It’s a lot of fun to explore the different personalities and capabilities of motorcycles, and believe me, I’ve done a lot of exploring.
“What are you doing?”
“Looking at motorcycles…”
“Okay. I have a good book I need to finish.”
My wife loves to read and she can do it without worrying about me being able to amuse myself. I’m a big help to her that way.
Furthermore, my efforts have yielded substantial results. For example, did you know that arguably the widest line of interesting motorcycles comes from Suzuki?
What are all these interesting bikes? Let’s take a quick look at a few.
The original SV650 was made from 1999-2002.
The 2017 model below has recaptured a lot of the original.
The intervening years have not been so interesting to me, style-wise, but I like the look of this new bike. Similar to the original, the rounded features of the exposed frame, round headlight, and minimal plastic.
The smooth-running V-twin engine has been a big draw for me all along. It’s a 650 and you can ride it all day, as fast as you want. A bit too much power and weight for me, but still safely manageable. Upright seating position, 30.9 inch seat height, 430 lb. curb weight, 3.8 gallon tank. I like this bike.
A good sample of the original would still appeal to me, even though it has the dual carbs to deal with.
The DR650 is very similar to the F650 I ride now, and that alone makes it interesting to me. They both have been in continuous production since 1992, although the F650 has evolved more. A new BMW G650GS is appealing, but so is a new DR650S.
Virtually unchanged from the original, it has a relatively smooth counter-balanced 650cc single-cylinder engine, air-cooled with single carb. Mine is liquid cooled with dual carbs. As it turns out, the water pump is the weak link on the F650, making the DR a better choice for remote operation. It’s almost 100 lbs lighter than the F650, making it a better off-road machine, and also easier to handle generally. The stock seat is high at 35 inches, but you can easily drop it a couple inches, and the cushy suspension settles more with weight on it than mine does. I like the idea of floating over rough New England roads with the DR suspension. The 21-inch front wheel versus the F650 19-inch again makes the DR better in rough going.
If I were riding to Alaska and back, I’d prefer the F650, but for the actual riding I do, the DR with some modifications would likely suit me a bit better.
Utilizing a very smooth de-tuned version of the SV650 V-Twin engine, a big frame, a big tank and good luggage capability, the VStrom is a great long distance adventure bike. With a 62.5 inch wheelbase, it is very stable at speed. I could run down to Memphis for breakfast. Okay, I’d have to ride all night. Yes!
Light weight. 286 lbs with 3.4 gallons of fuel. 70 mpg. 32 inch seat height. 200 cc. Decent suspension. Not for the interstate, but great around town and through field and stream. Still in production. Related bikes include the KLR250, KLX250S, TW200, Xt225, XT250, and CRF230/250L.
You can make a real statement riding this bike. Not sure what the statement is, but there you go.
While still in production, the older naked, round headlight version is the style that appeals to me. Two cylinders, very inexpensive, easy to ride and work on. Very popular in its day, and still possible to find a good used one.
The TU250 is a 250cc fuel injected, air cooled single with a classic, minimalist look. Easy to ride, low 30 inch seat, upright riding position, 328 lbs. with 3.2 gallons of fuel.
“There’s that old guy again. He’s probably had that bike since 1960. Amazing how he keeps it running. And looking so good!”
GW250 Inazuma is a 250cc, water cooled, fuel injected twin with modern styling. 30.5 inch seat height, upright riding position and a bit heavy for its class at 416 lbs. wet. About $400 less than the TU250X at $4099 list.
I’m not particularly into cruisers, but I love the look of the C50T touring bike, and there are some nice used ones available at reasonable prices. Shaft drive! It’s just begging to go places.
Lastly, take a look at the S40 because you can get bolt on custom parts from RYCA motors to transform the 500cc cruiser into a variety of great looking cafe racers, standards and scramblers. But it probably doesn’t make financial sense in the end. Works fine in my head, though.
I’m primarily interested in a standard riding position and small to mid-sized engines, and I don’t want to pay for too much power and speed that, for me, only translates into too much danger. I want “sufficient” power, a good suspension, and style. In general, you can get a comparable, better engineered, more powerful bike from Honda or Yamaha, but these “Zukes” tend to have an edge when it comes to style.
The standard riding position and smaller engines are only now being generally revived in the USA and that means there has been a gap in the used market that makes these Suzuki models stand out.
I would enjoy owning any of these bikes, but in the end the 1997 BMW F650 still suits me the best, all things considered.