Hello, my name is Amy, and I’m a bike-aholic. (AKA woohoo! another motorcycle!)
I’m pretty sure I needed another bike like I needed…..I don’t know, something I don’t need very much. But motorcycles aren’t about need, and my car still fits in the garage:)
After two seasons and several fairly long moto-adventures on the Monster, I’ve officially given up trying to tour on it. Yup. The people who have viewed my long post from September 2012 thousands of times about setting up my Monster for touring and moto-camping are going to be very disappointed.
It mostly comes down to wanting just a bit more comfort (am I THAT old?), and addressing the requirements of an evolving style of touring (read: longer journeys, more unpaved roads). The Monster is extremely fun on nicely paved twisty sections of road, but is less so with lengthy seat time and varied conditions. I found myself dreading taking a really long trip on it (weeks at a time), and having to work so hard every time the pavement ended (or facing not going down a road because the Monster is just too difficult off road). I can address a lot of issues about touring on the Monster, but I can’t fix limited suspension travel, or too much reach to the bars (even with the addition of the biggest, most ridiculous riser handlebar). I wanted a bike with a wider performance envelope. (I blame buying my CRF230 for new insight into the joy of small, lightweight bikes with more suspension travel. I never knew what I was missing, and now I can’t go back).
In 2012 I wrote: “If I could find the perfect motorcycle that was fun to ride, lightweight, has a good power to weight ratio, with high spec suspension and brakes, more suspension travel but still allowed me to touch the ground, and had enough fairing to offer comfort over longer distances, and was designed to hold luggage, I would buy it. It doesn’t exist.”
That was true in 2012. However, in 2013, that changed. Husqvarna came out with the TR650 Strada.
Since most of the people in my life are not moto people, I know what you are thinking: “Husqa-what? Don’t they make chain saws and lawn equipment?” First, you must pronounce it correctly – do not add the extra syllable: its “Hoosk-varna,” and yes, that Husqvarna does make lawn equipment. It used to be the same company, and was originally Swedish. Husqvarna the motorcycle company (referred to as Husky) has been making motorcycles since the early 1900s, and is best known for making excellent off-road bikes. However, from 2007 to 2013, Husqvarna motorcycles was actually owned by BMW motorcycles.
I give you this bit history because as cool as I feel for owning a Husqvarna, my new bike is actually sort of a re-badged BMW (way, way less cool.) The motor is the same liquid cooled, fuel injected 650cc single that’s used in BMW’s G650GS, but at least Husqvarna massaged that motor a bit and gave it 10 more hp (it needed it) (you can tell by the red-head, signature of Husky). My bike also weighs less than the GS, and has better suspension, for what its worth.
So why get the bike now? Its possible we have a big trip planned. I’m trying (and failing) not to get too excited about it, because there are a lot of things that could kill the trip before this summer arrives. Its also possible that this trip has far more off-pavement planned than I’d ever want to attempt on the Monster. Also, Husky TR650s are in limited supply, and I wanted to snag one while I had the chance. The TR650 was a brand new model for Husky in 2013; it didn’t exist before last year. The problem is that in 2013, BMW sold Husky to KTM. Given that the TR is full of BMW parts, and built around a BMW motor, TRs won’t be made any more now that the brand is owned by KTM. Whatever was imported in 2013 is all we get. Maybe there will be an equivalent model at some point, but not this year, and I like the TR650 the way it is. Its about as close to the “perfect” standard/sport touring/adventure/whatever-you-want-to-call-it bike for me as has ever been made, and was available at an amazing price, since Husky is trying to unload their BMW products. (Another note for the record books when Amy did NOT pick the most expensive option. Seriously, this bike was a steal (brembo brakes and ABS at an amazing price)).
Thus, in my ever deepening moto-obsession, I somehow convinced myself I needed to buy another motorcycle, and ride it 100 miles home on a sunny day in early January. The sun was nice during the day, but it was 30°F and dark when we got home, with no heated gear. Note to self: don’t do that again.
Let’s review: My new TR650 weighs almost exactly the same as my monster (and is thus on the light side for a street bike), but has more comfortable ergos, and has 7.5 inches of suspension travel front and rear (quite a bit more than the Monster’s 4.5 in and 5.75 inches front and rear). This is a big deal when the pavement is rough, or when riding off the pavement altogether. It also has a 19 in front wheel, which will also help off-pavement. It will provide better wind protection with the added windscreen (better than adding a windscreen to the Monster would). I still have ABS, and that 650 single motor is winning me over too.
So, once again, the pendulum swings back towards the practical vs fun end of the spectrum. Except, I don’t think it swung very far from the fun end. The TR is a bit down on power from the Monster, but it has loads of torque, and right now it doesn’t feel like I’m giving up much in the smiles department. The bike is pretty darn fun (given I have all of 300 miles on it at this point), and comparing the two isn’t generally very useful, as they are two different bikes for two different purposes. I guess I’ll just have to go ride the TR to really see how good it really is on the street and dirt:) Until then, farkling for a long road trip is proving to be a fun winter project.
Update Feb 2015: Having owned this bike for a year and 17000 miles, I can now say my TR650 Strada is my go-to bike for most rides. Its easy to ride and fun, although its the most time consuming and aggravating bike to maintain I’ve ever owned. As long as I’m not working on it, I love this bike. Its also the bike I rode to Alaska last summer on our Epic 2014 Moto Alaska Adventure. The TR650 was a great bike for me for that trip.