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BIKES THAT ARE NOT VFR's RIDE REPORT


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Strange isn’t it?

The RS with USD forks has no front end feel, but the older R with duolever front end gives better feed back. 

The R with tall screen and hard bags is what my mate went back to. 

The XR is hard to upset, it has a very planted feel to it and handles superb. 

Just the height, price and buzzines I couldn’t live with. 

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On 8/12/2019 at 6:29 PM, VFROZ said:

Strange isn’t it?

The RS with USD forks has no front end feel, but the older R with duolever front end gives better feed back. 

The R with tall screen and hard bags is what my mate went back to. 

The XR is hard to upset, it has a very planted feel to it and handles superb. 

Just the height, price and buzzines I couldn’t live with. 

I don’t believe the newer R1200R’s have the duolever, almost certain the one I rode had standard forks. Which makes the ride difference even more a mystery. 

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One of my other bikes is. Kawasaki Versys-X 300. I bought it as a winter bike & green lane bike in the spring/summer/autumn.

It uses the same engine as the Ninja 300, with modified exhaust & intake. It has lower gearing, wide bars a sit up riding position & the world worst seat. I’v recovered the seat with a seat concepts foam & cover. It will hold 75-80 on the motorways & I have taken it places off-road that Kawasaki never intended nor envisioned !

 

I had it out for a day a couple of weekends back with a friend who is a proper off reader & he was impressed by both the bike & my capability. We went everywhere he did, and we even managed a clean run through the worst parts, which he fell off on as did another rider from another group. Leigh was using his DR350 to give me a chance to keep up, his normal steed is a WR250R.

 

The Versys, managed admirably, but I have fitted a proper bash plate which came in handy on a couple of occasions. It will do 250-300 miles on a 17L tank if you are not caning it. So with a better seat it’s a great little bike.

 

Here’s some pics for your amusement, enjoy.

 

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FC54D072-01FB-4F98-BD7A-B284C1732489.thumb.jpeg.13214349a04a8180c6b31727e953c0cd.jpeg

 

6F3C5769-F9AF-42DD-A229-331D3B9A4AC6.thumb.jpeg.5369a74d6877a76efa610a4c5ccc4f78.jpeg

 

A4F65A8E-3B75-4D5F-AC31-6E50FD920F06.jpeg

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2016 Kawasaki Versys 650 LT

Wet weight with luggage is right around 500lbs., makes about 63 HP at the rear wheel, classification... umm, a tall standard, a road adventure bike, sorta sporty, touring light machine.  The Versys 650 is funny that way, it doesn't really fit neatly into any category.  Looks like an adventure bike at first glance but with it's alloy wheels, underslung exhaust, street tires and exposed bits of everything it has no business off a well groomed fire road.  The LT model is a touring bike for sure but it lacks almost every nicety most tourers come with and some would say underpowered (I wouldn't).  It has sporty half fairings and leans into corners like nobody's business with complete confidence but it lacks power and posture.  It probably has most in common with the UJM's of the 70's and 80's, a capable do-it-all bike that just grew a bit too tall.

 

Specifically the bike has a parallel twin motor that is fairly torquey but the factory fueling is somewhat bungled.  Trying to ride in any gear higher than second in the city and the bike will bog down wheezing for fuel.  This is probably the bike's worst attribute, so much so that getting a new fuel map is just about the best modification you can do.  Out on the twisty highways and backroads the bike is just a peach and completely in it's element.  Completely neutral when leaned over into a turn you will feel complete confidence especially if you are a rookie rider.

 

The OEM luggage system is keyed to the ignition with lockable, easily removable and discretely integrated luggage.  No tubular frames just two indents molded into the tail section of the bike and a rubber boot near the passenger pegs.  Each saddlebag has about 28 liters capacity and will easily hold a full-face helmet.  The only knock on the luggage is the odd shape, fine for carrying most stuff but if you are a commuter and need to pack a laptop you could be having trouble.

 

In a nutshell the bike is extremely comfortable, excellent range (250 miles theoretically possible but I usually fill up around 210), adjustable windscreen, handguards and trip computers that measure range and fuel mileage.  Just a neat package and when I bought it in Spring of 2017 it only cost $8,000 brand new as it was last year's model.

 

What would make it better, decent fueling as I mentioned before and a factory centerstand, even if it were only an option.  Also a bit tall and top heavy, especially with a full tank of gas.

 

11mountainlake_zpsnvkv8mgw.jpg

 

15hurricanewest_zpsirquwngh.jpg

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Interesting to know about the fueling of 2016 Versys 650. I had ridden one early generation 650 and it left me tingling everywhere. Lol, should have named it Vibrator 650 instead. 

Hopefully they have addressed that later models.

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2 minutes ago, Tiutis said:

Interesting to know about the fueling of 2016 Versys 650. I had ridden one early generation 650 and it left me tingling everywhere. Lol, should have named it Vibrator 650 instead. 

Hopefully they have addressed that later models.

 

The vibration is almost gone with the third generation.

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2012 Kawasaki Ninja 650.

 

This was the third generation of the Ninja 650 line and a big departure from the previous.  Completely new frame, updated exhaust, improved brakes, two piece seat and a retuned motor.  The bike makes somewhere in the low 60's hp at the rear wheel, a few more ponies than the Versys 650.  It weighs around 475lbs curb weight.  The suspension is basic but decent.  It's interesting to compare to my Versys as they share the same motor.  The Ninja is a LOT more twitchy and fun to hustle from side to side.  Great to throw into a corner but the Versys is more confidence inspiring as it holds it's line better.  I like the tuning on the Ninja motor more than the Versys.  I find the gearbox more useable at slower speeds and it's noticeably quicker off the line.  The ergonomics are odd, it has a tubular handlebar that gives it an almost standard/upright reach however the footpegs are a bit high and back and are more sporty.  Great for cornering but can get a bit uncomfortable for all day rides.

 

The bike has a fairly large tank, 4.2 gallons and it's easy to get 175 miles and have reached 190+ a few times before the fuel gauge begins flashing.  Between the range and comfort the bike makes a decent sport tourer, just drop some soft saddlebags on it and ride towards the horizon.  I had done two 2,000+ miles trips on this bike, rode it through rain, snow and up mountains and it never let me down.  I always thought it was a big miss that Kawasaki never made a version of this bike with the same hard saddlebags they have for the Versys and the Ninja 1000.  Matter of fact the 4th gen and current version of the bike has tilted more towards the sporty side than my 3rd gen so the big K doesn't really see this as a mid-size sport tourer as many owners had.

 

There really aren't any serious negatives about this bike considering it's price point and mission design.  A comfortable, great handling bike that I think looks pretty good too.

 

04ninja-please_zpsbcb68eff.jpg

 

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My first proper motorcycle was a 1984 Honda Nighthawk 650 SC.

 

I didn't buy it new, it was already close to twenty years old when it became mine.  It had approximately 30k miles on it and other than a slight drip along the gas tank seam it rode reliably for the four years I owned it.  I repaired the drip with a sealant kit, tedious work but very effective.  About the bike itself, it had an inline four cylinder motor that made about 72HP, the bottom end was very weak with a hit at the top of the rev range.  Brakes were weak, especially the rear drum but once you got used to them it was okay, wasn't dangerous.

 

The bike had a lot of great features that were really progressive considering this bike was built in 84 (first model came out in 83).  First, it had hydraulic lifters which meant no valve checks or adjustments, maintenance was so easy, change your oil, watch your brake pads and fluids and tires.  It had a shaft drive that was virtually maintenance free.  The bike had adjustable suspension but by the time I got it age had worn it out and I never did anything to revive the shocks.  The instrument cluster had an LCD fuel gauge and a gear position indicator as well as the requisite speed, odo, tach and trip meters.

 

A comfortable standard that I tried to use as a tourer, putting a gps, soft luggage and a windscreen.  The bike was pretty good on a long trip with the exception of it's fuel range, around 130 miles and you would have to switch to reserve.  I think the farthest I ever pushed it on reserve was to 150 miles.  Handling was okay but compared to a modern bike it had a lot to be desired, that said I met a lot of Nighthawk owners that could make their bikes dance through the twisties.

 

I ran the odo up to 51k miles before I sold it.  I was reluctant to let it go, I really loved the classic lines, easy maintenance and reliability.  You can still find these bikes on CL and most owners are generally older and take decent care of their bikes coupled with the overall stone cold reliability and cheap prices make them great finds.

 

nh2.jpg

 

nh3.jpg

 

nh-cluster.jpg

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Never had a Nighthawk, but they looked cool.

I had an '85 Yamaha Maxim 700. A competitor I guess.

Modernish looking gauge cluster there. 😁

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15 hours ago, VFR4Lee said:

Never had a Nighthawk, but they looked cool.

I had an '85 Yamaha Maxim 700. A competitor I guess.

Modernish looking gauge cluster there. 😁

Same with me in regards to both the Maxim and Raiden from Yamaha, always wanted one just cause I liked the looks.

 

That instrument cluster is so 80's, especially with the grid pattern, I fully expect Max Headroom to appear and start jibber-jabbering.

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2002 Honda Nighthawk 750.

 

I bought this bike and only owned it for one year.  I didn't sell it because it was a bad machine, it was purchased as a second bike so my friend could use it while visiting from out of state when we went to a rally.  That's one of the things that makes Nighthawks and in particular 750 versions so great, they are generally owned by mature riders, extremely inexpensive on the used market, rider friendly in terms of power and stone cold reliable.  You also get most if not all your money back when you resell.

 

The Nighthawk 750 has an air-cooled inline four making about 75HP.  It is the most basic of basics in design and a step backward in features from the previous generations Nighthawk 650 SC and 700 S that came before it.  Gone is the shaft drive, dual discs, fuel gauge, gear position indicator and the centerstand became optional equipment.  This version of the Nighthawk was built to a price point with the only luxuries being a tachometer and bungee hooks.  From a mechanical standpoint they did keep the hydraulic lifters which is great.

 

On the road the bike is super nice to ride, the 757cc motor just purrs along almost as smooth as an electric motor and it is completely understressed, even when pushing the bike you feel that it's not working that hard.  I think the handling is better than that of the 650 version of the Nighthawk but it's not as fast and weighs a bit more.  A lot of the superior handling comes from the tire choices available compared to the older Nighthawks.  The range is improved as the fuel tank is close to five gallons and getting 45 to 50 mpg is pretty easy to do without even thinking about it while riding.

 

Being a UJM it's a completely flexible platform to set up how you like, commuter, tourer, weekend toy whatever you like.  There aren't a lot of OEM accessories but the second hand market has plenty of accessories for you to personalize the bike.  The Nighthawk 750 is one of those bikes you could buy as your first and keep until you quit riding as long as you're not tempted by shiny new things or gobs of power, the Nighthawk 750 is extremely satisfying in it's rider friendly simplicity.

 

nh1_zps6ye6i33r.jpg

 

nh2_zpsdg3ctb6y.jpg

 

18%20Nighthawk-on-Nine_zpsuik64c1u.jpg

 

 

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I've only ridden a couple other bikes in recent years, but here's a quick word or two about each.  Sorry, no photos.

 

Yamaha FZ6:  During a group ride, a friend and I exchanged bikes.  He'd owned a VFR, so he knew exactly what to expect.  The FZ6 was a bike I'd considered when I bought my first motorcycle in 2006, but I decided not to spend that much on a first bike, not knowing how much I would ride, or whether I'd even enjoy it.  The FZ6 was lighter and a bit nimbler than my 6th gen VFR with more relaxed ergonomics.  The front end was definitely lighter, and coupled with the more upright seating position, I felt like the front end was too light, like I couldn't lean the bike over as much in the corners because there wasn't enough weight there to keep it planted.  I don't know if that's even true, but that's how it felt.  The windshield was great, but maybe too good, as I like having some air on me.  The stillness behind the screen was kind of strange.  Anyway, it was a nice enough bike, and I'm sure I'd have been happy with it as a first bike, but in the end I bought a used Kaw. ZR-7S which I rode for five months before upgrading to my VFR.

Bolt R-Spec:  A few years ago I test rode a new Star (Yamaha) Bolt R-Spec during a demo day.  I was thinking of adding a cruiser to my garage, something I still consider doing.  I really liked it.  Not a bike you'd probably want for long days or tours, especially being a 5-speed, but it's a comfortable bike with decent torque, and there are some nice OEM and aftermarket mods available.  I have very little cruiser riding experience, but I think the ride was decent, the seat comfortable enough, and the ergonomics pretty straight-forward.  I liked that it was a cruiser/bobber with mid-mount footpegs and some modern style and features, not just a retro-style cruiser.  If I were to buy a cruiser, especially more of a bobber, I'd still heavily consider a Bolt R-Spec.

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FZ6 was also a bike I wanted really bad for my 2nd bike. It looked good, sounded good, and like 6th gen, which I ended up getting, had the sexy under seat exhaust! Sounds like a great bike for sure!

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On 8/29/2019 at 12:56 AM, Calculon said:

2002 Honda Nighthawk 750.

 

I bought this bike and only owned it for one year.  I didn't sell it because it was a bad machine, it was purchased as a second bike so my friend could use it while visiting from out of state when we went to a rally.  That's one of the things that makes Nighthawks and in particular 750 versions so great, they are generally owned by mature riders, extremely inexpensive on the used market, rider friendly in terms of power and stone cold reliable.  You also get most if not all your money back when you resell.

 

The Nighthawk 750 has an air-cooled inline four making about 75HP.  It is the most basic of basics in design and a step backward in features from the previous generations Nighthawk 650 SC and 700 S that came before it.  Gone is the shaft drive, dual discs, fuel gauge, gear position indicator and the centerstand became optional equipment.  This version of the Nighthawk was built to a price point with the only luxuries being a tachometer and bungee hooks.  From a mechanical standpoint they did keep the hydraulic lifters which is great.

 

On the road the bike is super nice to ride, the 757cc motor just purrs along almost as smooth as an electric motor and it is completely understressed, even when pushing the bike you feel that it's not working that hard.  I think the handling is better than that of the 650 version of the Nighthawk but it's not as fast and weighs a bit more.  A lot of the superior handling comes from the tire choices available compared to the older Nighthawks.  The range is improved as the fuel tank is close to five gallons and getting 45 to 50 mpg is pretty easy to do without even thinking about it while riding.

 

Being a UJM it's a completely flexible platform to set up how you like, commuter, tourer, weekend toy whatever you like.  There aren't a lot of OEM accessories but the second hand market has plenty of accessories for you to personalize the bike.  The Nighthawk 750 is one of those bikes you could buy as your first and keep until you quit riding as long as you're not tempted by shiny new things or gobs of power, the Nighthawk 750 is extremely satisfying in it's rider friendly simplicity.

 

nh1_zps6ye6i33r.jpg

 

nh2_zpsdg3ctb6y.jpg

 

18%20Nighthawk-on-Nine_zpsuik64c1u.jpg

 

 

Those are some lovely pictures Calculon.

 

I was lucky enough to own a CBX750F back in the day (1984?) from new and clocked up about 30,000km on it. This used the same basic engine as your CB750 but in a higher state of tune with a claimed 95 bhp, and in a chassis that wasn't unlike the first VF750F with 16" wheel and Pro-link rear suspension. Honda bought the CBX out as a bit of a stop-gap between the VF (which was getting lots of bad press for camshaft wear and dodgy cam tensioners) and the 86 VFR750. My recollection is a bike that sounded quite gravelly at low revs but went off with a great shriek when you got the revs up. 

 

Terry Honda CBX750F (1).jpg

Terry Honda CBX750F a (1).jpg

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I so wanted one of them CBX750's back in the day, they looked hot.

Ended up with a VFR750F two years later instead, never looked back.

That was after two years on the GPz900r, now that was a bike to remember, turned sports motorcycling in it's head back then, there had never been anything like it beforehand.

I only ended up on the GPz after the unfortunate time owning a Laverda RGS1000, what a headache that bike was.

The entire eighties was a time of change, and some great bikes came out, some were great, some were easily forgotten.

The bike I wanted the most back then was the VFR1000FII, turned out a fizzer, but looked great to me back then.

 

PS: red jacket, red helmet and red gloves; you were a happening frood back then Terry.

 

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14 hours ago, Terry said:

Those are some lovely pictures Calculon.

 

I was lucky enough to own a CBX750F back in the day.

 

Terry Honda CBX750F (1).jpg

 

That is a great looking bike, Terry.  I would buy one of those today if it were available here.  And I agree with VFROZ, totally stylin' in your red attire.

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I think that was the peak of my sartorial eloquence in the 80's, and it has all been downhill since...I did have a big run of red/white/black bikes (CBX400F, VF500F) bikes so it all made sense.

 

I spent a lot of those years chasing my best mate on a series of GPz900s and then the ZX-10 and ZZR1100, they were all great bikes, the 900 did like to get hot. 

 

I keep looking for an old not-too-molested CBX to buy and restore for laughs; these were basically the last new air-cooled in-line 4 that Honda made until the near current CB1100. 

 

 

cbx750f.jpg

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I did ask the a good Kawasaki mechanic back then about the 900r running at 3/4 temperatures all the time, he stated that if the gauge showed 1/4 at the same temperature no one would worry about it. 

So I never worried about it again. 56,000 kilometers without any issues. 

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On 7/28/2019 at 12:22 PM, skant153 said:

I've always heard that, even though the BMW is very refined and fill of features, they have reliably problems. A BMW car over 50k miles is a maintenance mess, I don't know what the number is for bikes but I'm betting a lot lower.

I like the vfr but I do a lot of 2 up on it and I'd like it in a 1200. I hate the riding position of the st but the position of the CBR is a back breaker. The vfr is a great middle ground.

That's absolutely not true about BMW bikes in my ownership experience.  The reason a lot of old BMW motorcycles are around is because they last a long time and the owner's love them.  I've owned two of them and rode the hell out of them just as I have three VFR's in almost all twisty riding (that's rough use) with no front end grip issues.  My experience with BMW front ends is that they stay planted better than VFR's.  My two BMW's were bullet proof, one being boxer engined, the other being an in-line four.  BMW has a much better warranty than Honda does.  With both of my BMW's, there was not a single repair needed.  In hanging out in the BMW shops, I observed that BMW's, where I live, are used harder than VFR's by more fanatical and competent riders than most Jap bike owners.  I did let the shop do scheduled valve adjustments because they do a real inspection of the whole bike while at it and found nothing in need of repair, ever.  I found BMW shops to be exponentially more competent than Japanese bike shops with their notorious incompetence.  I just did book PM as I do with VFR's.  I wish I had another BMW right now but don't have multiple bike syndrome enough to do it.  

 

I've also had a really nice BMW M Roadster.  I tracked it for fun (not racing) and it was bullet proof as well.  I had the intake improved, chip edited and left the exhaust alone as it was huge in stock form.  Once again, the only time it entered the shop was for oil and tire changes.  I let a stellar European shop do the oil changes, again, because they looked over the whole car and, once again, the car never required a single repair though it did eat tires due to track use.  That car saw redline every time it left the garage.

 

Other, non-M series BMW cars are disappointing from a cost/benefit point of view (3 series compared to say, a Camry or Accord) but, like Mercedes junk, some people will pay for perceived status which is their business.  I pay for genuine (not perceived) performance.  

 

It's much easier and more truthful for me to say that VFR's are more unreliable (electrical), except for the 8th gen., which is the best one yet based on owning a 5th, 6th, and now 8th gen., than a BMW motorcycle.  Not trying to be argumentive, just my real world experience, not hearsay.  Sorry to write a book but clarification was needed from a prior owner.          

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2008 Triumph 1050 Sprint ST, only because I've ended up buying one.

It was a hard decision to trade in the 5G, but with 137,000kms on it and wanting a change, it was the only obvious choice without breaking the bank.

A fantastic chasis, same weight as the 5G, but with 123 horses and 77ft-lb of torque.

It has steeper steering geometry with shorter trail, it also places more weight on the front wheel, so it makes for faster steering and really good feed back from the front tyre.

I actually love the way it drops into a corner, it is so precise and quick, also easy to throw around, much better than my modified 5G.

Stock suspension is too soft, the back is OK sort off, but the front is way undersprung, and with progressive springs it makes sure it doesn't actually suit anything or anyone.

Who comes up with this crap?

The motor is fantastic, I haven't ridden a long stroke motor (compared to most offerings today) for a very long time. It has lots of grunt from down low and is deceptively fast.

People who say it sounds fantastic haven't ridden a 5G with open Staintune, the VFR wins hands down.

I just could not give up the single sided swingarm, a very underrated feature I think.

Sitting position is more relaxed than the VFR with better fairing protection.

Brakes are good without being outstanding, all Triumphs come with steel braided brake hoses, so might need different pads to get better bite.

Gearing is too tall, so will be changing to -1 front sprocket tomorrow.

Hard bags are a pleasure to have, and is something I was looking for on a replacement bike.

I can't stress enough how good this bike enters a corner and holds a line, I can't wait until I upgrade the suspension, wife is already pissed so might need to wait a while.

 

 

IMG_7024.jpg

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Congratulations VFROZ. Great looking bike m8, 2008, wow looks like it just came out of the showroom, must be very low k's. Never hear owners complain about them, they love them. I'm sure you'll get many reliable, enjoyable k's from it. Wish they'd make a V4 version!!

Cheers:beer::beer::fing02:

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54 minutes ago, Grum said:

Congratulations VFROZ. Great looking bike m8, 2008, wow looks like it just came out of the showroom, must be very low k's. Never hear owners complain about them quite the contrary they love them. I'm sure you'll get many reliable, enjoyable k's from it. Wish they'd make a V4 version!!

Cheers:beer::beer::fing02:

 

Thanks Grum, it was a hard decision to make. The VFR motor is the hardest to replace and I just couldn't go to an IL4.

It has 35,000kms on it and is stock except for the rear guard being removed and LED stop light and blinkers intergated into one, quite nifty the way it works.

Tip: always consult wife before making rash decisions.

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1 hour ago, VFROZ said:

2008 Triumph 1050 Sprint ST, only because I've ended up buying one.

It was a hard decision to trade in the 5G, but with 137,000kms on it and wanting a change, it was the only obvious choice without breaking the bank.

A fantastic chasis, same weight as the 5G, but with 123 horses and 77ft-lb of torque.

It has steeper steering geometry with shorter trail, it also places more weight on the front wheel, so it makes for faster steering and really good feed back from the front tyre.

I actually love the way it drops into a corner, it is so precise and quick, also easy to throw around, much better than my modified 5G.

Stock suspension is too soft, the back is OK sort off, but the front is way undersprung, and with progressive springs it makes sure it doesn't actually suit anything or anyone.

Who comes up with this crap?

The motor is fantastic, I haven't ridden a long stroke motor (compared to most offerings today) for a very long time. It has lots of grunt from down low and is deceptively fast.

People who say it sounds fantastic haven't ridden a 5G with open Staintune, the VFR wins hands down.

I just could not give up the single sided swingarm, a very underrated feature I think.

Sitting position is more relaxed than the VFR with better fairing protection.

Brakes are good without being outstanding, all Triumphs come with steel braided brake hoses, so might need different pads to get better bite.

Gearing is too tall, so will be changing to -1 front sprocket tomorrow.

Hard bags are a pleasure to have, and is something I was looking for on a replacement bike.

I can't stress enough how good this bike enters a corner and holds a line, I can't wait until I upgrade the suspension, wife is already pissed so might need to wait a while.

 

 

IMG_7024.jpg

Congrat - nice looking bike 🙂 Too bad Triumph quit sports-touring bikes... appears as Honda have issues with disappearing markets...?

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15 hours ago, VFROZ said:

[...] wife is already pissed so might need to wait a while.

 

I hear you, brother!

 

Thank you for the write-up. May the new bike bring you many years of fun and adventure.

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