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Monday, April 11, 2016

Five Year Moto-Itch

I believe some of you probably know of the itch to which I am referring.  There is no cream to treat it, but there just might be a cure if one looks hard enough.

Last month marked five years since I brought home my new 2009 Suzuki Gladius from the dealership.  I was tickled pink at the time of purchase and the first time I went for a ride I couldn't get the smile off my face.

(First ride on my Gladius - March 2011)
If I give it enough thought, I'd say the itch has been building for a few years, but lately it cannot be ignored.  When I purchased the bike I was a few months shy of my 40th birthday and now I am approaching 45 trips around the sun.  So what has changed in the last five years?  I believe it is mostly the type of riding we do now combined with aging.

When the bike was first purchased, we were doing a lot of group riding and seemed to be always chasing the sport bikes around.  Gradually over time we pretty much stopped riding in large groups and have gravitated towards dual sport riding.  While I've never hesitated to take the Gladius over gravel or rough roads, it isn't the greatest tool for the job.  Read of a previous forestry road adventure HERE.
(A Gladius as an adventure bike)
I have never been happy with the suspension of the Gladius.  While we've installed the GSXR shock and adjusted the SAG, rebound, etc, the bike really does not like any type of rough roads especially in a corner.    It is a perfect torque monster bike for riding somewhere on smooth paved roads as fast as you want to get there.  It seems as though the quality of our roads in Oregon have deteriorated over the last five years and all those rough patches make for uncomfortable riding on the Gladius.  It is almost like you are riding a little bucking bronco, but didn't know you entered a rodeo.

As I have aged my knees creak hurt a little more, my wrists get even more sore, and my hands numb quicker with the forward lean/crouched position  of the Gladius.  

What does all this mean?  Well, we are starting to think of something a little more geared towards dual sporting with more travel in the suspension and a little more upright seating position, but at the same time, not a huge beast like Troubadour's Tiger or as small as the TW200.

Does this mean we are going to sell the Gladius?  Not at this point

Are we looking at others options such as a Ducati Scrambler, Honda CB500x, or Royal Enfield Himalayan?  Maybe - there is no harm in looking.

One thing I worry about is missing the peppy little v-twin motor in the Gladius.  We've thought about putting some TKC-80's on the Gladius and seeing what it can do.  We've also read online where people are putting KLR forks on the front and a taller front tire. Sounds like too big a project.  Now, I could combine the same v-twin 650 cc engine with dual sport capabilities by purchasing a Suzuki V-Strom, but I really don't want anything that bulky or heavy.

At this point I am in the debating/dilemma phase.  We know that the Gladius is not the tool for the type of riding I want to do or the quality of our roads right now, but at the same time I really love the bike.  We could technically keep it and purchase something else, but there is not a lot of room in our one-car garage and it wouldn't be fair for the bike to just sit there and not be ridden. Oh wait, that is what has been happening lately, although in my defense we had one of the wettest winters on record.

I think we've all had 'the itch' at some point.  I've heard it said that the perfect number of bikes is always N+1.  With the value of N being the number of bikes you currently own.

Suggestions, ideas, and opinions are always welcome from the blogosphere.  Have you had the moto-itch? And if so what did you do to scratch it?

- Au Revoir

" He that has a choice has trouble." - Dutch Proverb
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46 comments:

  1. I've recently developed a major crush on the Ducati Scrambler and its Italian cousin, the Moto Guzzi V7 Scrambler. I think the both look great. I'm a sucker for classic styling, and love the modern touches like ABS and traction control. I'm a long ways off from buying my next bike, though, having just bought one within the last year. I can dream...

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    1. Have you been ogling Jim's scrambler at bike night? I drool all over it when he brings it to Saturday morning coffee too. I also like the V7's. Something about the classic look.....

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  2. I know a number that have and really like the Triumph Scrambler. Also, quite a few that feel the same of the G650GS.

    I thought it was supposed to be a "7 year itch".

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    1. I've always been a Triumph fan. Unfortunately the Triumph Scrambler is about 100 lbs heavier than the Ducati Scrambler. I also wonder if I would have the same issues with kickstand placement and leg angle as I did with the Bonneville. That sure was a nice motor though.

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    1. Half the price of a Ducati Scrambler. Could one really go wrong with the Honda?

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    2. ...especially as conversions are available for your round the world tour!
      http://www.rally-raidproducts.co.uk/honda-cb500x-cb500f

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    3. Ah yes, the Rally Raid kit. They sure do make a nice change in the CB500 especially with the taller front tire. Cesar over at "I'd Rather Be Riding" blog has done that to his. https://idratherberiding.com

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  4. That's the way things go - none of us do the same sort of riding for ever. You're right about the VStrom. I hired one in Crete a few years back - wonderful engine and good comfort for two Not too heavy but tall and bulky - and that's from someone who rides an FJ1200.

    I'm not short (5'10") but I like to get both feet flat on the ground. I recently sat on a Honda NC750X (just too tall) and S (ok) but best (in the showroom anyway) was the CB500X - it felt light and low and the seat felt nice - the NC's were like concrete.

    How's the Gladius on longer runs? - like many modern bikes the seat seems thin and hard.

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    1. Thank you for the good information. It is nice to hear of someone who has ridden the Honda and liked it. I too like to flat foot my bikes and I can on the CB500.

      The Gladius isn't bad for long hauls, but it isn't good either. The seat is pretty darn hard. Longest day I've done has been about 478 miles or 769 kilometers. No way would I want to do that again on the stock seat. Not only did my buttocks hurt but I almost couldn't straighten my legs when we got home.

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    2. An impression of the CB500X from CagerOnTwoWheels - a Portuguese guy who is funny but informative.

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xAZzwoDJmng

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    3. I forgot about this guy. I've seen the video before but it was quite some time ago. Thanks for the reminder.

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  5. That is an expensive problem you have there Brandy. I hope you have insurance!
    I can't really help you with a bike choice though, there are just so many. I have been looking at a KLR650/Tenere'/GS800 for a little while now. When one comes along at the right price I will pounce but for the mean time, it is fun searching. ;)
    Enjoy your search.

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    1. Damn first world problems!

      The KLR 650s are quite popular around here. With my upper body strength it would be nice to have something a little smaller. Sure wish KTM would come out with their Adventure 390.

      The right biker at the right price is the key. Good luck on your search as well

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  6. Brandy,
    Forgive the snigger with you using the word "aging" and 45 in the same paragraph - I wish!!!!

    All joking aside, it's not just aging but as you point out, it's how our riding habits change too which dictates what bike fills the bill at different stages of our riding career. Take your time, figure out what you really want to use it for then listen to your head and heart in equal measure. I didn't quite do that with the GSX-S 1000 because it was almost an impulse purchase. It's a great bike but simply doesn't have the emotional appeal of my Street Triple. I can see a return to the Triumph marque in the next year or two!

    Best of luck and look forward to seeing your deliberations!

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    1. I figured someone would say something about the aging. I know there is a difference between aging 40-45 and say 60-65, but I can feel a difference even as a relative youngin'. Or maybe I'm just a weenie.

      Hard to marry the head and heart (and pocket book) and come up with something to satisfy all three. What is it about Triumph that sings to the heart? I've always liked them too.

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  7. Ooo, ain’t nothin’ like a new or new-to-you motorbike to feed the fire, renew the spirit, and recharge the adrenaline.

    I’m in no position to make recommendations—you and Troubadour seem mighty well-informed about the two-wheeled options out there—but I will say this: I’m bound to be droolin’-down-my-chin jealous in a happy-as-hell-for-you way if you end up with a Ducati Scrambler in your stable (and I certainly won’t be the only one).

    Believe it or not, I’m positively giddy about this. Happy happy hunting, Trobairitz! :-)

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    1. I think you are more enthused than I am. As I have mentioned before I hate shopping, all shopping. Doesn't mater whether it is for groceries, clothes, cars, or motorcycles I just don't enjoy it.

      While I'd love a Ducati Scrambler in the stable (our friend Jim has one and is selling both his Triumph Tigers because he loves the scrambler so much) I am hesitant because it is twice the price of a CB500x.

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  8. I get the itch all the time and its compounded by always enjoying riding other bikes when I get a chance to ride them.

    I certainly understand the attraction of an Adv bike and I'm still looking...I'd suggest you ride a heap of bikes. I wouldn't rule out the little Wee without riding one - they do have a sweet donk in them. The KLR is probably not a bad idea either as they're a little more civilised than a DR650. But DR650's are cheap, can be lowered and are light and very reliable...

    It's a shame there's not more smaller twins to choose from...

    Or you could always try a GS Adventure...

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    1. That is right, you get loaner bikes when yours is in for service so you get a bit more variety to ride.

      While most shops here allow test rides I am always hesitant to ride any of them. I don't know why, it is like something in my brain doesn't like the unfamiliar at times (okay most times) I know Brad will jump on about any test ride and most riders I know are the same way.

      I guess this is one of those times I'll just have to push through and actually test ride a few when the nerves allow, gulp.

      At least I have the little TW200 for any serious off roading, but it sure would be nice to have a smoother ride on our paved, but bumpy forestry roads

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    2. I recall feeling pretty careful/nervous when I tried my first ride on a BMW R1200RT back in 2011. I had ridden in on a 2000 Triumph 900, so it was not really the size. All went well and I ended up buying the bike.

      Even test driving a car deserves a fair bit of respect and care. But familiarity comes relatively quickly if the roads are not too challenging.

      And, that itch needs treatment!

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    3. I must confess, the Fiat we purchased 1.5 years ago is the only vehicle I've ever test driven. Not any of our previous vehicles or motorcycles. For some reason I just don't like doing it, but I know that it is now a necessity where bikes are concerned.

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  9. Ahhhh, the itch. I've had Petunia for a bit over 9 years now and have been thinking of joining the multi-moto crowd. If I take the plunge it may be an adventure bike with an eye toward an offroad sidecar.

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    1. I think we all get the moto-itch in some variety. Some scratch it and some don't, it just fades away only to recur again.

      An adventure bike with an offroad sidecar sounds like fun.

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  10. A lot of good bikes out there. Looks like you have received several good recommendations. Looking forward to see what you decide on. Just make sure you test ride several.

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    1. Test riding is the hard part for me. Makes me all kinds of nervous for some reason.

      I have to work, but Troubadour is riding the Gladius to the Suzuki/Honda/Polaris shop this Friday to get the latest rectifier recall done on it and he may be taking a few out on a test ride, just to see if he thinks I'll be interested and would want to do a test ride.

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  11. 90,000 miles on my 2007 Bonneville, and it's all original except for a rectifier that died and valve guides that I had changed when my mechanic de-coked the combustion chamber, at about 75,000 miles. Original and untouched clutch, starter, light bulbs, cables etc...etc...
    I looked at the new water cooled Bonneville range and I like the Street Twin the best but I can't think why I'd start again. For the money I'd rather buy tubeless wheels, new suspension, and clean the rather worn pretty bits on the bike I have.
    I read how the new Bonnevilles handle far better than the "old"ones etc... etc... but aside from longer oil change intervals and long valve inspection intervals I see no reason to change. If all this collapses suddenly I'd probably end up buying another bike just like it for $5000 off Cycle Trader...There are dozens of almost unused 2006/2007/2008 Bonnevilles for sale, some unmodified. I've reached the end of the road of motorcycle lust. It took half a century but I've found the bike I like.

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    1. It is nice that you have found the bike for you. It is what I was hopeful for when I bought the Bonneville SE. If only it fit my frame a little better. I sure loved the motor and handling.

      If only I could find my one moot-love......

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  12. The RE Himalaya looks nice, and then there's the Africa Twin though it's a a bit large. Have you considered electric dual sports? I hear their range is becoming competitive.

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    1. I really like the idea of the Himalayan, but of course it won't be around here any time soon. Raceway in Sale is our closest dealer. Mind you with as much as we stall looking at bikes, it just might be out before I can decide on anything else.

      I hadn't thought of an electric dual sport. So far they are priced out of what I would be willing to spend on a bike, new or used. Don't find many used electric ones around here.

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  13. The Triumph Tiger 800 XR is a sneaky good bike. It has the smaller 19 inch front wheel rather than the more off road 21 inch hoop. That or the Duc :) Or, if you can embrace the plastic, the NC700X could be a love that lasts. Not too big, not too small. (long term, you may get tired of running the 500 at highway speeds) Of course, this is just a list of bikes that I'd sell my 96 Trophy 900 for if I could find a reason to part with it. Cheers! and happy hunting :)

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    1. There is just something about a Triumph isn't there? I was waiting for them to come out with the Tiger Cub with a 650 cc motor and Street Triple frame, but I don't think that is going to happen anytime soon. While I've heard good things about the 800 from anyone that owns one they are just a smidge bigger/heavier than what I am looking for.

      We avoid the interstates as much as possible and prefer tootling along the backroads and byways. Hopefully whatever I find will do fine for some 60-70 mph highway riding when necessary.

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  14. Oh Brandy, haven't we all been there? It used to be a 3-year itch for me, but since upgrading my Sporty I haven't felt the desire to replace it. If I could however afford another (n+1) bike in my stable, I'd happily add the Ducati Scrambler. It is nimble as a mountain bike ;-)

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    1. I am glad you found something to make the itch subside. While I'd love to have a Ducati Scrambler in the garage, me thinks they cost a little more than what I am willing to spend on a bike. Sure wish we could find a nice used one, but people are tending to hold on to them after purchase.

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  15. We have been seriously considering a similar change/addition to our stable. Because so many of the dual sport bikes are so tall, we have been gravitating to the CB500X as well. Seems a good combination for the type of roads we ride. Had considered the Duc as well, but wish it had a larger tank. We will be very interested to watch and hear your opinions as you take the next steps.

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    1. I am not a fan of the taller dual sports as they seem to be bulky and top heavy. Hubby did ride the CBX on Friday when he tok my Gladius in for service. He said it was pretty nice.

      While I like my Gladius, there are times when I miss my little TU250 too, so I shall continue to live vicariously through your pictures.

      Thanks for stopping by.

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  16. Hmmmn. This is what you said...... "While most shops here allow test rides I am always hesitant to ride any of them. I don't know why, it is like something in my brain doesn't like the unfamiliar at times (okay most times) I know Brad will jump on about any test ride and most riders I know are the same way. I guess this is one of those times I'll just have to push through and actually test ride a few when the nerves allow, gulp." Well, sorry to tell you this, but we ALL feel uncomfortable on unfamiliar bikes, so don't think that is anything special for you. :-) Others may look like they are not worried, but we really are. You need to overcome that reluctance to ride loaner bikes and just go have fun. Yes, you might beep the horn instead of turning on the flasher, but who really cares? After ten minutes or so, you will relax and begin to think about the bike and how it feels riding it, not worrying about it. Getting a new bike is an exciting, strange and wonderful thing to do, so grasp it and heck, go and enjoy it. Good luck! BTW, don't buy the Royal Enfield.

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    1. Thank you Gary for the words of encouragement. I am still in the research stage, but we are thinking of what bikes to test-ride. Hubby loves to test ride bikes so he narrows the field for when I need to step in and test-ride.

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  17. Seems I was at the same crossroads as you last year. I did a lot of test driving! i can honestly say I was leaning towards the CB500X . It has a lot going for it, its peppy gets good gas mileage and its a nice bike. Then I sat on the NC700S a few years back & its been stuck in my mind and a I was lucky my friend was selling hers. Its just a little bigger than the CB500 and it has a very low centre of gravity with the gas tank under the seat. It also has the 'frunk' which is where the gas tank used to be and holds a full face helmet and at this point it stores everything I need for day trips. So you might want to look at NC too you can probably find a NC700s (<--- this is my bike its more sport tourer). NC750x which is more styled towards the CB500X adventure bike. But I think you should look at a scrambler too :)

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    1. Every time I see the NC700 I think of you!! I might have to do some comparisons between the NC700x and the CB500x.

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  18. Hey there, I too have owned my Gladius for five years! My longest day in the saddle was also 750 kms. and like you found it a bit too long. My problem was the wind though, which forced me to clench the handlebars with my hands and grip the tank with my knees so that I wasn't ripped off the bike. Would a different bike have been any better? I don't know. I have spoken with Harley owners here (with huge bikes) and they also commented on the fatigue of fighting the wind.

    I can tell you that if we had the money and storage space, we would have also bought a bike trailer and two dual-sports to enjoy all the gravel roads here in the province. Then we'd have bikes for all situations! I have to turn around a lot as it's just too slippy on my Gladius' non-knobby tires. I'm a few years older than you, and have noticed my hands giving me heck sometimes in the last year or so. So I just stop more often. But I'm keeping my bike. Right now it fills some need of mine that is yet to be quenched.

    That being said, I totally understand why you are thinking of switching to another bike. There are just situations and times you need a different style bike, and if you can justify the expense, I say go for it!

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    1. I still love the Gladius and it makes me smile every time I see it or ride it, but it also makes my hands and knees hurt and that is a bummer.

      We have the bike trailer and two little dual sports, but my little TW200 is a tad anemic for highway riding to the gravel roads.

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  19. Brandy I think you might be pleasantly surprised by the CB500X. It was going to be the one I purchased, but things changed. If you look on the net though I be you could find an NC or even a CB500 for sale.

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    1. When we were in Centralia with Kathy on Friday we wandered down to a motorcycle shop that sold Honda and Yamaha. They didn't have a lot on stock, but they did have an NC700x though. Brad talked to the salesman for a minute and he told Brad we would miss our v-twin power on a CB500x. Still lots of time to test-ride one though.

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  20. I try to ignore that itch as much as possible!

    I LOVE my BMW F650GS. It's a great dual-sport bike, lightweight (in my opinion) around 500 pounds dry, easy to maneuver, etc. But BMWs are pricey, dealerships are few and far between, and, sadly, just not as reliable as many of the Japanese bikes I've had experience with. I do love that the gas tank is under the seat and it has a low center of gravity. It's only a 650 and I think it's a V-twin, but it's pleasantly peppy. And it has the gearing you'd need for off road (cruising comfortably along in 2nd gear). The seat isn't very comfortable, and some folks complain that long hours in the saddle with bent legs gets tiring. I still love it, but would probably get a Japanese alternative if available.

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    1. If you have the f650 you probably have the twin. I've heard from 3 people that have all had the 650 single that it vibrated through the handle bars quite a bit and that makes me wonder about my hands falling asleep while riding. I wonder about a twin though.

      Time for you to look into a custom seat. :-)

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