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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Sorry if this rambles. Been thinking about this for the last few weeks.

Having ridden for a few decades, I've developed some preferences and expectations on what I think a bike should be and do. This list is in far less flux than it was in the '80s, LOL. In the 70's it didn't matter what it was or was meant to do, so long as it was FAST.

My definition of fast is biased by the early experience with motocross bikes. I started riding off road before monoshock suspensions were the norm -- dual sport/dirt bikes were essentially street bikes with knobbies, possibly with longer travel suspension.

When I had a chance to ride a purpose built motocross bike (my brother's '74 Husky 250 CR when I was 12 and 13 years old and weighed about 100 lbs) I discovered that light and powerful always feels better than heavy and powerful.

When one of his buddies bought a '76 250 WR with the monoshock and nearly twice the suspension travel front and rear, I discovered that brutally fast with working suspension was much, much better.

Fast forward to 1990, and I spent a summer working part time as a motorcycle salesman at Fun Bike Center in San Diego. That meant I got to ride anything on the used lot, and anything new I sold before the customer rode it off the lot. Honda, Kawasaki, Suzuki, and BMW were the brands carried by the dealership, but anything that was traded in had to be ridden to keep fresh fuel in the bowls, batteries topped up etc. It was typical to ride 2-3 different bikes, each day.

There were turbocharged bikes, Sportsters, touring rigs, cruisers, sport touring rigs, 'standard' bikes, dual sports, pretty much anything you could think of along with super bikes. The ZX-11D was one of the quickest things in that period, the ZX-7RR was one of the more exclusive rides.... BMW was still in love with the Boxer (R100GS, sold one and intentionally rode it straight into a curb at ~ 40 MPH, and just passed right over that, and the parking lot curb stone behind it without missing a beat), while trying to sort out the K bikes. Very few of these bikes were fast, let alone brutally fast. Virtually all of them left a lot to be desired in terms of suspension action. The 89 VFR 750/800 stands out in my mind as having a very well sorted fork. It was a rarity.

The most common element to all of those bikes was weight. Very few were much less than 500 lbs. Anything other than a dual sport or a sport bike was likely well in excess of that point. Most had weak brakes and mushy suspension. Some had bad suspension due to trying to overcome the torque jacking from their drive shafts.... that led to a lot of later cruisers having much longer wheel bases to limit that effect.

I like bikes to have a wheelbase of 55 inches or less, rake of less than 30 degrees (happy with 25), somewhere less than 500 lbs (closer to 400 the better), with roughly 100 RWHP. I like supple well controlled suspension. The chassis should not be upset by bots dots, or anything less than a few inches +/- the average surface I am travelling on.

I do not like body work. Or windscreens. Or luggage. I want the option of hanging a screen on the bike, or tossing a set of bags on it as needed; otherwise, it's dead weight and expensive to repair in a crash.

I enjoy being engaged in the act of riding. I can see benefit in a cruise control -- never had one, have had a throttle lock that got me the entire length of the west coast multiple times. I like being in control, comfortable, having good enough sight lines to ensure my situational awareness is at it's peak.

I enjoy NOT having to work on the bike. Routine maintenance is fine, so long as it doesn't absorb my available riding time. Far better to have it ready to go at a moment's notice than have to fiddle and futz with it just to get it to start. (I have fairly extensive knowledge of tempermental bikes; I prefer them to do what I want when I want them to, rather than having to argue about it.) The longer the recommended maintenance interval, the better.

I prefer consumable items to be standard, rather than unique. Oil, filters, tires, spark plugs.... if they are used by many bikes, the price is typically much less painful than something that has to be delivered from the mothership from orbit.

I don't really care what a bike sounds like. Quiet enough to allow me to ride as I want without annoying the neighbors who tend to call the LEOs, is ideal. How a bike looks is for me in large part decided by the engineering required to make it do what it's designed to. They look right, with less stuff. In Elon Musk's terms, the best part is no part. Form follows function. You should be able to look at it, know why it's there, and what it does. I despise chrome plated plastic.
 

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I really enjoyed reading that. Thanks for posting it.

I'm with you on liking a lighter bike. I've moved to sports touring but still looking for light weight so have a "midsized" bike. When did 850cc and almost 500 pounds become midsized :) I still remember the Honda 750 when it came out as well as the Kawasaki 500 triple. I like to ride but do enjoy doing the routine maintenance as long as it doesn't interfere with riding.

Unlike you I do care somewhat about the sound of the bike. Don't want loud but the high RPM I4s sound so nice to me. Triples split the difference between a twin and a four. My BMW F800GT ruined me for twins - I still think the mechanical noises it made were most like a coffee can with nuts and bolts rattled around inside. A solid and reliable engine but not music to my ears :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Al I remember that the late 80's motorcycle market was crashing and the Japanese innovated on their old designs extensively trying to keep the sales alive. Remember when self cancelling turn signals, adjustable bars, pegs became a relatively normal feature?

Remember when ergonomics actually let you ride 1,000 miles in a day with nothing more than a sore arse? (plus whatever environmental issues you had to face -- hot or cold or wet, etc.)
 

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In the 80's and even much of the 90's.......sportbikes were 10x more comfortable to ride than they are today.....much better ergos for riding for long times...before they became what they are now ......maybe ??? really exclusively made for the track.
Back then, when they cared that people bought them to ride and ride often on the street, I feel like now they only build them to go to the track

hell I rode my 85 ninja 600 down to daytona and back from MN (1800 miles each way) atleast a half dozen times then I had that 88 Ninja 600 and did that same trip no less than 2 dozen times plus road to Texas and all over the country on that bike and was 100x more comfortable on that than any current (past 20 years) crop of sportbike
I took my ZX11 down there a few times and it was actually more comfortable to sit in the saddle for 150-200 miles at a pop, but it was fat and bulbous and weighed about 200 lbs more than the Ninja600 and it just wasn't nearly as enjoyable to ride

those (Ninja 600's)bikes were narrow, about 31 inch seat height with works performance shocks and properly set up suspensions, and they were light, sub 400 lbs ride ready...stock they were a poultry lowly slow 65ish hp...... the '85 I had in race trim was about 74 hp-- my streetbikle and racebike were identical sans lights, the 88 I went all in and it was 102hp for over 200,000 miles of its long life-albeit very high on maintenance to keep it together after adding 75% more power than it came with... but I liked the squarish crisp clean lines of the '88 and the narrowness of the entire bike including the seat was very nice and comfortable.... 256,000 miles in 19 years of use did not happen by accident and if parts had not come nearly impossible to get I would have kept it and still been riding it
but think of the old GSXR's, FZR's and even the Ninjas of the 80's era, in the 90's they started getting more bulbous and heavy (ala... CBR600 F-2, ZX6R)

I like; bodywork, full fairing is a must for me---damn the expensive cost if crashed, I want full bodywork

The quieter the better, I would rather sneak up on people when doing 15-20 over (in rural areas) rather than announce I am on the way and let the popo be watching..... I have had a few bikes that were "loud" by my standard and I hated them, hell I had a cop tell me once he heard me coming from a few blocks away and I was going through a residential area at 25mph in a "too high" of gear to keep rpms and sound down....... I hate loud pipes and they do not save lives, only an idiot thinks that...

I hate cruise control- never even use it my 4 wheeled vehicles and on a motorcycle I see absolutely no use unless you are going to just simply freeway drone for hours (may as well take your cage then and have more comfort, music, air conditioning and the abilty to talk to passengers and move around etc......) but I think far too many ride in complaciancy and thhis is just another idiot item to add to their complaciancy and not be focussed and in full control 100% of the time they ride

I cannot think of any bikes I have owned that I liked the stock suspension and left it alone, I have installed front and rear on atleast 40 of the 50+ bikes I have owned and the others did atleast springs and oil level/visc changes...... except some of the very early dirty bikes when I was like 8-15 and weighed like 60-120lbs and felt it didn't matter and didn't know any better either....

I have owned a HD and numerous bikes from all 4 japanese brands...... a couple of touring bikes, a few sport touring bikes (by todays standard) and several standard bikes plus as a kid went through nearly a dozen dirt bikes from 50cc upto KX250's of the late 80's era---even though by late 80's I was long past being a kid, but by far the majority of bikes have been fully faired sportbikes.

I very much do not like to sit upright (touring and standard bikes)... I need a forward cant of atleast......maybe 15* or more, but not more than 37*-38*------- I want enough wind over the windshield to carry my weight off my hands/wrists.......speaking of windshields I can't stand any windshield I have to look through, I want to always look over it with ease- I find windshields to be totally obtrusive and detrimental to my riding pleasure unless they are well below my mid chest height.

The C14 with the windshield all the way down has a very nice seating position/riding position .... although I would like the footpegs slightly higher and further back and the seat height to be atleast 1 inch lower for a more flatfooted feel inside of ball of the foot feel........ and the aftermarket kit windshield that is more sportbike like, is even better
The H2 sxse is very similar but with wider bars at a better angle and lower, so is the Ninja1000 but all of them need to be on a diet...atleast the weight does go away once you are rolling at speed.... but they are heavy when moving around the garage or parking lot..... the VFR750/800 was a nice package too, and I enjoyed plenty of miles on an early 750 Interceptor variant

Service.....as long as the interval is the typical norm of today of every 15k I am fine, but please..... don't make me remove fairings just to change the fucking oil!!!!! and have the air filter be in a convenient enough location to not be a 3+ hour ordeal to clean it or replace it (ala--GL1800 and C14 and a few others)

I would never own a goldwing, they simply suck donkey ass to work on....anything that takes an hour on a sportbike takes 3+ on the goldwing (sans oil change), a tune up I can do in 8ish hours on any sportbike takes about 3 days on the goldwing...I also would never own another fucaduc-- not only do I not like working on the fragile toilets but the stereotype of the riders who own them suck donkey balls too.....and my experience in Minneshithole is the stereotype is spot on for douchecati riders and S1000 riders---maybe they are okay bikes but they are nothing special at all to me and the asshole loser brigade who ride them up here absolutely kills any appeal at all of them as they are nothing but a bunch of stuck up idiot snobs with no actual knowledge, just stupidity and feelings!

I go further and even have a color preference......... I prefer red, but black is acceptable, even though I have owned several colors of bikes and still have a couple of green bikes..... I prefer to try and get red ones, if not red then black and only after those are exhausted do I look at other options...

I also would like my motorcycles to come with a centerstand!!!!!!! while it has not been the norm for decades, I really enjoyed the ease of popping the bike on the centerstand anytime anywhere as opposed to only being able to have the rear wheel accesible to spin when near a garage or shop or wherever you keep a paddock stand--sans some sketchy inginuity
 
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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Yeah, I miss center stands. That was one of the clever things BMW managed for some time (don’t know if they still do) if you took the rear wheel off it was nose heavy on the center stand…. If you removed the front, tail heavy. A simple thing, executed well.
 

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I struggle reading italics back then and still do...
 

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My dream sport touring bike would be my 2014 ZX6R with more stator output, more relaxed ergonomics and a better windscreen. Basically a bit more wind protection, more upright seating position and the ability the have side cases and a duffle on the rear seat. Take the sidecars off and it's a great sport bike, add them and go touring.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
One of the other things I miss are seats that allow you to move around easily. I agree that the most effective rider triangle has your upper torso leaned forward so you balance against the wind.
The seat to peg distance doesn’t need to replicate a jockey for 99.9% of street riders.
 

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My dream sport touring bike would be my 2014 ZX6R with more stator output, more relaxed ergonomics and a better windscreen. Basically a bit more wind protection, more upright seating position and the ability the have side cases and a duffle on the rear seat. Take the sidecars off and it's a great sport bike, add them and go touring.
So a Ninja 1000 or H2 SXSE or even a C14
 
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