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GT-tracer 900 vs Versys 650 (no ABS) as a first big bike

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I think I know what people are going to say to this question, but here goes......

I am 44 yrs old, 6ft 1, and have very little experience on a big bike, though pretty sensible mindset etc., fit / pretty coordinated for whatever that is worth.

I have been driving a 135 scooter for about a year, every day - so have the little road sense that brings me (very limited I understand on something that is only about 10 bhp). Completing all the training to pass my test here (Malaysia) for riding big bikes, and then plan on doing all the other safety training I can beyond that immediately, plus practice constantly, carefully, do loads of slow maneuvering exercises - whatever I can do to get my skills up - thoroughly looking forward to it all.

Looking to buy my first big bike - will be used for mainly highway/motorway commuting - about 50 km a day round trip, with some longer weekend trips - roads here are pretty good and there are so many bikes on the road that the drivers are pretty aware of them - more so than many countries at least. Having sat on and given a brief test ride on all the obvious contenders [to me] (V-Strom 650, Versys 650, Kawa Z650, MT-07 etc.), by far and away the most comfortable for my height were the GT Tracer 900 and less so, the Kawa Versys 650.

Reluctantly, I would accept that the Versys is the more sensible first bike, though where I am living, the Versys does not come with ABS. The GT obviously does (though no panniers ?!). I love the bike and felt more comfortable on the GT than the Versys.  Though I am very aware that the GT is very overpowered for a first big bike.  Is there anything to be said for going for the GT over the Versys, just because it has ABS, Traction Control and using it in B mode initially, or am I better off going for the non ABS Versys and then trading up in say a year / XXX miles etc? (I accept I will likely drop whatever I have at some point).

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My advise wont help choose between the 2 bikes you mention but I have always HIGHLY recommended some offroad/dirt bike experience before jumping on the highways.  You get comfortable with riding over obstacles, riding on slippery surfaces, riding on inclines/declines and off camber angles, as well as getting a good sense of balance and weight shifting from peg to peg while altering your center of gravity. 

That being said, nothing prepares you for interstate travel and riding in highly congested traffic better than experience.  Regardless of what bike you buy you should be 100% comfortable and familiar with every control to the point of blind muscle memory.  In a panic situation are you able to (in a split second) roll off the throttle, apply front and rear brake, pull in the clutch and downshift all at the same time?  Are you cognizant of your surroundings to know if you need to brake or accelerate around a situation that there isn't another rider or driver in your blind spot that you will swerve into? 

There are a lot of things to consider in addition to what bike fits you best, a "big" bike is a HUGE step up from a 10hp scooter.  Good luck

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i think i will be able to help you since i have both.  both of them are 2016's and quite different in the power delivery.  The versys, in my opinion would be the better choice as your first big bike...and it could even be your last.  it is a really nice bike and very comfy.  power delivery is very smooth and has more than enough to get you out and into trouble.  I found that it rode nicer/smoother than my FJ09 also.  there is a lot of room on it to for taller riders.  not to fussy on the stock windshield though.   70 ish horsepower is not bad in a bike that weighs about 15lbs more than the tracer.  i could go on but if you have any specific questions i'd be glad to try to answer them

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  There is not really much of a weight difference between the Versys 650 and the 900GT, it's all horsepower. Riding the GT  around in B mode will help you feel more comfortable with the power delivery, but it's still worlds away from a 10hp scooter. Spend a lot of time practicing in a vacant parking lot getting used to the new bike and throttle control, then go practice on the street. Rember to keep your eyes and attention on the road and don't play around with the fancy instrument cluster. You will do fine just know your limitations and use self-control. Enjoy your new bike!  

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He who dies with the most toys wins.

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I don't know what the used market is like there but this doesn't have to be a forever decision. 

For someone of your level of experience, whom I haven't watched ride, my advice is always going to be: buy a used dual sport. You can learn a lot by riding it in areas of questionable traction and when you drop it there will far less regret. When you feel yourself getting "ahead" of the bike it's time to upgrade. 

That said I've owned both a Versys 650 and FJ-09 as my primary bikes. Sold the Versys when I bought the FJ. Both fantastic. A used Versys around here is way less expensive than a GT. You might consider a used Versys for a time and as your ability/confidence increase so might the number of used GTs. ABS, TC, and modes aren't purchase decision points for me until everything else is more or less equal. The Versys has less leg room but that's more an issue for folks with bad knees than a matter of height as my 6'7 buddy also had one and wasn't uncomfortable.

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There's pros and cons to both, but I'll say this much. More power is not inherently better. It's better in some situations, and it's more cumbersome in others. Both have plenty of power for freeway slogs, so it's a push there. For slow riding - in town, or in technical terrain the old saying is true: it's more fun to go fast on a slow bike than slow on a fast bike. 

So I'd definitely throw that consideration into the mix.  

For me personally, I have 3 bikes right now. The FJ-09, a 150 HP hypertouring bike, and a 65 HP utilitarian naked bike. Guess which one gets out for non-commuting more frequently? Yup, the little one. Tootling around town, going to the store, etc, the little bike is more fun than a barrel of monkeys. 

When I got the FJ I figured I would sell the SV, but as it turns out, they each excel at their own thing, and do ok on things that aren't in their forte, so I keep both and use each for their strengths. 

Long winded way of saying you can't really go wrong with your choices. But one is going to be more right for you, and all the advice you're getting here will help you decide which way to go. 

Good luck! 

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’70 Yamaha 125 Enduro; ’75 Honda CB360T; ’81 Yamaha XS650SH; ’82 Honda GL650 Silver Wing Interstate; ’82 Suzuki GS650L; ’87 Yamaha Virago 535; ’87 Yamaha FJ1200; ’96 Honda ST1100; ’99 Yamaha V-Star Classic; ’00 Suzuki SV650; ’07 BMW K1200GT; ’12 Suzuki DR200; ’15 Yamaha FJ-09.  Bold = current

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A MT-07 might be a better choice for a "small island" by my standards... The biggest advantage the Tracer900 has over the MT-09 is top speed when above 100mph+ both are darn near equal in the 1/8th mile with Tracer 900 getting the advantage after the 1/8th mile... MT-07 also gets slightly better MPG... If your doing 2up alot, the Tracer 900 is the better choice...   From my personal experiences owning both bikes....

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2012 wr250f - C-class 30+ age group
2015 fz-07- Hordpower Edition-80whp
2015 fj-09- Graves Exhaust w/Woolich tune by 2WDW @120whp

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I went from a Versys 650 to a FJ-09... I used to always advise new riders to go with the lower HP bike but have since changed how I preface that statement.  If you are someone with a good sense of self control and feel that you would be able to ride patiently and responsibly then I would go with the GT.  If you are often find yourself pushing the envelope, go with the Versys to start.

The Versys is a great bike. Comfortable, smooth, reliable, tall... a lot of good qualities... but the 650 parallel twin is, to put it plainly, BORING in comparison to the GT/FJ. If you're like me, you will be ready for an upgrade in power very quickly.

Everyone is different though.  Either way you go, they are both great bikes.

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'15 FJ-09 w/ lots of extras...

Fayetteville, GA, USA

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I think they're very similar and once isn't necessarily more suited to you than the other. As others have stated, the decision doesn't have to be permanent. If you buy used, you can probably resell with very little deprecation. That being said, I recommend picking whichever you find a great deal on first.

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Just buy the Tracer. ABS and traction control will be a huge benefit for a new(er) rider, The weight difference is nil. I owned a 650 Versys and now a FJ09.  Both about 460 lbs. But the main reason is what you already said in your opening  comments. If the Tracer is more comfortable, buy the Tracer.  Regrets suck. GO FOR IT!  My versys had ABS, but with  74 hp and the FJ with 114 hp it was a no brainer.  Be Safe and Have Fun! 

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Everything is simple, Nothing is easy

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I own a Tracer GT, an FJR1300, and a Ninja 650.  The Ninja has the same motor as the Versys 650.  I'd have to say if money is no object, the extras on the GT are really nice.  If you want a bike to run around on for a couple of years to get more acquainted with a larger bike, get the Versys.  The Versys is no slouch.  0-60 mph in about 3.6 seconds compared to the crazy 2.7 seconds for the GT.  The 650 engine is smooth and the gearbox is equally smooth.  You could save yourself some money and buy the Versys and get a little more riding experience.  You'll certainly have no trouble selling it when you're ready to upgrade.  Both great bikes.  It's really up to you.  GT folks are going to tell you to buy the GT and likewise for the Versys 650 owners.  Personally, I think I'd recommend the Versys for someone in your position.  However, I absolutely love my Tracer GT.  The Versys will have more power than you'll need and is a good next step in your bike ownership.

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On ‎4‎/‎13‎/‎2019 at 1:12 AM, AtoB said:

I think I know what people are going to say to this question, but here goes......

I am 44 yrs old, 6ft 1, and have very little experience on a big bike, though pretty sensible mindset etc., fit / pretty coordinated for whatever that is worth.

I have been driving a 135 scooter for about a year, every day - so have the little road sense that brings me (very limited I understand on something that is only about 10 bhp). Completing all the training to pass my test here (Malaysia) for riding big bikes, and then plan on doing all the other safety training I can beyond that immediately, plus practice constantly, carefully, do loads of slow maneuvering exercises - whatever I can do to get my skills up - thoroughly looking forward to it all.

Looking to buy my first big bike - will be used for mainly highway/motorway commuting - about 50 km a day round trip, with some longer weekend trips - roads here are pretty good and there are so many bikes on the road that the drivers are pretty aware of them - more so than many countries at least. Having sat on and given a brief test ride on all the obvious contenders [to me] (V-Strom 650, Versys 650, Kawa Z650, MT-07 etc.), by far and away the most comfortable for my height were the GT Tracer 900 and less so, the Kawa Versys 650.

Reluctantly, I would accept that the Versys is the more sensible first bike, though where I am living, the Versys does not come with ABS. The GT obviously does (though no panniers ?!). I love the bike and felt more comfortable on the GT than the Versys.  Though I am very aware that the GT is very overpowered for a first big bike.  Is there anything to be said for going for the GT over the Versys, just because it has ABS, Traction Control and using it in B mode initially, or am I better off going for the non ABS Versys and then trading up in say a year / XXX miles etc? (I accept I will likely drop whatever I have at some point).

If you feel most comfortable on the GT, sounds like it is the best choice. 

They aren't overly powerful. In B mode the throttle is tame. 

 

You are old enough and from your post, sound sensible enough not to get yourself into trouble on one. 

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Many thanks to everyone for all these replies. Very helpful. Frankly I was expecting more people to talk about the lunacy of going for the tracer, so it's useful to get these perspectives. Wish the versys was available here with abs, tc etc. - be an easier decision. Anyway, sounds like I am going to be enjoying either choice.

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I purchased a Versys 650 a few years ago and put 8000 miles on it, really enjoyed it. Great bike for long trips, decent I. Town if a little tall (I’m 5,10) but after a few weeks I learned how to handle it fine on the city.  After 18 months I decided to splurge and get the Tracer 900 GT because I wanted something with a little more power and better suspension. I really appreciate the extra power, but looking back I do think i would probably have crashed it if I had bought it instread of the Versys. I ended up having to keep it in B mode the first few months until I got used to it.  You don’t realize how much faster you are entering turns or how quickly you arrive at the next one. I’m glad I started with the Versys. If you go with the Tracer, just make sure you are extremely cautious it is a very fast bike. 

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The Tracer is downright tame. It's not like it's a 200hp Ducati superbike. I wouldn't even hesitate. Yes, it has enough power to get you into trouble, but it's never the power that's the problem - it's how you ride it. 

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