dealer network

Cons:

  • Sporty, but less comfortable riding position
  • So-so ownership costs
  • Everybody has one.
  • So-so weather protection
Kawasaki Concours™14
Pros:
  • 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

Cons:

  • 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.

BMW R1200RT
Pros:
  • Lightweight
  • 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.

Cons:

  • Stratospheric price, and ongoing maintenance costs
  • BMWs troubling history of final driveline failures
Buell Xb12XT Ulysses
Pros:
  • 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

Cons:

  • 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.

BMW K1200GT

Pros:
  • Wicked fast
  • Comfortable, with adjustable handlebars
  • Very lightweight for a 4-cylinder bike

Cons:

  • 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.

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6 Responses to Renaming the Blog?

  • When I started looking for a bike last spring, my short list was the ST, FJR, and the Concourse. Of course the Connie wasn’t available yet, so that got scratched off quick and in a hurry.

    In the end, I made my decision based on the weight of the ST, and the wobble issue. Since I hit 80 mph on the way to and from work every day just keeping up with traffic, that was just too close to 100 for me. I figured that at some point in the next ten years it would be very possible to reach triple digits and I didn’t want to have to deal with a bucking bronco on top of that. I’ve been very happy with my decision, but I’m sure I would have been happy with the ST also. Both are great machines. (Wouldn’t it be great if everything boiled down to choosing between great options instead of “least bad”? Politics sure would be different…)

    FYI, here is a rather long post comparing the FJR and the ST from the FJR Forum:
    http://www.fjrforum.com/forum//index.php?showtopic=101594&st=0
    Probably not the most objective input since it comes from the FJR forum, but it will tell you why these folks chose the FJR over the ST. Hopefully, you can find something similar on the ST board and see why they chose the ST over the FJR.

    Also, when comparing prices, keep in mind that the GenII FJRs only come with ABS; no non-ABS option. The others will give you an option, which is also reflected in the price. If ABS isn’t something you’re interested in, then that is a quick $1000 saving.

    Regarding the BMW final drive, I thought that only the K models had that problem…? Not positive, but that was my impression.

  • I’m looking at the exact same list of bikes to replace my Ninja 250 in a year or so.

    I think you’re over stating the problems with the ST 1300. It certainly has all the farkels you could want. My good friend has one that is totally tricked out. He has really clever highway pegs from Motorcycle Larry (USA) that integrate into the really clever tipover wings. He has an Audiovox cruise control, a custom seat with a pilot backrest, top box, several RAM mounts for GPS, radar detectors, etc.

    According to the guys at http://www.st-owners.com the wobble, if it exists at all, only happens at around 140mph.

    The ST1300 guys minimize the weight issue, but you can’t get around the fact that it weighs more than double what my Ninja does.

    The other ST1300 issue that concerns me is heat, since I live in central Texas. Some owners do report that being an issue.

    I understand the 2008 FJR has design improvements to reduce the tendency of these bikes to cook their riders.

  • Neil,

    I’m coming around to making the FJR my top choice.

    There’s got to be a reason that 40% of sport-tourers purchased are FJRs.

    By the way, I live in Escondido.

  • Dale,

    Convincing you to choose an FJR is definitely not my intention. I’m certainly happy with my FJR, but really they are all great machines. Just passing along what little I know, and (unfortunately for you) its mostly about the FJR.

    I knew that you lived in Escondido from the HD forum. My wife bought an 883C last fall, so I have been haunting the HD forum for info. Your blog has been helpful as well. Since I live in Vista, maybe we’ll run into each other someday and you can take a look at my FJR. It will give you an idea of what basic farkles can be added to a sport touring bike, and how. Since I’m not an IBA type I don’t have a full-on touring machine, just a fun commuter.

  • You’re not convincing me. I’m really looking into this hard, since I’m going to pull the trigger as soon as the sporty is gone.

  • Dale,

    I just sent you an email with my email attached in case you want to contact me directly with questions on the FJR.

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