Decisions, Decisions

Jan 18, 2013 View Comments by

Decisions DecisionsThe close of a riding season is the perfect time to reassess the state of one’s two-wheeled stable and think about the possibility of a new bike. Three of my four bikes are beginning to acquire that well-worn patina, and I thought I’d share some of the thoughts that have been swirling around in my head concerning a bike re-mix.

One long-term goal of mine is to simplify things by decreasing the number of motorcycles in the garage. Owning four bikes sounds like a dream to some, but the phrase “Be careful what you wish for” aptly applies to this situation. I’m about ready for some relief from the staggering amount of attention required by four bikes when it comes to maintenance, tires, and accessory purchases.

But what can I get rid of? The old Honda XR250R sits patiently in the garage for months at a time, waiting for that crisp fall day when we spend the afternoon exploring fifty miles of trails at a nearby off-road area. The bike is stone ax simple, and although it’s not very glamorous by today’s standards, the kick-start, air-cooled single is reliable and probably has more capability that I’m able to exploit in most situations.

I’ve tossed around the idea of selling both the XR250R and Kawasaki KLR650 and replacing them both with a newer Suzuki DRZ 400 that a friend has for sale, but I’d be compromising on both ends compared to what I have now, and I’m not sure that it makes sense. I’d probably have the steel gas tank, radiator guards, and turn signals damaged on the DRZ in short order while riding in the woods, plus the bike is significantly heavier than the little XR250. On the other end, the KLR650 is arguably a better bike for two-up backroad trips with my wife than the DRZ 400. The easy-going power delivery of the 650, enormous fuel capacity, and all-day comfort of the big Kaw would all be missed.

Okay, I’ve talked myself out of that one, so what’s option number two? I could keep the XR250 and sell the KLR650, Suzuki 650 V-Strom, and Ducati 1000 Monster. I’d replace them all with a big adventure bike; something with all-road capability, long-distance two-up comfort, and enough performance to make up for the loss of the Monster. It’s a tall order for one bike, but a newer BMW GS, Yamaha Super Ténéré, or most definitely a Ducati Multistrada would fit the bill nicely.

But wait…these bikes are all relatively expensive, and I’d be lucky to get much more than a serious down payment by selling all three of the other bikes. A three bike trade-in, if a dealer would even do it, would likely leave me holding the short end of the stick, and selling all three could take several months. I’d be left with a payment for at least a couple of years, and my insurance might even go up with the new motorcycle. And would I really want to take a new bike nudging twenty grand on some of the half-frozen slime and trails that I sometimes tackle on the KLR? Probably not. Oh, and if the new bike was in the shop for a while, all I’d have left to ride is the XR250 until it was finished. And speaking of maintenance, two of the three bikes mentioned above would require out of town servicing. And I shouldn’t forget how much I love the V-Strom, or how committed I am to logging over one hundred thousand miles on it.

My head usually starts to hurt at about this stage of my decision-making process. Simplification isn’t as simple as it sounds, and every scenario that I come up with eventually leads me down the same predictable path, which is to simply keep what I’ve got for at least another year. Now there’s a decision that finally makes sense. Let’s see…new tires for the KLR, some new accessories for the XR250, a valve check for the Ducati, some new brake pads and front tire for the Strom…maybe I should check out the new bike option after all. But then again, the V-Strom gets over fifty miles per gallon, and a new 1200cc bike would get around…

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