I must have a prodigious amount of mind; it takes me as much as a week, sometimes, to make it up!


I know motorcyclists that buy a bike new and then ride it until it’s ready for the junkyard, and even then they still don’t sell it. They’ll have the same bike for five, 10 or even 20 years, maybe secure and warm in the memory of riding the “it” bike for a while until it was eclipsed by the next big thing. But they stick with their ride, because if it met their needs then, it will probably meet their needs far into the future, right? I know a guy, Old Bill, who tallied almost enough miles to ride to the moon on his YZF-R1 before it was (mercifully) snuffed out by a wayward car while parked. He was actually sitting on a bench watching when this happened, which proves there is a God who wanted him to buy a new R1.

I am not that guy. I change motorcycles more often than I buy underwear. Two years is a long time for me to ride the same bike. After all, I’ve been with the same beautiful and patient woman for a quarter century (I’ve been with my wife a while too, har, har), so why not buy a new bike every season or two? I seldom buy new, so there’s little loss with each transaction, and I get to experience different engineering, new rider communities and fresh aggravations each time I switch. I’ve paid transfer taxes so many times I’m expecting a thank-you gift from the governor, and I am now expert at sourcing early-2000s regulator/rectifiers.

It’s coming up on new motorcycle time, and the choices are dizzying. I can spend a bunch of money if I want, but what do I get? Here’s the short list.

No, those are not ordinary sneakers. They are actual RS Taichi moto-riding shoes.

I could go on and on about what an awesome value the FZ-07 is, how comfortable it is on long rides for a bike this size, how light it is, but the real reason I want one is because I made the rear wheel hop going into downhill turns on an FZ-07 when I rode it for a MO shootout, and it made me feel like a champ. What more can I say? Life is short and I don’t ride as much as I should, so shouldn’t every trip make me feel like a boss?

Then again, these bikes are holding their value very nicely, so it’s a seller’s market. I saw a used 2015 on Craigslist, all decked out in maximum mods n’ bling for over $6,000. Do I want to park that much cash in a bike right now? For something I sometimes only swing a leg over once a week?

Oh Beast. You terrify me but I can’t stop thinking of you. Be gentle with me.

I first saw the Beast on a local motorcycle forum some months ago, and it’s like an itch I can’t scratch. On paper, it’s got it all: a clean, tasteful streetfighter conversion (note to Bay Area Craigslist motorcycle sellers: The line between “Streetfighter” and “Ratbike” is crossed when you use hose clamps to mount the headlight) with performance-oriented modifications made out of one of the most hairy-chested literbikes of all time, the second-gen GSX-R1000.

The bike looks great, and would be tits to ride, but the guy wants $5,000 and (unsurprisingly) it has a salvage title. I’m not saying the bike isn’t worth that much – to the right guy, that’s a bargain, if you ask me – but I am a serial monogamist when it comes to motorcycles, so I fear I’d lose my shirt when it’s time to part with this beast. I’ve also never owned a bone crusher like the Gixxer Thou before and am wondering if the increased insurance, tire, fuel and legal costs would be worth it. I think a test ride is in order.

Pete makes the Versys – and mom jeans – look good.

Ironically, I just bought one of these. My goal is to start a motorcycle-rental business, and this is kind of my test mule. “Mule” is a good description for the Versys, and not in a bad way. Like a mule, it does everything you need it to, if reluctantly at times, is economical and I bought it cheap. I hadn’t ridden one for almost 10 years, and I’m once again in love with its handling and flexibility.

However, I don’t love the buzzing through the footpegs or wallowing back end, nor do I like its spongy seat. Those are things I can live with, but the bottom line about the Versys is that it’s the equivalent of a middle-aged person dressed in beige at the office holiday party. It’s pretty much invisible parked next to other bikes. I don’t think it could be my only ride. It’s like eating the world’s most delicious oatmeal – every morning for the rest of your life.

If Suzukis wore clothes, they would totally rock white shoes and belts after Labor Day.

You may remember my “Dollars per Power” column, where the GSX-S came in as the undisputed champ, with the best dollar-per-power ratio of any new motorcycle. And now some local dealers are discounting the fluck out of leftover 2016s. How could I not want one? I’ll answer that question with some other questions: why do they still have 2016s? And why are they so cheap? Are they the motorcycle equivalent of the gray-hued 79-cent hotdogs turning endlessly on rollers in convenience-store display warmers?

I’m melting! Melllll-tiiiiiing! What a world!

I went into my friend’s Kawasaki/Honda dealership and was noticing how sweet a deal the Z650 is, but he steered me right to the Z900. That thing is a killer deal indeed, and he can jam the price down even further. But see the FZ-07: do I want to tie up that kind of dough in a new bike? Plus, it’s kind of heavy… although not so heavy that the weight is a deal-killer. I like Kawasakis, but I like cheap Kawis like the Ninja 300 even better. Plus it looks weird. The back end sticks up like a stinkbug’s abdomen and the front looks like half of a 1950s support garment. IDK.

And then, last week, after riding my mule around, I hopped on my 2001 SV650. It’s got an anti-social M4 exhaust and a nicely-done GSX-R front end conversion. It handles intuitively and the suspension is just right. But it’s old and tired and needs work, plus it doesn’t start sometimes and gives off exhaust fumes like a World War I submarine. Still, that short ride was fun and liberating and reminded me that even if the SV650 isn’t the best bike ever (but put a few scotches in me and I’ll tell you with a straight face that it is), it sure does suit my needs.

In fact, it suits me so well that this is the fourth one of these I’ve owned. It’s not oatmeal every day, but I need more variety in my life. I can’t be that guy with 30-year-old bikes in his garage. Time to move on.


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  • sgray44444

    That was a fun read.
    I know someone that fits your “one bike” description. Dana was a preacher for the cult of the XS1100. He drank the kool-aid that he distributed and rode that one bike from the day he bought it new until he died a few years ago. I heard often how superior the engineering was, and I had to believe him, because he was an engineer. I had to try and get his goat by leaving some oil underneath his engine case a couple days in a row, but he was a true man of XS1100 faith and wouldn’t buy it… knew it had to be one of us at work.
    I get the new bike itch too. I would like to round out my adventure bike and streetfighter with a dual sport and a heavy touring bike. My wife and budget think otherwise.

    • Jon Jones

      Nice.

      I was a one-bike man for years.

      Then it happened…

      • Your divorce?

        • Jon Jones

          Moved to an affordable place with some storage for a motorbike fleet. Work at a shop where I pick up decent used bikes.

          And no nagging wife to ruin my life.

  • HazardtoMyself

    Salvage title at $5k? Never get that back unless find someone just like you.

    SV sounds like you will spend more time working on it than riding it.

    Rode the FZ-07 twice. Once before buying a GSX and once after. 1st time it was in consideration. 2nd time was okay but no thanks.

    I think there are a lot of discounted GSXs out there because of all the snatchy throttle talk. I never found it to be a problem. As far as snatch, no different than the FZ-07 or 09 to me but much more power. My non suzuki mechanic calls it responsive. Only thing it has cost me is tires, oil and gas. For me, best ergonomics of the nakeds. More planted than the FZ. With the discounts a lot of bike for the money but doesn’t seem like it will hold value like the Yamahas.

    The Zs haven’t tried them yet.

    • Born to Ride

      The reason the K6 gixxer is that much is because it is the crown jewel of squid bikes. All the guys that ride elbow down(exaggeration intended) in the twisties must have one. 6-8 grand for one with a clean title and under 20k mileage seems to be the going rate.

      • HazardtoMyself

        Elbow down, pssst…. I will be impressed when they can get an ear down.

        Of course with the salvage title maybe this guy did…

        • He swears up and down he bought it with the salvage title.

  • Ty Siebenhaar

    FZ-07 is super fun, easy to wring out. If you’re looking for more power the FZ-09 is a riot. It’s lighter than most of it’s competition, and a hooligan/playful motor. You can get one for a decent price; with the savings throw an exhaust and a ecu flash to smooth things out and add some power and you won’t look back……for at least a year or two.
    ¯_(ツ)_/¯

    • Luke

      Plus, you can find them with tons of upgrades from previous owners for a song. When I bought mine it was a year old, had almost $7K of upgraded components and came in at $6K. Been riding it for 3 years now, and the only reason I haven’t moved on is the deal spoiled me when I look at bikes. I’d love to find a 1 y/o ninja 1000 with $7K of upgrades for well under new…

  • Old MOron

    Ah, the inevitable “self abuse” that transpires when you enter the bike market.
    Try to enjoy it a while longer.

  • Tim Sawatzky

    I know what you mean, I’ve been riding 7 years and am on my 10th bike. From classics, to cruisers to sport/naked to touring. They were all fun in their own way. The nice part is it doesn’t really matter which bike you choose now, next year just sell it and get something else. As long as you don’t pay more than market value you are golden.

    • Sayyed Bashir

      I have a cruiser, a adventure bike and a sport bike, and intend to keep them for the foreseeable future. Will add a KTM 250 or 350EXC. It is cheaper to buy and keep bikes than to keep buying and selling them.

      • Tim Sawatzky

        I’m not sure about your math there. I’ve had 10 bikes and on average have sold them for what I paid for them. I bought one bike fixed it up so it had $2000 into it and sold it for $3900. I currently have $7000 in one bike, if I had kept all the others I would have over $30,000 in motorcycles. And no garage space. I guess you have to be smart about what you buy so you don’t lose money. Plus, buying and selling means you get to experience a larger variety of motorcycles.

  • NDA

    2016-2016 CBR650F: you can wring it out at almost legal speeds, they’re really cheap because they’re not that popular, it a Honda so its probably refined and indestructible.

    • Jon Jones

      Sniffing around a clean-but-wrecked one now. Good pick.

    • Why not just find a nice old F3 or F4i?

      • NDA

        Meant to type “2014-2016″… The 650 has plastic and suspension components that haven’t aged 10 years and another 50cc. It would depreciate more though but I can’t imagine by too much.

  • TC

    I buy a newly used bike about every two years also. I favor the 1200 cc class, with some kind of a decent fairing, thank you. Yamaha FJR, Buell Thunderbolt, Buell Ulysses, Moto Guzzi Stelvio (still have it), and a 2005 BMW R1200st (still have it) All good bikes. My exception is the Suzuki DR650 that I bought used about 15 years ago, and still have.

    • Patriot159

      Love my DR too. My FJR gets no love anymore. Two years riding; 12, 000 on the DR, 300 miles on the FJR.

  • JMDGT

    I have kept most of the bikes I have owned for ten years or so. A few only a couple of years. One for three months. I love the bikes I currently own and will probably own them for the rest of my life. I still lust after the new machines however. I like the new Ducatis and need to own a Tuono before I cross over to the great beyond. We live in the best of times.

    • Jon Jones

      Nice. Agreed.

    • Sayyed Bashir

      The only new machines I don’t want to buy are the crazy ones like the KTM Super Duke R and the Suzuki GSX-R1000 to preserve my sanity.

      • Jon Jones

        My mind reels just gazing at these Masterpieces of the Industrial Arts.

  • Born to Ride

    If you’re considering a versys, you might wanna consider a Multistrada 1100S. You get the ohlins suspension and hypermotard chassis to “make you feel like a boss”, you get all day comfortable ergonomics and a 200 mile range, 50% more power than a versys and only a tiny bit uglier. Found from 5-7 grand all day long depending on mileage.

    • LOL been there, done that! I felt like a boss until my mechanic wallet-raped me.

      • Born to Ride

        Hahaha, really? I always took you for a greasy do it yourselfer. I can see how that tank removal procedure could have anyone throwing their hands up and trailering it to the mechanic tho.

  • Jon Jones

    Just a fun read. I concur on the picks.

    If it rains money, the GSX-S1000 makes me all giggly and stupid the most. I’d also cut a dashing profile on the punch-your-face Z900. An FZ-07 is on my short list of Bikes to Acquire. And as a recent purchaser of a splendid Versys 650, your damn-it-with-faint-praise take rings true.

  • Larry Kahn

    Bought my Norton Commando new. Has stayed with me though about 60 other bikes.
    Closest to married I’ve been. BTW, nakedized 650 V-Stroms FTW!

  • hipsabad

    i don’t see the Husqvarna 701SM on yr list…

    • It’s because I am not a crazy person.

      • hipsabad

        I don’t know if i believe that considering the Gixxer 1000 ‘streetfighter’ and/or the GSXS1000 are on your list(!) Besides, if you’re NEVER crazy you’re missing out. And also, one COULD ride a 701 sedately. It’s at least worth a test ride 😉

        • Tim B

          As the owner of a streetfightered 2009 ZX10R i take exception to you definition of the word crazy! 😉

  • Doug Erickson

    the winding path of bike polyamory always ends in guzzi. prepare your nuptual budget now…

    • sgray44444

      Why Guzzi?

  • Vrooom

    I buy a bike every 2 years or so, but what is this selling of which you speak? An 800is sounding good now, maybe a Tiger.

    • You either a) have a huge garage, or b) divorced and you kept the house.

      • Vrooom

        Option b. That was a little scary Gabe, you missed your calling at the circus.

  • Steve C

    I have had my 06 Buell Uly for eight years, nothing new like it, same with my old Guzzi’s.Though if Yamaha ever comes out with a FZ7 based dual sport I may be tempted.

  • kenneth_moore

    You want a B-King. Everyone should have a B-King. Because Suzuki made it for you.

    • I weigh less than a B-King exhaust system!

      • kenneth_moore

        Just as I thought. Perfect symmetry between man and machine.

  • wolzybk

    I’m a keep-it-forever kind of guy. In the past, I generally kept bikes for several years each, and tended to let them go at about 80K miles. But in 1993 I bought a new Ducati M900 Monster, a new model at the time, and it suited me perfectly. And continues to. I have had it for 24 years as of last Monday; it has 263K miles on it so far, and I intend to ride it until it dies.

    • Jon Jones

      Humbled. 263K?

      Golly…Pretty impressive.

  • Brian Cordell

    It’s obvious to me that you are going to pick the FZ-07, but the reason the GSX is left over is that naked bikes don’t sell that well here, and sportbike sales are down overall. I’d probably pick the GSX simply so I wouldn’t see myself all over town. But I suspect that age is probably going to move me to something my aging joints can handle instead.

  • Patriot159

    I want a Yamaha T7!

  • Mad4TheCrest

    You can mix ‘keep it forever’ with revolving new bike purchases. I bought a ZRX1200R new in 2001 and intend to keep it for as long as I am able to ride. However, i’ve acquired 4 new bikes and one used bike since then and have had no problems letting them go to make room for something new. There is an even chance that one day I will just have one bike and if so that will still be the ZRX.

    • Born to Ride

      That’s likely my S2R1000 for me. Can’t see parting with it. Other bikes will definitely come and go (and have), but she is my baby, and nobody makes anything like her anymore.

  • dagobarbz, fine Italian shoes

    My 30 year affair with my BMW R65 has rolled to an end. It finally broke down and the repairs would have cost more than the bike was worth, so I sold it and bought a 2008 BMW F650gs. Gonna have some fun on that bike, I think!

  • john burns

    I only regret that I don’t get to participate in used bikes much because the brand new ones people keep loaning me keep the garage filled to capacity. How discounted is a GSX-1000S? If you like your old SV you’ll love that thing. It’s the Bandit 1200 of the modern era. People don’t buy them because people are dopes. Then again, that new Z900 is pretty swell also for about $8400 msrp. Then again, you can get an EBR 1190SX for the same money o that’s what I’d do… great bike for now and future Crocker $$$…

  • Craig Hoffman

    Have had my current bike, an ’06 FZ1, since new. Owning the bike so long has allowed plenty of time to modify and tweak it to my liking. The bike may be old, but it has an Akra full exhaust, Ivan flashed ECU and a PCIII on it. When I start to feel a little bored with it, I tach it up above 7K and pin the throttle It seems just shy of 150 at the wheel never really gets old. Side benefit, it was paid for long ago.

  • Dean Hewitt

    Nice read.
    Now at the 69 age and being slowed down by bladder cancer I question my choice of a 2015 r1200r, discounted because it was a demo. I love to ride it, but it’s harder then my 2007 street bob I sold before buying it. I realize I have less then 10 years or so riding left in me and don’t want to waste a moment.
    My suggestion for all us riders, is keep looking and riding until you find the one. This isn’t a girlfriend you hurt by leaving her. I’m old and still looking after about 25 bikes for the “one”. Sometimes it’s just the journey….