If you read the motorcycle magazines and websites you constantly see reviews of amazing new motorcycles. Unfortunately, there are many people who can't afford a new motorcycle. My first few bikes were old 1980s Univeral Japanese Motorcycles, but as Jason has demonstrated old bikes can be a handful to get running, and many of us would rather ride than wrench. Fear not, dear reader, for our old friend Shadetree Surgeon is here to show us that there is a middle ground between shiny unobtainium and rusty rat rod.
Shadetree showed up unannounced at Tampa Triumph to find and test ride five bikes that were available, right there, right then, for under $5,000. He didn't manage to stay within his budget, but he didn't exactly blast out of it too far, either. (In fairness, he would've ridden a brand new Triumph America LT listed for $5,000, but it had just been sold.) In this video, he shows us four selections that are ready to rock without breaking the bank.
Triumph Street Twin
It's pure coincidence that both Shadetree and I reviewed the Street Twin at basically the same time. While mine was bone stock, this one is modified into a bit of a cafe racer and has an exhaust that sounds wonderful. I don't need to repeat myself and Shadetree can speak for himself, but suffice it to say that this is a solid option for $6,500, or about $150 a month.
Kawasaki Ninja 1000
This may be a Triumph dealer, but they have other makes and models as well, such as this Kawasaki Ninja 1000. The addition of hard saddlebags turns this sportbike into a fun sport tourer. Shadetree mentions another YouTuber, Salt The Wound, who traveled all over the country on a similarly modified Ninja 1000, proving that it can go both far and fast. Unlike any brand new sport tourer, this highly capable motorcycle is listed for $6,000.
Triumph Street Triple RS
The Street Triple already has Shadetree's stamp of approval, since his girlfriend rides one. This 2014 model with 22,000 miles is selling for $6,500, a far cry from the $9,950 starting price of a new one. Plus, the RS model gets better suspension and brakes than the standard version. Going slightly used gets you more for less.
Harley-Davidson Street Rod 750
Harleys are everywhere, even at Triumph dealers. We've ridden (and crashed) the Street Rod 750 before. This is not your typical Harley-Davidson. This is the top end of the Street series, with improved brakes and inverted front forks, two things most Harley riders don't care about. Rather than spending $8,699 for a new one, this lightly used one can be yours for $6,000.
Of course, these are far from the only options out there. If you look hard enough, you can even more affordable motorcycles than these. This is just what one person found at one dealer on one particular day. You wouldn't search only one dealer's inventory, and you'd take more than one day to find the right bike for you.
The message, however, remains true: Life is short. Buy a motorcycle.