WRR44: Riding the New Suzuki VStrom 1000 (DL1000)

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After covering a few small displacement bikes over the past several weeks, I was excited to get back on a big bike with some power. Don’t get me wrong, little bikes can be really fun, but big power is, well, fun-er. I was even more excited that the bike I would be riding was the all new Vstrom 1000, a complete redesign of the popular (albeit ugly) adventure touring bike.

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I get the sense that Suzuki designed the original DL1000 (and the 650) with touring in mind, but maybe what they didn’t fully expect is how adventurous some strom riders would actually be. Tackling trails, moto camping, and even full on dirt-biking with their big touring bike maybe wasn’t what they fully envisioned, but what they couldn’t deny is the bikes were actually quite good for some adventure. The new DL1000 picks up on the adventure bike market trend and really runs with it. A more adventurous styling package is the first thing you’ll notice, and oh how refreshing it is. That’s my opinion, of course, but I’ll be honest. I would have seriously considered a DL650 or 1k, they seemed to be right up my alley, but I just couldn’t get past that styling. This new V-strom 1000 is so much better (again, my opinion). Sure, it’s a bit like the other bikes in this category, but it works, and looks decent.

The redesign is definitely more than skin deep, though. A 13% reduction in weight means this new model is just a hair over 500lbs, and there are plenty of other great new improvements as well. The V-Strom 1000 is the first Suzuki with traction control, and yes, you can turn it off. With this much power on tap, having a little help might not be a bad thing, either. The engine has been thoroughly redesigned, with very efficient fueling and seemingly no downsides to power delivery. From 3k rpm and up the Vstrom pulls and pulls hard, having that much power on tap, in any gear, means for effortless highway cruising and touring, loaded or not.

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Suspension has also been redone, soaking up bumps without feeling too vague in the corners. Braking is likewise excellent, with ABS kicking in only when needed.

There are many things I loved about this bike, but the one downside was the wind blast off the windshield. I know this was a common complaint on the previous generation bikes, and was hoping they would have done their homework in that department, but my experience lead me to believe otherwise. Wind noise on the highway is deafening, ear plugs would be an absolute requirement. The windshield is, however, adjustable, and I didn’t have the luxury of playing with different positions to see if I could get it a bit better. Of course aftermarket replacements are always an option, too. Fix that one issue, and Suzuki has a home run motorcycle on their hands. I know I’d be happy to ride one across the country, loaded down with luggage, camping gear, exploring unknown areas and just really getting out there. This is that kind of motorcycle.

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WRR43: Riding the Honda Grom!

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My first thought upon seeing the new Honda Grom was, “where do I stick the quarter so I can ride this thing?”  For a little over $3k, you are getting a fun little motorcycle that is sure to put a smile on your face, and anyone elses who is lucky enough to ride one or sees you coming.  It really is a funny little machine: 125cc air cooled single, 4 speed manual transmission (yay!), and little 12 inch wheels, a short wheelbase, and a weight of just 225lbs make this bike ridiculously fun to ride.

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On one hand, it’s a toy.  With huge aftermarket support you can customize your Grom to your heart’s content (or as long as your wallet can take it).  It could be like riding a super pimped out pit bike – big fun, lots of looks, and a big grin on your face the whole time.
On the other hand, this is a proper motorcycle that can be used for commuting, exploring, weekend rides, and – if you have some like minded buddies, maybe even some parking lot racing and stunting!  Now, don’t expect to hop on and put in 500 miles a day without some (serious) butt pain.  That seat is incredibly hard, and the top speed is somewhere around the 60-65mph range (provided it’s not too hilly or windy).  What that makes you do though is enjoy routes you might not otherwise take, and see things at a slower pace then you might do on a bigger bike.  Oh yeah, and you get to do all this while enjoying over 100mpg.

 

Cheap to buy, cheap to ride, cheap to mod, and a blast to ride.  What’s not to like?  After spending a bit riding around on the Honda Grom, I know I’d love to have one in my garage!

 

Already have a Honda Grom? Check out Accessories for the Honda Grom here.

WRR42: Riding the Suzuki GW250

20140321_133714The Suzuki GW250 is an interesting new entry in the small bike market. While there are several options out there in the US for small displacement sportikes, cruisers, and dual sports, there haven’t been too many small bore standards as of late. The Suzuki GW250 fills that gap the market at a retail price of $3,999.

Having recently ridden the Ninja 300 and the CBR 250, I was curious as to how the GW250 would compare. The GW250 uses a liquid cooled 248cc parallel twin, which power wise puts it right between the Kawasaki and the Honda. The GW250 handled highway duty with ease, where the Honda struggled a bit. The Suzuki’s upright seating position and wide handlebar make slow speed maneuvers a piece of cake – if you are picking your first bike after graduating from the MSF course, you’ll feel right at home on the GW250. The upright seating position also means the bike is nice and comfortable, perfect for commuting and weekend exploring.

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The only real miss on this bike is the weight. Curb weight comes in at 403 lbs, nearly 50 pounds heavier than the Honda CBR250 (the GSXR-600 is only 412 pounds, by comparison!). While the GW250 tips the scales a little more than we would like for a small displacement, beginner friendly bike, the weight seems to be carried fairly low, and the 30.7 inch seat height makes it manageable even for shorter riders.

Overall the Suzuki GW250 is perfect for the rider who is either wanting a small bike to learn on, or the experienced rider who wants a small displacement bike for commuting and running errands. While it doesn’t have the super sporty feel of a sport bike, it’s still a fairly fun bike to take through the corners, too. Ride along with us every Wednesday by subscribing to our YouTube channel, see you on the road next week!

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WRR41: Riding the Honda CBR250R

20140320_153741Riding the
Honda CBR250R

I was excited to throw my leg over the Honda CBR250R, maybe more excited than I should have been, considering I had just gotten off my ZRX1100.  I’ve enjoyed many miles aboard small, light motorcycles though.  Some of my fondest motorcycle memories are camping trips I took on my Kawasaki Ninja 250, or a spirited ride through the twisties, keeping up with the “big boy bikes.”  You see, many people underestimate just how fun a little bike like this can be to ride.  Sure they aren’t super fast or anything, but they are so light and easy to handle, get one of these on a curvy road and you’ll be grinning, I guarantee it!

Having spent a lot of time on the Ninja 250, and recently having the opportunity to ride the new Ninja 300, I was curious to see how the Honda would stack up.  Kawasaki uses a parallel twin engine configuration that builds power and has a satisfyingly high redline.  The Honda, on the other hand, uses a single cylinder that redlines at 10,500rpm – so I was very curious to see how this engine felt.  I’ll admit, I was expecting it to be a bit dirt-bike like.  Boy was I wrong – the 250 single in the Honda is smooth, a far cry from the traditional 250 thumper found on most dirt bikes.  Climbing into the cockpit, I found the seating position to be very comfortable, even for me at 6’ tall.  Flat footing was easy, as you’d expect for someone my size, but even if you are considerably shorter, the light weight of the bike and relatively low seat height make this bike feel very manageable.

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A light clutch pull and enough power down low made getting off to a start smooth and easy.  While stalling a bike is inevitable for any newbie, this bike is forgiving in that the clutch has a very good feel – and of course there isn’t so much power that you’ll loop it if you dump the clutch (unless you are REALLY ham fisted).  What I love most about these little bikes isn’t how beginner friendly they are, although that is nice, what I love most is how utterly capable they make you feel in the corners.  Put a good rider on a good set of tires on this bike, and he could keep up with anything on a good curvy road (or a tight race track).  And more and more people are getting into racing these little 250’s.  Low cost of ownership, easy on the wallet in the tires and parts department, and a whole ton of fun – what’s not to like?

Of course for the street they make a great little bike as well.  Returning well over 70mpg will save you money at the pump, and makes long days on the bike that much more enjoyable.  There’s something satisfying about going on a big group ride and knowing you spent half of what some of the other guys did on gas (and they couldn’t even shake you in the corners).  And the corners are where this bike just shines.  A 140 rear tire and the light weight (357lbs wet) of the bike make turn in lightning quick.  Conserving momentum is the name of the game though – slow down too much and you’ll be spending the next few corners just speeding back up.  A small bike like the Honda CBR250R rewards the smooth rider.  Smooth braking, smooth turn in, and a perfect line through the corners will reward you with a fantastic riding experience.

So how did it compare with my old Ninja 250?  Seat of the pants feel – the Honda feels like it has significantly better suspension, much tighter feeling and more sure footed.  (To be fair, the newer Ninja 300 feels significantly better as well).  In the power department, the Kawasaki 250, and obviously the 300, do have an advantage.  On the freeway, the CBR250 struggled to get me up to 70mph if I was sitting up straight.  Once I got into a good tuck it sped up ok, but for much highway riding I would want just a little bit more than what was there.  That’s really the only fault I can think of with this great little motorcycle.

If you are looking for your first bike or just a great lightweight Honda to commute on or toss around a race track, the little CBR 250 is a great platform to go with.  Below you can watch the full ride video – make sure you subscribe to our YouTube channel too – Weekly Rides with Reuben are uploaded every Wednesday!

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2011 Honda CBR250R Review by Bobby Lester

A great starter bike that also provides enough fun for the more experienced. Two and a half years ago my wife decided to make her MC endorsement, after 20 years of being a passenger. She signed up for the MSF class with my daughter and son in tow. My daughter had just turned 18 and was ready to make her mc endorsement, and my son would soon be turning 18. They all had ridden on the dirt for years so they all where excited about making their licenses. I am proud to say they all passed the class and are all on their way to being proficient riders, and the little CBR has been a big part of that.

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Myself being like most riders, thought the 250 to small for hi-way use, and I was pushing for a 600. She was insistent on the 250, so the 250 is what it would be. We ordered a ZX250, that’s right a Kawasaki, from our local dealer. Between the time the bike was ordered and delivered, they where several miscommunications on the dealers part, that irritated my wife, so after discussion, the ZX was canceled and another dealer called, they did not have what she wanted, but said they could have one the next morning from SC. So a CBR250 new in the box was procured from down south and waiting for her to look at the next day. I arrived home in the AM(i work 3rd shift) and she was amped up ready to go look at her new bike. So after an eleven hour shift, a one and half hour drive, and an hour of paperwork. Off I went with a very excited wife and her new CBR250R.

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We arrived home and immediately went for a 100 mile ride, I went home for rest and she continued on for another 100miles. She really does love her little bike. After it’s first 1000 miles, I took it for my first ride, and was I surprised.
The bike is so quiet and nimble, and such a blast to ride in the twisties, it is really easy to find yourself twisting the throttle and grinning bigger and bigger, as the tach sweeps to redline, then back as another gear is grabbed.
I weigh 200lbs in gear and this little bike will happily run 74mph gps, sitting up in the wind. Hug the tank and get into full tuck and she will climb another 10-15mph. The bike has been dropped three times by three different riders, and the only damage was scratches to the exhaust(barely noticable) and a broken left mirror stem($35 to replace). This bike is an absolute jewel for the beginning rider.

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For a new rider the bike is great OTSF, but for the aggressive rider, the brake lines need to be replaced with steel braid and DOT4, maybe add some sliders, and that is all that is needed to be ready too ride the wheels off these little bikes. Cross-winds are no worse on this bike, than they are on most other bikes, the CBR cuts the wind very well, gets incredible gas mileage, runs and handles great, except for a hard stock seat, it is comfortable, and it looks as good in the city, as it does on the track, in the mountains, or on the beach!