Commuter Bike Advice - Piglet
Not sure this is the best place for this question, but someone on the forum always comes up with some good advice, so why not ;o)

I am toying with the idea of buying a bike for my 40 mile commute down the M4 each day.

Do any forumites have any general experience/advice on bike choice?

Not looking for an R1 or out-and-out speed machine. Just something that is relatively cheap, 2 or 3 years old and easy to ride, as well as being reliable.

A bike that fits this criteria and manages to retain some street cred would be a bonus of course!

I suppose I would be looking at the 600-900cc range, though not sure if a 600 would be much fun on a motorway for 80 miles a day??

I prefer a naked bike style - any ideas?

Is insurance on bikes really so prohibitive these days for a clean licenced 35 year old?

Cheers

Piglet
Commuter Bike Advice - dilbert
Not sure that a naked bike is best suitred to your needs as the wind blast can get a bit tiring after a while. Also, don't be under the illusion that a 600 isn't up to the job: even a 600 of modest output will out-drag just about any car you can think of.

It's more question of power delivery as a four cylinder 600 will be smooth but can be a little lacking in torque. You can get used to that and ride accordingly. Based on what you've said, I would suggest maybe a Yamaha Fazer or Honda Hornet. Kawazaki ZZR-600 and Yamaha Thundercat are good choices for a fully-faired sport-tourer kinda bike.

There'a a huge gap between 600 and 900cc. Above 600 the next stop is a Honda VFR750 or 800. Great bikes. Can be expensive, though. Given the distance that you'll be doing every I would choose the comfiest thing I could get and and at this engine size that is defintely a VFR.

Insurance can still be steep. I would guess around £400-600 fully comp. Do check before you buy as I found that rates can vary enourmously even for bikes in the same group.

My taste in bikes is fairly conservative. I'm sure that other will suggest things a little more imaginative. Hope that this helps.

Commuter Bike Advice - helicopter
As its Friday and silly time.....

Not entirely helpful to Piglet but take a look at ratbike.org/docs/427.php

At least you will have a comfy seat.

I liked the sock on the headlight rather than replace the glass!
Commuter Bike Advice - helicopter
I am not sure whether the above link is OK but if you go to the ratbike site and look in the junkyard its number 12 down the list.

Most of them are good for a laugh - I loved the French Honda thats the bike equivalent of a bag lady....

{I\'ve amended the link. The full stop at the end was the problem. DD}
Commuter Bike Advice - SjB {P}
This has come up before, as a Forum Search will reveal.

My preference, as a glance at my profile would suggest, is for the Hornet 600. Mine started off naked, and I then added a half fairing made by TCP (no, not that TCP). It'll now cruise happily at well over the legal limit if I wish, which makes legal cruising a doddle. Nice and tractable, with power delivery proportional to wrist making it easy to go with the flow or experience that wonderful top end rush. Great riding position, with good visibility, excellent bars, and just the right amount of body weight over them. Easy peasy to filter and easy peasy to tip the bike into a corner at speed with little physical effort. I've never had wrist or shoulder ache like on many bikes. Easy to balance at low speed, and I often come to a halt at junctions without putting my feet down, before pulling away if it's clear. Fuel consumption is 38 to 55 MPG depending on the journey, with most two-up touring holidays being over 50 MPG. Of great importance for commuting of course is reliability, and this the Hornet has in spades. Not a single problem in six years of ownership from new. I am forty, garage the bike overnight, and pay £160 pa for comprehensive insurance.

One downside is a paucity of torque below 5,000 RPM if you want to move smartish: The bike pulls happily from tickover, but 5,000 RPM is needed to conduct an overtake on the open road. Don't forget though that there's another 8,000 RPM in hand, and torque is still greater at low revs than many other 600s: You mention motorway riding, and a quick twist of the wrist will punch you past whatever is needed. 5,000 RPM equates to 70MPH in top. Tank range could be better, with a switch to reserve being normal at 120 miles. Brakes on earlier bikes like mine can be heavy, but this was easily remedied with Goodridge hoses for not many notes. Two finger stopping is now on. Cleaning the bike is easy, as everything is so accessible, and mine has no corrosion beyond a tiny spot of surface rust on the underside of the cast front fork lower yoke. This is common on the model, and is nowt to worry about if you see it on a potential purchase.

Would I have another? No, because I have no intention of selling mine! I commute on it, tour on it, scratch on, in short have an out and out ball on it. Great machine, and £1800 to £2000 will get you a second hand one in excellent nick. Sure, I would love something like a VFR or Blackbird just for touring, but as I have one bike for all trades think the Hornet an excellent choice.

So, this hopefully gives you something to think about, and although there are other machines that others will rightly rave about to, for me, the Hornet 600 gets the vote.
Commuter Bike Advice - SjB {P}
rightly rave about to

... rightly rave about too!
Commuter Bike Advice - Garethj
The Honda Hornet is very good for commuting on, mine happily does 75 miles a day (60 miles on the motorway) and it doesn't even have a fairing. Reliability and resistance to rust are what sets the Hornet apart from other similar bikes, it's also easy to handle and pleasantly quick. I think 0-60 is about 3.5 seconds, and 0-100 is less than 9 seconds, so you really won't have trouble keeping up with things.

I fitted a scottoiler to mine to extend the chain life, and extend the times between chain adjustments. Engines are good for 80,000 miles plus if serviced (every 4000 miles).

There are bigger bikes which can do a good job too, the BMW 1150 is very good, and most bikes with a shaft drive are easy to live with, but a Hornet is all those things and good fun too.
Commuter Bike Advice - henry k
rightly rave about to
... rightly rave about too!

>>
But too modest to give the link

groups.msn.com/honestjohn/acecafebackroommeet2572004.msnw?Page=1
Commuter Bike Advice - J Bonington Jagworth
I went through this loop about 7 weeks ago and received loads of helpful responses from SjB and others. That thread is on

www.honestjohn.co.uk/forum/post/index.htm?t=22863&...f

and the upshot was that I bought a Suzuki GS500 twin, which by common consent is not the sexiest bike on the planet, but it's very popular with trainers, and is cheap to run and easy to fix.

I do fancy a sportsbike, such as a Hornet or SV650, and I agree that Honda do seem to have the edge on durability, but I'm very happy with my Suzi, and it's a lot cheaper on petrol, tyres and insurance (£89/year for me). I bought a small flyscreen, which helps a bit with the weather, but I've no intention of riding if it's really foul!

HTH
Commuter Bike Advice - Piglet
Thanks for the info. Excellent as always.

Will be following the leads over the next couple of months and hope to have something reasonable before we hit winter.

Would the forum recommend the 'ride to survive' type courses for a new bike rider (well, not counting mopeds in my youth)?

Thanks again

Piglet
Commuter Bike Advice - bikemade3
I would buy having done this any of the following
1. Yamaha Fazer 600cc
2. Suzuki GSX 750 F
3. Yamaha Thundercat
4. Honda CBF 600
5. Kawazaki ZZR 600
6. HONDA VFR 750/800
7. Yamaha Diversion 900

Having owned the following in order Diversion 600, Fazer600 and until recently GSX 750 F would give the following advice bear in mind insurance (VFR+ Thudercats are in higher groups) and depending on the commute tyre costs. Motorways shred rear tyres being sat upright all the time.
I got rid of my GSX 750F as i was not using it enough to warrant it sitting in the Garage.
If the decision was mine i would look at the Diversion 900 ( shaft drive not chain 150 rear tyre and semi faired a must in the winter and reasonable BHP ( 135 mph plus if you must) but good tqe) and good reliability.

Second choice any of the others as mentioned i especially like the new Honda CBF 600 which has a detuned CBR 600 engine and semi fairing.

I rode through 1 winter ( 25 mile commute) it is harsh on bikes and Body ( fingers especially) so fit the following extras.
1. Heated grips ( a must from past experience)
2. Rear hugger ( keep the road salt and dirt off the shock and linkage)
3. Best gloves you can afford ( £ 100 plus)

Avoid any of the following r1,r6, Italian V twins, exotica, GSXR's, ZX 6/9/10/12, anything in insurance group 13 plus
unless you have a few years NCB.
Commuter Bike Advice - doug_523i
I do 100 miles a day commute and bought a 20,000 mile Yamaha YZF750R, which has now done 60,000 miles without anything other than maintenance, and a daily top-up of oil. I also do the journey on my R1, which is quicker, handles better and does approx 20% more to the gallon, probably due to the weight difference.

I saw a biker today on a VN800 Kawasaki Drifter today, with CHIPS-type windshield and he was maintaining 80mph with no apparent problems, so maybe that would be your best bet, they have little in the way of chrome so keeping it clean in the bad weather shouldn't be too much of a problem, and those huge mudguards should keep most of the muck off you.
Commuter Bike Advice - THe Growler
As someone who is involved in a lot of rider training I would say the Motorcycle Safety Foundation Course is a MUST. This is found in many countries but if the exact equivalent is not run in UK then your local m/c club will know where to point you for something similar.

Your confidence and one-ness with your machine will be dramatically enhanced, not to mention you will improve your personal safety.

SjB's advice is first-rate. The biker community anywhere always helps each other out I have always found. I would agree that bigger engine size is always better (although of course you must consider insurance costs). You should also consider machine manageability in traffic if you are commuting; you may need to sample a few trial rides to find something which feels right for you.

Enjoy the freedom only a bike can give you. It's addictive, you have been warned. Just remember the shiny bits stay up and the rubber part stays down. Ride safe.

Commuter Bike Advice - BrianW
If it was for a more mixed journey i.e. not so much motorway, I would recommend the Honda CD 250-U that I use for an 80 mile per day round trip.
Fuel consumption is 4 litres per day, insurance around £100 p.a., and I have done 80,000+ on one with few reliability problems.
I second the heated grips suggestion and would combine these with muffs.
Also make sure the rear light is duplicated i.e. two bulbs or a second unit: 40 miles on a winter's night with no rear light is bad news and changing a bulb at the roadside is no fun, assuming someone tell you it has gone!
Commuter Bike Advice - Vansboy
I'm not a biker, but have added this link in a few posts now www.forcemotorcycles.com they sell ex Police & MoD machines.

Have a chat with Nick, he knows his stuff.

You wouldn't get me on one!!

VB
Commuter Bike Advice - GrumpyOldGit
Piglet, have a look at the Yamaha Fazer 600. It's reputed to be the best all-rounder you can get. Great for commuting but also lots of fun for a weekend blast.

When you're up on 2 wheels keep an eye out for a black & yellow 'P' reg VMax, M4 8/9 to 3, and give me a wave. :)
Commuter Bike Advice - Piglet
Thanks again for all the feedback.

Looking at the moment like a toss-up between a Fazor and a Hornet. The final decision will probably come down to test ride.

I think either of these might suit a newly qualifed rider and enable me to develop skills before I start thinking of anything too exotic ;o)

Also seems to be lots of second handers around for reasonable money.

Found the Motorcycle News website very useful, with free articles/road tests available. Even found a 2002 Hornet/Fazor/Bandit article - probably the age of bike that I will be looking at :o)

Cheers

Piglet
Commuter Bike Advice - Robin Reliant
Don't fall into the trap of thinkinking that 500cc machines are the equivelent of hatchback cars, performance wise. I had a Honda CB500 a few years back and it was one of the best bikes I ever owned. With 125 top speed and all day 90mph cruising ability it took me on a couple of 300 mile trips in comfort. The lack of fairing was overcome with a £40 headlight mounted screen which did pretty much the same job, most fairings being for streamlining rather than rider protection.

The bike was comfortable to ride solo or two up, and returned 65mpg. One important factor often overlooked is tank range, the Honda could manage 220 miles at a push between fill ups. If you are regularly commuting the distance you describe that would be a boon. Some bikes don't even manage 100 miles before a refill, and that can be a giant pain in the butt, particularly when the weather is bad and you don't want to keep stopping and removing wet gloves, etc.

It was reliable and cheap to run too, another reason it would make a good commuter. I've read that despatch riders have clocked 250,000 miles on them.

The biggest danger of biking, of course, is that you are likely to end up hooked and will spend a fortune over the years to come.
Commuter Bike Advice - J Bonington Jagworth
I agree with Tom, and I think you would appreciate the performance and 'sharpness' of a Hornet/Bandit/Fazer all the more for having driven something a little milder first. Indeed, for commuting, you might prefer something less buzzy. Performance is all relative, and even my lowly GS500 can get to sixty in under five seconds, and can still go nearly 300 miles on a tankful.
Commuter Bike Advice - Piglet
I will certainly look at all of the options.

My first feeling was that a bike under 600cc would not be suitable for motorway commuting, but the more I look at this the more I feel that maybe I should ride something more sensible at first, even if I move onto something else a few months later.

There is an interesting thread on visordown regarding use of available power in day-to-day riding, and the way that 600cc machines are now percieved 'entry level bikes', perhaps wrongly.

At present I do not have a point of reference to work from so I will have to wait and see.

As a novice rideer it would obviously work out cheaper to start out on something the insurance brokers see as a safer option, not to mention the fuel savings.

Questions, questions...

Cheers

Piglet
Commuter Bike Advice - Piglet
...that should read 'novice reindeer' of course...
Commuter Bike Advice - Garethj
Don't worry about other people's perceiption of what the right bike is, try them and see what's right for you.

After riding the instructor's ER-5 for a while and taking lots of advice, I went straight for a 600 as my first bike after a 125. Be sensible and you'll be fine, you can crash just as hard on a 250 going 90mph as on a 1000 going 90mph!

I went for an unfaired bike, due to the costs involved of dropping it. It's not inevitable, but it's quite likely to happen to novice riders - my £0.02
Commuter Bike Advice - dilbert
Don't worry about other people's perceiption of what the right bike
is, try them and see what's right for you.


Absolutely. 100% agree.

But for what it's worth, IMHO (and I speak from experience as a relatively recently qualified biker) a modest 600 is perfectly suitable for a new rider. It's all about attitude - I've lost count of the number of kids I've seen picking up their mangled 49cc scooters off the road...

Commuter Bike Advice - J Bonington Jagworth
"At present I do not have a point of reference.."

Any decent dealer should let you have a ride. Only you will know what feels right to you, but try several to get an idea of the scope. Good luck - it should be enjoyable.
Commuter Bike Advice - Piglet
I'm sure it will be enjoyable whatever the outcome :o)

At the moment it is all general thoughts really as I have never been on anything over 125cc (many, many moons ago).

I will be taking my test in Septembber, so would be looking to buy something to ride on the dry/warmer days through winter. Hopefully, come the Spring I will have more experience under my belt and may well decide to stick with what I have, or try something else if I am looking for a different experience.

An old work colleague rides a Ducatti, so that's one test ride booked in , tho he doesn't know that yet ;o)

Seriously though, the original purpose was to break up the daily grind of 40 miles each way on the M4 when conditions allow.

I'm sure I will change my mind at least a dozen time before I get around to buying something. I'm equally sure that whatever I do buy I will have a hoot for years to come :o)

Cheers

Piglet

 

Value my car