Since you are on a Vstrom forum you must expect most of us recommending you the Vstrom. With wich I would agree. Especially if you want to pay less than 8000$.
Money is an issue and despite my lack of interest in Japanese bikes, the Strom really speaks to me. More than pretty much any other bike minus the Tiger 800 or F650/800 if each of the three bikes are luggaged up. I see I can easily get a used Strom for half my budget. Insane.
Looking at your list I thought I should add my 2 cents. I would put V Strom, Tiger 800, BMW F800GS / ST. These are light and very good on fuel, especially the F800ST (@65mpg). Probably stay away from litre+ bikes if you're looking for lightweight.
Holy cow, 65mpg? I think the F800ST just moved to the top of my list. It's not all about MPG but this bike will be largely a commuter. I've heard that BMWs are not all that reliable and often cost a pretty penny when they do go in for repairs. Is that true? WDo you have any opinion on the F650? Do they make that in ST?
Kentucky is the perfect state for a V-Strom.....PERFECT I tell ya!!!!
Finally a good use for Kentucky. When I got orders to be stationed here I was mad like "What is there even to do on Kentucky?" I have yet to find good riding but I do appreciate the close proximity of Louisville.
I have a 1050 Tiger and a 650 Strom. You own a Triumph so you know some about them. This is what i see as the differences you might want to be aware of.
Power, about 111hp compares to mid 60s for Strom
Brakes, 1050 has much better brakes. Strom is adequate, no better.
Suspension, 1050 is better although not what it could be. You have more to work with at least.
A bit more comfortable riding position for me, but I'm at 6'.
It comes in at 509 lbs wet if memory serves, reasonable weight.
It has that beautiful, screaming three cylinder motor.
fuel mileage, I see around low 40s out of mine on trips. Strom will get in the 50s and ends up having more range.
Whoever designed the upswept tail should be hung. Makes the bike hard to mount, not sure what it would be like for a passenger.
Bags are goofy, espeically the right with its big cut out for the muffler. They are however, better made than the Suzuki bags I got with my 2011 which are flimsy and cheaply done.
The 1050 headlight is apalling, borderline dangerous really. Plan on HID kit, adding led driving lights or something similar.
You'll want to do something about the seat, but I think that about almost all bikes.
The gearbox is a bit notchy.
Of the two I would rather have the 1050 for what you are doing. I think you would miss the power, especially two up. Also the brakes and suspension simply aren't as good on the Strom.
If its important, and for touring it would be to me, both bikes have marginal electrical output for accessories like heated gear. For just the rider probably fine, for two, I would wonder.
For what you are doing I personally would broaden my search to a used, clean FJR1300 or 2008 and newer Concours. I have the Connie and I think it fits in more with what you are planning to do, although 'light' is not part of their deal.
Thanks for the detailed analysis on the 1050. How would you say the suspension is better? Does it make for an all around smoother ride or something? I just cant imagine what a "better" suspension would feel like besides "smoother". For me the power of the bike is something I am willing to sacrifice, but don't get me wrong it would still be nice to have. I am getting this bike with the idea in my head it's for commuting and touring, not necessarily ripping it up fun. I'll keep the Speed Triple for that. I take what you say about me enjoying the 1050 better due to the power, but regarding 2up I really am concerned. I've asked on here before and people seem to agree the 650 is fine 2up up to about 70-80mph on the highway. I don't plan on highway riding that is so boring to me and dangerous. Then again, for all I know I may end up with a Vee instead of a Wee. You recommend the FJR and Concourse, but what about the Sprint ST? The FJR and Concourse seem much, much more touring and luxury oriented. Honda makes one too maybe I should look into. Does Suzuki? My first sport bike was a Katana.
Thank you everyone