penultimeta
penultimeta HalfDork
5/8/17 7:51 p.m.

I just received a job offer that will be taking me back to the city in a few weeks. Though I will lack project space, I'm thrilled to be leaving the 'burbs. With that being said, I'm thinking that I'd like to get something with two wheels for what is sure to be a close commute. The short, economical, and environmental friendly answer is, of course, bicycle which I will certainly do on some days.

But does anybody have experience with commuting on a motorcycle? Will I get annoyed by constantly shifting in city traffic? I'm also considering a scooter as well, but it seems like small displacement bikes and scooters are close enough in price that that doesn't really sway me with the bike having the extra cool factor as well as being far more capable for any short distances that I might need to travel >35mph.

The obvious choices for small bikes are Ninja 300 (probably 250, I'd look for used) and CBR300 (or 250). I've not much experience in the realm, so excuse me if my question seems naive and uninformed.

stroker
stroker SuperDork
5/8/17 7:52 p.m.

GS500 Suzuki. Cheap, bulletproof, plentiful.

DaveEstey
DaveEstey PowerDork
5/8/17 8:31 p.m.

I commute on my Duc pretty frequently. Silly bike for the job.

I find getting hot sitting in traffic to be the worst. For me not the bike. So pick something that doesn't make a lot of heat.

Nick (Bo) Comstock
Nick (Bo) Comstock MegaDork
5/8/17 8:56 p.m.

What's your expected commute range and budget?

I'm extremely interested in a Zero electric motorcycle for my commute. It'll have plenty of range for my use. I really want one. This is the one I want. http://www.zeromotorcycles.com/zero-ds/

penultimeta
penultimeta HalfDork
5/8/17 9:04 p.m.

Good question. Commute will be <10 mi. I'm looking to keep it under 5k, closer to 4, less if possible. The zerocycles would be perfect, but outside my price range.

secretariata
secretariata Dork
5/8/17 9:13 p.m.

If you are only using it for commuter duty and aren't hung up on looking cool a Burgman is a very practical commuter...

Nick (Bo) Comstock
Nick (Bo) Comstock MegaDork
5/8/17 9:15 p.m.

In reply to penultimeta:

I know nothing of cities but I think something small, light and easily maneuverable would be good. Also something that's tough and can get bumped into without causing too much expensive to repair damage.

How about something like a WR250R or similar?

Mike
Mike SuperDork
5/8/17 10:07 p.m.

Since you said riding a bike was a sometimes option, and since your title leaves bikes in the definition:

Specialized Turbo.

It's electric, but isn't just a throttle-equipped bike. It watches how hard you pedal, and fills in, so you look like a cycling superstar.

Huckleberry
Huckleberry MegaDork
5/8/17 10:27 p.m.

Supermoto bikes are rock stars in a city. They are tall so you can see over stuff, jump curbs, handle well, narrow for splitting and tough as nails.

Trans_Maro
Trans_Maro PowerDork
5/9/17 12:01 a.m.

Any UJM that is cheap and you don't care about.

Being outside in inclement weather ages a bike fast, not to mention all the parking lot carnage it may have to endure.

Buy something old that no-one cares about anymore and throw it away when it's used up. Look for a Yamaha Maxim, Honda CM400, KLR, etc.

ae86andkp61
ae86andkp61 HalfDork
5/9/17 1:47 a.m.

Another vote for supermoto, or even an electric-start enduro with less-knobby treads on the stock wheels. I love short urban commuting on my DR350 supermoto.

They are light, manouverable, lots of steering lock, soak up bumps and potholes without needing to slow down, gearing that's good for stoplight-to-stoplight sprints, and you sit high to keep an eye out for idiot drivers. The fairly flexible thumper powerband and decent mileage is an added bonus. They aren't good for long stints at high speeds, but they are a hoot around town.

I'm partial to Suzuki DR350SE and DRZ400 (also sold as a KLX400, I think) and they should be available within your budget. I did the supermoto conversion on my 350 which I bought for $1400, so all told under $2500. The 400 is a little newer and came in a factory supermoto version (called the DRZ400SM) if you aren't into building motorcycle wheels. A WR250 punches above its weight, came in supermoto and enduro versions, and around here they are priced accordingly...there may be deals out there, but perhaps not too often. I don't know as much about the CRF230 or KLX250, but might be worth a glance?

I've ridden my dad's CBR250 a few times, and usually come away with the same initial thoughts: like the idea of ABS, like the ease of EFI cold starts, like the way it seems to make better use of the meager power in the 50-70mph range (aerodynamics?) I dislike the idea of dealing with all the bodywork for servicing the bike, or after dropping it/bumping it, dislike the riding position (personal preference) and the way I feel greater need to adjust my speed and inputs depending on the road surface. It feels like it is more sensitive to bumps, cracks, tar snakes, and the like, and doesn't inspire as much confidence when gravel or train tracks appear ahead. YMMV.

minimac
minimac SuperDork
5/9/17 8:26 a.m.

Being somewhat biased(I have three of them) a scooter IMHO is top dog for commuting. Most offer excellent weather protection, have lots of underseat storage, add a cheap top case and you can carry plenty of weather protected stuff. A 150cc scooter will easily run at a steady 50-55mph, easy to maneuver in city traffic, and easy to park. My 250 scooter will run steadily @ 70mph,and I've taken my 400cc scooter across country and back. My 650 scooter tours as well as my Goldwing. A good Japan or Taiwan 150-250cc scooter can be had for well under $2K, and if liquid cooled, will run forever.

APEowner
APEowner Reader
5/9/17 8:53 a.m.

I commute on my Seca Turbo whenever the weather is good, I don't need my truck and I'm feeling well rested and healthy. I feel that the last one is really important. Riding requires more skill and attention than driving a car (or truck) and the consequences of a mistake are higher. I've had two accidents in my three and a half decades of riding and both of them happened when I got casual about my don't ride when I'm tired rule.

As far as what bike is concerned I much prefer a motorcycle to a scooter. The line between the two has gotten blurry over the years but I want wheels and tires big enough to not get wrecked if I hit a pothole or bump, brakes that work reliably regardless of speed and weather and enough power that I can keep up with or pass traffic under all conditions. I also like the ability to take the long way home on nice days and just enjoy the ride.

Really any motorcycle that meets the above requirements and that you like to ride will make an excellent commuter.

Joe Gearin
Joe Gearin Associate Publisher
5/9/17 9:20 a.m.

I stopped by the dealer this weekend, and they had the new Kawasaki Versys X on display. It's a smaller / 300cc thumper version of the Versys.

It looked light, had good wheel travel / ground clearance, and seems to be about the perfect commuter bike.

Cycle World Review

MulletTruck
MulletTruck Reader
5/9/17 10:14 a.m.

I commute on my motorcycle every day, 75 miles each way. With a commute of only 10 miles just about anything you choose is going to work fine. Dont get too small tho, Once you have it in your mind that its good transportation you may want to venture farther out and will want a bit bigger bike to do so.

Burrito
Burrito Dork
5/9/17 10:26 a.m.

I commute on my WR250X any chance I get, about 13 miles each way in mixed city/highway conditions. It's been an absolute pillar of reliability for the ~3k miles I've put on it in the last year. ae86andkp61 hit the nail on the head and made all the points I came to make already.

The upright seating position is really the take-away for me, though. I can't imagine how little can be seen from a low-slung bobber, scooter, or even most sport bikes. For ripping around town under 55mph, I can't imagine there is anything better than a small dual sport bike.

cmcgregor
cmcgregor Dork
5/9/17 2:26 p.m.

I commute on my CB500X. It's about perfect, in my opinion - still small and light, but has enough juice for the highway, and the nice upright seating position. Used you could find one in your budget.

akamcfly
akamcfly Dork
5/9/17 4:37 p.m.
Joe Gearin wrote: I stopped by the dealer this weekend, and they had the new Kawasaki Versys X on display. It's a smaller / 300cc thumper version of the Versys.

I believe it's the same twin as the ninja 300 (and I think the same tire sizes as the KLR), and it intrigues me much too.

wheelsmithy
wheelsmithy Dork
5/9/17 4:39 p.m.
akamcfly wrote:
Joe Gearin wrote: I stopped by the dealer this weekend, and they had the new Kawasaki Versys X on display. It's a smaller / 300cc thumper version of the Versys.

I believe it's the same twin as the ninja 300 (and I think the same tire sizes as the KLR), and it intrigues me much too.

Yep, looks like a parallel twin. With the HP the little bikes put out these days, sounds like an excellent choice.

akamcfly
akamcfly Dork
5/9/17 4:46 p.m.
wheelsmithy wrote:
akamcfly wrote:
Joe Gearin wrote: I stopped by the dealer this weekend, and they had the new Kawasaki Versys X on display. It's a smaller / 300cc thumper version of the Versys.

I believe it's the same twin as the ninja 300 (and I think the same tire sizes as the KLR), and it intrigues me much too.

Yep, looks like a parallel twin. With the HP the little bikes put out these days, sounds like an excellent choice.

Seems to be darn near the same hp as the KLR with less displacement, fuel injection, and about 40 lbs lighter than the KLR. 1" less ground clearance but 3" lower seat. $1000 cheaper

penultimeta
penultimeta HalfDork
5/10/17 10:16 a.m.

Thanks guys, this has been super helpful.

skierd
skierd SuperDork
5/10/17 10:42 a.m.

I commuted by 99.9% motorcycle in and around Baltimore for 4 years on a WR250R, which I turned in to an X (Supermoto) about halfway through that time by swapping the motard wheels and front brake. It is absolutely one of the best ways to make a commute enjoyable. Few things are more fun in a city than a lightweight bike with sticky tires, good torque and power, and great brakes!

A WR250X and the DRZ400SM are awesome, cheap, and reliable (out of the box with the WR, with a few mods on the DRZ). The WR is the better highway bike with its better gearing and smoother engine, the DRZ is gruntier around town.

Get good riding gear. I really liked my Klim Traverse jacket and Aerostich AD1 pants as a completely weatherproof combo from slightly below freezing (with layers) to the low to mid 80's. Alpinestars Ridge boots are also great for commutes, comfortable to walk in, breath well, and are completely waterproof. And I really like my aerostich competition elkskin gauntlets after they broke in. Buy a good helmet you can see out of and are comfortable in; I personally went with a Shoei Hornet in black and hi-viz orange and added reflective 3M tape to make it show up on the road better. The visor is awesome when the sun starts to set! Get a heated vest or jacket with a remote heattroller and you'll be able to commute until the snow falls and sticks (hence the 0.1% missing above).

Get a tank bag with a clear map pocket on top. That's where your wallet, phone, earplugs, parking pass, etc goes so it's not always in your pockets.

I also liked having a set of Wolfman Enduro saddlebags, they didn't use racks and are small enough to be out of the way, but large enough to hold the little things you might need day to day or let you stop at the grocery store on the way home.

Bobzilla
Bobzilla UltimaDork
5/10/17 10:44 a.m.

So I made my first auto-x run on Saturday on a Honda NC700. With the trunk, I would think this would be a great option.

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