9. Lightweight, Simple,“Fixed Income” Motorcycles


No wonder old guys quit riding, if all they’ve ever ridden are full-dress Hogs and Gold Wings. Light has always been right in my book, especially when the lightness extends to the price. One of our favorites is Kawasaki’s Versys 650, new last year with rubber engine mounts and other improvements that make it one of the world’s great do-it-all motorcycles for $7,999.


Even lighter and cheaper, and a personal fave of mine, is the Honda CB500X, one of three late-model Hondas to make use of its excellent, fuel-efficient and fab 471cc parallel-Twin. Even with a bunch of upgrades for ’16, the ABS version sells for $6,799, with a claimed curb weight of just 430 pounds. Even though it’s an “Adventure Bike,” the seat’s only 31.9 inches high. If you need lower, the CB500F is almost as hip – and cheaper and lighter still.

  • Old MOron

    Interesting perspective, JB. There’s a joke in there, somewhere, but I just can’t put my digit on it.

  • JMDonald

    I think middle age maxes out at 50. From then on you are living in your golden years. Good choices on the bikes. I like them too.

    • Mahatma

      Say it ain’t so!

    • Giit

      you hush, you just hush the fluff up please 😛 lol

    • Tinwoods

      That just depressed the sh*t out of me. I’m 53. I forget who said it, but “40 is the old age of youth, and 50 is the youth of old age. Ugh.

      • Rodney Winstead

        That sucks , I’m 51

    • mugwump

      Good point. I was trying to figure out a way to point out that there’s no way I’m gonna come close to doubling my age.

  • Starmag

    Middle-aged huh? 55 is the age you start getting SENIOR discounts. Denali is 20k ft mountain, not a way to go through life.

    • john burns

      60 is the new 40 Starmag.

      • Starmag

        I keep telling the girls down at the bar that very thing. Maybe it would mean more to them coming from you. I’ll buy the shots of JD for JB.

      • Tinwoods

        Nice try, but as it has always been 40 is the same 40, 50 the same 50, and 60… you get it. And I can say this as a former fitness trainer who is now 53 and feeling every year of it.

  • Alexander Pityuk

    “…most of the previous investigations were conducted using animals…”
    Oh, then it’s perfectly applicable to motorcyclists.

    • Ozzy Mick

      I wondered about that report and statement too. More in-depth research reveals that It’s fully applicable as they had a couple of grizzlies riding Gold Wings, beavers riding adventure bikes, koalas on scooters and pandas on H-Ds. None fell off. They just kept going as they had not been shown how to stop the bikes!

  • Sayyed Bashir

    That’s what I like about MO: No holds barred reporting.

    • Ozzy Mick

      Holds or holes?

  • Ser Samsquamsh

    Dick Rubble wants a picture of your colonoscopy so he can see if you put your money where your mouth is. As you can see by the request he is a deeply disturbed individual.

    • DickRuble

      Dick Ruble would especially like to see more focused articles, less rambling, fewer scatological references, better writing.

      • Old MOron

        I appreciate steadfast character.

        • john burns

          are you implying? are you saying that DR is?? No.

          • Old MOron

            He’s consistent. Consistently stingy with praise. Consistently suspicious. Consistently pedantic. Consistently dissatisfied. Consistently abrasive.

            And since I don’t have too much skin in this game, he’s consistently entertaining.

          • DickRuble

            Pretty good summary, if I may say.

          • john burns

            i thought you were implying he might at one time have been, duh duh duh dunnh: THE HIGHWAYMAN.

          • Old MOron

            Hmm, yes, there is some similarity. But I don’t recall ever up-voting the Highwayman.

            Anyway, what are you doing slumming around here? You’re supposed to be writing MO’s opinion of, duh duh duh dunnh: Triumph’s Street Twin!

      • john burns

        well, why come to MO then?

        • DickRuble

          Beats me. I must have a subconscious SM penchant.

  • Daniel Hammerberg

    Having a gel seat is a good thing about being middle-aged?

    • Ozzy Mick

      gel or gal? Darn, my (one) eye’s sight is failing me *0

  • Bob Dragich

    11. Young women flirt with you mercilessly because:
    A. You’ve got a motorcycle.
    B. They know YOU know nothing is going to happen 😉

  • ADB

    Great column Johnny B. Well said. But you forgot my new Norge, a middle-aged bike for oldsters if there ever is one…

    • john burns

      c’mon, the Cap is almost the same bike. OK it’s not, but close..

  • lundque

    The colonoscopy is a humbling experience. Being able to ride from Sturgis to home in Milwaukee in a single day after being old enough to experience several of them is enabling!

  • Craig Hoffman

    Actually glad you mentioned the colonoscopy. My brother recently died at age 58 of colon cancer which got into his liver because he refused to get one. Urged him to for years, by the time he did after symptoms appeared, it was too late. Not be be a heavy, but this something us older types need to think about. That nurse is right on.

    On a much lighter note, I enjoyed the article. I my mind, at age 53, it is critical that I keep riding. Life as I know it would end without my motorcycles, which have been under me since age 11. Odd as it sounds, if there comes a day I can’t ride, there will still be a bike in my garage, there is comfort in it. Will probably terrorize the nursing home on a 50cc scooter. Prying those grips from my hands will not come easy. Not being able to ride off road scares me. The dirt bike is so much fun.

    In case you have not seen it, the following is a wonderful video for those of us who love bikes and are of a certain age 🙂


    • Kevin Duke

      What a wonderful film! Makes me want to get back on a dirtbike now!

  • Chris

    Funny stuff. I’ve been (mostly) enjoying your writing for those 30’ish years, at about the same age. Being at the same stage, just makes it a bit more personal and appropo. I sold all my cool bikes over the last few years (CBR1000RR, Super Duke 990, ZX14R, KTM Adventure, etc.) and now have a CB500X w/RRP Level 2 kit, an NC700X, a CBR650F, and a V-Strom 1K. I’m looking for the perfect, and final, 5th bike. To add to the perfect touch, I just retired 5 months ago, at 49 years old. Getting older ain’t all bad: the riding is much more relaxed and safer, if not as intense and exciting, and this getting paid for no work is too good. Rock on, my man! Life is good…Of course, I haven’t done the colonoscopy, yet.

  • fzrider

    No. 2 does it for me. Over the last few years I find myself growing stiff and cranky as winter wears me down. I hate the cold, and the tv, by spring. My beard needs trimming but I don’t care. I mark another day off the calendar and check the long range weather forecast. Finally the temperature rises to the level my old body can take and I pack my tail bag and strap it on my bike. The next morning I get out of bed early for the first time in months. My wife hugs me goodbye and says, “come home safe”. “I will” I answer. The door rolls up and like a Christmas miracle the cranky old man who’s joints snapped, crackled and popped, into the garage is suddenly gone and a new younger man rolls it down the drive way, turns south and guns it toward the North Carolina mountains…one more time.

    • 0verdose

      This will be me one day. Bravo, and beautifully put.

      • fzrider

        Well, thank you Overdose. I was suprised to see your post but it comes at a good time. Next friday the “Christmas Miracle” happens again, (knock on wood) this year. Nothing makes one feel better than surviving winter and feeling young again too. Have a good season and keep the rubber side down!


    How friggin’ old are you, Burns..? A Honda NX700 — really..? REALLY..? For me it’ll be my increasingly fun to ride Supa10 (*Yamaha Super Tenere*) with all my camp gear on the back and a full tank. See ya down the road. YMMV

  • wolzybk

    Boy, you did get all middle-aged and stuff. I’m 53, and I consider that mid-middle-aged; I expect to be middle-aged until I’m at least 65. Barring disaster, I hope to ride into my 80’s (as the dealer I bought my Duc from, Sonny Angel, did).

    I see the value in #1 and #2 on your list. #3 is on my list for a testride; I’m looking for a sport-tourer. So far my leading contender is the Moto Guzzi Norge (realistically; if I could afford a MOTUS right now, the search would be over).

    The rest of the list is, well, middle-aged, and I’ll happily stick to my 1993 Ducati M900 Monster — carburetors, lack of electronics, and all. It still runs fine after 23 years and 254K miles, so I intend to ride it until it blows up. My concession to middle age was heated gloves — with that and layering, I can ride for an hour at 20°F (-7°C) in reasonable comfort, and that’s good enough to meet my needs.

    • JT Klein

      Looking at the picture, those guys looked older than me and I’m 68. But, still do 12 track days a year. Pretty fast intermediate. Love numbers 11 and 12 and my very modern sport bike.

    • Tinwoods

      I’m now 54, and according to everything I’ve read, middle age starts at 35 and ends at “approximately” 50. Which in itself doesn’t make logical sense as so few people live to be 100 (the “middle” of which is 50). So, to fully embrace reality, anything over fifty has got to be just plain old age–a horribly bitter pill to swallow for all of us, for sure. Maybe someone can come up with a less brutal term than “old age,” but for all of us over the half-century mark, alas, I don’t think “middle age” cuts it anymore.

      Signed, Eeyore

  • Jim Jaudon

    Riding does NOT keep you young. The knees no longer bend, so you lower the pegs and raise the seat. But now, because the hips no longer flex enough to mount a normal bike, so you spend a few precious bucks to change the dogbone in order to get on and off. Now the darn thing handles similar to Geezer Glyde. So you no longer try to carve the canyons. But wait we have no canyons worthy of carving here in the desert. However the good news is, riding does keep the brain sharp. Maybe.
    Folks this ain’t speculation, I am 74 and the trips are getting shorter and fewer every year since both me and the Bandit are starting to show our age

  • mugwump


  • Bobberk

    I hit 71 ths past February and will be riding cross country solo on my V4 Tuono this June. While it’s clearly not as comfortable as a car (or Multi) this ride will be good for my head (probably less so for m body). It’s something I feel I can (and need to accomplish) at my age. I’ll meet people, see new sights and fee the open spaces. I race cars, track bikes and scuba dive and believe that an active life with younger people keeps me vital.

    • Kevin Duke

      A V4 Tuono at 71 keeps you feeling young, right?!

  • Tim Roach

    John Burns, great article. Sorry I’m late to the read, but am in the same demographic.

    I also enjoyed working with the Phil Schilling, Paul Gordon, Mark Lindeman, Tim Carruthers, Ken Vereke and Danny Coe. Learned a hell of a lot about bikes, writing and media production of the day. I was there from 88 to when Cycle was sold to Diamandis Communications; then subsequently moved to the Cycle World facility. That was the end of my position.

    Hope to see you on the road/trail some day. My 09 KLR 650 provide’s quite the adventures, for now.

    Tim Roach