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Wimpy, but I'm old

I will be getting back on a Motorcycle in October. Right now I'm looking at two models.

I have at least two LJ friends who ride superbikes who will probably get a good laugh from my choices, but remember I'm now too old to control a 1000CC+ bike. Thats not what I need one for anyway, if I wanted a bike that burned as much gas as a Metro Geo I'd get the car!

The Suzuki 250.

I can only get in so much trouble on a bike this small, and the one I had ages ago got 90 miles to the gallon, which at the time seemed superfluous at the then 50 cent a gallon fuel cost, but today it makes a big difference. The 250 I had in the 80's had a maximum speed of 70 and I can commute on the freeway with this one.


The Kawasaki Eliminator

What an impressive name for a single cylendar bike with a piston the size of a 35mm film can.....

I could go with the Kawasaki lightweight and probably break 100 miles to the gallon but its nothing I could get on the freeway with, it would strictly be an in town transportation machine. Unless the laws have changed, the minimum size that can go on the freeway is a 175 and this is actually only a 124! It probably can't do much over 55, but then, I wouldn't need it to.

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c_eagle June 4th, 2008
Wow man, nice... are those even street legal though?

titanic June 4th, 2008
Yes they are!

There are street legal motorcycles as small as 50cc. Anything under 175CC cannot be taken on the interstate, though I have never heard of anyone getting a ticket for that, ever.

At one time anything under 50cc wasn't even considered a motorcycle and so didn't require a license. My first year out of college I had a Honda PA50 moped wiht a 49cc engine and bicycle pedals that in fact worked, though you would never want to try and pedal it anywhere. At the time that required no license at all, though I understand thats changed since.

c_eagle June 5th, 2008
Thanks for the clarifications... :>

feren June 4th, 2008
I've been looking at the Suzi 250 as a daily commuter for use during the summer. The mileage was what attracted me at first, but the fact that I can use it on the tollways and freeways of Chicagoland (as opposed to being relegated exclusively to the back roads) is an added benefit.

Of course, this presupposes that I have a motorcycle endorsement on my current license. Which I do not.

I agree

titanic June 4th, 2008
The fact I will not have a car at the same time is leading me in favor of the first choice, though the eliminator is about $600 cheaper. I could still find a used one I suppose, from someone who discovered that they wanted a "real" motorcycle later on.

Right now I work three jobs, two of which are just barely out of practical bicycle range. In the fall I could well find myself working a job about 30 miles away again, which makes the Kawasaki a tad impractical. Then again, the income increase would allow me to buy a compact pickup truck, which that job would possibly require me to have anyway.

When I rode a motorcycle before, the largest thing on the road was a Harley 1200. Now there are bikes with bigger engines than my wifes car!

A 2,053 CC $15,000 motorcycle? Who buys those? who NEEDS that?

Edited at 2008-06-04 04:13 pm (UTC)

vulpesrex June 5th, 2008
I have owned 3 motorbikes in my life:

1) A Suzuki 250 2-stroke, road bike
2) A Yamaha RD-350 2-stroke, road bike
3) A BMW R60/5, 4-stroke, road bike

I bought the Suzuki in 1976, used, at Ft Clayton, Canal Zone. It was a typical, overseas service bike, passed (sold) from soldier to soldier, as people would PCS or separate, and this one had stayed within the unit. Several people knew its history, and the former owners, but each had abused it a bit, and being parked outdoors in a tropical country with a heavy rainy season and humidity that never dropped below 60%, it aged rather quickly. It had trouble with one cylinder quite often, and taking it to the one Suzuki dealer in the entire country and having his "expert" mechanics disassemble the carburetor and put it back together - with the main jet upside down, among other things - didn't help. I eventually sold it to aomeone who was more of a gearhead than I was, and he got it working respectably. I turned around and bought...

A Yamaha RD-350, two cylinder with a separate oil tank and an auto-metered oil injector, and 5-speed transmission. It was the only RD-350 of that configuration in the country, very light, and QUICK. I found out later that these made GREAT "Cafe Racers", with the funny, close-cropped bullet fairings and modified exhausts, but even stock, it was a quick-accelerating bike, and fairly reliable. Had a disk-brake in front, and a standard drum in the back. Had to kick-start it, no starter motor. Some of my buddies rode Honda CB-360s, which were simple, elegant, and had electric starts - practical bikes.

When I returned from the Canal Zone, I brought this bike back with me. I put a Windjammer fairing on it (which admittedly looked ridiculous, but made riding less of a "hanging on" ordeal), and took it camping in the sierras and across the desert. Settling in to Baldy Mesa, I took it over dusty mountain roads beyond Wrightwood, Commuted to Pomona, and finally for the 97-mile, each-way daily grind to Ft Irwin and back. At 60,000 miles, a cylinder siezed - due to a maintenance mistake that I had made a few years before - and I needed a replacement quick, to be able to afford the commute to Ft Irwin every day. 3 days later, I had...

A 1972 BWM R60/5, twin opposed cylinders, 600cc, shaft-drive, bought used from a fireman who didn't put 14,000 miles on it in 9 years. I bought it for $1,000, and it was one of the best purchases I ever made - when I sold the bike in 1988, I had 194,000 miles on it - just about "broke in", in BMW terms. I had put in an extended deep oil-pan for an extra quart of oil capacity, shims to extend the cylinder sleeves and thus lower compression for when all gasoline became "unleaded", and had ridden that thing across the desert, both on and off-road, through the mountains, and up-and-down I-5, from one end of the state to the other, too many times to count.

The BMW was rock-solid RELIABLE; "IMMORTAL" might be a better word for it. It never had a failure, and although it required adjusting the valves when doing a tune-up, like on a volkswagen, this was easy to do. The toolkit with most motorcycles is pretty primitive, but the tools that came with that BMW, including the pump, were impressive, and only required one or two more wrenches to be able to do almost any anticipated repairs or maintenance. And the ride! Yes there were _faster_ bikes, and _quicker_ bikes, and one had to get used to the longitudinal torque, like flying a WWII fighter, but that was easily adjusted for, and once above idle, there was almost no vibration - you could cruise for HOURS, and not feel cold and numb from the waist down! And the 600cc had more than adequate power for gettting up to highway speed (and reasonably beyond!). This bike was CIVILISED and ELEGANT. And while I hate marketing slogans, it definitely rated BMW's proud boast, "The BEST".

I would recommend an older used BMW, with the air-cooled, boxer twin engine, preferably with a fairing. Replace the horn with dual hella-horns, or the small compressor-driven trumpets; extend the oil-pan, consider an external oil-cooler, and you will have something that Death Valley in summer won't hurt.

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