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Redusernab Asks: What’s The Most Under-Appreciated Motorcycle?

Robert Emslie May 16, 2017 Redusernab Asks 49 Comments

There are certain motorcycles, like the Vincent Black Shadow and Suzuki Hayabusa that have earned veneration over time. Others seem to have never found a fan base despite obvious attractive  features or performance. Honda’s ’90s Pacific Coast is a bike that it seems never found its audience. Can you think of some other perhaps even more egregious examples of under-appreciated bikes?  

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  • kogashiwa

    The last Ducati Supersport never got anywhere near the love of the ones before it, and was always in the shadow of the water-cooled machines.

    • Hillman_Hunter

      Even more so the other Terblanche disaster, the 749/999. People HATED it, and still kind of do. They’re gaining some respect now, and were always an excellent bike, but they’ll forever be known as the ugly disaster that followed the timeless 916 line.

      • kogashiwa

        I may be somewhat of a Terblanche fanboy as the 999 is one of my favourite Ducatis.

        The Multistrada is gross though.

        • Hillman_Hunter

          There’s a black 749S for sale here and I’m having to sit on my wallet. I thought they were awesome from day 1. But then again, I was never that keen on the 916/996

      • Harry Callahan

        These come with a handful of gift certificates for your local chiropractor, right?

  • smalleyxb122

    Yamaha Radian. It’s a shame that it is as ugly as it is, but I suppose if it looked like it rode the way that it rides, it wouldn’t be nearly as impressive.

    • I would sooner vote for the FJ600 — basically the same bike minus the drum rear brake, 16″ front wheel, and ugliness.

    • Hillman_Hunter

      Not sure if it’s unappreciated so much as forgotten. Back when it was new, most bikists thought they were pretty great – a nice update to the UJM.

      • Rover 1

        And with the right tyres, like those Metzeler ME33s on the picture, not bad handling either, better than most bikes of it’s time.

    • oldcarjunkie

      With a round headlight it would not be too bad looking.

    • ptschett

      That’s ugly? How?

  • 0A5599

    A lot of people don’t appreciate these.

    • Alff

      They handle like pigs

      • 0A5599

        You don’t have to cop an attitude.

        • Don’t dis his FLHP or he’ll put out an APB on your HUA.

      • No they don’t; they’re the hot ticket.

  • Kiefmo

    I got a lot of sneers, scoffs, and cutesey “why’d you buy a woman’s bike?” comments from guys who wouldn’t be caught dead on anything less than a 600 when I rode this, so it’s my nomination.

    It was a fantastic starter bike, though. Easy to handle, flexible powertrain, and unflappable handling.

    I also rode straight through the midwest winter while those 600+ machines were collecting dust on trickle chargers, so those “manly” riders can go suck an egg.

    • That’s a fine bike. A friend of mine has the naked version and loves it. If I could get rid of a couple of my bikes I would love to have one.

  • I’m going to play deep left field: Kawasaki Vulcan 500 LTD. A relaxed, no-hassle bike that—unlike most “beginner bikes”—will keep you entertained even if you’ve been riding a while. Kawasaki wisely choose not to detune the EX500 Ninja’s genuinely potent, revvy parallel twin in search of some sort of cruiser-ish grunt. The result is a bike that will blow away most 750-800cc v-twin cruisers. The stepped seat and short rear suspension travel will limit how long you’ll want to spend in the saddle, but for in-town use it’s fine. It has remarkably good build quality for its price point, will run forever, and there are still plenty of nice, clean used ones for reasonable money. I also like that the finless, DOHC vertical engine keeps it from looking like a Harley wannabe.

    • HONORABLE MENTION:

      The bike I recommended to Garrett on the podcast a couple of weeks ago: The CFMoto 650 TK. A very comfortable, really handsome mid-sized sport tourer for under six grand? I’ve seriously considered snatching up one myself.

      • Harry Callahan

        The picture is Mugu Rock in Malibu…about 10 miles from where I am now sitting. PCH is a great place to motor!

  • Some motorcycles are underappreciated even after taking into account their lack of obvious attractive features or performance.

    • I’ll interpret the paucity of votes as evidence that I’m right about its underappreciation.

      • Rover 1

        ” lack of “obvious attractive features or performance.” ”

        is an obvious attractive feature to some of us. (Or at least one of us.)

      • At least this vehicle is taged and in service on the road unlike the Elio. I’d like to ride/drive one. I like he clever position of the mirrors and I wish my bikes had large taillights like this.

        • Fun fact: Audi copied that layout.

          On the 2016 R18, basically.

      • 0A5599

        I upvoted to contribute to the paradox, not because I appreciate the motorcycle.

  • Batshitbox

    Golly, Honda has a history in the American market of fantastic motorcycles imported for only two model years, any one of them could answer.
    1982-83 FT500 Ascot, followed by the 1983-84 VT500 Ascot; the 1989-90 GB500 TT; the 1989-90 CB-1; the 1994-96 CB1000 a.k.a. The Big One…

    But I have to go with the Kawasaki KZ1300 6-cylinder. One year after Honda’s air cooled bulldozer the CBX came out, Kawasaki answered with a water cooled, far narrower, larger displacement, more powerful bike. At 710 pounds, it needed all 120 wheel horsepower. I rode one once, and it was a lot like my Laverda. Big and heavy, but stable and roll-on power from 2000 rpm up to 7000.

    • smalleyxb122

      You missed the ’86-’87 TLR 200 Reflex. Oh wait, you said fantastic motorcycles…

      Terrible for the street, and sub par as a trials bike, yet I want one.

    • kogashiwa

      I really want a GB500. I think they’re pretty expensive now though.

      • smalleyxb122

        Ditto. I love the GB500, but they enjoy a cult-like following that keeps their prices in the stratosphere. I want one, but not enough to pay what they sell for.

      • Batshitbox

        A few weeks ago I saw an FT500 Ascot parked right next to a GB500 TT, because this is San Francisco. (Full Disclosure, the GB500 is always parked there. Props for using a TT as a DD.)

      • Harry Callahan

        I have often nursed a fetish over thumpers too. I have dreamed many dreams of thumping around town….thumping around a track. Then, when I actually ride one…I crack the throttle just to feel lots of vibes…and not much power. I get off the bike, return it to its owner…and immediately shift into inline triple fetish mode…dreaming of riding a K75RT or Rocket across the Sierras…… Then of course, feeling underwhelmed by that, I start dreaming of twin and multi-cylinder liter bikes……..

        • kogashiwa

          Hard to go wrong with a triple. Loved my XS850 even if I never did finish it.

        • Batshitbox

          Thumpers and triples? You’re singing my song! I recently passed on a Thunderbird, but it’s still for sale. Two thumpers and two triples, though…

          • Harry Callahan

            Kinda jealous there sir. I owned 4 at one point….they all “mostly” ran too…..!

    • Rover 1

      A friend still has one. My abiding memory of one ride and manouvering near a coffee stop was that a reverse gear was needed.

      • Batshitbox

        European models had a reverse, I read. The one I rode was full fairing and bags, and I was about 150 lbs, so I didn’t try backing up.

    • I have a Honda FT500 and would love to trade it for a VT500 Ascot. The starter system on the FT500 is one of the most Rube Goldberg contraptions I’ve ever seen. I bought it a year ago because I always wanted one. Now I understand why they only lasted two years. The GB500 is a a horse of a different color and would love to have one if the prices weren’t through the roof.

      • Batshitbox

        The electric start was patched onto the XT500 dirt bike in an attempt to win over SR500 customers who wanted a pushbutton. The whole thing was thrown in the bin in favor of the VT500. (Which was soon thrown in the bin as well.)

        • Boy howdy. I wish they would have at least left the kick starter from the XR500 in addition to the crappy electric start.

  • SlowJoeCrow

    I’ve ridden a PC800 and it was a decent ride and very practical in a sort of mega size scooter/slimline touring fashion. I recall them having a bit of a cult following but I think the ST1100 really killed most of its market since the the ST was more conventional looking and more powerful. I think the whole Honda CX500/CX650/Silverwing family also qualifies as bikes that never sold in huge numbers what had a strong following. The CX series made great city bikes because they were low maintenance, tolerated stop and go traffic well and were unattractive to thieves.

    • Harry Callahan

      I put 68,000 miles my 1982 GL500 Silverwing–including an extended cross-country tour. The engine was remarkably stout. No engine issues whatsover, Valve adjustment could be completed with a 10mm box wrench, 17mm socket, and two feeler gauges in about 10 mins flat. Weak point was the Pro-Link rear airspring/shock. Replacement OEM was almost $1000, with no aftermarket options. When mine started leaking air, I tried shooting some tire sealant into it. Believe it or not, I rode it another 20k miles that way…!

      I traded the Silverwing for a 1997 PC800 identical to the one pictured. Major mistake…the PC was inferior in a number of key ways. We parted company quickly.

  • Harry Callahan

    I had a Honda PC800 Pacific Coast identical to the one in the lede photo. If anything, it was OVER appreciated by the moto-press!

    I was deeply disappointed with the overall performance, especially for touring. Despite being marketed as a “sport tourer”, mine buzzed enough through the handlebars that after about 50 miles or so, my pinkies were numb. I also found the windshield to be too short, the power too soft, and weight too high.

    Yes, the trunk was great..it would hold four bags of groceries, and for maintenance, it was pretty much just oil changes and tires—I always appreciate self adjusting valves and shaft drive!

    The V-twin engine was not well suited to this bike’s purpose–though narrow, it just wasn’t smooth or powerful enough for the intended application.

  • Rover 1

    The Suzuki GSX 750 ESD. Between the first multivalve GSX range and the super sporty’ race replica’ GSX-R 750 was this halfway machine, now widely forgotten that was the best of both worlds, far more comfortable to ride all day than the racy GSX R and much better handling than the previous twin shock models which over-powered their chassis. I ended up running Metzeler ME 33 front and Michelin M48 rear tyres and a disabled front anti-dive on two of these as courier bikes for many hundreds of thousands of kilometres. After, of course, replacing the stock voltage regulators with Honda ones for complete reliability.

    The Hans Muth styling/design still looks contemporary today.

    Later I swapped to a 17″ front wheel off one of these, it slowed the steering a bit, and gave me a bigger choice of tyres when no-one wanted to stock 16″s any more.

    Early on there was some competition success leading to quite a good ad headline.

    • I super-wuvs the XS half-faired version.

    • I super-wuvs the XS half-faired version.

    • Joey DaVive

      +1 for Ooh, courier bike
      ..and ‘Schwantz smokes’

      • Rover 1

        Yep. I was THE expert on how fast things wore out. After a while you settle for the best because it lasts longest and the cost per mile is less. Tsubaki chain, Metzeler or Michelin tyres, NGK spark plugs, Ohlins shock etc

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