So I was after something that I could have fun on without having to get to wide open spaces and insane speeds everytime. It'll probably be asked to do a quick 500K run every couple of months, a 200K backroads blast every month and a 20K commute once or twice a week.
I had some ideas and I went a test riding, it was a half hour ride on each through the urban jungle but I managed to eke out some corners as well:
Anyway, lets rewind to the test ride. Riding position is bolt upright and even though i've always only ridden sportsbikes, I was immediately comfortable on it. As some of you might say - "The controls fell easily to hand". Fire it up and the sound is typical thumper, if a little subdued (stock exhaust). On the move, the overwhelming feeling is that of mischief. The bike demands it and being weak-willed, I gave in. Lane changing is a thought rather than an action, overtakes a breeze without requiring downshifts. The front wheel begs to pop up in first and second gears and it feels criminal to keep it on the ground for too long. It was a short run but from what I saw, the brakes were great, suspension was awesome and I could see myself grinning everytime I got on this bike.
2. 2012 Duke 690 - This is the latest version of the Duke (The 4th generation Duke)
3. 2010 Triumph Street Triple R
Looks wise, it doesn’t have the presence of the Duke, especially the older one. Once on board it feels nice, the bars are narrower than the Dukes. Setting off it feels like a tight unit and howls really nicely when revved. The suspension is nice, the brakes feel a bit soft compared to the Duke. Compared to the Duke, you actually have to think about turning and consciously use counter-steering compared to the Duke, which seemed connected directly to my brain. The bike revs very smoothly in sportsbike fashion, which is slightly uninvolving compared to the Duke, thumping away. Overall, the Street Triple just didn’t involve me in the ride like the Duke.
4. 2010 KTM SMT 990
It looks like a tourer rather than a fun bike and its tall! Im close to 6ft and I couldn’t get both feet flat on the ground. Feels bulky because of this but as you start moving, the weight disappears and by the end of the 30mins I was chucking this thing around like the Duke and lane filtering with impunity. It really is a very sorted bike, that 990 v-twin engine is very involving and addictive, I loved “surfing the massive waves of torque” on it. It would be the ideal bike to do extended trips through twisties and hwys I reckon. As an out and out fun bike, it cant compare with the Duke, the suspension is quite soft and long travel (its fully adjustable though so can probably be hardened up for a sportier ride). I wont be breaking my budget for this but I love the engine and if that was put in a more sportier package, it would be a hoot I reckon. What, they’ve already done that?