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Howdy guys 'n gals!

I need your opinions. But first, you must know a little about moi:

I'm a 30 year old woman who's been riding for a little more than 4 years, and gone through three bikes: a 250cc Suzuki GZ250, a 2009 Triumph Bonneville, and a 2008 HD Street Bob. The next bike I buy will be the last one I buy for a long time. This is an expensive hobby dangit!

My wife and I (Yes, you read correctly: my WIFE) learned on our little two-fitty for about a year. I had the unfortunate experience of watching my mother pass away from cancer in 2009. She was good to me, however, and left me some money. It was such a wonder: we paid off a bunch of debt (including our car at the time), and I went shopping. I bought a brand new 2009 Bonneville Black.

I loved that bike. I really did. But I had always wanted a Harley, since I was a kid. After almost a year, I went to an HD Demo Day and was promptly injected with HD Kool-Aid. I was hooked. Less than two months later, I sold my trusty Bonnie and bought myself a 2008 Dyna Glide Street Bob. It was a mean machine, and I loved the low-end torque. I really, really loved that bike.

Until it started behaving like a problem child.

In the two years I owned it, it gave me two serious problems: a crack in the engine casing, and a brake calliper that was barely hanging on by a thread of metal. Earlier this season, I realized I didn't love my Bob anymore. It was 650lbs, and I was only riding it to/from work. I wasn't even taking it out for joy rides anymore. The fun had been sucked out of me: I was so over my HD.

I sold it. I did not regret it one bit.

My wife has a 2008 Sportster Low. It's a great, fast, fun little bike. I started convincing myself that I just may buy myself a Sporty too! While I love the look of the Iron, it's out of my price range, and I'm only looking at used bikes.

Now my wife's Sporty is acting like a problem child: the gaskets have failed AGAIN this season, and it's puking oil EVERYWHERE.

She's pissed.

I'm pissed.

We're all PISSED.

She's seriously considering getting it fixed and selling it. I don't know how it is even possible that we both bought total LEMONS, but we did. It's soured us on Harleys.

Although in the back of my head, I think a 2006 Roadster would be cool. They are easy to work on, and I really, REALLY want to learn how to wrench. Another reason we have been soured on Harleys are the stealerships and high prices of maintenance. I thought if I were to go through this Harley ****e again, I'd learn to wrench it myself. I even bought an inexpensive bike lift in preparation.

Then I got the CRAZY idea to buy a vintage BEEMAH. I love how they look. Kinda ugly, but kinda cool :) I know some of you guys own Airheads. I've been perusing these forums for long enough :) What I've read about these bikes is that a) they're easy to work on, b) I can still get parts online (though not here in Canada; apparently BMW Canada have recently stopped working on ALL Airheads) and c) they are really reliable. I was thinking I could get a nicely restored Airhead for somewhere around $4k tops. But the more I read about them…the more I've found they are not 'fun' bikes. They are torquey, but no one…NO ONE describes them as 'fun'. I hate to say this, but the low-end torque of HDs have me hooked. I still want a fun bike that can do a little bit of everything. I'm now having doubts about buying a Beemah. I also think the maintenance part will be more than I'm prepared for.

I also researched the snot out of the 'vintage' Triumph Thunderbirds (Adventurer/Legend/Sport). I found a guy selling a 1998 T-Bird Sport in red. I was so psyched. I went to have a look at it…and…

I was thoroughly disappointed.

It felt heavy as #$%!. Felt heavier than my former Harley! And it felt TOP HEAVY, which is even worse. I think the only thing HD has going for them is their low centre of gravity. You can't drop one. If you do, you're an idiot.

I really wanted to like the T-Bird Sport. I really, really did. Everything I'd read about 'em sounded great. I knew what to expect from a triple engine, as I had tested rode a S3 earlier this year (it's out of my price range too...*sob*). But man, sitting on that thing…it just didn't feel right. My gut said NO.

Now I'm thinking…

…I thought my Bonnie was good at everything. Not awesome, but good. But I also remember it being boring. Don't blast me for this, please. I don't want a sport bike, but I want a fun, light bike that I can mod and wrench myself, and turn it into a slight speed freak. A hooligan bike.

I also remembered the foot pegs being in an awkward position. I thought the front brakes were a little twitchy/sensitive. I also dropped my poor Bonnie a few days after owning it. Wet road, slick…bam. It wasn't fun. But there was nary a scratch! I was more beat up than the Bonnie! I felt it was a little top heavy. But it was also my second bike, and I was still a newb. Anyway…there *were* some things I didn't like about it, but earlier this year, when I was pushing my Bob into the garage, I had the thought:

"Man. My Bonnie was lighter than this $#@*-ing thing".

Should I go ahead and buy a Beemah? Another HD because it's "what I know"? Or a Bonnie and mod/wrench/customize the crap out of it and make it ride like snot?

What am I getting into?!

I know most of you will say "GET THE BONNIE DURRRRRR", but I also know many of you have read many different bikes. I'd like you all to chime in.

Yes.

ALL OF YOU.

Thank you for reading my extremely long-winded post :D
 

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Hi Patski and welcome. I've had all three of the bikes on your short list. I'm not sure what you call a classic BMW. I'm so old that I think 50's or 60's as classics. Those are big buck collectors items. You can find some real nice 70's and 80's Beemers at a very reasonable cost, particularly the less sought after models. But be aware that the mystique of low maintenance German engineering is just that. Most of these older bikes usually need work and some of this could get expensive. It's true they can run forever, but only if they are lovingly maintained. Earlier 70's are the coolest in my humble opinion because there's less plastic. If you pm me I can give you some website dedicated to restoring these bikes so you can get a good idea of the effort and cost involved.

I'm sure everyone else will pipe in about Harleys. I had an 03 Softail. I thought it was a great bike, but if you're looking for something classy and unique...well, a Harley is just about as far away from that as you can get.

You are right about the input you will get here. We're a pretty brand loyal bunch. I sold my Bonnie Black and bought a Scrambler, which I did extensive (for me) engine, suspension and lightening work. It's my second favorite bike of the 20 or so I've owned in my lifetime. I have no intention of ever selling it. After the work I've done on it, it's nothing like an off the showroom Triumph. I vote get another new or slightly used Triumph and go full desert racer, bratbike, bobber, etc. Any way you go, take off any parts you don't need and spend some money on the engine. Drop Mike in Va a line and have him advise you about a 1087 bore and stroke kit. I don't think you'll be bored with that:D

edit: I re read your post and found I missed the part about Thunderbirds. I also had one of the older variety Thunderbird triples (the ones with the detuned three cylinder) That was a great bike. Fast and very nice looking if you can put up with the big radiator. I've seen some of those made into great looking cafe bikes. Mine was a 1998. Get a lower or custom seat if you are concerned about it feeling top heavy. You can always drop tonage off those bikes as well.
 

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Great post. My last H-D was a Street Bob and my last BMW was a 1984 R65. I traded my '12 Bonnie for a 2011 Scrambler. I feel qualified to comment. The old BMWs do have maintenance issues, like pulling the motor to grease the driveshaft. Mine tried to throw me off in a high speed tankslapper. As I was thinking about selling it, it was totalled by a red light runner. I was not sad. Another thing about BMW. The only custom part available was a stainless steel exact copy of the stock exhaust.

I grew up with dreams of Then Came Bronson and Easy Rider. I have owned 7 Hogs. Some have been flawless and others have had problems. The Street Bob melted its stator on my way to work. One week out of warranty for a $1000 repair. I love Sportsters but you already have your wife's.

The Bonnie has performance on par with a 1200 Sportster and you can customize it as much as any Harley. The only common issue on the 865 motor seems to be the cam cover gasket which went through a redesign so if yours leaks, you put in the new gasket. You might look into crash bars or sliders if you think you might drop it. Get a better sounding exhaust and open up the intake. Lots of info here on this site.

Besides everyone has a Harley these days, even your dentist.
 

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I learned to ride on a Triumph in 1968. Bought one a couple of years later. That one was very used and had problems. I sold it and started riding UJM's all where good bikes, but without a lot of soul. Finally in 2005 I bought a new Bonnie, right back where I belong. It was totaled 5 yrs later, so I went out 2 weeks after that and bought a 08 T100. This should be my last bike, unless I add a Triumph 800 Tiger to the garage.

So what I'm saying is buy a Bonnie............
 

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Bike choice is really personal and you really need to get your hands on what you like the look of before buying. Ive lost count of the times ive been let down and impressed by bikes ive coveted or discounted in magazines. Vintage bikes are a cool thing and i'm currently restoring a CBR F2, but IMO there is no substitute for modern technology and reliability, unless you like getting your tool kit out.

Two bikes you may wish to consider, and which are are absolutely brilliant, are a Moto Guzzi V7 racer and the HD XR1200X. The XR1200X I would consider to be HDs best al rounder dressed up as a dirt track racer, cool as penguin piss.

The V7 Racer... well lets just say that thing is beautiful, stunning in fact. I cant put into words how impressive that thing is in the flesh and unlike the bonnie, all the parts are top shelf premium. I had a try on one at a trade stand when I was at the Ace Cafe last month. Its down about 10bhp from a bonnie but weighs about 50kg less. It feels unbelievably light compared to a bonnie. Ive got a very tough decision ahead of me when I look to trade my Thrux in.

Another option, if you can find one, is a Ducati bi-posto sport classic. Probably a bit too performance orientated if your set on HDs and classic Triumphs, but Id own one in a second.
 

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One more thing, as a 30 year old you may not be as crazy about the nostalgic style and you probably have no use for an "old man magnet". My daughter rides a new CBR and it is tons of fun! The new Honda NC700 series are going in a whole new direction. Storage in the space usually used for a fuel tank, optional automatic trans, performance of a Bonneville with the gas mileage of a scooter.
 

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:) Out of the 50 odd bikes I've had over the past 40 years, the only one that I'd have back tomorrow would be my '75 R90S. Those old airheads still make a lot of sense today. Build quality is unmatched anywhere, they are easy to fix in the unlikely event of a breakdown, and they are great to ride. Only drawback is that they are 30+ years old now, with all the problems that entails. In your position I'd take a good long look at a Guzzi V7 classic. Great bike. The perceived lack of bhp doesn't show up in the real world, and they are tremendous fun to chuck about because they don't weigh anything! Go and check one out!
 

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Great post patski. You mentioned you wanted to work on the bike, maintenance, mods, turn it into a hooligan. Get the Bonnie. No lie. It is such an easy and delightful bike to work on, and any problem you might encounter has been dealt with on this forum.

Also, as you can see on this forum, there are riders who have done all sorts of cool things to their Bonnies. Tons of aftermarket stuff, if you get an EFI one of the TTP maps and TuneECU program are hard to beat. All sorts of loud pipes available. My SE was a bit boring until I opened her potential up. It's lighter, faster, and louder than ever. Very fun, and definitely not boring.
 

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Discussion Starter #11 (Edited)
Oh my goodness. Look at all these replies! You guys are AWESOME!!! :D

A few things:

The Beemahs I was looking at at 70s/80s R78/R80/R100. I'm steering away (pardon the pun) from these...as much as I love how they look, I just think it'd be too much work. MAYBE...one day once I've really tinkered and learned how to wrench, a R80 or R100 could be a SECOND BIKE! YES!

I LURRRRVE nostalgic style and design. I'm highly aware of how much of an 'old man magnet' the Bonnie is. I had many of them ogle my bike and start up conversations with me. All were surprised it was a 'new' Bonnie! I certainly didn't mind the attention. Few sport bikes really interest me: I love the look of Ducati: the Monster is still a design I love, and there's a handful for sale in my price range in my area. But I've read the S3 is the Monster 695/596 ONLY BETTER. If I was to get a naked bike, the S3 would be IT! Also, the Ducati bi-posto sport classic is a BYOOOOOTIFUL bike. I sat on one and felt like I was being violated :-o Not crazy about that seating position. Hard to find used and in my price range.

I like the look of Moto Guzzi. The V7 Classic and Racer are both neat looking bikes. There is a 2000 V11 Sport for sale in my area. Not the same bike, but they sure look alike. What are Guzzis like to work on? Easy? A PITA? Are parts expensive?

The XR1200X is one Sporty I haven't tested out. It scares me, LOL I don't remember if I've butt-tested one. Maybe the next demo day, it'll have to go on my priority list.

I've even looked at the Scrambler. I don't have any plans on going off-roading, but who knows? :) Is it true the stock tires are sh!t for urban roads? I commute to work...that'd be an expensive thing to swap out right away. There's a nice Scrambler on eBay right now. I butt-tested Tom Cruise's Scrambler (not kidding: Ride Motorcycles had it in their showroom during their demo day), and I like the fit. I'd have to ride one to know for sure!

Can the pegs on a Bonnie or Scrambler be re-positioned? When I had my Bonnie, the pegs were right where I wanted to plant my feet at a stop. It was a little annoying.

I'm not in a hurry. I figure now that winter is coming, I may snag a better deal in December or January.

I *may* still be going to see a R75 this week. I haven't decided if it's worth it just to sit on one, hear it start up, etc. Or I could just email the guy (who's been super helpful/nice) and tell him I've since changed my mind. I kind of feel like a dick for doing so, but it may be better than showing up and having him think I'm really interested.

Keep these posts coming! You've all been so helpful! :)
 

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:) Out of the 50 odd bikes I've had over the past 40 years, the only one that I'd have back tomorrow would be my '75 R90S.
It's surprising how many are still on the road today, specially here in Spain. Not restored or kept for special occasions, but ridden normally.

Mind you M.G. Vig is the man responsible for shattering my fantasies while riding my Bonnie...:mad:

I used to fancy that it felt a bit like an Ariel Square Four or something like that, you know, smooth and distinguised but with that 360º engine beat and all that.

But then I read his opinions of it and the (unfortunately accurate) observation that it felt like a Honda Super Dream on steroids and I can't erase that image from my brain everytime I ride it now...:)
 

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The Guzzi will be relatively simple to work on. In general bikes are very straight forward compared to cars so there shouldn't be a bike out there that would scare you off learning DIY. Parts should be no more difficult than sourcing Ducati stuff. Service items are readily available and trust me when I say there isnt a single part on the V7 Racer you will want to change apart from a tail tidy- its that good.

If your worried about rearset position then consider a Thruxton. The pegs are set back to allow a more sporty riding position so when you take your feet off you can put them straight down. Play around with different bars and you can have something every bit as comfy as a bonnie. The Scrambler would benefit from better road tyres if you want to commute, but to me tyres are a service item so changing them are a small thing.

Dont let the XR1200X scare you, the power delivery will be typically HD, low end and torquey. Ive heard people say bikes such as Super blackbirds and Hayabusas are terrifying, but the way power is delivered makes them very easy and versatile bikes to ride. My first bike was a GSXR400RR- now that was a suicide machine, no power until 7000 rpm where it would then snap your neck with acceleration.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
The Thruxton is sadly out of my price range :(

Insurance on them here is also hideously expensive.

I'm looking to spend $6k TOPS...and that is pushing it. I'd rather spend between $5k and $5500.

I don't think I'm going to find a Guzzi for that price.
 

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True- the guzzi is going to be difficult to source at that price.

Is there really a price difference between bonnies and Thruxs over there? here all 3 models are priced virtually identically. If you are savvy you could easily convert a bonnie to a Thrux-like bike using a bit of imagination and not a lot of cash.
 

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It's surprising how many are still on the road today, specially here in Spain. Not restored or kept for special occasions, but ridden normally.

Mind you M.G. Vig is the man responsible for shattering my fantasies while riding my Bonnie...:mad:

I used to fancy that it felt a bit like an Ariel Square Four or something like that, you know, smooth and distinguised but with that 360º engine beat and all that.

But then I read his opinions of it and the (unfortunately accurate) observation that it felt like a Honda Super Dream on steroids and I can't erase that image from my brain everytime I ride it now...:)
:) Guilty as charged! However, I am now the owner of my own supercharged Super Dream in the shape of a new BMW F800ST, so I'd best keep my trap shut! Mind you, with 85bhp on tap it's a bit quicker than a Bonnie!
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Yeah, people selling Thruxtons used here are like HD riders selling theirs:

INSANE.

They think all the add-ons and farkles amount to a HUUUUUUUUGE increase in price over a brand new, stock bike.

But yeah, insurance on a Thruxton has been tough to find cheap. Insurance here in general is a joke.

I've seen loads of people turn their Bonnies into cafe style Thruxton wannabes, and they do look pretty cool :)
 

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BMW.. I have owned 12 and worked for the factory as a management training manger.

BMW airheads are decent bikes with lots of resources... Consider a /7... modestly priced, relatively easy to work on... another is the rare 1985-87 R65 with a monolever..usually cheap say $2500-3500
not the earlier R65 that blows up without warning..

Later BMW's are complex and increasingly difficult to work on at home.

Moto Guzzi.. owned 2.. both were absolute nightmares early on.. extraordinary early failures, lying dealers, miserable dealing with the factory on warranty. Moto Guzzi delaers cannot make warranty decisions, they must contact Piaggio USA for approval on ANY warranty repair no matter how small or large. Parts procurement has to be the worst in the industry. Fantastic bikes.. terrible factory/dealer interaction.

Triumph... Find a carburetted Bonnie... be happy. Or EFI if cheap enough.

A Thruxton has few mechanical differences from the Bonnie, largely cosmetic..

Also consider a Scrambler.

Triumphs have class and eyeball and lots of resources.. good resale, fun to ride..

have you considered one of the new Royal Enfield singles..very cool.. modestly priced.




Best of Luck
 

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Triumph... Find a carburetted Bonnie... be happy.
have you considered one of the new Royal Enfield singles..very cool.. modestly priced.
Good advice on the carbed Triumphs.

Not so good on the Enfields. If she was bored with a Bonnie's power, she will doze off on one of those underpowered Indian bikes. They are very cool to look at, but not much in the guts department.:D
 

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:) Guilty as charged! However, I am now the owner of my own supercharged Super Dream in the shape of a new BMW F800ST, so I'd best keep my trap shut! Mind you, with 85bhp on tap it's a bit quicker than a Bonnie!
M.G., you change bikes like people change underwear. :D
 
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