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Handling and cooling: commuting and touring on a 750

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  • Handling and cooling: commuting and touring on a 750

    Hey all, I'm new here 8) I've been riding my first bike, a '94 EX500, for about a year and change, or about 23,000 miles. I ride everyday (no car; don't want one) and hit the road whenever I can.

    It's time to upgrade, though - and I'm looking at a 2001 Katana 750, less than 14K miles, in gold. Looks to be bone-stock. It's a beautiful bike. I know it's a little "underpowered" and maybe even has "outdated" technology - a lot of guys I'm asking keep repeating this - but dang it, I like it. I don't need the latest and greatest, I need what I want to ride.

    But the air/oil cooling bothers me... I get stuck in traffic a lot, not for too long as I whiteline sometimes, but enough to get the Ninja a little hotter than usual. No big deal, it has a fan. How would the Kat handle that? We're talking bumper-to-bumper, for 30 minutes sometimes (when a cop's around ), in 90+ degree heat.

    And I've been told the Kats handle like crap. The EX is known for its surprising flickability, and privateers at local tracks use them a lot. How would the Kat compare? I heard it's top heavy. This is not good. I need something I can throw around, whether it's doing guerilla maneuvers in traffic or carving the corners at Deal's Gap (my next road trip).

    I have a deposit on the Kat, to be picked up in two weeks, but I can transfer that deposit to another bike if need be. For now, it's on hold for me. Pleeeaasssee tell me this bike will work for me - if you think it really will


  • #2
    well i have an 89 750, and it never seems to run too hot nor do i have a gauge, but im in to mechanics so i can tell when its loosing power due to heat, and mine doesnt do that, now with handeling i have the older modle like i said b4 but it handles great, its not a gsxr, and its not ment to keep up with one, but ill get thought the twisties just fine and will give you a great stable ride, as for the deals gap trip, the 50+ kats that will be there will be a testimate to what you just asked, they do fine


    • #3
      Thanks, man... 50+ Kats, huh? Yea that's gotta mean something good, lol.

      I don't need to keep up with a Gixxer, so that's fine. I just need a good handling bike that is newer, stronger (think 2-up and loaded down), and actually looks like it was made after 1985 LOL don't get me wrong, I love my EX and will actually miss it some, but talk about outdated... what a great bike it's been, though. That's why I want to be 100% sure the Katana will be more than worthy as a replacement. So far, it's looking quite favorable..


      • #4
        Who ever told you that a Kat can not handle needs to get their heads examined. A kat can rail like any other sports bike. Think Gixxer, R!, whatever. The difference is the acceleration on the straight shots, then the liter bikes pull ahead.

        Yes, the Kat is heavier than thos super sports bike, but the Kat is a "Sports Tourer", meaing fun in the twisites, and comfy on long rides. You won't be disapointed. And as for the hot weather, ust wait for Cyber to chime in. He too lives in FL, and all he does is ride from what it sounds like. We also have people in the desert such as Thaz. Just because it is oil-cooled, doesn't mean it is a P.O.S.
        -89 Gixxer 1100 Engine
        -Stage 3 Jet Kit / KNN Pod Filters
        -Ohlins Susupension
        -Various Other Mods


        • #5
          I rode my 03 in stop/go traffic quite a bit and never had a problem. As for carving up the Gap, it's more than capable. There's lots of pics around the site of us at the Gap last year , see for yourself.

          It's a very capable/comfortable bike for the commute or the long haul. You won't be disappointed.


          • #6
            Well , I like mine . I've never really ridden anything "truly" sporty before though , so I don't know what to tell you about how it compares to your Ninja . I imagine though that the Kat would feel REALLY slow and heavy-handling as it's alot bigger and heavier than a 500 Ninja . I've been stuck in traffic before with no problems . And I've heard of a few people who've loaded them down 2-up with no problems . Yeah , they'll do what you NEED it to do , but maybe not as well as some other bikes .
            I am a fluffy lil cuddly lovable bunny , dammit !

            Katrider's rally 2011 - md86


            • #7
              I have a 2000 Kat750 and have not had a problem with over heating, and have been stuck in traffic more than once here in South Carolina.

              As for being top heavy I havent noticed. To me the balance is great. Also the more upright seating position(compaired to the ninja and bikes of that nature) is more comfratable for dayly rides and long trips. Hope this info helps a little.
              BTW The stock Gold paint on the Kats look Killer. Go for it.!!!

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              • #8
                and the colour is called Champagne! You will love it, it will serve you well!


                • #9
                  whoever told you Kats don'thandle well either has never ridden one or doesn't know how to ride. a few weeks on the Kat and you'll be raving to you friends about it. as far as running hot, i was stuck in traffic for 1 1/2 hours on a humid 90 deg. day and the only thing overheating was me!


                  • #10
                    I live in Tampa, have ridden a 2000 and a 2001 Kat 600 for years as my primary commuter. My GF has an EX500 (Ninja 500). Here's what you want to know:

                    The ninja is infinitely more maneuverable. Because of it's low weight, low center of gravity and narrow size, it is far more nimble than the Kat. Fact of life. This is not to say the Kat won't handle; it just will never handle like the Ninja 500, especially at low speeds (which is both a good and a bad thing -- you won't get blown lane-to-lane by high winds and semi's either). The Kat weighs about 100lbs more and carries much of that weight higher, plus the 98+ Kats are more aerodynamically stable, meaning it's a much more pleasant ride at 70mph and up than the Ninja. The stock Michelin Macadams and the stock Dunlops are poor handling tires on the Katana, and you'll be far better served in your area by Metzeler Z4 and Z6 Roadtech tires (which also cope with rain and standing water without losing grip or hydroplaning far better).

                    On the other hand, even the Kat 600 produces about twice the torque of the Ninja 500, and the 750 bests that again, so it's not a matter of winding out the gears the same way to get peak performance... you can put it in a higher gear and just tool along, still having the same passing ability.

                    The oil-air cooling isn't an issue as long as you use high-grade JASO-MA rated oils (look for 10w40 for the winter, mix in 20w50 for when temps start getting up above 85, go pure 20w50 when the temps get above 94). Some oils disipate heat better than others, and I've found Castrol's GPS (not GPX!) motorcycle oils to be particularly good in Florida's hot weather at shedding heat faster than any of the others I've tried. Do not use car-oriented oils in the Kat, because they tend to evaporate too much under our weather conditions (the API spec isn't as stringent about it as the JASO-MA spec). Upside to not having water is that there are no radiator fans to blow heated air over your legs at stop lights and stop-n-go traffic, and no cook-off of coolant causing overflow problems or warped heads. I've never overheated.

                    Installing an oil temp gauge is fairly straightforward as well, if you want to pursue it (the biggest issue is where to mount the gauge). Additionally, a fan can be modded onto the oil cooler if needed, but it's very unusual to need them in Florida (between the humidity and the rain in the summer months) -- I could see needing them in death valley...

                    The fairings are much better when traveling in the rain than the ninja, and as long as you can keep moving forward at 35 - 40 mph or higher, you won't get very wet normally except the very outsides of your pants legs, plus the tips of your shoulders (at least at my height - 5'9"). Like the ninja, riding in the rain and coming to a stop can release a bunch of steam up towards the windshield from the steering stem area... not a big deal.

                    Inseam requirement is a bit bigger on the Kat than the Ninja, and you'll really need to have about 31" to be comfortable flat-footing it unless you modify it to lower it.

                    If you went with the 600, you could swap in the 750 oil radiator (which is larger). In theory, you could also fit the Bandit 1200 oil radiator as well (some welding to move the lower mounting brackets to fit the larger oil radiator would be required with either upgrade -- the larger the cooler, the lower the lower mounting tabs/brackets).

                    I think it's an excellent tourer. I have mine with the optional Givi hardsided luggage and can do a week's worth of grocery shopping with it if I need to.

                    Finally, make sure you're getting a decent deal. You can look up the NADA used pricing guide online to get current prices for used motorcycles.

                    =-= The CyberPoet
                    Remember The CyberPoet


                    • #11
                      All I can add is that I love my Kat. I have been the proud owner of other bikes, my first was a 1985 Honda Interceptor 500. I then went to a 83 Kawasaki GPz 1100 and went totally nuts with it, spent tons of money on the engine and built a beast, and now I am riding a 2000 Kat 600. I love the Kat, best bike I have owned, and if I ever buy another bike it will be a Busa, but I will always recommend the Katana. Good luck with your decision, I know you wont be disappointed witht the Kat.
                      2000 Kat 600
                      "Fast Blue"
                      Pic in Profile


                      • #12
                        Thanks for all the replies! I think I have made my decision... I have another day to think about it, though, as the dealer's not open tomorrow. I just heard of another Kat for $3000.. but all the way in Arkansas. Hmm. I could fly out there and ride it back, but how to inspect it beforehand?

                        Anyway, I was worried about the air/oil cooling because I've heard of a lot of older bikes that would overheat in traffic and the rider would have to pull off. :shrug Just checkin'...

                        CyberPoet, thanks for the breakdown! You really cleared up a lot of things for me. I already sat on the bike and flat-footed it with no prob - I'm 6'1" tall. As for price, KBB lists a 20K model for $4350, this one's a 14K model for $4500. No great deal, but not too bad.

                        md86, just to clarify - the Ninja I ride is actually more of a sport standard than a full-on supersport. It's touted as an excellent beginner bike you can grow with (due to the sweet spot after 7K RPM). It's the fastest 500cc 4-stroke in production, as far as I know... but it's competition is the GS500 and the Buell Blast so....

                        I appreciate all the reassurance from you guys. I really would never have even thought of a Katana until the salesguy showed it to me. I came in for a ZX-6E (way overpriced), and that got sold to a couple who had arrived shortly before I did. A couple of CBRs looked much better on the Web than in person. A Honda Viffer also got sold just before I got there. And then... I saw the Katana. You know how you see a bike for the first time and you just know that's It? lol

                        Of course, I just wanted to research it first. Here's a pic of the one at the dealer. So Champagne, huh? Nice... If I buy it, it's getting a solo race cowl fer sure:
                        Attached Files


                        • #13
                          Your definatly on the right road now. Happy Riding!!!
                          BYW That is a sweet lookin Kat!!!

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                          • #14
                            I learned to ride on the younger sibling of your EX500 (the 250) around Orlando. The ninjas are much more "flickable" than the kats, and lighter, as Cyber mentioned. But I love my Kat ('03 600), and it would be a great next step IMO. Much more power and much more stable. It can do anything you would ever ask a sport-tourer to do, and sometimes more. Is there any way you can test ride it first though, just to make sure you like it? Whatever you decide, good luck! Post some picts. of your new ride when you get it.


                            • #15
                              The Kat is a good choice, dont let anyone tell you different..those are the peeps that will sit there and argue such a stupid topic as to why you should own 1 bike over another. It's all about what you want. If you want a bullet proof, fun, comfortable, fast ride. The kat is ur choice.

                              I've sat in many a 95 degree day traffic jam and Kat just keeps on ticking w/out even a complaint.