Smart Money

Go the Dis­tance

Motorcyclist - - Contents - —Ken Lee

THE 60,000-MEM­BER-STRONG Iron Butt As­so­ci­a­tion re­quires a cer­ti­fied 1,000-mile ride within 24 hours for en­try into the club. Most of th­ese rid­ers plan metic­u­lously for suc­cess, whether for a 1,000-mile day or the 11-day, 11,000-plus-mile Iron Butt Rally. Choos­ing the right ma­chine is a pri­or­ity.

Pe­ruse the list of rally fin­ish­ers and you’ll see a va­ri­ety of makes and mod­els. Closer at­ten­tion re­veals trends, a few spe­cific bikes fa­vored for th­ese de­mand­ing feats of en­durance. The good news is that you can score most of th­ese bikes for less than $10,000 on the used mar­ket and give your­self a leg up when you take on your own long haul.

BMW stands out promi­nently, with its pure-tour­ing R1200RT and R1200GS ad­ven­ture bikes mak­ing fre­quent ap­pear­ances on the fin­isher list. Clean 2005–2013 R1200RTS can be found for around $6,000, while the R1200GS, in­tro­duced in 2004, might list for $1,000 more on aver­age. Th­ese used bikes of­ten have more miles than the aver­age mo­tor­cy­cle, but BMW own­ers also tend to load up their rides with very use­ful and ex­pen­sive ac­ces­sories. Some own­ers re­port oc­ca­sional is­sues with the final drive and oil leaks to­ward the back of the en­gine, es­pe­cially on the left side where the rear drive at­taches to the crank­case, so check th­ese ar­eas care­fully.

The iconic six-cylin­der Honda Gold Wing ’s long-range cre­den­tials are im­pec­ca­ble, but many peo­ple don’t re­al­ize how ca­pa­ble this bike is for sport-style rid­ing on a twisty road. With a new-for-2018 Wing on the way, the pres­sure to up­grade might put more of th­ese ma­chines on the used mar­ket. Care­ful shop­ping might net you an ear­lier 1800 for $8,000 to $10,000 with ac­cept­able miles on the clock. Oth­er­wise renowned for their re­li­a­bil­ity, bikes from 2002 did suf­fer a re­call for a chas­sis de­fect, so check care­fully if you find one from that year.

If that’s too much money, the sim­i­larly ex­cel­lent Gold Wing 1500 can be found for thou­sands less, along­side Honda’s V-4-pow­ered ST1300 and older ST1100 sport-tour­ing bikes.

Har­ley-david­sons abound on the Iron Butt list­ings, with the Road Glide and Road King fea­tur­ing promi­nently.

Th­ese are long, heavy ma­chines, but a low seat height boosts pop­u­lar­ity. Stick­ing to the big V-twin equa­tion is a given for Har­ley-david­son, but en­gine specifics have changed fre­quently, with dis­place­ment grow­ing steadily. Both mod­els from the 2004–2006 era sell for $8,000 and up, some­times with shock­ingly low miles on the odome­ter.

Yamaha’s FJR1300 has like­wise evolved through a num­ber of it­er­a­tions since its in­tro­duc­tion in the US in 2002. Look for sec­ond-gen­er­a­tion bikes re­leased from 2006–2012, which will set you back $5,000 to $8,000. The AE mod­els of­fer a semi­au­to­matic trans­mis­sion. An­other pop­u­lar IBA choice from Yamaha is the ad­ven­ture-ready Su­per Ténéré. It launched in 2010, and that com­par­a­tive new­ness pushes its used price up a bit. Ex­pect to spend $8,000 to $10,000 for a nicely equipped bike.

The Kawasaki Con­cours 14 de­liv­ers big power and long-ranger cre­den­tials, mak­ing it a stand­out since its in­tro­duc­tion in late 2007. And they’re a bar­gain. The stingy and speedy can have one of th­ese big, bril­liant bikes for as cheap as $5,500. For smaller rid­ers or smaller wal­lets, the Kawasaki Ver­sys 650 has gained an en­thu­si­as­tic fol­low­ing, along with the Suzuki V-strom 650. Both can be eas­ily lo­cated for well un­der $5,000. With so many long-legged bikes avail­able for cheap, there’s no ex­cuse to not get out and ride.

Yamaha’s FJR1300 is an at­trac­tive op­tion with at­trac­tive op­tions.

Rel­a­tively un­fid­dled with since 2007, the Kawasaki Con­cours 14 is a

The list of Iron Butt Rally fin­ish­ers reads like a Who’s Who of

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