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jazzop
jazzop New Reader
10/19/17 12:17 a.m.

Help me build a short list of bikes to keep on the watch for.  While I have no timetable for acquiring one, I'm willing to pick up the right bike at a very right price.

My criteria (roughly in descending order of importance):

  • No choppers, cruisers, or dirt bikes. Café racers, street bikes, and kin are preferred.
  • Must accommodate my body size, which is a thin 6'4" with long arms and legs.
  • As vintage and quirky as I can get without entering the world of non-standard control positions and difficult technology like desmo valves.
  • Displacement between 250-750cc.  Higher displacement is only okay if it is manageable for a relatively novice rider.
  • Under $10k

Triumph seems to be a fruitful marque with many tempting choices.

ddavidv
ddavidv PowerDork
10/19/17 7:21 a.m.

First, you need this:  http://cycle-ergo.com/

A tall rider is probably going to need to gravitate towards a bike with more ground clearance, such as a dual sport or ADV type machine. I have a Bonneville, which isn't bad for my 5' 11" self but legs will get cramped for someone taller than I.

I previously owned a Kawasaki KLR (very tall, could not flat foot ever), Suzuki V-Strom 650 (lowered and could almost flat foot) and currently have a Tiger 800 (similar to the Strom but not as top-heavy).

The Strom meets a lot of your criteria and is a good machine with a lot of aftermarket support. I didn't like the way it felt on gravel (which I ride frequently) so moved to the Triumph which I think is better balanced. Both bikes are probably a bit 'heavy' for a new rider but then I ignored all the advice to start small when I bought my KLR as a first bike. I think you adapt to what you have, just the learning curve (and dropping it a few times) is steeper.

There really is only one way to figure this out, and that is to sit on as many bikes as you can. Even the ergo tool I linked above won't tell the full story until you try them.

ahutson03
ahutson03 Reader
10/20/17 1:17 p.m.

I am 6'4" and wide enough in the shoulders that I am one size away from having to have my race leathers custom made. 

That being said, I ride anything and everything. My garage currently houses 2 Honda NT650's, the Yamaha R5 that was my first bike, an aermacchi, and my main race bike which is a Ducati 900ss. I love my supersport, it's roomy, reliable, and is a joy to ride. I wouldn't let desmo valves scare you away, aircooled ducs are dead simple and actually easier to work on than people think. I would really take a hard look at supersports, you can't really find another bike with as much character as an ss for that cheap.

Appleseed
Appleseed MegaDork
10/21/17 9:14 a.m.

Super-moto/ motard. They are technically not dirt bikes. The suspension and brakes are designed for the street, not off road. 

m4ff3w
m4ff3w UberDork
10/22/17 10:23 p.m.

ADV bike, FTW.

I have a 01 BMW R1150GS as my first bike and couldn't be happier.

jazzop
jazzop New Reader
10/23/17 8:32 p.m.

I have been advised by nearly every person whose expertise I trust that a desmo Ducati is a bad idea.  I'm willing to listen to a contrasting opinion on the issue, as that era of Ducati is exactly the style of bike that I love, and my bad-decision cortex suffers from congenital hypertrophism.

Definitely not considering dual-sports/motards and the ilk.  Sorry. I either want to be prone or on something over 50 years old.

And now for something completely different: what about the Ural?

octavious
octavious Dork
10/24/17 8:13 a.m.

I have a 05 Vstrom 1000. I commute 50+ miles on it daily, plus long trips when possible.  I went to FL twice on it this year.  I am 5'11" and a whopping 185 pounds.  The Vee is a big bike.  I can flat foot mine at stoplights, but it's heavy.  Tight, slow turns would be a challenge for a new rider.  But I think totally doable for a new rider.  However, the Vstrom does not fit the requirements of "standard, cafe racer, etc."   

Prior to getting the Vstrom I tried a KLR and I found the KLR to be taller in the seat than the Vstrom and more dirtbike-ish feeling.  

I had a Ducati Monster, maintenance is no biggie as long as you stay on it.  However at 6'4" don't even think about it. It was described to me as you don't ride a Ducati you wear a Ducati.  Desmo valves are no biggie if you can turn a wrench.  I just piced up a 750 Supersport project because get afraid of doing or pay ing for the maintenance. 

With your requirements I was thinking Honda CB1100.  Can be found in showrooms as left over models.  Standard position.  Easy enough for a newbie but with enough power to keep you going if you keep riding.  I was also thinking of the new Yamaha XSR700 or XSR900 as possible options.  

richard
richard New Reader
10/24/17 8:39 a.m.

I'm also 6'4" and I ride Husqvarna TR650 Strada which fits me well. Plenty of power for a single just make sure the ECU has been updated with latest software revision. I also ride a Suzuki DRZ400sm  which I wish had more power but is still about the most fun I've had on a bike. Either bike can be bought for less than 6K.

Huckleberry
Huckleberry MegaDork
10/24/17 1:29 p.m.

Tall you say?

Personality you say?

Between two almost arbitrary engine displacement numbers you say!

In spades....

 

 

ddavidv
ddavidv PowerDork
10/24/17 4:42 p.m.

Ural...

First off, I don't think you will find it comfortable for long periods. That probably won't be an issue though because it will be busted more often than not. Well, okay, maybe they aren't that bad...but you will need to treat them like something from the 1950s. Because they are (actually, older).

True story:  my friend has a Ural and a Russian guy came up to him once and asked, "Why you buy bike that comes broken from factory?"

I looked at these really hard but for the price they command I just don't see it. You have to really, really want a sidecar setup and be willing to put up with terribly bad metallurgy for once to become appealing. I'd rather have a Royal Enfield any day.

Huckleberry
Huckleberry MegaDork
10/24/17 7:26 p.m.

Threadjack Alert!

@ddavidv I think I've recognized your Triumph in another thread. Did you happen to take this picture? If so... pleased to make your acquaintance. Otherwise (cough cough) nothing to see here.

 

 

ddavidv
ddavidv PowerDork
10/25/17 6:55 a.m.

Can't say I took that exact picture but yes, I was on that ride. Fun times! Dropped my bike twice on that ride, LOL.

I think the OP may be negatively limiting himself by saying "no dual sport bikes".  I'd say the ADV bike category is different from the DS one and there are some worthy choices to consider if you don't think of ADV and DS as the same thing. That CB500X is a good example. My Tiger is another. Get the mag wheel version of my Tiger 800 and it is a wonderful road bike, fairly standard ergos and not a lot of plastic fluff to hide its core. Most standard/traditional bikes like the Bonneville, Guzzi V7, Yamaha XSR700 and so on simply won't have the seat height-to-peg distance a really tall rider is probably seeking.

GCrites80s
GCrites80s New Reader
10/25/17 7:43 p.m.

Desert seats would be mandatory even on the DS/ADVs to keep a 6'4"s knees out of their face. Even on my KLR I wished the pegs were lower on long rides at 5'10" but lanky. I never got a desert seat for it.

jazzop
jazzop New Reader
10/25/17 11:37 p.m.

I didn't realize the new production Urals only come with a sidecar.  The old ones don't require a sidecar.  The Enfield was also in my mind along with the Ural, but I failed to mention it earlier.

No matter, I think I may have found something that piques my interest: the Moto Guzzi 1000 Le Mans IV.

I stopped by a local bike shop that is one of those multi-brand dealerships (BMW, Guzzi, Indian...) just to test-fit bikes.  The aged proprietor and I talked for 2 hours as he showed me his personal collection of classics dating back to the early '60s.  Some of them were restored and on display in the showroom as museum pieces, but in the service garage he had a dozen others that he rides from time to time.  He must have had about 25 bikes.  He offered to sell me his 1982 Honda V45 Sabre, which certainly qualifies as quirky.  But then he showed me the Le Mans.  Something about it has the right balance of style, personality, function, and quirk.  He is the original owner and is willing to consider selling it.

Opinions?

ddavidv
ddavidv PowerDork
10/26/17 6:26 a.m.

M-G's are cool bikes and surprisingly reliable for being a) European and 2) Italian. laugh

Very easy to work on with the cylinder arrangement also.

I would have very little hesitation buying one, especially if you have a dealer local to you.

Huckleberry
Huckleberry MegaDork
10/26/17 9:26 a.m.
jazzop said:

I didn't realize the new production Urals only come with a sidecar.  The old ones don't require a sidecar.  The Enfield was also in my mind along with the Ural, but I failed to mention it earlier.

No matter, I think I may have found something that piques my interest: the Moto Guzzi 1000 Le Mans IV.

I stopped by a local bike shop that is one of those multi-brand dealerships (BMW, Guzzi, Indian...) just to test-fit bikes.  The aged proprietor and I talked for 2 hours as he showed me his personal collection of classics dating back to the early '60s.  Some of them were restored and on display in the showroom as museum pieces, but in the service garage he had a dozen others that he rides from time to time.  He must have had about 25 bikes.  He offered to sell me his 1982 Honda V45 Sabre, which certainly qualifies as quirky.  But then he showed me the Le Mans.  Something about it has the right balance of style, personality, function, and quirk.  He is the original owner and is willing to consider selling it.

Opinions?

The new top spec Urals only come with a sidecar because they drive both rear wheels. It's not really a sidecar rig at that point but more of a 3 wheeler with a poorly offset center of gravity.

Old Guzzis are in the same nostalgia category as old BMW airheads.  No one hates them. It's impossible. Parts can be really expensive and hard to come by though. That model the 1000 IV ... it was a short model run 85 to 88 I think? It was the one with 16" front wheel that magazines complained about but I've never ridden one to say if it's good or bad.  I'd expect it to be painfully slow compared to anything Japanese that came out in the late 80s and early 90s though. With horrible brakes and an agricultural transmission. They look really good though so if it's vintage fashion and quirk you want more than performance that ought to do it.  It should be cheap to buy too - well under $5k. 

jazzop
jazzop New Reader
10/26/17 3:26 p.m.

It seems that many here assume I value comfort and performance more than I actually do.  Some additional background might help to clarify my intent.  I realize that 4-wheeled parameters don't always translate to 2-wheeled vehicles, but bear with me...

1. I own 7 cars, none younger than 22 years old.  Each vehicle in my fleet is set up to perform a specialized function (e.g., city driving, road trips, hauling/towing, off-road), so I don't require anything to sacrifice what it does well for the sake of another function. The motorcycle would be strictly a Sunday driver and a learning platform for maintenance skills-- no long road trips, no commuting, no passengers.

2. I enjoy the "nuances" of vehicles that require the driver to conform somewhat to the demands/limitations of the vehicle. To wit: I drove my RHD 1965 Land Rover 88 for nearly 2 years as my only functioning vehicle.  There is a certain perverse pleasure to keeping up with traffic while shifting a non-synchro (1st & 2nd) gearbox in a cockpit environment more like the inside of a washing machine than a motor vehicle.  And the adrenaline rush from trying to stop a non-seatbelt-equipped metal box unexpectedly with very weak drum brakes is cheaper than cocaine.

3. Perhaps I gave the wrong impression regarding ergonomics.  I know that an ill-fitting bike can be much more dangerous than an ill-fitting car, but I'm not worried about minor awkwardness or discomfort as long as it doesn't impact the weight/balance and ability to control the bike properly.  I can press all 3 pedals on my '67 Mini with one size 13 foot, but I've managed to adapt okay (with the right shoes).

4. Except for paint/body and machining, I do all my own maintenance.  I just don't want to bite off more than I can chew by getting a hangar queen made of glass and requiring too much in the way of specialized knowledge and tools.

5. Performance (to me) is relative to the experience, not to other people's vehicles.  I'd rather have a great time rounding the curves at 50 mph in a Sprite than a sterile drive on those same curves at 70 mph in a new Honda.  If I can't tell a vehicle's speed by the wind noise and gearbox whine, I am lost and will probably get a whopping speeding ticket as I continue to accelerate trying to find those telltale sounds.

Thanks to all of you so far with the suggestions and tips.  Keep 'em coming, please.

m4ff3w
m4ff3w UberDork
10/26/17 4:24 p.m.

Get the Guzzi!

ddavidv
ddavidv PowerDork
10/27/17 4:08 p.m.

Not all Urals are 2wd. Common misconception. I think they are only sold as hacks because there is more profit in that and really...who would want to ride a Ural Solo anyway?

jazzop, your prose about your Land Rover is truly epic. GRM/CM needs a writer like you. wink

I get what you are saying. You are seeking an experience. Character. I'm with you on that. Most Japanese bikes simply aren't going to give you that experience. I've owned a few and tried several others. Only my $1200 KLR had any real character. It is sort of the Land Rover of motorcycles. Or maybe an old Subaru BRAT.

I think the Royal Enfield would be something to look closely at. Ditto a carefully selected model of Moto Guzzi. Older BMWs have character but I have never bonded with any of them I've tried. Weird, because I love their cars. My air cooled Hinckley Bonneville still has character but without the Lucas/Whitworth/leaking Castrol of the originals. The latest version has moved away from that is is much more sterile, IMO. A Ural certainly has character...perhaps too much of it. Those are truly a love it or hate it machine. While I think I'd lean on the 'love' side I just can't see myself using one enough to justify either the high price (newer, more dependable) or the impending explosion (older ones - alternators, crankshafts). Can't speak to Ducatis; to me they are a little too Alfa/Maserati for a guy with Fiat tastes.

markwemple
markwemple UltraDork
10/27/17 6:29 p.m.
jazzop said:

I have been advised by nearly every person whose expertise I trust that a desmo Ducati is a bad idea.  I'm willing to listen to a contrasting opinion on the issue, as that era of Ducati is exactly the style of bike that I love, and my bad-decision cortex suffers from congenital hypertrophism.

Definitely not considering dual-sports/motards and the ilk.  Sorry. I either want to be prone or on something over 50 years old.

And now for something completely different: what about the Ural?

Why do they say it's a bad idea?

Trans_Maro
Trans_Maro PowerDork
10/27/17 7:31 p.m.

I own two Ducati bevel drives, a Mk II Motor Guzzi LeMans and an 8v Moto Guzzi Stelvio.

The Ducatis are a breeze to maintain and the engines are well built, as are the 'Guzzi engines. A MG flying twin will rival a water-cooled Honda for long life.

The Guzzis and the Ducati are easier to maintain than any Japanese four that I have owned. F--- valve shims right in the ear.

Braking has been on par or better with all four of my Italians and in the case of the 1970's bikes, MUCH better than anything Japanese.

Every Italian bike in my garage has Brembo brakes and Marzocchi or Ceriani suspension. Those names should be high on the list for anybody.

Huckleberry Snorklewacker
Huckleberry Snorklewacker MegaDork
10/29/17 10:39 a.m.
jazzop said:

It seems that many here assume I value comfort and performance more than I actually do.  Some additional background might help to clarify my intent.  I realize that 4-wheeled parameters don't always translate to 2-wheeled vehicles, but bear with me...

1. I own 7 cars, none younger than 22 years old.  Each vehicle in my fleet is set up to perform a specialized function (e.g., city driving, road trips, hauling/towing, off-road), so I don't require anything to sacrifice what it does well for the sake of another function. The motorcycle would be strictly a Sunday driver and a learning platform for maintenance skills-- no long road trips, no commuting, no passengers.

2. I enjoy the "nuances" of vehicles that require the driver to conform somewhat to the demands/limitations of the vehicle. To wit: I drove my RHD 1965 Land Rover 88 for nearly 2 years as my only functioning vehicle.  There is a certain perverse pleasure to keeping up with traffic while shifting a non-synchro (1st & 2nd) gearbox in a cockpit environment more like the inside of a washing machine than a motor vehicle.  And the adrenaline rush from trying to stop a non-seatbelt-equipped metal box unexpectedly with very weak drum brakes is cheaper than cocaine.

3. Perhaps I gave the wrong impression regarding ergonomics.  I know that an ill-fitting bike can be much more dangerous than an ill-fitting car, but I'm not worried about minor awkwardness or discomfort as long as it doesn't impact the weight/balance and ability to control the bike properly.  I can press all 3 pedals on my '67 Mini with one size 13 foot, but I've managed to adapt okay (with the right shoes).

4. Except for paint/body and machining, I do all my own maintenance.  I just don't want to bite off more than I can chew by getting a hangar queen made of glass and requiring too much in the way of specialized knowledge and tools.

5. Performance (to me) is relative to the experience, not to other people's vehicles.  I'd rather have a great time rounding the curves at 50 mph in a Sprite than a sterile drive on those same curves at 70 mph in a new Honda.  If I can't tell a vehicle's speed by the wind noise and gearbox whine, I am lost and will probably get a whopping speeding ticket as I continue to accelerate trying to find those telltale sounds.

Thanks to all of you so far with the suggestions and tips.  Keep 'em coming, please.

You want a 60s/70s Triumph Bonneville T120R with a kickstart. Should be under $10k for a perfect one.

Apis Mellifera
Apis Mellifera HalfDork
10/31/17 7:40 p.m.

I have a '71 BMW R60 and a '71 Triumph Bonneville.  I'm 6'3" and fit both well, but prefer the BMW.  My R60 is a  short wheelbase.  They got 50mm longer from late '71 onward.  I've attempted to sell my Bonneville a few times, but I still have it.  You can get very nice ones for around $5K.  The Bonneville pictured above is a 1970 and is about as good as it gets in terms of ridability and collectability.

It's also worth mentioning that vintage Triumphs are right foot shift, left foot brake.  I'm not sure when they changed to conventional controls.  It's never been an issue for me as it's impossible to forget that you're on a Triumph when you're on a Triumph.

jazzop
jazzop New Reader
11/9/17 6:38 a.m.

I hope this doesn't contradict everything I've said up to this point, but the power of FREE often makes other priorities pale in comparison....

I am getting a 1989 Honda GT 647 Hawk.  It's free, complete, original, and has been sitting idle for about 2 years under climate control.

Yes, it's small.

Yes, it's not a Euro bike with personality.  (Although the more I research it, there seems to be a very loyal cult behind this bike.)

But it's free, so I theoretically still have the budget available for another bike.  I just need to build another garage before I acquire more!

Just another perk of being a single guy who can accept the short-notice vehicular divestments of the less-fortunate fellows with recalcitrant wives to appease!

ddavidv
ddavidv PowerDork
11/9/17 9:01 a.m.

The Hawks do have a tremendous following. I like how they look.

Unfortunately every single Honda I've ridden has left me feeling 'meh'. But if its free? Yeah, I'm bringing it home anyway.

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