I'm still torn between the K5 and another 10, but now I have a better idea of the differences. I went to a local dealership today to compare the 10R side by side with the Gixx. We have this one dealer here that is great for bike shopping/comparing because they sell Suzuki, Yamaha, and Kawasaki under the same roof. Best part is that they price their shit so high, they ALWAYS have a good inventory. It's gotta be rare that they run across someone stupid enough not to shop prices and at least beat this place even if it's still not a smokin' deal at the other place.
Anyway, they had two black K5 Gixxers in stock and three '05 10's... Green, Ti, and Magma. The sales guy was great. Very helpful. Without being asked, he instantly stepped to the front of the bike and grabbed ahold of it to steady it and said, "Get your feet up on the pegs and see how it feels.". This floored me because the sales staff at this place have always been assholes unless you're looking at the huge cruisers. Seems they don't care about selling sport bikes. Anyway...
With him steadying the Gixx I got into riding position. First impressions... The Gixxer has a bit more"sittin' in the bike instead of on top of it" feel than I remembered Diablo having. I guess I got used to the "in the bike" feeling of the busa I started out on so I prefer that if it's available. That was one thing I liked about the 10R compared to the R1 I was considering when I got the 10. The R1 and Honda definitely had a "sittin' on top" feel to me. Besides sitting lower in the bike, the Gixx's seat height (ground to seat) seemed quite a bit lower than Diablo's. I could easily flat foot the Gixx even when maneuvering it around on the showroom floor. This isn't critical to me in choosing a bike, just an observation/comparison thing...
I could also tell that, as I read in the reviews, the Gixx's hand controls are closer to the seat. Not like the difference between a sport bike and a touring bike, but I definitely felt like I was leaning forward less on the Gixx than I had on Diablo in riding position. The foot controls seemed to be located pretty close to where I remembered Diablo's being in relation to the seat. In other words "leg room" basically felt the same as I remembered with the 10. Overall I really liked the feel of the Gixx just sitting on it in rider position.
Once that was out of the way I took control of the bike back from him and flicked the bike side to side pretty far over to get a feel for it's weight and balance. The top heaviness (relative to the 10R) I had percieved from the one at the bike show wasn't there. The one at the dealer felt pretty well balanced and neutral in this respect. Don't know why one K5 would feel different from another. Maybe I just misread the feel at the bike show. Maybe it was full of gas and this one wasn't. I don't know.The Gixx I checked out today felt well balanced.
Next I held the front brake and rocked the bike front to back a few times putting as much of my bodyweight as I could on the bike and still steady it with my feet to check the suspension/spring stiffness. The Gixx's suspension stiffness fell somewhere between the 6R (too soft) and the 10R (firm, but wasn't too firm for my weight). I'd say if you could divide the difference between the 636 and the 10R in thirds, the Gixx would fall toward the firmer third between them. Definitely softer than the 10, but not overly soft.
Without a test ride that's about the only ways I know of to try and get a feel for a bike. Just based on those evaluations the Gixx felt pretty good. I wasn't done yet though. Not with a 10R in the same room. Even though I "know" how my 10R felt and rode I would have been stupid not to do the same evaluations on it back to back while I had the opportunity.
So I throw a leg over the Magma 10. When my ass hit the seat it was like getting a hug from an old girlfriend. Realized at that moment how much I really missed Diablo after riding the 636. I just wanted to fire that bitch up and head out for a while. But I couldn't, so back to the evals.
With sales guy steadying the 10 I got into riding position. Just as I remembered it. I won't go into the detail I went into with the Gixx because, well, most of you know... I'll just give a quick comparison for those who haven't experienced both bikes.
First thing that was obvious was the seat height (ground to seat). As I remembered with Diablo, I had sure footing, but was on the balls of my feet, nowhere close to flat footing it. Also, just as I recalled with Diablo, the 10R had a bit less "in the bike" feel. Still worlds better than the R1 and Honda for me, but not as "deep" as the Gixx.
Next thing that was obvious was the stiffness of the 10's suspension compared to the Gixx. Just climbing on and putting my ass on the seat it was obvious that the 10's suspension is a fair amount stiffer than the Gixx and WAY stiffer than the 636. In fact the 10R is the only sport bike that seems like it's sprung almost to the point of being just below too stiff even for my fat ass. It was never too stiff for me under any circumstances and I had no complaints, but I can't imagine it not being too stiff for someone who weighs closer to Kawi's "average" 150 lbs. If it were any stiffer than it is I'd probably feel that it was too stiff for my fat ass.
With me back in control of the 10 I flicked it side to side as I had just done with the Gixx. We all know how well balanced the 10R feels. No need to expand on that. Held the front brake and rocked it back and forth as well. The 10's suspension again showed it's stiffness compared to the Gixx (and 636). Again, not complaining, just compairing.
On another note it was obvious that the first thing I'd have to do to EITHER bike would be Galfer front lines. After having such a great lever on the 636 since installing the Galfer lines, the stock lever felt like pure mush on both of them. That will be a must have mod on any sport bike I own from now on!
After evaluating both bikes back to back in the above described manner two times and sitting on them both back to back SEVERAL times over about an hour and half I'm still just as torn as I was before going in. Well, to be honest I'm a bit more confident now that the Gixxer is doable, but it wasn't really enough to convince me to take the gamble.
Less important, but still a consideration was aesthetics. The Gixx has really grown on me and I think it's a great looking bike, but we all know that the 10 is just bad ass in the looks department. After eyeballing and finger fuggin' both bikes for the hour and a half I spent lookin' I've gotta say that the 10R front edges out the Gixx with me, but the Gixx's tail and exhaust (yep, it's grown on me THAT much) takes the win. From a side view they're pretty much equally sexy to me, other than the fact I HATE Kawi's stock can. Now, who'd have ever thought ANYONE would like the Gixx can better than the old design Kawi can? Since the 10's suspension worked for me before and I doubt I'd want to upgrade it on a new one a slip-on would probably be my first mod, after Galfer lines of course. With the Gixxer I'd look closer at suspension mods (only if I thought it needed them after riding it some) and leave the stock exhaust alone for a while.
So, I'm still stuck in the middle between choosing between these two bikes. On a positive note the dealer said that they could possibly work a test ride into the deal. They said that we could do the paperwork and seal the deal and they would give me like 8 miles on the odo to back out of it and buy the 10R (from them) instead. The minus side to that is this... I had them work up their best out the door prices on both the 10 and the Gixx. Here's where they went into outer fuggin' space on me, which I fully expected at that dealer. Get this... $12,100 for the Gixxer and 11,140 for the 10... After that I gave both bikes one more sitting, checked out a new busa in the same manner (except for having him steady it) and thanked him for his time. I liked the sales guy and I hate that I won't be able to give him my business, but those prices are just friggin' crazy!
Anyway, unless a better test ride opportunity comes up it looks like I'll just have to decide based on the evals I done today... God help me...