In the March section of the Feedback page I mentioned exchanging a couple of emails with Peter, who had sought some advice on buying a replacement for his Yamaha Virago 1100. He still liked the Yamaha, and loved cruisers, but having had both hips replaced and a crook back, he was finding that cruisers were not liking him. Apparently some of my writings about cruisers generally being unsuitable, ergonomically, for people with crook backs had some influence here.
So he went looking for something different. One of the bikes he was keen on was a Suzuki GSX1400.
As mentioned in the Feedback item, the only down-side to the Suzie was the fact it was chain-drive; he’d had shaft-drive for a long time. Well, he wrote in to say that he has now made the move and changed bikes. But, as the title indicates, it wasn’t the Suzuki. Here is his story of what he bought.

I listened to what you had to say and was hell bent on buying a Suzuki GSX1400. Well, not many around in Brisbane area at the moment but the one that was in my money range was just not at all for me. Another one was a bit out of my price range. The pension and lack of funds kind of slows things down a little bit these days! So I went down to a dealer I have used off and on for many years now, knowing his bikes are all basically a good buy or he would try his best to make them so.
I had seen an ex-police bike, a BWW 2006 with 74500 Kms. The bike looked ok but the police crash bars just looked ugly and there were quite a few scratches. Well, never ridden a BMW and got going then could not find the indicators and on and on it went. I stopped got that sorted then found trouble getting the bike into gear (a brand new clutch just fitted). I test rode another older BMW ex-police bike and it was easier to use. The BMWs were great but had a lot of old police stuff making them ugly looking and holes all over the place plus buttons to press that no longer are in use etc.
Then I rode a Triumph 1995 Thunderbird, as I grew up with Triumphs. It went well but somehow my youth had left me and I did not feel right. I then got on a Yamaha Diversion, a 1999 one, and after having had both hips replaced now riding with my knees right up under my chin I found this very uncomfortable and was so disappointed as those bikes have such a following.
Paul at the shop then said that maybe a slightly lighter bike would be the go but before I did I rode an old Honda ST 1990 model. All new suspension and saddle etc and it was like heaven. I had a 2000 model with ABS brakes once before but due to my shoulder giving out I got rid of it. I then looked at how difficult it would be doing my own oil-changes, and gave it a sad miss, as they take ages to get all the bottom fairing off and I do like to do my own service.
Now comes the fun bit! Paul got me onto a 2008 Suzuki V-Strom 650. Well somehow I got on the saddle and away I went. It was lovely to ride and went very well but I found it a bit noisy and it did sound like more of a scooter than bike.
Then he said how about a Yamaha TDM 850? So after some trouble and a new battery being fitted, (that is not the easiest of jobs either, all under the seat and well down and hidden) I took it for a test-ride. I rode and rode it. I at long last had found my bike. She is a 1999 model and yes has 88200 Kms on it. But then most of the bikes this fella has have a few miles on the clock; and again my money had to only buy old and used not new. Maybe I could have done some more research in Brisbane as I had never given this bike a thought. I think you gave it a write up, well the 900 one anyway. (Yes, there is a test of the TDM 900 – click here for that – and also another reader has one and has written about his – click here for that. Elwyn). I was comfortable, the bike handled well, and it was so easy around the twisties. Not that I am a twisty type; I like more open roads. So I did a deal. My old Virago 1100 was in such good condition that he gave me a great change over, and after many hours in the saddle trying bikes I then rode home and happy.
I can handle the bike easily, and do oil changes etc myself, so most boxes are ticked, so far! I would never have thought of this bike but it just goes to show!
My only bit I don't like is the chain-drive, after years of riding shaft-drives, but no doubt I will sort that out and get used to it. Main thing is the bike rides so well and came home like a rocket to what I am used to and I was comfortable. I still am buying an Airhawk to put on my seat as my backside gets grumpy; even in my lounge chair at times!

Apparently the change in style of bike worked. Peter said he came home, parked the bike and came inside without a moan or groan; which I gather is not what usually happens. Peter says he wife reckons she might get some peace and quiet now after he's been riding.
Anyway, thanks for the story, Peter. You certainly rode a wide variety of bikes in making your choice! The TDM is a great bike, and they deserve to be much more popular than they are. I’m glad you found a bike that you like, and I hope it goes well for you.
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