RoadRUNNER Zen Motorcyclist

The Road Often Traveled: Choosing a Mount

Feb 28, 2012 View Comments by

My first bike was an all black, 1981 Yamaha Maxim that my brother Dave found for me. Having never ridden a motorcycle before, I had no idea what I wanted, what size I needed, how it would handle, what the range was like, or anything else for that matter. All I knew was I wanted to learn so that I could ride with Dave.

I put around 6,000 miles on the Maxim and loved every minute, but as my skills grew and I learned about bikes, I became more aware of the kind of riding I’d be doing and sold it. I’ve been through a few bikes since then, upgrading as my proficiency and awareness of what was available increased, and my needs changed.

When I started commuting, I quickly realized many of my rides home would be in the dark through deer country. That necessitated better lighting. Also, I was going to ride year round, which meant I’d be more comfortable with better wind protection. A bigger gas tank would make fill-ups less frequent and make me late to work less often. I also felt I needed to sit taller so I could have a better view and be eye level with most of the cars on the road. Lastly, I needed someplace to stow my laptop given that the weather can change drastically over a 10-hour span at certain times of the year. Cost of course was another factor to consider.

Those were just some of the things that led me from the Maxim to a Honda Nighthawk to the Suzuki V-Strom I purchased five years ago. They fit the type of riding I found I was doing most often. I think that’s most important when selecting a bike. Every time I see a picture of a Ducati Monster I say to myself “that’s my next bike”; but then I remember my 80 mile commute, the lack of storage space, low height, etc. and realize that while it would be an awesome second motorcycle, it’s just not practical for my intended use at the moment.

I’ve taken part in discussion threads about commuting bike selections and I know everyone has recommendations; but I think before you can decide for yourself, it would help to consider these questions (among others):

  • Will your commute be in traffic or in the country?
  • Will you need to carry anything for work or for wild weather variations?
  • What kind of range do you need and how comfortable will it be for the distances you’ll cover?

If you’re considering commuting and are trying to find the right bike, these questions are a great place to start and can quickly help narrow down your choices.

Your perfect bike is out there – finding it is half the fun.

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About the author

I have been motorcycle commuting since 1998. I created Zen Motorcyclist (formerly Commuting Motorcyclist) in 2011 and work as a motojournalist, software developer, CAD designer and IT/CAD manager in the Surveying and Civil Engineering field.