Ask RideApart: Top 5 Urban Worthy Bikes

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Top 5 Urban Worthy Bikes


I am about to move to NYC and I want to be able to own a motorcycle in the city so as to be able to ride it out of that crazy place. Any suggestions?



Urbanites love two-wheelers as much as the rest of us, but their circumstances present a different set of priorities than those of us with garages and access to decent roads.

In the city, your bike needs to live on the street.  That means it can’t cost too much, to help escape the interest of dirty thieves and the envy of mindless vandals. It needs to be durable, with withstand the tipovers from passing drunks and punks. It needs to have a comfortable, upright riding position to help you withstand potholes. Light weight and a bit of ground clearance is helpful for jumping curbs to park on sidewalks.

With those criteria in mind, consider these options:

2013 Honda CB500X.

2013 Honda CB500X 

The good: Honda recognizes the value of offering a “real” motorcycle with a mid-size 471cc engine for an affordable price of $5,999, and the CB500X’s simplicity and ground clearance contribute to its appeal for city riders, thanks to 4.9 inches of fork travel. Match that to a wide handlebar and the CB feels light on its sport bike-style 17-inch wheels.

The bad: A little pricey for a city bike.

Yamaha TW200
Yamaha TW200

2013 Yamaha TW200

The good: Sure, its fat tires make it look more like a toy than a real bike, but they are ideally suited for providing traction and a cushy ride over broken, garbage-strewn city streets. Its $4,590 is among the lowest of any new street-legal motorcycle, as is its 31.1-inch seat height.  Light weight (278 lbs. wet) and 78 mpg make the TW an ideal urban assault vehicle.

The bad: It looks like a toy.

Kawasaki KLR 650

1987-2007 Kawasaki KLR 650

The good: You can find these from the mid-2000s for $3,500 all day long, and bikes that were built to survive rides to the ends of the earth will also withstand the urban jungle. Cheap, sturdy, invisible to bad guys and comfortable to ride; what could be better? And want to know a secret? It will shred back roads on those weekends when you escape the city as long as it doesn’t have knobbies mounted.

The bad: It is a little tall and heavy for smaller riders.

2003 Suzuki SV650

1999-2005 Suzuki SV650

The good: Sports car guys say the answer to every question is “Mazda Miata,” and sport bike guys could as easily respond with “Suzuki SV650.” In its naked, unfaired version it has no costly bodywork to break and its more upright riding position will keep you comfortable in traffic.  It is readily available for less than $3,500, and it is a closet sport bike for shredding curvy roads when you get away.

The bad: For some reason it has a reputation as a beginner bike.

2006 Buell Blast

2000-2009 Buell Blast

The good: Maybe the Blast isn’t disposable, but its maker thought little enough of it to make a show of crushing some of the last ones manufactured. It is durable, unlovably ugly, and with plentiful examples for sale for less than $2,500, cheap.  Its light weight and low seat height make it ideal for the short-statured, and those same traits make it handy for paddling through stopped cars.

The bad: It is slow and commands no respect.

  • Guest

    Obviously you guys have never ridden a super naked in downtown Washington DC… :D

    That being said, a TW200 would be fun too.

  • Heath Collins

    Obviously you guys have never ridden a super naked in downtown Washington DC… :D

    • Heath Collins

      Joking aside, an ER6n is probably your best bet. IMO.

    • Brian

      does my KTM 990 SM-T count as a super naked? I enjoy it when I am coming down Clara Barton onto Reservoir Rd and cutting across Whitehurst Freeway or through Georgetown on it. Nice Ventura rack on your Kwak BTW.

      • Heath Collins

        Hi neighbor.

        • Brian

          Hey back atcha neighbor! I admit, most of my riding ( when not commuting) does in fact lead me to the northern less populous dense areas, but when I do go into the city, I understand the need to bomb in and be able to stick and move while being vocal as it were with a modicum of flexibility.

      • John Martinez

        My Striple-R does a great job toying with the Aston Martins and Porsches cruising between Rosslyn and Ballston. Not a super naked, but tons of manageable torque and awesome open door swerving ability. Did I mention how easy the clutch? Come taunt the cagers here in Arlington. VA is for Riders.

        • Brian

          VA may be for riders, but VA cops ( more specifically VA state troopers and Arlington County ) are not in my experience. At least if you are being somewhat reasonable, from what I have seen, DC Cops acknowledge me and let me keep on rolling. I have had many a discussion with Montgomery County cops with no paperwork. Attitude is key in any of those circumstances though.

          • daveinva

            VA cops are bad, but at least they’re *cops*, who at least have the potential to use their brain.

            The plethora of @#$*ing speed cameras in D.C and Maryland, alas, don’t have that luxury.

            • Brian

              speed camera’s = no points on liscence, and I will take that for the sake of my insurance rates any day in terms of that gamble.

      • devillock

        No. It’s a goofy loony toons supermotard on steroids.

        • Brian

          but it is goofy good times fun for sure!

          • devillock

            I know. I have one ;)

    • bammerburn

      Having owned a Z1000, I thought it was too big and too powerful for city-living. It builds up speed VERY quickly, but doesn’t really make you *feel* it (like a SV650), and its huge stature and giant rear tire makes it less fun to carve around the city. Paled in comparison to my 2000 SV650 (on the list here).

      I got rid of it promptly.

      • Heath Collins

        The tires that come on it are pretty awful. Swapping from a 50 to 55 tire makes a dramatic difference.

    • Stephen Mears

      Did a summer as a motorcycle courier in DC back in the early ‘aughts. The SV650 was a supreme tool for that kind of thing. Z1000 maybe a bit too burly.

      • Heath Collins

        It’s more nimble than people give it credit for; especially with a taller, 55, profile fire.

  • Koczk

    I live downtown in a medium-sized city. Cannot recommend enough an ER6n for an urban-worthy bike, reasonably priced.
    Loving mine since the day I bought it.

    • Heath Collins

      Or the Versys 650. The Ninja 650, ER6n, and Versys all have the same engine. The Versys has the best suspension though.

    • Koczk

      Here’s mine. 649cc, 450 pounds. Great, versatile machine for the city. Adding bar end mirrors and a tail tidy this spring.

      The new MT-07 is a solid competitor as well, once it’s available. But the few extra cc’s (689) can put you in a whole new insurance bracket above the kawasaki – depends on state/province/insurer.

      • Brandon Mussman

        I’m not sure if you ride in the wet, but taking that fender off was the worst idea i ever had when it rains. $0.02

        • Koczk

          Thanks for the tip, brandon. I’ve wondered about this and heard mixed reviews. Was it right up the back of your jacket or was it just the tail section that got covered? I’d be okay with a few extra cleans of my bike after those times I get caught in the rain, but if the grime is hitting me I may hold off on the eliminator.

          • Brandon Mussman

            It’s both, the seat gets soaked and start dripping down to my pants which wouldnt be so bad if i wasnt also being soaked from above and behind. But man does it look sportier lol. I was dumb. Now im trying to find a mud cover like this one

            • Koczk

              Appreciate the details. If you’re in UK you’ll have more rain than us – I’m in Ontario Canada and we’re pretty dry apart from a week or two on either side of the season. So I may give the eliminator a try and see how it does. For approx $100 I don’t wind swapping back to stock in the fall if I need to.

        • aergern

          Taking the thin plate mount off won’t make much of a difference as far as water. The one on my STR was like a spike … most of them DO nothing to block water. If one is worried about water than an extended rear hugger is the way to go to push the water out and away from the rider. Sorry, but I had a guy tell me the same thing about the STR and he was wrong.

          @Koczk:disqus True story. Get the tail tidy and look into an extended rear hugger .. even one 3 inches longer will push the water out and well away from you.

          • Koczk

            Thanks very much, aergern. Will do.

      • Jesse

        I am surprised at how much I like the look of that. That’s a relatively tidy looking bike, and Kawi green makes almost every Kawi look better (says the guy who had a Kawi green ex500)

  • Josh Greenbaum

    You don’t have to ride a beater if you live in the city. Just don’t park it on the street if you don’t want it to get knocked over. Upright ergos help in traffic. Suspension travel is your friend on these streets too. Know you’ll be traveling a bit to get to the good stuff but ultimately you should just get whatever you want to be riding when you get there. You’ll make it work.

  • Justin McClintock

    How in the world does this list not include the DRZ400SM?

    • Heath Collins

      While I love dual-sports and supermotos. I think they are best suited for “second bikes” not primary ones. Just my opinion though.

      • Blu E Milew

        I did 2000mi on my drz400 the other week. It’s not that bad.

    • MichaelEhrgott

      I agree 110%. There is a reason why the San Francisco PD uses them for law enforcement in a wait for it….URBAN environment!

    • Sefton

      Was just scrolling down to add the same.. Sure the hoon in me wants to suggest something even hotter wr450 / RMZ450 / Husky 510 / Etc..

      But if cheap, simple, plodder, with low service intervals and yet still bags of fun.. DRZ is such an all rounder in the city and flickible through traffic like none of the ones listed.

    • Helmut_Schmidt69

      They are often stolen.

      • Thomas Nixon

        Just as with any bike buy a quality lock. I’ve never had a problem in the past two years with my DRZ parked on NYC streets every day.

    • Thomas Nixon

      Yeah completely absurd to not include the DRZ. I have a DRZ400SM and I commute on it every day in NYC. The roads here are ridiculously bad. The BQE is riddled with massive pot holes and debris. You regularly need the DRZ’s massive suspension travel to prevent disaster. More importantly the DRZ is built like a tank. You have to be completely negligent with the most basic maintenance to break them.

      Best part is on the weekends I can shoot up to the mountains and embarrass far more powerful sportbikes with the DRZ’s absurd handling on curvy mountain roads.

      BUY A DRZ400SM!

      • Piglet2010

        “BUY A DRZ400SM!”

        Since I would need new springs from Race Tech, I would be looking at $8.5K for one. Suzuki either needs to drop the base from $7K to under $6K, or give us fuel-injection and a 6th gear for the money.

        But I may look around for NOS bikes at reduced prices next winter.

  • Brian

    Suzuki DR650

  • JP

    Also consider the TW200 cannot be ridden on a highway/freeway.

    • Afonso Mata


      • Bret Winingar

        a bike needs to be at least 250cc to be allowed on the four lane/interstate

        • Justin McClintock

          That depends on the state. Georgia, for example, only has a 150cc requirement. Some state, like Nebraska, will allow anything that requires a motorcycle license (50cc or larger) on the interstate.

          The primary reason the TW200 can’t be ridden on the interstate is that it’s too freakin’ slow. Not that it’s a legal problem, but I wouldn’t want to be topping out at 55 mph with a 65 mph speed limit where other folks are driving 75 mph.

          • Piglet2010

            The TW200 is not quite that slow – I am not a small person, and I can maintain 65 mph on the flat seated normally, and 70 mph if I tuck in. However, with the stock gearing, vibration gets unpleasant above 55 mph – I would go with the semi-knobby tires and a one-tooth larger front sprocket if the bike was only going to be used on the street.

            The other downside of the TW200 is that even with Sta-Bil, it gets hard to start if not run at least once per week.

            Unless I was going to be doing a lot of riding on soft ground or got a significant discount on the TW200 (I did), I would get a Honda CRF250L instead.

            But it is a lot more fun to tear around town on than you would think from looking at the specs. :D

  • Dan

    Decent suggestions but the question needs some more detail. Budget? Experience level? Need pillion provisions? Weekend riding for far-away places or just local blasts? Intend to park on the street or garage?

  • Mike Sims

    I have a 2007 SV650 for commuting here in LA. It is my first bike, but as I’ve grown with experience, I’ve found it suits me more and more. It’s got enough get up and go when I need it, but insane speeds are a bit difficult due to the size and lack of fairings. It’s nimble and narrow enough for splitting, easy to get parts, and easy to do my own maintenance.

    • Dan Ziolkowski

      I second this as far as my 2006 SV650 goes

      I wonder why the post says only 1999-2005 SV650s?

      • Mike Sims

        Not sure. I specifically wanted a 2007+ for Fuel Injection. I got mine for 4k, so it wasn’t expensive really. No damage, no racing, low miles (10k), I put 23k on it commuting from Burbank to El Segundo every day for a year.

        • skeelo221

          03+ has EFI

          • Mike Sims

            dual plugs, too

            • skeelo221

              Twin spark came in 07 (who cares)

    • Davidabl2

      L.A. and N.Y.C. are very different places…

  • Rameses the 2nd

    Riding a bike in a big city is more pain than taking public transportation. You will be stuck behind a city bus or some other construction crew half the time. If you live in big city where lane splitting is allowed, it makes sense, but for most of us this is not currently legally allowed. I live in Chicago and I ocassionaly rides my bike to work (downtown Chicago). I am telling you from personal experience that it is not fun to ride bike in the city, especially during rush hour traffic.

    • E Brown

      Fellow Chicagoan with a different view. When I moved to Chicago, I sold my motorcycle and brought my car, and quickly learned I should have done the reverse. Public trans is developed enough that it usually makes more sense for commuting back and forth to work if you live in the city, so most newbies to the north side don’t drive during the week anyway. If you just need something to get around on the weekends, a bike makes much more sense – lower cost of ownership, much easier to park, exempt from permit restrictions, and more fun for quick getaways. Driving into the Loop to do anything can be a nightmare, even something as simple as seeing a movie at River North. That’s a piece of cake on a bike or scooter.

      As for rush hour and our lack of lane-splitting; Yeah, lane-splitting isn’t legal, but with traffic at a standstill no one can catch you. ;)

      • Gabe

        Another Chicagoan here as well and love having my NC700 in the city. Fortunate to work in the Gold Coast so I park in the residential areas, but even when I was working in the Loop having a bike made everything better. Not at the whim of public trans schedules and routes and rush hour crowding. Only time I touch my car during riding season is if I’m going somewhere with someone else.

        And I’m a passive lane splitter on Lake Shore as well. In fact, besides this one guy that drives a miata, most people are pretty good about getting over for you. What would take me 45 mins by bus, takes me 20 on my bike.

    • DutchPascal

      Depends really where you are in the world imho, I live in Johannesburg, South Africa, public transport really sucks here. Expensive and you need to keep in mind that mini taxi’s never ride on time. A normal bus costs me 4 times as much as fuel for my bike for a month. I love to ride through rush hour traffic :)

    • Conrad

      Hi Rameses, I think it really depends with Chicago. Lived at Belmont and Milwaukee and it sucked riding into downtown even as early as 6.45 on I-90. Now I’m up in Rogers park and get to the Loop in 25 minutes as long as I leave before 7.05 taking Lake Shore Drive.

  • bammerburn

    A streetfightered 600cc I-4 with a big rear sprocket and dirtbike handlebar is HILARIOUSLY fun in the city. And you’d be ok if it got knocked over because it’s a streetfighter.

    • Justin McClintock

      I can vouch for the comments on the 650s. I’ve owned a SV650S in the past and had several opportunities to ride both the Ninja 650 and the ER6N. The Kawasakis just didn’t stack up. The engine lacked the wonderful feel of the SV’s. They also seemed to have cheaper feeling switchgear as well which really turned me off.

      • bammerburn

        Yep. Once you ameliorate the SV’s weakest point – suspension – then the SV stands explicitly head and shoulders above the Ninja 650.

        I remember when I was teaching a friend how to ride his new SV650 (with GSX-R suspension, etc), and a random rider stopped by on a Ninja 650 to chat and check out the SV. He let me ride his 650R around the parking lot, and I was shocked at how cheap and uninspiring it felt, compared. It’s barely an upgrade from the Ninja 500, which I’ve owned.

        • Mike Sims

          I don’t have the GSXR suspension but I did install Sonic Springs in the front and that made it night and day. Still a bit soft in the rear though.

        • Alpha_Geek_Mk2

          I may have to check out an SV then. I have an ’06 650R and love it… if the SV is that much better, it must be awesome.

          • bammerburn

            Trust me… You’ll flip head over heads for the SV :) check out and compare that with your chosen 650R online forum. And you’ll see why I went from a Ninja 500 to owning four SV’s total.

    • Jesse

      I’ll agree that ‘fighters > almost everything on the fun scale. I’ll own up and admit that I haven’t really ridden a motard, though.

  • Afonso Mata

    Big City Bike that has to sleep outside every night? Can’t got any better than an early 2000′s CBF500. Built to last, nimble and easy to ride on heavy traffic. Every courrier here in Lisbon will vouch for that.
    I know it’s only a 50hp parallel twin, so it’s a “slow” bike. But if it’s staying outside every night, you don’t wanna draw the thieves to that 100hp+ supersport, do you?

    • Piglet2010

      Except that it was never sold in the US, so not a good choice for NYC.

  • Scott Otte

    If you’re living and working in NYC I would wait a while before buying anything. Public transit in NYC is amazing and you really don’t need personal transport to live there. All of the people I know who ride bikes and live in the five buroughs rarely ride in the city. They ride out of the city and so have bikes that suit whatever that riding is (Dirt,Touring, whatever).
    These are great bikes for cities like LA which have horrible public transit and lane splitting, just not sure they work for NYC.

    • Armando Domingos

      There are tons of people that commute in NYC on ADV riders… I don’t see what the problem is, especially if you commute from places that public transportation doesn’t service well, like from the UES to the UWS.

      • Scott Otte

        I know there are a good number of people that commute in NYC on bikes, but depending on where you live it may not make sense.I’m suggesting waiting… so he knows what his life in NYC is going to be like before deciding on a bike. NYC is pretty different from any other city in the US and he may not need a “city bike” and might want something for the weekends etc. In addition since keeping any vehicle in NYC can be tricky depending on where you live I would wait and see what his needs are.

    • NOCHnoch

      I ride in NYC all the time. Here in Brooklyn a bike is a great way to get around, especially if you don’t need to wear a suit to work.

    • motorock

      I ride in NYC everyday- even through the coldest winter days. For bikers it is not just about getting to work- it is about how we are getting to work. Its great to ride everywhere. From a pure commuting point of view, once you start getting out of Manhattan, the trains can suck- it’s the city’s way of discriminating against poorer neighborhoods. And the MTA doesn’t think twice about shutting down complete lines on weekends if it so wishes. It happened for a couple of weekends very recently ago- tempers were flying, schedules were thrown off and beautiful days marred by all chaos. The bike is my little piece of paradise in this ruthless city.

      • Scott Otte

        All I’m saying is he should wait and see where he’s living and working before buying a bike.

    • KC

      Where do you live/work, Scott? It takes me an hour to go six miles, door to door, using public transit – sometimes more. It’s a horrible experience during rush hour, and strange/unpredictable off-hour.

      • Scott Otte

        What does where I live have to do with my comment? I think the OP should wait and see what things are like in NYC before he buys a bike. He might need one for commuting, but he might not since in NYC (in my experience and of my friends who live there) public transit works for most of your transportation needs. If he doesn’t need one for commuting then his options for a bike are much greater and would be more for his weekends etc. Do you think a motorcycle would help your 6 mile commute? If you do I think you should get one and ride.

        • KC

          In and within Manhattan, the trains and buses generally work because there’s more trains and buses. Cross over the water into Queens and it’s hit and miss (mostly miss). People generally take NYC to mean Manhattan. Hit the outer boroughs and it’s bad.

  • NOCHnoch

    Welcome to NY, neighbor. If you love the rush of fighting through hordes of taxis, cruising up FDR drive, and looking out from the upper level of the Manhattan Bridge at the skyline, this is a great city for riding.

    • mercdem2

      Rides across any of the spans (especially into Brooklyn) and it’s a life-affirming thing. Summer evenings with the sun setting behind and Brooklyn ablaze in gold. Or late nights when traffic is light and the roads open up… gorgeous.

  • Dan Sciannameo

    Here in NYC we ride everything. Frankly, for intercity riding, a scooter is the best bet. Even a 150 makes it here, although I travel on the highway a lot into Manhattan and have a 250 cc vespa. A 300 cc Vespa or 350 cc Piaggio or Aprilia scooter with larger wheels is great too. You will see a of vintage motos here too, I ride my 1975 BMW R75/6 and 1984 Moto Guzzi LeMans 3 in Manhattan all the time. But then again, if you are street parking, ge a rat bike, it will get dinged. Not a two-wheel friendly parking situation here.

    • Paul Cypert

      Yup, in BKK here and 250CC bikes look GIANT compared to what most are getting around on. Actually 125′s are kinda high powered. And people are going WAY past 2 up over here on 100CC scooters LOL.

    • Doug Erickson

      yeah, why no scoot recommendations? a pcx150 is pretty much the best interurban hooner. and no grom?

      • JohnnyWaffles

        Dude I love the PCX150…it’s like a Mercedes of Thailand as most are on 125cc and below. I raced a Harley guy in Phuket and was easily catching him in the mountain twisties. Much to his dismay his ghost skull paint job didn’t make him a better rider. That thing has great power even with my weight (215#) and two-up.

  • Nemosufu Namecheck

    Alright if I were living in the city for the first time this is my top three:

    – Royal Enfield
    – Super Sherpa
    – CBR 250

    All at least five years old and ready for battle.

    • Piglet2010

      Where does one find a CBR250R more than 3½ years old?

      • Sportbike Mike

        You can’t in the US. 2011 was the first year, but it doesn’t matter because they are so cheap on CL anyway.

        • Nemosufu Namecheck

          Ok addition of ninja 500 for remain 1.5yrs.

      • Nemosufu Namecheck

        Rog – check that CBR250 3.5yrs

  • motorock

    Get the FZ09-light, lots of power for highways,comfortable ergos, relatively cheap and a rapidly growing aftermarket to make it whatever you want to- the UJM is finally back and thats what you need in NYC. And to get out.

  • Yiorgis Alexakis

    Check the new BMW F700GS. It’s a water-cooled “one-for-all” bike, an upright-position commuter and light on-off of 209 kg wet weight, with only 4l/100km (cruising style) either in city or on freeway (up to 120 km/h) as it pulls from 2000 rpm. It has anti-theft alarm, double abs with three brake discs, valuable (for a rookie) traction control, electronic suspension adjustement (comfort, normal, hard) and can be bought with a low or a comfort seat selection (you can also order it with lower suspension). It can also be bought with the three original bags of adjustable volume (using engine’s key), as the bike comes with their bases already installed. Besides that, BMW has the “3easy” financial program with low interest… that helped me make one mine just a year ago… and it’s my first bike. It’s the smallest bike I could find with such safety features for a first bike ever that is an all-round one.

  • Justin Cole


  • Michael Howard

    Most of these posts – and the article itself – have ignored the fact that the original question was about wanting a bike “…so as to be able to ride it out of that crazy place”, not for daily riding in the city.

    • Alpha_Geek_Mk2

      To be fair, you have to ride through that crazy place to get out of it. Brooklyn has a lot of riders, and it would suck to try to get from there to upstate NY on a bike that can’t handle terrible roads.

      • Michael Howard

        True. But once you DID get out of the city…

  • Piglet2010

    “Any suggestions?”

    Seppuku instead of moving to NYC.

  • chad west

    I live in nyc and im going for supermoto because im young and the insurance companies want to destroy me over a beginner sports bike (ninja 250,300 cbr 250) and im used to dirt bikes and being hooligan

  • Mark Vizcarra

    What no love for the 690 Duke!! I see how it is

  • Doug Erickson

    No TU250X! You Californicators STILL pissed it never made it to your state?

  • Riedl

    New SR400?

  • Mark D

    Scooter. Scooter scooter scooter scooter scooter. Scooter scooter? Scooter! Scooter scooter scooter! Scooter scooter? Scooter? Scooter.

  • RideaTart

    This discussion illustrates that there are LOTS of good urban motorcycles.

    I had a Sym Wolf 150. It’s an underpowered little thing that makes you constantly row through the gears, but the beauty of it was, being so tiny and with clip ons, you could fit through any space. I think I literally never encountered a lane I couldn’t split.

  • Jonathan Berndt

    heres the best urban weapon!

    • Heath Collins

      More info please! That thing looks beastly. I’ve contemplated knobbies on my Zed a few times, how’d that work out for you? Also… what’s with the soda can?

      • Jonathan Berndt

        Continental TKCs, i did it to ride fire roads with my buddy, ive only had it out once so far but its an absolute blast! the Dew can is for fuel overflow.
        there is a guy who put them on his Panigale and i thought it was just the stupidist thing, then i watched his video and started thinking, hmm, why not?…

    • Alex

      What’s the Mountain Dew can for? haha

  • Justin McClintock

    Oh, another point about the Buell Blast….it may be the lowest maintenance motorcycle every built.

    • Piglet2010

      Requires the least maintenance, or receives the least maintenance?

      • Justin McClintock

        Likely both.

  • Boris S.

    I live in Brooklyn and own a Ninja 500r. IMO it’s an awesome bike for NYC. First of all, more than enough power for most circumstances. Secondly, not gonna get stolen. Third, stupid easy to work on. Forth, you’re not gonna be crushed when you come outside to find it knocked over. And finally, they’re cheap and reliable.

  • Lou Jacob

    What on earth has happened to this website?? Does this guy even live in a big city? There are, literally, tons of choices in this category better than the above. Go back, do some homework, repost. By the way, as any New York rider knows, you’re on the GW Bridge in no time flat and immediately out of an urban environment into some gorgeous roads on your way upstate. Many of us buy bikes that can rock the awful streets, weave traffic AND get us out of town. Hint Hint. What is happening?

    • 200 Fathoms

      Such as…?

      • Lou Jacob

        Tiger 800, BMW F700, Versys, Hyperstrada, KTM SMT, you get the type, Retro bikes a’plenty as in Moto Guzzi V7, Bonneville, Honda, Honda 250s and 500s, numerous Yamahas, the new V-Strom is big yes, but for it’s size light and city-able. KTM 990 Adventure is very popular in NYC. Awesome urban assault vehicle. Tons of scooters, of course, which the writer does not mention. ABS for the city is a great option and there are so many bikes that now have that for not too much bank. Yes, city bikes can get knocked over, etc, but, if you live in a city, and are smart, between the type of bike you have, ie, a tall, Visible bike is less likely to get knocked over then, say a Ducati 696, which I see on the ground quite a bit, and smart parking strategies, you can mitigate that. I had a Tiger 1050 for 5 years, never got knocked over. Big tall bike. I’ve had the Tiger 800 for 2 years. Fingers crossed, knock on wood and all that. The city is a great place to enjoy your ride.

        • Piglet2010

          How about a used Ducati Desmosedici RR?

  • Andrew Romatz

    I lived in NYC for 6 years and mostly rode a single speed road bicycle (skinny tires) from Brooklyn to Manhattan for school and work through rain snow etc. I moved to LA and bought an 02 sv650 in 2005 which I had for 5 years. Not sure what the benefit would be of having a dual sport bike in the city… All the roads I saw in NYC were paved and there wasn’t ever trash strewn in the street in particular. Something to keep in mind the 99- 02 SV’s were carbureted. If I ever let my SV sit for a week or two the carbs would get gummed up and need to be cleaned out. If I were going to recommend an SV to anyone, I’d go for an 03 or newer model. I bought a a Street Triple R this year and I have to say that personally I feel way more comfortable riding the Street than I did on my SV. I know people love SV’s but I’d take the Street Triple over the SV for any circumstance. Also I’ve ridden a Ninja 636 and I wouldn’t say the SV was particularly better than the Ninja either. One thing completely off topic that I would recommend for NYC is a bicycle. Super convenient and in my experience about as fast as a cab or the train.

    • Piglet2010

      “…single speed road bicycle…”

      But not a fixie?

      “If I ever let my SV sit for a week or two the carbs would get gummed up and need to be cleaned out.”

      Wish gas stations had extra detergent, ethanol free, stabilizers added, low-flow pumps just for motorcycles.

      • Andrew Romatz

        Yes a fixie :). Started out as a 70′s Trek 400 and pulled the components off when I couldn’t find brake calipers that fit …

  • John

    No supermotos? Huh.

  • Robert Glover

    Don’t forget the DR650. It looks like a big dirt bike and doesn’t really garner much attention. It’s lighter than the KLR650, gets better mileage and has more power.

  • Davidabl2

    Few if any commentators have mentioned the number one factor in bike choice in the urban environment: having or not having indoor parking for it.
    In a large city environment I’d not park anything outdoors overnight except an older UJM. By which I mean something older and less attractive than my ’99 SV…

  • KC

    It depends on where in NYC. It’s a big city. First big question: where are you parking the motorcycle? If you’re parking on the street then get something you can afford to lose through theft or vandalism. Don’t believe the “take the plate off to not get tickets”, either. The city considers that an abandoned vehicle. Get locks and alarms – plural. I don’t like to start with that but it’s a fact. It’s a rough city for motorcyclists.

    Next up, get a motorcycle with a lot of suspension travel and one you can get up on the pegs on. Think “The Dakar”. The roads are in terrible shape. I don’t know how anyone rides a cruiser around here, especially in the spring. I spend half my time up on the pegs. It’s a challenge, but it will improve your riding skills.

    Think ABS. In fact I wouldn’t touch a motorcycle without ABS around here. You’ll be dealing with all kinds of road surfaces from slick construction plates, gritty streets, wet leaves, oily toll booths, and slippery painted lines. Those are manageable. It’s the random texting, street crossing whenever, pedestrians and “I can do as I please” bicyclists that add an exciting variable. Despite the urban legend, it’s not the drivers. We know they can be careless at times.

    Think “torque”. Nothing is worse than a peaky, revvy, engine in stop and go traffic. The novelty of feathering a clutch to move a few inches forward while not stalling wears off fast. A single or twin handles this easily.

    Of all the motorcycles up there, I’d go with the Honda and the Kawasaki (even though it doesn’t have ABS). They’re easy to fix, quick, nimble, have great fuel mileage and will get you out of the city comfortably and reasonably. I have a CBR250R ABS. It’s perfect for city and I can zip upstate easy enough.

  • BenVC

    KLR 650 invisible to bad guys? Anything that looks remotely like a dirt bike will get stolen in a heartbeat if left on the street in NYC.