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ride quality... Is the meanie the right bike for me?

1285 Views 8 Replies 5 Participants Last post by  ipscshooter
Having spent any real time only on a Vulcan 500 before, I don't really know what to compare it to. I've got a few months to figure out what bike I want, and the Meanstreak/Marauder seems the likely choice, but I was wondering from those of you that have ridden a lot of the different cruisers out there what's the smoothest ride?

I'm not that obnoxious neighbor that's gonna wake you up with his pipes. I'll probably never get the bike over 85mph, etc. I'm looking more for a form of meditation: just me and the open road or the backroads without all the traffic... one with the wind, that kind of thing. I don't know much about the different drive mechanisms, but should I maybe be looking instead at a belt drive, etc?

I'm not trying to have the coolest bike. I'm not trying to pick-up chicks. I won't be bragging about my top speed. I just love riding. I like the rumble of a good v-twin, but I prefer a smooth relaxing ride. Maybe there's a smoother drive out there that I should be looking into. Of course, part of the whole vibe you get comes from the aesthetic and the ergonomics of the bike. The meanie's a beaut. I can't see myself going too retro, and I definitely don't want a crotch-rocket. Any thoughts? Maybe something smaller?
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Clearly there are some good points about the meanie. I would most likely raise (and pull-back) the bars, but I haven't found good info yet on how this effects handling. It seems to me that people love the meanie in part because of the handling. Obviously, changing the setup for the bars will change this... I'm just not sure how.

I've sat on all the Kaw and Yamaha models. The yamaha's are out. Even the 650 feels like a boat. The 800 Kaw cruisers have a much sportier feel. The meanie is so trimmed down that it makes me believe it wouldn't be too much more to handle.

I love the aesthetics on the meanine, though. Actually, I prefer the Suzuki version. I just like how basic it is. No big fenders, it's got very clean lines, etc. I'd probably get short stripper-type pipes to clean it up even more, and perhaps a fat-fork kit which would match the aesthetics between the pipes and the forks.

That being said, I'm mainly wondering about the drive. I would prefer a silky-smooth and forgiving drive mechanism, but I don't have anything to compare it to. With this in mind, does anyone have any suggestions of any other bikes I should check out?
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I was planning on getting an 800 when the meanie caught my eye. I love the front-end on the classics, but I don't like the big fenders.

The only other issue I haven't mentioned that I don't like about the meanie is the extra guages. In my book, the bike has a very clean look which is muddled by all the guages. I prefer a very clean and simple tank-top setup. I forget which it is that just has the all in one simple analog-looking tanktop (drifter? nomad?)

Anyway, I was thinking that you might want the tach at first so you can get familiar with the bike, and communicate your thoughts with other riders as you get the bike figured out. Beyond that, though, if you're not dragging or speeding, I'd end up just doing it all by feel anyway, so I really don't need the tach anymore. A feul guage is obviously a good thing, but I had a bike without one and managed just fine. I'd rather have it cleaned up.

Part of what I like about the big-fork aesthetic is how clean it is. The fatboy type bikes usually have a hood of sorts over the headlight which hides all the wires. While this setup is a bit bloated for my tastes, I like how clean it makes everything.

That being said, is it possible to remove the extra guages on the meanie and/or replace some of their vital info with a tank-top system? Would I have to swap out the tank to do this? Would I be able to maybe take the guages from another VN 1500 or 1600 that I like better and swap out the guages on the tank? Any other solutions?
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As far as communicating with other riders, I just mean that as I get used to the bike, tach readings could be useful if I'm trying to figure out any issues, I could post here, for instance, that I get a vibration at around 4k, etc. It just puts a universally unerstood measurement on it so I'm not trying to explain that it's "revving really fast".

As far as the tank, you're right, of course. If you put the instruments on the tank, it will muck up the look of the tank a bit. The instruments have to go somewhere, though, and I personally feel that having one big radial layout centered on the tank is a much cleaner look because it eliminates extra pieces bolted on, gets rid of wires, etc.

Now, would it be easier to get a quick-read off the more forward guages on the meanie? Probably. However, the speedo if it is tank-mounted would also be bigger. These issues probably tip their hat to the meanie's configuration which is undoubtedly why they went that route with it. My issue is more one of personal style. Someone who buys a drifter, for instance clearly does not do so for purely logical reasons. Those big pontoons for fenders are only adding weight. They either prefer the classic lines or they don't.

I've studied years of kung fu. I like the clean simplicity of Japanese tatami-style interiors. These things are all studies in simplicity. Less is more. This idea resonates with me personally. I like the meanie as much for what it doesn't have on it as for what it does. I won't be adding footboards, saddlebags, graphics, etc. I would instead be taking off any logos and consolidating wherever possible. In other words, If there is a way to get rid of any wires or bolted on bits like turn signals, guages, etc. and incorporate them into the existing shape of the bike, then that's what I'd like to do.

I love, for instance, the strip of LED turnsignals (I forget the company) that some of the meanie owners have used along the rim of their rear bumper. Function within form. Yes, you need light to see the Mona Lisa, but I personally prefer to find a simple and elegant solution to bolting metal arms to her ears which extend out and hold flashlights which are aimed back at the painting. If I didn't care about any of that and just wanted the most sensible cruiser ever made, I'd get the 750. It's a great bike, but an aesthetic nightmare.
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