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Discussion Starter #1
:27:
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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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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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
jim
 

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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.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
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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Discussion Starter #6
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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Discussion Starter #7
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.

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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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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Discussion Starter #9
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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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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Discussion Starter #11
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.
I've heard good things about that bike too, but I haven't found one to sit on. At my size, EVERYTHING is about fit and "trying on". The KLR came with nearly universal raves and once I sat on one, it was the best fit. But I also keep hearing the Versys is better for the kind of riding I plan to do.

Also, is it just here in Houston, or do bike dealerships EVERYWHERE keep oddly short hours? The ones here are open 9-6 M-Sat. or T-Sat. It's almost impossible to get to a dealership except on Saturdays!

One of the reasons I was looking at Hondas early on was because that was the only dealership NEAR me that I could get to before they closed.
 

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But I know I'm not going to become a better rider by just THINKING about it.
I'm going to respectfully disagree with this. You need to ride of course, but visualizing yourself in different situations and planning how you would handle them is invaluable. Did it when I played sports. Do it with the bike. It's fun. And it's free. Think of it as a DIY "flight simulator".
 

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Transition-

You've nailed it - fit is very important. I'm 6'2", 240ish. The KLR fits me well. Even at only 6'2", most other bikes seem cramped.

I've ridden mine on many trips that were one to two thousand miles, and have done 750 mile days. You'll have to do something about the seat if you plan to ride for more than an hour at a time but, other than that, the KLR can be used for long trips and is very good for commuting.

Most of the power that is used by a bike is used to overcome wind resistance. It has enough power to accommodate us Clydesdale folks, so you'll be able to ride it at freeway speeds. As Lockjaw points out, with ~40 horsepower, it won't have a lot of reserve for acceleration. Acceleration is where more power is needed when the weight is high. I've ridden mine with a total of about 300 pounds of me and my junk (no, not that kind of junk - camping gear and such). Don't plan on exuberantly passing trailer trucks...

While I love my KLR, if I were in the market for another bike I would be looking very hard at the NT700. It seems a very reasonable bike and looks like it would be roomy. I've only sat on one, never had a chance to ride. I love the concept, though. You might want to go sit on one.

Tom
 

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Wanderer -

Ain't that the way with everything? And you have to add another grand for ABS.

I think it's a great bike, in concept, and I'd love to see the mid-size tourer come back into vogue here in the states.

Can't help but wonder, though, if Honda hasn't set the price point a bit high.

Tom
 

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look for used

Transition

It's a big mistake to make your first bike a new bike. The reason is exactly what you say: You don't know what you want yet. First off, with any vehicle you take a big hit on the way out the door. You buy a new KLR650 for five grand today, it's worth four when you leave your house tomorrow, three the first time you drop it. Why take that hit when there's a real good chance that a year from now you will want something else? Second, your chances of dropping or crashing are greatest when you are a new rider. Why crash a cherry bike? The solution is simple. There are wads and gobs of used bikes of every description out there for cheap. Especially in these tough times, when desperate people are unloading their toys to try to survive. I say buy used, don't worry, learn, then settle on what you really want down the road. Used Jap bikes are the best value in transportation. You can ride one for two years and sell it for what you paid. And you don't have to worry whether it's right for you, because if it's not, you go try another one. Look in craigslist or look here.

It's also a mistake to believe in MSF courses. I know this is going to sound nuts, because it is nuts. So what? There are plenty of facts in this world which are nuts. These MSF courses fall into the nuts category. Tons of studies have been done on the effectiveness of these courses all over the country and all over the world. They all agree that these courses do no good at all. The studies with the biggest sample and the best methodology all agree that these courses actually increase your risk of a wreck. Bear in mind that these studies are all done by DMV bureaucracies which have a vested interest in promoting the courses. In fact, in typical gummint fashion, their solution to it doesn't work is to recommend spending more on the same thing.

Now, don't shoot the messenger. I didn't invent the facts, and I don't say the facts make sense. I just read a comment from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety to this effect some years ago, went to the IIHS site, and started following links, and sure enough, there is the relaity. Go there and read for yourself. Or look here: http://motorcycleclub.org/ where I have posted a summary some professors made of whole bunches of these studies at http://www.motorcycleclub.org/safety/mayhew_simpson.htm

So take all that you learned by weaving through cones in a parking lot with a big grain of salt. Keep your eyes open. There's plenty of proven imbeciles in two ton machinery out to kill you. Some you can recognize by the cell phone at their ear. Others have a hands free phone.
 

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Transition

It's a big mistake to make your first bike a new bike. The reason is exactly what you say: You don't know what you want yet. First off, with any vehicle you take a big hit on the way out the door. You buy a new KLR650 for five grand today, it's worth four when you leave your house tomorrow, three the first time you drop it. Why take that hit when there's a real good chance that a year from now you will want something else? Second, your chances of dropping or crashing are greatest when you are a new rider. Why crash a cherry bike? The solution is simple. There are wads and gobs of used bikes of every description out there for cheap. Especially in these tough times, when desperate people are unloading their toys to try to survive. I say buy used, don't worry, learn, then settle on what you really want down the road. Used Jap bikes are the best value in transportation. You can ride one for two years and sell it for what you paid. And you don't have to worry whether it's right for you, because if it's not, you go try another one. Look in craigslist or look here.

It's also a mistake to believe in MSF courses. I know this is going to sound nuts, because it is nuts. So what? There are plenty of facts in this world which are nuts. These MSF courses fall into the nuts category. Tons of studies have been done on the effectiveness of these courses all over the country and all over the world. They all agree that these courses do no good at all. The studies with the biggest sample and the best methodology all agree that these courses actually increase your risk of a wreck. Bear in mind that these studies are all done by DMV bureaucracies which have a vested interest in promoting the courses. In fact, in typical gummint fashion, their solution to it doesn't work is to recommend spending more on the same thing.

Now, don't shoot the messenger. I didn't invent the facts, and I don't say the facts make sense. I just read a comment from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety to this effect some years ago, went to the IIHS site, and started following links, and sure enough, there is the relaity. Go there and read for yourself. Or look here: http://motorcycleclub.org/ where I have posted a summary some professors made of whole bunches of these studies at http://www.motorcycleclub.org/safety/mayhew_simpson.htm

So take all that you learned by weaving through cones in a parking lot with a big grain of salt. Keep your eyes open. There's plenty of proven imbeciles in two ton machinery out to kill you. Some you can recognize by the cell phone at their ear. Others have a hands free phone.
Hmmmm. Gonna have to disagree with some of this. Used bike can be a good call if you know how to find a good one or know someone who does. So, partial agreement on that point. I also agree that the MSF is lauded as some ethereal council of wise riders who provide a safety net against the world. Obviously BS. But to say they do NO good. If you have never ridden a bike, they can teach you how. Can they teach you to stay alive? No. Can they teach you how to operate a clutch, use the friction zone, explain countersteering, and let you get a chance to learn on a bike you don't have to worry about dropping? Hell yeah. To paraphrase vatrader, I ain't drunk the MSF's kool aid. I think they have some screwed up ideas and policies. I also think it is dangerous that they kind of imply *wink wink* 'now you're ready to ride a MC'. But absolutes are dangerous, too. They do some good. Statistics are what they are. They aren't always right or able to see the forest for the trees like we can.

And personally, I don't care for the term Jap bikes. I know it is commonly used. I know you didn't mean it to be offensive, but it is a holdover from when Japan produced different kind of bikes than they do now. And a holdover from a different time. My Paupa used to call Japanese people Japs and it bothered me, but he fought a war against them. I can kind of understand that. Lot of water has gone under the bridge since then.

All that said, I think trying to find a good used bike might be a good idea if money is an issue. And give the MSF a little credit. People listen to what we say on here (god help us) and to say that they will do nothing to help is a little irresponsible IMHO. Not trying to start a fight, just hoping you'll reflect on your post a little.
 

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Transition

It's a big mistake to make your first bike a new bike. The reason is exactly what you say: You don't know what you want yet. First off, with any vehicle you take a big hit on the way out the door. You buy a new KLR650 for five grand today, it's worth four when you leave your house tomorrow, three the first time you drop it. Why take that hit when there's a real good chance that a year from now you will want something else? Second, your chances of dropping or crashing are greatest when you are a new rider. Why crash a cherry bike? The solution is simple. There are wads and gobs of used bikes of every description out there for cheap. Especially in these tough times, when desperate people are unloading their toys to try to survive. I say buy used, don't worry, learn, then settle on what you really want down the road. Used Jap bikes are the best value in transportation. You can ride one for two years and sell it for what you paid. And you don't have to worry whether it's right for you, because if it's not, you go try another one. Look in craigslist or look here.

It's also a mistake to believe in MSF courses. I know this is going to sound nuts, because it is nuts. So what? There are plenty of facts in this world which are nuts. These MSF courses fall into the nuts category. Tons of studies have been done on the effectiveness of these courses all over the country and all over the world. They all agree that these courses do no good at all. The studies with the biggest sample and the best methodology all agree that these courses actually increase your risk of a wreck. Bear in mind that these studies are all done by DMV bureaucracies which have a vested interest in promoting the courses. In fact, in typical gummint fashion, their solution to it doesn't work is to recommend spending more on the same thing.

Now, don't shoot the messenger. I didn't invent the facts, and I don't say the facts make sense. I just read a comment from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety to this effect some years ago, went to the IIHS site, and started following links, and sure enough, there is the relaity. Go there and read for yourself. Or look here: http://motorcycleclub.org/ where I have posted a summary some professors made of whole bunches of these studies at http://www.motorcycleclub.org/safety/mayhew_simpson.htm

So take all that you learned by weaving through cones in a parking lot with a big grain of salt. Keep your eyes open. There's plenty of proven imbeciles in two ton machinery out to kill you. Some you can recognize by the cell phone at their ear. Others have a hands free phone.
This entire post needed to be prefixed with the phrase "In MY Humble Opinion". There are facts, and then there is such a thing as interpretation and perspective. We are kinda big on interpretation and perspective here.

We start where we start. I do not know of a single soul who finished a rider course and became a worse rider for it. MSF rider courses may not be the only way to learn to ride, but the opinion of the value of these courses with most states and insurance companies differs greatly from what is expressed in this post.

They may all be wrong.


Skill development is a progressive endeavor. It can come from miles and time, study and training. God save me from the rider who knows enough. He does not have what I want. I'm trying to get rid of what he has.
 

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I'll second the comment about buying used (in my humble opinion:) when it suits. I've never purchased a new vehicle (I'm CHEAP), I guess I'm lucky to have enough contacts and resources to have gotten by over the years without getting burned on something used.

The KLR I recently purchased is an '07. Cost me $3200. Of significant importance to me was that the odometer read 960 miles. I believe the guy's wife referred to it as a 'garage queen' when I initially asked what kind of condition it was in. I called the dealer where it was purchased and they confirmed service records. Didn't eliminate risk entirely but I think I did okay.
 

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I'll second the comment about buying used (in my humble opinion:) when it suits. I've never purchased a new vehicle (I'm CHEAP), I guess I'm lucky to have enough contacts and resources to have gotten by over the years without getting burned on something used.

The KLR I recently purchased is an '07. Cost me $3200. Of significant importance to me was that the odometer read 960 miles. I believe the guy's wife referred to it as a 'garage queen' when I initially asked what kind of condition it was in. I called the dealer where it was purchased and they confirmed service records. Didn't eliminate risk entirely but I think I did okay.
Just something to consider....a person with a burning desire to ride that lacks the knowledge to locate and identify the steering head may not be a good candidate to assess the reliability and value of a used bike. Real or imagined, there may be some confidence in buying new, with new dealer support. There are some makes and models of motorcycle I would not dream of buying used. There are some I wouldn't consider buying new. Some of us have a natural inclination towards things mechanical. I could rebuild a 283 or 327 Chev small block without a manual when I was 18. Not because I was brilliant, but because I had worked on enough of them. Over half the people I know have never changed oil on an internal combustion engine. All a matter of perspective.

A new rider will not have a clue as far as identifying "that noise back there" as a chain issue, and wind up sliding down the road when the chain raps around the swing arm and locks up the rear wheel. A learning experience none of us are richer for gaining. Some people need to learn to ride first, and then move into the maintenance, and from that, maybe they will have the knowledge to assess the value of a used bike. Diff'rnt strokes fer diff'rnt folks.
 
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