The perfect second motorcycle must be a universal questions that any moto-sexual fool ponders late at night.
“Should I get that beater dual-sport on Craigslist and discover my inner explorer”?
“Oooooo maybe splurge on that big-daddy Road Glide and travel the country in recliner-like comfort”?
“Unleash the demon, grab that Dyna Low Rider and yeet myself to shaky Twin Cam heaven”?
These are the questions that run through my head while surfing CycleTrader after consuming at least one whiskey. However, what is the perfect second motorcycle to buy? Everyone’s requirements/needs will be different, but let’s go through my personal conundrum.
My current ride is Betsy, the 2012 V-Star 1300 Tourer that I’ve already logged about 12k on since buying in 2019. I consider Betsy a great medium tourer for the money and have no intention of selling her since the everyday-rideability of this bike is fantastic. Which leads me to the ascension of true motorcycle obsession by adding another bike to the stable.
Since Betsy can handle the everyday stuff well, this left me thinking about what what specific role do I want for the second ride? After much thought, I was left with a few areas that Betsy certain can’t do: long-distance trips, off-road adventures, or silly noises/big torque fun. For the sake of saving time, I then found my favorite bikes in those categories to drool over.
For long-distance trips, the Road Glide has all the comfort (especially with upgraded suspension) and storage I would ever need. I’m still in the middle of if I like the Shark Nose or Batwing fairing better, but I’ve heard enough about the high speed advantages of the Shark Nose to lean in that direction. I did choose the M8 engine over a more affordable Twin Cam due to the smoothness the M8 provides and overall reliability/performance upgrades. That being said, the Twin Cam is precisely why I picked my next option.
Everybody has heard the term DynaBro at this point. The cult following is huge and it’s possible that club-style builds are being a bit too common now. However, this does not change the fact that I drool over a built Twin Cam sitting in a Dyna Low Rider. While I would love the M8 in a touring application, the sound of cammed TC chugging around town is V-Twin perfection and you have a million ways to customize your build. In an oddly perfect situation, I would find a higher-mileage Low Rider S and build that 110 into a fire-breathing demon. We can dream cant we?
Last on my list is the most practical, but potentially the most rewarding option: the mule that is a DRZ 400. Over the past six months I’ve had uncontrollable urges to veer off the pavement and tackle some single-track paths. I’ve heard about the challenge it is to take on off-road riding and also how freeing it can be. Not worrying about potholes, texting riders or the unavoidable Prius of doom sounds amazing. Plus, with a DRZ 400 or even the larger DR 650, I would have enough streetability to get to places outside my area and do some camping trips. As a side-note, a simple design like the DRZ is just so easy to wrench on that if a part fails, it’s no big deal. Not to mention the cost is a fraction of my other two choices.
So here I sit, on a snowy Monday morning, wrestling over a purchase that I am nowhere ready to make. The practical side of my head is all over the DRZ path, but my lusty side is pawing at the DynaBro life. My crumb of comfort is knowing that a vast majority of riders are/have had this same conundrum and hopefully made the right choice. I guess the only correct choice is finding a bag of money and buying all three right?
In my great state of New Jersey, bikers are doing a ritual dance of joy as Spring finally shoves Winter out of our lives. Don’t get me wrong, I love the beauty and peacefulness that snow can provide. However, my addiction to riding means I itched for every passable day to strap on layers of warm clothing to ride. Maybe I will have the extra cash next Winter to grab some awesome heated gear, but I digress.
The days of riding like an Eskimo or over and I was finally able to commute to work two weeks ago on Selene. My new position is located in Trenton which provides me a solid ride up 295 before entering the lawless city of my employer. Seriously folks, people in this area must have passed the express drivers education course because lane-discipline and proper following distances need-not-apply.
This was the second day that I was able to ride up since most mornings have still been around the 30 degree mark and I would rather not have Popsicle hands upon arriving to my office. The ride up was fantastic and luckily the traffic gods were on my side. The highway may not be a fun and twisty back-road, but there is something wonderfully ‘Murica about a v-twin motor rumbling down the highway. After sitting at work, counting down the time until I could saddle back up, 4:30 hits and I fly out of the door. All my gear is on, earplugs and Sena headset are connected, and I roar away from the office…for a few blocks.
Down the street from my building, I hear a PANG and I feel my rear wheel start to skip. It felt like something in my driveshaft has seized, Selene is broken, and poo is now vigorously firing from my underpants since I am traveling at 30-35mph. Due to my immense skill, thousands of miles under my belt, but mostly my MSF training, I bring her to a halt and quickly find the problem. Plastic pins and two bolts in my rear light housing had failed which dropped the whole assembly, including my license plate, onto the rear tire. More of my immense skill and craftsmanship enabled me to botch it together together for my 35-mile ride home. Note to any new riders, you would be surprised what some duct tape and a gym towel can do.
When I arrived back home, I realized how lucky I was that no severe damage was done to Selene and how light I felt after the mass poo evacuation that occurred just an hour before. After I cleaned myself off though, I had a sense of pride wash all over me. It was a right-of-passage that I had cleared and was one step closer to calling myself a “real biker”. I had faced a mechanical calamity, all by myself, and remedied the problem to a point of safeishly getting back home. While my lovely metric bike rarely has a breakdown, most riders of Harley’s, Eurobikes, or anything vintage will attest that dealing with mechanical issues is something you must be comfortable with. Now I can proudly say I jumped one of those hurdles.
To wrap up my triumphant day, I would like to shout out my shop. Mt. Holly Motorsports has been my go-to shop since I started riding/bought Selene. I was going to go to DHY but after my father had an issue with his Yamaha during a carburetor service, I found them after an extensive Google search and also found out that they are a licensed Suzuki dealer. This made it an easy choice for my precious first motorcycle.
I strapped up the fender again and rode over on Saturday after speaking to Scott in their Parts department. I was having trouble identifying the replacement bolts on Suzuki’s OEM diagram so I needed to take it them to verify what I needed. After Scott checked out the damage, he went back into the shop as I started talking with fellow riders Scott (who had a Suzuki C50T), and a funny German obviously named Klaus (who had a new Ninja 650). A few minutes later, I noticed Scott had come back to my bike and was replacing the bolts right there in the parking lot. Afterwards he said I was good to go, and would need to replace an inner fender piece to be 100% perfect, but the bolts that were replaced will hold everything just fine.
I was happily surprised he did this and as I was saying thank you, I asked how much for the repair. Scott insisted there was no cost since it was pretty easy for him to do right then and there, but that would not do. I gave him $20 and told him that he not only saved me the few bucks in buying the bolts, but the time of squeezing my hand inside the fender to re-secure them. That’s what awesome customer service should be, and now I know who my go-to guy is over at Mt. Holly Motorsports.
Moral of the story, Selene is great, I love my shop, and I feel like real biker, happy Spring everyone.
I am a faithful man, the idea of cheating on Selene is not something I really think about, but something has recently been creeping up on me. Before you ask, the Street Glide pictured above is by no means in my financial spectrum, but damn it’s perfect.
My 2005 Suzuki M50 is perfect to me. I found her with 15,000 miles and currently she has a little over 18,000. Three thousand amazing miles and my first bike still makes me grin like an idiot every time I climb on to her…take that statement as you want. While I have long thought about getting a second bike to compliment Selene’s downsides, I really haven’t thought about replacing her.
While she is only 800cc, Selene only weighs about 500lbs and can be shifted around with ease. No, she is not superbike fast but almost no cruiser is so I could care less. She is quick enough and the Cobra Drag Pipes make every mph scream forward. She is not a high maintenance gal. With fuel-injection, shaft drive, and proven Suzuki reliability, there is no hint this bike is 18-years-old. Plus, under “normal” riding, she even gets 45 miles-per-gallon. Under my “spirited” riding, I still have no issue returning around 40. Add all of this to a sleek design and a Mustang seat which was worth every penny, I don’t want to believe there is a logical reason to part ways.
However, it’s a funny thing once you realize you are properly obsessed with motorcycles. What you do not understand until it happens first-hand is just how connected you become to your motorcycle. It is because of that I almost hurt thinking about upgrading Selene to something that covers my needs a little better. A larger engine will give me needed torque to make highways less uncomfortable. A little more weight and a better suspension setup will provide a more comfortable ride. As of now, Selene rides tight and can cause some pains after a prolonged ride. Also, the M50 in general does not have the aftermarket supply as many other motorcycles so customizing is very difficult. For all these reasons, Selene and I may part ways towards the end of this year. My brain knows it, my wallet knows it, but my heart is finding every reason to fight it.
I remember the first moment I realized I loved Selene. I decided to ride to Atlantic City for no reason and it was a hot day. I will admit to not wearing my jacket but to be honest I didn’t care. It was a perfect day to ride to the beach. While once I got down to the shore, all clouds left the sky and a great breeze hit the island. Everything was perfect, it was honestly like a date. I was just bobbing around with me visor open, having the salty air brush my face, Red Hot Chili Peppers playing in my Sena, and the roar of Selene in the background. Since it was during the week, there was no traffic and I was able to zip around as I please. I even did some minor off-roading near the Golden Nugget casino when I made a wrong turn and jumped a few curbs. I pulled over on a beach-block and just looked at Selene, realizing that she was perfect for the trip, no other bike would have given me the same experience.
Even moments that I thought would be scary turned out being enjoyable. I rode to work thinking I had clear weather for the whole day. Turns out my app made a mistake and it was torrentially down-pouring by 12PM. As I geared up to leave work, it became clear that the rain was no letting up and I was going to have to ride home. To some experienced riders this might not sound that challenging, but at the time I had only rode through light sprinkles before. While my journey home is only 15 minutes, I was pretty nervous. What happened as I started riding still confuses me, I started laughing. The entire ride home I was laughing and making all my best Jeremy Clarkson noises. I HAD FUN. When I got home I specifically remember patting her on the tank and saying good girl. If I have not made it clear, Selene and I have a bond.
As I type that, all the memories I have with her are coming back and I am kicking myself for thinking of getting rid of her. Maybe once I have a larger budget, I can get a bigger cruiser that fits my needs without needing to get rid of Selene. Throw a batwing and some hard-bags on her to make the perfect light-tourer. Who knows, but what I do know is I’ll be wrestling with this every time I decide hop on the old Craigslist and browse my heart away.
Truth be told, this is not a new bike, and maybe not the most exciting bike, but for my uncle this is his awesome new bike. Until last week, old man Rubinson rode a black/olive-green 2005 V-Star 1100 which was his first bike since the dinosaurs roamed the earth, aka the 80’s.
The “olive” was a nice bike for him. Being that he is 5’9″ and roughly 200lbs, the V-Star physically fit him well and was an overall good bike to get him back into riding. It wasn’t crazy powerful, had a extremely comfortable riding position, and a host of accessories for him to choose from. However, as any rider knows, there is always something nicer out there so he recently decided that he wanted to upgrade to something that fit his needs a little better.
What he was essentially looking for was a bike that could mimic a Harley Davidson Street Glide without costing anywhere near $20,000. Sure, he could have bought one used, but the year-range of H-D he could afford isn’t exactly known for their reliability he didn’t feel like having a tinker-toy. This essentially left him going back to metric cruisers. Through talking with myself and doing his own research, he even found a great range of bikes that fit that requirement right around the size of the Street Glide, but then I found what would become the perfect bike.
The black & blue/purple 2009 V-Star 1300 wasn’t a model he was initially considering mainly due to the 1300cc motor. Even I was trying to find something in the 1600-2000cc range to best mimic the Street Glide, but I pulled up this V-Star for him to look at for a couple key reasons.
Old man wanted hard-saddlebags. After having a nice pair of soft-bags on the 1100, he realized that in order to maximize storage, durability, and security, hard-bags were the way to go. This model came with them out of the factory and look great on the bike, not all accessory saddles can say the same.
Old man doesn’t want to tinker. The 1100 V-Star ran like a Civic, and by that I mean nothing ever went wrong. While metric cruisers in general are very reliable, V-Stars are always at the top of those click-bait articles about reliability. With the 1300 having fuel-injection, liquid cooling, and belt-drive, these bike is meant to run for years without inconveniencing the owner. Granted, the 1100 was shaft-driven and even more reliable, we realized that belts were more common on the larger “CC” motors.
Old man isn’t exactly a big man. Probably the most important reason I sent this to him to check out was actually the size. The 1300 has the same seat height, floor board spacing, and almost the same weight of the older 1100. This means that het is getting just about every upgrade he wants without riding a monster. This consideration doesn’t mean much for someone who is six feet tall and can easily flat-foot a bagger, but that gets sketchier and sketchier as your height drops. During the ride home, he even said how it feels great since it just feels like the super version of the old V-Star, which he really enjoyed riding.
Obviously, old man Rubinwrinkles liked the bike and it is now in our garage as the jealous old V-Star get ready to go up for sale, but what do I think of it? In short, very nice light-tourer that doesn’t quick fit my riding style.
The first thing is that I noticed was that it does pull decently hard. At roughly 630lbs, the glass-smooth V-Twin will pull down the road with ease and you can’t comfortably pop it into 5th gear until over 60 mph. This tells me that you can comfortably sit at 75+mph on the highway all day long. Also, the seating position is very standard with you legs not stretched out at all. Now, I personally like a little stretch but my uncle does not, this position fits him great since his legs aren’t that long so I get it. The same can be said for the stock handlebar. It tucks back towards the rider with the grips angled in as well. Your arms, like your legs, are not extended at all which adds to the everyday comfort of the V-Star.
The styling is nice too. This is not trying to copy an H-D but has very nice lines that don’t force a certain style on you. It is actually a tad on the under-stated side which for people like my uncle, is preferable. Going along with the styling, because this particular bike only had 5,000 miles, it really does look and feel brand new. This is a bike that he can ride until that brand new Street Glide becomes a reality. There are a few smaller upgraders he wants to do but the two major ones will be a lighting system for night riding, and a batwing fairing. Once he gets these upgrades bolted on, this unassuming Yamaha will be perfect for him.
However, there is a downside when it came to bringing this bike home. It’s a big one really. I now have to itch to buy a new bike. Why are the motoring gods so cruel!
Just yesterday, my uncle bought a new bike. Now it isn’t new, it’s a 2009, and although we were at an H-D dealer, the bike was a Yamaha V-Star 1300. While I will go into details about the bike in another article, the point of this is to show how Chris from Lakewood Harley Davidson made that buying experience a pure joy.
The reason this surprised me is the experience I had at Barb’s Harley throughout taking my MSF course there, and being at the dealer for various events/rides. I guess it makes sense to start with Barb’s right? I generally like going to any dealership just because window-shopping is a blast, but also it is nice to feel-out the people that work there. Both me and any given sales rep know that I am not in the market for a $15,000 bike at the moment, and I don’t expect to be treated special for just stepping foot into the dealership. However, I want to be able to talk to someone and LEARN about the bikes, and by having someone casually tell me about the new Milwaukee-Eight 114ci motor makes me want it and the expensive bike it’s bolted to.
While at Barb’s, I was generally ignored or immediately tried to be sold on financing a Street 750…no. It was almost like the saw this young guy without tattoos, for now, and immediately consider I’m just a dingleberry who doesn’t bikes so just get him on this plastic learner and get him out the door. Nobody tried to just be normal and shoot the shit with me and get a relationship built up, because of that, I really never had a desire to consider buying a bike there. My dream of having one of four Harley’s was just that, a nice dream to have years down the road.
That all changed yesterday thanks to a cool dude from Shamong.
My uncle had talked with Chris on the phone before we drove an hour to look at it so he was already set to deal with him. I am like my uncle where if we are going to take the time to see something in person, we are serious about buying it and he made sure Chris knew that. So after a lovely lunch at Whole Hog Cafe and many conversations about the bike, we arrive a Lakewood. The dealership itself it very nice, and like Barb’s, there are plenty of bikes outside to wet your whistle before walking through the door.
We see the V-Star outside and take a quick look before going inside and she looks great, old man is happy thus far. We go inside and meet Chris, as it turns out, I have seen him at Barb’s for some rides and he worked there for awhile too. Without going through a transcript of the entire time with him, Chris did the perfect thing any sales rep should do; leave the B.S. at the door. H-D dealers don’t like having metric bikes on their lots and all three of us knew it. This was about makes a quick dollar and trying to move it out. There was no attempt to up-sell to an H-D, there was no mention about financing until he physically had to ask during the paperwork, and he even brought the bike into their service department to get the clutch tension inspected at our request.
More importantly, when my uncle did confess to his desire to save and buy his dream Street Glide, Chris didn’t even talk about pricing or new features or anything of the sort. Now you may ask why this is important, so I shall tell you. My uncle (and mostly me) research bikes and cars before buying and know our stuff. He also has me, the walking encyclopedia of motors, to tell him about anything related to bikes and cars. Chris, I assume, picked up on that in various conversations and realized that we know about the Street Glide, we both want a Street Glide, we know about various features and specs on the Street Glide, we know. There was no need to sell us on one since we already are drooling over them and have made it clear that we cannot afford them for ourselves which is why my uncle is buying the V Star.
He is the type salesperson who can read is clients well and is only interested in making us happy while making a quick dollar. We also already know he made his money off the previous owner of the V-Star since he traded this bike in on a brand new H-D and knows him personally. He even called him on his cell to ask a few questions we had about the bike. Once again, you might think this is silly, common sense, why am I still reading? What Chris did, and I am dead serious about this, is ensure that when either my uncle or myself are ready to get our first H-D’s, we will be coming directly to him and Lakewood Harley.
What makes this extra warm and fuzzy is that people like Chris are exactly the type of people we need in motorcycle dealerships in order to get more people buying and riding bikes! If you do a little research, you will find that while more people are currently buying motorcycles in the U.S. of A, they are buying used bikes. That is simply due to people my age who want to ride but cannot logically afford a new bike thanks to student loan debt, higher cost of living, and Candy Crush. I say logically because that doesn’t mean we wouldn’t buy a new bike, there is just little reason to since we aren’t seeing the benefit and that is the fault of every dealer out there.
When I was at Barb’s H-D, I felt like I was ignored for a variety of reasons and I partially get it, but at the same time I have no connection and reason to spend my money at a dealership 20 minutes from my house. At Lakewood H-D, Chris made me feel welcome. The way he helped my uncle buy a relatively cheap metric bike told me that I should really try and get my savings in order so I can buy one of the many H-D’s I want from him.
So to Chris, thank you. In about a year or two, expect my call about a flat white Street Glide or 114 Heritage Classic. You are my H-D hero and thank you for getting me excited about buying an H-D…eventually….someday…we’ll talk.
It should come as no surprise that I find Harley’s cool. I enjoy things that have a mean factor, I believe in mo’ noise mo’ better, and of course I loved Sons of Anarchy. While this sentence is full of cliche’s, it is so true that I am almost ashamed of myself.
This month marked the one-year anniversary of my getting my motorcycle endorsement and I blame this desire for an American V-Twin on the very event. I took my MSF course at Barb’s Harley Davidson in Mt. Ephraim, NJ. I decided to pay the extra money and take the course here for one main reason; you learn on a Harley Street 500. Now before the Harley loyal raise their pitchforks and scream about it not being a “real Harley”, I actually agree with you. The styling is okay but the sound and attitude are decidedly more metric than ‘Murcia, but that’s for another article.
The Street 500 I named Betsy, in my eye, was a perfect bike to learn on. It was low, light, and not that powerful…at all. Also, I knew that I was looking to buy cruiser style motorcycle for my first bike so learning on one just made too much sense. This is compared to the barrage of 250/300cc bangers most others places use. Anyway, I’m getting a little off topic again, there will be a dedicated post about my learning experience don’t you worry!
As I went to my lessons, I would walk around the showroom, uncontrollably drooling over the two-wheeled candy in front of me. Granted this is H-D’s goal by offering the course at their dealerships, but damnit it was working. The funny thing is, I know that Harley’s are not perfect and are simply overpriced. I see those pitchforks raising again, let me speak! If you use common sense, most H-D models just don’t make sense. Most of the juicy models, at least the ones I want, cost at least $20,000 once you tack on basic accessories. On the metric side, I can easily buy a similar sized bike for $11,000-$15,000 new. Don’t believe me? I sense an example coming.
Both are retro style cruisers with the Harley taking the edge on retro, the engines are close in size (Suzuki 1,462 cc, HD 1,687cc) and both will take you on a decent sized road trip with lovely comfort. While the H-D’s extra torque will punch you off the line, Suzuki’s fuel-injection adds an extra level of refinement and the C90T also sports liquid cooling. Now for price. The C90T starts at $12,899 and right now you could grab one for a few dollars less due to the new model year coming. The H-D starts at $18,549 for the basic black color, the two-tone style paint in the picture above will start at $19,299. You don’t have to be a seasoned accountant to show you what you can do with an extra $6,000 to $7,000.
So, our logic tell us that you can buy the Suzuki or Yamaha or name another non-H-D motorcycle and be better off. Do it, your wallet will thank you, and your smile shall still be as wide, right? Wrong. So foolishly wrong.
If you read my Ducati article, you know that emotions play a massive role in buying these machines. While there are many rider who really love their metric/ European cruisers, H-D’s have an emotional pull that almost no other motorcycle manufacturer has. If we look past the entry level Street 500 and Street 750 models, just about every Harley looks amazing. I know style is subjective but the only two models that don’t fully tickle my tinkle are the 2018 Fat Bob, and Road Glide’s. Now the Fat Bob is primarily due to the stock exhaust and the headlight, they aren’t deal-killers but I’m not too sure about them. The Road Glide however has an ugly fairing in my humble opinion, it just looks fat. Aside from these two though, the rest of the models look great.
Then there is the noise. You cannot even begin to talk about Harley’s without discussing that wonderful V-Twin rumble. For the most part, if you think about riding across the country on a motorcycle, the noise in your head is pure Harley. Lastly, the marketplace for H-D’s cannot be rivaled. The amount to which you can customize an H-D is unreal, I honestly had no clue until I started looking for part for my Suzuki M50. If I have six different major exhaust systems to choose from for my bike, any given Harley seems to have 30. What this means is every owner can feel as though the bike they bought is truly unique, although the sheer numbers of Harley’s out there tell a different story.
When I think about these factors, things like the overall cost, poor day-to-day reliability (until recently it seems), and lack of innovative technology fly right out the window. I just want one, badly. In one of my various “I won the lottery” dreams, I have a Street Glide, Fat Boy, and Heritage Classic in my garage, along with a fleet of various British and Italian motorcycles. So maybe I shouldn’t feel foolish for wanting one, but rather embrace the fact that one day I will have a Harley or four. Hello, my name is Michael, and I will have a Harley.