The search for a new motorcycle. Fuck I love the hunt more than the prize I think. Just the process is fascinating. You start with as wide a canvas as possible and then start narrowing it down. You do endless research on the net. Reference and cross-reference 20 reviews on the same bike trying to needle out a pattern, an imperfection coz really that’s all you’re gonna find in a modern motorcycle, an imperfection. There are no obviously bad motorcycles anymore. Its just slight annoyances that you could do without. Like the 10 extra kilos that an R1 carries over a Fireblade.
You have endless debates with your mates about the merits of one over another. You come to blows even sticking up for the mythical “character” of Italian bikes vs. the solid performance of the japs but it’s all part of the hunt.
And then you narrow it down to 5 or 6 bikes that you just can’t separate out by reading. You must ride them, all of them because that is the true test of it. Where the rubber hits the road, the wheat is separated from the chaff and the king from the pretenders.
So I hit the test ride circuit recently and this is what I rode.
1. BMW S1000RR (2010)
Everything they rave about this motorcycle is justified. It is just phenomenally good. You get on it and it feels light and nimble and this only gets better as it rolls. The engine has a very unique sound from the cockpit. I’ve heard them go past and they don’t sound anything really special to a spectator but you get on one and twist that throttle and it sounds like a jet fighter plane cranking up, it’s insane! It didn’t even have a pipe on and I didn’t mind that at all. You’d put a pipe on it to please other people or to admire it while you’re not actually riding it.
Anyway, you roll along and the whole package feels taut and sharp. It handles great, just hooks into corners really easily and stays there. The brakes are just incredible. I always use 2 finger stops but even that may be too much for normal riding around town for this bike. The engine just revs and revs and at around 10K shit starts to get very real very fast. You really want to be out in the countryside to open the taps and brace yourself for the resulting propulsion. Unbelievable.
And I don’t really give a shit about electronics, not a big fan of them anyway. Didn’t play around with them but I’d get into it if I bought one I guess. But just the fundamentals of this bike, engine, braking and suspension are superior to anything I’ve ever ridden. It truly is the king.
2. Honda CBR1000RR (2009)
The dealer had it warming up as I came in on the beemer. Jumped straight on and off the bat it felt heavier. Not overly but noticeably. Take off and did the exact same circuit for the test run and the difference was apparent. The engine is phenomenally good, the midrange punch is fantastic and it definitely felt quicker than the beemer at street RPMs. It turned well and braked well too. The Honda was quite like the Beemer in overall feel, just less. Less taut, less confidence inspiring, less precise, less engaging.
Overall I was left a bit underwhelmed, which I was disappointed about because now I couldn’t talk myself into buying this over the beemer and still pretend like I got an equally good motorcycle for 5 grand less. I had thought that the difference between the 2 would be apparent only the highest level of riding and since I’m not a racer, just an average punter, will I really be able to make out the difference. The answer is Yes. Even average punters will make out the difference in the ride quality, the beemer is just better, everywhere except midrange engine power.
3. Suzuki GSX-R750 (2010)
I was hoping it would be the GSX-R 750 so I jumped on one. OK, all they say about this one is true too. It does handle incredibly well. I’ve never actually ridden a 600 supersport so I can’t confirm what all the journos say “handles like a 600, powers like a 1000” but fuck it handles great. You can chuck it into corners at the last minute. I was really revving the shit out of it and getting carried away with lane changing when a guy riding a K1600GT in a t-shirt went past me flapping his arms about. I thought he was trying to tell me I looked fully sick so I gave him the thumbs up but he didn’t look too impressed. I then pulled alongside him and he started screaming at me. The only words I got were “…..Cop…..fucken…” but I decided not to pursue the matter. He was probably one of those few “good” cops we keep hearing about. He didn’t pull me over or anything, just wanted me to slow down. To be honest, I WAS riding like a muthafucka! But that’s what the gsxr makes you do. It is ridiculously easy to throw around and revs so high so quickly that that’s the only way you want to ride it. It doesn’t have the mid-range of a 1000cc so no, it does NOT power like a 1000cc but you just rev it more I guess, it spins up pretty quick…
I liked it! It seemed a bit more uncomfortable than the Beemer and Honda but I’m young, I can handle it.
4. Honda CBR1000RR Repsol SE (2009)
Naah, I don’t think I could live satisfactorily with it. You must understand that nowadays I ride only once in 2 or 3 weeks, except the odd evening blast to clear my head. I do not commute on it but everytime I get on it, I want an exciting experience. I just don’t think the Honda can give that to me unless I’m riding at the limits of my own abilities and giving myself the wrong kind of excitement. But I can’t put my finger on what’s missing, it’s such a fucken cliché with Honda and I went in with an open mind about it but I can only say what I feel. And this is how I feel.
5. Yamaha YZF-R1 (2010)
I wonder if this can be fixed via suspension mods, raising the rear height etc…I don’t know but ic ant take a punt on it as it stands. I really wanted the Honda and R1 to do what I want them to do but sadly, neither of them did.
I said to the agent, I want the handling of the Honda with the engine of the R1. He calmly walked me over to this....
5. Aprilia RSV4R (2011)
So at the moment I’m thinking – spend 16K on a used BMW or an Aprilia. I would probably pick the beemer over the Aprilia but might give both another ride before deciding.
Go budget and pick up a near new GSX-R 750 for 10K. I’m convinced this is the best grins + performance Jap Inline 4 for what I need.
This is what happened next