Reader Question: Not-Too-Old Motorcycle Recommends?

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Here’s the latest reader question, along with my reply! 

Toby asks: I know you are into motorcycles and have some older ones. I’m looking for something older but not ancient. A bike that is still everyday ridable but without a computer or EFI. Can you give me some recommends?

My reply: Good news! Bikes without EFI and computers were still being made well into the early 2000s – as opposed to cars without EFI or computers, which they stopped making in the late 1980s. My ’03 Kawasaki ZRX1200 is a good example of an old – but not too old – bike that hasn’t got a computer or EFI. It has desirable modern updates such as modern wheels/tires and a lighter frame/swingarm, better brakes and a much better suspension than my ’76 Kz900 has. But it is still very much like my ’76 in terms of being fundamentally a simple, mechanical thing with the electrics limited to a wiring harness for the lights and an ignition system to fire the plugs.

It’s still pretty easy to find a bike from the early-mid 2000s with low or relatively low miles, too – because unlike cars, most motorcycles are not ridden every day. My ’03 Kaw only has 26,000 miles on it, as a for-instance. And a few years ago, I was able to buy my ’83 Honda GL650 with just 12,000 miles on it.

2003 ZRX in the background; ’76 KZ900 in the foreground.

You didn’t mention your experience level nor what type of bike you’re interested in, but I’ll assume you’re a new rider and not looking for a hard-core sport bike. You might be interested in a bike like my ZRX, which Kaw sold through 2005 in the U.S. if I am remembering correctly. It is powerful but easygoing. A similar bike is the Yamaha FZ1 from the same era. For something a bit less aggressive – and almost maintenance-free – check out the Honda Nighthawk series, the 750 especially.

These bikes are all basically UJMs – the Universal Japanese Motorcycle – and similar in layout. Any of them would make a great regular rider!

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  1. Also recommendation for Suzuki Bandit 1200 and 600. Not water cooled engine, screw type valve last adjusters. I had a 97 1200. One of the best bikes I’ve ever had. (Actually my 2000 HD Dyna Glide is the best)


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