Wondering if the V is the one for me after all? (Extremely long) - Kawasaki Versys Forum
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post #1 of 26 (permalink) Old 06-20-2010, 02:36 PM Thread Starter
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Wondering if the V is the one for me after all? (Extremely long)

Hi everybody!

I haven't posted very much since getting my V a year ago, in March. After taking it on 3 short rides, I found out I was pregnant and there went the rest of the season (although I can't think of a better reason not to ride). This year, on my third ride, I managed to drop the thing at a stoplight, and broke two bones in my foot/ankle by getting it trapped underneath. I am still healing, and am hoping to be able to put some weight on that foot by the end of the week. (I shudder to think how badly I'd have been hurt if I hadn't been wearing motorcycle boots.)

Anyway, being a total gimp for the past two months with an active infant at home has inspired an intense hatred for my injury. During the peak of the hate I started thinking that it just isn't worth riding to have my life compromised so much, and this is just a relatively minor injury compared to what many suffer from riding. Now that I'm starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel, I'm thinking that maybe I'd be too hasty in giving up riding altogether, and maybe the Versys just isn't the right bike for me.

After that enormous introduction, here's what I observe by riding my V. I'm 5'8", with a 33" inseam. With the rear shock set to the lowest setting, I can *almost* flatfoot. I find that the footpegs interfere with my legs when I'm stopped. I also find that when turning at low speeds I can't quite reach the handlebars as well as I'd like.

When I'm actually riding the thing, it's remarkably comfortable. My hands don't go numb, my neck and shoulders don't ache, my legs don't feel cramped (all of which were big problems for me on my first bike, a 2008 Ninja 250R, which I rode for 3000 miles in one season).

So now I'm wondering... do I try to modify the V to fit me better with a lowering kit and a different handlebar, or do I try a different bike altogether? I don't see a way around the footpeg problem I have with the V, but the other changes might make it closer to perfect.

If I give up the V I'd be tempted to try a Ninja 650R. I'm not a speed demon and I'm very interested in being comfortable while riding. It's not as technically nifty as the V, but considering what a vanilla rider I am, I might not really notice the difference.

So after all that, what would you do if you were me? My hubby is leaning toward the Ninja for me because he likes new, shiny toys. So do I, honestly. I just don't know if the Ninja would be different enough to be worth all the hassle. I'd love to read your thoughts. What I'd really like to know is if you think modifications alone would solve the problems I have with the V.
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post #2 of 26 (permalink) Old 06-20-2010, 02:55 PM
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Sorry to hear about your accident and i hope you heal quickly. I too initially had problems with my V because it was too tall for me, I am 5'8" 30 inseam. I dropped my V 3 times before i was able to buy a used speedy's lowering kit and with that modification i have not dropped the motorcycle again and greatly boosted my confidence in riding my V in heavy traffic (i work in D.C.) Just invest in a lowering kit first and see if that will solve your problem and if it doesn't then you can decide to get a new ride.

Cheers

Gerald
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post #3 of 26 (permalink) Old 06-20-2010, 03:14 PM
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Originally Posted by jrider View Post
I am 5'8" 30 inseam.
I am 5'8" 30" inseam as well. I bought a 2010 and put about 200 miles on it then installed Speedy's Lowering kit, flatfoot kickstand, lowered the front.

The V fits me like a glove now! I have never touched any suspension settings.

Lowering kit??? I highly recommend!

Good Luck!
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post #4 of 26 (permalink) Old 06-20-2010, 03:22 PM
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Congrats on the pregnancy, regrets on the foot, and get the lowering kit from speedy. Very inexpensive to try on the V. before the loss you'll take selling the V and the cost of the Ninja. Give it a try, if it doesn't work someone on the forum here would very easily relieve you of the lowering kit, keeping your cost to try it to a minimal!


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Fishing and riding,doesn't get any better!!


2009 Lime green Versys
Baldwin reg. saddle w/lime grn. thread and gel insert
Hepco & Becker crash bars
Givi side carriers w/ E21's
Fenda Extenda
Motowerk foot peg lowering blocks & mirror extenders
cut tail fender
black lower panels
Mikesshields Gran Touring, clear
Alaskan Leather Pillion 1 buttpad (trip use only)
Sw-Motech 20mm riser

Versys gone..replace with Victory Hammer
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post #5 of 26 (permalink) Old 06-20-2010, 04:24 PM
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i don't have a lowering kit, but i agree with these guys. with the ninja, you'd get a riding position much like your former ninja, which would compromise your comfort; specifically, i think your legs would be cramped. then you'd have to figure out how to make that that bike right for you. might as well try to fix the one you have before buying something else that needs fixing.

or, as the blues singers say: "it's cheaper to keep her!"

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 26 (permalink) Old 06-20-2010, 06:02 PM
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Along with the lowering blocks, to help you with your reach for the bars mabey a rox riser to position the bars closer to you.
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post #7 of 26 (permalink) Old 06-20-2010, 08:21 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks everybody, you're all making me feel a lot better about keeping the V. I have already invested a bit in the farkles for the V, most of which wouldn't transfer to the Ninja... so for the cost of a lowering kit, possibly the Rox risers (which I'd considered before the accident) plus a pair of really super-protective boots, I should be ready to go next spring. :-D

Besides, if I'm bound to drop a bike (and I did drop my Ninja once... just didn't get hurt that time), at least I have super-awesome crash bars to protect it. I have the HB ones and they really did their job superbly. The only damage the V took was a bent brake lever and a teeny, tiny scratch where the crash bars meet the black plastic piece on the side. The hex bolt head got sheared off, but the bars only have a few scratches on them.

Now, if I can only find a pair of boots more likely to prevent this kind of injury, I'll be totally set.

Thank you again!
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post #8 of 26 (permalink) Old 06-20-2010, 08:32 PM
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I also 5'8 but the previous owner put a aftermarket shock to lower bike, it is a tall bike and can be tricky if you put your foot down on uneven surface. Don't feel to bad about dropping a bike apart from that fact that your were unlucky to get caught like that, my wife dropped here cruiser twice on same day, part of the experince of riding and sure that every rider has had at least one good drop.

My wife is 5'6 and she finds the V a easy bike to ride but a bit tall for stops (common problem) all the best Vitesse with future riding
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post #9 of 26 (permalink) Old 06-20-2010, 08:38 PM
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I have a 29" inseam and haven't lowered my V. I have found that it is just a learning experience. After a couple of drops I look for tings that might cause me a problem, but I also practice balance every chance I get. Things like trying to keep my feet on the bike at a stop. It is amazing how much that one exercise has donne for my confidence.

Steve

I bought a motorcycle because my wife said that I couldn't! Now I have two and she still says I can't have another one!
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Sounds like a challenge to me!

Now I have four!
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post #10 of 26 (permalink) Old 06-20-2010, 09:32 PM
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Anyone who drops their bike or has a fear of dropping their bike really needs to practice slow speed maneuvers on a regular basis. Even experienced riders should practice.

With a 33" inseam, you seem plenty tall enough to ride the V without lowering it, although lower it if it makes you more comfortable. The footpeg in the way is just something you have to get used to. I put my feet down just behind them and now I don't even notice them.
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post #11 of 26 (permalink) Old 06-20-2010, 09:45 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Vitesse View Post
Hi everybody!

This year, on my third ride, I managed to drop the thing at a stoplight, and broke two bones in my foot/ankle by getting it trapped underneath.
I'm just curious. How did you drop it? Did you have to stop fast? Gravel under your feet? Uneven pavement? Dehydration?
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post #12 of 26 (permalink) Old 06-20-2010, 10:07 PM
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I personally have found that I must be able to flat-foot the bike to assure control when stopping/stopped on uneven surfaces, etc which always show up sooner or later. More experienced riders may not to need to flat-foot, but for a newbie lilke me, it's needed.

I'm 5'8", 29" inseam. To be able to flat-foot my V, I had to install the Speedy lowering kit, lower the front end, install the thin gel seat, and set the front and rear preload to the softest setting. This lowered the seat height over four inches. I have no problems or concerns now about dropping the bike when stopping or stopped. I also installed Speedy's foot-peg lowering kit. That seemed to help too, when stopped. The spring load on the pegs allow them to raise up if your leg is in front. Helps when stopped.
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post #13 of 26 (permalink) Old 06-20-2010, 10:20 PM
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Good advice above, anyone who is concerned with tipping over should practice balancing, got my wife to practice while i stood beside her.
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post #14 of 26 (permalink) Old 06-21-2010, 07:14 AM
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The way I see it, you have 4 options;

1. Stop riding

2. Continue to ride, getting better with practice, assuming focus on your problem areas. You will learn nothing travelling in a straight line. Practice starts and stops, using cones and an empty parking lot if necessary.

3. Lower the suspension, and thus the seat. See reasons below.

4. Get a SIGNIFICANTLY lighter bike with a manageable seat height (32" or less), which will allow you to manage poor stopping skills until you gain more experience. The Versys weighs 454 lbs wet and has a 33.1" seat height. There are not many desirable bikes in the market however. There are 250cc options, like the Ninja 250 (375lbs wet with a 30.7" seat), or the Kawi KLX250SF Moto (302lbs wet with a 33.9" but narrow seat), but you make serious sacrifices in performance and practicality/comfort.

The Ninja 650R is a nice bike, and has a lower seat (31.1") in stock configuration, but it weighs almost the same as the Versys at 441lbs wet, and it will do nothing to boost your confidence, especially after you drop it and break all that new plastic that the Versys lacks.

The real issue is managing 450 pounds of bike with limited experience or muscle strength. This weight is hard to manage at low/stopped speeds, and once the bike starts to get away from you at a stop, it is very difficult to save the situation. Every degree of angle becomes more difficult to manage. Coming to a stop at anything less than perfectly level and upright will be something to work on. Also, you should focus on applying even pressure on both sides of the handlebar when stopping; this will have a more than likely positive effect for you.

Get the lowering kit. Even though your inseam length is long enough, the lowering kit will allow you to spread your feet a little further apart to create additional support leverage.

Adjust the rear shock preload near the lower settings to reduce ride height for the same reason mentioned above.

A different handlebar is not necessary, as the stock unit provides plenty of height and leverage.

I am basing the above comments on actual experience. The Versys is my wife's. It is her second bike. The first was a 1994 Suzuki GS500E, which was lighter and had a lower seat height. She learned a lot on that bike.





When we were considering the Versys, we knew the seat height of 33.1 inches was going to be too tall, especially considering how top heavy the Versys is. Speedy's kit brought the seat height down, as did lowering the triple clamps relative to the fork tubes. We also reduced rear shock preload to lower seat height. She is 5'9" with a 32" inseam. She can now confidently flat-foot with her feet spread out.

She has dropped the bike twice when stopping/stopped, but she proudly refuses to give up or get a different bike. The crash bars were a good investment. Other than needing to continue practicing low speed/starts/stops, she is an excellent rider and continues to get better. More importantly, she has always possessed good defensive riding awareness and judgement, and she always wears full protective gear.

If we were to do it over again, I would have gotten her an intermediate bike, like the KLX250SF mentioned above. The seat height is high at 33.9", but it feels like 32" with the narrow seat it possesses. At 300lbs, it feels like nothing, and I'm sure it would be a non-issue to manage that weight at a stop or low speeds.





However, doing that now would only be moving backwards for her, so we will keep the Versys as long as she wants to keep trying to improve. I have full confidence that she will do exactly that.

Jen and her Versys, shortly after purchase in August 2009. Only mods at that point were the lowering kit and modified/shortened kickstand.
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post #15 of 26 (permalink) Old 06-21-2010, 07:39 AM
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You might also try and move the bars back a little by loosening the clamps and rotating them back a bit. Just be careful doing this as it can touch the fairing.

I was thinking the same thing when reading your post about the Ninja 650. It will be considerably lower and a little lighter than the V, not by much though.


Might also consider the ER-6N or the Suzuki Gladius, both of those bike sit considerably lower, and are lighter.



Todd

Last edited by tapntx; 06-21-2010 at 07:44 AM.
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post #16 of 26 (permalink) Old 06-21-2010, 08:20 AM Thread Starter
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Someone asked how I managed to drop the bike. It was really dumb. The intersection I was approaching had a right turn "ramp," for lack of a better word to describe it, so that I only had to yield to oncoming traffic from the left but wouldn't otherwise have to stop. The traffic coming from the right had a green arrow to turn onto the road I was turning from, and as I approached I could see that this light was turning yellow. I was going very slowly at this point, wondering if I should scoot ahead of the traffic from the left (which in retrospect would have been very easy to do) or yield until it was clear again. I finally decided to stop when barely moving, but had the handlebars slightly turned (which I know is one of the ONLY no-no's about stopping) plus the "ramp" thingy was slightly banked. So, the bike naturally wanted to tip over and I tried to save it, but then remembered that that's how people can blow out a knee, so I let it go. My foot got caught under it, and the rest is history.

Under normal conditions, I could readily lift up my bike, but as I found out that's only true when both feet are working. A kind passer-by stopped to help me lift the thing up and held it there while I remounted and rode it almost all the way home, over 30 miles, until I got off the freeway and decided the ankle hurt too much to continue so I called the hubby to get me.

I do tend to ramble. Sorry about that.

The only reason why I would consider giving up riding is because of my very little son. It's remarkably hard to not be able to walk and try to help care for him, and even harder on my husband.

I'm thinking that I rushed into commuting a bit too soon after essentially not riding for a whole season, on a bike I was never very familiar with. Right now the plan is to adjust the bike so I'm more comfortable while stopped, and stick to leisure rides on weekends until my skills rebuild. I heartily agree with whoever suggested practicing slow-speed maneuvers. It'd be nice to be able to take a tight, slow turn without feeling like the far grip is going to be pulled out of my hand. :-)

I'm not really worried about the weight of the bike. My legs are pretty strong, when my feet are firmly planted. I just need to be more decisive at intersections and pay more attention to where my handlebars are pointed.
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post #17 of 26 (permalink) Old 06-21-2010, 08:53 AM
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I would like to second tapntx comment

Don't think that the V has much more protection than an ER-6N as far as wind and weather protection is concerned, maybe a little bit more , but not much

Both bike are base on similar mechanical component
The ER is much lower, has a nice look and could have being my choice, but I would have being to cramped on it and decided for the V (bit taller then you)

I don't regret anything, but the ER is a nice looking, lower, as powerfull, bike

Could be your ticket to a less stressfull riding steed


Let us know what you end up doing


LOP
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post #18 of 26 (permalink) Old 06-21-2010, 10:03 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tapntx View Post
Might also consider the ER-6N or the Suzuki Gladius, both of those bike sit considerably lower, and are lighter.

Todd
The ER-6N weighs 442 lbs wet, which is only 12 lbs less than the Versys.

The Gladius weighs 446 lbs wet, which is only 8 lbs less than the Versys.

Depending on who is weighing these bikes, they could actually be heavier than the Versys.

Granted, both have a lower seat height than the Versys. However, it seems like a financially better option to keep the Versys and lower it, rather than take a hit by selling it, then another hit by buying a different bike.
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post #19 of 26 (permalink) Old 06-21-2010, 03:52 PM
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I'm a grandfather, and I remember when our first son was born. It's very hard for a young mother to do things like learn to ride motorcycles, when a new baby needs somebody's full attention. You might want to focus on the new baby for awhile, then reconsider the motorcycling when the baby is a little older.

Whenever you feel you have time for motorcycling, make sure you can flat foot it. Take the MSF riding course (or take it again). You might even want to get a used 250cc street bike and ride it for awhile - stay off interstates. Something light and low for a thousand miles or so. Then go back to the V... Just my thoughts. Good luck with the baby - and the motorcycling.
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post #20 of 26 (permalink) Old 06-21-2010, 04:20 PM
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Originally Posted by E-nigma View Post
the KLX250SF... The seat height is high at 33.9", but it feels like 32" with the narrow seat it possesses. At 300lbs, it feels like nothing, and I'm sure it would be a non-issue to manage that weight at a stop or low speeds.




I love the KLX250SF. Almost bought one as a second bike before deciding on trading my cruiser for the V. Still, if I see a good deal on a used one, I'll snatch it up as a second bike.
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