Taking Advice

Commenter “Road Captain” writes:

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!

Well, Captain (Are you more the equivalent of an army captain, or a naval captain? Just curious.), I’m a bit more philosophical about the money. I expect a bike’s value to evaporate as soon as I take it off the lot. And as far as the aftermarket money, well, I’m gonna do that no matter what I buy. I KNOW that buying aftermarket stuff is just throwing money down a hole. Bikes aren’t really cost effective, unless you’re gonna buy them outright, and keep them for several years.

I am actually quite interested in the ST1300. At the end of the day, though, the weight is a consideration, because it’s a pretty hefty bike. I think it sure is pretty though. and it certainly has the range to take long trips, with that big ol’ 8-gallon gas tank. As it happens, I’ve been doing a lot of research, too, going to MCN, Cycle World, MD, etc. It’s funny that nearly everyone’s objection to the St1300 is that is too smooth and polished. No character…whatever that is.

When I go back to my original decision to get back into motorcycling last year, there was never any doubt I would buy a Sportster. I really didn’t even look at any other bike. I guess you’d have to say I didn’t really think into the decision about the bike itself very much. The Sporty was the smallest, nimblest Harley, I was just gonna use it as a commuter bike, and I thought a cruiser would be just the ticket for me.

And let’s be honest, getting a higher-performance bike at the time probably wouldn’t have been a good idea. I’d probably have killed myself pulling an unintentional wheelie at a stoplight. A cruiser like the Sporty was probably the best choice for me. So I don’t consider the Sporty a mistake. At the time, it was a good choice.

If I had it to do over again, I’d probably have bought a Dyna model, rather than a Sportster, but I didn’t really know enough about the differences at the time to make an informed choice. Most other things would have been equal, but the Dyna would have been a better highway bike. But, other than that, the choice was a wash.

The Rocket was an infatuation. I liked it, but, you’ll notice, that even though they tried everything possible to get me to buy it, I didn’t pull the trigger on that bike, either.

As I’ve ridden throughout the last year, I think I’ve refined what I’m looking for in a motorcycle. First, I now now where and how I ride, so I have a much better idea of the motorcycle that would be suited to what I do. I’ve ridden other motorcycles, so I’ve gotten a feel for some of the differences.

Now, as far as the touring thing goes, in the real world, 2-up riding will be a small minority of the riding I do. I need the capability, but only for relatively short rides and occasional day trips. So, it’s not the most important factor.

The bike that’s really best suited for me, in terms of all the things I want, is really the BMW R1200RT. It’s got much better performance than the Sporty, especially over 5,000RPM, where it just screams. It’s lightweight. The Boxer motor is quite smooth for a twin. And it has all the gadgets I could possibly want. it’s supposed to comfy for the passenger. I honestly don’t think it’s a bike I would outgrow. But, the big trouble with the RT is:

MSRP: $16,800
Destination Fee: $495
Safety package: $595
Comfort Package: $525
Equipment Package: $1890
Radio Prep Kit: $405
Radio/CD: $1,490

That brings us up to $22,200. Plus 7.75% sales tax of $1720.50, and registration fees of $230. that gives us an out-the-door price of $24,150,50.

That’s just too steep. It’s not affordable for me.

And BMW’s maintenance costs for the RT are outrageous as well.

I’d love it. Can’t do it.

So, I’m looking for a compromise bike. It’s not a purchase I expect to make immediately, and probably not even this year. But I’m much more informed about what I’m looking for.

Who knows, maybe I’ll even find it.

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 TechCentralStation.com. 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.

8 thoughts on “Taking Advice”

  1. I went from a 2001 Sportster to a Honda ST1300. Once the ST starts moving, it is way more easy to handle than the sportster. I love the new bike. Since I bought it in September, I’ve ridden the sportster only twice.

    Most Honda dealers are a lot better about doing test rides than Harley dealers. Some Honda dealers have a “demo days”, too.

  2. If you like power, nimble steering, and touring, the ST1300 and FJR1300 are awesome choices. I personally like the looks of the FJR better. But I think the edge goes to the ST1300 between the two in terms of fuel range and wind protection. The fairing design on the ST gives your legs a nice pocket behind the wind and rain. Pricewise, I’ve seen some used FJRs and STs down in the $9K range on dealer floors.

  3. Don’t knock the ST’s weight until you’ve put a few miles on one. At anything faster than a dead crawl, most of the weight disappears. For anything slower than that, it’s really a matter of getting accustomed to it and being careful about how you move it.

    There are a lot of really good sport-touring bikes out there that run the gamut from SPORT-touring to sport-TOURING.

    The FJR is a fine machine, but it goes faster at the expense of being a hair less practical than the ST. Even the RT has its moments. I’m wary of BMWs because they’re expensive, require expensive service and have a history of having their final drives go kerflooey the stretches back at least a decade.

    Do stop in and visit ST-Owners.com. There are lots of us who will be more than happy to answer your questions, and we’ll try not to crack too many Harley jokes. 🙂

    –Mark (Owner of an ’04 ST13)

  4. Actually, I’m member of the forum at ST-Owners.com. It is a useful forum.

    The local dealer won’t really give a test ride. The BMW and Triumph guys practically beg you to take a ride.

    Even the Buell bikes are available for test rides. But Harley and the UJM guys…not so much.

    My only big concerns with the ST1300 are the weight, since it weighs more than a Sporty by almost 100 pounds, and passenger comfort.

  5. I hope you don’t compromise and are able to get your dream bike. Perhaps if you take into account all the extra’s you might have to invest in a bike to get it right the BMW might be good to go as is and therefore a justifiable investment.
    Hey, what do think about a Dual Purpose bike like the Kawasaki KLR? Fully outfitted for cross country or international touring! Light weight, fast and nimble. Not as cool as our cruisers, but I bet they are a blast at less than half the cost. People like Gregory Frazier ride these things everywhere.
    By the way, I am honored that I inspired this post and hope that I did not offend you.

  6. I forgot to answer your question about being a captain… the lead rider for an organized motorcycle group is called a Road Captain. Road Captains play a vital role in “riding groups” like the Harley Owners Group. A good Road Captain can make the difference between a good ride and a great ride. This is the image I wanted for my blog when looking for a unique URL. To build awareness for my blog I started posting my name on the Internet as Road Captain. Of course my name is really Jay and I have never been in the service, but I am a prospective Road Capatin for First State HOG.

  7. No, the KLR REALLY wouldn’t do it for me. I have no interest at all in going off-road.

    I’m looking for a sport-tourer, basically. I just have a hard time finding one to settle on.

    They all have their pluses and minuses, though, so its a hard choice.

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