Thanks for the quick responses!
Thanks everyone! Some cool videos there that I hadn't seen yet. Here are more details about my situation:
I am 5'-8" and 31" inseam and 160 LB. I can not flat foot with the Versys 650 but I can touch with the balls of both feet. I might put on a lowering kit but I think I could get used to the stock height.
I will be riding in an area that has excellent roads for biking - curvy, not that busy and max speed limit of 80 km/hr (north end of the sunshine coast in BC). My house is 1km down a dirt road with some potholes and washboard at times and a total of 30 km of nice curvy roads to get to town. My thought is that I will use the bike for trips to town on a regular basis and storage is important to grab groceries or whatever. There are also extensive logging roads in the area to explore.
Once I get some experience on the bike, some of these trips will be 2-up with my wife (5'-4", 130 lb). We are also planning to use the bike for occasional longer trips into Vancouver which is 200 km with 2 ferry rides. This trip is also very nice for motorcycles with a bit more traffic and then full on city driving in Vancouver. The advantage of a motorbike is that bikes are first on and first off the ferries and the fares are also a bit lower - so no need to arrive an hour early to line up and no multiple ferry waits or need for reservation fees that cagers experience through the summer months.
Having some weather protection and ABS is important to me because, despite being called "the sunshine coast", it rains quite a bit in this area.
I do really like the look of the stock paniers on the bike so I will likely go that route even though they are not the ideal shape.
I also really like the Versys X300 with the lighter weight, lower seat and built in rack but I believe that I will outgrow it, especially for 2-up use. Plus the seat is very hard and the stock 17 litre cases look useless.
Other bikes I am considering:
V-strom 650 - Highly recommended to me by a few other riders, felt top heavy in the shop and looks hard to service valves - very good reviews though.
Honda NC750x with or without DCT - great fuel economy, very easy to work on, nice low center of gravity - consistent reviews indicating that it does everything well but lacks excitement. "Excitement" factor is not a big priority for me right now so this bike is a contender.
Honda CB500x - I have ridden this bike and I liked it but it felt small to me. 2019 has the 19" front tire upgrade.
Triumph - street double, Kawasaki W800, Moto-Guzi V7 love the vintage style and seat height of these bikes but basically naked bikes with no weather protection and limited storage options.
Honda CB300r - this looks like a great, fun, beginner bike, only 313 lbs wet! And again I love the style but no weather protection and small for 2-up. They do have a back rack and top box available
The new Ninja 400 is also an amazing small displacement bike but not well suited for 2-up riding.
Last edited by mva; 02-24-2019 at 11:11 AM.
Reason: added other bike comments