Monday, 31 December 2012

Which Bike to Buy?

When I decided to buy my bike, I had thought about getting back to riding for a year. I had to justify the cost of taking that money out of my "rainy day" fund and spend it on something that was totally not practical, and would not help me financially if something should happen to my job. I'm sure you've been through those decisions yourself...

After much agonizing, I finally overcame that roadblock with the knowledge that if I didn't honour my gut feelings, I would forever regret it. So, on January 1, 2011, the serious hunt was on for a motorcycle!

I was looking for a standard bike similar to the 1977 Kawasaki KZ200 that I rode from 1981 to 1985. I had had a lot of fun on that and had ridden on all the paved roads of the North Island at that time. 

When I had been given the opportunity to take our neighbour's brand new 1983 Yamaha Virago 750 out for a 40 km spin back in 1983, I had loved the power and rider position of that too. (Thinking back on that, I don't know that I would have let a teenager take out my brand-new bike, but I must have impressed him enough that he wasn't worried.) 

Having not paid any attention to the evolution of motorcycles since 1985, I had no idea that small standard motorcycles no longer existed in North America. Everything was either the Honda CBR 125 or next stop, a 650, with nothing in between. Whoa, what had happened? Upon further research, discovered that smaller motorcycles existed in Europe but just were not available here. That is changing now with Kawasaki's new Ninja 300 and Honda's CBR 250 that came out last year (although not soon enough that it was available when I was looking). 

After talking to a few people and reading numerous blogs about beginner/re-entry bikes, I was told that since I had ridden before, I would quickly be bored with a small bike. Having not ridden though for many years, I wasn't so sure about that, but went with that advice while I was looking.

I also wasn't limited to a lower seat height with my 33 inch inseam, my options were not so limited as other gals. What was proving difficult though was finding a bike where I didn't lean over the tank. Coming from a mostly off-road riding background, the leaning over position with narrow handlebars was just not comfortable. 

Albeit my search would have been easier living in a bigger city with more dealerships, I needed to find a place I felt comfortable walking into that sold and serviced the brand I was going to buy. More consideration ensued...


  1. Suzi:

    You've got me in suspense waiting for Part Deux. I used to ride an SV650nK3 and it was great, your Gladius is a newer model, but then I traded for my DL650 Vstrom.

    Happy New Year to you

    Riding the Wet Coast
    My Flickr // My YouTube

    1. Thank you for stopping by bob. Have a draft in the works for part two, it was originally one long post but too long, so broke it up.

      I like the look of the SV650nK3, if I had had a chance to sit on one, I might have bought that...I did have a chance to sit on a few Vstroms though, very nice. It's what I would buy if I get serious about long distance riding.

      Happy New Year to you too, look forward to catching up with your blog and your adventures.


  2. Buying a bike sure isn't an easy decision. Been there, done that, glad I found my Gladius.

    Having a long inseam sure makes it easier when choosing bikes. hard to find long riding pants though. I thought it was bad with my 32" inseam, you must have a hard time with yours. I finally went with Rev'it Mens pants. Manufacturers think women have short legs or something.

    I am happy to see Honda coming out with three 500 cc models too. It's about time they gave us some smaller cc'd motorcycles.

    1. Glad I found my Gladius too, I was getting a bit bummed out by what was not available in my small city. Mind you, when I started looking in the dead of winter, I should have known there might be a problem!

      Yes, having a long inseam has been a problem for buying women's pants all my life, but happily, works in my favour for riding motorcycles. Manufacturers think all women have 30 inch inseams. I wear a pair of Joe Rocket men's Alter-Ego armoured pants.

      Thanks for the heads-up for the new Hondas, I had not seen those in the motorcycle mags I get here: Canadian Biker or Cycle Canada. Damn, those are nice looking bikes!


  3. Got a steal on an SV650... I LOVE the engine but hated the riding position, and put on higher bars.
    What a sweet bike!
    Riding now 54 years, I've ridden everything from Cushman Motor Scooters to GoldWings. Someone, either here or at Trobairitz' blog mentioned the desire to win the lottery so we wouldn't have to make these pesky decisions... just buy a bike for each day of the week!

    You mention you rode a neighbor's Virago, but show a pic of a bike with an inline engine. I think the "V" in Virago was there because it was a V-twin.

    It's nice to poke around and find other two-wheelers sharing their passion. Thanks for doing it. I'll check in now and then.

    1. Thank you for dropping by Greybeard. Glad to hear that the higher bars did the trick for you. The first couple of times I rode my Gladius, I was in danger of the bike leaving without me, there was so much power compared to what I had ridden previously.

      You are definitely a long-term rider with that many years under your belt.

      Thank you for the correction on the Virago, I had not known what kind of engine, just remembered the the year, brand and CC, and grabbed the image from the internet thinking that anyone who posted a picture of a Virago, would actually post a proper picture of a Virago. I will correct that so it is factual.

      Have a good one...


  4. Your comment about the power of your Gladius hits home with me Suzu...
    When I got home from Viet Nam I bought a Kawasaki 500cc two stroke that got to 60 mph in 3.2 seconds. At the time, it was the considered "scary" fast. Now, our little 650s would blow that thing in the weeds, and bikes like the Hayabusa can compete with machines designed exclusively for drag racing.
    Settled down now, I own a Moto Guzzi SPIII, a 1500cc GoldWing, and my (now beloved) SV650. "Fast" isn't as important as vibration level and fuel efficiency. If the Suzy had shaft drive, I'd consider it perfect. (Rode nine hours in Hurricane Agnes back in '72 and ruined the chain on my 750 Kaw triple!

    Be well Suzu, (and your readers too).