motorcycle dreaming on such a winter’s day
While trapped inside for so many hours my mind can’t help but wander to open roads on powerful two wheeled machines. What would any motorcycle enthusiast do but dream about what his next bike is going to be and rank them in order of preference. I took a more realistic approach at least and also considered the cost of ownership.
If I had my druthers, my bike of choice would be a hybrid of two bikes which may or may not be possible to build, and even if it is, it may prove to be cost prohibitive. It would be a Harley Nightster with the front end and rear swing arm of the XR1200. Here is a rough photoshopping of my idea. I didn’t bother to make the wheels match.
The reason for this is that I really like the look and feel of the nightster but I want more up to date components like suspension, brakes, and electronics. The cost of this would probably be a nightster with several thousand in parts and tools or labor depending on whether I did the work or not.
Now on to bikes that actually exist and there order. I first made a spreadsheet of the bikes in question.
I then considered the styling and potential ride characteristics of each bike and how they fit my current riding preferences and needs.
The first bike is still the Harley-Davidson Nightster, even without major alterations. This bike wins for several reason. The first is that it is a Harley and I really like the look and feel of the sportsters. For the most part I like to use my bike for fun commutes to and from places. I prefer to take back roads and take in the scenery. The sportsters do this well and they accelerate relatively quickly. I do not need to go 150mph or even 100mph. As for cost of ownership, sportsters with their belt drive and 50mpg fuel economy are relatively cheap to maintain. The downsides are behind the times technologies and weight. The nightster is the lightest sportster but still weighs 100lbs more than the non-harley bikes on my spreadsheet. Low horsepower is also a down side but this can be partially remedied through add-ons and upgrades.
The second bike is the Yamaha FZ1. This is because it has so much horsepower (150) and is cheaper (retail) than the nightster. This bike also offers a relatively comfortable ride. The down sides are the styling and the fuel economy of 35 mpg. The styling is much better on the European version. Also, I don’t need to go 172mph which is the top speed for this bike. I want to get from zero to 45 really quickly and then maintain that speed comfortably.
The third bike might be a tie between the Triumph Speed Triple and the BMW R1200R. I am not really crazy about the styling of either and both have similar power ratings. They both have similar to the yamaha fuel economy and would be similar to each other in terms of maintenance since parts would need to be imported and dealerships get more spread out than Harley and/or Yamaha dealers. I am however partial to Triumphs since I learned to ride on a 1974 Triumph Trident (never mind the neighbor’s tomato plants in the background). BMW is always a front runner in new technology which is why I am drawn to their bikes.
The new Ducati Monster 1100 is a beast (aided by its absurdly light 370lbs of dry weight) but is also a beast to maintain. The KTM Super Duke looks to be a downright blast but is too exotic and would require imports for every fix and dealers are ever so scarce. It is also the most expensive of the lot. Finally the Harley-Davidson XR1200. I like it but not enough to make me want to buy the whole bike. I just want the front suspension, brakes, electronics, and rear swing arm (which is stiffer and lighter than the stock) on my Nightster which would have a stage one upgrade to increase the power rating to something more respectable.
Please suggest any other bikes I may have left out, however please note that I will not consider Kawasaki or Suzuki bikes for reasons of personal experience, taste, and opinions. Honda doesn’t sell any standard motorcycles in the USA. They have plenty in Europe, even though their styling is uninspired. I have also been warned by many to steer clear of Buell.