I've sat on the Suzuki V-Strom; I like what I've read about it. Even it's odd looks appeal to me. But it felt top heavy and it's tall. Lowering the bike is possible, but I wouldn't want to monkey around with that set up. Perhaps a new seat or re-sculpturing the seat might do the trick so I can flat foot the bike. I'm tippy-toe on it now and that doesn't inspire confidence. So far, I've found no opportunities to test ride one of these adventure riding fun machines. This bike is relatively inexpensive to own and maintain and aftermarket accessories are robust.
Then I discovered some of the BMW bikes. By comparison to anything Suzuki makes, BMW are expensive to own and maintain. Perhaps if I'm worried about that, that's a sign--these are not the bikes for me. Hmmm? Yet, I like a lot of things about the F650GS. It has a venerable history of adventure riding. "Rabid" is the only way to describe many of its devotees. The F650GS has a very manageable seat height--several inches lower than the 31.5 inches on my gal-pal. What I don't like is the single engine. What I know about engines can fill a thimble and from what I've read, I'm convinced that these engines are excellent. I just know that I like the sound of a twin engine. I cut my teeth on a V-twin and the imprinting remains strong. If I'm going to hear an engine sound while riding, let it be one that sings my tune.
I sat on the BMW F800S and F800ST models at the motorcycle show here in February and neither "Wowed" me. I like them both but neither as separate bikes. I desired a blend of the two. I love the ergonomics of the F800S but would want the looks of the ST. I don't like the ST's seating position at all. And the new 650s (moto, challenge and xcountry) are bikes I'd need a ladder to mount. I like the standard, naked R1200R but frankly, it didn't "Wow" me at the show either. Besides, I'd have to add even more $$$ to get that bike where I need it to be able to tour comfortably. BMWs already cost two arms and two legs. What's more, I don't need a displacement that large--it would be a waste on me. Wouldn't that be like riding a Porche Turbo Carrera just to do grocery shopping at the local market? Is there something I'm missing when I say I don't see myself needing anything (non-cruiser rider, here) beyond the 650cc-800cc range?
I'm planning (if I can find a hotel within 100 miles!) to attend the BMW International Rally in West Bend, WI. It will be my only chance to test ride these bikes. In addition, I will get a chance to do more Rustic Roads to qualify for a State certificate, which is different from the 10 ride motorcycle awards program.
I learned today that the BMW rally is featuring the Rustic Roads tours. Read their recent, interesting write up on the fun that these roads engender. The really neat thing about WI is that the way the Ice Age effected certain regions in the state, shapes the unique terrain and dramatic landscape. While the riding will take you across diverse spaces and places across WI, you can be certain that the roads will be always fun, unique, challenging and interesting.
Now if only I can find a hotel...