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Economical Commuter: What Should They Build. MD Readers Respond, Part 3

Here’s more from our readers regarding their thoughts on economical commuters, and what they think the manufacturers should build. Part 2 of the series can be found here .

First off I think the “economical commuter” should be designed with that purpose. and not try to do all things e.g. sport riding, touring, on-road/off-road.

Cruising speed – the EC should be able to cruise comfortably on the interstates – 75-80 mph

Range – 200 miles per tank

MPG – the designers should make every attampt to achieve very high gas mileage. A target of 90 mpg would be nice.

Service interval – oil changes every 6-10k, and made simple and easy.

Other service every 20k.

Wet weight – under 400 lb

Transmission – optional, manual or automatic

Tires – 20,000 mile life expectancy

Price – less than $3,000

Country of origin – China (not mandatory, but who else would bother?)

The way I see it, the EC would not be the motorcycle enthusiast’s prime bike. The low price would make it less painless to keep one for the commuting role. A light weight. modestly powered EC should be very easy on tires – 20 kmi should be achievable (and tires should not be very expensive).

The Kawasaki Ninja 250 come pretty close to my ideal of a good EC.

Unfotunately, regardless of the capabilities and economies of the EC, I just don’t think there would be a large market for the bike in the US.

It’s would appeal would be limited to the same people that ride motorcycles and scooters.

The Big Four all have current street legal, high mileage bikes for sale that are perfect commuters:

Honda CRF230L

Yamaha XT250

Kawasaki Ninja 250R

Kawasaki KLX 250S

Suzuki DR200SE

I own a 2001 Triumph Sprint.

I live in Western Colorado, so I can expect to commute about 7 months out of the year or so, with a couple of those months still being rather cold.

For me, the Sprint is a great economical commuter. The well-designed fairing provides protection from the elements, and I get about 50-52 mpg on average as long as I don’t beat it up. The 955 engine is definitely not stressed, provides great power and great gas mileage.

Many of my 50 miles each way are on an Interstate, so I do need something that can easily keep up with traffic at 75 mph, and I like to have some power at that speed to get out of a situation if one arose.

I’m not in the market at this point, but if I were looking for a commuter, I’d be looking for something around these lines. My priorities are in this order:

Safety (I would include reliability – enough power to get out of my way in this category)

Comfort/protection from the elements

Gas mileage

There are great commuters out there already.

I’m a die-hard traditionalist, I want a clutch to pull, a shifter to row, and a tilt of the horizon to observe, and if needed, a paramedic to thank.

If an 68 mpg, automatic transmissioned, fly by wire, bubble canopied, three-wheeled, totally enclosed, air-conditioned bike floats your boat, welcome to motorcycling.

But hey, my idea of comfort, air-conditioning, and mpg, is flogging a supermoto over Angeles Crest Highway through the smell of pine trees – what do I know.

American Culture doesn’t “permit” the use of motorcycles / scooters as commuting vehicles. They are, and will always remain, recreational vehicles except for a very small percentage of our population. Make them as cheap as you like, it won’t make any difference.

Most commuters will always take their vehicles — sitting in traffic — on the cell phone — drinking coffee — and staying dry / warm / cold / whatever (Note: I ride a bicycle or DRZ to work every single day of the year).

Having a 100 mile round trip commute everyday, this is something that I have given some thought. I’m a 25 year old sport bike enthusiast that needs a bike that can pull “double duty”. The primary function would be transportation and secondary function would be weekend cannon carver (both important).

You mentioned an automatic motorcycle or scooter. Unfortunately, that would not meet the criteria that I have set forth. The experiences of hitting redline and banging the next gear is too important to go without.

I realize that centrifugal automatics have infinite “gears” which is always optimal for the type of driving / riding your doing (mpg) but just like a car with a “CVT” (continually variable transmission) there is something that makes me uneasy about increasing speed and watching the RPM drop. It just not natural!

My commuter bike would be a sexy, torquey, 100 bhp, 60mpg hooligan bike with optional soft luggage and a descent riding position. I’m lucky that what I’m looking for is starting to be considered a “market” for some major manufactures. Buell’s xb series, Ducati’s new Monster and even Suzuki’s new B-king (though extreme) is in the same market segment. I can only hope this trend continues to expand and develop.

While the fuel economy is important with a commute like mine, I would not buy a unit just because it was rated at 80 mpg. Unless it could, with a twist of a throttle, put a grin on my face!

It my humble opinion motorcycles are already a great economical option for commuting. You just have to find your riding style and determine what you expect from the machine. That does not mean that I don’t expect substantial gains in the technology that is used.

I love to see companies like Brammo Motorsports who are pushing technology and design with there all electric Enertia. That’s very important for the development of our sport.

As crazy as it seems, pure motorcyclists are not going to cross-over to the scooter realm without a fight. Perhaps it has to do with the image, or the fact that they are usually priced the same as a comparable sized motorcycle. I believe a good commuter would be a economically priced dual sport with removable hardbacks that come as standard equipment. Mid-sized, air cooled and capable of running comfortably at highway speeds.

I always thought that the Honda XR400 would have been a good platform for the bike in which I write. It would be capable of both on and off-road travel, low maintenance, highway travel, cheap to insure, and have the ability to carry cargo. A luggage rack, center stand, windshield and handguards would be nice options.

Economy is best defined by one motorcycle capable of many functions.

I was one of the few who was able to get their hands on the first year SV650 (only 2000 units made). I loved that bike, but it was quickly stolen and most likely ended up as a track bike.

From Day 2, I thought that Suzuki would have a winner if they added a full faring and some hard luggage. The bike would have to retain the traditional handle bars instead of the clip-ons of the S model. This would give a nice up right riding position.

The 650 is very thrifty on gas, though maybe a slightly larger tank would be nice for longer runs.

The level of effort to make this happen is quite small considering that the bike is already complete. Some minor mods to the S fairing to allow the taller bars is all. Aftermarket could get involved for the body work. In fact, at one time Corbin was working a set of beetle bags for the SV, but they never materialized.

Givi’s work on the bike I believe.

In the “Keep Dreaming” category, I keep thinking that interest in 3-wheeled vehicles, and smaller cars might make it possible to get DOT approval to run 4-wheelers or even Yamaha Rhino’s or Polaris Razor Side-by-Sides on the street. The Razor would be perfect for my commute.

MY 1983 Honda CB 1000 Custom is the perfect commuter bike.

The closest to a perfect commuter bike would be:

Borile B 500 Motard
Borile B 500 Motard
Borile B 500 Motard
Borile B 500 Motard
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