Jerry and Dan, I agree with much of what you both wrote. The biggest correction I would make to what Jerry wrote, is that the windshields and saddlebags won't be included again as part of the bike unless you're looking at a Goldwing or equivalent. Why? Because the dealer makes money on those accessories. Honda put a dinky windshield on the NC700X and CTX700 to list it as a feature, but most owners find it is unsatisfactory. Later, the customer will buy a new windshield and the dealership has a chance to make money on both the parts at full retail, and also the labor. That's a revenue stream the manufacturers will protect.
Perhaps it is because I live in the Pacific North"wet" that I see much the same demographics as Jerry did. Cruiser riders tend to take group rides to the nearest biker bar, which keeps the rides to the 30 minutes he wrote about. "Young" riders seem to fall into three categories. Young and physically fit ride their bicycles to work and back, generally living close by. Some will ride small scooters and probably started with them in college. And some will be the hooligans on their zoom-splats. Few of them will ride long distances. I remember a young guy who rode along from Artist Point back home on his Ducati. He'd leave us and ride ahead for about a half hour till his wrists would give out...then rest till we caught up. I doubt he took any more long day trips after that.
Commuters are the closest thing to LD Riders I think. They seem to fall primarily into two types of bikes. The dual-sport crowd with the Vstroms and Beemers, and the sport touring bikes. I think both sell well because they have the storage space to put your stuff into for work. The dual-sport crowd gets a good view of the traffic ahead by sitting up high and their suspensions soak up the potholes (aka craters) in the pavement. And many of those bikes get some pretty good gas mileage.
The sport touring bikes are pretty prevalent among the year-around riders because of the weather protection and again the storage. At some point, you get tired of carrying everything on your back. A sack lunch is one thing. Add a laptop and some papers, and the weight starts adding up. Someone looking at commuting on their motorcycle will see the dual-sport and sport touring riders with their luggage and realize this is not a bad idea. It's lockable. Out of the way. And I can carry a rain suit and some extra layers for when I need it and leave my riding gear there instead of walking into the office with it. The biggest "issue" is see with most sport touring bikes, is they get worse gas mileage than the cars they are riding next to.
Both kinds of motorcycles get you to and from work comfortably, which is important with commutes of an hour each way being fairly normal.
Scooter/motorcycles might be a direction for the future. Scooters like the Burgman/Silverwing/Majesty models have some nice fairings to keep the cold and wet off you. There's something nice about arriving at work with dry feet. I rode my Burgman 400 for the past week and it was nice to just dump the laptop backpack into the cavernous underseat trunk it has without worrying about damaging anything...and still have lots of room left over. The seat is comfortable and the weather protection is superb. Now if you could just get a suspension that can handle potholes and freeway expansion joints better...
The Honda Integra fits that blend of needs probably better than most bikes, especially for the commuter. It's a motorcycle with a true full fairing on the front like a scooter. You get the advantages of the motorcycle suspension and handling and the environment protection of a maxi-scooter. Gas mileage is as good as my Burgman 400 or better. The problem is even with it, there are compromises. You can't get the underseat storage...if you have a 17 inch wheel instead of a 14 inch.
The nice thing about the "commuter" bikes, is you can use them Monday through Friday to take you to and from work comfortably...and then take them on an all day ride.
I agree with Dan about time and money being a constraint to riding long distance on a sport touring bike. I'm more of the rider who takes off early on a Saturday morning and then puts in about 10-12 hours riding. Time for a multi-day trip is an issue for me. And I have to balance out my desire to ride, with the vacation time I have and my family. If I was single, it'd be no problem...but I'm coming up on 40 years of marriage this July. I'd kind of like to make it 41 years. So a day trip to see some of the sights we have in the state, satisfies my need and keeps the family happy.
A problem I see with many motorcycles is the cost. With the economy the way it is, who has $18,000 plus to spend on a "toy"? For that money, I can get a car that will get the same gas mileage and do it with a lot more comfort. The motorcycle manufacturers priced themselves out of the market with the "car-sized" engines that require traction control to keep the bike from spinning out of control when the new owner is in the parking lot still. The technology is nice, but bloated for what motorcycling used to be.
Honda has come out with the 700cc models with a low initial cost to try getting new sales. Yamaha did some of that with their new motorcycles, giving you some great bikes with a low cost. I think the other manufacturers will do much the same. Some of the hottest sellers right now in the dealerships are the 250-300 cc motorcycles. Why? Because they give you what motorcycling used to be about. Cheap fun enjoyment.
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