I was talking to my brother in law last night about him getting a bike. As I’m bike mad, he was asking me for advise. Being bike mad I of course have opinions. These are shaped by my own prejudice as are all opinions, for better or for worse. Having a bike is a long term commitment and like any relationship, it will have it’s ups and downs and over the course of any riders life, there will be bikes they love and bikes they hate. There are also just as many types of riders from the hardcore to the weekend warriors to the posers and their rides tend to reflect their own personal sentiment but that’s a post for another day.
Like anybody with an addiction, I’ve had a variety of bikes over the years. I’ve always leaned towards the Enduro style because I like trying my hand at the path least taken. I’m also a taller guy and Enduros offer a comfortable seating position with room for my legs. I totally get my Sport and Super Sport riding brothers, those bikes are the pinnacle of machine design. I’m happier just tooling along on a back road or fire trail (when I’m not cursing my GPS for sending me off on a wild goose chase down the wrong track or just flat out lying to me). After the brief flirtation with a road bike in the guise of the KH400 I eventually ended up on a 90 Yamaha XT600. I loved that old thumper and we put down a lot of kilometers together but if there was one drawback to that bike it was the seat. Square edged and hard it would literally have you in tears after three hours. One of the most punishing seats I’ve ever ridden on next to the stock V-Strom seat (My current ride is a 04 DL-650 but we’ll get to that in a second).
These days I go for comfort. My DL has an aftermarket seat that feels like it’s going to hurt you but never does and my ass thanks me. My current bike is as set up for me as any bike can get. I’ve added crash bars and a skid plate (which has saved my ass too many times to count), highway pegs that I built. With the panniers and gas cans, there’s not too much I can’t carry and not too many places I can’t go.
My brother in law leans more towards the Cruiser style of bike. I can appreciate a Cruiser, it’s just never been for me as I prefer my controls under my feet not out in front. My brother in law has some leg issues though, the aftermath of a harrowing encounter with Cancer. Any cruiser will offer a more comfortable position for him and a lower seat height, which is also a good thing. One of the things that has come with time in regards to bikes is reliability. Precision machining and a ever growing market for bikes with established brands battling for market share be they American, European, Japanese or other keeps the quality pretty high and the pricing down (unless it’s Italian or a Goldwing). So when you go through the local bike listings, you can set a top end price of six thousand dollars and come up with a decent list of very decent bikes.
So I’ll keep my eye out for him and we’ll see what he ends up with and he can start a relationship of his own.