Exploring the Unknown

Exploring the Unknown
Representing the 99%!

Thursday, August 7, 2014

At a Glance: 2014 Yamaha Stryker - Hoppy's Last Hurrah

A Very Happy Hoppy
& His 2014 Yamaha Stryker
Mr. Hopkins, aka "Hoppy", strikes me as the kind of man that Johnny Cash would have enjoyed having a drink with. 60 years younger than most thirty-somethings I have met over the years, Hoppy is nothing if not pragmatic about life. Cut from a different cloth altogether his weathered pony tail, 70's chic glasses and worn brown leather jacket tell a tale of a time when men were men and terms like metrosexual, a la Justin Bieber, didn't exist in the English vocabulary. I first met Hoppy at Sur2Roues motorcycle school where he decided to return from a long hiatus from motorcycling. "Being of sound mind with a body that has bin bent, twisted, broke, stitched up, these injuries are all coming back to haunt me. Enjoyment  of physical things done over the years are fast coming to a end. Now I  thought long and hard as to what I could do to put some spice back into  life. The answer came to me with the ice storm of 2013 and a 42 year old plantation flattened MONEY to be made." - Hoppy Cue the 2014 Yamaha Stryker & over ten thousand kilometers later...


Alloy Rims with a 120/70-21 Front Tire
Inspiration for the Stryker?
My Beloved 1987 Yamaha Virago
"Thinking back to the late 70's early 80's I was a terror on 2 wheels having owned 2 Yamaha XT500D and a Yamaha XS1100 special brought back fond memories. The internet gave me many choices when I came upon a Yamaha Stryker that was the bike for me." - Hoppy When I first saw the Yamaha Stryker back when it was released in 2010 I was instantly drawn to it. Even more so after sitting on it. To my eye, it looked as though that Yamaha had in fact brought back the Yamaha Virago. With a displacement of 1, 304 ccs it was a welcomed addition to the mid-cruiser range. I was particularly attracted to the all black version with silver painted inlets on each side of the tank and blacked-out engine a la Harley-Davidson Dark Custom Line. At an MRSP of $12,599.00 minus freight, tax, etc... it's a lot of bike for your buck. Admittedly, though I had attempted to buy the Stryker myself at the time I had only just returned to Canada after my own hiatus in the Republic of Ireland and hence wasn't eligible for the credit necessary. As fate would have it, it turned out that Hoppy had in fact purchased his Stryker before even starting his course with us at Sur2Roues! "Having given my bike license up years ago I had to take a course! No problem... WRONG! Once back on a bike I had forgotten total control - kids were driving circles around me and pissing me off!" - Hoppy Lucky for the Suzuki Marauder 250's that all students start off on for the first two classes Hoppy had mellowed out over the years and limited his abuse to the kind of talk and cursing that would make a stripper blush.

A Stryking Pose... pun intended! ;-)
Wet Weight: 293kg (646 lbs) - Yikes!
By the end of the month long course Hoppy was making leaps and bounds with the Suzuki 2014 Boulevard S40 and Suzuki GS500 motorcycles that we use for the last four classes of the course. SAAQ Motorcycle Licensing Requirements aside, Hoppy was soon showing up astride his Stryker to watch the noobs start their classes. "Leaving the dealer within the first 1 km I thought someone was  kicking me in the ass with every bump! 2 clicks on the mono shock helps but it could go more for my liking. The front end is also stiff hitting a bump  with a relaxed grip drives your thumbs into the grips that hurts." - Hoppy I have to agree with Hoppy who kindly allowed me to take his bike out for a ride. The suspension can be harsh on Quebec Roads that are nothing if not notorious for its potholes.

At It's Heart: A Liquid-cooled, SOHC, 8-valves, 60 degree V-twin
Maximum Torque: 10.9 kg-m (78.8 ft-lbs.) @ 3,500 rpm
Despite its smooth lines and generally balanced aesthetics of the Stryker both Hoppy and I agree that the bike's 5 speed transmission is clunky at best. "Gearing it clunks which I like. 2nd is good in town for the 50 km limit. 3rd is to much or your lugging. 4th will take you to highway speed and 5th, with a twist of the wrist and you'll be flying!" - Hoppy Personally I found the 5 speed transmission on the Yamaha Bolt to be much smoother and responsive. It's not that I dislike clunky gearboxes per-se, it just seemed odd to me that they would have made it so on a bike that costs nearly four grand more than the Yamaha Bolt. Yes, I want my cake and I want to eat it too...

Nowadays Hoppy is sporting a different kind of rubber below his belt... ;-)
Rear Wheel: 210/40R18
With a length of 2,530mm and width of 860mm, Hoppy and I could only dream of being able to put a smile on a woman's face that this bike seems to place effortlessly on ours. This bike was born to be driven on a highway...preferably one that has little to no bends or twists...or potholes. At six feet tall with a 32 inseam, this bike fits me like a glove. You have that classic feeling of sitting inside the bike which I quite enjoy. Unfortunately, for Hoppy, "seating is comfortable with  the forward controls but with my short arms slow tight turns are hard with one arm pulling the body forward naturally dropping the head." There are no vibrations through the bars as you reach speeds of excess 110 kilometers per hour (70 mph for you yanks) though the rear tire does take some getting use to imho especially if you ordinarily ride bikes with 180 or less on the back. In traffic, the raked out front end, second only to the Honda Fury, may seem cumbersome to the uninitiated but practice makes perfect and Hoppy is a great example of how you can actually teach an old dog new tricks. ;-)

Personally, I love the Yamaha V-Twin Rumble
Hoppy - "Pipes Could Be Louder"
(But he is probably partially deaf! :-p)
Belt Drive Eliminates Messy Chain Maintenance
The Instrument Cluster is basic but functional
& within eye view allowing to keep your eyes on the road.
Unsightly Wires and other tidbits could have been Cleaned Up By Yamaha
Fuel Capacity: 15 litres (3.3 Imp. gal.) Gives Decent Range
video

"Are You Looking At Me?"
Is the Yamaha Stryker the perfect bike for a beginner? Well, according to Hoppy, "this bike is not for a beginner but for a re-learner... yes!" In his wanderlust, Hoppy has already put over ten thousand kilometers (over 6213 miles) on his bike travelling in and around the Eastern Townships. It wouldn't surprise me if he makes it to at least twenty-two thousand by the end of the riding season. In a world filled with posers, naysayers and generally whiny metrosexuals the best thing about this Yamaha Stryker isn't the bike itself, but Hoppy himself. Every now and then I see him riding along the back roads of Quebec; or sitting on the side of a road with a cigarette lit up in the midst of that distinct pinging sound a V-Twin makes as it cools itself in the evening's sun. The Stryker isn't perfect nor does it pretend to be. It is, however, a biker's bike.  Like Hoppy himself, the Yamaha Stryker embodies a rugged attitude set on tearing up what little roads are left here in Quebec.

Words ©  Mr. Hopkins & Mario R.J. Corbin

43 comments:

  1. Interesting blog. Excellent review of the Stryiker.

    SuzyRidr2

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  2. I have my eyes on a 2012 raider. or an 09 connie1400 or a vic cross country. the wifey wants more room. I want more range and red paint lol. but i don't want a goldwing that's my dads style bike and i'm not that old yet...

    Jolsen

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    1. I like that Raider.

      We have had 2 Yamahas. However, if I get another one, I will be checking out how you change the oil etc.

      That Virago was a PITA. It was ridiculous.

      franktiregod

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    2. The 1100 virago ain't bad to change the oil

      Jolsen

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    3. I only had an 1100 for a couple of months so I didnt do it but the 750. You have to take the brake loose and slid that bar out to get the oil filter out. Real smart design.

      I spent longer trying to get the filter out that it takes to completely change the oil and filter on my LC1500

      franktiregod

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    4. Must have been the year Frank for the Virago.Put 47,000 in 22 months on my 82 750.Now the pre 86 starters on the 750/700/920 were usually junk after 30,000. The improved starter came on the one year 1000 in 1985.1986 1000 became 1100 and 750 also got the better starter. Bad thing is they will not interchange with the older ones.Good they pushed started easy. The 1400 Suzuki sure don't .
      Last week end my friend got a new Raider.He traded in his 1400 Connie he got new.He had traded in a Raider he got new on the Connie. He'd missed the Raider and said he looked down way too often to see 130mph on the 1400.

      Paul

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  3. I don't like the pipes... or the fenders.... or the tank.... seat.... Yamaha's

    tbeck

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  4. Have you seen the new Indian Scout?

    Bosko

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    Replies
    1. you mean the 3 year old Victory?

      tbeck

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  5. I have had a test ride on the Stryker and own a Raider. If you're lookin' for power, the Stryker is no Raider! But with either one, you have to like that style of bike....some do, some don't.

    BillyJack

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  6. Great post . It takes me almost half an hour to read the whole post. Definitely this one of the informative and useful post to me. Thanks for the share.

    jyoti soni

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  7. What do you intend to use a cycle for? My thoughts on a cruiser style is looks good. But dirt roads and loose gravel the front tire will wash out, not fun. Street only. I never really found my Intruder comfortable. But more my riding style having had dual and dirt only bikes before. My TW is FUN all the time. Never owned any other street bikes rode some but don't recall much about them.

    Padilen

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    1. Truthfully, I turn any bike into something that fits my needs. I have enjoyed being able to go off road with the TW though so that is something I need to consider when looking to buy new next spring. The Stryker isn't for me despite the fact that several years ago I probably would have hoped on one and rode off into the sunset... but then again, if I had the luxury of owning more than one bike I'd have to take a harder second look.

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    2. I've never been satisfied with a stock bike. Any bike. Some just need more mods than others. Though I have 30-35 bikes at any given time, I only ride 3 on a regular basis, Tdub, Tdub2, and the CB550. I'll ride Pirate quite a bit when she is back together. Tdub is pretty much stock other than a XT clutch, 0-ring chain, 15/52 sprockets, homemade rack, brush guards, LED and HID lights, custom seat, aluminum bars, gel grips, and rectangular mirrors. Practically nothing on Tdub2 is stock. Some electrical and ignition parts, and some hardware, but that's about it. Same for Pirate. The CB looks deceptively stock with the original paint and exhaust and period accessories such as rack, mini case guards, and hard bags, but she has dozens of mods to make her a better, safer tourer, ranging from double discs to 712cc bore and stroke to Progressive suspension, to a custom seat.

      The others are collectibles/investments in stock original showroom condition, with a few in various states of repair to be flipped for profit. Every now and then I'll pull out a few of the stock bikes for a show or parade, but they are generally too valuable and irreplaceable to risk riding on the street.

      qwerty

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    3. Nice! As it stands I can only afford to have two bikes because the T-Dub is listed for off road only in my neck of the woods... meaning the plates are just $90.00 as opposed to $360 per year (not including insurance of course). A regular sized bike will cost me $580 a year just for the license plate! :-( Anyways, I always feel guilty when I use to have more than one bike and one hardly got used.

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    4. Another reason to hate socialism.

      Annual plates, $80/bike. Insurance, $180/year on the first, $90 on the second, $45 on the third, the collectables don't have plates, but are covered against non-highway loss by homeowners. Tow vehicle insurance covers load in route to parades and shows, $15 each full coverage for parades, $10 each full coverage for shows, no engine running. It's more of a jump-through-the-hoops than an expense, but every hillbilly thinks just because you have a showroom classic you have a ton of money and don't mind getting sued. Saw a hillbilly duck under a rope, take a "KEEP OFF" sign off a bike, get on, fall off, then threaten to sue the owner. Several other people with bikes in the show took the hillbilly aside and "convinced" him otherwise. Takes a long time for the hands to stop hurting after a "convincing", what with getting old and all. Pretty much why I don't do shows anymore.

      qwerty

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    5. Now you see, that's the kind of "convincing" that most folks need in this day and age! Sick and tired of everybody acting like an ass and thinking it's acceptable. My hat goes off to you and your mates.

      Delete
    6. Well, come on down. We like Canucks, but be warned, our beer sucks.

      qwerty

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    7. Now that is a profound truth, although there are probably some good micro brews in the states.

      I don't think that is socialism... I think it is Quebec. $15.00 to register any motorsyckle for the road and I pay similar insurance to you here in Yukon.

      troll

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    8. When he said Socialism I thought he was talking ABOUT Quebec, hence why I didn't correct him!!

      Yeah, we are the only province on the planet to my knowledge that screws bikers the way it does here!

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  8. Yamaha makes a great bike and while shorter local rides allow tolerance of "issues" a bike may have the biggest thing on a long trip is comfort and reliability.

    Hard to buy a bad bike these days so it really comes down to if she makes you smile and fits your body. Same old advice, but a test ride is the only way to make sure.

    bobw

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  9. fookin pictures behind the text make it all illegible for me.

    hornslocked

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    Replies
    1. Really? Never had that complaint before, I am really sorry. Try enlarging or highlighting your page. Let me know if that helps.

      Delete
    2. figured it out. I have a REALLY slow internet connection, and until that page loads completely, the 'blacked out' bits around the text aren't 'blacked out'. match that to I read really really fast, and it was unreadable. fifteen seconds later (yes, it's dial up slow) it was readable.

      hornslocked

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  10. If you want to use the bike for touring, my advice is don't get a bike with a feet forward riding position like a Stryker. Yeah, you can tour on it, but you are not likely to be very comfy for long.... and that kinda takes the fun out of touring.

    If you want a minimalist bike, you need to have your feet under you and perhaps just a bit of lean onto the bars. The wind will help support you and take some of the weight off your arms. With your feet under you, you can stand up occasionally and get some blood flowing in your butt and your knees. Personally, I like the relaxed ergos of the Adventure styled bikes, like a V-Strom. Also I see you are in Canada, so you may want to take a look at the Versys 1000 as well.

    mrbreeze

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  11. I don't like the Stryker and Raider because of the large rake. Want something that turns decent.

    The Indian Scout looks pretty nice, but small tank will make touring annoying. Could probably buy an aftermarket tank eventually, or have a custom one made. Also it's a first year production, so I would be hesitant to buy.

    Recently I have been looking at cruisers and whipped up a spreadsheet with some info. This version is a bit out of date (I have since added more) but maybe it will help you:
    https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B7b...it?usp=sharing

    MisterShandy

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    1. Nice spreadsheet! Though, how come the Moto Guzzi V7 didn't make it on it? With a 22litre (5.8 gallons) tank and shaft drive I thought it would be a good bike for long distance (after buying a proper seat of course). Will comb over it and see what reviews exist on each bike.... though, I like trying them out myself before even considering purchasing. As for the rake... I agree. There was a time I'd only ride bikes similar to it but I much prefer bobber style bikes nowadays....

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    2. Just because it does make enough power. That is, for what I am currently looking for. I'm sure it is a fine bike and power isn't everything. The V7 really doesn't seem much different from my Nighthawk (obv v2 vs i4 is a big difference though), but the Nighthawk makes a fair amount more power. If/when I buy something new, I want a bit bigger bike for more long distance riding comfort. I do like the look of the V7s, and I considered the Griso.

      MisterShandy

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    3. On paper I have to admit the numbers always put me off a tad as well but then I remember back to my 750 Nevada... never found there was power missing from it. In fact, the only bike I have ever owned (bar the TW200 of course) that I felt it could use a couple of more ponies was the Royal Enfield but in fairness to that bike I was doing only highway driving daily commuting to work. People do some amazing things with Enfields actually.

      Still, I would be lying if it didn't niggle at me as well and you have to wonder when Guzzi will just give it an extra twenty horses just to belay any and all worries/doubts in future? I am sucker for a retro classic though....

      Delete
  12. Hi Mario

    Read the blog and was surprised that you used so many of my words. There was one comment which I totally agree with it's not a long distance riding bike but with 212k per tank before reserve there will be plenty off stops on a journey to rest your legs ass hands and arms. A little discomfort is old school thinking like the other night I got caught in a down pore at home poured half a cup out of each boot and open pockets were full GOOD TIMES. Had planed a trip today to the Quebec City but the weather in that area wasn't in favor with my buddy.

    Hope we can get together for a ride!

    Later dude

    Hoppy

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  13. What about the Yamaha V-Star 950? A nice compromise between the 650 and 1100, not to big and not too small.

    Heyload

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  14. I have actually never seen the standard 950 vstar before in the flesh. My local dealer apparently only orders them when customers want one... which is strange enough.

    I did see the 950 engine in its new incarnation, the Yamaha Bolt which I already looked and reviewed last summer after taking a test drive on one. (See Link Above or Related Blog Under "I Spy")

    I actually prefer the 950 engine and transmission to the Stryker's engine and transmission personally. The lighter bike is more flickable and imho more fun to ride too. I'd love to try it in it's traditional cruiser form though.

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  15. Thank for sharing post about yamaha bikes. also check out the latest sports cars online only at http://bikeportal.in/

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  16. What an interresting blog! Very well made too! I have looked for every piece of information about Strykers in the last months, deals and reviews etc. I am actually planing on buying a Stryker, probably next spring (2016). I did the 20min test ride, as well as Harley's test rides 3 times... Now I need to decide between a Wide Glide and a Stryker. You can bet I like the ''Chopper'' styling and feel. Price is a thing, but my main concern is this: 'Will a 2-3 hour trip be too much as far as comfort is concerned?'. I am located in Sherbrooke and want to be able to get to Montreal or Quebec City without stopping 2 times along the way! I love having my feet up in front, but will having only one leg position be that uncomfortable? (By the way, I tried the Star 950 and found it too light underneath. I also scraped the pegs so easily it made me nervous too... Very comfortable ride though. My humble opinion)

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    1. Hoppy put just under 13, 000 kilometers on his bike in one season... he swears by the bike's comfort and I see him often riding in and around the back roads when I am stuck in the cage for one reason or another. Having ridden it myself, I don't think comfort or distance would be an issue. The tank is large enough to get you to Montreal from Sherbrooke one way.

      I always appreciate an after market seat like a Corbin or Mustang. If thinking Harley, I don't think you would have a choice really. OEM H-D seats are pretty atrocious even by OEM standards imho. (I owned an H-D and have ridden several).

      It comes down to whether you really want a Yamaha or an H-D. All the technical aspects put aside, what speaks to you? I have no doubt that the Stryker would make anyone very happy for many years. But if its the H-D your secretly yearning for ... well, love makes us blind. Good luck with your decision and thanks for commenting! I hope you keep enjoying this blog!

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    2. Many thanks for your quick and thought out answer! When you look at it, a sports bike offers only one leg position too, so it shouldn't be an issue, as you stated it. Now, coming back to motorcycling after a 15 years break, I guess I will go for the Stryker which would give me the most for the bucks! And its looks and feel are terrific. In the demo ride I noticed that the brake pedal and shifter are in my boots' way; I should have the rods 'bended' inwards in order to free more room over the pegs. I wish the Stryker would have Linked ABS brakes too. Those two last details are characteristics of the HD Wide Glide... Thanks again for your time and real world opinions.

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    3. My pleasure! I do think that inevitably you do get more value for money when it comes to Yamaha. However, let me play devils advocate and say that if the Stryker is one of the bikes on your radar you might want to check out the Honda Fury as well. The latter has roughly the same range but a longer rake. They have one on display normally at Honda Magog and the price isn't too different to the Stryker but much less than the H-D. Pictures do not do the Honda Fury justice imho, you should at least see it in person yourself. That being said, however, arguably the Stryker is the most practical for day to day living out of the two straight out of the box. But with a few modifications (i.e. Corbin seat), the Honda Fury could also meet those needs. Again, this is based on what you wrote overall.

      Best of luck with your choice and by all means, send me a shout when you get your bike. We could do a guest spot for you and you can tell us all about your new dream machine! Either way, ride safe!!

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    4. Thanks again for your interesting answer. Days are going by and my readings of reviews pointed at something I have to investigate about the Stryker. We know the gears are tall on this bike. I've read that most of city riding (up to 50 - 55 kmh) will be done in 1st and 2nd gear. By all means, turning a corner should be done in 1st or else the motor will lug. Can this become annoying with time? Will I end up with a bike I always have to shift down because of a too tall transmission? How about riding at 90 kmh: caught between 4th and 5th? Thanks again!

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    5. If you coming off a bike onto a new bike than there is going to be an adjustment period. Every bike has its own characteristics and peculiarities and often times I find that when folks complain about said peculiarities it is because they are being too rigid in comparing their new bike with their old bike. It happens to the best of us and I have been guilty of getting annoyed with a bike for having a different mechanical personality to my present or former bike.

      That being said, its nothing that a few hundred kilometers/miles won't cure, if not less as eventually you get so used to the new bike that when you try to get back to your old bike you may actually find yourself bitching and cussing about the very characteristics and mechanical personality that you once adored. lol. Think of it this way, drive a manual car for a week and than go back to your automatic. I am willing to bet you will be accidentally trying to shift gears and press on your ghost clutch.

      You are correct about 1st and 2nd gear but as I tried to illustrate above, it will become second nature to you. Especially as you are actually coming back to motorcycling, so you don't have any "memory" of previous love interests other than nostalgia. So both you and the Stryker will learn to live together from the get go. It's not a sport bike after all, thus, the power band is linear and will require that you treat her like a lady as you shift up and adjust the throttle accordingly. That being said, on the highway, drop a gear and let her rip. She won't disappoint... though the cops might if they catch up to you! ;-)

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  17. You have to be right on that. They must have their personnality. Tonight I met a brand new Vulcan 900 Custom owner in order to get the chance to sit on this bike. At rest, it feels much smaller than the Stryker of course, looks good too and is quite cheaper. I'm kinda mixed up now so I'll let things settle down for a while and try to do test rides before I make a decision.

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    1. The 900 Vulcan has been around since 2007 if I am not mistaken. Made quite a stir when it was first released and at the time I had contemplated trading in my Kawasaki Vulcan Drifter (800cc) for one. Inevitably, my Drifter has some electrical gremlins that put me off buying another Kawasaki. (i.e. engine would cut out inexplicably whilst riding a 120 kilometres on the autoroute!).

      That being said, shop around. If the 900 is your cup of tea I have seem them go for NEW at $6500 at Moto Folie in Montreal! Always a good deal to be had on them. If the 900 is a bike of interest, check out the Yamaha Bolt at Motos Thibault here in Sherbrooke. They have a 2014 model kitted out with after market goodies for $9000 everything included except tax. Though, I am sure if you went in with cash in hand you could get it with taxes included. There is roughly $2500 worth of accessories on the bike including mini-apes, Vance and Hines aftermarket pipes, and a sprung solo seat. The bike was used as a demonstrator during the summer of 2014 and is all black.

      Either way, you can't go wrong when buying new - especially as its under warranty. Think long term though. I know that the 900 Vulcan's have been scrutinized for the fit and finish after a few years. Same with Suzuki. Food for thought.

      I am in the same boat as you. I am so mixed up as to which bike to buy - I keep going back and forth. Here is hoping the bike will just choose me at the end of the day! ;-)

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    2. Finally! The bike has chosen me! Can't believe I finally brought my Stryker home! No more Youtube virtual riding :-) See you on the road!

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  18. Cool story/review of an older guy named Hoppy who got back into riding after a long hiatus and chose the Stryker for his return.

    Fun read.

    friedtofu

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