I fully admit it. I’m the kind of guy who likes switching motorcycles a lot. In the 12 years I’ve had my motorcycle license I have owned 6 motorcycles. To me, that’s a lot. Although to others it might not be 🙂
In chronological order I have owned:
- 1999 Yamaha XJ600S (Diversion) – My first bike – Will never be sold!
- 2003 BMW R1150R Rockster
- 2003 Honda VFR 800 VTEC (Interceptor)
- 2009 Buell 1125CR – The Beast
- 2013 BMW R1200RT – Still own it. Trying to sell it.
- 2016 Yamaha FJ09 (Tracer) – Still own it. Will be sold next year!
Overall I’ve been happy with all of these bikes. They all have something special or are good at some specific thing. But, if I had to choose now, I’d take my old trusty 1999 Yamaha hands down! It was my first bike and even though it’s in the autumn of its life now, it has yet to let me down.
It’s not only the emotion and reliability though. I like the simplicity and efficiency of it. No riding modes, no digital dashboard, a good old carburator and not even a fuel gauge let alone gear indicator. This is pure riding without distractions. And should it break down, then every mechanic on a random street corner will be able to fix it.
It’s not the most powerful of all bikes I owned, in fact it’s the least powerful of all, but it brings a smile on my face every time I ride it, and it has plenty of grunt to keep up with my friends in the twisties.
Another advantage of such an old bike is that you can be a bit more careless. It’s not a big deal if you drop it or scratch it. So I’ve taken it offroad on trails, where even my friends on their KTM’s had a rough time. Sure, it’s hard work, but it can handle just about anything.
So why do I even own other motorcycles besides this one? Well… that’s a good question 🙂. I guess it goes back to the title of this article. It’s heart winning from mind, emotion trumping logic and function loosing to looks.
Even though logically this is the only bike I need, it’s not a head turner and it’s not as smooth as a new bike. Also, because it’s been financially written off (I wouldn’t get much for it if I would sell it now anyway), I can afford to keep this around as a ‘spare’ bike while my main ride is something newer. I still use it for the occasional ride around the block and for when I have motorcycle buddies visiting from overseas. (You see what I’m doing here? I’m bending logic so it fits with my heart 😃)
Choosing a new motorcycle
I’ve had my new Yamaha, the FJ09 Tracer, for about a year now, which means, going by my average, I’m due for a new bike next year.
As I’m a bit of a nerd and like looking, comparing and scouring the internet for reviews (mostly I know everything about a motorcycle before I even set foot in the dealer showroom), I’ve already narrowed down my choices. And again it’s a typical choice between Heart and Mind, Emotion and Logic and Looks and Function.
Here are the two bikes I’m thinking about at the moment:
Before I get into the details on these two motorcycles, I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one having difficulty choosing between two very different motorcycles. So, even if you don’t like these specific two bikes (I don’t see why you wouldn’t 😉), at one point or another, you’ve probably been torn between two motorcycles with very different purposes too. In other words, torn between your heart and your mind, between your emotion and logic and between looks vs function.
So… meet the contestants! On the left we have the beautiful retro-styled Z900RS CAFE by Kawasaki. On the right we have, what has been the adventure bike standard for decades, the BMW R1250GS. Now, what do these bikes have in common you ask? Nothing!!! and I mean absolutely nothing, nada, zilch… EXCEPT… that I both like them… A LOT. But obviously for very different reasons.
Before I get into the details of those reasons, please keep in mind that:
- I live in Mexico which means good riding weather 95% of the year
- Mexico has bad road surfaces and topes (=speed reducing bumps in the asphalt…some as high and narrow that ground clearance of my FJ09 is not enough… with a horrible scratching sound as a result)
- I ride about 95% road, and 5% offroad (varying from mild dirt paths to more serious trails with small to medium sized rocks)
- The road riding I do is about 50% highway and 50% twisties.
The Kawasaki Z900RS CAFE
The Z900RS CAFE is one of those machines that are quite popular nowadays: old-school styling with new technology underneath. In this category it has quite a bit of competition, like the BMW RnineT, the Ducati Scrambler, the Triumph Scrambler & Thruxton, the Yamaha XSR900 and the Suzuki Katana.
In my opinion Kawasaki hit the nail on the head with this design. While all of these models have some degree of retro design (some more ‘neo-classic’) Kawasaki has managed to give it the perfect balance. Don’t get me wrong, I really like the looks of some of those other motorcycles in the category too, but to me personally, the Z900RS CAFE just stands out.
Add to that:
- the amazing sounding and butter smooth 4 cylinder (i’m a fan of 4 cylinders)
- the simplicity in which the modern technology has been applied
- the throw-back analogue dashboard dials
- the fact that, like the BMW R1250GS, it gets raving reviews and more than a few journalists uttered the sentence “I’m getting one”
- It’s got that Japanese reliability
All these points together make it the winner of its category in my book.
Are there any downsides? Well, yes, of course there are. Its engine is not the most powerful of the bunch, but with its 109 hp still double compared to my old Yamaha. That’s more than enough for me. On top of that the torque curve goes up very fast, meaning it delivers plenty of grunt right from the lower rev ranges. Another point of critique mentioned by journalists is the suspension being a bit on the soft side when you start to push it hard in the corners. Here’s a review of the CAFE:
The BMW R1250GS
A lot has been written and said about the BMW R1250GS. About 99.9% is good. The only downside is the price tag (more on that later). I can say a lot more about this motorcycle, but if you just google ‘R1250GS review’ you’ll find plenty of reviews.
What I will say is that this is, by many account, the best all round, do-it-all, motorcycle you can get. It’s good for long haul highway touring, handles extremely well in the twisties and is one of the best in class (the heavy adventure bike class) for offroading. Lots of this comes from the amazing boxer engine which offers around double the amount of torque compared to the Z900RS. Here’s one of the many reviews of the 1250GS.
I don’t dislike the looks of it either, but it doesn’t come close to how I like the 900RS CAFE. Also, you won’t be anything special on a 1250GS. A lot of them riding around.
Mind, Logic and Function
This is the easy part. We’ll just make a table and add everything up to a total score 🙂.
|Power & Torque
|Reliability (0-5 years)
|Reliability (>5 years)
(based on brand)
So… the BMW R1250GS wins logically, despite of its high price and lower reliability. The Z900RS CAFE is around 12,000 USD. The BMW starts at 18,000 USD, but will probably be around double the Kawa’s price when you finish configuring.
Heart, Emotion and Looks – Let the logic bending begin
Now look at my amazing logic bending skills. I can bend logic like David Copperfield can make tigers disappear. In the end you too will wonder why the BMW was an option in the first place 🙂.
|Logic Bending Statements
|Power & Torque
|Even thought the GS has double the torque, who needs that? The CAFE has more than enough for me!
|Who wants a bike that ‘everyone’ has? I want a special bike that turns heads and fits my ‘image’.
|Yeah, the kawa suspension is a bit soft, but I’m also getting older. I don’t need to press it hard in the corners. I prefer to take it a bit slower and enjoy the views.
|I only ride 5% offroad and am able to do it on my old yamaha, new yamaha and heck, even on my BMW R1200RT I’ve been offroad. Only those topes / speed bumps… hmmm.
|My yamahas don’t have much wind protection either and I’ve been fine so far.
|That engine sound will make up for the lack of power and lesser suspension. And even then… 109 hp is more than enough in the twisties.
|This is a no brainer. Price for the Kawa is half of the BMW.
|Reliability (0-5 years)
|What’s there to say. Japanese reliability trumps everything.
|Reliability (>5 years)
(based on brand)
|I’ve had myself, and know some people with, bad experiences with older BMW’s.
|Who needs electronic rider aids? They only take away and distract from the pure riding pleasure.
|Kawa adjusted score
Do we have a winner?
So, we have ourselves a draw. The ‘logic-bended-adjusted’ score for the Z900RS CAFE is equal to the BMW R1250GS score. What a coincidence 🙂. Luckily I still have a year to go before I need to make a decision, so I can let it sink in a bit more.
Obviously test-rides will be done before that time, but then it will be decision time. HELP!!! PLEASE!!! If you have any tips or tricks to help me choose please leave a comment below.