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Old 12-07-2014, 06:26 PM   #1
InvertedB OP
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Question Need Bike Advice for Jax

I thought of throwing this in the CADS thread, but even though it is geographically right, it probably doesn't fit the intention of the thread. I also think others in Florida have similar situations and might be able to share some insight since the whole state is flat with lots of fast highways, biways and interstates.

With that being said, I am currently looking at getting another bike after mid-January when the wife and I close on our new house in Jacksonville Beach. I've been a lurker and then a member on Advrider for a good two years now, but have not had anything remotely resembling an adventure bike or dual sport, though I absolutely have the itch. In the interest of full disclosure to maybe get a better idea of what the best recommendations are, I also have a 6 month old son at home, which means a good amount of my riding will be commuting to and from work for the near (and maybe distant) future. I have previously ridden dirt bikes when I was really really young, so I have zero experience there. Since returning to riding when I lived in Hawaii five years ago I have ridden scooters (out in Hawaii), then had a Triumph Thruxton followed by a big ass Harley-Davidson Ultra Classic because my wife loved the road sofa.

What I am looking for now is something that can handle commuter duties from Jax Beach to NAS Jacksonville probably about half the week, with the occasional ride all the way to Cecil Field over the next year or so. I'd also like to be able to do some dirt roads and maybe a bit more off road than that eventually. I'm also looking for something that can do a Deal's Gap trip probably once a year with friends that ride big cruisers and Harley Touring bikes.

These are the bikes I've been considering so far:
Suzuki V-Strom 650/1000
Suzuki DR-Z 400SM (love supermotos, but probably terrible for the commute)
Suzuki DR650 (probably miserable on 295 also)
BMW F650GS
Kawasaki KLR650 (seems a bit heavy if I ever want to do things with CADS and underpowered otherwise)
Yamaha WR250R/X (probably terrible commuter as well)
Honda NC700X (great commuter, but seems boring and limited otherwise)
Kawasaki Versys
Husqvarna TR650 (impossible to find, not certain about their longevity)

This is by no means a comprehensive list, but one that I put together to hopefully narrow down the focus and give an idea of what I have been looking at to this point. I am absolutely open to suggestions outside this group!
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Old 12-07-2014, 06:45 PM   #2
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I don't know if Mike's sold this yet or not. Give him a ping.....
http://www.advrider.com/forums/showp...postcount=1403
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Old 12-08-2014, 05:06 AM   #3
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You need two bikes. One for the road tripping and touring and one for playing off road. FWIW, I commuted in Jax for many years. I always owned bikes that would easily do my 25 mile commute across one of the bridges and I always took the cage. The major issue was rush hour drivers are very inattentive and it can get pretty doggone cold during the winter. So, in short, get a cheap econo box for commuting and one or two bikes for play.
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Old 12-08-2014, 07:21 AM   #4
DaveInSt.Augustine
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I would look into a Ktm 1190/ 990 Adventure or F800gs.
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Old 12-08-2014, 07:36 AM   #5
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While I tend to agree that having 2 or more bikes work best, I understand that can not always happen.

I have owned a number of the bikes on your list.
The Husky TR650, in my opinion, covers the most on road/off road capabilities if you are looking for a true "one bike".
I find most singles are not enjoyable on the highway or racking up lots of miles, but the TR650 is.
It is smooth, has a wide gear spread and makes good power.
Unlike the twin cylinder bikes the TR650 (though porky) is off road capable, not just off pavement capable.

I have had no issues doing trips to the mountains on mine, 400 mile days are OK.
I think you will be bored shitless though once up there if you take it on one with a bunch of Harleys/Cruisers and have to run their speeds.

I will say the TR650 is not a flawless bike.
They do have some fueling issues that appear to be inconsistent between bikes, so a test ride is a necessity.
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Old 12-08-2014, 08:08 AM   #6
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I'm in Atlantic Beach a few miles north of you. I have a 2007 V-Strom 650 and a 2009 KLR 650. While both bikes are capable of making that commute to NAS, the V-Strom would be my choice. It's a quick, fun bike in traffic that is a little more comfortable than the KLR. That being said, I wouldn't hesitate to make the trip on the KLR.
The KLR is more capable off-road IMO but neither is great for the Florida sand. I'm in the market for wr250??? to add to the quiver for that.
PM me if you would like to go for a ride. Take both for a run to test for yourself.
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Old 12-08-2014, 08:27 AM   #7
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doing it

I commute in Jax every day. I have an ST1300 and a 525exc that covers about everything I need. I've gone without a truck for almost 3 years now. I like trading bikes but I can't find anything that I want to trade either one of these for.
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Old 12-08-2014, 08:52 AM   #8
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You answered most of it with your own assessment of each bike. There is no such thing as a perfect bike. Bigfoot may have the perfect bike, but no one can prove it!


With everything you want to do you would need at least two bikes. If you are only going to have one bike you will have to reevaluate what you want to do with it.


Thanks Steve for the plug (yes it's still for sale). It would be a good bike for half your wants, but with no real dirt experience a Vstrom isn't the right bike to take off road.


Narrow down your real needs and what you think you may want then come to a CADS meeting and talk to people that have the bikes you are thinking about. Most of the people there would let you ride their bike to see if it fits your needs.


Good Luck!
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Old 12-08-2014, 02:31 PM   #9
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Make him a package deal on the V-Strom and the DRZ and he'll have pretty much all his bases covered!
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Old 12-08-2014, 04:30 PM   #10
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Thanks for all the advice, this is going to be my first foray into anything besides sealed pavement in about twenty years and this thread really has me reconsidering my requirements as not planning to commute ever would make the rest a lot easier.
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Old 12-08-2014, 04:37 PM   #11
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If you're interested in used, I know where there is a most excellent '06 Wee for sale. See sig line - sorry, have to repost ad.
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Old 12-08-2014, 07:26 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LordSmoke View Post
If you're interested in used, I know where there is a most excellent '06 Wee for sale. See sig line - sorry, have to repost ad.
I'll admit that seeing your bike on Craigslist and then on Stromtrooper, is actually what got me thinking about V-Stroms again a few weeks ago. My main question for riders of the Wee is how does it handle riding on the freeway at say 75-80 mph? Does it seem wrung out? I know the Vee has an overdrive great to go along with another 30 or so horsepower, but I just have no reference to understand if that's needed.

InvertedB screwed with this post 12-16-2014 at 05:35 PM
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Old 12-09-2014, 08:32 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by InvertedB View Post
I'll admit that setting your bike on Craigslist and then on Stromtrooper, is actually what got me thinking about V-Stroms again a few weeks ago. My main question for riders of the Wee is how does it handle riding on the freeway at say 75-80 mph? Does it seem wrung out? I know the Vee has an overdrive great to go along with another 30 or so horsepower, but I just have no reference to understand if that's needed.
I can't speak to newer model Wees or Vees, but my history with the '06 might be somewhat informative. In stock configuration (plus accessories), there was a vibration through the handlebars in the 5-6k range. There was much discussion about this being associated with the Givi crash bars, etc., but nothing seemed relevant. I was able to move the vibes up the speedo with sprocket changes, but spent very little time at highway speeds vs. backroads, so I went back to stock config. The relevance of this is that this vibe range was a psychological barrier. With respect to highway speeds, folks said just let it rev (probabl 6-6.5k), but those vibes made me very aware and I generally tried to keep it below.

In 2013, I installed new handle bars. MSR low bars to use with the Rox rotating risers. I did this, after some experimentation, to address a stabbing pain between my shoulder blades after 75 or so miles. I tried therapy, exercise, seating position, etc. Through experimentation, I decided it was related to the sweep of the stock bars. So, I installed the new ones. This did two things.

First, it virtually eliminated the pain I was experiencing. This was amazing, because I had thought I would never be able to ride like I wanted to because of it.

Second, and quite unexpectedly, it eliminated the vibration. You can still sense it through the pegs and knees, but you really have to feel for it. Not sure if this was due to the general design of the bars or the cross-brace, but it was a welcome surprise. Without the vibrations, the bike moves so smoothly through the rev range that I found myself unconsiously using higher revs than I ever felt comfortable with. So, the bike is quite happy spinning in the 6-7k range (as it was designed for) and that is the range, IIRC, for the highway speeds you mention. The engine is spinning, but it is not "wrung out".

There is a mileage hit, but I get that with the GS, too. If I were making regular transcontinental trips with a passenger, I would probably not choose the Wee as my primary ride, but for local trips, long weekends, commuting, the rare transcontinental trip one-up, the Wee is perfectly happy.
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Old 12-09-2014, 10:32 AM   #14
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I have a Triumph Tiger Explorer. It is awesome in touring and does great off road. I just added a set of Mitas Dakar E-07 and it tears up the sand, mud and dirt in the Ocala National Forest. If you are not experienced off road then a DR would be better for the dirt as a big adventure bike can be a be a handful if you are not used to it.

If the Explorer is too big, look at the Tiger 800 they are great as well but smaller package that may help off road.
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Old 12-16-2014, 06:06 PM   #15
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I'm seriously reconsidering the idea of commuting on the bike and will probably make that a once in a blue moon type of thing if I do it at all. With that being said, would you guys recommend a DR650 for someone who is going to have to ride the bike to wherever I'm going as I do not have a truck or trailer? I figure it could handle being ridden to work or slightly longer distances every now and then as well if I were to get two sets of wheels with one for trails/light dirt riding and one for street riding. I am 6'1" and 210lbs if that helps for sizing bikes. I've also looked at the DR-Z400S and SM for this purpose, but feel I may be a bit too big for the 400cc on the occasions that I need to ride a ways to get to good trails or other riding roads.

I'm certainly open to suggestions. I am trying to look at bikes that would be easy to wrench and have a decent aftermarket following. I know there are some great offerings from Husqvarna that are better off road and probably on road as well, but I'm concerned about the ability to keep them running long-term with the amount of times that company has changed hands recently as well as no local dealer that I know of.

Among the 650cc offerings there doesn't really seem to be a clear winner as the DR, XR and KLR each have their different strengths and weaknesses. Is there any one of these that is more suitable than the others for the rides around North Florida?

Thanks again for all the useful info people have already poured in!
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