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What Bike Next? Episode 10

BikeSocial Road Tester. As one half of Front End Chatter, Britain’s longest-running biking podcast, Simon H admits in same way some people have a face for radio, he has a voice for writing.

Posted:

07.06.2024

  

Hello and welcome to What Bike Next?, the YouTube series in which BikeSocial’s Michael Mann and Simon Hargreaves try to find the ideal next used bike for a BikeSocial Member... and take them for a test ride on machines chosen from Superbike Factory’s used bike showrooms. And each week a special guest chooses a mystery bike to test ride as well – and all the choices are kept secret until the day of the test rides! And in the episode we have a very special guest in the shape of John McGuinness MBE.

Then, after all the riding is done, we find out how close BikeSocial got to identifying the perfect next bike – and remember, next time we could be finding a bike for you too!

If you’re savvy enough to be a BikeSocial Member, why not come on the show by emailing enquiries@bikesocial.co.uk with your riding and bike history, what you’re currently riding, and an idea of what bike you fancy next – and you could be chosen for a day test-riding three surprise bikes with Simon and Michael on a future episode of What Bike Next? It’s a cracking day out with free food and bike riding, so get involved.

And, meanwhile, enjoy the show!

What Bike Next? (Ep 10)

BikeSocial Member Tim wants to add a sports tourer to his garage

 

 

This week, BikeSocial Member Tim Drysdale has written in asking for help choosing his What Bike Next? Tim is a 46 year-old university professor from New Zealand, living and working Edinburgh.

“I’ve already got a Yamaha 2022 XSR900, which I bought last year after getting my licence,” says Tim. “So far I’ve had a thoroughly enjoyable 10,000 miles heading around the four nations and Ireland on it. Now I’m looking to go a bit further afield and I’m wondering if I want to keep this bike for all the fun Sunday blasts and smaller trips, but add something that looks like a sports tourer – is a sports tourer – but has a bigger seat, hard luggage and a screen.

“I’m stumped about what bike that might be, especially one that’s fun and affordable, and I’m hoping the What Bike Next boys can help me out.”

 

 

BikeSocial meets Tim at Superbike Factory, Donington Park, and gives us a bit more detail:

“I haven’t just got the XSR900 – I just got myself a ZX-6R so I’m learning to pilot that around a track which is a lot of fun.”

Sound like Tim’s building his dream garage. So what is he looking for exactly to compliment those two?

“So far I’ve only stuck pretty close to home and I kinda fancy going a bit further afield – a bit like the ride down from Edinburgh to Superbike Factory last night! The first half of the ride on my XSR900 was fun, the second half on the motorway was a bit windy and tedious. So going further afield I fancy something a little more comfortable for big distance.”

Traditionally these days that’s an adventure bike…

“No, I don’t have anything against adventure bikes but I want something with a sportier look. A fairing, basically. And I’d like it to feel fun – and I think ‘fun’ means torque and also maybe a bit of screaming… so I’m thinking four cylinders, and probably 1000cc or bigger. But, at the same time, you guys are the experts… so I’m really interested to see what kind of thoughts you have about someone with my garage might find fun.

“I don’t know if there’s anything I would absolutely hate – I mean, an adventure bike would be a no, yellow is probably a no… but a nice yellow could be a yes!

 

 

“Luggage for sure, I’d like hard luggage. I don’t know if I’ll be taking a pillion but I’m assuming most of these kinds of bikes will come with something that would make a pillion feel more comfortable than an XSR900.

“In terms of electronics, I’ve only recently got my licence so I’ve done my big bike stuff with ABS and traction control – nut my track bike doesn’t have any of that so I’ve got through that ‘Omigod I don’t have electronics to bail me out!’ and discovered it’s not the end of the world.

“Price point is about £4000 – maybe a little extra to stretch for some electronics.”

Right Tim, Simon and Michael are about to get digging!

 

Michael’s choice: Triumph 1050 Sprint GT

Triumph Tiger 1050 Sprint GT spec:

Year: 2010
Mileage: 7760
Extras: Aftermarket end can, heated grips
Price: £3985 (£15 under budget)

 

Michael says:

“Just look at what incredibly good value for money Tim has here. That lovely British-built Triumph is right up his street. It’s a model that was on his original shopping list and, with all that practicality, comfort, strong engine, low mileage, all for just under four grand. What’s not to like? The GT, which stands for Grant Tourer, followed the ST, or Sports Tourer – and used many of the same components, although the chassis had to be revised to include a longer swingarm and steel subframe as well as a lower seat.
“It should be good for 200 miles between stops and can hold up to 117 litres of whatever luggage you fancy carting around – certainly a week’s worth of clothes. And did I mention, it’s under four grand?”

 

Simon’s choice: Kawasaki 1400 GTR

 

Kawasaki 1400 GTR spec:

Year: 2009
Mileage: 29,300
Extras: Remus end can, vintage Garmin sat nav, top box, MRA flip screen
Price: £4490 (£490 over budget)

 

Simon says:

“Tim Tim Tim Tim Tim... I envy your garage space – room for your XSR900, a ZX-6R track bike... and well, I guess you need a sporty tourer to fill the rest of it. Enter Kawasaki’s 1400 GTR – a bike that can’t make up its mind it’s a sportsbike or a grand tourer, mating a 150bhp, 1352cc inline four with an aluminium monocoque frame and if that all sounds a bit ZZR1400, there’s a very good reason for that. 

“Boasting shaft drive, variable valve timing, an electric screen and keyless ignition, this is a Gen 1 GTR – a 2009 bike with 29,000 miles on it up for £4490. The Gen 2 GTR is, to be completely honest, a better bike – it comes with rudimentary traction control, refined ABS, a bigger screen and a better riding position – but this bike is already a shade over your budget and you might struggle to meet your criteria for much less and still get something decent.

“But as it stands the GTR is a stonking sports tourer – properly fast, properly comfy, what more do you want? Tim? Tim? Tim! Come back here!”

 

Mystery bike: Honda VFR1200F

As chosen by special guest, John McGuiness MBE

 

Honda VFR1200F spec:

Year: 2012
Mileage: 8281
Extras: full factory colour-coded luggage, heated grips
Price: £5891 (£1891 over budget)

 

Michael says:

“Mr McGuiness has been a Bennetts Ambassador for almost 15 years, and clearly we’ve been paying him too much as he’s gone sailing over Tim’s four grand budget with this VFR1200F, which has a price tag of £5891. This is a fine example of Hondas big sports tourer and thankfully for Tim, John has chosen the manual version, not the DCT, at the time was in its infancy and not the slicker, fancier thing it is today. This is the 2012 edition, the second version of the original launched in 2010 – and, the V4 engine puts out 170bhp. But you do need to rev it over 5000rpm to make the most of it. The bike also comes with traction control, ABS and a ride-by-wire throttle. On the downside, many owners were looking for a larger tank range than the claimed 186 miles – and a bigger fly screen too. Come on then Tim, what do you make of it?”

 

 

Verdict

Tim’s desire for a sports tourer to join his existing coterie means he can choose from a wide range of bikes – but his budget narrows the thinking down to fewer machines than you’d imagine. For a shade over four grand, Suzuki’s GSX1250FA is a good shout, as is maybe an early BMW R1200 RT, or Honda’s Pan European, or Yamaha’s FJR1300. All are good bikes in different ways – and all have different pitfalls to trap the unwary. And maybe none are quit sporty enough for Tim.

But the choices of Kawasaki’s sporty tourer, the 1400 GTR, is a good shout for the money – although if Tim’s budget could open up a little to reach the second generation GTR, that would be the one to have. Triumph’s Sprint GT is also a solid choice – plenty of people bought them, despite press reservations about their handling at the time. And Honda’s VFR1200 is a monster V4 engine in a shaftie chassis – and this one comes with heated grips, traction control and full luggage. But it’s well over Tim’s budget.

Which one will he go for? Watch the whole show to find out!

If you’re a Bike Social Member and you want us to choose your What Bike Next?, please get in touch with your contact details at enquiries@bikesocial.co.uk