During a test ride last fall, I decided to compare bike butt sizes. You know what I mean. To answer the age-old biker question, "Does this bike make my butt look big?" I had, in my garage, a trio of dramatically different street bikes. Two that I loved and one that I didn't like so much.
There are a variety of reasons for picking a motorcycle. The older I get, the more limited my options become. As much as I love modern MX and DP bikes, I can't get my arthritic legs over the 36" and greater seat heights. I love 'em, but I can't ride 'em.
Or, at least, I can't get on and off of them safely.
Power-wise, what you give up in flexibility in the VT, you do not get back in power. The VT1300CT's rear wheel power delivery is a paltry 56hp. The V-Strom dyno's at about 56hp and the little WR puts out about 28 rear-wheel horsies. When you need to change speeds quickly, the VT is not much better at acceleration than the WR and the V-Strom is a world quicker than the big cruiser. Acceleration is all about power vs. mass and the more mass you're hauling, the slower you're going to go. All that goes a long ways in explaining why I am having less fun on a bicycle in my dotage, too.
The momma bike, the V-Strom 650 is just right for long distance hauls, especially with the Sargent seat upgrade. 434 pounds is not insignificant, but even a fat old dude like me can wheel it around and through slow moving traffic. Where it is legal, I do not hesitate to split lanes on the V-Strom. The 32" seat height is a problem for some riders, but I have a 29" inseam and I've lived with my V-Strom for 60k miles without the height being an issue. Sitting up almost a foot above the VT1300 puts me where I can see over and around a lot of traffic, which is a safety advantage. The "standard" footpeg/handlebar/seat design allows for aggressive braking and steering and a more natural posture, which is a big deal for long distance riding and safe commuting.
Depending on what you're planning on doing, the V-Strom is damn close to "just right." The baby bike, the Yamaha WR250X, might be as far from "perfect" as the Honda for a lot of riders. The 35" seat height is a hard bar to cross. The upright seating position, the quick steering, precise braking evenly balanced weight distribution (including the rider's weight) demands less from a rider than you might expect. Many of the complaints I've heard about motorcycles this small and lightweight are more directed at tires. With modern, sticky street tires, a bike with low weight and relatively wide tires will stick to the road, resist wind turbulence, and handle suspiciously like a larger, heavier motorcycle from 20 years ago. The WR's 28hp will haul my 200+ pounds at 70mph all day and will pass at speeds around 85mph on flat ground. It's not a race bike, but it is a pretty damn good commuter and its surprisingly fun on a 2,000 mile tour.
A friend, who is considering getting a motorcycle, told me he had to have a cruiser because he looks ridiculous on smaller bikes. Dude, a fat guy on a cruiser looks no sillier than that same chunk of meat on a scooter. It's not the bike that makes your butt look big, it's the big butt that does you in. The fact is, the skinny WR does make my butt look big. The V-Strom is probably "just right," appearance-wise. The VT just makes me look like a poser with an oversized garage candy budget. Think about it.
MMM April 2012