Decided to make the treck to Daytona this morning. Rode through pitch dark and foggy the first hour of the ride. Once the sun came up, beautiful weather! 80’s and sunny!
Anyway, I made it to International Speedway where all the demo rides happen. I got there about 10:00 am. Luckily for me 1) It was Monday morning and, 2) Pretty much everything but the Niken was available to test ride! (SECRET – Bike Week on Monday mornings if you want to have the privilege to pick whatever ya want!!)
They had Indian (wasn’t interested), Yamaha, Kawasaki and Suzuki. I have to tell you, unless you’re into fast crotch rockets Suzuki’s line sucks!!! Nothing new and it seems like nothing has changed for them. Kawasaki…NO Concours!!! WTF?!?! That’s the ONE BIKE I wanted to ride!
I signed up for the Ninja 400 and then over to the Yamaha tent for another go at that FJR, just to make sure my first demo wasn't mistaken. (It wasn’t! LOVE that bike!!!)
Here’s some pics of the speedway. Notice the few people than normal. Just the way I like it!
Here’s a Honda DN-01. Interesting pre-CTX/NM-4 model with DCT. No longer in production.
This caught my eye. A Harley V-rod…with batwing and hard bags. Did a double take because I never saw a V-rod decked out like that. I actually like it!
Thought I might get lucky with this one! She wasn’t having any of me.
350 Choppers, Inc. Why??? I guess because they can.
Now for my reviews:
Here are the two Ninja 400’s. I rode the red one but I don’t think there was a difference other than paint.
This thing is fun! Reminds me of the EX500. We got to twist the throttle a little and it has some get up and go. I mean, it IS a 400cc so it’s not hyper-drive! But for an entry-level or a great around the town bike it really shines. With that said, I felt the powerbands were good as you could feel it catching at about 4,000 rpm and then it felt like it was telling you to wind it out and hit that red line! Kawasaki has done really good on these little rides!
Would I buy one? Definitely, for a good dealer price. They’re just a fun bike to ride, plain and simple.
Then on to the FJR. My review…simply AWESOME!!! This was my second test ride and if there was ever a bike that “just fits” it’s this one! A tad heavier than I’ve grown to like but the seat is thinner and lower, I can flat foot it and it rides like you’re on a cloud! Has excellent pick-up and grunt. The handling is superb (for the route we took – no major twisties but a few sweepers) and you can lean and feel it “flicking”. Obviously all the bells and whistles – not that I need heated grips in Florida. But I love the retractable wind screen and the two throttle modes. It fits me perfectly, I’m a tad hunched but not too much where the weight’s on my wrists.
Would I buy one? Hell yeah!!! And I plan to. Gonna ride out the Versys for another year then, unless something better comes out, I can see an FJR for a long time bike.
Then I went to the Honda tent where they told me I had to ride 30 miles over to RC Hill Honda where their truck was doing all the demo rides. They lady said Monday was pretty quiet. I really didn’t want to spend the time there but, it’s kind of on the way home, so I went. Hardly anyone there! I rode the NC750X. I owned a NC700 with DCT but just didn’t like the feel of the bike and I couldn’t get used to that DCT. They had a manual NC750 so I hoped on it.
I will say, at this dealer, they had a long route. So we go to open the bikes up. The NC750 is definitely an improvement from the 700cc model. Still rides the same but has a lot more grunt to the engine. Also, the seat is wrapped in a more “sticky” material so I wasn’t sliding my crotch into the storage area (where most gas tanks are). Problem was, after about 10 minutes, my ass was numb on that seat.
Overall, would I buy one? Probably not. I felt like I was riding next to the Motorcycle.com guys who said, for an around-the-town bike, the NC750 is nice. But anything else…it’s still lacking – something. I think the rake is to short as I still feel like I’m sitting right on top of the front wheel. And man, do you have to shift quickly! Redline is at 6500 rpm’s and you get there QUICK!
So, not a bike I’d go for.
What I did ride is a CB500F. Luckily for the long route because the first 10 miles I wasn’t impressed. But once we hit the open area…for a little 500cc that thing has an amazing powerband! I want to say at around 3500 rpm you can feel it hit and then all the way to redline it feels like it’s still grabbing you and flinging you forward! It’s not as quick off the line but once ya hit that powerband it will go for you!
As for the seating position, I prefer the Ninja. The CB felt like a GSX-750 I rode a few years back – way forward and if I stopped quick I’d probably go over the front of the bars. But once I got a few more miles on it, it was just a fun bike to ride!
Would I buy one? I guess. It’s fun for a local bike, get’s outstanding gas mileage from a 3.7 gal tank and I know Honda’s reputation. But to be honest, if I had to pick between that Ninja 400 and the CB500F…I’d take the Ninja. Mainly because it’s just a lot more comfortable for me. Also, I’m somewhat familiar with the engine from the EX500 I had and worked on. Don’t get me wrong, that CB is also really easy to maintain as everything is accessible from behind the radiator. But that Ninja is just a better designed motorcycle, IMO.
So, fun day, great weather and not too much of a crowd. Had a good time.