Talk about apples and oranges. You may be wondering how one could even mention both of these iconic motorcycles in the same sentence, but have no fear because I’m going to tell you. You see way back when I was a younger man, I was what you’d call a motorcycle nut. I road everyday, year round, weather be damned to the tune of around 12-15k per year. I was the motorcyclist you made fun of when it rained, and I was the guy you cursed when I blazed by you on one wheel on the highway. There was a time when I had 5 bikes and 1 pick-up truck which was only used for the purpose of motorcycle transport when I was either hitting the track or the trails. As with everything in life though priorities change and life goes on. As it stands I haven’t owned a bike since 2005 and truth be told I am getting VERY itchy.
Riding a bike is an experience like no other, and as of yet I have found no other form of motor sport that gives me the same type of enjoyment. In the title of this article I mention two amazing machines – the visually stunning Ducati 916 and the do it all two-wheeled Hummer, the Kawasaki KLR 650. One is a corner carving scalpel and the other is a swiss army knife and at some point in time, each one had a home in my garage. Like I said, I’m now getting itchy for another bike and these are the two I’ve narrowed it down to. Keep in mind that whichever machine wins out they’re both going to be regulated as mild recreational vehicles. Since my knee dragging days are behind me, the Ducati would simply be used for the occasional Sunday morning run with the big chunky KLR having the same roll, albeit the occasional trail road thrown in for good measure.
From a visual point of view the Ducati 916 wins hands down. It’s a visual masterpiece and the exhaust note that it emits from its big V-twin mill is simply glorious. Plus it’s a machine that will always be desirable, fun to ride and make me smile. Sure by today’s standards it’s a dinosaur, but that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t enjoy every moment in the saddle. The pro’s to this machine are its wonderful handling, its sheer beauty and the shit-eating-grin factor it provides every time you start it. The con’s are that it is mechanically finicky and expensive to maintain, it has terrible fuel mileage and after about an hour of riding your back is toast. It is however a Ducati and I’ve wanted one again ever since I sold my 1996 model.
The Kawasaki KLR 650 is probably one of the best all around dual sport bikes on the planet. It’s been around forever, never breaks and can literally take you anyplace you wish to go at a moments notice. It’s got wonderful range thanks to its 6.1 gallon tank and provides the rider with all day comfort. Plus if it breaks you can pretty much fix it with a screw driver and duct tape. Seriously… these suckers are pretty indestructible. I had an old 1993 model that I put damn near 22,000 miles on and the bike never missed a beat. Plus I really used to enjoy taking the occasional trail ride with it and going were very few street machines dared to tread.
So with all of the above being said, what do you all think? Both bikes will satisfy my urge to ride again but they’ll do so in very different ways. Keep in mind I also DO NOT want to go out and purchase anything else, so don’t give me suggestions for other rides. It’s a choice between these two and that’s it. Either way I’d like to buy one in the not too distant future, but I’m curious to know your input as to which way you’d go.