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Economical Commuter: What Should They Build?: MD Readers Respond, Part 4

We were as surprised as you will be when you read Part 4 of our series (Part 3 is here) about economical commuters and what our readers would like to see the manufacturers build. We are still finding interesting and unique ideas. Here they are in their unedited form.

  • Something light weight but with fairings large enough to offer good wind/weather protection, a true 6th gear over drive gear for 75mph highway cruising, probably a 500-600cc parallel twin, belt drive for less maintenance (since you’ll be racking up some miles commuting), possibly Suzuki’s S-DMS engine management system with maps for better fuel economy/better power/mix of the two, it should come with tires that have long life but offer decent grip as a bike like this will get tossed around as it’ll be fun being such light weight.
  • Since my commute is about 30 miles each way and 95% highway my wants are the following.I want something like the Suzuki SV 650 with a faring like the sport model but with the standard models ergonomics. I want it to have shaft drive, hydraulic valves, hard saddle bags, heated grips and an illuminated clock.

    If I can’t get that give me a 750 – 900cc lighter weight version of Honda’s ST1300 since the 1300 is too expensive.

  • A commuter bike should be relatively frugal, easy to handle in traffic, and capable of carrying anything you need for a day at the office.Current offerings are too heavy and unweildy on anything but straight slab freeway. I would recommend an XR400 with street tires, tall gearing, hard saddlebags and a tail pack.
  • For the commuter – Honda introduced their “Automatic” motorcycle (DN-01) and Piaggio released their MP3-400 and 500. I think a hybridization of Honda’s drivetrain with the 3 wheeler aspect of the Piaggio design and displacement with an enclosable protective shell similar to the BMW K1s (I think that’s what they called them) would capture the essence for the commuter vehicle. This enables a working person to be dressed normally, have all the safety, not have helmet hair, not have to place a foot down at a light, and not be exposed to the environment (rain, etc).
  • I have been thinking there is a need for a different type of motorcycle; basically a scooter in motorcycle clothing. Scooters have some generally positive attributes; CV transmissions, automatic clutches and STORAGE SPACE. But there are a lot of people that wouldn’t be caught dead on a scooter. This ain’t Italy! So I was thinking is a 600cc bike with a scooter type drive train, motorcycle styling (no step through), great fuel mileage and plenty of places to put things. Sort of a Pacific Coast with a scooter motor/gearbox.I think that there are more people out there that would ride of they didn’t have to deal with some of the more difficult aspects of operating a motorcycle, such as the “manual” clutch and “manual” shifting. And what is it with having a 100 hp motorcycle than can only carry a handkerchief, if you fold it just right? To grow the sport we need to draw in more people (remember; “You meet the nicest people……”). Almost no one drives a car with a manual gearbox in our neighborhood. So, with the new genre; look like your riding a “real bike” when you “twist and go.” Besides, I personally am not tough enough to be seen on a scooter.
  • Requirements for The People’s Commuter Bike:
    High mpg, 800 cc twin, FI, air/oil cooled for simplicity, 70+hp (electric motor not quite ready for prime time) Six speed manual transmission (out of the parts bin) ABS brakes, not linked Belt drive to decrease cost of ownership Minimalist (unobtrusive) crash protection to prevent damage from tipovers (bolt-on replacement) Minimalilst security system (inexpensive) Light weight (425lb wet) Highly manuverable (good turning radius) Waterproof saddlebags (expandable to store two helmets) Carry two adults, with sufficient power for highway (80+mph top speed) Comfortable upright riding position

    Waterproof lockable storage up front with built-in bluetooth and 12V power connections built into small instrument cluster Tail rack standard Available color-coordinated tail luggage, passenger backrest, and tank bag, with single-key locks Heated grips Centerstand Owner-selected windscreen, or no screen No standard fairings Factory-installed lowering for the inseam challenged Real tool kit with flat tire repair and inflation Design for home maintenance, with digital diagnostic device, home maintenance software/record keeping, and dealer training program for owner OR standard and reasonable fee for 3-year dealer maintenance.

  • I would love to see more cheap commuter bikes. Personally, I like to shift, but if they really want to make them attractive to a new market then they should go for:
    • automatic
    • 500-600 cc
    • simple/low maintenance
    • enough HP to cruise comfortable at highway speeds, but not so much that you sacrifice gas mileage
    • ~60 mpg
    • luggage or storage space capable of holding a bag of groceries or a laptop case
    • fuel tank capable of a couple hundred miles
    • standard MC shape – not a scooter (too nerdy), not a cruiser (too bad-ass), not a sport bike (too intimidating)
  • It already is a auto scooter, 400 burgman Suzuki. Tons of storage under the seat and when I add my givi trunk I can pack enough to go for a week without a problem. More people should give scooters a try, easy to drive and great gas milage.
  • I currently commute 50 miles round trip on a Yamaha XT225. I believe small Dual Sports are the perfect commuters because they get the high mileage (80+) of a scooter with the added capability to explore dirt/gravel roads. My coworkers appreciate it when I jump the curb and park on the sidewalk as our parking lot is crowded. The larger tires and longer travel suspension are great for those downtown potholes and ever-present construction zones. I just wish we had the same selection of smaller displacement bikes as our European counterparts.
  • My current ride is a 2005 Kawasaki Vulcan 1500 classic. Having had a number of motorcycles over the years, maintenance was a big consideration. Hydraulic lifters, and clutch were a big consideration; no valve adjustments are a big plus as they always seem to happen at the worst time of the year. Fuel injection and self canceling turn signals completed the package, as well as water cooling. Most of the maintenance is pretty simple; can do my own oil changes and spark plug changes, as well as changing the oil in the rear drive unit. A K+N replacement filter cuts that cost down over the stock filter. I have enjoyed the usual Japanese reliability as with the past few bikes, have some 13,000 miles on the bike, and it has only seen the inside of the dealer…for the usual tires (though they did give me 10,000 miles before service)/ Most bike shops get slammed in the spring, summer, early fall; if it needs work you are going to wait. Ditto for the cost of chains and sprockets, enjoy shaft drive.Perfect bike would be something in the 750 range along those same lines using regular gas (the Vulcan drinks premium), shaft drive, fuel injection. Some luggage capacity would be nice; not big on a windshield (personal choice) but would like something detachable. Better tires are at the top of the list. Sucks that the average tire lasts 1/4 what a car tire would, and two cost more than a set of automobile tires. Ease of maintenance would be great; changing fork oil is a real bear, be nice if it was a somewhat simpler process. To me the more basic would be better; much of the work can be done with some serious thought, but things could be done better. Sure automatics would be popular, but enjoy the freedom of picking my own gears. If a bike must be automatic make it optional in my book. Sometimes that might be nice (say for instance in the case of traffic jams) but would like to run through the gears from time to time.

    Basically to be a good commuter, a motorcycle needs to be something that can be ridden more and worked on less. Reliability is really good for most brands, but that maintenance issue can really cause some problems from time to time. That and tires are the two big issues that need to be addressed.

  • Any update on this long anticipated Trumpy.. I have been hanging out for a number years – rather than buy a Harley.
  • All I want the motorcycle manufactures to build is a modern looking bike that weighs under 500 lbs WET (actual weight!),has luggage,has at least 100HP, is comfortable enough to ride 500-600 miles a day,handles perfectly on a spirited ride down through the twisty bits,runs on regular gas(not high test),has good wind protection(wet weather protection so I can ride EVERY DAY),a built in communications system,GPS,MP3,sattelite radio,can go 300miles between gas stops( minimum 50 MPG ),is virtually maintenance free and is UNDER $12000.00 . Is that too much to ask ?
  • Hi there. I commute all the time now, on either my Suzuki 1250 Bandit, Buell Blast, or Yamaha TW200.
    But, I would like to see a good usable diesel.
    Something that would cruise at freeway speeds, but still get close to 100mpg. Just make it a standard motorcycle, with decent weather protection.
  • No, I would not commute on an automatic-transmissioned scooter, with plenty of built-in luggage space.After riding street motorcycles for 38 years, I still like shifting gears on a motorcycle that tends toward the sporting end of the spectrum. My tankbag provides me adequate luggage space. If I need more, I can strap on my Ventura luggage.

    What I’d like to see is a motorcycle that weighs under 375 lbs wet, makes 50 – 60 hp, get 50+ mpg,
    and cost under $6000. Now that would be fun to commute on. (Bye the bye, my commute is on
    fairly open county roads, not bumper-to-bumper traffic.)

  • For 4 years I have been commuting 106 miles round trip every day on a motorcycle, rain or shine. I have 109,000 miles on a 1997 Harley ElectraGlide Standard which has never had the engine apart. I also have a 2005 Kawasaki Concours with 8,000 miles that I recently bought used since the Harley has sooo many miles. For me, commuting on these bikes breaks down like this.The Harley is more comfortable. I get 40mpg but I must use premium. I love this bike for the comfort and radio/CD player, just wish it was more economical or ran on regular.

    The Concours gets me 45mpg on regular but it vibrates and is not as comfortable. I have a love/hate relationship with this bike. If I could make it smoother running (and I have tried everything COG suggests) I would love this bike more and hate it less. It does many things right but the buzz makes for a terrible daily commute of this distance. This bike would be ideal for a shorter commute – say 20-25 miles. It handles great and has good acceleration but that is not important when you’re just going in a straight line 95% of the time.

    So for me, I would want a bike that gives me at least 50mpg on Regular but it must be smooth as glass and have a windshield and bags. A radio/CD player is a real nice thing to have too. A buzzy bike sucks on long commutes.

  • I already have 2, a `04 Aprilia Scarabeo 500GT scooter that’s capable of going 2up anywhere we want to go just as my bigger MCs, while getting 50-60 mpg. Unfortunately this particular model isn’t made by Piaggio any more since they took over Aprilia a few years ago. Now Piaggio makes a similar model with the same drive train but w/o the full fairing or 2 hard bags + trunk big enough for 2 helmets. My Beo can cruise at 80 all day going over 200 miles between fillups on regular gas.I also have a MZ 660 Tour single(NLA) that get’s the same mileage with a little more power.

    I prefer the scooter because it’s extremely manueverable, no chain maintenance, automatic for traffic congestion, and has more storage than I would normally ever need. It’s bags come off so lane splitting is no problem. It’s amazing how much useable power it has with just a 460cc water cooled motor putting out 39 hp. I expect to keep this scooter for the rest of my life.

  • The only way you’re going to really make a dent in things is to
    broaden the vehicle’s operational envelope in terms of service days.
    From what I’ve seen, the best approach is with a trike or something similar to the old Subaru 3 wheelers. You have to keep the chassis weight under 1000 lbs, and I’d employ a tuned turbodiesel the likes I’ve seen used on an experimental Dutch bike. That engine cranked out 100+ hp and I believe had much higher torque than a ‘regular’ motorcycle engine, which will be needed to overcome the chassis inertia. If you can provide a reasonably stable platform in icy conditions, enough wind protection to make driving in sub 25F conditions reasonable w/o a 15 min suit-up procedure (and also allow riding in rain) I think you’ll have it. I think the chassis already exists, but its powerplant is focused on performance. I believe that a narrow axle width trike with a 2-3 cyl turbo diesel could get it done and have weather protection with a fully enclosed cockpit. You could seat 2, one behind the other, or one person and generous cargo. Set general performance to equal the 0-60 time of a Prius with your engine control unit in ‘economy’ mode and see what MPG you get.
  • Love the site. I’m a near daily motorcycle commuter in Portland, OR (4.5 days a week). With the weather here, most days are above freezing, but very wet during 8 months of the year. A full fairing with some lower leg protection is a really nice thing to have for that kind of weather. I find my Concours gets the most rain miles, and my V-Strom (1000) or Ducati ST4s get the most sunny weather miles. I’d like to see something like the Suzuki Wee-strom (or SV650) in sport touring guise, perhaps slightly detuned to provide 55-60 mpg. I probably wouldn’t use a scooter to commute just yet, but would if it wasn’t possible to operate a clutch anymore.BTW, I keep really meticulous records of all my vehicles. It cost $46,167 to drive a Subaru 100K miles including depreciation, and $24,364 to operate a V-Strom over the same range (also including depreciation). I project the Ducati would cost about $34K over the same period due to a higher purchase price, greater tire usage, shorter service intervals, slightly worse mileage, and what I assumed would be 100% depreciation of the vehicle. If you do your own bike maintenance these costs would drop significantly, as does purchasing and installing your own tires.
  • I just bought a Kawasaki Versys, but I kept my Yamaha C3 scooter for commuting. The fuel economy and locking storage that is shaped for office supplies (laptop, books, and lunch) instead of a helmet or groceries make it a great commuter. A slightly larger (150cc) version that is capable of 50-55mph would make it attractive to more Americans. The C3’s 38mph top end precludes it from traveling many roads.
  • I’d have to nominate my Moto Guzzi Breva 750. It has hard luggage, is not too heavy, has easy handling, a punchy motor and is very economical. Shat drive – no mess or worry. And I get to work with a smile on my face like a loon!And then on the weekend it will take you away touring – what more can you want??
  • I bought my Burgman 650 for exactly this purpose. Ease of use, cvt, loads of storage, fairing and floorboards. Yet for inner city commuting the 650 may be a bit large. Suzuki also offers a Burgman 400 that would be just right.The rest of the world has long utilized the practicality of scooters for commuting and other tasks of daily driving. There is no reason why we should not adopt the same attitude. What has been holding us back?

    One thing that has held us back is the concept of using our bikes as toys. Using them only on weekends to run in the dirt, pop wheelies, cover with chrome and pose outside of bars. These attitudes must DIE!

    Another thing that has held us back is the bike as a lifestyle: Neanderthal luddites pretending to exemplify individualism by dressing in uniform leather and denim and acting like super-macho thugs. They define motorcycles in the most anachronistic terms and are violently opposed to change.
    It is largely on there account that we would even feel the need to discuss things like automatic transmissions, electronic shifts, fuel injection and digital chips. Otherwise we would have felt no need to explain our natural evolution as hominids towards the use of ever more advanced tools and motorcycles.

    Lacking the above attitudes there is no reason for not enhancing the design of our bikes with automatic transmissions, cvt’s, electronic shifting and combinations already found on the Burgman 650.
    But if scooters aren’t for you the selection of mid-size bikes is vast. I just wish they would offer an sv650 with an electronic shift or cvt.

  • no ‘econ’ car costs $20K. Try $14K. new.An economical commuter is any bike/scooter that can be bought for $3000 or less, preferably used. A ninja 250 is easily capable. It can carry bags or a top case no problem. the issue isn’t remotely the lack of bikes, but the lack of will or interest to begin with.

    commuting requires breathable and flexible clothing which we have had now in great variety for about 3 years. I already own 2 bikes so I’m not about to pursue another. but if I had no vehicle, it would be something cheap, simple, and not festooned with plastic – basically your UJM in 250-600cc.

    If Japan wants to bring something in, I drool over the 400cc CB’s and their Jap4 equivalents. But we all know that ‘muricans only respect big HP and big displacement.

  • You would think a small displacement single cylinder is all it takes to make a great mpg commuter, but I can tell you that my Honda CB125 got 90 mpg and no respect whatsoever from other vehicles. Cars cut in front of me and cars would “push” me from behind. So, the perfect bike should have a medium sized single or twin engine and lots of storage space for riding gear, because you never know what the weather will be like when the shift is over and its time to ride home.
  • I want a Ural, with a side car. Good in the summer, fine in the winter. Big enough for groceries. Gun mount for parking difficulties…
  • I would want a motorcycle, not a scooter, a twin in the 650cc to 800cc displacement range and tuned for economy. It should be able to mount hard bags, have some wind protection and should be cheap to maintain and preferably belt drive or chain.
  • For commuting duty during the week, new bikes suck. A commuter bike needs a big gas tank and a comfy riding position. Sport bikes are the best motorcycles for modifying into use as a commuter, but lately they have been getting smaller and smaller gas tanks. In the ’80’s some of the big sport bikes (FJ1100 and VF1000F/R) had 6+ gallon gas tanks, then sport bikes went to 5 gallons, and now they are all about 4.5 gallon capacity, all in the quest to reduce “dry” weight.For someone purchasing a commuting motorcycle, there is no better choice than the 1990 to 2007 Kawasaki EX250 Ninja. It gets over 70 mpg, it has a 4.8 gallon gas tank, and it has a comfy riding position.

    In 2001 I purchased a house and started paying for putting three kids in private school. As a result of those choices, my discressionary funds were significantly reduced. Out of monetary desperation, in 2003, I finally parked my 20 mpg car and went from part time to full time motorcycle commuting. To reduce the up front costs, I tried commuting on what was already in my garage. The CBX sounds great, but at 37 mpg, it wasn’t as efficient as the 49 mpg my ’88 FZR 1000 gets during commuting duty. The FZR was modified with a taller windscreen and taller 41 mm clamp-on handlebars from an ’84 Honda 1000 Interceptor for more comfort.

    Insurance is $110 per year. The rear Bridgestone is an 18″ BT 54 (old technology / longer lasting). Each year adds between 5 to 6 thousand boring commuting miles. The previous BT54 made it to 20,300 miles before it was replaced. The front Bridgestones last 16 to 18 thousand miles during commuting duty. I’m currently at 42,000 miles and it is still on the original 532 series chain and sprockets (they get oiled every morning before I leave for work). Yes, it’s a mess, but its saving me money because I’m not replacing the chain and sprocket every 20,000 miles.

    Unlike most commuters I’m not racing to the red light. I try to look at the next two signal lights so I can time my arrival through intersections without having to stop. Why should I hurry to work like most of the morons in cars, its just a waste of money. They can’t all have a job that’s so great that they have to risk a speeding ticket every day.

    Since the FZR only costs about 11 cents per mile while commuting (about $600 per year), it doesn’t yet make economic sense to purchase something with better mileage ( the only logical choice being a used 1990 to 2007 Kawasaki EX250 Ninja). Depending on the cost of a used one, it would take about 6 to 20 years for the purchase price of the Ninja to offset its improved gas mileage over the already paid for FZR (at $3 per gallon ).

    As the price of gas increases, purchasing a used Ninja 250 becomes more attractive, economically.

    The money that I save commuting on the FZR, compared to driving a car is put into paying down the mortgage, multiplying the efficiency of the savings.

    Will the new, heavier 2008 250 Ninja get as good mileage as the previous version?

  • I currently ride a Suzuki DL1000(V Strom) to work almost daily. It gets 40+ MPG. With a GIVI trunk, I am able carry most anything I might need on a daily basis. I bought this bike for the strict purpose of commuting to work. It has just the power I need to avoid the cages that are seemingly unpiloted. My commute is fairly short at 8 miles and I have garage parking at work. I am able to dress for riding then change to work clothes at work. I live in the south where the climate is mild 90% of the time. I previously rode a BMW F650GS that got 60+MPG. I prematurely got rid of it before gas broke the $2.25 mark. I wish now that I had kept it with it’s 50% better mileage. But, I love the Strom Bomb and it’s great engine. I guess 40 MPG is not too bad, yet!
  • I assume that by commuting you mean something other than freeway riding. In that case, the ideal commuter bike would be a 2008 KTM 690 Duke. There’s just enough room on the rear rack/seat to secure a laptop. The engine size (653 cc) and weight (327 lbs) should result in high mileage and long tire life.Clearly the purpose of Government is nothing more than to keep the masses emotionally worked up
    over nothing of substance, and separate the individual from his lunch money
    whenever the opportunity presents itself.
  • It’s odd that the 400cc bikes do not exist anymore. I have a 2002 SV-650, but I think they make 400cc versions overseas. A modern 400cc engine is big enough for many people.
  • My current economical (summer) commuter is a 2006 Kawasaki Ninja 650R. I ride pretty sedately most of the time and average around 55 mpg. I’ve hit over 60 on a few tankfulls, but that takes more discipline than I usually have. A tank bag holds what I need for the day, so if Kawasaki would have included a quick detachable tank bag or tail bag, the package would have been perfect for me. I won’t buy a car with an automatic transmission, so I wouldn’t consider one on a bike either.If the bike manufacturers want to capture the commuter market, I think they need to target some gas mileage numbers that are a huge jump from what cars can deliver. The 55 mpg average that my Ninja delivers is better than my car, but since there are cars that can deliver nearly that fuel economy I don’t see it drawing many non-riders. I have to think that a 400 lb machine (600 lbs with me on it) with a relatively small engine could do considerably better if fuel economy was a primary engineering focus. Advertising 100 mpg (or even 80) would get people’s attention. Combine that with reasonable storage and you might have a winner. Some of today’s scooters are probably already there, so maybe they just need to get the message out.

    That being said, I question if it’s a good idea to get many of today’s average (or more accurately below average) drivers on two wheels. To ride safely, you really need to be committed to it (attitude, gear, and training). Will the typical Big Mac munching cell phone user be willing to change habits? I doubt it unless U.S. gas prices hit European levels, and even then maybe not.

  • The perfect commuter would probably be a Burgman 400. Lots of wether protection, storage, easy to use AT. That may not everyone’s cup of tea. For years I commuted on Ninja 600R. It worked fine with a tank bag. Nowadays I am looking for a nice lite bike with some storage space. I bought my wife a scooter last year and have really enjoyed riding it. I would love a version of the Italjet Dragster with some storage space or maybe a Morphous in 500cc size.
  • I’ve been using my bike, a 96 BMW R1100RS, for four seasons in northern Wisconsin, and a 91 K100RS for three years prior, averaging nearly 11,000 miles a season. Primarily, I use the bike as my road horse servicing graphic arts equipment. I pack a 30# tool case, briefcase, and tech literature. I ride as soon as the salt is washed off in the spring until resalting in the fall. I go through at least one set of tires a year.Curiously, the R bike averaged about 43 MPG until it neared the 40,000 mile mark. It now gets about 49 MPG (67,000 miles) and if I stay out of the throttle it will do better than 50 MPG.

    For local commuting I would ride anything although I prefur a bike with decent power, brakes and handling.

  • I commute every day alternating between a Yamaha FZ1 and a Kawasaki KLR 650 and think the manufacturer’s already make a number of good commuters. Of the two I commute on the KLR gets the edge, 50+mpg, able to navigate Southern California rush hours with ease. What the manufacturers could do is offer hard luggage for more of their bikes.
  • As one who rides to work every day of the year, here’s my list.under 500 lbs.
    no chain maintenance — prefer shaft drive to belt drive upright seating position windscreen / fairing big enough to block rain to my chest and hands 50 miles per gallon freeway legal ability to add top case metal “tank” for magnetic tank bag would prefer six speed manual transmission no valve adjustments

    Right now I’m 56 and ride a Reflex. God willing, I’ll give up motorcycling at age 60, just as airline pilots quit flying at that age.
    I may have to buy one more machine. Right now I’m considering a used Honda VT1100 or Silver Wing. Aprilia CitySport looks interesting, as does Piaggio MP3.

  • Start with a proven and simple high mpg generous torque curve motorcycle engine (e.g. Harley Sportster 883 or 1200, Ducati 2 valve 800 or 1100, or latest BMW 1200’s). These engines can currently deliver almost 50 mpg when highway cruising . Convert these engines to direct injection.Outfit with modern touring equivalent of the old “Dustbin” streamline fairings. Pay special attention to the rear end flow separation area of the motorcycle. Remember in the old days when they could do 140 mph with 55 h.p. motors.

    Add a real cruise control and/or drive by wire to minimize excess throttle excursions. Fine tune the fuel injection system to operate in a lean burn “cruise mode” available to direct inject engines. Now you have a motorcycle that could get 60+ mpg at reasonable highway speeds, yet still provide a fun level of acceleration when desired.

    Now if you wanted to get more speculative……

    Do everything above, but use a long stroke direct injected wet sump uniquely scavenged 2-stroke engine of 600-700 cc….

  • I think more manufacturers need to make the street legal Super Moto like Suzuki’s DRZ-SM and make a couple displacement sizes.Make it affordable and not go overboard with high performance parts on it.
  • Honda built one of the best commuter bikes ever from 1989 through 1998:
    the Pacific Coast. The cavernous trunk was the most useful storage system ever devised for a two-wheel vehicle. With hydraulic valves and shaft drive, maintenance consisted of changing the oil, hydraulic fluid, and filters. Replace tires every 10,000 miles or so, brake pads and spark plugs every 30,000 miles. PC’s had a reputation for going 200,000 miles with just routine maintenance.

    I just replaced mine (totalled in a collision with a deer) with a BMW R1100RT, and while I appreciate the handling and power, the BMW hard cases have pitifully small capacity compared with the PC’s trunk, and the beemer is probably going to require twice as much maintenance. I once stashed 72 bottles of beer and 16 pounds of ice in the trunk of my PC — popped the trunk, and there was a rolling ice chest.

    I would love it if Honda re-introduced a freshened PC, weighing 50-100 pounds less, with 5-10 more hp, and with modern suspension, lights, and brakes.

    Another under appreciated commuter from Honda is the big ruckus.
    But it sure is ugly.

  • During the summer (a little too chilly in the winter), I commute on a V-Strom 650 at 55 mpg.
  • would commute in a bike that had 1) good weather protection and 2) good luggage capacity. Today’s megascooters fill that bill, as do many sport tourers. Piaggio’s MP3 line of three-wheeled scooters strike me as excellent commuters, since the second contact patch up front gives more confident breaking and cornering in compromised road conditions that regular commuters often face. With the right gear, though, almost any bike could be a good commuter.
  • Make mine just like the 08 klr 650 but with a little lower seat, detachable hard luggage, a belt drive and a hybrid diesel. Auto transmission is fine. Better yet, Make it a single diesel running at optimum speed that comes on to charge a good battery, and an electric motor with regenerative breaks. Tires are cheap. fuel econ would be great and I could still do adventure riding all over the country. Nothing beats the long travel suspension, handling, and upright control for handling the obstacles of traffic and potholes of commuter traffic.
  • You asked “what would I commute on” if MPG were the theme. I would find a diesel motorcycle that fit into the standard or tourer category. They have a higher torque output therefore will carry a larger load per cubic displacement. Even better all diesels get better mileage than the gas guzzlers doing the same job. Even better is that you could use Biodiesel instead of using up the last few gallons of “dead dinosaur fuel”. The only problem with my solution is there aren’t any diesel motorcycles in production (except the HDT machine available only to the military) but there are a few in the pipeline. The ones I have heard of are in the Netherlands. We (the buying public) need to get the US and Japanese manufactures working on this problem.My real world experience with diesel power justifies my want. For work I drive an oversized van that was built in Düsseldorf Germany. It carries a payload of 3300 pounds easily down the road at 70+ MPH (No officer, I will NOT tell you what that “+” means). It is powered by a 2.8L turbo charged diesel that gets 2200 miles per gallon of petroleum fuel ( I burn B-99, do the math! ). There aren’t any other work trucks in my area that do that kind of work with so little impact on the planet or their owners’ wallet.Thanks for the good coverage.
  • Something to fill the rather large void between the new 2008 Ninja 250 and Suzuki SV650! I personally believe a lightweight, high-revving, liquid cooled 400-450cc v-twin with EFI, twin front discs, and reasonably attractive styling would make the ultimate bike. Keep it comfortably under $5000 and it should sell like hotcakes! How about a naked version and a fully faired version to choose from while we’re at it…I’ll buy one of each!
  • I commute regularly on my KLR650 and Suzuki VStrom 650 in North Carolina. They both make excellent commuters. If I were to spec the ideal commuter bike it would have to meet the following criteria:
    • The bike has to have low fuel consumption (at least 50mpg) and enough range that I don’t have to stop for gas any more often than in a car (300+miles/tank)
    • The bike has to be reliable with low maintenance needs. I don’t have time to think about mechanicals when I’m just trying to get to/from work. Shaft or belt drive would be a bonus.
    • The bike has to last a long time without need of major engine work. If I can buy a Civic for $18k that lasts over 200k miles without needing much mechanical attention besides oil changes and some minor and infrequent maintenance, a $6000 bike should be able to do the same for at least 70k miles.
    • Built in luggage would be great, but I don’t want to pay a premium. Aftermarket luggage prices are absurd. I use a pair of Nelson-Rigg soft bags that cost around $70 and a roomy and durable Rubbermaid box on the tail that cost about $15 at Wal-Mart. It’s ugly but works. Surely the manufacturers could make something that works well enough and looks decent for under $200.
    • The riding position should be comfortable with decent wind protection so you don’t arrive at work worn out, and provide good traffic visibility.
    • The bike should handle bad weather and the occasional u-turn over curbs or grassy median strips to get away from traffic jams
    • The bike should look cool in the parking lot at work.
    • The bike should out accelerate most cars.
    • Of course the bike should be fun to ride on that trip to/from work.
  • In keeping with one of the current trends (Maxiscooters) , and bringing back the styling of a much-missed model from yester-Honda (the much-maligned PC800), I feel an 800cc-900cc Maxiscooter is called for. I mean, think about it; how many of us commute to and from work on a daily basis, and then find the need to put some miles under our keesters for errands, additional business, or just going to coffee in the next town/ county/ state with some friends immediately after the afternoon whistle blows? Plenty of us, I’m sure! So, why not give us a choice of a larger-engined scooter or automatic motorcycle? One which will give us high MPG numbers, comfort, storage and (above all) fun!
    Honda, Yamaha and Suzuki need to get back to their respective drawing boards and spring on us a step through bike which will deliver for the daily cage match, as well as the after hours running around we all love to do.

    Honda has teased us with concept videos of their 900cc maxiscooter for a couple of years now. Suzuki has upgraded the styling and gizmos of its Burgman650, but keeps it at 650cc. Yamaha has a great scooter in the Majesty, but keeping it to 400cc is almost a crime. I’m nowhere geezer status, and I love a good romp on a dual sport bike, as well as a leg stretching tour on a full-boat tourer. But, I have to admit, the idea of a fully-automatic, comfortable, dependable, and economical (how many oxymorons can we make out of that sentence?) really interests me. I have nothing to prove to anyone. I ride what I like. But, to keep up with the price at the pumps, as well as keep up with traffic, please give us a new and modern alternative to the all out performance or touring models on the showroom floors.

  • Would you commute on an automatic-transmissioned scooter? With plenty of built-in luggage? A traditional motorcycle? A motorcycle with an automatic transmission?A Burgman 400 or Yamaha Majesty fit the bill just fine, thank you. But if you are looking at something more exotic, why not a Piaggio MP3 250 or 400? Traditional motorcycles are great, but the step through design of the modern, large scooter is so much more convenient. The weather protection is far more conducive to riding in ‘work’ clothes too (read that as business attire). Don’t get me wrong I love motorcycles of all shapes and sizes and have owned my fair share but the scooters today have it all over them as far as convenience, utility and just plain, every day put a grin on your face fun.
  • I can’t personally get interested in scooters, despite the fact that they certainly do have many features consistent with the needs of the commuter.
    I do in fact commute to work nearly every day and I live in the Portland, Oregon area. As such I see all kinds of weather and much rain. My ride is about 13 miles each way and takes about a half hour, with significant stop and go traffic.
    I’ve used a number of bikes, a Goldwing, Ducati 900SS, HD Superglide, 650 VStrom and Tiger 955i. At the moment I mostly use the Tiger, sometimes my Superglide.
    I think much depends on whether you want strictly a commuter or whether the bike is supposed to also be tansportation or a recreational instrument as well. I’ve never thought of buying one as strictly a commuter but I think it would affect my thinking.
    I have determined over time certan things that work well for me and that I think makes for a good commuter as well as a good all around bike.

    1. An upright seting position. If your commute involves much stop and go I find low bars or clip ons to be annoying and also creating difficulty in looking around yourself in traffic.
    2. Compliant, fairly long travel suspension. It seems like roads tend to be full of irregularities and a soft suspension is a great help with this.
    3. Heated grips, hand guards. In colder weather these are worth their weight in gold. Dirt bike style hand guards keep a lot of wind off the back of your hands and the heated grips obviously heat your hands.
    4. Heavy enough electrical system to run heated clothing. IMHO a must for the year round commuter. It needs to have enough power to do a jacket liner, the heated grips and still keep the battery up.
    5. Hard locking luggage. I like panniers myself. Having a place to carry your lunch, maybe some extra clothing, whatever else you might need is a really big deal. Soft luggage doesn’t make it for me.
    6. Reasonable fuel mileage. In my experience nothing does all that great in town. You don’t need a lot of power for a commuter but it seems like so many things get right around 40 mpg in town regardless of displacement. Perhaps a sufficently sized single or twin is the answer here.
    7. Easy pull clutch. A nice thing if you’re in enough traffic. I don’t feel the need or desire for an automatic transmission but I could understand someone liking it.
    8. ABS. Given the varying road surfaces, weather and so on, I’d like to have this. I don’t, but I’d like it.
    9. Wind protection for upper body, legs and feet. Even in town when speeds don’t typically get past 35-40 on a cold day it can be uncomfortable.
    10. Minimal maintenance requirements. Hydraulic valves, belt drive or shaft. Liquid cooled and low stress for long life.
    11. Visibility. I tend to travel early in morning and late afternoon. I’ve noticed that going to work I head into the sun, coming back I head into the sun. Several times I’ve had car drivers behind me obviously not see me until the last second because the sun was hard for them to see in (their cell phone didn’t help either). Making the rear end of the bike as visible as possible would be good.
      In my mind a bike that really makes a good commuter might not actually be all that fun or interesting to ride. It would likely be more along the line of a tool. Of what is currently available I’ve found the Tiger to be a quite useful bike for commuting as well as being great fun as a motorcycle. It does not embody all of the things I speak of but many of them it does. The VStrom is a similar case.

    In the past I’ve seen photos of a Honda, the Deauville I believe, which looks like it has many of the features of which I speak.

  • Sensible small displacement commuter bikes in the 250-500 cc range, either step-through with lots of carry space, (like the Suzuki Bergman but SMALLER,) or a cargo bike like the Cargo Bike, but w/ more oomph. The new Ninja 250 might be okay for me if I weighed what
    my doctor wants, but @ 5’10” I’m currently over 225 lbs. Yikes!
    (I’ll have more celery, please.) Pillion w/ the missus would be out of the question. Of course she could get her own. I’d jump on the Kawasaki Ninja 650-R if it didn’t have the almost 7 grand sticker
    price. I’d buy their Ninja EX500 if it wasn’t such a dated pig.
    I’ve even looked at the little air-cooled 500 cc single Royal Enfield, but it’s unavailable here in California.
  • My Toyota gets better then 50 mpg. A good two wheeler should go 80 mph and be able to get 60 to 80 MPG to make it worth while.
  • To ease the pain of motorcycle ownership manufacturers should strive to make motorcycles as maintenance free as possible. Many of us find it difficult to get good quality service done on our motorcycles. And paying high bills for service doesn’t often equal satisfactory results. Valve clearance adjustments and throttle body synchronizing could and should become a thing of the past. Belt final drives should replace chains whenever possible. Frequent tire changes are bad enough.I think automatic transmissions on motorcycles are way over rated. Shifting a motorcycle is not a taxing activity.
  • In Europe, the situation of bike vs. car mpg is not so clear cut. Many cars over this side of the pond are efficient “common rail injection” turbo diesels. This means you can have a medium sized family car with a 2 litre diesel engine that returns a typical 40-55mpg (imperial gall.) in normal use – that with wife and kids in the car. My mk1 Yamaha Fazer 1000 returns approx 45 mpg. My GSXR1000k2 is more like 40mpg. It’s certainly cheaper to commute in my VW Passat diesel than on either of my bikes. The Passat is no slug either, it can top 125mph and return 0-60 in under 10sec. Mid-range acceleration in diesels is also pretty impressive. Still no contest in which mode of transport I’ll choose though 😉
  • Hello, I am of the opinion that some streamling could be used not only to increase the mileage but to add weather protection and storage capacity in one package. It’s pretty much well known that motorcycles are like barn doors aerodynamically compared to automobiles . If I can get 65 mpg out of a F650 Dakar sans bodywork , then itstands to reason I could get 80 mpg if it cheated the air a lot more.
  • Piaggo has the right idea for the mass market, the three wheel scooter. Now add some briefcase case and it should sell well.
  • I would love to have something similar to Honda’s
    DN-01 that has a bit of lockable storage and 40 mpg overall. It would have to COMFORTABLY run at freeway speeds, and it would have to cost less than an econo-box – $8K tops!
    Unfortunately, economies of scale and the USofA’s gluttony will never allow it to come to market.
    I’d buy the BRP Spyder from Can-Am in heartbeat if it weren’t so expensive.
  • I think they have already built it, it’s the Suzuki sv650. I’ve been commuting in Atlanta traffic for the last 6 month with this wonderful machine and have been averaging 57 miles per gallon. Besides being a fast, it is light, maneuverable and (most important of all) stops on a dime. It may not have the luggage capacity of a Goldwing; it’s a motorcycle not a traveling house.
  • I’d like to see something along the lines of a 650-800cc fuel injected twin, in a sport touring package. Give it a 2 into 1 exhaust, and give it a fat torque curve. Put on a comfortable seat, and upright/semi-upright ergonomics for 6 foot plus riders. Make the bars somewhat wide, ala the FZ1, give it good wind protection, and give it a
    6 speed transmission. That’s what I think “they should build”…
  • I think we have so many motorcycles to choose from now, it is boggling. I ride a 12 year old CBR 1000F to work in spring/summer/fall. It is great on the freeway but a bit heavy when maneuvering in town or trying to park. I get 40 mpg average. I’m thinking about a Suzuki VStrom 650 which is lighter and easier to park. Comfort is important at my age, 50. I sat on the Aprilia Shiver at the motorcycle show, It has an Extremely Comfortable seat. The overall ergonomics are too severe for me though. If I were younger, I would buy it. I really like the BMW R1200R. I think it is the best fitting bike ergonomically.
  • While I’d love to have more motorcycles in my garage, but I don’t need a specialty bike to commute. I commute daily (well, not much in Dec, Jan, and Feb.) on my 2002 Suzuki GSF 1200. I also tour on it having been to Las Vegas, Victoria Canada, Glacier, Yellowstone, Bryce, and Zion National Parks. I completed an IBA Saddle Sore last year. I guess some guys just ride to their favorite beverage dispenser on weekends. Go figure.
  • The perfect commuter would get 50mpg or more, be able to carry anything short of a pickup load, give adequate weather protection, be fast enough to play in traffic, require very little maintenance, have a decent fuel capacity, decent lights and be cheap. Since I sold my KLR650 to a friend after 40,000+ miles, I’ve been looking for something different but comparable, and have commuted with a little Monster, a Z1000, an Interceptor and now a Husky SM510R. All fun bikes, but not as tailor-made for commuting as the big KLR.To make it the perfect commuter, the KLR650 should have better lighting, cast wheels with tubeless street tires and built-in top-loading detachable hard bags. And the bike could be lowered a bit without hurting it’s capabilities, making it more useable for those of us who are inseam challenged.
  • With hybrid cars being the rage these days, I think the motorcycle manufacturers can one up the “car guys” by making an electric motorcycle. They’d run on a LOT less energy than a car would because of the lower weight, so they would require less of the big, heavy batteries. It could work…
  • I have two bikes, a Honda Goldwing and a Honda Silverwing. I currently use the Silverwing, which is a mega scooter with automatic transmission for my commuting and around town trips. It has ample power, plenty of luggage space and gets between 49 and 55 mpg. It gets my vote for a great all year, all around commuting bike. Not to mention it’s not that bad on long haul trips, nothing like the Goldwing, but in a pinch it’s not a bad ride.
  • They already build them. Any good 400 cc scooter, like the Burgman or Majesty. For a bike, the Suzuki GS500.
  • Scooters work great for just getting around. The problem is that your driver’s license only lets you use scooters up to 50cc (at least in WI).
    I don’t know how many people are willing to spend a weekend getting trained on a bigger scooter, so that they can ride on the highway.
    Smaller bikes can work wonders for commuting, though. My Buell Blast consistently got 65mpg and was great for twisty roads.
  • RE economic commuter: where I commute in Huntsville, AL it would be suicide to commute on a scooter due to wholesale idiocy and total lack of enforcement of traffic laws. Speed limits mean nothing here and tailgating, cutting-off, road-rage, etc is rampant. Your only chance is to stay ahead and out-run. So, for me, an ideal commuter would be a water cooled (110 F sitting in traffic in summer), cuttin edge brakes, light bike w/mucho low end torque, w/storage for rain suit/leathers and a full sized laptop bag. It would be nice if it were designed to not degrade so quickly as modern bikes do while parked all day, day after day, in summer tropical solar conditions. I now commute on an E-Glide Classic, but it is not ideal – too hot while idling, performance is low par, shakes all over, too heavy. Now a geared-down VROD-based commuter w/real world ergos, panniers and a tour pac – maybe
  • In LA, negotiating snarled traffic is a big part of the commuting equation. I have commuted the relatively short 7 mile distance to work on my Harley Fat Boy and my Kawasaki ZZR 600. Both offer more than double the gas milage of my SUV and less time on the road. Of course, less time on the road is good when faced with half numb car drivers at rush hour. All of us would gladly spend more time on our bikes when traffic eases and we are not late for a meeting ourselves.
    My commute offers a route on surface streets as an alternative to the freeway, but I imagine the risks are there for either route. Giving thought to the perfect bike for commuting, I would say the following criteria would be very attractive:
    Relatively tall, upright riding position to see traffic far ahead.
    Better than average gas milage for a motorcycle, lets say 40 mpg.
    Light weight for easy maneuvering.
    Storage for lap top or lunch…California riders can lane split, so side cases can be a hinderance in some situations.
    Wind protection if a freeway is your only option.
  • Two factors prevent me from commuting on my Triumph – first, is the lack of weather protection. I live in Houston where it’s often brutally hot and humid, and there’s no riding gear that really does much good at keeping you cool and dry in conditions that can be in the mid-to-upper 80’s by 8:00 in the morning for half the year. I would need to take a shower upon arrival at work. The commute home in the afternoon would be even worse.The bigger concern is safety; I feel it is simply too hazardous to commute on any 2-wheeler with all the inattentive/aggressive/impaired drivers on the roads. What would be a minor fender-bender in my truck might put me in the hospital if I were on the bike instead. After being the victim of a hit-and-run collision that totaled my old Kawasaki and put me in the hospital, I gave up riding in the city entirely.Commuting on a motorcycle might be a valid option in many locations and situations, but not all.
  • DN-01. I really like that bike. Although I have both a FLSTC and a BMW F650 GS, I commute 4 out of 5 days on the little Beemer with it’s 62+ mpg.
    My next purchase will probably be a Vstrom 650, in about 1 year, but time will tell
  • Motorcycles and scooters have poor weather protection, lousy crash protection, very little storage space, and don’t get very good mileage for their size and weight so they really aren’t very good commuter vehicles.At least a decent motorcycle is fun to ride and you experience the elements fully so if the weather is good they are a very enjoyable way to travel. A scooter is really just a motorcycle variant that is easier to mount because of the step through design and easier to operate because they usually have an automatic transmission. They also generally have less power and acceleration which makes it harder to get out of the way of traffic or make a pass, and almost always have smaller tires and wheels combined with short travel suspension making them very unstable over surface imperfections.I’m fairly experienced with these vehicles as I designed and tested motorcycle accessories for several major manufacturers for over a decade. I rode in all types of weather and wore the best gear available, but in poor weather it never was a pleasant experience. I also had many close calls due to either other driver’s errors and inattention, or occasional outright aggression. I rode very defensively being a former MSF instructor, but finally gave up trying to commute on a motorcycle after I left the industry because of the high risk factor.

    I currently own my first scooter, a Piaggio X9 with a 460 cc fuel injected water cooled single cylinder engine. Other than ease of operation, it’s inferior in every way to a decent motorcycle. I could have gotten about the same mileage and had a lot more fun and performance for half the price if I would have bought a Ninja 250.

    The scooter was purchased purely for its drive train as my partner and I intended to convert our vision of the ideal commuter vehicle. We knew that many three wheelers have been built, but none that we know of provided decent crash protection.

    The poor weather protection and storage space deficiency was going to be corrected by making it an enclosed three wheeler and we were going to retain the fun factor by making it bank in turns similar to Piaggio’s MP3. We chose not to use an MP3 because it requires countersteering and that isn’t intuitive for the average driver. We also wanted to increase the front track and make more extreme lean angles possible for more fun and speed in turns.

    The crash protection was going to be provided with an exoskeleton frame like a roll cage, impact absorption technology borrowed from Formula 1 racers, and a “cocoon” type air bag system. The fuel mileage was going to be achieved by improving the aerodynamics by using a glider cowling and with secondary overdrive gearing.

    We calculated being able to improve the mileage from 50 to 60 mpg to well over 100 mpg with just these few tweaks and over 200 mpg using hybrid technology. We also had a plan to keep it and similar vehicles clear of congestion, allow higher speeds, and reduce the cost of building new highways.

    The deal fell through however when my partner copped out on the deal, so the scooter is for sale. The design, however, is available and I’m looking for a company or university to continue developing the design and system.

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