Narrowing down the field.

I’ve been researching possible bikes for when I move to buy one later in the year. I’ve come to the conclusion that the bikes below are not that suitable. The CB1300SF is not fuel efficient enough for me. The Tenere may be too expensive, and quite difficult to find at auction. So, here is the current shortlist:

Top of the list is the Kawasaki Versys. It has a punchy 650 parallel twin with a high seating position, some fairing, good luggage abilities, comprehensive dashboard display with a fuel gauge, and it has a very high reputation for being light to handle and a lot of fun to ride. It has a fair amount of low end torque for city riding, something that appeals to be a lot seeing that I have a couple of cross-city dashes from campus to campus each week. Certainly, it’s a good commuter. It sounds like a very sensible pair of shoes. I also quite like the exhaust being under the engine to keep the heat away from the rider, a big bonus from July to September in Japan.

Kawasaki Versys 2007 model.

Next is the BMW F650GS. This also comes with a serious reputation. The older 2000-2007 models are 650cc singles, but the newer 2007- models are 800cc parallel twins. The older model has such a good reputation that BMW kept the name for the new model (in Japan at least I think), despite the engine being so different. Initially I was put off by BMW bike’s costly maintenance reputation in Japan, but some folks over on Gaijin Riders have been telling me that this is not really the case. They’re supposed to need the valves done every 20km or so, but that wouldn’t worry me so much given that my mechanic is so good and reasonable. The general build quality is said to be very high and I quite like the fact that the petrol tank is under the seat, giving the bike a low centre of gravity. I’d prefer the later model, but the older model can be got here at auction for ¥400,000 for a really nice one. That’s about $4,000.

BMW F650GS 2007 model

The Yamaha TDM850 also looks good, but it would be a good 3rd to the two above. It has an 850cc (later models 900cc maybe?) parallel twin and a 22 litre tank, which I like a lot. Having to stop off en route to work to fill up when I’m in a hurry is a royal pain in the arse. It’s also a Japanese bike, which pretty much guarantees that it’ll be reasonable to maintain.  In truth, I’ve never seen one close up, so until I do, it’ll remain behind the others in this list. Still, I’ve the rest of the year at least before I move on this so I’ll be spending plenty of time touring the bike shops seeing if I can find one to throw my leg over.

Yamaha TDM850

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8 Comments on “Narrowing down the field.”

  1. Barron Says:

    That looks just like my F650 GS! 2007 silver. I like it a lot. I don’t have much to compare it to however. BTW, they still make the 650 GS single, it just changed names to the G650 GS. The 2011 model has updated plastics and instrument cluster/headlights to match the F800 GS and 1200 GS styling. I love the fuel economy on mine: about 64mpg. Not bad for a 650 that puts out 50hp.

  2. Hi Barron. I quite like the look of your bike. Nice and conservative. I’m not very flash myself. Understatment suits.

    The Versys gives out 63 bhp at 8000rpm, which I’m sure hurts the mileage in comparison with the F650GS. Also, I seem to have acquired a nasty little jerk in my wrist which results in loads of power being generated from my bike’s engine. Strange that. It certainly has had a result in the Transalp’s mileage.

    My first reading from full to reserve gave me 270km, but that was when I first got it and was treating it with too much respect. Now that I’ve got used to it I’m flinging at around like a 250cc trails bike. My latest reading was 239km from full to reserve. Therefore, that little extra oomph! from the Versys appeals to me. Mind you, I would be able to get a lot more F650GS for the same price as a Versys though, so that might swing it in the end.

  3. Simon V Says:

    I saw a Kawasaki like that yesterday and couldn’t help myself from slowing down to ogle. (Yes, my 225 Serow gets through the traffic quicker.)

    The bulging tank of the Yamaha reminds me of a bike I once had recommended to me but fortunately sat on before I bought one: the bumps on the tank were very uncomfortable on the knees. It would have been agony after half an hour.
    Don’t forget to try it out.

    On the other hand I rode a Thai-built version of the Honda 110 Cub the other day and got to Hakone in only 50% longer than it takes on my Transalp, even though I couldn’t use the motorways! I got 96 on the flat and 70 even uphill.
    If the rotary gearbox wasn’t such a pain I’d buy one. 47kpl even riding it flat out. 🙂

  4. I did a search on GooBikes to see if any dealers near to me would have a Versys that I could get a look at. Luckily there is one place right beside where I was working today, but unluckily, it was closed when I went after work. I got a look at the Versys through the window and that’s about it. Bummer.

  5. Klaus Says:

    Damien my friend!

    How is life?? Hope everything is ok!

    We came back from our 2-week-Germany-trip last week Wednesday. Back to the country of the not always rising sun, back to the country of noise, bad air and even worse news.

    Do I have an attitude problem? Maybe so. Guess it is time to get on the TA and ride around for a while.

    You take care and looking forward to hearing from you again!!!

  6. Hi Klaus,

    Welcome back to Nippon chum! Sure, it’s a lovely country altogether. How can you be so down on it? 🙂

    Life’s good, thanks for asking. I’m enjoying the weekend no end. Did a fair bit of gardening today and bought a ¥100 digital clock to stick onto the bike today. God only knows what will happen to it in the first rain shower, but ¥2,000 at least for a bike specific one is a bit steep.

    I’ve also ordered a new back tyre, a Bridgestone Battlewing, the same as what’s on the front. I’m hopign my mechanic will have it this week so I head out to get it one before the rainy season kicks in. I’ll be blogging about it a little later.

    Good to hear from you,

  7. graham Says:

    There’s such a huge overlap in our respective shortlists! I had an additional outside thought of a Yamaha FZ1, but eliminated it as I’m not a speed merchant, and I think I’d do myself harm on it (Phil @ GR makes rising one look simple…). Right now I’m thinking 650GS to be honest, but I need to find a local mechanic who is half decent. I might be buying late in the year!

  8. Where’s local Graham? If you’re anywhere near Nagoya my mechanic is fantastic.

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