In this week's show, Ray talked us through his insurance win, we have another look
Over the last 18 months, I have been fortunate enough to ride a number of different bikes, and being a commuter 5 days a week, I have been able to test them all in the same environment.
I reckon I've worked out what makes the perfect commuter bike. Now, you can disregard all of this if you have a bike you really like, and you're willing to overlook the lack of power or the endless drain on your wallet. But if you're looking for a great commuter, here are the criteria I have worked out.
What you want is a 500cc-655cc Twin-piston bike, LAMS or not, it doesn't matter. This is the sweet spot between power and fuel economy, and because this segment is booming, there are loads of options for luggage, accessories, and tyres.
Dare I say it, a LAMS Yamaha MT07 anybody? Or maybe a Suzuki V-Strom650 if you like a bit of wind protection?
Yes, I may be showing my blue blood once again, but let me justify it. I commute 300km per week. This, on a LAMS MT07 (with the 655cc engine), cost me between $25 and $30 per week.
These days I commute on a Yamaha Tenere 700, this same 300km per week commute with the same engine just a slightly bigger capacity (689cc) costs me between $30 and $35 per week.
Yes, fuel has gone up in this time, but I still feel the figures I'm giving you are relevant.
Around this time last year, I was testing a BMW G310GS and a G310R, both with a single-piston 310cc engine. the same commute cost me less than $20 per week, but also took slightly longer because there was a lack of power to cut through traffic.
I have also had the opportunity to do the same commute on the 1250cc Harley-Davidson Pan America, and although there was plenty of power on tap, lane splitting was not the easiest, and fuel economy was destroyed, costing around $40 per week. Similar story on the Suzuki VStrom 1050XT with its 1037cc engine.
What I'm saying is, anything below 500cc lacks the power and confidence to make progress through traffic, to me anyway. Where anything above 700cc has the same usable power but just burns fuel needlessly. I'm well aware a 1250cc has much more power than a 700, and I'm making gross generalizations here, but what I'm getting at is there's only so much power you can use in traffic, anything more than that and you're holding the horses back...
There are other downsides to a large litre+ bike in traffic, one of these is they create so much more heat... which is fine in winter, but in spring, summer and autumn, well things are a bit warm for that sort of carry on.
So, there you go, in my opinion, of course, the upper end of the LAMS market is where the perfect commuters live. For which one is best, well. I have a few more bikes to ride before I can make that call.