Ask RideApart: Past Or Present?

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Ask RideApart Past Or Present

RideApart Inquiry: “I am in a bit of a conundrum. I have $10k ± to spend, should I buy: 1. A new modern sport bike (possibly a Ducati 899) 2. A 1998 R1 (red & white) & a TL1000R. Both pristine and original to the last bolt. 90′s sportbikes were my motorcycling superheroes whose photos plastered my walls as an early teen. Now I have the opportunity to procure two of my favorites. Should I capture the past or keep moving forward?”- Jeremy B

Hi Jeremy,

Why not all three?

There are a lot of ways to address your conundrum. We’re going to simplify the issue a bit to make the answer useful.

Assuming that you’re looking to ride your motorcycle, and not build a collection of bikes, you’re probably going to be happier in the long run by getting the newest, best bike your budget allows. The past 16 years (since those 1998 bikes were built) have seen amazing improvements in sportbikes. For example, the 1998 Yamaha YFZ-R1 was rated to produce 150 hp; the current bike comes in at almost 180 hp. The new bike uses a slipper clutch vs. a multi-plate clutch; the new bike has fuel injection with YCC-T and YCC-I vs. a carburetor; the new bike has bigger brakes and a beefier suspension, and is an all-around better bike than the 1998. The Ducati 899 Panigale that you’re considering is a whole other species than the two 1998 examples that you’re tempted to buy; it’s almost a matter of taste and your personal riding style that should determine the selection.

The general question of new vs. used is another very personal decision that each rider must answer for themselves. A new bike is generally more expensive at the outset – but it can be your opportunity to buy into the cutting edge in terms of performance, technology and style. A new ride also comes with a manufacturer’s backing, and a warranty for a fixed period of time, along with unique financing opportunities. A used bike is a bit of a tradeoff. You’ll generally save money on the purchase price, and then spend time and money fixing the “upgrades” that the previous owner visited on the bike. The older the bike, the more time and distance will have taken their toll on the ride. For some buyers, that won’t be a problem. It might even be an enticement – it’s fun to tinker with a used bike and satisfying to bring it back to new condition. For other buyers, it’s the beginning of a nightmare of repairs and corrective maintenance.

We’ve answered a bunch of questions that you didn’t really ask, Jeremy. Sorry about that.

The collector’s most frequent lament has always been: “I don’t regret buying any of the bikes that I’ve bought. I regret the bikes that I didn’t buy.”

The rider’s most frequent lament: “Why did I buy that vintage bike, when all I want to do is ride?”

You have to decide if you’re a collector or a rider. There are a few lucky individuals who are both, but they are rare (and usually wealthy).

Let us know what you decide.

  • it_weenie

    If it’s your first bike, buy something really cheap and ride. You’ll figure out what kind of riding you like to do by what group of riders you migrate towards. My first bike was a dual-sport and I miss it so much. I have a sport touring bike now and love to go on trips 2-up, but I miss the dirt.

    If it isn’t your first bike, I still say buy something cheap and save the money for another bike down the road. It’s rare to be happy with just one bike and the R1 and TL are just too close to give you a good mix of riding options.

    If the Ducati calls to your soul, then get it. Heck, just get something and RIDE.

  • Gonfern

    2>1. I would get two bikes, but not those two. for 10k you can buy a later generation R1 (something in the mids 00′s) and still have enough left over for a decent a long distance bike like a sport tourer or dual sport, or something else different. Those two bikes are kind of redundant. If you get only the 899 though, you may find yourself wishing for something else depending on the road or where your interest take you in the hobby. Just my .02

    • WindowToYourSoul

      …the specs on the ’05 R1 are awesome even by todays’ standards, with the bike missing, what? the vaunted crossplane crank and TC? The power-delivery is far smoother than on late-model R1s, with the power coming in nice and smooth from 2k on up. Of course, with another $3k or so you might be able to get that out of a late-model R1, but there’s still the overhead of buying a late-model bike. But the issue still remains: late-model (not to mention new) bikes are not nearly as good of a value as a decent used bike that’s 5 years old or more, certainly not on a performance basis and probably not in terms of long-term value either. So you spend half as much, get basically the same bike…kinda obvious which is better.

    • Chris McAlevy

      Great advice. I sold my 2007 GSXR 750 and bought a 2003 ZX-9R and a 1997 KTM Duke 620 for the same amount of money. Couldn’t be happier.

  • zion

    #peoplewithmoneyproblems

    “The collector’s most frequent lament has always been: “I don’t regret buying any of the bikes that I’ve bought. I regret the bikes that I didn’t buy.”
    The rider’s most frequent lament: “Why did I buy that vintage bike, when all I want to do is ride?”
    You have to decide if you’re a collector or a rider. There are a few lucky individuals who are both, but they are rare (and usually wealthy).”

    Right there ^^^^ Jason pretty much sums it up.

  • RandomGRK

    I’ve made the mistake of buying a classic which tugged at my heart strings. I commute on my bike 3 days a week and ride on the weekends for fun and the classic just wasn’t cutting it. What I have learned is that if you can only have one bike, buy the solid, reliable one with all the latest bells and whistles first and then save some money for your childhood romance. In terms of riding pleasure, I cannot compare a modern bike like the 899 to a 90s bike.

  • JOE

    I have to say, I really miss my 1998 TL1000R. That was an incredible bike. Yes, by today’s standard it is an overweight beast, but who cares. It had character not found on most bikes today. And because it was a bit long an heavy, it was an all-day comfortable highway cruiser. Squeezing the throttle at 70 in 3rd gear will give you a nice view of the sky.

  • http://www.2wheelsandamotor.com William Connor

    New has a warranty. Old means you either pay or have mechanical aptitude to repair. Something to consider particularly on the older Duc.

  • Peter Bernacchi

    Given the two options, I would choose the two older bikes.

    One IMPORTANT factor to consider that hasn’t been mentioned yet is depreciation curve. Jason Fogelson considers the money advantages and disadvantages of buying new (high price, warranty, maintenance, financing) and only SOME of those of buying used (repairs, lower purchase price).

    Present value is very important here. I’m not a rich guy, but I own six motorcycles because I think very consciously about how much the bikes will be worth if/when I sell them, so I can afford it. My six bikes together (’06 GSXR1000, ’06 R6 Race bike, ’98 Duc 916, ’99 Duc 996, ’00 Duc 996S, ’01 YZ250F) cost me less than the price of a new Panigale 1199S, but they’re worth more than the price of that bike, no matter when I sell. My Japanese bikes will continue to depreciate but the Ducatis are appreciating, even though I’m riding them! The R6 is a money pit as I’m racing it, but I’m planning for that in my motorcycle budget.

    The first-gen R1 is a cult bike and will not get cheaper. Same with the TL. My Ducatis are in that same boat as well. My GSXR will depreciate for a few more years, but the K5/K6 models are highly regarded and will start appreciating slowly a few years after that.

    Another poster had a good point – if you can own only one bike, get a new one. But if you’re like me, get a bunch of older ones. So what if one is broken down – ride a different one that day!

    Consider your use (museum piece, everyday rider, weekend rider, track machine), consider the expected value, and choose accordingly.

  • http://batman-news.com Aaron

    I would get a newer older bike. AKA, mid 2000′s.

  • Guest

    The author misses the third option – the enthusiast (vintage or otherwise) who buys more than one motorcycle and rides them all. Like me, for instance.

    Here are the advantages I find in owning and maintaining multiple motorcycles (I have three registered, insured, and in “on-the-road” shape right now, and a few projects): 1. No riding downtime while performing maintenance or repairs (and even new bikes need to go in the shop or on the lift sometimes). 2. I have spare bikes for friends and relatives to ride when visiting. Since my bikes were cheap enough and I’ve ridden them enough miles to have “gotten my money’s worth” already, so I’m not too worried if something were to happen to one of them. 3. Cheaper insurance. My three bikes cost far less to insure than one new bike, especially anything Superbike class. 4. I get to ride bIkes more narrowly suited for their intended purpose more often than if I only had one.

    1987 VFR700 with a Givi rack, it’s my long-range “Gentleman’s Express” and grocery-getter.

    1988 Honda Hawk 650, set up for mixed track/street duty. So fun. It isn’t winning and horsepower awards, but it handles precisely and has a really sweet planted feeling at full lean with the toe-slider skimming the ground. If I decide to ride into Manhattan it also makes a good urban assaulter, and it’s the narrowest of the bunch for picking through heavy congestion.

    My “modern bike” jones get settled in ’09 when Buell got shut down, and I picked up an 1125R at the half-off sale. At the time I was thinking I wanted a faster track bike, and planned to try out the Buell, then sell the Hawk if I liked it (I had less garage space then). The Buell got stolen in late in ’11 before I could decide. A year later I picked up a nice low-mile, well-maintained, lightly-scratched ’07 Buell XB12STT at a great price. Total initial costs; VFR was $1,250, purchased about 10 years ago. I spent about $800 on it about 5 years ago for race-tech fork internals and a new Wilbers shock. Hawk was $1,400, it’s had money spent on upgrades over the years as well, but there was a poorly running but well-farkled Hawk that I purchased from a young man who was desperate to sell, raided it for the nice parts (Fox twin-clicker, sweet clip-ons), and put back to stock, repaired the carbs, and sold for a slight profit. The 1125R needed about $700 (front brake, race ECM, tires I like) from when it was new to make it suitable for track duty.

    When the 1125R was stolen it was a total loss. It would have been almost $2,500 a year to insure it with full coverage, which did not make sense to me for a bike that was only $5,500 to buy – by the time it got stolen I would have already paid more than the full purchase price in premiums. The ’07 XB12STT I paid $2500 for, and it is only $122 for full Comprehensive and Collision coverage. The other two bikes were so inexpensive and are so old I only carry Liability on them, and my total policy is still far less than it would have been for just the 1125R with full coverage.

    There is one big downside I have found – It’s sometimes hard to find enough time to ride them all often enough to keep the gas fresh. There are also some things that make this arrangement work for me that other people might not agree with or have access to. I am almost always shopping while hardly ever buying. When I do buy, I like a great bike, in great condition, for a real bargain. Since I already have a bike or two to ride, I can wait patiently for a deal to come along. I also enjoy the thrill of the hunt, and I have had a few slip away that I wanted over the years. I keep the bikes that I do buy a long time, and I do my own maintenance. I have a large garage and don’t mind leaving the car outside, so storage is no problem. I like riding anything, I don’t need the latest or greatest. The Hawk is a hoot with about 50 hp, and the VFR700 can go faster than I ever need on to worry about on American roads, and the Buell is faster still, handles sweet, gets great gas mileage, and feels unique. I ride a lot and don’t keep the bikes looking perfect, so while depreciation continue it’s steady march under my watch, I also don’t have so much invested that I need to worry all the time or get too upset about the inevitable scratch or tip-over (although I do worry a lot more since the 1125R; that one still stings).

    • Justin McClintock

      While I do love the idea of owning an maintaining multiple bikes (I have three myself, although only one vintage, a 1978 DT175), there’s an error to your logic in #1. If you’re working on bike A, then you are, by default, not riding bike B. And as much as I like older bikes, the bigger they are, the inherently more complicated they are….and are more likely to need work. Sure, if the person asking the question was interested in a CB360T, I’d say go for it…there’s just not that much there. But given that he’s looking at a R1 and a TL, I doubt something like that is going to tickle his fancy.

      All that being said, owning both a TL1000R and a R1 would pretty much by default put the person asking the question well into the realm of buying multiple bikes and riding them all. Or at least I would hope so. If he goes that route and lets either of them sit….well that would just be a shame.

  • abenormal

    The third option – the enthusiast (vintage or otherwise) who buys more than one motorcycle and rides them all. Like me, for instance.

    Here are the advantages I find in owning and maintaining multiple motorcycles (I have three registered, insured, and in “on-the-road” shape right now, and a few projects): 1. No riding downtime while performing maintenance or repairs (and even new bikes need to go in the shop or on the lift sometimes). 2. I have spare bikes for friends and relatives to ride when visiting. Since my bikes were cheap enough and I’ve ridden them enough miles to have “gotten my money’s worth” already, so I’m not too worried if something were to happen to one of them. 3. Cheaper insurance. My three bikes cost far less to insure than one new bike, especially anything Superbike class. 4. I get to ride bIkes more narrowly suited for their intended purpose more often than if I only had one.

    1987 VFR700 with a Givi rack, it’s my long-range “Gentleman’s Express” and grocery-getter.

    1988 Honda Hawk 650, set up for mixed track/street duty. So fun. It isn’t winning any horsepower awards, but it handles precisely and has a really sweet planted feeling at full lean with the toe-slider skimming the ground. If I decide to ride into Manhattan it also makes a good urban assaulter, and it’s the narrowest of the bunch for picking through heavy congestion.

    My “modern bike” jones get settled in ’09 when Buell got shut down, and I picked up an 1125R at the half-off sale. At the time I was thinking I wanted a faster track bike, and planned to try out the Buell, then sell the Hawk if I liked it (I had less garage space then). The Buell got stolen in late in ’11 before I could decide. A year later I picked up a nice low-mile, well-maintained, lightly-scratched ’07 Buell XB12STT at a great price. Total initial costs; VFR was $1,250, purchased about 10 years ago. I spent about $800 on it about 5 years ago for race-tech fork internals and a new Wilbers shock. Hawk was $1,400, it’s had money spent on upgrades over the years as well, but there was a poorly running but well-farkled Hawk that I purchased from a young man who was desperate to sell, raided it for the nice parts (Fox twin-clicker, sweet clip-ons), and put back to stock, repaired the carbs, and sold for a slight profit. The 1125R needed about $700 (front brake, race ECM, tires I like) from when it was new to make it suitable for track duty.

    When the 1125R was stolen it was a total loss. It would have been almost $2,500 a year to insure it with full coverage, which did not make sense to me for a bike that was only $5,500 to buy – by the time it got stolen I would have already paid more than the full purchase price in premiums. The ’07 XB12STT I paid $2500 for, and it is only $122 for full Comprehensive and Collision coverage. The other two bikes were so inexpensive and are so old I only carry Liability on them, and my total policy is still far less than it would have been for just the 1125R with full coverage.

    There is one big downside I have found – It’s sometimes hard to find enough time to ride them all often enough to keep the gas fresh. There are also some things that make this arrangement work for me that other people might not agree with or have access to. I am almost always shopping while hardly ever buying. When I do buy, I like a great bike, in great condition, for a real bargain. Since I already have a bike or two to ride, I can wait patiently for a deal to come along. I also enjoy the thrill of the hunt, and I have had a few slip away that I wanted over the years. I keep the bikes that I do buy a long time, and I do my own maintenance. I have a large garage and don’t mind leaving the car outside, so storage is no problem. I like riding anything, I don’t need the latest or greatest. The Hawk is a hoot with about 50 hp, and the VFR700 can go faster than I ever need on to worry about on American roads, and the Buell is faster still, handles sweet, gets great gas mileage, and feels unique. I ride a lot and don’t keep the bikes looking perfect, so while depreciation continue it’s steady march under my watch, I also don’t have so much invested that I need to worry all the time or get too upset about the inevitable scratch or tip-over (although I do worry a lot more since the 1125R; that one still stings).

  • Clint Keener

    I found a 899 on craigslist for 13,500. Search your area and get one.

    • WindowToYourSoul

      buying an 899 only makes sense compared to buying an 1199
      compared to buying just about any other bike that isn’t an Italian exotic, it’s stupid.
      especially for $13k.

      it’s just an entry-level drug

  • E Brown

    I agree with the ride/collect analysis. Really, none of those bikes – not even the modern Duc – would be my pick as a daily ride. I’d want something reliable, low maintenance, and fun to ride like a CBR650 or GSX650, maybe a Triumph Street Triple. That would open up my second bike to whatever my idea of fun was – Italian sportbike, American Cruiser, Japanese race replica, or British classic. With $10k to spend, I’d likely get one of Honda’s 500s and a used Thruxton.

    • WindowToYourSoul

      yeah but see some people are masochists

  • hunkyleepickle

    I’ve been planning to have the same ‘problem’ next spring. Money saved for a second or different bike, and toying with the idea of a bit older sport bike. Can’t go wrong with early ’00′s fire blades, the 954 is incredibly well polished, and dirt cheap. As for the 899, i would never buy a bike like that brand new. They are already popping up used with low miles and the first service done, ppl who got in over their heads with their hearts i suppose. I’m leaning towards a 2007-2012 gsxr750, they are dirt cheap, and about as polished and reliable as you can get imo.

    • Gonfern

      yep there are Gixers all over craigslist for around 5k with no mileage. The “sweet gixer bro” crowd for the most part get them as a fashion accessory so they will be largely low mileage and not dropped too many times. squid stigma aside, even today, there are no human riders that can outrun a gsxr 750 on a 899. Pros may be able to find that 10th on the track or tell you how the Pani has just a bit more feel on the edge than the gixer, but 90% of us have no idea where the limit is, much less be able to feel it. lol 750 is a damn good bike, and leaves you plenty of money for another damn good bike.

      • WindowToYourSoul

        “yep there are Gixers all over craigslist for around 5k with no mileage”

        …yeah, and there are many reasons for that, some good, some bad…

    • Chris McAlevy

      I had an 07 gsxr 750. Absolutely stunningly great bike. That being said, I sold it and bought an ’03 kwak zx-9r AND a ’97 ktm duke 620 for the same amount of money. You’re still going to be paying the late-model premium for the gsxr, and unless you really have to have that little bit extra, I suggest going with the fireblade.

  • Zentradi

    Do you want one do it all bike or two bikes that fall into separate riding categories. From your post, it seems that you really favor sporting bikes, but I think if you were to look at getting two bikes, I would think of utility. I definitely think there is something to consider in regards to looking at the new technology available in modern bikes and all that has to offer. BTW, writers of RideApart, what happened to doing new bike reviews?

  • Randy Singer

    >> The rider’s most frequent lament: “Why did I buy that vintage bike, when all I want to do is ride?”

    I’ve been riding for about 44 years. I’ve purchased used bikes, and I’ve purchased new bikes. I’ve enjoyed “just riding” them all. As long as you purchase a bike that you fall in love with (of any age), and go into the purchase with your eyes open (do a bit of research into the model of bike you are considering), you are likely to be very happy.

    A 50 horsepower ’70′s Triumph can be just as much fun to “just ride” as a brand-new liter-class sport bike. (Assuming that you don’t expect the Triumph to perform like a modern racer replica.) Maybe even more so, as it will be more comfortable to take long rides on, have a lot more character, and start a lot more conversations.

    You can enjoy scaring yourself silly on a 150 horsepower motorcycle just as well as you can on a 180 horsepower motorcycle. In fact, you might enjoy the older 150 horsepower motorcycle more, as its carburetors will make stop and go riding quite a bit smoother than many fuel-injected motorcycles.

    You don’t need a brand new bike if all you want to do is ride. Older motorcycles, all the way back to the mid ’60′s were pretty darn good.

    • http://www.havenbiz.com/ PJHouck

      I agree 100%, Randy…just depends on what one’s basic interest is. Us older riders have perspective, but it doesn’t always translate to the younger guys (my son @ 42 being an example – ’12 Suzi GSXR that is in pieces in his garage.

    • WindowToYourSoul

      Randy
      many things might happen

      thanks for clearing up that basic fact

  • Luis Fernando Ponce

    go for that bugatti from borgo panigale

  • mustangGT90210

    Diversify! The R1 and TLR are in the same class. Obviously both will have a crazy different character due to the motors, but it seems like its 2 bikes to do 1 bikes job.

    In your situation, with the available options, I’d buy the TLR and use the rest on another bike in a different class

  • labradog

    The idea that 30 extra HP is critical, is childish. Should we stop selling any but the highest HP?

  • Mark D

    As others have pointed out, not sure why you would buy two hard-core sportbikes. I’d buy the TL1000 plus either a small standard for the city, or a comfy touring bike, or a dual-sport, depending on what other type of riding you do. If all you do is ride sportbikes, that Ducati is mighty fine.

  • JT

    There is no skill in finding a great new motorcycle. However finding a great used motorcycle takes patience and a lot of effort. When you do make your purchase of a used motorcycle you’re not just buying the object, you are also buying the ability of the previous owner to maintain it. This is not to be taken lightly. There are money pits on two wheels all over the place. Caveat emptor.

  • VTR1

    I’d hardly describe the late 90′s bikes as “classic” or “vintage” in the sense that you can’t ride them hard or often. It’s not like they are Model T’s or something. I’ve had a 98 Superhawk for 10 years and all I do is ride the crap out of it. It’s great and I’ve no intention of ever selling unless I can’t get parts…. and that’s a long way off The only bike I own.

    How bout this solution…. buy ONLY the 98 R1 or TL1000…. spend the rest on an old Ninja 500 and go racing/do lots of track days.

  • PaulY

    More questions, what size are you? The 899 is an amazing bit of technology, but it is tiny. Do you plan on ever having a passenger?
    Any sports bike from the last 10-15 years has more capability than you can use on the street.
    Get whichever of the two older bikes you like most, and get something different to fill in the need for whatever else you like to do on two wheels.

  • who cares?

    Buy a new KLR and a $4000 used crotch rocket. Best of both worlds.

    • who cares?

      My reasoning is quite simple: You’ll end up crashing the crotch rocket, and grow up to appreciate the KLR.

      • hunkyleepickle

        I appreciate spinach, I appreciate brussel sprouts, I don’t want to just appreciate my motorcycle. That and klr’s are just plain ugly, objectively.

        • who cares?

          Totally agree. KLRs are the ugliest bike ever designed. But they are damn near indestructible, and have been on more around the world adventures than BMWs. That says a lot.

  • Davidabl2

    If Jeremy is a guy just starting out with $10k to spend that’d certainly cover both a less-expensive used midsize sports bike,and a dual sport. Plus good gear for both, a couple years of insurance, plus maybe a reserve fund. Both bikes would teach their own valuable riding lessons, and he’d discover his comfort level for doing mechanical work, while hopefully always having one bike or the other available to ride..
    I didn’t do it that way, and I wish I had.

  • WindowToYourSoul

    when operating on a limited budget it’s always best to remember that your budget is limited.