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