Tuesday, September 06, 2011

The Captain Needs a New Motorcycle

The Captain's small, but reliable Ninja 250 is sadly kaput. After putting 33,000 miles on her she suffered a sudden loss in power on the interstate about 60 miles away from home. I had to nurse he back home at about 25 MPH max. What I originally hoped was a dirty carb or perhaps a burnt out spark plug turned out to be a compression issue which isn't worth trouble shooting because it's only a $500 bike now anyway (but I still managed to get greasy and dirty which always helps with the girls...matter of fact, for all the younger male Cappy Cappites out there, but buy some grease and oil and dirty yourself up. You don't even have to be working on anything, you just have to claim you were).

Of course life is a cycle and what is no doubt the end of a chapter in the Captain's life, is also the beginning of a new chapter! And this new chapter in the Captain's life is called,

"Help the Captain Pick Out a New Motorcycle!"

Now, understand I have a black motorcycle jacket, but recently purchased this large patch to go on the back. And not to sound too chicky, but I think I shall spoil myself this time and buy a motorcycle that matches my attire. Ergo, after much searching I have come across the following three bikes and would like your opinions on them (particularly the ladies of course). They are all 600-650cc bikes, all with 5000-6000 miles on them and are all priced around $5,500.

Motorcycle #1

Motorcycle #2

Motorcycle #3

(Legal Disclaimer! - The US Department of Brainwashing and Anti-Fun, FFLF Division, has proven that chicks dig motorcycles and strongly recommends against their use. Studies have shown men with motorcycles don't really have to have any kind of personality, wit, charm, social graces or even money and will STILL get chicks to find them attractive. Side effects of driving motorcycles include;

1. Tons of chicks hanging on you.
2. Cheaper dates because motorcycle rides are cheaper than dinner
3. A sense of freedom and manliness
4. An immediate +4 to your charisma
5. Immediate loss of "nerd" or "loser" status.
6. The ability to outrank investment banker-astronaut-surgeons in terms of attractiveness to the ladies
7. Teen-30something women letting their faux feminist guard down and acting like (GASP) WOMEN!
8. Envy of other women
9. Muchas Smoochas with the ladies that may lead to pre-marital handholding
10. A general admiration and respect from fellow men.
11. The ability to drive REAL fast
12. Looking too Old School American which might trigger impure thoughts of "traditionalism" in the sex roles of men and women and politically incorrect yearnings for the 1950's.

As these symptoms are NOT those of the ideal feminized, sensitive, pansified American "male," all men are highly discouraged from purchasing, owning or riding one of these evil, anti-women, anti-family, anti-commune machines.

Michelle Obama says, "JUST SAY NO!")

Post -Post

Mercy, I knew this would happen.

1. OK, of the THREE PRESENT BECAUSE THEY"RE WITHING REASONABLE DRIVING RANGE which one is the best (remember, I live in the middle of nowhere now. These bikes are "close" at 300 miles because they're in Denver. Nothing in SoDak, Wyoming or Montana. You have to drive to a major city center to get a good bike).

2. No Harleys. Sorry to say this, but they suck ladies and gentlemen. You not only have the honor of spending $30 grand on a bike, but 4 times the amount of human labor hours doing basic repairs. I have a buddy who owns one and mercy, to just change the damn oil you have to pull the engine out. He's had nothing but problems. It's the trophy wife of motorcycles. I do not want an overpriced trophy wife for a motorcycle. The "rice burners" have been very easy to work on. It is why in previous posts I have opined about the demise of the Sturgis Rally. Too many old people with too much money and not a one of them could clean a carb, let alone change oil. There are many parallels between foreign bikes and foreign women. I'll leave you to draw those lines.


Anonymous said...

Well, I haven't a clue about road bikes and frankly the first two Kawasaki's look darned near identical except for the color.

I like the paint on the Honda.

Compression issue, eh? If I had time, I'd at least do an exploratory tear down of the engine - it pretty much can't hurt it.

Since it dropped power suddenly and lost compression, it may have stuck/burned/bent/broken valve, burned/knocked a hole in the piston or broke a camshaft, rocker arm or cam chain.

CBMTTek said...

So very sorry to hear about the loss of your ride. Unfortunately, those 250s were never really meant to be put through the use you got out of yours. Great motor, not great for 30+K miles. Shame.

Personally, not a fan of the crotch rockets. Find the too incredibly difficult to ride for more then about 5 miles. But, that is a personal preference, and should have no bearing on your choice of new ride.

Of the three options, I personally would lean toward the Honda. While I have great respect for Kawasaki engines, I like Honda small engines better.

If it were up to me though, I would go with something more like this:

If you get the on/off road tires, you can take everything that gravel road Wyoming, Dakotas, Idaho, and Montana can throw at you. And, it will handle plenty of off road as well (not dirt bike, but it will cut across grasslands.)

But, if you prefer a strictly road bike, and are good with long distances on street bike, then I would go with the Honda. (And, I kind of like the look better as well.)

Anonymous said...

May I suggest the Suzuki savage/s40 instead...

Minimalist, inexpensive cruiser

Anonymous said...

Ninja #1. Black is classic - The Man in Black, Johnny Cash - no pinstriping crap all over it.
Bad Arsse

It has Babe Magnet written all over it...

daniel_ream said...

4. An immediate +4 to your charisma
5. Immediate loss of "nerd" or "loser" status.

I think I hurt something I laughed so hard at this conjunction.

I have to be perfectly honest - I'm disinclined to think of Japanese sport bikes as anything but effete rice rockets out of a bad AKIRA! knockoff anime. When I think motorcycle, I think something classic and traditionally American, like Harleys and Indians.

Ironically, the best classically styled bike of that kind you can buy now is the Honda Valkyrie, so whatta-I-know.

Of the three I'd pick the Honda. They're not as fast and light, but they have a more solid ride and more power in the corners.

Arch said...

Going from 250cc to 650cc is a big jump. You're probably quadrupling the horsepower you're used to dealing with. Also your mileage will drop really radically, if that matters.

You might consider going for a 500cc or older 600cc. I'm settled on a Ninja 500, if I can find one in my area.

Another option is an engine swap from a crashed bike or even one with a "lost title" .

I found this nifty site that lets you see how you might sit on various models: http://cycle-ergo.com/

Anonymous said...

None of the above. Get a KLR 650, or if you need power look at the Triumph Tiger 800. Adventure is calling.

Captain Capitalism said...

Hi Arch,

Normally if I was living in a "normal" environment I would agree with you about the mileage and whatnot. But you get to the prairies of South Dakota and the cross winds are so bad and so consistent you are battling a constant 30-40 MPH wind.

Aside from the Ninja going kaput, when I tried to pass it was dangerous. You could see a mile or two, but once you got out of the draft of the slow ass moving camper, the wind would hit, you'd barely be able to pass the vehicle and barely be able to escape on coming traffic.

Interestingly enough, my mileage dropped from 60MPG to about 38 on these prairie roads. So I'm more than willing to sacrifice 8MPG for added safety, performance and power. Hell, you get into some parts of Wyoming and you might as well be driving into a tornado.

Stew Magoo said...

Honda makes the best bike of those three (as much as it pains me to say that). I'm a Ducati man personally but riding a duc is like strapping yourself to a torture rack and as much as you ride you won't be happy. Get the Honda of those three.

More unsolicited pennies; I found that 1000+ cc's is probably way more comfortable than the smaller displacement. If handling is important you'll sacrifice comfort. Unless you Buell or Aprilia. You might like some of the f'rner bikes. Go ride a used Aprilia Mille. It'll put hair on your hair and set your sack in platinum.

S. Harvey said...

Just got home from my 11 day, 5 state, 4000+ mile trip on my 05 GSX1300r Hyabusa.

The 600/1000 sport bikes are not built for highways, they are built for racetracks. Get a sport tourer (ZZR600?) or a hyper sport like my busa or the ZX14.

Hot Sam said...

Not a fan of crotch rockets either. Awful bikes for long rides.

If you can't afford or don't want to spend money on a Harley, the Honda Shadow or the Suzuki Boulevard are great bikes.

I always prefer shaft drive - much less maintenance than a chain.

Sonny Ortega said...

From these three, I'd go with #1, but I think a Harley Davidson or something similar would suit you more than a sport bike.

Sindi said...

Since I need to put my vote in writing. . .

Bike #3 - the Honda is first.
Bike #1 - black Ninja is second.

If you are relegated to #2, just start a new search.

Anonymous said...

I'm a dual sport rider, I own a KLR650 and a R1200GS. My wife has a Ninja650R which isn't a bad bike to tour on at all. I agree with the other Anonymous post, the Tiger 800, while potentially out of your price range is one of the best bikes I have seen in a long while. It's simply a fun-gasm...

Hoss said...

Why not roll with the Ninja. You already know the little idiosyncrasies that go with the bike. Stay with what you know.

I'm seriously considering pulling the trigger on a Triumph Scrambler. Great vintage look and a little easier on my back. We'll see.

Jay said...

I say go with the first one...you're attire appears to be Black and Red, and the motorcycle goes great with that.

You might pick up more bonus points with the feminist-ladies, who want a "metrosexual" man...but deep down crave a real cave man.

maxx said...

Those drop handle bars look cool but can be hell on the back.

DNC said...

I'd suggest looking at Honda's new CBR250 if you can score a test ride. I love mine ($5k new with ABS and fuel injection), but it may still not have enough power for high speed passing maneuvers; I suppose it depends on how worn out your Ninja has been in the last while.

Looks like all three of your choices there are still the 'race replica' types, probably not terribly comfortable for longer rides, and the passenger seat is often a useless ass-paddle.

If the Ninja there is a 650 twin, it may have a bit more upright sport-touring/standard riding position, which might not be too bad.

Anonymous said...

You're going to drop 5K+ on a motorcycle, so expand your search...I live in Denver, and there are great deals on Craigslist to be had. The extra pence you shell out to travel is more than repaid by getting the bike you want at a good price...plus you only have to buy a one-way ticket, as you can ride the beast home! BTW, I ride a 500cc Kawasaki Vulcan and will be looking to get a Vmax or maybe a 1000cc cruiser soon.

jaericho said...

I love my Honda VLX 600, but that is a cruiser style so it might be out of contention for you.

I would go with the Honda on the simple fact that I hated the ergonomics of the Yamaha R6 and thought the CBR was much more comfortable. (Yes I know the R6 wasn't in the running but those are the only sport bikes I've been on.)

eljay said...

Honda. No Question.

lelnet said...

If you wanted them evaluated on their technical merits, you'd have posted specs about each one, rather than simply stating that they all complied with what I must assume is your list of requirements.

So I'll jump in and say Example #2 is the best-looking one.

I can't speak for chicks (not being one), but if you want the guy whose car you're passing while riding it to look over and think "hey, that's a cool-looking motorcycle"...well, there's your answer.

The Private Man said...

I ride a V-Strom 650 and while a savagely ugly motorcycle, it's reliable and comfortable.

I've put almost 110K miles on mine in the last seven or so years that I have owned it.

Anonymous said...

Captain, I'm considering purchasing a 2005 Kawasaki Ninja 250. Sorry to read about your unfortunate and unexpected event but any suggestions before I pull the trigger?

Anonymous said...

If you're set on that set of bikes, go with the Honda. I've always found them to be put together better and with a nicer finish. (and i think it looks the hottest as well).
I'm a sport/super bike fan and think they're hot/cool/awesome, but at 6foot0 I can barely fold myself into one of them, and i will attest that they are not the greatest for long trips (take many breaks).

Unless you're chicks are biker chicks (sport or harley), they really can't tell the difference amongst any bike...a Motorcycle is a motorcycle and it is hot.

ch said...

Hey Cap,

I just rode my '83 CB550SC from Toronto to San Jose and it was the most maintenance free week of riding I've ever had. Just the basic spot checks, oil levels, and carb tuning and you felt safe; can't mention what a previous post said about shaft bikes being less maintenance.

That said, shaft's probably don't offer the style / age you're looking for. Big fairings like on that second Ninja will keep you safer and more stable in high winds, so that's something to factor in, too. The 55-60MPG you got on your 250 is something you'll sacrifice moving up to 550-650 range, but the responsiveness in power is well worth the drop if you can handle 45-50MPG; usually the range is unchanged due to larger tanks as well.

If you can, make a vacation out of your new bike; purchase it certified and drive it back on a temp permit. If you can't, I'm with #2.

Captain Capitalism said...

I'm actually getting better mileage with the 636 on the interstate than the 250. That engine just wasn't built for it, but yeah, the new bike is way more than enough power. Was going over 100 MPH without knowing it three times dead heading the bike back to Billings.