What Bike Should Tim Huber Buy?

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You’ve seen Tim Huber’s work all over Bike-urious featuring interesting bikes for sale – now it’s time for us to repay the favor. Tim’s about to buy a new bike, but he’s on the fence between a few models. Let’s help him out.

I realize that this is basically just a bike version of Jalopnik’s “What Car Should You Buy“, but I think it’d fun to hear what you guys and gals have to say. Without further ado, here’s some thoughts from Tim:

I live in Los Angeles and recently accepted a job that’s going to require regular travel to and from San Diego (~130 miles one way). Nothing in my current stable is both reliable and comfortable enough for the task at hand, so it looks like it’s time for a new bike!

The job requires that I be at the company’s HQ/office in San Diego Monday through Friday, so I’m planning on riding down early Monday mornings, staying the week, and then riding back up to LA on Friday evenings (plus the occasional mid-week trip). Storage isn’t a huge issue, as I don’t need to bring much aside from a laptop and a few changes of clothes (plus I have access to a car if I really need to haul some big stuff). A backpack and tank bag should be more than sufficient.

I’ll share photos of bikes that Tim is considering, like this Aprilia Dorsoduro. Photo by Nathan May

In recent years I’ve been supporting myself and my girlfriend while she was finishing up grad school, and now that she’s graduated, landed a job, and has an income again, I finally have some disposable income to work with and would like to get myself a two-wheeled treat.

Must Haves
My basic requirements are that it needs to perform well in the city and on the freeway and has to be narrow enough for daily lane-splitting. I’m primarily going to be using this motorcycle for commuting to work, so it needs to be very, very reliable, preferably with minimal maintenance intervals, too. I’d also like it to have a reasonably upright riding position while still being fairly sporty.

I’d like a late-model bike. It doesn’t have to be brand new per se, but something from the last few years would be ideal. I’m not opposed to buying brand new, or getting a low-mile used model. I’d like to spend no more than $15K in total (including fees and whatnot), though I’m shooting for closer to $10K (or even less).

BMW RnineT Urban GS. Photo by Nathan May

Prior to getting this new job, I was considering buying a dual-sport or super-moto, and I am still interested in the idea, though I worry the immense vibration of a big thump’n single may be too much. I’d still be interested in possibly getting an Aprilia SXV, a Ducati Hypermotard, or something else in that same vein.

I’m mainly looking at two, three, and some four-cylinder models, and with very few exceptions, I’m mainly looking at sub-1,000cc bikes. Also, I’m a skinny 6’2” (175lbs), and want something that’ll be comfortable for my stature.

Secondary Requirements
On the days where I have to be in SD, I’m expected to be there rain or shine, so having a bike with a rain-mode would be a major plus, and considering its a cool 120-miles each way, it would be nice if the bike got decent mileage, too, though this is very low on my list of overall priorities as stopping off for gas isn’t all that taxing. On the same note, because of all the long-distance riding, a fuel-gauge is a must (not just a warning light).

Honda CB650R. Photo by Kevin Wing.

I’m going to be doing 95% or more of my riding solo, but it’d still be nice if I could take my girlfriend for two-up rides every now and then. Lastly, it would be cool if the bike was capable of the occasional track-day, but that’s not a must. The shitty streets of LA are less-than-conducive to super stiff track-oriented suspension setups.

Style Points
While performance and practicality are number one (or close to it), I’d still really like to have something with a bit more panache than an SV650. Something sexy like the Ducati Scrambler Desert Sled (or Cafe Racer) or Husqvarna Svartpilen/Vitpilen 701 (though the latter is a big single) would be nice.

Photo by Nathan May

As far as my personal tastes for aesthetics are concerned; I’m a big fan of modern-looking bikes and I definitely have a bit of a thing for “custom-inspired” models. And while I dig the modern-retro off-road models like the Moto Guzzi V85 TT, Triumph Scrambler 1200, BMW R nineT Urban G/S, and the aforementioned Ducati Scrambler Desert Sled, I have a serious aversion to ADV-style bikes like the Yamaha Tracer/Super Tenere, BMW G/S, KTM 1290 Super ADV R, etc. Another area I know I want to steer clear from is the cruiser segment. I have nothing against cruisers or adventure bikes (and have had a lot of fun riding some of them) however, they’re just not what I’m looking for at the moment.

I’d also ideally like to get a bike with inverted forks and good brakes. The idea of dropping $10K+ on a model with conventional forks seems weird to me. I’m also particularly drawn to bikes with removable tail cowls, so I can rock the monoposto-look the majority of the time, but still be able to tack on pillion pegs and take a passenger with me. Same goes for single-sided swing-arms; love those things.

Kawasaki Z900. Photo by Drew Ruiz

To give a better sense of my personal tastes and the type of bikes I’m considering, here’s a shortlist of models I like.

-Aprilia Dorsoduro 750
-Aprilia SXV
-Aprilia Tuono
-BMW R nineT Urban G/S
-Ducati Scrambler Desert Sled
-Ducati Scrambler Cafe Racer
-Ducati Hypermotard
-Ducati Monster 821 (Stealth)
-Honda CB650R
-Honda CBR650R
-Husqvarna Svartpilen 701
-Husqvarna Vitpilen 701
-Kawasaki Z900 (Note: I’m not a fan of the Z900RS/Cafe)
-Kawasaki Z650
-KTM Duke 790
-MV Agusta Brutale 800 RR
-Suzuki GSX-S750
-Triumph Street Triple (RS)

Abhi Says:
The practical side of me says that this is an excellent use case for a mid-size sport-tourer such as a Yamaha Tracer GT, or a Ducati SuperSport but I understand that you don’t care for the aesthetics.

The Tracer GT is refined fun. Photo by Brian J Nelson

My next thought was the Aprilia Tuono (isn’t that almost always the answer to “what bike should I get?”), but your fuel-gauge requirement knocks that out even if the bike is so good that it’s worth flirting with running on fumes every once in a while.

Frankly, there’s lots of great options out there for you, and I like many of your listed choices. I’m going to suggest one of the bikes on your list but throw in a twist. The BMW R nineT Urban GS is a cool looking bike, but it doesn’t ride as well as it should and the ergos are odd. What you really want is the original R nineT, it’s better than all the other models that BMW would later release on the platform. It’s got the classic style you want, plus there’s endless customization options if you want to tweak the comfort or personalize it.

If you had asked this question back in the 70s based on your wide ranging criteria, the answer would be “some sort of UJM”. The R nineT is similar but it has that extra “panache” you’re looking for. You’ll need to go used at your price range, but it’ll be worth it. Plus you’ve got the hidden bonus of shaft drive, so you won’t have to worry about cleaning your chain every weekend!

One thing to look for is modifications – because BMW encouraged the behavior, it can be hard to find a stock one if you’re looking used. I know how much you love your customs, based on how many you share here. Jane Motorcycles customized a R nineT which was featured on BikeEXIF. It’s currently for sale (for much more than your budget) in New York City with a BIN of $23,000 or best offer

Photo by Mathew Andreini for BikeEXIF.

But you can also easily find examples much closer to stock. There’s a pleasantly-modified one in Salem, Oregon with a BIN of $11,699

No better way to fall in love with a new bike than to do a fly and ride down the Pacific Coast!

Nathan Says:
Ok, based on the long commute (it’s one that I have done in a past life) I would tend to agree with Abhi. But given your aversion to the ADV segment I am thinking a standard of some sort and perhaps one that would look good with an aftermarket fly screen or something to help shape the wind a little bit.

I really liked the Ducati Scrambler 1100 Special we had earlier in the year. (Story coming soon, we promise!) I personally think Ducati has done a great job with the Scrambler line. They are fun, accessible bikes that I like walking out to in the morning. That said, the 1100 Special added a little bit of polish and a slightly more adult feel to the line. It is slightly bigger which helps from a comfort standpoint. The improved suspension, better brakes and the bigger engine made pounding some serious miles more enjoyable than on its smaller brethren.

Photo by Nathan May

And I just happened to find this listing nearby at Pro Italia, a 2018 Ducati Scrambler 1100 Special with just 10 miles that’s on sale for $9,995 (compare to the original MSRP of $14,295).

What do you say? Let Tim know below in the comments!

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