Fun in the City!
I have been riding Big Bird for about 1 ½ years now and I love it. The CBX/CBF250 puts a smile on my face and puts fun into urban commuting. What? Fun riding in city traffic during rush hour? Have I gone off my rockers?
She is slim, light, easy to handle can comes with a willing engine. The turning circle is amazing and you can do 90 degrees turns between stuck cars. The 250cc engine provides just the right amount of power to dart around in urban traffic and enough for 2 up riding on highways. It is just about the ideal commuter and all around fun bike for city traffic. Many go straight for 400cc bikes once they pass their Class 2A license (~400cc motorcycles), but 250cc singles are the hidden gems.
So why did I buy a FZ6S?
Yes, I have purchased another bike. This time, a used 2009 Yamaha FZ6S S2.
Corners, Speed and Travel
Looking back on the period I had the GSXR1000 K1, I realised that the bike was not the best fit for me. She was sharp, aggressive, had a great engine (oh I love it), handles like it was on rails, but she demanded a full-on riding style and basically lived for corners only. You are in heaven along twisty roads but in backache hell the rest of the time (especially in city traffic and on highways; which is most of the time).
I am happy to be back on a sensible commuter like Big Bird, but I missed the power of a bigger bike, the cornering fun and the ability to travel into Malaysia. Big bird can probably make it to Cameron Highlands and back, but at highway speeds of 110kph (legal limit) to 130kph (what everyone else cruises at the low end), the engine will be highly stressed. Riding by myself, the bike was screaming at 10,000rpm when she reached 140kph on a short stretch along a safe undisclosed location somewhere in a Southeast Asian country.
It will probably be alright if we take country roads, but with 6 hours on highways, Big Bird is neither ideal nor safe, hence the search for another bike. To be honest, I tried to put it out of my mind many times and told myself to be contented, but in the end, I succumbed to temptation.
From my experience with the GSXR, I realised that I needed something like:
- 600cc or more
- Good handling
- Relatively upright seating position
- At least a half fairing
- A tank that allows decent range
- Mileage less than 100K km
Good handling and good suspension have always been high up on my list. It is just common sense. There is no point in having big power when the bike handles like a barge or scares you because you will not be able to use all that power.
The half fairing minimal criteria is also to allow one to use all that power and speed. A naked bike capable of 200kph? I am not a masochist.
Lots of Nice Naked Bikes, but I Want Wind Protection
The half fairing requirement limited my choices. I saw a few Hornet 600 and 900, Triumph Speed Triples (handling…yeah) for sale, but restrained myself from going down to view them (cos I will probably end up buying it).
There were some VFR800s but these tend to be priced high being Honda and reliable. Also some later GSXR1000 (K3,K4), but for these to work, I need to do something about the handlebars. One bike that I was interested in was the CBR954, which seems to be a good blend of sportiness, lightweight and still relatively sensible riding position. However, there were few of them offered for sale and tend to be priced out of my budget. In the end, my options were more or less between the FZ6S, Fazer600, FZ1S, Fazer1000 or the CBR954.
Due to our wonderful government’s COE policy, prices of motorcycle COEs have leapt from around $1,500 to $6,800. Correspondingly, despairingly, used motorcycle prices have also gone up. Hence, my choices were really slim cos I do not have a big budget for what will essentially be a recreational vehicle.
One day, while trawling the ads, I came across a 7 ½ year FZ6S S2 with 66K km on the clock with panniers. Upon viewing the bike, I noticed that the owner looked rather uncomfortable riding the bike. Not uncomfortable as in backache uncomfortable, but as in he looked ill at ease on the machine.
I gave the bike a look over and heard the tappets tapping away. Looked like she needed a valve clearance adjustment soon. Tyres looked like it still had 50% left. No leaks on forks and other than a voltmeter and hard panniers, it looked stock. After conversing with the owner, he came across as an owner who did not really know much about bike maintenance and only used it for commuting. Maintenance only covered fluid changes and replacement of consumables.
The bike had a relatively weathered look like one that was left out in the elements for longer than usual. The paint on the tank was a bit scratched up, the windshield was yellowed and the LCD meter’s polarizing film seemed to be detaching a bit from the LCD screen though the screen was still perfectly readable. There were also bits of rust here and there on the fasteners.
I took a short ride on the bike and found the suspension soft and squashy. The throttle was stiff and abrupt and the clutch travel was incredibly short. The front brake squealed a bit and she did not like to lean into corners.
However, I also realised from talking with the owner that he did not know much about setting up the bike. No wonder he felt uncomfortable on the machine. I also knew that there was probably nothing inherently wrong with the bike, but that it just needed some TLC and a bit of setting up to get it going well.
I made an offer and he accepted and Ella became mine.