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Common Tread

What motorcycle are you going to buy? Sometimes the answer is a surprise

Apr 16, 2014

When my husband and I left San Francisco and moved across the country to Philadelphia, for my new job at RevZilla, we left behind not only my family and friends, but also our beloved motorcycles: my Suzuki SV650S and his Triumph Sprint RS. It was a little hard at first, but I always knew I would find a new motorcycle to love. I just did not expect that the search for a new motorcycle would lead me in something that looked like a circle.

In case you aren’t familiar with the Suzuki SV650 line, they were made in two versions: a naked SV650 with an upright riding position and the SV650S I owned, which had a half fairing and low, forward, clip-on handgrips. The only thing I grew to hate about my SV650S was the extreme riding position on long trips.

So when I was settled in Philadelphia and started my search, I had my heart set on something more upright, along the lines of a Supermoto (“Sumo”). If you’ve never ridden a Sumo, it’s one of the most exhilarating experiences you’ll have on a motorcycle. They’re basically dirtbikes or dual-sports optimized for the street with modifications to the suspension and brakes and 17-inch tires. They handle like a giant bicycle! With their light weight, they also have plenty of power.

I was hoping to find a used Suzuki DR-Z400 SM, which sounded like great fun for city living. With its off-road seat, it’s certainly not designed for long hauls, but I thought I would manage for a while without something that was touring worthy. I should also mention that I am a whopping 5 feet, 1 inch tall, with a 28.5-inch inseam. My inseam length has allowed me to ride far more motorcycles than I could’ve ever imagined, but I also knew the DR-Z400 SM has a 35-inch stock seat height. Considering how light the bike is, I wasn’t too worried, but I thought I might have to lower it a bit.

After looking online for a few weeks, I realized that DRZs are just as @*(%*)! expensive in Philly as they were in the San Francisco Bay Area. Damn. So then I decided to alter my search a bit. I found some Suzuki DR650s that were less expensive. Dual-sport riding is something I definitely want to get into, having been inspired by many friends who have ridden all over the world and had such great adventures. Having ridden a DR650, I knew exactly what to expect.

I started my search with a very low budget, around $3,000. I actually found a few DRs that were close but I waited too long and they were no longer for sale. Then at some point I started looking at ads for naked SV650s. Once I found this beauty, I couldn’t stop thinking about her!

She was in great shape, barely ridden and well cared for. A 2006, less than 7,000 miles on it and just a hair over my budget. I guess I love street riding too much to give it up just yet. As excited as I was about the idea of a DR, the idea of another SV excited me more!

By getting a naked version of my old motorcycle with a far more comfortable riding position, I have the things I liked without the part I didn’t like. Plus, I’m already familiar with the engine and maintenance. They’re common enough that parts are plentiful and it’s easy to find a mechanic to work on one. And funny enough, the riding position reminded me of a powerful 2009 KTM 690 SMR supermoto I rode once. So maybe I did get what I was looking for in the first place, but in an unexpected package.

I already have my long list of farkles to buy and I’m super excited about finding new roads and taking her new places. I even went on my first group ride with my new riding friends at RevZilla. In the end, I’m very happy with my decision. It ended up being the right one, even though I never thought I would travel this particular circle and find myself back on an SV.