Thoughts, more thoughts and decisions

Alright, it’s time to bring this blog back from the dead. I sold off the DR almost a year ago and I sorely miss riding. I’ve been itching to get onto a new set of wheels, scanning the used motorcycle classifieds and reading reviews online. At first I thought I’d get back into a dual sport, and to mix it up a little maybe a KLR650 or an XR650L.

I test rode a bunch of Gen I and Gen II KLRs. Between those two, I’d take the Gen I any day. Old school looks, which I guess, are not for everyone, beefy rugged stance and the lack of plastics makes for a great dual sport.

Somewhere in between I stumbled on a Super Sherpa, but quickly realized that small displacement bikes are not for me. My large (and ever increasing) frame and the inevitable need to ride freeways in the Bay Area just makes it an impractical choice.

Then one fine day, out of sheer coincidence, I decided to test ride an SV650. The seller was local and offered to meet me close by to test ride. As I rode it around the block a few times I was amazed at how well it rode. It had a good stance (not upright, but not a terrible crouch) and the power was amazing. It took off a LOT faster than the DR and was smooth all the way to 60mph.

I was hooked. Maybe a street bike is not all that bad after all. Maybe dual sporting can wait a few years. Maybe I need a dedicated dirt and dedicated street setup. And there we go. Sounds familiar?

I started researching 600 class beginner friendly sport bikes and the choices became obvious: Honda Hornet 599, Yamaha FZ6, Kawasaki Ninja 650R and the SV650. I’m not very keen on Monsters or Speed Triples — given their added costs.

I then test rode the FZ6. I really liked the modern fit and finish, the good looks, digital tachometer, underseat exhaust and centerstand. The bike definitely has better wind protection compared to a naked SV. When I started the bike up, I immediately noticed that the bike idles at a higher rpm than the SV. It tends to be smoother (less vibrations), but a tad noisier. I got onto the bike, rolled out in first and shifted into second at about ~15MPH — my first mistake. Then I twisted hard to WOT — my second mistake — … but, wait, nothing happened! The bike really had no response and felt slow and heavy getting to 50MPH. I probably rode about ~5 miles today. I was not very comfortable revving the engine too high on my first test ride. I probably hit 7000-8000 RPM tops in second at one point… didn’t have the balls to go beyond that.

Anyway, I’m pretty sure I don’t know how to ride this bike properly. It seems that I’ll have to “learn” to ride this bike if I get it.

Now for another story. Right after I rode the FZ6 I test rode a Kawasaki ZRX1200R. Yes, your read that right, ZRex. I was thinking: I want a naked, standard bike — how different will this be? My God, was I wrong! What a motorcycle. That thing had 10x the torque of my DR650. It was downright scary, and I was keeping it under 6000rpm. While I was definitely all smiles and giggles after my test ride, I think that’s way too much bike for me.

Anyway, it’s time to decide and get back onto a motorcycle. More in my next post. Decisions, decisions …

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