Ugliest Bikes Revisited
Just thought I'd ad a comment to an old thread regarding the VN750 as an ugly bike.
Looking at the link to the top ugliest cruisers, I actually thought most of the bikes on that list looked cool. I'm old school and I personally prefer the looks of the classic 80's cruiser.
My first bike was a Kawasaki LTD 454. It had the lines and styling I wanted and it was cheap so I could afford it when I was young and looking for an affordable used bike.
My second bike was the original 80's stye Honda Shadow 700cc, 6-speed, shaft drive, liquid cooled. It was a 1986, had the stepped king and queen style seat with a sissy bar.
It looked similar to the vn750. Mine was all black and I rode it all throughout Boston, even in the dead of winter. I loved that bike. It was fast, smooth as silk and reliable. It remember it feeling faster than Vulcan 750, but I could be wrong. It was lighter, but less powerful. Plus, I am a lot heavier now than I was 25 years ago. But the vn750 is plenty fast for me.
Before I got the VN750, when I was shopping (now in my 40's) a couple years ago, I was looking for that older style Honda Shadow. I couldn't find one at the time. But I still wanted that same styling. Oh, and by the way, the old Honda Shadow is a totally different bike than the 80's version. My brother has that bike and I've ridden it many times. There is nothing about the newer Honda Shados that is similar in ride or feel of that older model. It is also quite a bit slower than the vn750 I have now. His is 100% stock and a 2008 or 09. But it rides well and starts reliably and he's got after-market pipes that make it rumble more like a Harley than a Japanese bike.
So I'm shopping and the only bike that was a near match to the 80's style Honda Shadow was the Vulcan VN750. I kept coming back to that bike. I liked the looks and the price on the used market in Florida a couple years back was 3000-4000 for a very well-maintained, low mileage late model vulcan. That made it an easy buy.
For the money, the available parts and the number of bikes on the road, I think the VN750 is one of America's best buys regarding used mid-range cruisers.
Of course, you have to like its old-school looks to feel the pride of ownership that I feel.
The only thing that I personally didn't like about its styling was the bubbly seat. After I bought mine, I rode to Corbin's in Ormond Beach, FL with a friend and ordered a custom seat. Not only did it feel way better to me, I think it drastically improved the looks of the bike. Others might adore the stock seat, and that's ok, but I wonder if the the bike is judged more by the puffy, glossy seat than by the ears some complain about.
Regarding the ears, I actually like the look of them. Whether I ever end up modding them away to in search of improved performance, I can't say at the moment. But I wouldn't do it just because that's something that a few people have pointed out in the past.
Plus, I think people are easily persuaded by others' opinions. It happens to me sometimes. At first, I might like something, then someone else points out some detail that they can't stand about it. Suddenly, I focus on the same detail and my brain switches to, "boy, that's right, it sure is ugly." Peer persuasion can drive you from no opinion to neutral perspective to negative pretty easily, I think.
But I don't agree that the ears are ugly. I think they look cool. They are unique and it's an easy identifier for recognizing a VN750 in the distance. It's the vn750's signature look that looks like a modern component. To the average Joe it might look like some special component that makes the bike faster, who knows. But to me, it's cool looking and I personally prefer the look of the ears over the look of the bike without them. Without the ears I think it looses aesthetic. Again, the only reason I would remove them, would be to increase performance. That's a remote possibility because I like the stock look (aside from the stock saddle).
Some people love the look of my bike and shout out to me when I ride past them. Others who see my bike for the first time seem highly unimpressed.
Again, I tend to gravitate towards the styling of 1970's and 1980's style bikes. But there are people look at those two decades as sad time for motorcycle lines. And I can understand how a Hayabusa guy, for example, would think that the sport bikes and naked bikes of earlier eras looked dated and dull. The Hayabusa is not for me. I don't care for its looks. Would I test ride one if a friend offered? Heck yeah. I'd test ride any bike, for that matter, given the opportunity.
A Harley guy, will probably be more apt to be unimpressed with a Vulcan and many classic cruiser guys might hate the ears. But I think the number of bikes shown, illustrate how many people appreciated the VN750's look.
So, whichever person initially knocked vn750's for its looks on the Internet has made an impact on some other peoples' opinion, but not this person.
Now, to me, the KLR 650 is one of the ugliest bikes out there. And guess what. I own the bike and I love it. Mine is the genration1 KLR, but gen1 and gen2 are both are pretty ugly to me. The tank is the major issue for me on the gen1, while the front fender on the gen2 looks like a FogHorn LegHorn's beak or something.
But I love the rugged, piss-ugly rawness of the bike. I like what it can do. I would agree with anyone that there are better performing bikes out there. For off road, there are bikes that are better suited and more fun to ride. But where are you going to find a long-haul, Interstate capable bike, with a huge 6.1 gallon tank, the ability to carry stuff like a pack mule anywhere near the cost of a KLR. It is hard to match the KLR cost for collective options and for a bike that can take you anywhere in the world.
That brings me to another point. Both the KLR and the VN750 have had great success. There are so many of these Kawi's on the used market and so many being parted out, that buying and maintaining them is very affordable. I have friends with bikes that were less popular and the main issue is getting parts. It's hard to sustain a legacy bike without a source of parts. You don't have to worry about this with the Vulcan 750, at least for a long time.
So, in the end, popular support of these bikes says it all to me. Even if you think either is an ugly bike, you have to respect their massive runs and market penetration. Forget the negative press. It's wrong!
2006 KLR 650