Often, bikes which were never a sales success when new remain unloved as used buys, too – but that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re bad bikes.
Plenty of machines, which are more than capable motorcycles, fail to sell well for all sorts of reasons other than their dynamic abilities. Their new price might have been too high; their styling too oddball; their dealer network too few and far between or a mixture of all the above.
And all of that is great news for buyers as it can result in some potentially great used bike bargains today. Here’s our pick of 10 of the best, what you should expect to pay – and what’s good, and less good, about them…
Aprilia RST1000 Futura (2001-2003)
VFR-targeted V-twin sports-tourer was launched on the back of Aprilia’s new V-twin family (which also included the Mille sportster and, later, the SL1000 and Caponord) at the peak of the Italian firm’s world-challenging ambitions. As such, a detuned version of the Rotax-build, 998cc, 60º twin produced 113bhp and was carried in a glossy, aluminium twin beam chassis complete with single-sided swing arm, had quality components including Brembo brakes and slick part-LCD clocks and was all wrapped up in slick, sharp, angular bodywork, including a pioneering underseat exhaust, that, quite literally, looked like nothing else.
Unfortunately, although it performed and handled decently, by being softer and detuned it arguably wasn’t as sporty as its Italian heritage suggested; didn’t have the flexibility and proven durability of the Honda; its lumpy V-twin delivery somehow seemed at odds with its slick styling and it was pricey, too, all of which hit sales.
On the upside, huge depreciation makes it a potential used bargain; the quality build has proven durable and reliable and those oddball looks are now somewhat timeless as well. Starting to age, admittedly, but find a good, low miler and it’s an exclusive, usable bargain.
What to pay £2200-3000
Why’s that cheap? A comparable VFR VTEC is £3300-3700
What’s good performance, spec, comfort, quality
What’s less good oddball looks; spares/dealer back-up thin on the ground
2004-2009 Ducati Multistrada 1000DS
With the huge success of the Ducati’s succeeding, electronics and gadgets-laden 1200 Multistrada it’s easy to forget or dismiss the controversial, Pierre Terblanched styled original. But that is exactly what makes the first version something of a bargain today. Penned initially as a concept show bike based around Ducati’s then ubiquitous and usable air-cooled, 1000DS V-twin it had an adventure bike’s upright posture, comfort and practicality but with classic Ducati road sports appeal. What it also had, unfortunately (as is arguably true of more than a few of Mr Terblanche’s designs), were off-putting looks that only a mother could love, a fairly basic spec and yet also a typical Ducati price.
The result? Although a pleasing performer as an upright Ducati, Multistrada sales were never quite what they could have been, even with the addition of budget 620 and higher spec S and 1100 versions. That, plus the arrival of the high end 1200 version condemned it to the bargain bin of used Ducatis which, if you can live with its looks, makes it today a potentially great used buy. Prices are already on the rise but a 620 can still be had for under £2750 and a 1000 for around £3K. Best of the bunch, though, is an Ohlins-equipped 1100S.
What to pay: £2700-3950
Why’s that cheap? Would you really rather have a contemporary GS for £4500+
What’s good: Versatility, decent handling, name
What’s less good: Average performance, fairly basic, looks
2005-2012 Yamaha MT-01
With hindsight, some bikes simply shouldn’t have been built – but we’re so glad that they did. The wacky MT-01 is one of these. Like Suzuki’s later B-King, Honda’s DN-01 and more, the MT-01 was essentially a bonkers concept or show mock-up/prototype that somewhat inexplicably made it into production – only to then prove something of a sales disaster. Conceived as Yamaha’s response to V-twin roadsters such as the Ducati Monster, named ‘Master of Torque’ (hence MT) and based around the slow-revving push-rod V-twin from Yamaha’s Road Warrior US cruiser, the MT-01 was originally unveiled at the 1999 Tokyo Show as a concept bike. Five years later, in response, Yamaha said, to public demand, it somewhat inexplicably made it into production. And what a machine it was! Fabulously crafted and finished the MT-01 is a ‘high-end’ Yamaha in virtually every way. The massive 1670cc engine is at its heart, of course, with those large, distinctive twin exhausts ‘shotgunning’ out from under the seat. But all the cycle parts and ancillaries are top-spec if not one-off items as well, ranging from the radial, six-pot brakes, to the black-nitrided USD forks, one-off headlamps and classy LCD clocks and more. As a work of metal sculpture there are few better – or more distinctive.
Unfortunately, as a ride the MT-01 is fairly distinctive, too. With big proportions and a fairly hefty 240kg to lug around, the MT is a big, manly machine. On the other hand, with just 90bhp, a redline at 5500rpm and yet 110ftlbs of torque that means you leap forward from just 1500rpm, the MT chugs and stomps rather than drives and accelerates in the conventional way. And all of that, added to an equally hefty £12K new price and limited practicality meant sales never even got going and soon thereafter used prices fell to the floor. But if an eye-catching, hugely classy, ‘statement’ machine with a drive and thunder that beats any Harley, appeals, you can now snap one up for around £5K.
What to pay: £4750-7500
Why’s that cheap? No muscle bike comes close for that money.
What’s good: Quality, style, unique delivery
What’s less good: Not much performance, less practicality
2005-2007 BMW R1200ST
Even mighty BMW can sometimes get it wrong. On paper, 2005’s new ‘sport-touring’ variant of the German firm’s hugely popular 1200 boxer should have had a lot going for it and proved wildly successful. The then 1170cc/110bhp version of its oil-cooled, shaft-drive twin was proven and distinctive and the creation of a half-faired, semi-sportster ‘ST’ to join the roadster R1200R, sporty R1200S and adventure R1200GS seemed something of a ‘no-brainer’.
Unfortunately, the reality, though in no way a bad bike, failed to stand out against the opposition like its brethren did – at least, not for the right reasons in any case. As a sports-tourer, the ST was pitched into the same hotly-contested category as Honda’s excellent V4 VFR800V-TEC and Triumph’s impressive Sprint ST triple, both of which were more powerful, faster, sharper handling and cheaper. At the same time, there’s no getting away from the fact that the ST styling was universally reviled – no BMW has fallen so far out of the ugly tree. And all was enough, in fact, for the ST to be pulled from sale after only two years.
None of that gets away from the fact that the ST remains a classic, appealing BMW 1200 boxer which, in this sport-tourer guise, is more useful than most. As an under-appreciated model its values have depreciated more than most BM’s, too, making it both distinctive and, er, different, and, today, a comparative ‘boxer bargain’ as well.
What to pay:
Why’s that cheap?
Less than a GS and arguably more ‘real world’
Classic boxer appeal in a truly versatile package
What’s less good:
Looks only Stevie Wonder wouldn’t fault.
2012-on Honda VFR1200F
Simply put: the big Honda V4 sports-tourer is, unquestionably, one of the most potent and best ‘hyperbikes’ ever built. It’s also unquestionably one of the biggest disappointments of recent years so much so that, particularly shockingly for a Honda, its residual values have fallen off a cliff. With a new price today of around £13K you may be shocked to learn that you can already buy excellent used examples for under £4500. And if that doesn’t make the VFR some kind of used bike bargain, we don’t know what does…
The main reason for that is the VFR was a victim of its own hype. Launched all-new in 2010 after an extensive, drip-fed ‘tease’ PR campaign the actual bike was fairly impressive: the all-new 1200cc, 160bhp shaft-drive V4 is brilliant while the chassis, if a little heavy, is certainly adequate. Unfortunately for Honda, though, what the VFR 12 isn’t is as revolutionary as its own hype proclaimed. Honda chose not to equip it with the by then standard electronic rider aids of its rivals (power modes, traction control etc); the dash is a little old school, the fuel tank of the early versions is too small; the styling is not universally liked and it was expensive. And all of that, despite the VFR being a decent motorcycle with a great powertrain, isn’t enough when rivals like BMW’s K1300S and Kawasaki’s GTR1400, offered so much more. (Yes, we could talk about the VFR’s impressive ‘DCT’ semi-automatic gearbox here, but as an option we’ll save it for another time.)
The result was a sales disappointment that’s knocked even more heavily onto used prices. But being able to get, for just five big ones, a truly potent sports-tourer that’s slathered with Honda quality and reliability, is something of a steal.
What to pay: £4500-7500
Why’s that cheap? Any GTR of the same age will; cost £6500+ – and this is a HONDA.
What’s good: Fabulous V4 delivery, quality Honda build.
What’s less good: Basic spec, small tank, oddball looks.
2003-2006 Ducati 999
Ducati’s iconic 916 was always going to be a virtually impossible act to follow as the 999, in all its forms, proves. But the silver lining in all of that is that the succeeding, Pierre Terblanche (yes, him again) designed machine, partly due to its lesser appeal, remains an unloved bargain. In short: there’s no better Ducati superbike steal.
Launched in 2003 after virtually a decade of 916/996/998 dominance, the 999 had a tough act to live up to. Obviously, it never quite did. In truth, though, that was more down to its questionable styling than any lack of ability. In virtually every measurable way the 999 in all its guises (S, R, Dark and even 749) was a faster, better handling, more advanced machine. Numerous British and World Superbike titles don’t lie, after all. Instead, the trouble was the 999 also lacked the good-looking allure of the 916, a more extreme riding position and annoying detailing (eg poor mirrors). On track, of course, none of that matters – it’s still a sublime sports machine. But on face value and on the road it never caught on in the same way, which is why it was so quickly replaced in turn by the more conventional 1098 and why 999 used values, have never been as great. Find the right one today, however, ideally one of the higher spec S or R versions, and you’ve got a classic, Italian thoroughbred at (almost) Japanese money…
What to pay:
£5000+ for a stocker, £9K+ for an S or R
Why’s that cheap?
You won’t get a 996 under £6K – and it’s not as fast.
Track ability, distinctiveness, Italian-ness.
What’s less good
: Yup, oddball looks, extreme experience…
2010-2015 Yamaha FZ8
Another classic example of when a major manufacturer got a bike so right – and yet also, fatally, got it so wrong as well.
The FZ8 was the long-mooted, middleweight sibling to Yamaha’s R1-based FZ1 super naked (as introduced in 2006) and also was meant to be a stepping stone up, as well, from it XJ6/Diversion novice-friendly, middleweight four (introduced in 2004). Essentially it was a sleeved-down FZ1 with a slightly more basic spec but the end result, on paper at least, had a lot going for it: 106 free-revving, less-intimidating bhp that was competitive with the likes of Kawasaki’s Z750, great looks and, in theory, a decent chassis and price. The reality, initially at least, was somewhat less so. It’s launched was delayed and delayed until, by 2010 the competition had moved on. When it finally did arrive it was blighted slightly by oversoft forks and, worst of all, due partly to currency fluctuations, it was priced at nearly £8000 – significantly more than the Kawasaki and Triumph’s brilliant Street Triple. No wonder, then, that the Yamaha failed to catch on.
As a used buy, however, it’s a different story. Residuals on early examples were unsurprisingly poor, new prices were cut in 2012 while in 2013 the FZ8 was updated with improved suspension, a new exhaust and more making it, finally, a truly decent middleweight. Find one of these at depressed used prices and it makes even the bargain MT09 look pricey.
What to pay:
Why’s that cheap?
We’ve seen sorted, low mileage 2013s for just over £4K – that’s a snip.
Performance, looks, all round ability.
What’s less good:
Tarnished reputation, slightly basic spec.
2009-2015 Suzuki SFV650 Gladius
Another bike that’s cruelly maligned. The oddly named Gladius was launched in 2009 as an improved version of Suzuki’s already brilliant SV650 roadster V-twin. The revised engine was 10% more efficient with uprated fuel injection, there was a new, more attractive frame, styling was improved too, as was the overall level of fit and finish. Unquestionably, the Gladius is a better bike all round than the SV, with all the fun and easy versatility of the SV but with a touch more style and class. On the downside, the name is, well, a bit weird, Suzuki were up to some kind of marketing ploy which left the Gladius labeled somehow as a ‘girlie bike’ (one of the original colourschemes was white and pink after all), which didn’t help sales, plus is was more expensive as well – never a good thing for a machine which sets its stall out as a budget machine.
As a used buy, though, it’s got everything going for it. More durable and attractive than an SV, the Gladius wears better than the SV, its performance is better and yet used values are little different. Find a good, low mileage one for, say, £3500 (we easily spotted a tidy 2014 4K-miler for just that) and you’ll literally be laughing all the way to the bank.
What to pay:
Why’s that cheap?
We simply can’t think of anything better at that price.
Looks, performance, handling.
What’s less good:
‘Girlie’ image, lack of faired option.
2003-2005 R1150R Rockster
It’s easy to forget in these days of BMW’s uber-cool R nineT retro roadster plus all its spin-offs – bikes like the just-launched R nineT Racer or the R nineT Scrambler – that, once upon a time, the German company’s ‘style’ or ‘heritage’ machines were about as cool as a pair of David Hasselhoff’s flares.
Remember 2001’s F650CS ‘Scarver’, for example? Or 1985’s retro R100R Classic? Well, 2003’s R1150R ‘Rockster’ was, surely, the most oddball of the lot. No wonder it didn’t catch on…
In truth, however, there was a decent bike underneath. The base, roadster versions of BM’s boxer twins have always been honest, effective and likeable, if not downright sexy, which is probably why the Rockster was effectively a ‘sexed up’ version of the then R1150R. As such it had different, asymmetrical headlights (from the GS), R1100S cycle parts and a garish paintjob that seemed inspired by a humbug factory. It went OK, of course – there was nothing wrong with the base R1150R, after all, although it hardly set the world on fire. But that styling, well, ewwwww.
Somehow, nearly 15 years on it doesn’t look as bad and, if it appeals to you (or you can at least stomach it), and you can find a Rockster (unsurprisingly there aren’t that many about), you can nab a more interesting-looking version of a solid BM for, almost, silly money.
What to pay: £2995-3200
Why’s that cheap? Do you have to ask?
What’s good: R1150R mechanicals, versatility, BMW badge
What’s less good: Styling, paintjob, er…
2002-2007 Yamaha BT1100 Bulldog
Another ‘cruiser-roadster’ hybrid inspired by the likes of Ducati’s Monster V-twins and one that, similar to the MT-01, wasn’t really any kind of success. You’d think Yamaha would have learnt their lesson from its original 1981 TR1, ho hum…
Yamaha’s intentions were reasonable enough. Conceived by its Italian arm, the Bulldog was intended as a lazy V-twin roadster in the mould of the aforesaid Monster, not to mention bikes like Moto Guzzi’s Breva. As such it ticked all the boxes: an air-cooled, SOHC V-twin (sourced from the 1100 Virago cruiser), a roadster-style chassis complete with monoshock rear suspension and R1-style twin front brakes and reasonable enough styling. And if Guzzi had come up with it we probably wouldn’t have been disappointed. Trouble was, YAMAHA came up with, with all the performance expectations that went with that, and, when the Bulldog was seen to produce just 64bhp, severely lacked ground clearance and its detailing was poor, it was rightfully criticized by the mainstream press.
The result like before, of course, is that today’s resale values are low and demand is low. On the other hand, it’s also got a small, devoted following. So, if your bag is a Yamaha-built Guzzi, with everything that implies, the Bulldog is still something of a snip.
What to pay: £1700-3500
Why’s that cheap? A comparable Guzzi is twice the price
What’s good: Adequate performance, individuality
What’s less good: Lack or ground clearance (and performance)