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W800/ Bonnie/others?

Discussion in 'Bike Reviews, Questions and Suggestions' started by NofC, Feb 2, 2013.

  1. #1 NofC, Feb 2, 2013
    Last edited: Feb 2, 2013
    So after 3 and a bit years on a Vespa, and with an insurance payout coming my way next week (who'd a thunk getting rear-ended at a roundabout could be good news?) I'm pulling the trigger on a proper bike.

    I'm looking at a classic naked upright style. I'll be commuting on it but luckily going against the flow of the majority of traffic each day. I'll also be doing a lot of 2-300km rides to blow off steam (eg McCarrs Creek/Galston runs), and hope to do some decent distance touring a bit later in the year, once I'm satisfied I've got my skills up from a scoot to a bike.

    My riding level is decent, I feel, given my experiences on the Vespa. Counter steering and weight adjustment, braking and tip in points, no break cornering etc are all things I'm comfortable with, just need to get my head around the clutch and friction points, and retrain my braking habits from scoot to bike.

    The two bikes that are of immediate appeal to me are listed in the title. I don't want an Italian bike, partly because of $, partly because I need something that won't have too much character many reliability problems. Royal Enfield is out for similar reasons (and being a little underpowered from what I've read).

    Very occassional pillioning, but also need rack space for touring. Out and out performance is not an issue, otherwise I'd be getting a Striple. Scrambler is out because of pipe positioning and concerns that downlow torque hampers upper end for touring purposes, T100 is overpriced IMO, and Thruxton is out because of riding position and price.

    Budget, no more than the old Bonnie SE, so $13-14k max. I expect to take a bit of time to settle in to the ride, then start customising as seems appropriate, be that seat, risers, suspension or so on.

    Any info on insurance and general running costs would also be helpful. My netfu has yielded a lot of reviews but little along these lines.

    Have searched this forum already, know that MattB loves his Kawasaki, still don't quite get how the differences in the two bikes translate to twisties, as I'm seeing a lot that suggests the Bonnie may be slightly better in that department, especially with the mods available, but if anyone with a modded W800 has different experiences, would love to know the details.

    Thanks in advance for any replies. I'm very excited about this, but not to the point where I'm going to let me head rule my heart, or let my heart rule my head - I want to satisfy both as best I can.
  2. W800 for sure.
  3. W800 by a country mile. Have a search for the other threads that ask this question.
    There's also a couple of W800 owners on here who will have good info for you too
    • Like Like x 2
  4. +1 on W800. Add Panniers for touring.
  5. Wow, that's a pretty clear consensus. Thanks for the replies.

    I did read the Royal Enfield thread where MattB posted a review between the W650/Bonnie/T120, but the Bonnie there was a 2001 model, and the w650 is not 800 of course, and I'd thought the 2012 Bonnies have had a few improvements since the 2001s.

    And apologies if this is coming across as "Oh, f^&%, not this question again". I just like knowing how people arrive at conclusions as much as the conclusions themselves, and it seems a bit easier to ask that in a thread people are actively involved in.
  6. I looked carefully at both. After riding them and some long conversations with people who have ridden both I decided on the W800, but then I ended up buying something completely different - Mouth's F800ST.

    Which is actually better than either.
  7. The kawasaki has more heritage, beinga copy of the old kwaka w3 from the 70s, the Triumph is not the same manufacturer.

    Imo the w800 is damn pretty.

    You could consider the moto guzzi v7, though they are dearer and rarer and i hear a bit slow on the open road.

    I wouldnt think any of these would cost much to insure and service as they are slow, slow bikes dont wear out parts as much. Thats not an insult just a fact.
  8. I have a crush on the W800
  9. I'd certainly agree that it's a better bike but if the OP wants something in the style of either the W800 or a Bonnie, the W is the way to go.
    • Like Like x 1
  10. OK, since you have asked for others, here's my suggestion. Now I might sound like a fanboy but if you're looking for something that is retro-ish (yet with modern tech such as ABS and EFI) and much more fun than any of the bikes that you've listed (not to mention better built and more reliable), you can't go wrong with the CB400. Mind you, you must think the CB is LAMS and such, but so are all the others (at least the W800 is, the Bonnie could as well be) - that you're considering - in the ACT. So power wise you wouldn't feel much difference even though the other bikes are twice the CB's capacity.
  11. The W800 is a better styled bike than the Triumph Bonnies (even the T100 which is the cleanest styling job of the lot) but I have to disagree with Vertical C it is NOT a copy of the old W series vertical twin Kawasakis from the 60's.

    My mate owned one (with a sidecar) and a I spent time in the chair, they are very different motors and the only realtionship the current W800 has with the original is the same company made/makes both.

    I 2nd the comment about the Guzzi 750, that bike still uses a developed version of the original small block Guzzi motor that's been around for decades.
    • Like Like x 1
  12. W800 hands down. I've got a Bonnie that I'm not happy with.
  13. So in summary, I should look at the w800, the Moto Guzzi or the CB400 (or even the F800ST) in preference to the Bonnie. That's actually pretty helpful, so I'm booking a test ride on the w800 and seeing how I feel about it from there. I actually like the look of the V7, but $, and reports suggest its a bit too far on the small side (I'm hardly huge, but 6 foot and around 92kgs makes me think I"ll end up shoehorning myself on a bike that's too small). Still never hurts to look.

    NAK - I'd actually looked into the cb1100 at one point, so I think if I were going the Honda route, I'd be more inclined to head there.

    QuarterWit -I read your thread, sorry to hear its been such a disappointment. You can relate I'm sure to always wanting a Trumpy, but even though I personally don't mind having to mod something to suit, the EFI issue you talk about does concern me, plus the fuel usage sounds extraordinarily bad.

    Vertical C - no insult taken, makes perfect sense that high performance = greater load stress on parts = mo' money.

    TonyE - the f800 is the sort of bike I'd look at from a solely practical point of view. I'll be honest that this is every bit as much about the emotional desire for a particular riding experience that the classics offer. If I can afford to expand the stable in years to come (since I would like to be able to keep my new one for quite some time and just expand around it rather than trade) than I would look at a sports tourer as the next option (actually considerd the Sprint for a while). But not just yet. THough while you're here, are service costs a bit pricey? My assumption about Bimmers is running costs would be high, but let me know if wrong.

    Seriously, thank you all for the input. I did have my heart set on a Triumph originally, but the more I look in to it, the less I like what I hear about the Bonnie and derivatives. I've certainly been persuaded that the w800 should be the first one to look at, and the fact its cheaper doesn't hurt, either!
  14. I just bought a cb1100 after considering the others. Lots of good technology. Used to own a cb400 and If you are thinking about a cb400 ride the cb1100. The 400 seems like a kids toy compared to the 1100. Also the smoothest easiest bike I have ever ridden straight out of the box - unbelievable. But I also like the moto guzzi v7 .. And the w800... But can't own them all and I'm very happy at the moment. Good luck!
    • Like Like x 1
  15. Good point. I almost forgot about the CB1100. It's a very cool retro looking bike as well with the added advantage of being a Honda! The CB400 (and the CB1300 for that matter) on the other hand are a bit on the modern side - styling wise mainly (plus liquid cooling and I guess ABS too, the CB1100 might not have it, ABS that is). I haven't ridden the CB1100 but have sat on one and it surely is more upright and have wider bars (but I like the ergos of the CB400 better).

    The CB400/1300 would be sportier in their riding feel and ability if you'd prefer that kind of riding. The Cb1100 would be better suited to touring though. But either way, you can't go wrong with the CB1100.
    • Like Like x 1
  16. Paragon, NAK - ok, cb1100 now on list to try, after the w800. Bikesales seems to have some low km 2011/10 model ones around 10k, and it does look like you'd be getting a decent amount of bike for that. Inline 4 vs twin characteristics is probably going to be a big part of the decision. I will say though that one of the things I always liked about the Vespa was that it was so fricking simple and raw that I really felt engaged riding it, mostly because the suspension wasn't quite up to what I asked of it, admittedly, but I'd be looking at that sense of engagement while riding as one of the ideal characteristics of whatever I get. My completely noobish understanding of Honda design in general is that it is superb, but that smoothness might be seen to lessen that sense of engagement? Would that be a fair comment (and if not, please say so, I have no points to make, I'm hoping to give others a chance to make them to me)?

    In terms of sportier riding, tbh, I don't quite know what that is outside track days. Even the Vespa had the potential to see me without a licence for three months if I'd ever been inclined to play up on the Old Pac *ahem*, so I suspect any new bike will be sufficiently 'sporty by comparison', and very likely to get me in to trouble, if I were ever so inclined, that is. If you mean more riding position, then I do want a touring capable bike, and that is a large part of why I want an upright position. I would like to do a Sydney-Melb run in April, all things going well.
  17. #17 mattb, Feb 3, 2013
    Last edited: Feb 3, 2013
    You've already read some lists of pros and cons of the W vs the Bonnie. I obviously vote for the W. But...just to be fair to the Bonneville:

    • The mag wheeled version handles much more like a sport bike than any Bonnie or W with 19/18" wheels. In modern terms, the W feels like a dirt bike compared to the mag wheel Bonnie (think stock DR650 vs motard conversion).
    • The Bonneville is noticeably more powerful than the W. I'm comparing a factory tuned (hence anemic) 650 to a freer breathing 2012 Bonnie, which is not quite fair, but even a free-breathing W800 would not compare, I am sure.
    But then, the W has more than enough real world power. Acceleration and late shifting is a lot of fun on the bike. It looks better, is better engineered, easier to service, is better quality, and is made with ease of ownership in mind when it comes to a lot of small details.

    Both bikes could do with suspension upgrades, the Bonnie (needs it) to reduce bruising to your kidneys, the W to tighten things up. With aftermarket suspension (which given the price of a W you could easily afford) and some changes to the forks, the W should handle very nicely. I am however certainly pleased with my stock suspended 650, which is quite satisfactory in the twisties for an easy-going and heavy rider like me. You could perhaps also look at lacing up different rims to the W to get more sports style rims and tyres on, as one might do with a motard conversion, if it matters that much to you (you'd want to be a very good rider to justify the difference).
  18. Oh yes, running costs - I reckon they're cheaper on the W because, despite the maintenance intervals for the shims being twice as far apart on the Bonnie, it's a complicated process whereas the W will take you two hours to do yourself (it's easy) once you get used to it. Everything else is similar I assume - servicing is a breeze on the W, something you can easily do yourself.

    Insurance? I can't remember the exact amount, but I pay around $280 for comprehensive, parked on the footpath in the inner-city, listed as a daily commuter with high kms per year.
    • Like Like x 1
  19. That's probably pretty fair actually. It's so smooth you kind of lose that 'rough edge' feel. I rode it out of the dealership straight up through the Adelaide Hills and it was the most relaxed hills ride I've ever had, and that was babying it through new tyres as well.

    If you're 6 foot you will struggle as the seating position is for short people (again, suits me at 5' 8'').

    Um, it's a 5 speed so it's not the best for touring, and the tank is small. It gets vibey through the bars at 100-110 km/h and needs a screen at those speeds, an extra 6th gear would help here, but as I said, it loves 80-90. I use it as my everyday ride - no car, so around town the 5 gears is great.

    No right or wrong answers here :)
  20. mattb - much appreciated input (was hoping you'd post actually). All points taken and understood. Self-servicing the W definitely would be an advantage. Again, I'm not going to know until I test ride things, but it will most likely be a case of assessing how the W800 feels - if it feels fast enough, it will be. And I fairly strongly doubt I'm anywhere near good enough to need to change the rims at this point, though I did read an argument somewhere (maybe via a link you posted?) that the standard Bonnie's mags are actually lighter and have a weight distribution that is closer to the hub than the spokes of the t100, and the same would seem to apply to the w800, potentially. $280 comprehensive is quite good, not much more than I was paying for the Vespa, which is another tick.

    Paragon - I'm a little surprised to hear it has some vibration problems around 100, which would be about 3500rpm from what I've heard - does it iron out with a bit more throttle? I do plan on getting a fly screen for whichever bike I opt for, at least for touring, along with panniers, so that shouldn't be a problem. But size does sound like it might be an issue, though again, if changing seats or adding risers or whatever is what it takes to get a bike to just fit for me, then so be it. I know there are those who feel that the right bike for you ought to be at least sufficient in stock form, and that's a fair argument, but for me, so much of this will be a learning curve that error is inevitable, and I'm mindful to simply embrace the whole experience, rather than let my enjoyment of it be potentially derailed by expectations of an off-the-shelf perfection. Course, if perfection simply falls in my lap, I'll embrace that, too.