Goodbye, Kawasaki 650R

Well. I sold my Kawasaki 650R today. We managed to make it happen at the end of this crazy week where, among numerous other work-related surprises, Kevin ended up flying up north for a couple of days, all while we’re trying to prepare to leave on a long trip. He arrived back home today in the early afternoon, only to turn around and ride an hour with me into VA to meet a buyer who had seen my ad on Craigslist. The transaction went quickly and smoothly, so no complaints there, its just a little hard to see the bike go. I’ve put over 23,000 happy miles on that bike in six years, and for whatever reason, people seem to get more emotionally attached to their motorcycles than to their cars.

Not that I’m having second thoughts. I even went for a ride yesterday, doing the same loop back to back on both bikes, just to be sure. Yup, the monster is clearly superior. The Kawi will just end up sitting in the garage, so selling it is definitely the right thing to do.

What made the decision so hard is that in many ways, that Kawasaki is the perfect motorcycle for me. The ergonomics are almost perfect, which is a very tricky thing on motorcycles, especially for short people like me. It made a great light/middleweight sport tourer. I had the bike all sorted for me for long distance touring, and had proven that I could ride in reasonable comfort over long distances. It gets great gas mileage, is incredibly reliable, and cheap to run. And it was pretty fun to ride for awhile, in its efficient, Japanese way.

However, in the end, its shortcomings just grew to be too much, and I can now afford better.The suspension and brakes on the Kawi are spec’d to meet a certain price point, and they feel it (i.e., they’re cheap). I want ABS, and can’t get that on a new Kawi 650 in the U.S (its available on that model in Europe). I would prefer a little bit more power, and a little bit less weight. Except for the ABS, a lot of this can be addressed by throwing money at the 650: expensive aftermarket suspension and brake upgrades, engine and exhaust mods, etc. But I didn’t see the point. It would cost as much as my new monster, and still not be as good. Every time I lean the bike into a corner, or hit a rough patch of pavement, the difference between the two machines becomes very clear.  On paper, the Kawi is the more appropriate bike, but the Duc makes me smile.

I am still a little anxious about touring on the Monster. There is no fairing or windscreen to offer a little protection from the wind and rain. (So far, this is making much less difference than I anticipated, but like all of my concerns, I’ll just have to wait and see). I’ve made numerous modifications to the bike to make it more touring friendly that I’ll cover in its own post eventually, but I’m not sure its enough. By switching to the monster, I have definitely traded a more practical motorcycle for one that is more fun. The problem is that right now, there is no one “perfect” motorcycle for me (although I’m having a lot of fun trying to find it.) As long as the trade-offs still allow me to tour in relative comfort, it will be worth it, but only time will tell.

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