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Rewarding yourself with a commuter bike...


GrafSpee

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I'm getting a little ahead of myself, but I'm only a couple classes away from two engineering diplomas, and I've been exploring employment options as of late. Well, turns out that most of the places I want to work (here in the Silicon Valley) are a good 20-40 mile commute from where I plan on living.

 

Since I'd rather buy a commute bike than a commute car, I wanted to bounce some ideas off of you guys. It's basically a "which BMW should I buy" type thread, which you've probably seen before, but queries for "commute" and "commuter" returned nothing.

 

I have great credit, so assume I can get anything financed, so money's not an object. I'd hate to rack up commute mileage on my sweet R1100S, so here's some criteria and options:

 

Light

Narrow

Can do 100mph

Stellar fuel economy

Minimal maintenance

 

Basically, this leads me to an F650 or some sort. It's definitely all of those, especially if it's one of those belt-drive models. A top case and I've got all the storage I need.

 

I wanted to hear from some of you guys who commute with your bikes and what you like and dislike about your commute mount, and what you would do differently if you had to do it over. In the end, if I have to wear a suit to work every day, I might just get a soul-stirring commute cage like a used 996 Carrera or TT coupe, but for the sake of the argument, what's your commuter of choice?

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W. Mazelin

Two engineering diplomas? Man, that's great! Congratulations. How about an F-800S? Narrow, good MPG, same power as my '02 1150-GS, (85 hp) but a lot less weight. You can get the saddlebags, and trunk if you have to lug any new guy gear to & from the office. www.bmwmotorcycles.com, they have some deals working too, according to the website. Good luck!

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A Ninja 500 should fit your criteria nicely. But if you plan to do this year-round, you might like something with a little more protection than anything you're considering now.

 

I would not recommend the carrera as a commute car, especially if it's a stick (as all sports cars should be).

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General reply:

 

I've already owned an SV650 and will never, ever ever throw a leg over another one. I felt lied to, everyone kept saying how great it is, then I bought one and managed to keep it a week before selling it.

 

Yeah, two engineering degrees, mechanical and aeronautical engineering. I just hope they give me two separate diplomas..you know, one for each hand! hahaha

 

I have friends with EX500s and I kinda hate that bike. It feels anemic with my 220lbs on there. Not to mention low-tech. "Year-round" riding isn't that big a deal in California.

 

And as for the Carrera, the 6spd manual is one of the main selling points! I'd try to find some backroads that allowed me to keep a constant 45-55mph, rather than stop-and-go on the superslab for an hour and a half tongue.gif

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I agree with Eric about an SV650. It meets your criteria, and to me, provides a super responsive and fun ride. It fits most people's physique well too.

 

My own commuter was an R1100RT and then FJR1300, bags in place, and with a top case. Narrow is subjective, and not particularly important to an experienced commuter. Only the maintenance of the RT (time not cost) was challenging to me, but in the end, I enjoyed my choice of it, and even more of the FJR.

 

I don't recommend commuting to newer Riders, at least on an every day basis, especially if they face a crowded commute. There are a range of skills required to survive it. Experience brings them... to some Riders, but not others. A small, light bike is a better choice to learn about that new environment. With time, one's concepts about a well serving mount are likely to change. Especially as more severe weather is encountered, including hot stuff.

 

 

Best wishes with your choice.

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I suppose what's "no big deal" is pretty subjective. I just know that I appreciate a bigger fairing when it turns wet and cold. I've found my 1100RT to be an excellent freeway commuter but it doesn't meet 3/5 of your criteria. Good luck finding the perfect bike.

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It's not out here in the U.S. yet, but depending on when it is the Aprilia Shiver 750 might fit the bill. Seems like an upgraded SV650.

Aprilia_Shiver_750.jpg

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W. Mazelin

What about a Buell? They have the low maintenance thing covered pretty well. No valve adj. (its done via hydraulics) no belt adjustments or changes. Trans oil every 10,000 miles, with synthetic engine oil, you could probably go that long between crankcase changes too. Lightweight, very narrow, top out way past 100mph, good brakes, & running gear. New issue of Cycle World also has a write up of the soon to be released Kawasaki "Versys", could be worth lookin' at too.

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I've already owned an SV650 and will never, ever ever throw a leg over another one. I felt lied to, everyone kept saying how great it is, then I bought one and managed to keep it a week before selling it.
I agree, my SV650 was the 2nd worst bike I've owned, disgraceful front suspension and gutless performance. (Worst bike was VF700S)

 

I would think a used 1100 or 1150RT would be the perfect commuting bike, it does - some years, rain in California and the RT provides good weather protection and a top box to carry the inevitable laptop in.

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Sidmariner

Don't think for a minute that you will be limiting yourself to commuting. I completely changed my travel and shopping habits after commuting on my RT this year. I use my car about twice a month now, and that's only for the occasional run to the Home Depot or local garden center.

 

With that in mind, I suggest you do some lateral thinking and consider all of the other things you could do with your bike. Buy the one that will meet all those other needs too. For me, it is my R1150RT, accessorized with a bigger windshield for all-weather riding, extra-large cases for travel and groceries, and some additional lights for safety in winter. The bike is perfect for a 30 minute run or a 10-day tour.

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Well, since you're in CA...

 

What about a used RT-P? Narrow enough for splitting, higher noticeability with the other commuters. lmao.gif

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Buell has a couple bikes that would make sense in this case thumbsup.gif

 

I think that deep down inside, I know that a Kawasaki ZR7S would make the most sense for me, and that's probably what I'd do. 5.8gal tank, half a fairing, relatively upright, and not that bad a bike to ride around (a friend allowed me to borrow his for a while). I was hoping someone had a compelling argument for a 650GS tongue.gif

885515-zr7_main_full.jpg.d9c70f33c4c20014a6bdaf50a5df316c.jpg

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Silver Surfer/AKAButters

I commute on my 1150RT, and love it! Okay, so it doesn't get 60 miles to the gallon.

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Buell has a couple bikes that would make sense in this case thumbsup.gif

 

I think that deep down inside, I know that a Kawasaki ZR7S would make the most sense for me, and that's probably what I'd do. 5.8gal tank, half a fairing, relatively upright, and not that bad a bike to ride around (a friend allowed me to borrow his for a while). I was hoping someone had a compelling argument for a 650GS tongue.gif

 

I did a quick 150 mile trip (mostly highway) on a F650GS back in May. I think it was an absolute blast to ride and would make an excellent commuter bike. It was very stable at highway speed and was just plain fun when I had to dart in and out through traffic. I have been quietly shopping the classifieds ever since. I could easily see one sitting in my garage next to my RT......especially on those hot days when I curse my fairing the whole way home from work.

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if not a bmw...why not a v-strom? 650 meets all your criteria... plus low maint, decent price point...bmw after you have a couple years of earnings under your belt.

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I have both the F650 and the RT. For commuting on the freeway, I would rather take the RT. The F650 is FAR more fun around town and at speeds under 70 mph. The RT would be better when riding "in the herd" at speed. If traffic is slow, the F650 would certainly be an advantage as it is very nimble. At 65-68 mpg, it is very fuel efficient. I would just not want to ride it day after day in 75-85 mph traffic as you are pretty much at the mercy of the elements.

I would think a 650 VStrom would be the perfect commuter bike with fairing and twin power.

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Matts_12GS

+1 on the wee, it's easy to ride, almost no maintenance and has the same 5.8 gallons of fuel capacity.

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I too have been considering a commuter bike, and the one that catches my eye the most is the Ducati 620 Multistrada. thumbsup.gif

 

Awesome looking bike, exciting ride experience, easy on fuel, and Givi makes some nice cases for it too.

 

A tough one to beat in my opinion. grin.gif

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baggerchris

I like my F650GS for commuting the 14.5 miles to and from work down a winding Sierra Mtn. Road. Due to the lack of wind protection, I don't know if it would be a good choice for you or not, but I kinda doubt it. Parabellum does make a good windshield for the bike, but I havn't tried it yet. The black belt models have been discontinued over here; the Dakar also, and I am told the Gs will be gone in favor of the new 800, so if you decide on on a 650, you might want to act accordingly. What I do like about Pepper is her flicable nature, low seat height and narrowness. I am getting around 65 mpg on commute and 72 on trips up into the mountains. I have the dual spark model.

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Buell has a couple bikes that would make sense in this case thumbsup.gif

 

I think that deep down inside, I know that a Kawasaki ZR7S would make the most sense for me, and that's probably what I'd do. 5.8gal tank, half a fairing, relatively upright, and not that bad a bike to ride around (a friend allowed me to borrow his for a while). I was hoping someone had a compelling argument for a 650GS tongue.gif

 

I did the commute thing on my 1150RT when I lived in So Cal. I concur with the comments of the others...the bike is a great commuter or tourer.

 

I have since purchased a F650GS as my needs have changed and my riding season has shortened. It is thrifty and fun to ride, but it will not do the commute like the RT. The elements and vibration will have you frazzled and fatigued after the ride to work.

 

+1 RT

 

Good Luck

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kingpinofdisks

I sort of commute.

 

I do about 15-150 miles per day on the K1200GT, depending on which computer clients need help.

 

So far (1200 miles or so since 6/16)), she has been comfortable, quiet, and had zero problems in the 95 degree heat today. That is on California Crap-91 Gas (Shell), which is the worst formulation for your high compression engines like a BMW smile.gif

 

She is a bit heavy in the parking lots unless you are very good at slow-speed maneuvers - i.e. you should head to the DMV and practice the lolly-pop test (or is that just here in Cali) until you can master it easily.

 

As far as performance - well, just read some magazine articles about her smile.gif She goes fast enough for most.

 

All in all, my only complaint is the lane splitting - her tall mirrors suck in tight quarters because all the truck mirrors are right up there with your mirrors.

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Thanks for the responses thus far folks, I appreciate you taking the time to write a little bit about your experiences.

 

If I get a 650GS, it'll definitely be used, but then I'm set on eventually getting an R1150/1200GS, and I'm wondering if there's maybe a better way to invest the garage space...

 

one thing's for sure, I'll chop off a leg before I buy a V-strom

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Thanks for the responses thus far folks, I appreciate you taking the time to write a little bit about your experiences.

 

If I get a 650GS, it'll definitely be used, but then I'm set on eventually getting an R1150/1200GS, and I'm wondering if there's maybe a better way to invest the garage space...

 

one thing's for sure, I'll chop off a leg before I buy a V-strom

 

You can find 650GS's for cheap if you are willing to shop. I've found that they are kind of rare. I guess people just really like them, because I hardly ever see them for sale around here (Central, PA). For instance though.....there currently is one localy for sale here that is a '02 with ABS for $2980. Mileage is not posted, but it is listed in excellent condition. I wish I had the extra cash sitting around because I would snatch it up in a second at that price.

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You can find 650GS's for cheap if you are willing to shop. I've found that they are kind of rare. I guess people just really like them, because I hardly ever see them for sale around here (Central, PA). For instance though.....there currently is one localy for sale here that is a '02 with ABS for $2980. Mileage is not posted, but it is listed in excellent condition. I wish I had the extra cash sitting around because I would snatch it up in a second at that price.

 

"Cheap" is relative. Certainly cheaper than a 1200GS, but I have not found many "cheap" ones for sale. Most seem to sell on Ebay for $4500-$6800. And most of those are 1999-2004 models. Then consider that they sold new for only a little more than that.

Actually, the F650 holds its value very well. I know, I looked for used ones, and they don't remain available for sale for very long. Last year you couldn't buy new ones after about June, until the new models showed up in November. You can find really nice used ones with low miles if you search the "bay" as they do show up from time to time. Problem is you may have to travel across the U.S. to pick it up.

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I have both the F650 and the RT. For commuting on the freeway, I would rather take the RT. The F650 is FAR more fun around town and at speeds under 70 mph. The RT would be better when riding "in the herd" at speed. If traffic is slow, the F650 would certainly be an advantage as it is very nimble. At 65-68 mpg, it is very fuel efficient. I would just not want to ride it day after day in 75-85 mph traffic as you are pretty much at the mercy of the elements.

 

+1 on the comments above.

I've owned my F650GS for over 3 years now and was completely happy with it except at speeds above 70 and in rain. I just purchased a 99 R1100RT and will keep both bikes.

 

On that note I haven't ridden the F800 series and that might just be the bike that would fit the bill between the F650 and R1100RT

 

Good luck with your choice.

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