Bike Jedi In Training! First Bike Question - Kawasaki KLR 650 Forum
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post #1 of 35 Old 12-02-2010, 10:44 PM Thread Starter
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Bike Jedi In Training! First Bike Question


Hello all! I'm a new rider (just did MSF BRC 10/30-31; got M endorsement 11/3) and I'm planning to get my first bike. Narrowed it down to a KLR 650 or a Versys, both 2009. Hoping to pull the trigger this weekend.

I've read a lot of the forum postings, so I know a lot has been said comparing these two bikes. The Versys seems like the clear winner for street riding (I'll be commuting in The Big City on freeways), but here are my specific concerns.

1. Fit: I'm 6'5, 340lbs. I don't know my inseam (36?), but I could flat-foot the KLR no problem. I've spent most of my life trying to SQUEEZE myself into things (even before I got fat!), so the idea of something FITTING is important to me. The KLR seems to just FIT me. The Versys is not uncomfortable, but the KLR seems like it was made for me. Of course, this is only while I'm sitting in the dealership. Which brings me to my next point.

2. Actual riding performance: everything I've heard/read says, "If you're going to be on paved roads most of the time, get the Versys. It'll be a better ride. It'll handle better. It's a street machine." But won't a bike that fits be better give me a better ride and handle better for me? I haven't ridden enough to know. I don't have any point of reference. Which brings me to my 3rd point

3. New rider: However many miles I put on that Kawasaki Eliminator 125 (zoiks!) in the BRC (10-12?), THAT'S the amount of miles I've ridden. So, for a new rider, is it better to get a bike that fits them physically, or a bike that's better suited for their riding purpose? WIll riding a KLR on the freeways and pavement teach me bad habits or make it harder to learn to ride well (compensating for a bike not quite in it's element)? Or would it be better for me to be on a bike I think fits me better, so I'm not having to 'fight' the bike, like I was on the Eliminator in my BRC?

So, if it's better for a new rider to have a bike that fits them physically, I'd go wit the KLR. If it's better for a new rider to have a bike that fits the kind of riding they're going to do, I'd go with the Versys.

Thanks in advance! Hope to have some riding tales to share soon!
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post #2 of 35 Old 12-02-2010, 10:50 PM
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Heck now I'm confused,

I am 6'5" 225 and ride a KLR. I put a set of raising links on mine and jacked the shock all the way up so I didn't feel like Andre The Giant on the bike. If you ride roads all the time just put street tread on when you wear out the stock rubber and you'll be good to go.

Ard

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post #3 of 35 Old 12-02-2010, 10:56 PM
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This is only my opinion. As a very long time rider and a KLR owner I would say buy what fits you. Be assured that the KLR is used as a comuter and road bike by most of the folks that have one. It handles on the road very nicely. You won't be unsatisfied by how it does on the road. There are a lot of folks that use theirs for traveling the country.

On another note 6' 5" and 340 on an eliminator that must have been a sight to see.

kb7tgr
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post #4 of 35 Old 12-02-2010, 11:04 PM
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Wow. You opened a can of worms here. You also seem to be thinking along the right lines. If the KLR feels good, it's a great bike...easy to work on...dependable. My only concern would be that if you are going to be commuting a lot you might want more power. You're a big guy and, although the KLR is a big bike, it's not a rocketship. Depends on where your commute will take you. The KLR would be a great bike to learn on.

Can you give us more info on where you're located, what the roads you'll be riding are like. Obviously, we are KLR biased, but I am 6'2 and about 225. And I've got just enough passing power, etc to not be freaked out.

Curious...are these the only two bikes you're considering? There are "big" bikes with similar ergonomics as the KLR that have a little more oomph. And the KLR is not the most comfortable bike.

One way or another, kudos on getting training. Now you get to practice. Don't push it to fast.

And welcome.




"In a car you're always in a compartment, and because you're used to it you don't realize that through that car window everything you see is just more TV." R. Pirsig

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post #5 of 35 Old 12-02-2010, 11:30 PM Thread Starter
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Yeah, I know the issue is contentious, but I'm just trying to figure out what's going to be best for my first bike.

As for my commute, I live in Houston, TX. I'd be commuting on the freeways here, although I've also scoped out non-freeway routes to/from work. I'd also be looking at using our HOV lanes, which bikes can use. Houston is mostly flat. So, anything from surface streets to interstates: I can get around either way.

As for other bikes, I've also looked at the Honda XR650L (one of my BRC instructors suggested dual sports because I'm tall), the Honda NT700V (nice, but a bit too pricey for my first bike), a Honda Nighthawk 250 (too small powerwise...I've been talked out of 250s), a Ninja 650 (I don't like the fit of the sport bikes), and a Suzuki GSX650F (better fit, but not much better than the Ninja). Those are the bikes I spent some time sitting on. Those are also in my price range.

I'd be THRILLED to hear any suggestions you have. This is all new to me. But I want to get a bike as soon as I can so I can start riding and becoming a better rider.

Thanks!
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post #6 of 35 Old 12-02-2010, 11:35 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hardyreels View Post
Heck now I'm confused,

I am 6'5" 225 and ride a KLR. I put a set of raising links on mine and jacked the shock all the way up so I didn't feel like Andre The Giant on the bike. If you ride roads all the time just put street tread on when you wear out the stock rubber and you'll be good to go.

Ard
Really? You felt you were too big for the KLR? to me, it was the only bike where I didn't feel like I was sort of...trying to fit myself TO the bike. The slimmer tank (compared to the rounded shapes on the Versys and Ninja, for example) also felt more natural. Like I was riding a horse? Anyway, I could just sit on it and it felt natural. Although, the guy at the dealership did say the bike was sinking a bit much with me on it, so I'd need to adjust the shock (the extra 120lbs I've got on you).

How easy is it to find street tread tires for the KLR?
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post #7 of 35 Old 12-02-2010, 11:40 PM Thread Starter
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Smile

Quote:
Originally Posted by kb7tgr View Post
Be assured that the KLR is used as a comuter and road bike by most of the folks that have one. It handles on the road very nicely. You won't be unsatisfied by how it does on the road.
That's kind of what I've heard. But then I keep hearing, "Well, if you know you're going to be on streets MOST of the time, the Versys is SO much better/more comfortable/smoother". But I don't have any real frame of reference.

Quote:
Originally Posted by kb7tgr View Post
On another note 6' 5" and 340 on an eliminator that must have been a sight to see.
It certainly was! Even MORE exciting to live through!
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post #8 of 35 Old 12-02-2010, 11:44 PM
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Whatever you buy remember to practice what you have been taught. Many students just go out and ride and don't actually practice what they have been taught in the class. find a large empty parking lot and stay with it. After you get some miles on your new ride go to an ERC class. It is similar to the BRC but you ride your own bike. It depends on your state but here we allow students in pretty quickly, after they have taken the BRC. Here it is only about 5 hours and a great amount of fun. I feel like there is not a better place to learn to ride your bike than with coaches helping you. We practise turns stops and swerves.

After spending the weekend on a 125 I think you will find that the KLR has plenty of power, at least to start out with.

kb7tgr
jim

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post #9 of 35 Old 12-03-2010, 12:00 AM Thread Starter
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Actually, that's why I'm after a bike ASAP; so I can pratice what I learned before I forget it all! Luckily, we've got a couple of big, mostly empty parking lots nearby, so I'll be making use of those before I "take it to the streets" on whichever bike I get.

But I know I'm not going to become a better rider by just THINKING about it.

I plan to take an ERC (here in Texas, I think they want you to have 6 months or 3000 miles), but I've also heard about "Track Days", where you can work on your cornering and what not. I plan to look into that as well. My goal is to be able to ride WELL. Not stunts/flashy stuff, but to be able to get my bike out of trouble if I need to.

I could see myself with BOTH bikes eventually, but which to start with? I may be overthinking this. Wouldn't be the first time...
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post #10 of 35 Old 12-03-2010, 12:17 AM
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I'm surprised nobody has mentioned the V-Strom 650. It's been the hybrid for a lot of people who do mostly street and occasional gravel/dirt fire roads.
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