105 months ago

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5BikeChallenge – My 5 Bike Types

Toronto, Ontario, Canada

"I needed to try new things: to know what else was out there."

"I needed to try new things: to know what else was out there."

By Ian Kelso, Contributing Editor

The idea for the #5BikeChallenge came to me when a friend asked “What bike will you upgrade to next?” It struck me that I really had absolutely no idea. I have a confession to make: aside from the Suzuki TU250 I was assigned at my rider-training course a little over three years ago, I had never actually ridden another bike!

My F650GS was the ideal choice of starter bike for me. I did not join the ranks of two-wheelers with an eye to becoming the next Carl Fogarty. Supersport bikes held little appeal for me. Though I must admit I first started riding for economic considerations, I realized at the time that I really didn’t know how I would eventually use a motorcycle aside from commuting inside the city. After a lot of thought and research I decided I wanted something that was not too twitchy, fairly dependable, and that could handle almost anything I threw at it. I was smart enough at the time to know that I may just fall in love with biking in ways I could not imagine at the time.

When I saw the online ad for my BMW, only two years old at the time with under 2000 kms (1200 miles) on it, I jumped. If I could do it all over again, I would do exactly the same thing.

"My F650GS was the ideal choice of starter bike for me."

"My F650GS was the ideal choice of starter bike for me."

In the three years since I bought my F650GS I have ridden it almost 50,000 kms (30,000 miles). This season for the first time I started to feel like a competent amateur with adequate enough skill to ride an unfamiliar bike without dropping it. And I was also beginning to develop a deep sense of wanderlust. I needed to try new things: to know what else was out there. I needed to truly get perspective to know if I was in the right relationship. And that only comes with experience.

These are a few of the 24 bikes I have tried out over the past three months.

These are a few of the 24 bikes I have tried out over the past three months.

The bikes I thought I would love were were from a diverse set of categories, with more strength than my own bike in certain areas, but definite weaknesses in others. If I were to upgrade, how could I choose? I began to realize that to get everything I wanted out of motorcycling, one bike would never do, but five seemed like a reasonable number.

Now in just the past three months I have ridden 24 different motorbikes…and counting. Most have been short dealer demo rides. A few, already documented in this series, have been longer-term loans from the manufacturer. A couple have even been loans from very trusting friends. I have been on adventure bikes, sport bikes, roadsters and even on very large displacement touring bikes: I will ride anything I an get my hands on. There has not yet been a bike that I hated, but definitely there are several that have left me ambivalent. I am however, finally starting to get a sense for what bikes I truly love, and how I would compare and categorize them.

To keep the field manageable, I decided to limit the #5BikeChallenge strictly to road bikes that are current model year (2015 / 2016 at this writing) and available from a known manufacturer. Getting into specialized applications like dirt, track and trials (or how about ice racing?) might extend this concept into a #10BikeChallenge at some point in the future, but for now I think I can define five logical categories that can cover almost all of my needs, wants and desires for day-to-day riding. Once the categories are defined, and I ride a few more bikes, I will begin to list my favorites in each of my chosen areas of specialization.


The Hooligan - A bike that chews up corners and spits them out like so much brake dust. Must cause risk of internal organ compression from too rapid acceleration. Instantly removes at least 20 years of maturity from your best judgment.

The Adventurer – Upright and comfortable for gawking around on long rides with room for luggage, groceries and accommodate one passenger for short sprints. Should still be fun to lean over in the twisties and have loads of low end torque to not aggravate friends on sport bikes with monkey butt. Off-road capability is optional.

The Workhorse – A bike that makes you look forward to going to work in the morning, until you arrive and then instantly can’t wait to ride it back home. Doesn’t require washing more than once a year. Doesn’t require polishing ever. Ability to carry a basket of groceries and a few small pieces of IKEA furniture with the right bungee cables.

The Trophy Bike – A bike that makes your friends who don’t know anything about motorcycles want to buy a motorcycle. Initiates conversations with strangers of the opposite sex at each and every donut shop you stop at. If classic bikes were allowed, this is where they would fit.

The Urban Cruiser – A powerful and sporty bike with great suspension. Ability to skip over potholes and burn out on streetcar tracks. Exhaust with a sexy growl but not so loud it wakes the neighbours every night in summer when you roll in at 3am.


This list of categories and the bikes I will eventually choose are personal. They address the things that I love and value about biking. I suspect many of these values are fairly universal, but five sizes may not fit all. So let me know, would these categories work for you? Can you think of a better way to divide up the five types of bikes you would own? Please let us know in the comments either here on EatSleepRIDE or on our Facebook page using the hashtag #5BikeChallenge.

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