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Motorcycle News, Editorials, Product Reviews and Bike Reviews

Where I Ended Up … and Why It Doesn’t Matter


3 of the test bikes currently in MD’s garage (missing is a Husqvarna), and no, a full face helmet will not fit in an FJ-09 saddlebag


I was having a conversation with MD photographer Chris Rubino in our garage earlier today, and somehow we ended up on the topic of what sort of motorcycle I liked best … after all these years.

If you wanted to ask that question of someone, you might try to find a person who has ridden everything, and what I mean by that … is EVERYTHING!  Maybe, I am that guy. I have ridden the Grom and the Honda Gold Wing. I have ridden several Harley CVOs, Polaris designed Indians, and most of the significant Japanese cruisers. I have ridden almost all of the significant sport bikes introduced in the last two decades, either on the track or on the street, or both (I have been invited to test the new Yamaha R1 at Eastern Creek, Australia next month). I used to race motocross, and I tested most of the motocross bikes of any significance introduced during the first 6 or 8 years MD was in existence (flying through the air over jumps, and occasionally sliding BOTH wheels).

My first bike was a Taco mini bike with a 2-1/2 hp Briggs & Stratton lawnmower engine, that I used to ride for hours up and down our driveway, throwing it sideways each time I hit the slick concrete surface in our garage, learning to stop my slide just before I touched the back wall.

“So where did you end up, Dirck?” “What’s the best bike you have ever ridden?” “What’s the best type of bike to ride?”

I have an answer, but it is not very specific. It is not a particular motorcycle, but an idea of a motorcycle. It is a motorcycle that allows the rider to forget himself/herself, and melt into the experience of riding. This is a motorcycle that feels alive beneath you, like an old friend that you can trust. It will answer the same call the same way every time, but somehow make every experience aboard it unique.

Sure, I have particular bikes that seem special in my memory. At times, I even think of a particular type of motorcycle that might be almost perfect for me. But it is meaningless for me to tell you any of these details. In the end, each rider has to find his own path … find his way to that perfect ride for him or her. I arrived where I am at by traveling my path, and you will arrive by traveling your own.


  1. Neil Devine says:

    Keith Richards said the same about playing guitar. Don’t try to be like anyone. Be like yourself. I must say, the KTM Freeride reminds me of my old 74 YAM TY250. A small two stroke is amazing. That thing would climb any hill at IDLE til it was so steep it wanted to flip and just keep on chugging along. A two stroke at idle! If you did not make it to the top it was so steep you were tumbling down ass over tea kettle. Heart racing. Nerves fluttering. “Gotta make it to the top!” Then when you made it, what a ride! It was great on trails and fire roads too.

  2. Austin ZZR 1200 says:

    I used to subscribe to the ‘there is no perfect bike’ philosophy. Why? Because no matter what I was riding, I was always thinking about my next bike(s). Then, shortly after my beloved zx6r was stolen, I settled for a $4k ’08 DL 650 from someone on Craigslist. When I ride it, either commuting on slab or on blasting through fire-trails, I am content. That is, I am not thinking about the next bike or even curious about the GS 1200 the dude is riding next to me. I’m just enjoying the experience. Would that change if someone dropped a Multistrada 1200 on my doorstep….?

  3. Ed says:

    For me the perfect bike is the one in my garage right now….always subject to change. As for nostalgia, I always stop and remember what caused each of the previous 40 plus bikes to fall out of favor(~50 years of riding)

  4. mechanicuss says:

    Looking back, if I could get one back that I let go, I would want that black ’83 HD FXRS I bought in Nashville.

  5. Boscoe says:

    Cop out, dude. Seems like you needed to dash off a quick column – and this was the easy way out.
    Not very provocative or entertaining.
    You have unique experience, so your impressions on “Best Bikes” DO matter. If you don’t think so, why should I read you?
    Maybe it’s time to hang it up.

  6. Gordon Haight says:

    All I need is a touring bike, cafe racer, DP bike, Cruiser, Harley, Dirtbike, Sportbike and then ll be good. I think.

  7. Dduck says:

    I’m going to tell you the best drink in the world. But I’m not going to be specific. It is refreshing and sweet, but not too sweet it is just right. And the perfect temperature. May all of you pick your drink of choice. Stay not thirsty my friends.

  8. BRIAN says:

    Whatever makes you happy… Jap, German, or American.. I too have owned all genre’s of bikes from DR. 650 dual sport to cruisers, to sport bike ninja 750r, Goldwing to wr250r and back to a CVO Ultra again… Love em all..!!!! Just do it on two wheels while you’re healthy enough to do it.

    Cause life happens while your making plans for something else…

  9. Norka Jones says:

    This is the best statement of the joy, the zen of riding that I have read. ” allows the rider to forget himself/herself, and melt into the experience of riding. This is a motorcycle that feels alive beneath you, like an old friend that you can trust. It will answer the same call the same way every time, but somehow make every experience aboard it unique”.

  10. kjazz says:

    Maybe my most favorite piece you’ve written!!! Absolutely true, every word.

  11. JPJ says:

    No perfect bike, no answer to this subject. I’ve ridden and owned several bikes as well. My experience is it’s the bike /or bikes, in your garage now. So now the search begins. “Does it really matter”?

  12. Bill says:

    The perfect bike…kind of like the perfect house, or the perfect woman, the idea will change over time as a function of requirements, necessities, money, etc.

    But if we had to pick, 2-story house in San Diego with 6 car garage overlooking ocean, smart funny fitness model, and Ducati Multistrada 1200 (red).

    • Sam Jones says:

      …one bright fella, that Bill!

    • Dale says:


    • Chaz says:

      Real Bikers have a singlewide in a trailer park with a blue plastic tarp, a tattooed, toothless, meth-abusing skank, and a partly disassembled American bike in a box. It’s all a matter of taste.

    • Stickman says:

      +1 on the Multistrada. I have one, it’s as perfect as a motorcyle can be (for me)!

      • Bill says:

        I’d like to own one someday, as long as it doesn’t fall into that abyss “someday” that too many thing fall into in life….like riding to the tip of south america, riding to nova scotia to the bay of fundy to raft in on the tsunami tide, vacationing with the wife in bora bora….the list sometimes seems improbable, but we maintain hope….

  13. Ming says:

    That is so zen

  14. Cyclemotorist says:

    Dirck generated an interesting discussion. Good job.

  15. todd says:

    I apologize for my big thumbs hitting “Report Post” nearly every time I try to select “Reply.” Darned tiny screens and cramped big thumbs!!

  16. hh says:

    so true Dirck, so true…it’s all about the bike when you at the coffee shop or sitting in the garage, but underway it is all about the ride..if you finish your ride and it is still about the bike, then get a different bike, chances you have spent enough time thinking about it because at every moto coffee stop the talk is always about the bike. Since I stopped drinking coffee my quality ride time has increased, a lot.

  17. johnny ro says:

    Who said, “its not about the bike”, think maybe Lance Armstrong and he was in a very dark place when he said that.

    Even so, these reminiscences are improved when one includes where the riding takes place. A sorted DL650 in suburban Boston is probably inferior to a plain TW200 in Utah.

    My first bike was a Honda z-50 in 1969 Long Island NY followed by Yamaha AT-125. Had more fun on the Commando as it went beyond the woods around the house but going back now, there the riding zone was quite small, about 45 minutes out and back was a big deal then. My 83 vision was good for 2 hours out and then back, hard to do on LI, with traffic.

    Best bike overall was SRX-250 in the white mountains of NH. 120 minutes was an adventure. Ride near WOT all the time. Eye still peeled for another.

    Now my best bike is a Mazda.

  18. Mitch Barber says:

    I keep going to demo days and test riding this bike and that bike then I get on my DL650 and I think “What up? This bike fits me like nothing else!”

  19. xlayn says:

    speak man! tell us which of those 3 bikes you want the most to take on that sunday ride!

    • xlayn says:

      maybe it’s kind of guilty pleasure… like an ol Harley… the one he speaks bad about… (joking again…)

  20. tla says:

    mid 70’s kawasaki kz650. Loved it. 2009 kawasaki versys. love it.

  21. Org says:

    After many years (now in my 60s ) and many bikes in many sizes, the first generation Multistrada does it for me. More than any bike I have owned, it most asked to be ridden. Short trips or long, it always makes me feel better. Even when it didn’t get me home. I like to turn wrench, and it obliges me with reasons to do so and rewards me with simplicity.
    This is the one I will probably never sell.

  22. RRocket says:

    Here..let me answer what every auto/motojournalist pretends they can’t answer (or flatout refuses to tell truthfully).

    Question: Which bike do you like best?

    Answer: Whichever bike I’m getting to ride for free this week/month.

    • Provologna says:

      With all due respect: that would be cute and interesting if it was true, but it’s false so it’s not.

      If MD did not post readable and interesting articles drawing eyes to the site, OEMs would supply no bikes to ride. “Free” bikes would be bikes supplied for nothing desired not expected in exchange.

      The bare minimum in writing acceptable non-fiction is to pass the accuracy smell test, which you failed.

      • RRocket says:

        I personally know several auto journos. Most of them own older, somewhat tired cars (with the exception being their track-only cars). Why? Because, in the words of one, “Why do I need to buy a new car when I get to drive a brand new car every week?”

        I have my doubts that bike journos are much different….but who knows.

  23. Jdilpkle says:

    Good read. Been riding since 1973 and have owned at least 25 bikes. They all had their place at their time, but when push comes to shove, now at 60 years old, I continually come back (three times) to a more primitive ride – a Buell. The shake, noise, personality, and sublime handling pushes all the right buttons for me. Slow as a slug in the straights but scalpel-like in the twisties. Long live the red-headed stepchild.

    • Tommy D says:

      I have an 04 XB12R in my collection. I keep trying to free up that spot in the garage for something new. I take it for one last ride before posting it on Craigslist. I laugh at the thought before I get out of the neighborhood. Track days, ridden to Deals Gap, commuter and now dusty. It does nothing really well, except make me feel great every time I ride it.

      • Jdilpkle says:

        Tommy, I too have had it on Craigslist – until I try to think of a bike that I would buy that is as much an absolute hoot to ride as the Buell. I’ve had much faster bikes, more exotic bikes, and even “prettier” bikes in the last 30+ years of riding, but nothing has come close to the overall enjoyment of tooling around on the XB with a Drummer muffler. I hated the first one right after I bought it because it handled horrible – UNTIL I got the right tire and suspension setting combo dialed in. Wow. Have a total of over 60,000 miles on the XB’s. They have all been realible as a stone. No chain to mess with, no valve adjustments… I hope it keeps getting bad press – what a well kept secret. Ha ha

        • Tommy D says:

          If you know of a link to a web page discussing those handling updates I’d like to review it. Mine handles slowly.

  24. Sean says:

    Well Dirck most of us havnt ridden everything and can never do so that’s why we read your reviews and care about your opinion. That being said you failed to give your opinion here. I wasn’t looking for a specific bike per se but because you have ridden so many bikes it would have been helpful if not just interesting to hear what actually makes you feel the way u described. we all have our own journey but again because we can’t ride or buy everything your opinion would have helped in the selection process. Thanks and Ride on!

  25. azi says:

    “It is a motorcycle that allows the rider to forget himself/herself, and melt into the experience of riding.”

    Well said Dirck, I think this applies to anything too. The best widget is one that just lets you get on with the job without any hassles, whether it’s a motorcycle or a frying pan.

    For me it’s easier to think of the worst bikes I’ve owned when considering this. Top of this list would be the Ducati Monster, followed by the 996. So much pain in the saddle and in the workshop. Sorry NormG!

  26. MG3 says:

    I remember.. I remember.. A motorcycle. It was perfect in every way. Nothing ever broke, it was affordable and smooth as silk, got great gas mileage, could carry two people up any hill on the road, and oh-yeah, it was a beautiful bike to just look at too.

    Only problem is I can’t remember the make and model. If I could I would buy another.

    Memory plays sneaky tricks on your head sometimes.

    “To all the bikes I’ve owned before. That traveled in and out my door…” you know the rest.

  27. MJD says:

    I’ve recently gone through a number of bikes and presently have a 2012 R1200RT and a 2005 650 VStrom in the garage. I hate to admit it but the VStrom seems to fit Dirck’s description better than the RT!

  28. MGNorge says:

    Interestingly, I just read recently that Taco mini bikes is back in business!

    Sure takes me back to my mini bike days!

    Anyone remember some of the West Bend two-stroke Tacos?

  29. MGNorge says:

    Two bikes I had the greatest affinity with was my first, a 1964 Honda CT200 (Trail 90), which took me everywhere without as much as an ounce of maintenance given it and my 1972 Honda XL250 which eventually was given the whole Powroll treatment (became a 350, bored and stroked), with higher compression and larger carb. Man could that climb the coal hills over in Eastern WA! I’ve liked all my bikes but those two seem extra special to me today.

    Dirck, that’s a mighty clean garage, where’s the workbench? 🙂

    • dino says:

      Workbench is down at the Dealers! All those pretty new bikes on loan…

      Sure, there is a bench in there somewhere for working on his own toys!! (Great story, guys!)

    • Martin B says:

      My favorite bike of all time was a 1974 Honda XL350, which I once rode on a 900 mile trip with my younger brother and his CB350. He kept complaining about how often he had to change gear to keep up with me on a winding road. I hardly ever changed gear, the torque did all the work. That bike was so light and agile, I could get through tight traffic, use the unlimited ground clearance in corners, and if I had to stop in a real hurry I just threw it sideways and used the extra traction of the tyres to slow down rapidly (it only had a drum brake in front). I never felt that my antics ever put me in danger or exceeded my capabilities. It just made me happy, and I got 70mpg. I miss it.

  30. bikerrandy says:

    I have 8 bikes & scooters. Can only ride 1 at a time. Sometimes ask myself why do I have so many rigs? Then when I ride each it reminds me why I still have it. Appreciate them all for what they do. Mainly ride long distances for 50+ years.

    • todder says:

      That’s no different than why I have 5 guitars. Each one gives me something a little different.

  31. oldridertom says:

    What you said, Dirck. Perfect.

  32. Vrooom says:

    If you ask that question you might want to ask it of someone who has OWNED everything. Not at all doubting your experience Dirck, nor your ability to judge a motorcycle, but owning a motorcycle means truly coming to terms with it strengths and weaknesses (such as maintenance difficulties, poor weather prowess, etc. etc.) that testing may not provide, a lot of old timers with MBS have owned all those bikes, though of course not with the distribution you get testing ’em.

    • Dirck Edge says:

      you make a good point. I certainly do not live with each of the test bikes long enough to assess long-term reliability.

    • Norm G. says:

      re: “a motorcycle means truly coming to terms with it strengths and weaknesses (such as maintenance difficulties, poor weather prowess, etc. etc.) that testing may not provide”

      and there it is… “Cost Of Ownership”.

  33. Schmutz says:

    Who are you people? What’s with all the love? I want more bitching about beaks, poor throttle response, crappy ergos, unmanageable suspension and styling a mother couldn’t love. Are we really appreciating the sport and giving praise to all bikes unconditionally? Oh well, there’s always tomorrow. ; )

    • dino says:

      The BEST bike I have ridden does NOT have a beak… Will NEVER have a beak! Or a gas tank with visible seams… Ugh.

      There, does that help?

  34. Michael H says:

    The best bike for me in fifty years of riding? It was the first one; the 80cc Yamaha I bought with my own money in the summer of 1966. It was small, but it was heaven on earth to a 15 year old who suddenly could ride all around town and county with his friends, who had similar-sized bikes. It was freedom, it was wind-in-the-face, it was tinkering, it was the stuff of dreams. My neighborhood became the Isle of Man.

    Every motorcycle since then, and I have owned many, was another attempt at getting the same primal addiction to freedom and travel on two wheels as I experience when I was fifteen.

    • KenHoward says:

      The first bike I ever rode was also a Yamaha 80cc in the mid-’60s, rented for an hour, no helmet or endorsement required. In my mind, it was such a huge rush (compared to a bicycle). The next week, I moved up to a “big” Yamaha Twin 100 at the rental place and knew I was hooked for life. I was in love with the look and sound of Triumph’s big, bad Bonneville, and it only took another 45 years to find myself owning one – but I’m never satisfied.

      • Curly says:

        Ken, was that a red or yellow Yamaha MG1T by any chance???

        • KenHoward says:

          Nope, Curly, it wasn’t the MG1T trail bike, it was an 80cc street bike (‘same engine, probably).

          • Curly says:

            Yep, the first Yamaha I ever rode was a pre Autolube 1964 YG1. Where I was they rented the MG1T step-thru Trailmaster. Boy did they take a beating. I bought one and rode it for 16,000 miles. 60mph downhill and 45 up!

      • Martin B says:

        I had one of those! My first bike. The 100 twin, that is. Mine was grey, with old fashioned street styling, including a half chromed tank. My most vivid memory was a girl on a bicycle weaving across my path leaving school, causing me to run into one of the tennis court fence pylons. This tweaked the front forks so the wheel pointed to the left. I spent the next few minutes banging the front end back into the fence to straighten the front end out, while some kind soul attended to the sobbing girl, whom I completely ignored in my anxiety over my precious, damaged possession.
        My next memory is me giving a lift to a friend who lived nearby. We were both fairly heavy, and going over a road surace change the rear tyre went pop. I just made it home before hitting the rim. I changed the bike for a Suzuki T250 twin, and never looked back.

      • Michael H says:

        What a coincidence! My second bike was a used Yamaha 100cc two-stroke twin. Loved it because I could out-drag my friends who had moved up to Honda CB160s. When I moved up to a Honda 305 Scrambler, I sold the Yamaha to my younger brother who had it as his first motorcycle, and pretty much wore it out.

    • todd says:

      My first bike was the Yamaha 90cc twin. I loved that bike. I could even get the thing up to 75mph. It’s still in the garage after all these years. That bike made me a Yamaha fan for the rest of my life – though the Trail 90 I had made me appreciate Hondas too. BMWs have a special place there too because of all those /5s I’ve had/have. The Ducati Monster, not so much.

  35. Paul says:

    For the shorter answer: it’s the Suzuki DL650. ; )

    • mkviz says:

      you must like boredom to name the wee strom as a favorite bike. It’s like saying that Toyota Camrys are the best handling cars on earth

      • Jeremy in TX says:

        I once had a car famous for its handling prowess. It absolutely sucked at everything else besides handling.

      • Paul says:

        Not a valid comparison at all. No bike is as boring as a Camry.

        The strom is a sweet handling bike. Never said it was the best handling. Best handling bike would be whatever bike you own. ; )

        To each his own as the article says.

        • Dave says:

          Re: “No bike is as boring as a Camry.”

          And yet the Camry is a global best seller. Camry’s are a global sales leader in part because they handle so well, ie. exactly the way the average driver expects them to. “Handling” means different things to different people.

          • dino says:

            Most people buying a Camry are like cattle… they just want to get from point A to point B..

            They have no idea what they are missing, or just don’t have the time / money to do anything different.
            You could take the kids to soccer practice in a Porsche 911 cabrio..

          • Blackcayman says:

            My brother is an engineer – he sits in traffic 60-90 minutes, twice a day.
            The Camry was probably the smartest choice for a car for him.

            I personally hate Camrys.

          • Martin B says:

            Every Toyota I have ever driven made me feel that my life was being sucked into some weird numb vortex where nothing matters. All I wanted to do was to get out of the car and run screaming to somewhere there was life again. Sort of like turning off the TV. They are the cars bought by people who have no interest in driving, and Toyota provides an appliance for that purpose, which in some ways resemble a car, but consists entirely of antimatter or some substance which kills the human soul. Only for zombies masquerading as humans.

          • Provologna says:

            Martin, you’re blocking again! You know your therapist told you to try to be more expressive…

            Tell us how you really feel!

          • todd says:

            I need to print out Martin B’s response and hang it on a wall if it weren’t for the fact that my brother in-law owns TWO Camrys!!

      • Daven says:

        I had an ’05 DL650 for three years. Totally reliable, competent, easy to ride bike. Eventually I got bored with it, it just lacked a certain something that I could get excited about. I don’t miss it, and wouldn’t buy another one.

    • Garrett says:

      In my 38 yrs of riding, my 06 DL650 is my favorite of them all, 45,000 mi, i still say to myself after dismounting” what a great f…in’ bike!

    • Austin ZZR 1200 says:


  36. Tommy D says:

    How about your WORST?

    While favorite bike stories are great, I think stories of the worst bike you’ve owned are generally more fun to hear and tell.

    Mine was a old clapped out Yamaha DT3 that left me stranded in the woods as a kid many times. At the time I was just happy to ride anything. What a smelly worn out piece of crap!

    Come to think of it I loved that bike at the time…

    • Paul says:

      The HD Sportster. Still have a stiff neck from that a decade later. Terrible, terrible suspension makes it unusable on real world roads. Looks nice though, and if all your roads are pool table smooth it might work.

    • mickey says:

      I can tell you which bike disappointed me the most. I wanted a BMW since I was a kid. By fall 1976 I had saved up $2000 and was going to buy a 1977 R90S, putting down 2000 and financing 2000 as they were $3999. My wife and I went up and test rode one. Hadn’t gone 5 miles and realized I hated that motorcycle, hated it. Was like riding a Merry Go Round, up and down, up and down every time you got on or off the gas. Turned around and took it back to the dealer. I was crushed. I had wanted one for so long, but the reality never measured up to the fantasy. Went and test rode a new 1977 Kawasaki KZ 1000 B. Gosh what a great motorcycle. It came home with me..for $1888 out the door. That Kaw is one of my all time favorite bikes. 3 times since I have tried to buy late 70s Beemers because they are beautiful to look at, but each time a test ride changes my mind.

      • Jeremy in TX says:

        When I was 13, the reckless father of a friend took me on a very spirited ride on his ’79 KZ 1000. I had never before experienced acceleration like that or the sensation of leaning way over to negotiate a curve. From that point on, I was hooked on motorcycles.

        When Honda brought the CB1100 to market, I ran to the dealership with my wallet open. Fine a bike as the the CB is, it wasn’t that KZ 1000. Or perhaps it is fairer to say that it wasn’t my memory of what the KZ was. I swore off carbs years ago, but I may one day have to hunt down an old KZ.

        • mickey says:

          interestingly Jeremy, the CB1100 has more horsepower, less weight, better brakes, fi, hydraulic clutch, mag wheels, better chain, better tires, and in the case of the 14 DLX more gears in the tranny than the 77 KZ 1000B.

          • Jeremy in TX says:

            The CB1100 is no doubt a better bike in every way, Mickey, and probably faster as well. My memory is surely tainted with the rush of that first experience rather than the reality of it. I used to have a Bandit 1200. That bike was quite fast and had a nice hit of power when it came on the pipe. It gave me the same sensation I have in memory of the KZ, though in truth, the B12 probably made about 25% more power than the KZ. I had hoped the CB would provide a similar experience.

          • mickey says:

            The Bandit 1200 was more powerful than either the KZ or the CB and a fine motorcycle. Suzuki should build a retro with that motor that looks like an old GSE. The Bandits problem was it had to compete with bikes like the gen 1 FZ-1 which was lighter and made 25 more horsepower, and at that time people couldn’t see past the Bandits 99 horses even though it was a much easier bike to ride.

          • Jeremy in TX says:

            The Gen1 FZ was a great bike as well. Great balance low, mid and top end power. A friend of mine had one, and I envied him that bike.

          • mickey says:

            Yes I had two of them as well, an 01 (sold to my brother who is still riding it) and an 04 (sold to my son who is still riding it)and they were great motorcycles. I

    • Garrett says:

      My worst was a ’72 R5350 cafe racer, i survived owning it, pretty quick , good wheelie machine,with crappy brakes , bad steering head bearings , and a flexible frame. Bad combination.

    • SausageCreature says:

      That’s easy…Honda CB250.

      In one of the comments above, someone said something to the effect that no bike could be more boring than a Camry. Well the little Nighthawk might just knock the Camry down a peg. Acceleration is mostly theoretical…merging into traffic requires a supercomputer to predict where the hole in traffic will be 30 seconds from now. Handling is more noodly than a bowl of ramen soup. About the only thing that adds excitement (more like terror, actually) is braking…becuase there is none. Just hope for a nice springy row of hedges you can crash into instead.

      About the only good thing you can say about a CB250 is that it will not break down. Pity actually, because certain bikes can get away with calling that “character” and that’s something the Honda could certainly benefit from.

      • Jeremy in TX says:

        Picture all of that with enough vibration to detach your retinas and a riding position that would even make a Spanish Inquisitor wince at the sight and you have a Harley Davidson 883 Sportster in the years before they thought it might be a good idea to use rubber engine mounts.

        And to call that “character” would be to call a paranoid schizophrenic “charming.”

        • mickey says:

          I had 2 of those Jeremy, a 59 and a 94 my wife bought me as a gift. They had a certain charm under 55 mph on smooth roads. Go over 55 or on a bumpy road and they quickly lost all of their charm.

  37. I’ve always said: the best motorcycle is the one you’re out riding, today.

  38. HLRembe says:

    My favorite bike is the “one” I’m riding at the moment,except cruisers, I just don’t feel ergonomically comfortable on cruisers. I do gravitate towards sportbikes, cafebikes and dual sports but like and have ridden tourbikes for extended periods. I was a pro technician in the 80’s and 90’s and have been on just about every model of bike from the early 2k’s back albeit just for short test rides. If I had to nail it down to my absolute favorites then street would be a hard choice between the Suzuki’s SV1000S and Kawi’s ZX7R, Dirt is easier Honda’s CR500R, and The dualsport pick would be Aprilia’s SXV 4.5. What I currently own and ride: ’05 Suzuki GSF1200S and ’82 CR480R

  39. Jamo says:

    I don’t get the point of the article. If Dirk wanted to talk about his first bike, he should have kept it at that. THe rest doesn’t make sense. I already know that the best motorcycle for me is the best motorcycle for me.

    • Jamo says:

      And another thing. It is one thing to test a motorcycle – or car. It is another thing to own one, to pony up, go in debt and house and love it and keep it. Testing it isn’t the same.

    • t says:

      “I already know that the best motorcycle for me is the best motorcycle for me.”

      Well? What is it? I’m sure the whole point of the article was to have people reflect on what makes the best bike “for them”. That’s what it’s all about Charlie Brown.

  40. Jeremy in TX says:

    Nice quick little piece, by the way, Dirck. It made me think back. It also makes me want to sample a new R1200R or scour craigslist for a mint R1150R.

    However, concerning this: “But it is meaningless for me to tell you any of these details.” I humbly disagree. I think a follow up article is in order. 🙂

  41. Jeremy in TX says:

    I always have some type of adventure bike or dual-sport in the garage (have both at the moment) because I have this affliction that forces me to explore any unpaved road or hole in a treeline that I come across during my journeys. These are the bikes I ride the most by far because I really do use the versatility. However, none of them have ever been the type of bike that I just mind-meld with. They are tools more than some objectified, incarnation of Nirvana.

    I really enjoy having a 1000cc, four-cylinder sport bike. There are times when nothing beats rolling onto a track and feeling that rush of acceleration and hearing the howl from 10,000+ rpm. The big engine and adjustable rearsets actually make it a decent street bike as well.

    When it comes down to it though, the bike I really bonded with was a BMW R1150R. It wasn’t sport bike fast, supermoto light and nimble, or adventure bike versatile, but everything just seemed right when I rode it. I was smoother on it than on any other bike, and probably faster on it as well. I knew exactly how far I could push that bike and exactly how it would behave when doing so. Riding down to the store was just as pleasurable as unwinding a twisty road or plodding down a lonely highway. It even handled unpaved stuff OK so long as ground clearance didn’t become an issue. I ended up trading that bike in for a KTM 950 Adventure 10 years ago as my off-road desires outgrew the capabilities of the 1150R, but I haven’t owned a bike since that really brought me into the ride like that one did.

  42. PN says:

    I’d have to say the liveliest bike I’ve ever had is my CB400F followed by the Kawasaki Versys. The most exhilarating motorcycle I ever rode was a CBX. Wow!!!

  43. Blackcayman says:

    For me it’s been 34 years on standards and sportbikes. My first real motorcycle was a Nighthawk 450. Was it really as great as I remember or is it just that big of a jump from minibikes and scooters?

    In November of 1999 I bought an SV650 and it was like discovering motorcycling all over again. Lightweight, flickable chassis, torquey motor… It begged to run through the gears and corners and then to do it all over again.

    Like most of you know, I now am looking for the perfect lightweight SPORT-touring bike. I want something approaching near Sportbike performance and handling with upright (Old Guy) ergos. The FJ-09 is the closest thing Ive ever seen. I just wish it was set up like an FJR rather than a TDM.

    • Jeremy in TX says:

      “I just wish it was set up like an FJR rather than a TDM.”

      Maybe Honda of all manufacturers will answer your call with the new supercharged engine (from the humble NC700X) they just filed patent for? I am very interested to see how they move forward with that.

    • Scarecrow800 says:

      Yeah, those 400 and 450 twins were sweet. I sort of grew up on the Honda parallel twins. My favorite bike of all time had to be my 1980 400 Hawk. It was light, fast, trouble free and boatloads of fun. It would also wheelie better than anything else I’ve ever had. I never got a 450 because then I got my first ” real ” motorcycle, a VF 500 Interceptor. Before that, if you got to 100 MPH, you thought ” MAN, now we doing some business “. After the Interceptor, 100 MPH was nothing and it did it so nicely compared to everything else. I keep looking at the CB 500 X, as if I need another motorcycle at my age ( 65 ). My VFR800 is still quite entertaining but My Gosh … I still hear the call of the twin.

      • SausageCreature says:

        Speaking of 400-450 twins, I had a Suzuki GS450 for a couple years. It was actually an enjoyable and sweet running little bike. I traded up to a Ninja 500, and even though the Kaw was modern and superior in every measurable way, it didn’t give me anywhere near the enjoyment that the old GS did.

  44. stinkywheels says:

    I’ve been riding for probably the same time as the author. I thought, favorite bike, mmm my Ducati SS. Went riding flattrack on XR100s in a roping arena in the winter, can’t ride the Duc there. Wanna ride trials with the greatest bunch of guys in the world and be a better rider to boot? Can’t take the Duc. Heavy traffic? It’s not gonna like it. I’d have to waffle with Dirk. It’s like shoes, real nice cross trainers, not so good in the mountains, Hiking boots, not so good for a 5k.

  45. skybullet says:

    Reflecting on 63 years of bike ownership and the reasons I replaced each bike, almost every step was to get a “better” bike. In descending order, KTM SMT, F800GS, Caponord, R1100GS, M900 Monster, VFR800, K75S and others… I enjoyed each bike (except the painful Monster) for it’s strong points but eventually found something I liked better.

  46. Craig says:

    If you do nothing but track days… then you need a bike with clip ons or at least sporty intentions…

    But to be honest in my 50 years of riding… I have really liked bike with a 90 degree V-twin… The sound is just incredible to me and even the many SV’s we have owned do it just with the right pipes on them.

    That said, I agree… whatever bike I am on is my favorite… because it just beats the heck out of anything else… PERIOD.

    These are great articles as they bring us all back to where we should be… LOVING bikes and riding and forgetting about what we are on… although I do have some fav’s I would pick if I could…

    I do 2-4 track days a year and ride 1-2 times a month on a Saturday morning with my group for about a 150 – 170 mile ride with breakfast in the middle. That has put me on a bike that does it ALL very well for what I do:

    Triumph Street Triple R…

    Enjoy your steads fellas… they are ALL good!!!

    • Norm G. says:

      re: “I have really liked bike with a 90 degree V-twin… The sound is just incredible”

      ducati 996. riding position was only good for your first day in prison, and looks like it was built in WW2 by todays standards, but that was the zenith.

    • Jeremy in TX says:

      “That said, I agree… whatever bike I am on is my favorite… because it just beats the heck out of anything else… PERIOD.”

      I used to believe that. But then one time I rented a 2002 Harley Davidson Sportster 1200C. It had foot forward controls, goofy handlebars and a solid-mounted engine. I turned around 15 miles down the rode, returned it to the dealership, walked eight blocks down to Hertz and rented a car instead.

  47. Curly says:

    Ride on Dirck! It’s not so much which bike but rather width of the grin inside your helmet. I can say with all honesty that I’ve had as much fun on a Sears (Puch) Moped as I’ve had on an R1 or CBX or H2 or RD or TZR250 or TT250 or Vmax or SC500 etc. Wait a minute, no, scratch the SC500, it wasn’t much fun at all!

  48. takehikes says:

    like many others who have ridden nearly 5 decades I’ve owned/ridden a bit of everything.
    For me it comes back to thinking about the best times I had on a bike, what were they, where was I? Its nuts but in memory I most fondly remember a 74 Honda CB450 I had. It might have been time and place but I keep thinking….never once did I hesitate to fire it and drive off and go 3-400 miles. Never once did it leak, not run, fail me in any way. Small enough to flick around a bit (not much) but also enough power to motor along just fine with my big self on it. It did everything for me….commuter, long haul (many SF-LA trips), cruising and more. I think also the fact that I didn’t make a single modification to it says something too. I left it alone and just rode it, the perfect UJM. Why did I give it up? Had to have something bigger, newer, right? Stupid…..

    • Butch says:

      The CL450 was my first bike and I rode the wheels of of it. Spanked a few Sportsters and single carb British twins along the way.
      40 years later my neighbor told me he had one in his shed that was parked there since 75′. Bought it for 50 bucks, aired up the tires and pushed it home.
      Fully restored and terrorizing the neighborhood every chance I get.

      • Stoopy says:

        You’re killin’ me. My second and favoritist bike was a red ’73 Honda CL450 that I bought from my Dad after he was done with it. Good honest bike that you could always count on. My last two bikes, both V-Stroms, have been the closest yet to filling the gap with their reliability, comfort, good handing and the above-mentioned “disappearing from underneath you” factor.

  49. Bill says:

    Well said.
    (But a full face helmet will fit in an FJR side case and an FJR sidecase, my dealer tells me, can be fitted to an FJ-09.)

  50. Kagato says:

    I like a scoot that lets me stand up on the pegs and lean forward—can’t see any part of the bike–sensation of flying above the road.

  51. GP says:

    What is missing in that picture is a good dirt bike. When I look back, it wasn’t necessarily the bikes that made the rides so memorable, it was the land – the trails – the opportunity. Most of those times just happened to coincide with my KDX200 ownership.
    Pavement is everywhere – and most of it is regulated. Blech!

  52. allworld says:

    How Zen

  53. mickey says:

    They all make me smile. 64 years old, like many of the members of this board have owned dozens of mcs. I have had two strokes and 4 strokes, singles, twins (v’s and parallel), triples, inline 4s, V4’s both directions, and have ridden inline 6’s. From 50cc to 1400cc, belt drive, chain drive, shaft drive, air cooled, water cooled, automatics, 3 speeds, 4 speeds, 5 speeds and 6 speeds…. and I always seem to come back to inline 4 cyl liter bikes as the one that satisfies me the most… Although currently in my garage is a 400cc belt drive single automatic, a liquid cooled1300cc tranverse 4 cyl shaft drive 5 speed, and an air cooled inline 4 chain drive 6 speed. I’m so happily confused……

    • Ronbob says:

      Me too, but I always come back to singles and twins. When I bought a 2009 Buell XB9SX six years ago for my 66th birthday I felt that I finally found the bike I had been waiting for all my life. I still feel that way, but the CB300F I got for Christmas is also great fun to ride. I will be hauling those two to So Cal to ride with family for my 72nd birthday in two weeks.

      • stinkywheels says:

        Keep it rolling Ronbob. Those Buells are addictive, so is my old Monster. Those things get under you skin, 80 horses, under 500 lbs., hard to not like.

  54. Hot Dog says:

    Back in the day, we used to ride 600+ miles every day, stop and camp at night. After 5 to 6 days of this fun we were all sore as heck. We tried to negate the pain with beer at night but we found the only way to stop it was get back on the bike. Once on the bike, the pain went away. What ever the bike was at that time, it was my favorite.

  55. Ralph says:

    I was a long time sportbiker, and now more of a fast sport tourer, but when I look back I have fond memories of the ’98 1500 Wing I owned. Wings aren’t supposed to handle well, and they aren’t supposed to be quick, but I had a blast on that bike. I did a little suspension and brake work and took the thing to Deals Gap every weekend. That was back when I was riding a lot (went thru three rears and two fronts on the Wing that year, and 6 rears and 5 fronts on my sportbike), and my riding skills were good. (In comparison, I ride like shyte these days)I had GREAT fun spanking squids on sportbikes with that thing, all the while cranking the tunes to 11. Good times. But you didn’t see many late 20’s guys on GL1500’s.

    It’s been said before and it’s quite true: It’s more fun to ride a slow bike fast than a fast bike slow.

    I will own another Wing again someday.

  56. brian says:

    Way to cop-out. 🙂

  57. Jose Barreira says:

    “What’s the best bike you have ever ridden? What’s the best type of bike to ride?”
    As long it’s a thing with two wheels and an engine… ALL! 🙂

  58. John A. Kuzmenko says:

    To me, it’s always been the bike I have fun riding.
    Not all bikes qualify, but those that do are the ones I like.

  59. dabimf says:

    My favorite bike of all time was the Honda Valkyrie Tour. I had to sell it to buy a house. To this day I miss that bike even though I have owned many since then. I was really disappointed when Honda brought out the new version of the Valkyrie. But beauty is in the eye of the beholder I guess. I know what the author is talking about when he states one forgets himself and becomes one with the bike.

    • Neil says:

      Test rode the new Valk. It’s a peach! That motor is so nice and the chassis handles very well. Not sure what the designers were thinking. I think they ate Tofu that day. It’s the Valkerie Tofu. But it was one of the most relaxing comfy rides I’ve ever taken. Cadillac all the way.

      • paul246 says:

        I owned an original Valkyrie and thoroughly enjoyed it. I have also ridden and still like the new Valkyrie, awesome bike in a different way. But, I opted to go a bit back in time and bought a nice 2003 Honda VFR800. A nicely balanced machine, a solid all rounder that lets me “totally disconnect” from the humdrum of life.

  60. MrD says:

    Well said, I tip my hat to you sir. Regardless of what type of two-wheeled contraption, the rider with the biggest grin, wins.

  61. Could´nt have said it better ; >>It is a motorcycle that allows the rider to forget himself/herself, and melt into the experience of riding. This is a motorcycle that feels alive beneath you, like an old friend that you can trust. It will answer the same call the same way every time, but somehow make every experience aboard it unique.<<"

  62. Starmag says:

    Dirck, nice Egan style ” never met a bike I didn’t like ” story with personal details. Good stuff. The current stable looks sweet, but a four car garage? Drool.

  63. adaleb says:

    Once again, another reason why MD is at the top of the list. Well said.

  64. Provologna says:

    I could live with those three bikes in the garage!

    If my ’83 Yamaha Vision had about 1″ more seat to peg distance, and maybe chain drive for about 20 lbs less weight, it would have been awfully close to perfect. You guys who only rode the ’82 have no idea how much better was the ’83.

    Overall though, nod to the trusty old ’00 BMW R1150GS. Rented the F800GS from the guy in SF. Sure, much lighter, etc…but never adjusted to the motor buzz, and missed the big boxer’s torque. Peak acceleration maybe even stronger on the F model, but still, no, not for me.

    • PN says:

      I had an ’82 XZ550 Vision that I restored. I’m sorry I sold it. I never have ridden an ’83. With its Works Performance monoshock and Race Tech Gold Valve Fork Emulators it handled well and had a great ride.

      • Hot Dog says:

        I test rode a 83′ and loved it. I was torn between a Vision and a Venture at the time and opted for the big one. I’ve always sort of regretted that decision.

    • Marty O says:

      82 Vision was my first street bike after my Dad’s 73 XL250 Honda. The engine was amazing on those Visions. I also had an 83 and loved it too. They were a bit top heavy and the starters went out all the time. But…that motor. Wow. My favorite bike of all time was my 87 250 ninja. It just fit me perfect and looked amazing and handled amazing. Also loved my 96 ZX6E. Loved my first gen Ninja 650. Got a 2013 Ninja 650 now and while I still love the motor the bike has gained a bit too much weight and I actually think the old seat was more comfortable. and had more legroom. Thinking an FJ-09 may be the perfect bike. It’s a never ending search:). I wish I could buy a brand new 86 Ninja 250 today. One of the best looking bikes ever. The 2005 Ninja 250 I had was also a great all around bike for a small person:)

    • Bo knows says:

      The 82 Vision I rode was an awful lot of fun. Easy starting and very responsive. Ugly as sin then, but has aged fairly well. I would consider adding one to the fleet (especially an ’83) if I could find one intact and running with a title. Under-appreciated, yet a precursor to the NT and SV’s that are more widely praised. Shame Yamaha dropped the ball again…

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