WhyBike Motorcycle Blog

Mailbag: Looking for a great 2-up motorcycle

By James - 5/31/2008

Russ had a question:

Your site is great. I just want a little advise. I’m 46 yrs old and haven’t had a bike since I was 20. I want something used in the 4 to 5,000 dollar range. Big enough for me and the wife to to take a few hundred miles with shaft drive and cruise control. Brand is irrelevant. What is your suggestions? I live in the Dallas, TX area.

Thanks much,

As soon as I read your email I thought of a few bikes that come close to your criteria, and checked on Craigslist to verify prices. The shaft drive has it’s advantages, you never have to clean and lube it, except when you change the tire. Dust and gunk don’t gum up a shaft like a chain drive. I have one on my V-Star 650 Classic and enjoy it. The two manufacturers that use shafties for cruisers and sport touring are BMW and Yamaha. Unfortunately BMWs (even a used K1200 with reasonable miles) are a little more than $5,000 used so that eliminates them.

Yamaha has a couple options for shaft drives that are comfortable for 2-up riding under $5000 used. The V-Stars, 650cc and 1100cc fit all your criteria, but the 650 may be a little sluggish for extended 2-up riding. Both are within your price range but I would suggest the bigger motor. My wife and I both have 650s and have ridden them all over the West, many miles on dirt and gravel roads. Me and the bike are covered with dust but I don’t have to worry about lubing the chain. That is when I am glad to have the shaft.

Unfortunately cruise control does not come standard on any of these bikes but there are plenty of after market kits you can get, from thumb-screws to mechanisms more like you are used to in your car. These can usually be installed fairly easily, but can be pricey.

Since it has been 20 years since you last ridden may I suggest the MSF course and getting a few thousand miles under your belt before you start carting around the old lady. Riding a bike may feel just like when you were 20 but your coordination, reactions, and ability to bounce back from crashes have deteriorated a little. Good thing your judgment has gotten better.



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  1. I think the Yamaha V-star 1100 would be a great choice. A used one is usually priced right. I have the 2002 V-star 650 and love it, but it would be sluggy with two adults. I bought it used have only had to take it in for required servicing.

    Comment by Biker Betty — 6/4/2008 @ 8:34 pm

  2. VFR 800 Fi year 2000.
    fit Givi Screen, raisers, and soft lugage.

    best bike ever made, period.

    Comment by R — 6/18/2008 @ 11:07 am

  3. Goodness! How could you not mention Moto Guzzi as a shaft drive option for a new rider? That’s an oversight considering the Moto Guzzi pedigree. (But, as humans we do err…great sight!)

    Comment by Alberto — 7/4/2008 @ 10:41 am

  4. I’m not sure how much they go for in the US, but I just bought an used Buell Ulysses XB12X from the H-D dealer here in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia for $6,100. They may be cheaper in the US?

    Its not a shaft-drive but a maintainance-free belt-drive.

    Also is is VERY comfy for the pillion and easy to ride when 2-up

    Comment by Haitham — 9/14/2008 @ 12:51 am

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