In praise of smaller bikes

Discussion in 'Bad Dog Cafe' started by Dixon in Korea, Apr 26, 2019.

  1. Dixon in Korea

    Dixon in Korea Tele-Meister

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    A9CD796C-7FF2-4231-8CBC-C44FAA79EA21.jpeg My first motorcycle was a used ‘79 Honda CB750F Supersport (black with orange). Aside from a few years with a 250 v-twin, I’ve always ridden full-sized, 650 to 1000cc bikes. But last year, my 650 was needing repairs that would have cost as much as the bike was worth, and since I got a car five years ago, all I was using it for was trips around the neighborhood. I decided it was time to downsize.

    945D71A0-FA6B-4D18-B57D-73247847BF2E.jpeg

    Saw one of these a few weeks ago in shop window, and it was exactly what I was looking for: small, light, good brakes, and good looking. An Italjet Griffon 125. It’s actually more fun than I expected it to be. There’s not a lot of power, but it has a quick-shifting, close-ratio five speed that let’s you get the most out of the power you do have. With a short wheelbase and a weight of only 250 pounds, changing directions is close to effortless—it will fly through the turns.

    I do miss having brutal acceleration, but I’m having too much fun revving the hell out of it, shifting gears to stay in the power, and carving up curves to miss the 650 too much. And it’s also fun to just look at it.... ;-)
     
    Last edited: Apr 26, 2019
  2. John Backlund

    John Backlund Friend of Leo's Gold Supporter

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    My idea of a 'downsized' bike is a 650.

    However, in recent years, I have re-discovered the simple fun and relative economy of mid-sized and smaller machines.

    I'm simply too heavy for a sub-300cc bike in my area to seriously consider one, too many hills and open spaces for me to consider anything under, maybe 35hp.

    One exception to that hp rule might be a Vespa GTS300.

    My 'big bikes' are gone, no more 800 lb, $23,000 Indians, etc, replaced with much sportier, much less expensive, and to be truthful, much more enjoyable machines (to me), with more emphasis on the elemental 'fun' part of motorcycle riding.

    I'm not exactly through with big power bikes, and I would be surprised if there wasn't another ZX14 or Hayabusa in my future, but it will have to share garage space with my Triumph and Guzzi V7III, and probably one or two much smaller bikes as well, likely including a scooter too.

    In the past several years, we've had a Royal Enfield 500, a Yamaha SR400 single, and a Ninja 300. They are all gone now, but I'm certainly open to more smallish bikes in the future.
     
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  3. NMore

    NMore Tele-Meister

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    That is a SWEET bike my friend!
     
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  4. boredguy6060

    boredguy6060 Friend of Leo's

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    I haven’t ridden in decades, but when I did, I could never imagined anyone needing more than 650cc.
    My Bonneville was plenty enough for me, in fact it was more bike than I was a rider.
     
  5. unixfish

    unixfish Poster Extraordinaire

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    I had a Honda 360 waaaaay back when. It was surprisingly quick for a "smaller displacement" bike. Enough go without being dangerously quick for a newer rider. Around town, I get the appeal. One of my favorite cars I had was fairly slow; but I got to drive the pee out of it without sticking out / flying through traffic. That was fun.
     
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  6. beninma

    beninma Tele-Afflicted Silver Supporter

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    I sold my bike in 2012 when my son was borne...

    I rode a ton (nearly every day) from 2001-2012.

    I started out on an SV650.. too much bike for the first month but fine after a few months. (I took the MSF class)

    I had two Honda VFR Interceptors. 800cc faired in bikes.

    Took them all to the track. Got the VFR with hard bags and such hoping to take bigger trips but I never got to take either one of them on anything longer than 3-4 days. That as disappointing. That was what they were best at was trips. I did take the SV650 on several week trips.

    I am amazed at how much better the lineups of small bikes are today. Back then Honda had the Nighthawk 250 and maybe some other Nighthawk. Kawasaki had Ninja 250s and 500s that were really old designs.

    Something happened and they started selling all the cool smaller bikes in the US again. Good looking modern designs between 250-650cc.

    I rode in traffic so much if I was doing it again I'd be highly tempted by something that was smaller displacement. Great fuel economy, still have plenty of power if you know what you're doing.

    Particularly my VFRs just got ridiculously hot idling in traffic.

    I don't really have any time to ride now.. and my wife would freak, she never approved of it, and I maybe should have fought selling it harder, she didn't really force me to do it, but now that I got rid of it she'd go ballistic if I bought another one. Just not a very useful vehicle when you have a kid to haul around. I had a decent racetrack crash in 2007 that was about a year after I had met my wife... maybe that contributed to me being willing to get rid of it. I wasn't injured really at all but did massive damage to my bike that took me months to fix in the garage so it really made me question what kind of riding I was doing at the time.
     
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  7. Chunkocaster

    Chunkocaster Friend of Leo's

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    I sold a Suzuki GSXR750r and bought a Honda XR250 back in the early 90's.
    The Honda was great fun to ride on road and off. Then I went and bought a YZ490 and started to break parts of my body with it so I gave up riding all together rather than default on my mortgage and end up homeless. Your new bike looks cool. I can see how it would be fun to ride. I like the retro looking bikes. Always wanted a Kawasaki z900 back in the day.
     
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  8. Zepfan

    Zepfan Poster Extraordinaire

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    I miss getting to ride my bike and I really miss the old days in the woods and fields on my YZ125.
     
    Last edited: Apr 26, 2019
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  9. John Backlund

    John Backlund Friend of Leo's Gold Supporter

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    Our current 'fleet' consists of two fairly large-displacement bikes of 1200cc's, and two smallish-displacement bikes....if you can call a 650 and 750 'smallish'.

    Of the three, only Trixie's BMW 1200 has anything resembling a windshield, and a set of small, removable, soft bags.

    The other three are kept very basic and unmodified.
    IMG_20181211_102534323.jpg
     
  10. nvilletele

    nvilletele Friend of Leo's

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    31810F6C-386E-419A-BA9F-140A6D1716DC.jpeg

    This is the model I had when living in Tokyo. Honda XL 250R Paris-Dakar limited edition.

    It was a good bit taller, with a more upright stance, than the usual rice rockets, and helped me see much better in traffic.
     
  11. John Backlund

    John Backlund Friend of Leo's Gold Supporter

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    Here's the fleet about four years ago.

    GL1800 Goldwing
    2000cc Kaw Vulcan
    Kaw ZX14
    1200 Sportster
    Suzuki Hayabusa

    We're currently 'down' a LOT of CC's and tonnage.
     
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  12. teleforumnoob

    teleforumnoob Friend of Leo's

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    My first was a Kawasaki LTD 550 back in the early 80s. Then I had a Honda V500 Ascot for a few yrs in the early 90s. Then I didn’t ride 20+ yrs.
    I got back in last year with a Kawasaki Versys X300. Great little all round bike. Plenty enough power for me. It even tours well, except for wind. It’s really squirrelly in a strong cross wind, with the fairing and under 400# weight. That’s only reason I'm considering a bigger, heavier bike. Looking at 1200 Sportsters.
    My VersysX and my little 50cc Yamaha Vino that’s my run to the store, put around town machine
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    Last edited: Apr 26, 2019
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  13. otterhound

    otterhound Poster Extraordinaire

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    1987 YSR50 bought new and still have it . Over 27,000 miles and climbing . More pure fun than can be believed . I have even been cited for speeding with it . Big and powerful motorcycles are great , but this little thing has been just as great in a different way .
    Pull along side of the Yuppie H-D guys and try to converse with them while they have no desire to slum with me and my puny crotch rocket is some of the best .
    I've had it on Interstate's and even the Pa turnpike .
    Park it amongst those Yuppie H-D's and watch the crowd form .
    The best part is that the hardcore riders are just plain fascinated with it .
    Had it in the burnout pit at the Iron Horse Saloon and they loved it . Pouring beer under the rear tire as it was pulling 5th gear burnouts , I parked it inside the walls and it was instantly accepted .
    More pure fun than should be legal and all of 50cc .
     
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  14. John Backlund

    John Backlund Friend of Leo's Gold Supporter

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    My wife had an '87 YSR50. She didn't ride it much, but it made great home decor as it sat in our living room for a number of years. Hers was in perfect condition and 100% stock. A fine example is worth a surprising amount of money now.

    As a silly sidenote, we bailed on Farmer's Insurance years ago because they wouldn't write a policy on it because, in their words, it was "a crotchrocket", so all our bikes, cars, house insurance etc. went elsewhere immediately.
     
  15. archetype

    archetype Fiend of Leo's Silver Supporter

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    I find that a small engine puts you closer to the fun. In the USA a dinky engine is a liabilty, though, given the high-horsepower everything surrounding you and our damned driving habits.

    Years ago I commuted to work on a Rickman that had a Zundapp 125 engine. It was a beautiful bike in American Racing Blue fiberglass and tank, nickel-plated braze welded frame, and that cool engine with the radial head. It had just enough power to get me away from immediate trouble.
     
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  16. otterhound

    otterhound Poster Extraordinaire

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    My 1983 CB1100F was on the do not insure list of the day with one of the major insurance companies . Made me just that much more proud to own it .
    For those of you unaware of the deadly potential of a YSR , it was capable of 50-52 MPH . Remove the mirrors and gain 2 MPH . If a YSR is a crotchrocket , a Polish cannon is a Saturn 5 .
     
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  17. John Backlund

    John Backlund Friend of Leo's Gold Supporter

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    What are they, all of 6 hp in stock form?

    They are pretty harmless if you rode them with half a brain, but as cute as it was, we didn't allow anyone else to ride it, the reason was that almost everyone treated it like a toy (not an unreasonable assumption), and even experienced rider's would screw around on it as if an ultra-short wheelbased minibike capable of fifty mph wouldn't break your neck when you crashed it every bit as well as a 'real' motorcycle could.
     
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  18. Mike Simpson

    Mike Simpson Doctor of Teleocity Silver Supporter

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    I am too big (6'3") for smaller bikes. My last dirt bike was an RM465 and I currently have an FLSTF.
     
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  19. viking

    viking Friend of Leo's

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    I love small engined bikes
    So many people these days own something that reminds me of two wheeled cars....
     
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  20. Califiddler

    Califiddler Friend of Leo's

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    Back in the stone age, I rode a Honda CB400T Hawk for a few years. It was plenty for a commuter bike.
     
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