Vintage vs. Modern Motorcycles : traitor vs. realist

This is the extreme of my tastes...

This is the extreme of my tastes...

Recently, I have found myself craving something that doesn’t feel quite right.  It’s a nagging at the back of my brain, driving me toward something I thought I’d never want for myself…

That something is a new bike.  Not a new bike for me, but a NEW bike.  Obviously we all want new bikes, all the time.  There is always a bike we have never tried, a new ride not yet experienced.  But this feeling I have is something different altogether.  It’s a need for something solid, something reliable, dare I say… modern.

I have been a fan of old bikes since before I started riding again.  The bikes I rode as a kid were always old and used up.  The bikes I bought as an adult were the same, but now I had the ability to make them “young” again, and at least semi-reliable.  My baby is a 1976 CB 550 K, and I wouldn’t trade her for the world.  But I want to cheat a little.

Now I find myself dreaming about long trips.  Real long trips.  I want to spend time plotting a route, prepping for the weather and learning how to camp (god forbid!).  And these dreams involve a bike that is both comfortable, and steadfast in it’s ability to get me over the mountain and back.

Problem is: I do not find any modern bikes esthetically attractive.  Sure, the power, technology and advances seem appealing.  But holy s#%t, are these bikes UGLY.  If any of you have followed the trials and tribulations of my exploits with a 1993 Yamaha FZR 600, you’ll know that it was an attempt to dip my toe in the waters of the modern motorcycle.  But that was half-assed, and I realized the minute I modified the bike to where I wanted it to be, that it was not for me.  Close, but no cigar.

So the search began again.  I found myself researching the Kawasaki Versys, terribly ugly, and made to look like a bug.  But after only 5 years on the US market, it has won several ‘bike of the year’ awards from various publications, and has developed a loyal fan base, not only among new riders, but those that have fiddled with many bikes over the years, in search of just this one.

The appeal: What I really need is a bike with a standard riding position, modern braking, liquid cooling, and preferably adjustable suspension.  If the thing can be fun to ride long distance, and also flickable through the twisties, even better.  And that’s just what this bike seems to be.  Kawasaki aimed for the market that wants a fun, versatile bike, without paying through the nose.

In the very near future, it looks like I will go out on a limb and get one of these.  I will not find it visually appealing, but then again, I won’t be looking at the kooky front fairing from the rider position…

What’s your ideal bike?

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