Friday, 29 November 2013

Thoughts on my next bike

I think my departure with my Sv650s may be coming soon.

I've owned this bike for 18 months - the longest that I've owned a bike. After a lot of Sunday scratching, trips to Wales and a journey to south France, I have loved and bonded with the Sv a lot but I have come to realise a crucial flaw...

It is not good for road trips.

I've had several 200 mile days and one 700 mile day and it's very fair to say that it is not comfy at all. The pegs are too high, the bars are too low and the clutch is quite heavy in traffic. This results in calf pain, lower back ache and a lot of pressure on your wrists. Call me a wimp if you will but It's really putting me off doing trips on it. I've looked into bar raisers and they cost close to £300 to raise them an inch which I can't really justify in case they make no difference.

Economically, it isn't bad but it isn't great either. Lately I have been getting between 40-50mpg and when I'm pricing up trips this is bumping the price up quite a bit - especially when I'm on a budget. The tank range is around 125 miles before the fuel light flashes which really is annoying when you're trying to make up a lot of miles and requires many fuel stops.

And finally, the luggage capabilities drive me insane. I have carried my camping gear on the Sv for three road trips. I use soft, oxford throw-over panniers and a Hein Gericke roll bag to carry my sleeping bag, cameras and tent. They're okay to use if you're going somewhere for a week and won't be changing campsite but if you will be packing and unpacking every day on a tour, you will consider just booking into a B&B. It's such a pain in the arse to strap and unstrap all of this gear day in, day out.

Don't get me wrong, the Sv650s is a fantastic bike and I have no regrets in buying it. However, as road trips have became more important to me than a quick blast on a Sunday, I feel that's it's time to ditch the sportsbike and get something better for trips.

It's time for the Sv650s to go... but what next?
My next bike must have reasonable comfort, hard luggage and good fuel economy. Off road ability would be pretty good too as a little mud track in the middle of a road trip to Scotland could be conquered, adding another dimension of riding to the trip, but this isn't totally necessary.

I know this specification sounds typically dull. Call me an old man if you want, but I'm putting my road trips above racing around.

So one of my options is to make a comfortable change to Sports tourers such as a 2003 Honda Vfr800 V-tec or a 2006 Triumph Sprint St. This would be the power option. With both bikes producing over 100bhp, I certainly will be able to cruise nicely on motorways and still have fun on the twisties. However, fuel consumption is not as good compared to little 650 singles and twins and comfort will still be quite compromised.

My other option is to get a slower, frugal, single cylinder bike such as a BMW G650Gs or a Yamaha Xt 660 R/X. A G650gs will tick all of the boxes in my specification and can return 65-70mpg, as well as being reasonably priced but will 47bhp be too slow?

Finally, my favourite idea is to stick with similar power to my Sv650 but in a more comfortable form. Such as the 2011-13 new Suzuki Dl650 Vstrom, this bike obviously uses the same engine as the Sv650/Gladius but has been made more economical and comes in a much more comfortable, touring-based package without sacrificing much power. Other bikes that fall into this category for me is the Kawasaki Versys, Honda Cb500x or a Yamaha Tdm 900.

Suzuki Dl650 V-strom... Courtesy of
If you've owned or ridden any of these bikes and you could give me any advice on what you think about my change, I would be very grateful. I'm quite torn and I really want a bike that will last me a good, few years and be up for a few, big trips.

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