The thing that people discover with vstar bikes compared to HD V twins, Vstar bikes have a wide piston with a short throw. Its has a higher red line, a higher HP peak RPM. So when you are on the highway going 80mph on a 650 you are about 5mph above its peak HP RPMs. The engine is spinning faster than a HD would be (with its longer throw crankshaft), so it sounds to most people like it needs another gear.
It doesnt. It will run all day at 80mph, it wont overheat, and you have some throttle left and can hit 100mph on a 650 (with no windshield, or maybe close with a small windshield). The 650 is dead stable and solid at 80mph.
The 650 has a resonate buzz in the engine from about 60 to 65mph in 5th gear. I find it useful on secondary roads, I can tell Im hitting 60 without looking at the speedo. Above 65 it quiets down again. Its not annoying or intrusive, its just there enough to notice it.
2 to 3 hours on a 650 is reasonable, stopping a couple times for a break. It has a 200 mile range before you flip to reserve, then you got another 40 miles, so you are stopping for gas at least once each way.
I had my 650 for 5 years riding solo before i decided to get a 2nd bike
<= photos in the garage page, click on the thumbnails in the second page...
The difference with a bigger bike is very noticeable. Compared to my 1300 V4, riding the 650 feels like a dirt bike now. The V4 takes off like a small block chevy V8, will go twice as fast in each gear as the 650 (easily leaps to 50mph in 3rd gear) and the over drive 0.75 5th gear is just cruising at 85mph. The V4 will hit 135mph if you are crazy enough to hold the throttle WFO.
The other thing, once you get over 60mph you are going to want a windshield, fairing, and maybe fork deflectors, to keep the wind from beating the hell out of you for hours. A bigger engine is not loaded up by a windshield so much as a 650.
Like I said, you can get either bike in good condition for $3k to $3.5k and easily put another 70k miles on its odo (up to about 100k miles) before you have to think about anything but oil, filters, plugs and tires. Its not harder to ride the bigger bike except for slow speed manuvers - so if you are definately planning on 2 up riding for 3 hour trips, I would lean towards a bigger bike. I really like the 650 and the 1300 royal star V4, they both have shaft drive and carbs (up to a certain year on the royal star) and have no known design issues. As long as you keep your carbs clean, and stabilize the fuel in the tank if you have to park the bike for a few months, you should never have any issues with the carbs.
The 950 is kinda in between. Its a great solo bike, but the 1100, 1300s and 1600s are better on those wide open texas roads.
Last edited by KCW; 02-19-2019 at 10:50 AM.