Think unique, think charisma, think Jack-of-all-trades
Choke cable slipped out of the control lever slot. $10.00 repair when it was in for other maintenance.
Blown shock. Will run ~$175 + labor.
Replaced front tire at 10,300 miles (stressed and cracked sidewall - probably from age). $135.
Needs carbs cleaned and synched.
Minor rust on the inside surface of the pipes, bracket on exhaust crossbar - just cosmetic issues, really.
Left rear turn signal blown.
This is my first bike, and I couldn't be happier with my purchase.
The gentleman selling it had just bought himself a brand-new Honda ST1100 and wasn't riding it anymore. He'd held it since '96. He listed the bike on Craigslist, which is where I found it. I bargained him down to 2350 and I had a deal.
My impression of the bike's aesthetics was extremely important in my choice. I'm a bigger guy and I didn't want to be a lollipop - huge round shape on the top and a skinny little stick underneath - but this bike fits me very well and LOOKS GREAT. I cannot begin to overstate this.
If you are a fan of the naked-bike look, this has it straight from the factory. The headlight up front dates the look slightly, but a swap for a more modern piece (or perhaps a double-cluster) and aftermarket signals and mirrors would do wonders for it. The rear-end looks awesome. The dual pipes look great and serve to flesh out what is otherwise a very skinny rear view.
The engine performance is perfect for me as a larger guy starting out. A Ninja 250 or other traditional starter would have been ludicrous, and I would have been angry about it for the life of the ride. This 805cc engine torques nicely, is very predictable, and the gearing runs out right at 110 for me. Fast enough to get my rocks off without really putting me in harm's way. The drivetrain is solid, the shaft has given me no problems, and the changes are confident and shifts happen naturally right at 4k - right before the engine stops puttering at you, starts humming, and is ready to scream.
As a side note: be prepared to run 5500 on the freeway all day long if you're going to keep up with traffic. It'll do it with no problem, but it's not going to putter along at 3k like you'd hope a V-twin would do. The gearing on this bike affords great torque at stoplight speeds, but doesn't do much for the touring aspects. Think back-country roads all day long on this one. 55 as a rule... and for God's sake watch the engine braking. If you drop the throttle off on the freeway, the slowdown is like dropping a boat anchor and you had better be ready for it.
The suspension needs major adjustment. The springs and struts are all garbage on this bike. Riding two-up is an exercise in obstacle-dodging, since you WILL bottom out on a bump if you've got someone on the back. And the sensation is not pleasant. Heavy-duty struts and progressive springs are a must up front - in back, the struts need replaced as well, but the springs are adjustable which is a nice surprise.
The seat is uncomfortable to be sure. It rides nicely for around-town trips, but I would recommend a long period of adjustment - or frequent rest stops as per your rider's safety courses - before trying to tour on it. Corbin makes a nice one for it that I hear makes a huge difference.
Also, little to no aftermarket. DynoJet's Intruder 800 kit fits it, and they make pipes, but no easily-found intakes, hyperchargers, big-bore kits, fairings or cosmetics. Universal Mount Parts are your friends with this one.
The mechanics at the shop doing the maintenance are in love with this bike already. They're complimentary to a fault - whether that's due to my business there or due to the bike itself, I've no idea, but they're generally impressed with this relic. 18 years old and going strong as ever. Best first bike purchase that I could make, in my opinion.
Would you buy another motorcycle from this manufacturer? Yes
Review Date: 1st October, 2008