Sell my car? And buy what bike? - Kawasaki Versys Forum
 
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post #1 of 14 (permalink) Old 12-15-2009, 04:38 PM Thread Starter
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Sell my car? And buy what bike?

Howdy all,

Thanks in advance for reading this very long post and for your feedback. I want to make an educated decision so I'm exploring many angles and asking for advice from multiple sources.

The Situation:
I am a 38 year old executive living in San Antonio, Texas. My wife and I are selling our suburban home and moving into a downtown loft. I am considering selling one of our two Honda Fits and going down to one car + a motorcycle or scooter. My wife would drive the car during the week and share it with me on weekends. I would therefore be looking for something to use for my primary transportation. In my position with my company I spend one or two weeks a month working from a home office, one or two weeks a month in our Houston office and one or two weeks each quarter traveling by air. I keep an apartment in Houston that's about 15 minutes from the office and both the office and the apartment have parking garages.

When I was in my 20's I had a 600cc sport-bike followed by a V-twin cruiser. During both periods I had at least one other car as my primary transportation and only rode for fun. Making the commitment to be a full-time cyclist is something I'm prepared to do if it sounds like it's a good fit. The move to the downtown setting will put a lot within walking distance. When at home, I would only need something to get around town on since I could simply drive our car when I'm with the wife or we need to haul lots of stuff. When traveling to and from Houston I could either ride the motorcycle or rent a car. I assume I could either ride to the airport to take a cab when flying.

The Requirements:
If I do move forward, here are my needs/requirements:

- Something easy to maneuver in downtown city traffic (when I'm in San Antonio)

- Reasonable storage for light grocery runs and commuting

- Comfortable (mostly upright) riding position with little weight on wrists

- Decent weather protection

- Very reliable and low-maintenance


Additionally, if I decide to use this for commuting to Houston and back:

- Something that is good on the highway

- Possibly cruise control?

- Something that will do well on the terrible Houston concrete "roads"

The Bikes:
So, with those things in mind, I'm down to the following (in no particular order):

Touring
- Honda Gold Wing
- Honda ST1300
- BMW RT1200
The Gold Wing appeals to me because I rented one a few years ago and thoroughly enjoyed it riding the PCH from San Francisco to Irvine. It did everything well and held all my gear and then some. It would also be great for touring with the wife. The con's are that it's pricy and heavy. The ST1300 and RT1200 appeal to me because they seem like very balanced bikes that split the difference between big touring bikes and lighter-weight options like the NT700V or Mana 850.
Standards
- Honda NT700V
- Kawasaki Versys
- BMW R1200GS
- BMW R800GS
- Aprilia Mana 850
The two BMW GS bikes appeal to the backpacker and outdoors guy in me. I doubt I'd spend more than 5% of my time off the pavement, but still... They seem tough as nails and would do well on some of the rougher roads I travel. The NT700V and Mana 850 seem like great standards with good storage solutions (pass-through bags on the Honda / compartment where the tank normally resides on the Aprilia. The Versys is the least expensive of this group and would need a good set of panniers or top-case, but it also seems pretty flexible.
Scooters
- Vespa GTS250
- Suzuki Bergman 650 Exec
- Honda Silver Wing
The Vespa would be limited to San Antonio and would force me to rent a car to travel, but would be ideal for scooting around town and would fit into the front of our one parking space at the new loft. The Bergman and Silver Wing would also do well around town, but could be pressed into highway duty for Houston commuting (maybe?)
The Questions:
So, after all that, here are my two questions, with a few thought starters for each:

1) It feels like I could make the switch to full-time riding, but I'm hunting for feedback from anyone who is a full-timer (or was.)
  • Are you able to do the things you need to do in life with just a bike (or occasionally borrowing/renting a car)?
  • Is there any advice you would give to someone considering making the switch?
  • What should I be aware of that I haven't mentioned?
  • What's the question I haven't asked?

2) Based on my needs:
  • Which bike do you feel would be the best fit, and why?
  • Is there something on this list that you'd eliminate as a possibility, and why?
  • Is there a bike missing from this list?

Again, many thanks for sticking with me through the long post. I figured I'd give you as much background as possible to help you get the whole picture and save a few questions. I look forward to your feedback and I sincerely appreciate your help,

Jon
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post #2 of 14 (permalink) Old 12-15-2009, 05:32 PM
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Welcome aboard Jon! I'm just down the road from you in Converse. I've been contemplating selling my Versys if you're interested. We could arrange a meeting if you'd like to see/ride the bike.



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post #3 of 14 (permalink) Old 12-15-2009, 05:40 PM
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My father-in-law has the Silverwing and I think it's great for a local grocery getter. I also find it quite interstate worthy and remarkably stable at speed. I thought the fuel economy could be a little better, but it still beats a car, and turns on a dime.

Stick with the BMW 800 GS- for now, it's the best bike they make, considering the rear drive issues that are chewing up the 1200's. I have on in the garage, and it's the bomb. For local commuting, I would probably still grab the Silverwing for short trips.

I am about 70% on the Versys as a primary vehicle. Sleet, snow, and extreme wind will keep me off. You just have to plan ahead with a bike. You may get there quicker than a cage, but you sure gotta put a lot of stuff off and on to get to the next stop.

Funny, I rode my Father in law's Silverwing from Houston to Albuquerque when he bought it on Craigslist. Once I got past not shifting, it was a hoot to ride.
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post #4 of 14 (permalink) Old 12-15-2009, 06:20 PM
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I dunno I lived in Lake Jackson back in the 90s. Visited Houston a good bit. So, you are a suit and tie kinda guy...what about the 100 degree heat? and the rain? Keep both cars and pick you up an el cheapo 1500 dollar solid bike. Say a KLR 650 or maybe even a Ninja 250- dont laugh they are great and used ones are dirt cheap. Then you have the best of both worlds. You could leave one of the cars at the appt in town.

All in all if it works out with the bike....great. Then sell your car if you become "hardcore full time biker". Sell your el-cheapo bike or trade it in on whatever suits your taste. Don't "BECOME" hardcore because you have to. You will begin to resent your bike then.
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post #5 of 14 (permalink) Old 12-15-2009, 06:41 PM
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Your touring selections are all too big for knocking around in heavy traffic.

Go with something light, even a 250 as others suggest. Versys has crap weather protection, i.e. none, but in every other respect its great bike for commuting touring etc.

Machog


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post #6 of 14 (permalink) Old 12-16-2009, 03:27 AM
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Mana 850, if you do not mind automatic, is the best comuter.
Shiver 750 is similar but the real motorcycle.
If you need to carry lot of stuff around the city then maxi scooter like Burgman, Silverwing, T-max, etc.
Otherwise, beemer 800gs.
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post #7 of 14 (permalink) Old 12-16-2009, 09:12 AM
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Wow, that's a tough one. Briefly, to me, scooters are great but the one my wife had was a bear trying to remove the plastic siding to work on it. For me, I like openness and simple to get to. Other than that, scooters are great and so much easier to ride.

Goldwings, etc, are too big for me. I want something I could "dance" on. Weather protection on a bike? For me, I ride a bike to "feel" the outdoors.

For hauling, I have two H & B 40 liter bags. Those bags are even with the top of the Versys back seat which makes carrying LARGE boxes or bags on the back, and then strapping it, down very easy.

Most bikes will do city riding to long touring, it's just what flips your skirt on how you want to do it and look like.

If you want a two wheeler as your main transportation, be prepared to ride in all kinds of weather, and not just when you feel like it. Very few bikers can even deal with that, let alone people in general who are considering a two wheeler. Just my honest observations.
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post #8 of 14 (permalink) Old 12-16-2009, 09:48 AM
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Permit me to be verbose and maybe put a damper on your thoughts. If so I apologize.

1) Your description of your potential choices hints strongly of image and less of utility. If it's the latter, then you'll realize that any of the bikes mentioned will do the job; some more comfortably some times, others some other time. If it's the former, then buy the one that fits your current self image. Who cares what others think? For multiple images/personalities, buy more bikes.
2) ATGATT! So, have you factored in the time and hassle to put on and take off the gear? As a suit wearer, you'll probably need an Aerostich, and/or leave a suit at the office to change into. These logistics tend to complicate things. Example: I ride 20 miles to work. It takes me 15 minutes to suit up (boots, suit, ear plugs, helmet, gloves, bike check) before even starting the bike. It takes 20 minutes to ride 20 miles. Then it takes another 10 minutes to take off and store the gear. In the same amount of time, I can get in the car and drive to work while listening to XM. The difference is the heightened sense of cheating death again, and the commitment to ride. It isn't a hobby anymore.
3) As mentioned earlier, every bike is and can be made into a daily commuter. Your choice is dependent on your sense of adventure, choice of roads and commitment to adapt. I've ridden bikes with milk crate carriers on the back (great for text books) to full up tourers. I now ride a naked bike and carry a courier bag and tankbag only. YMMV.
4) I would keep both cars and add a bike. That way, you can ease into the bike-commute mode gently and still ride it over the weekends for pleasure. Sadly, I don't ride for pleasure over the weekends anymore: too many crazies on the road. Instead, I take weeklong trips on the blue highways every now and then.

Peter
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post #9 of 14 (permalink) Old 12-16-2009, 10:26 AM
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psc, yes, to me you can make just about any bike do many things. Look at foreign countries and how they use bikes to do so much. They do it in all kinds of weather too, day after day. It is only because we have the luxury of so many bikes that fill so many niches that we go through our list of qualifications. Not that I am not "guilty" of that too and actually find it fun, but in the same breath I have to say, so much of it is much ado over nothing.

For years I traveled on my bike every week. Leave at the beginning of the week and return home at the end. I always wear full protection. Suiting up in the winter takes the longest but even that only takes a few minutes going slow. Taking it off about a minute, again, going slow on winter gear. Summer gear is much faster. Now, keep count on how much time you spend watching commercials each night. Suiting up and down to ride, again, much ado about nothing.

Regarding feeling safe, I feel safer on my bike. If a person uses a bike to take the MANY advantages it has over a car in safety, a bike is safer to me. But how many people actually ride like that? Not many, but I lot do that are on this forum. That being said, if the roads are icy, then give me a car any day.

No doubt, traveling on a bike as your main transportation is not easy and not always fun. Many times I dreaded the long rides I had to do in bad weather, but never so much that I wished I was in a car instead. It is what it is. Still, it sure beats the boring-ass car, to me. I just don't like being "caged". Many here on this forum feel the same way and are crazy too, so it is just not me.
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post #10 of 14 (permalink) Old 12-16-2009, 08:39 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Texas Jon View Post
Howdy all,

Thanks in advance for reading this very long post and for your feedback. I want to make an educated decision so I'm exploring many angles and asking for advice from multiple sources.

[post edited for brevity, see original post for full content]

Again, many thanks for sticking with me through the long post. I figured I'd give you as much background as possible to help you get the whole picture and save a few questions. I look forward to your feedback and I sincerely appreciate your help,

Jon
Still need more information, such as WHY do you want to lose the car for a bike? The big bikes are going to be a PITA in traffic. The standards have no weather protection, but no bike has good weather protection. The scooters will commute easily and can handle cross country travel if you so desire, though performance will be lackluster and you will be disappointed if you want 2 wheels for the image.
As others have mentioned, gearing up and down for the ride will add a good bit of time to your daily commute, no matter what scoot you pick. And yes, there are at least dozens of other motorcycle options you could consider.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bear on a bicycle View Post
Welcome aboard Jon! I'm just down the road from you in Converse. I've been contemplating selling my Versys if you're interested.

The Triumph still tempting you Bear?

Back Off! I'm Already Riding Way Beyond My Abilities.


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post #11 of 14 (permalink) Old 12-16-2009, 09:55 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by potus2012 View Post
Still need more information, such as WHY do you want to lose the car for a bike? The big bikes are going to be a PITA in traffic. The standards have no weather protection, but no bike has good weather protection. The scooters will commute easily and can handle cross country travel if you so desire, though performance will be lackluster and you will be disappointed if you want 2 wheels for the image.
As others have mentioned, gearing up and down for the ride will add a good bit of time to your daily commute, no matter what scoot you pick. And yes, there are at least dozens of other motorcycle options you could consider.




The Triumph still tempting you Bear?
Ah, if only it were that simple... Let's just say something came up at home, so I need to unload a bit of debt & need to take a temporary break from the two wheeled scene for awhile...





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post #12 of 14 (permalink) Old 12-17-2009, 09:32 AM
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Originally Posted by atgatt View Post
psc, yes, to me you can make just about any bike do many things. ... It is what it is. Still, it sure beats the boring-ass car, to me. I just don't like being "caged". Many here on this forum feel the same way and are crazy too, so it is just not me.
ATGATT,
Sigh, you missed my point. First, I am addressing the OP's questions of swapping a car for a moto. Second, I am not trying to dissuade the OP from getting a moto. Rather, I tried to present a more stark picture of his daily 'grind' if the moto is his only transportation. Daily riding is very different from the weekend pleasure riding. The higher frequency of exposure to traffic and the same commute route (which tends to promote automatic rote memory activities, thus lowering alertness) all contribute to a higher risk per outing. He needs to be aware of this and go into it with his eyes wide open and hopefully adequate protective gear.

You and I have been on motos for a while (I am guessing), but after 35 years, I still do a mental inventory of my current state of mind/health/affairs before I sit on the saddle, every time. Anal? Probably. Yet, I'm thankful every time when I get home without mishap and be available to be abused by my wife, again.

Peter
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post #13 of 14 (permalink) Old 12-17-2009, 10:08 AM
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PSC (Peter), sorry for any mix up. One thing is for sure, I sure like your attitude and how you analyze reality. Like you said, you can never get lax, and there have been a few times with me that nothing happened, but I found myself just being too lax in my alertness. I then mentally yell at myself that if I don't get my attitude right, pull over right now and have the bike towed home, and I mean it. It straightens me out quick because I'm serious in yelling at me. So I'm crazy, but it keeps me alive.

If we all had the attitude you have, the roads would be MUCH safer. Anal? No. You are ANALyzing and realistic. Bravo!
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post #14 of 14 (permalink) Old 12-18-2009, 07:59 AM
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When gas hit $3.50 I parked the Range Rover @12 mpg and picked up the Versys. I rode it every day on my 35 mile commute for a year. The bike payment, insurance, and gas, were cheaper than the gas alone for my truck. I picked up rain gear and left my work shoes at my desk. On rain days, I used an empty cube to allow my jacket, boots, pants and gloves to drip dry. On rain days it was a PITA but my overall experiance was great. Most of my co-workers thought I was nuts but tollerated my logistics. It was most inconvient when I had a cross town meeting or lunch time appointment.
As for gear, I have a set of Nelson Riggs soft saddle bags, Teknic Gortex jacket, Tourmaster Caliber pants, waterproof steel toe boots, etc.

To God be the glory.
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