1st "Street" bike recommendations - Kawasaki Versys Forum
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post #1 of 24 (permalink) Old 10-17-2010, 08:30 AM Thread Starter
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1st "Street" bike recommendations

Hello Guys (and Gals),

I'm a newbie and this is my first post. I'm looking for your input and guidance here please...

I'm looking for my first true street bike and need some thoughts on what to consider.

A little background on me... I received my first bike in 1975 when I was 12. It was a 1975 Kawasaki MC90 trail bike. I grew and progressed into MX and race competatively from 1980-1984 and reached the "A" class. I went without a bike until 2002 when I got back into dirt bikes again as a "Vet" rider. With 3 boys to support, my racing days are over.

I went and received my MC endorcement and bought a 2005 KTM 525 EXC Racing and installed a motard setup. I rode it a few times on the street and decided the maintenance on a racing 4 stroke was too much for the time spent riding. Don't get me wrong, this bike was the BOMB and fantastic to ride!

Now, I'm looking for my first true street bike. I'm 5'9", 170 lbs with little street experience. I don't think I want to go the sport bike route (I want to be comfortable), so I'm trying to decide if I should get a cruiser or a bike like the Versys.

I was considering a used Honda Shadow - 600 VLX or 750 until I was crusing down Daytona yesterday during Biketober fest and saw a green Versys cruise past me.

So, please share your thoughts. I plan to ride to work, cruise the Bike weeks, drive down 75 miles each way when I pick up my son for 1-on-1 visitation weekends an join some rides from time to time.

What direction should I go?

Thanks in advance for your suggestions and comments.

Shaun
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post #2 of 24 (permalink) Old 10-17-2010, 08:42 AM
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A small cruiser is by far the best 1st bike as they are easy to ride, but it sounds like you do have experience. I made the mistake of buying an SV650 as my first bike, should have bought a cruiser like I had in the MSF class.
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post #3 of 24 (permalink) Old 10-17-2010, 09:41 AM
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I made a mistake when I bought Versys as my first bike ever. One should start small when it comes to motorcycles.
It seems you've passed that step so Versys may be the right bike for you.

You are here so I'm guessing Vesys and that type of bikes/riding style is in your aim.

Also:
Yamaha XTX 660
Suzuki V Strom 650
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post #4 of 24 (permalink) Old 10-17-2010, 11:04 AM
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With all the dirt experience, you may not enjoy the cruiser's feet forward position. The Versys will allow you to keep your feet under you where you are likely comforable.

Always trust your cape.
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post #5 of 24 (permalink) Old 10-17-2010, 11:23 AM
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+1, AYTC. also, the versys can do more than a cruiser.

Quote:
Originally Posted by chitownpete View Post
A small cruiser is by far the best 1st bike.
not really relevant to this discussion, but i completely disagree with that assessment. i'd never suggest a person start on a cruiser mostly because that have little headroom to allow your skills to progress. that will limit rider development. a standard is a better way to go. though a ninja 250 is the absolute best starter bike. better handling than a cruiser, better brakes than a cruiser, light, low, narrow, cheap. it has enough motor to outgun the cagers (some smaller (<650cc) cruisers can't claim that), but not enough motor to launch you to the moon. perfect.

i used a VTR250 when i took the MSF class. i was lucky, they only had one and i homed in on it. years later, i became an MSF instructor and doing demos on that Rebel 250 was like riding a bicycle, so i understand your point. if the SV was too much of a jump for you, i'd wager the little ninja would have been the right prescription.

In a world full of people, only some want to ride. Isn't that crazy?
Seal/CRAZY/misquoted


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post #6 of 24 (permalink) Old 10-17-2010, 11:42 AM
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On the versys forum, you now what the answer is going to be. The Versys is a great first bike, great bike period. I currently 3 different bikes. You might also consider the Suzuki vstrom650, but there are tons of great bikes. Some of my favorites are Honda intruder, Honda vtx1300, Kawasaki concours, Suzuki bandit. It's really fun to shop and research a new bike purchase. Knowing you can buy something and are going too. You also might consider getting some used serviceable bike and riding it a couple of years to get some miles under your belt. that way you won't make mistakes with your beautiful baby.

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post #7 of 24 (permalink) Old 10-17-2010, 11:51 AM
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I'm 31 and had never been on a motorcycle my entire life until my MSF course back in May. I was also looking at a Shadow 750, per my dad's (and his 35 years riding experience) advice. Although, after researching like crazy for 2 months I found a great deal on my blue Versys and ended up buying it the week before my class (before I could even ride it!). I learned on a Nitehawk 250 in the class and had my Versys waiting in the garage when I got my license. I had 14 total miles of driving under my belt before I took the Versys for it's first spin.

Looking back on it, logic says I probably shouldn't have bought a bike before learning how to ride but I don't regret it for a second.

I now have 2200 miles on the Versys and while it did take me a little bit of time to get comfortable on it (maybe a couple hundred miles), it has made a fantastic first bike for me. My skills have developed remarkably well since May and while I know I have a lot to learn (and am always improving my skills) I like to think I'm coming along well. Riding (commuting) 7 days a week in city traffic will certainly develop those skills for you!

I'm 6' tall with a 34" inseam so the height is a non-issue for me. I have come close to dropping it once, but haven't so far and I feel like I can handle the bike physically pretty well. If I was shorter and couldn't flat foot while on it, I probably would have had more of an issue with it as my first bike.

Hope this helps and
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post #8 of 24 (permalink) Old 10-17-2010, 12:22 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ATYC View Post
With all the dirt experience, you may not enjoy the cruiser's feet forward position. The Versys will allow you to keep your feet under you where you are likely comforable.
----------------------------------------------------------

That is what I was thinking. I didn't know bikes like this were around. I'm thinking the feet below me will be a more natural fit for my years of MX experience. I see cruisers everywhere living near Daytona. I've never ridden one and was curious to know which is more comfortable. I'd like to make some long trips down the road.

The seat height is not a concern for me. If you've ridden a MX bike, you know how tall they are!

Thanks for everyone's input thus far!

Shaun
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post #9 of 24 (permalink) Old 10-17-2010, 12:30 PM
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Welcome to the group Shaun.
My story is almost identical to yours. I still ride a KTM 250xcfw. Was going to buy a new 450/530exc here but decided to pay off some more debt before getting in further. Gotta retire sometime, ya know.

With your sumo time the Versys would be a perfect next step. Performance is really good and the upright ergos are comfy. You would be bored to death with a cruiser. And a true sportbike would be a PITA, I mean back.

I'm the same size physically and the bike is easy to handle, very light feeling and agile, and accelleration and corning is just fantastic. Not quite as snappy as your KTM, but probably just a little faster in the fast corners, and not much difference in the tighter stuff. It's a little over a hundred pounds heavier, but the twin is just so nice and smooth, and your maintenance practically drops to nil with the V.

Don't go ride one unless you're prepared to buy. I think you'll be inextricably drawn like the rest of us. Then its just a matter of deciding between new or used. There are a few bargains out there.

BTW, may have some interest in your 525. In CA you pretty much gotta have a plate. They've closed down access just about everywhere. I still get by with a ohv sticker because I ride with my 15 year old son. But soon he'll have a license, so a couple of plated bikes are probably in our future.

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post #10 of 24 (permalink) Old 10-17-2010, 01:37 PM
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it depends on what you want to do, where you want to ride.
if you want to cruise, go get a cruiser (personally I'd suggest one made by Kawasaki (the KLE650 springs to mind))
if you want to go street ridign then a Versys is fine

considering your previous experience on bikes I don' think getting a small bike makes sense. you've got sufficient experience in machine control to consider anything. many I know suggest riding off road intially to get to grips with the machine handling and then move on (if you want to). the only reasons I'd suggest for not buying a bigger bike is all down to that experience.. normally I'd suggest getting an relatively old 250/350, poss 400 that doesn't cost too much so it doesn't hurt if or when it gets dropped.. but your past that (at least I hope you are)
personally I wouldn't want a significnatly bigger bike than a 650..800, again down to experience.. it is different riding on roads, and with a more powerful bike......

so I'd suggest its down to you, what your motivations for going riding are, what is it that gives you that ear to ear grin and want to go riding.

the only caution I have in the back of my mind is if you want to do some offroad stuff. the Versys is fine for limited offroad use, but it most certainly isn't an off road bike.. it will happily handle graded untarmaced road, but if you think your offorad could be more extreme, or perhaps was more than say 5..15% of your usage then may be something like a VStrom or one of the Bavarian tractors may be up your street.
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post #11 of 24 (permalink) Old 10-17-2010, 01:53 PM Thread Starter
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the only caution I have in the back of my mind is if you want to do some offroad stuff. the Versys is fine for limited offroad use, but it most certainly isn't an off road bike.. it will happily handle graded untarmaced road, but if you think your offorad could be more extreme, or perhaps was more than say 5..15% of your usage then may be something like a VStrom or one of the Bavarian tractors may be up your street.[/QUOTE]

----------------------------------------------------

I don't plan to offroad with the bike. If I do that, I'll stay with the KTM. I want a comfortable ride but didn't know which is better, the cruiser or this style.

What is the bike like with a "buddy" on the back?

Thanks again for everyone's thoughts! Seems like a dedicated group of riders on here, it is nice!

Shaun
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post #12 of 24 (permalink) Old 10-17-2010, 01:54 PM
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The V is a very good bike nice and light and very manouverable but it can catch you out pull away fast and she will lift caught me out a few times if you are inexperienced it could be a danger.

You also need reasonably long legs at 5'9 you may have difficaulty touching the ground
if so you may have problems when stopped and trying to push it along when sitting on it.

Try one and see if it fits if it does you will find how good it is.

A small cruiser will be easier for you to manage speed is not all.
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post #13 of 24 (permalink) Old 10-17-2010, 02:42 PM
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With your history, which is similar to mine, I think you would be done with the cruiser in about 20 minutes. There are lots of choices. I've had at least 40 motorcycles and probably 20 of them have been street legal. I currently have two street bikes: a 2008 Versys and a 2008 Suzuki DR650. Like them both so much I couldn't choose so I'm keeping both. The simplicity and dirt bike feel of the DR is right up my alley but the power and handling of the Versys is soooo addictive! You cant go wong with the Versys!
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post #14 of 24 (permalink) Old 10-17-2010, 03:21 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Eastflorida View Post
What is the bike like with a "buddy" on the back?
Two Adults??
around town in a pinch OK
long day ride, not me.

"Respect the Ride if you don't you Won't"
"A man's got to know his limitations"

Last edited by cmoreride; 10-17-2010 at 04:04 PM.
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post #15 of 24 (permalink) Old 10-17-2010, 05:35 PM
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I normally would not say to a new rider to go out and get a Versys. With your dirtbike back ground though I think you would be fine. I have had a bunch of dirtbikes and them moved to a couple SM bikes before moving to the Versys.

Having a real street bike opens up a whole new world of riding. You might want to lower it until you get some miles on it.

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post #16 of 24 (permalink) Old 10-17-2010, 05:48 PM Thread Starter
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All,

Thanks for your insights! What is maintenace like on the Versys and the smaller cruisers (VLX600/750 Shadow)? Are they to the level of a car with the exception of chain adjustments? I tore down my race bikes after every race and I know this isn't the level required on a street bike.

Are there any common "issues/nusances" on the Versys? I know my KTM had several, but once dialed in it was great!

Thanks,

Shaun
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post #17 of 24 (permalink) Old 10-17-2010, 07:01 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kenr74 View Post
>snip
You might want to lower it until you get some miles on it.
Are you kidding? The KTM is at least two inches taller than the Versys. Seems to me they are around 36" seat height.

Shaun,
Maintenance on a versys is virtually nothing. Change the oil every 5K and oil the chain.

Along some 10k or so you should check the valve clearance. Oh, and clean the air filter once in a while and make sure nuts and bolts aren't falling off.

The quirks of the versys are minor. Browsing the forum will reveal things to watch for. Or if you get one and some little gremlins pop up you can search for them here. These bikes are virtually flawless, many members here getting tens of thousands of miles out of them with very, very little maintenance. The fuel injection is fantastic, suspension is good stock but not premium, can be upgraded for the really fussy types, good tankage, great ergos, great performance.

The few things that do pop up are easily remedied. For example, most want to address the seat sooner rather than later. It slopes about 10% toward the tank and tends to keep driving you there. Easy fix. Compared to your katoom you'll think you're on a pillow. The mirrors generally aren't setup right from the dealer, so they have to be disassembled and tightened properly. Suspension has to be dialed in to your liking. Some have complained about buzzing in the forward cowl or speedo unit. Good write-ups and ideas to deal with it.

There are zero stories about major problems or engine problems. They are very solid bikes. Keep in mind the components come from a long line of the ninja 650. Nothing really new-fangled here, just an updated design/application. It's not a bimmer or a duc, but doesn't cost like one either.

Most feel they get 90-95% of what you get in the premium bikes, maybe even more, for about half the cost. You can have two bikes for the price of some its competitors. These bikes tend to be instantly liked by anyone that test rides one. Every review raves about them. Kawasaki hit a home run with this one. It does so many things well, and universally is said to be fun. Everybody says its fun, and that's the reason there are so many enthusiasts here.

Other bikes on my shortlist when I decided on the versys:
ducati hypermotard/monster
Triumph Street Triple/Tiger
Yamaha FZ1
BMW F650
Suz DL650

I would still make the same choice, almost a year later. I think I would like one of the new F800GS's, but gee, about fifteen grand to go that way. Could buy TWO Versys for that. And certainly not get twice the bike.

Chris Brown
In SoCal
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post #18 of 24 (permalink) Old 10-17-2010, 07:11 PM Thread Starter
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Chris,

Wow! It is nice to get the details you provided - particularly since you know what I last rode (the KTM - I wasn't too concerned with the seat height as you know how tall the KTM is). The Versys sounds like the bike I'm looking for and I love the LOW maintenance aspects with no history of engine issues.

There is a dealer that has a 2009 Lime Green one advertised at a crazy low price. It appears to be new so I hope to hear back from them tomorrow in response to my email. With my luck, it will already be gone, but I hope not.

Again, thanks for the input!

Shaun

Last edited by Eastflorida; 10-17-2010 at 07:13 PM.
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post #19 of 24 (permalink) Old 10-18-2010, 07:05 AM
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Don't Kid yourself on 'ZERO' engine issues
there have been a few, not many but there have been
I've heard of one or two holed pistons, a dropped valve. the holed pistons were possibly down to rider abuse). the reports are few and far between, but they do exist.... it shouldnt' put you off the bike as this engine has been around for a while its basically the same engine as the ER6/Ninja 600

the main area where I think there are potential gremlins are the electrics. you can get round part of that by protecting the electrcis as soon as you buy the bike and say annually thereafter. the rectifier/regulator the grey finned lump of metal under the battery box is exposed to the elements, especially if you don't have a hugger fitted. make certain you use something similar to di-electric grease (effectively its a waterproof grease for electrical connections on the connectors for the rectifier. if that goes / corrodes it can be expensive to replace.
its good practice elsewhere to grease the exposed electrical connectors that may get wet.

I've heard reports of corrosion on the main fuse and fuel starter relay issues. again this are few and far between.

the ignition key can also have problems (or more accurately the ignition key barrel.... there's been several reports of premature failure seemingly down to water penetration into the barrel. Im guessing thats on bikes which have been stored outside in the rain.

ultimately the best way of protecting against these is not to ride the bike, or if you 'must' then only when its dry. but that measn you are missing out on a fantastic bike.... If I were you I'd snatch that bike out of the dealers hands at that crazy price...


gwan go for it, you know it makes sense
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post #20 of 24 (permalink) Old 10-18-2010, 09:46 AM
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i have a similar background. plenty of experience in the woods, zero on the street.

until 4 weeks ago bought a vs as my first bike and i love it. i say go for it. very easy transition from a dirtbike to this thing. riding on the street is a different animal indeed.. but it's not too bad if you keep your head screwed on straight and find an MSF course.

i debated a cruiser as well but it just didnt feel right.

good luck. you'll love the versys.

"What doesn't kill me postpones the inevitable"
"Play stupid games, win stupid prizes"
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