Funny how these "old, outdated, underpowered " bikes beat the competition of bikes costing thousands more? Could it be some true motorcyclist actually know what a bike should be without all the electronic garnish that's on some of the other models to try to make you think you're really getting something fantastic. Kinda like traction control, retard the FI (cut the power down) so you can ride it. "Maintenance-free" shaft drive, doesn't require lube like a chain, but every 10k or so you should take apart to lube the splines, more so if you ride in the dirt. Tire pressure sensors, I had two flats on cars/trucks , from different manufacturers, with TPS and neither went off? Sometimes "simple" is really better! Cheers--BB
I totally agree that some mistakenly claim and believe that a 650cc engine is underpowered for touring with passenger and gear. They are wrong. I've ridden an '08 R1200GS and an '06 V-Strom 650. The GS is undeniably more powerful, but that doesn't mean that the 650 Strom is underpowered. If you understand and accept that you may have to downshift more with the Strom and that it's easier to go faster with the GS, there's no reason you can't tour in style and comfort owning a V-Strom for a lot less money. Plus, if riding off-road is realistically on your riding horizon, you will fare a lot better with a bike that weighs close to 60 pounds less (in stock form without bags) than the 1200GS. There ARE ways to temporarily disable the Strom's ABS, just don't ask Suzuki how to do it.
As far as traction control, ABS, tire pressure monitors and other safety features offered on various motorcycle models, they are all useful in certain situations, but it's misleading to say that they are essential to riding safely or enjoyably. I have greater trust in my abilities to stop a motorcycle rapidly during the day with inflated tires having sufficient tread on a dry clean road than on bald, deflating tires in the rain traveling offroad at night. I've never had my tire pressure monitors on my motorcycle fail to show me that my pressure is lowering (albeit slowly) and that I need to patch the leak BEFORE it becomes too late. My understanding is that new cars are mandated to have pressure monitors in stock form. If a four-wheeled vehicle could use them, wouldn't it be more important on a two-wheeled motorcycle that is by comparison, "walking the tight rope"?
Regarding chain versus shaft-drive, both have their proper application and offer various benefits and downsides. Neither is superior in all usage nor is absolutely necessary.