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View Full Version : Thinking about buying a japbike as a daily, but which one?



SwedishMatt
04-19-2014, 5:20 AM
Im looking at buying either a Honda Shadow 600, Kawasaki VN800 or a Yamaha Dragstar 650 as these are the bikes I can afford right now that look good enough to me and they are pretty common here in sweden.

The bike is gonna be my main mode of transportation to and from work this summer which is 80 miles a day doing 55-70 mph. It will be customised a little this summer with some apes, removal of blinkers, chromed rear fender.

Those of you who have experience from all of the above bikes, what is your suggestion?

I'm leaning mostly towards the Honda Shadow as it is the best looking one but it has the smallest motor and only a four speed tranny which makes me think it is no good for commuting although what I've read on the shadowforums say otherwise.

The dragstar has that god awful gastank that isn't easy to exchange with the dual backbones, that's kind of what kills it for me. On the plus side it is the only bike without a radiator.

The kawasaki I don't know much about but it is the most expensive one, however it does look like it has potential to be a cool bike.

//Matt

rigidchop
04-19-2014, 8:51 AM
The Kawasaki is prolly the best one for the riding you need to do. Has the most power, chain driven so you can change up the ratio for the highway, and the radiator is pretty small. A lot of people claim those smaller bikes do fine at those speeds, and they may, but they're gonna be running a lot harder than that 800 will. I thought all of them had dual backbones though.

spidr
04-19-2014, 9:26 AM
Im looking at buying either a Honda Shadow 600, Kawasaki VN800 or a Yamaha Dragstar 650 as these are the bikes I can afford right now that look good enough to me and they are pretty common here in sweden.

The bike is gonna be my main mode of transportation to and from work this summer which is 80 miles a day doing 55-70 mph. It will be customised a little this summer with some apes, removal of blinkers, chromed rear fender.

Those of you who have experience from all of the above bikes, what is your suggestion?

I'm leaning mostly towards the Honda Shadow as it is the best looking one but it has the smallest motor and only a four speed tranny which makes me think it is no good for commuting although what I've read on the shadowforums say otherwise.

The dragstar has that god awful gastank that isn't easy to exchange with the dual backbones, that's kind of what kills it for me. On the plus side it is the only bike without a radiator.

The kawasaki I don't know much about but it is the most expensive one, however it does look like it has potential to be a cool bike.

//Matt

I'm partial to the v-star, the motor is based off the virago, and the 650 actually moves along pretty good. Never been a fan of watercooled bikes personally, so that kind of rules out the oothers for me.
The backbone is pretty easy to deal with, theres actually been a couple examples of new tanks, and a single backbone posted in thelast few days alone.

coolmesser
04-19-2014, 8:16 PM
I ride Vulcan 500's because I like that little ninja motor. I like the 800's though and it's the only one with the single spine so you could swap in some nice generic tank.

That Shadow isn't a bad choice either in terms of durability Those things run forever and they're easy to work on. If you're riding single then you shouldn't have a problem with power at all.

I know jack about the Yamaha except I've ridden a few. It was a good ride. I prefer my Kawasaki's though. I like the way they sit better.

I dont think you'd go wrong with the shadow at all and the vulcan would certainly meet your needs. Getting secondary market support on the Vulcan is hard - but a little easier on that 800 because it's a little more config friendly. Oh, and if I remember right you will hafta come up with some modified risers to swap on a pair of apes. I just crafted my own.

No offense but to heck with the Yamaha.

billyolds
04-19-2014, 11:06 PM
why not the shadow 750? 5 speed and more power. Drop the rear a few teath and you will have no problems riding with any bikes.

SwedishMatt
04-20-2014, 1:27 PM
Why not the 750? Because I don't like the look of the shocks so a softail frame is a must.

I've been thinking a lot about the bikes this weekend and made some pros and cons lists. So far the Kawasaki VN800 is in the lead as it has a single backbone which makes it a breeze to change the tank, biggest engine and a 5 speed tranny. The cons is that it is pricier than the others, up to $1000 more for a late -90s model with 25k miles on it compared to a -00 and up Shadow 600 with about 700 miles on it. And looking at all the shadow chops around the internet that bike can be turned into a friggin awesome chop with little effort. No tank change necessary for it to look good so the dual backbone is not an issue there.

As of right now there is no bike of interest for sale anywhere close to me so I'll just have to wait a little longer until something comes up. So that is gonna be a big factor in the decision making. I will not drive more than 5 hours to get a bike.

Fndirtygreaser13
04-20-2014, 8:08 PM
Don't know if you can get an xs650 Yamaha. But these are good runners. I was daily driving mines for a while. Plus they make great choppers/bobbers/cafés if you want to go down tht route

Hatchet54
04-20-2014, 11:29 PM
I'd vote Kawasaki. Those Vulcans make some of the coolest rides I've ever seen. I still want an 800 someday.

billyolds
04-21-2014, 4:35 PM
well, i feel you on your wishes for the bike, its nice to see a response that has knowledge to it, unlike most, what bikes should i get crap.
I agree with fully on the vulcan and think that fits your needs. I wouldnt settle for a 600 at all. Your speed range you may get a way with it but, that 4speed kills me uin thought. Your downside to the vt750 is very true. Ill be able to tell you hopefully in two weeks how that is to solve and make look right as mine should be a hardtail soon.

Jetblack
04-22-2014, 6:00 AM
Well, here's stat info ratings and stock images for comparison.

Honda Shadow 600 recieved 3 stars out of 5 reliability
http://www.motorcyclenews.com/upload/836/images/bMVT6_2003SLA-01.jpg
Top speed 111 mph
1/4-mile acceleration 13.7 secs
Max power 54 bhp
Max torque 38 ft-lb
Weight 432.1 lbs
Seat height 690 mm
Fuel capacity 2.4 gal
Average fuel consumption 43 mpg
Tank range 110 miles

Kawasaki VN800 recieved 4 stars out of 5 reliability
http://www.motorcyclenews.com/upload/801/images/VN800B_BLU_RF-01.jpg
Top speed 103 mph
1/4-mile acceleration 14.4 secs
Max power 54 bhp
Max torque 47 ft-lb
Weight 515.8 lbs
Seat height 705 mm
Fuel capacity 3.9 gal
Average fuel consumption 42 mpg
Tank range 140 miles


Yamaha Dragstar 650 recieved 4 stars out of 5 reliability
http://www.motorcyclenews.com/upload/759/images/021997_XVS650_02_tcm22-71602-.jpg
Top speed 96 mph
1/4-mile acceleration 15.6 secs
Max power 40 bhp
Max torque 37 ft-lb
Weight 504.8 lbs
Seat height 710 mm
Fuel capacity 3.5 gal
Average fuel consumption 47 mpg
Tank range 160 miles

Well, the Honda is almost about 100 lbs lighter than the other two as the major difference between but not considered as reliable, all 3 definitely good to chop up... that being said the numbers for the Dragstar look good if you could shave a ton of shit off it, it would be a rocket and definitely nice not having to fuck with a radiator. The Kawasaki received 4 stars out of 5 in every category...Engine, Ride & Handling, Equipment, Quality & Reliability... next best was the Yammy, and the Honda coming in last.

Since you said a daily for work... I'd say the Kawasaki. Of course title, price and condition would really seal the deal for me as to which. PO's can change all the above... did they change the oil? Is a plug hole stripped? etc. so in all honesty it comes down to bike... now if i was getting one off the showroom floor I'd have to flip a coin for a commuter on the kaw and the Yam... Chopping? The Dragstar and try to shave as much weight as possible, it has a lot going for it making it an easy chop plus no fucking radiator.

EVILBLACKSABRE
04-22-2014, 1:26 PM
I'm curious to know where those reliability ratings^ came from, and how they were decided.

Jetblack
04-22-2014, 10:10 PM
I'm curious to know where those reliability ratings^ came from, and how they were decided.

From motorcycle news and owners...
http://www.motorcyclenews.com/mcn/bikereviews/searchresults/bike-reviews/kawasaki/kawasaki-vn800-classic--1996--2004/

billyolds
04-23-2014, 9:26 AM
i doubt that honda will do 110 in stock form. my 750 wouldnt... i call bs on all that. i wouldnt listen to some reliability rating. i can only imagine what they would say about american or british bikes, 1 out 5?

3rdDegree
04-23-2014, 11:04 AM
I have owned all of these bikes over the years and they will all do what you need them to do. The VLX will run at a little higher RPM with the smaller motor and a 4 speed. I've had several VLX's through the years and they are great for shorter commutes and around town, but for longer highway speeds they tend to get old. I would also agree that 110mph is complete bullshit on that stock motor. I had on with a built motor and it wouldn't do that with the stock sprockets on it. My commute is only about 20 miles a day, but at about 55-60mph max so I am not pushing mine real hard. Price will dictate which one I would say, but if you can find a good deal on a 800 that is in good shape I would take that.
<a href="http://s118.photobucket.com/user/jburns078/media/vlxdlx.png.html" target="_blank"><img src="http://i118.photobucket.com/albums/o83/jburns078/vlxdlx.png" border="0" alt=" photo vlxdlx.png"/></a>

wymple
04-23-2014, 9:06 PM
The HP and weight numbers are close to an old XS650 Yamaha, those ran just under 110 top speed. But with gearing to run that 13.7, probably too low geared to hit a ton.

RustDeamon
04-24-2014, 10:21 AM
i doubt that honda will do 110 in stock form. my 750 wouldnt... i call bs on all that. i wouldnt listen to some reliability rating. i can only imagine what they would say about american or british bikes, 1 out 5?

dont know man my 85 700 shadow will top over 130 (even with a blown head gasket) its possible. though I dont think the newer bikes like that are pushing the 150-170lbs compression that my 700 has.

3rdDegree
04-24-2014, 10:39 AM
xs650 has the 5 speed and vlx has a 4 speed

Jetblack
04-24-2014, 5:48 PM
Liquid cooled means less heat, less heat means less expansion of metal which means tighter tolerances, tighter tolerances allow more power per CC. My kaw 454 will hit 100 easily and do it in short notice.

billyolds
04-25-2014, 1:56 PM
dont know man my 85 700 shadow will top over 130 (even with a blown head gasket) its possible. though I dont think the newer bikes like that are pushing the 150-170lbs compression that my 700 has.

the older hondas rape in terms of power. an 85ish vt750 has a twin pin crank and puts out almost double the power of a new 750. A modern vlx is the same platform almost as a 750. Not saying you cant get one over 100, but in stock form, my 750 wouldnt break 100.

SwedishMatt
04-26-2014, 2:15 AM
Those BHP ratings on the Shadow must be a typo? Every other source on the internet says 32-39 BHP which is a big difference.

Anyway I´m going away for the weekend and I will go and check out two bikes that are for sale. One is a Shadow 600 and the other is a VN800. Hopefully that will help me decide. Both are a little too expensive for me but I might be able to get the price down on one of them.

Wish me luck!

Jetblack
04-26-2014, 9:05 PM
HP is the 32-39 BHP is prolly correct up top two different numbers for HP and BHP

SwedishMatt
04-30-2014, 10:47 AM
So now I've bought a bike. Ended up with a VN 800 Classic from 97. Great sound and a comfortable ride that I'm sure I will be happy with. Started thinking about chopping it up next winter! This year I will just ride and ride all summer. Went on a 70 mile trip last night with my girlfriend on the back and almost frose my nuts off. It was about 39´Fahrenheit so it was a little chilly but when you wanna ride you wanna ride!

I also tried a Honda Shadow 600 and it was an awesome bike too. Either one of them would have made me happy but the Honda was a little too expensive. I still think I will buy a Shadow to chop maybe in a year or two and keep the VN as a two-up.

Thanks for all the input guys!