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What Bike Next? Episode 3

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.



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Welcome to Episode three of What Bike Next? with BikeSocial’s Michael Mann and Simon Hargreaves. We help a bike-buying BikeSocial Member find their ideal next machine, choosing three bikes we think will hit the spot.

Courtesy of the UK’s biggest used bike dealer, Superbike Factory, we spend a day test-riding the three bikes to find out which one our potential buyer prefers.

And the catch is we keep them a secret until the day of the test rides.

And at the end the day, we find out how close we got to choosing the right bike – or whether we missed the target completely.

Don’t forget – in the next episode, it could be you, so long as you’re a BikeSocial member!

Apply by emailing your riding and bike history, what you’re currently on, and some idea of what bike you fancy next – and you could be chosen for a day test-riding three surprise bikes on What Bike Next?

Meanwhile, enjoy the show!


What Bike Next? Episode 3

43-years-old and 6ft 2”, Gareth Reed is after a new bike but what will Michael and Simon recommend, and will Gareth enjoy riding them?


Today it’s the turn of Bennetts customer and BikeSocial Member Gareth Reed, who wants help choosing his next bike. Gareth, 43, says:
“Dear What Bike Next? I fancy a change of bike ­– after doing one or two track days I realised I’m really enjoying it. My last track day was with Bennetts BikeSocial at Brands Hatch (which blew my mind how good value it was!).

“I’ve been riding a 2016 Suzuki SV650 but want something a bit more track oriented – but it has to be a road too as can’t justify owning two bikes. After selling my SV I have £5500, so not a huge budget!

“If you could help me choose something, that would be amazing. Anyway keep up the videos and it’s genuinely nice to see Bennett’s and BikeSocial giving out free info and cheap trackdays to members.”



A bit of Gareth’s biking background: he’s 42 and lives in South Wales with his young family. Aircraft engineer Gareth has been into bikes since he was a boy and rode dirt bikes from the age of 10. He’s previously owned a Bandit 600 and a GSX-R600 SRAD, but he’s also had a lifelong passion for rallying.

During lockdown he started riding his brother’s Kawasaki GT550 – but when lockdown lifted a change of shifts meant he had to give up the rally driving, so he bought an SV650 to have a few hours of fun at the weekend, plus the odd trip away – he spent six days camping at the TT.

Last year he got into track days, doing a few sessions at Llandow in South Wales, plus a day with Bennetts BikeSocial at Brands Hatch – and he’s already moving up from the novice group to the intermediates.

Gareth has already sold the SV, and has £5500 to spend on his next bike. He’s looking for something he can enjoy at the weekend on the road, but is more track-focussed than the SV650. Apart from that, he’s pretty open: he’s not fussed about rider aids (“I’m a basic person; I have electric windows on my transit, that’s all I need”), a fairing isn’t a deal-breaker... and he doesn’t like green!



So Gareth has thrown down the challenge. What bikes will Simon, Michael, and Bailey, Superbike Factory’s sales expert, come up with?



Michael’s choice: 2016 Triumph Speed Triple 94

“I’m sticking my neck out a bit with my choice, and steered away from a pure sportsbike. I’ve chosen a Triumph Speed Triple – a 2016 special edition called the 94, to commemorate the original Speed Triple from 1994. This example comes with an aftermarket exhaust, taller fly screen, Union Jack belly pan, heated grips, aftermarket brake and clutch levers, and R&G crash bungs, engine sliders and axle bungs.

“This bike has done 18,500 miles and is slightly over Gareth’s £5500 budget, at £6100 – but I reckon the Triumph’s combination of big-bike appeal and riding position will suit Gareth’s frame, and I think he’ll love its prodigious 135bhp and smooth low down grunt – plus the Speed Triple makes a cracking ride on track.”

Gareth’s reaction

“Okay... plenty of power, nearly twice what I’m used to. And I’ll have those heated grips on today please! I’m really excited to try it; I’ve never ridden one of these before. Always fancied them and watched lots of videos on YouTube.”



“This thing, for me, is engine – it’s like a big single – so much instant grunt. Love the noise – as soon as you ease off it’s popping and banging... which put a massive smile on my face.  The brakes are really sharp – confidence inspiring.

“Because it’s an upright bike like my SV650, I gelled with it; quite comfortable straight away. There is quite a lot of wind buffeting for my height, compared to bikes I’ve ridden in the past. But I really enjoyed it.

“On track, for lower speed riding in tight and twisty stuff it would be beneficial, but maybe for the higher speeds, not crouched behind a fairing or with your knee out, it might lack a little bit.”



Simon’s choice: 2009 Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade

“I’ve gone for the ultimate – Gareth says he’s into sportsbikes and he wants more track time... and they don’t get much sportier that Honda’s 2008-2009 CBR1000RR Fireblade. This is a 2009 bike with around 19,000 miles on it, making a claimed 175bhp (closer to 166bhp on the dyno). It’s light, agile and explosively powerful – and it’s one of the last litre sportsbikes to come without traction control or ABS. It’ll be a bit of shock after Gareth’s SV650, but I’m hoping the Blade’s poise and power will blow his mind.

“This bike comes with an aftermarket exhaust – which is pretty loud –  but apart from R&G crash bungs and rear axle bobbins, a tail tidy, braided lines, shorty levers and rim tape, it’s pretty standard.”

Gareth’s reaction

“Oh wow. Omigod, okay... looks a bit of a beast to be honest! I’m excited to try it, but a bit nervous. It’s only got about 100bhp more than my SV650 had.”



“It’s like a racebike, it’s absolutely bonkers on the road. Very loud exhaust! I liked being out of the wind – this bike has a double bubble screen. The first time I opened the taps I nearly fell off the back – the seat is highly polished; very slippery. You have to hold on – and you have to hold on a lot. I wasn’t so keen on the brakes levers – I don’t like the shorty levers. I’d also have to change the exhaust because I don’t like it so loud and attracting too much of the wrong attention.

“It put a big smile on my face but I was constantly worried because it’s so fast. But a good experience. I think maybe it’s a little bit too much power, for me!”



Superbike Factory Sales Exec Bailey’s choice: 2007 Suzuki GSX-R750

Bailey says: “Gareth’s looking for something to have a bit of fun on the track and a bit of a blast at the weekends. He’s moved into the intermediate group on track days so I’m thinking of something a little bit more powerful than the SV650.

“The bike I’m looking at is a nice inline four sportsbike, fully adjustable suspension so Gareth can dial it in on track, have some fun, and make it his own and ride it how he wants to. But it’s also something he can take out on the weekend and it’s not going to be too daunting. But it has got a nice bit of power there when he needs it.

“My choice is a 148bhp 2007 Suzuki GSX-R750 K7. It’s £4987 and has done 18,500 miles.”

Gareth’s reaction

“Okay! It’s not green! I’m looking forward to riding it! I like the blue, it looks nice.”



“I really like this. The controls remind me of the SV650, and I feel quite comfortable on it. It’s not as fiery as the Fireblade at the bottom end. I didn’t really notice much difference between the riding positions with the Honda, but I felt comfortable on this. That little bit less bottom end is actually a little bit less frightening. I like the way it turns in, and it’s less aggressive so it’s a bit smoother. I really enjoyed it.”



Spec comparison


Triumph Speed Triple 94

Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade

Suzuki GSX-R750 K7






18,500 miles

19,000 miles

18,500 miles






Bennetts insurance






1050cc inline triple

1000cc inline four

749cc inline four







80 lb.ft@8500rpm


Seat Height




Kerb weight




Tank size

17.5 litres

17.7 litres

16.5 litres


Rider modes, traction control, ABS






Which bike would you choose for Gareth? One of the above, or something completely different? Did we make the right choice? And does Gareth? Let us know in the comments below. And which one do you think he goes for?

Don’t forget, if you’re a BikeSocial Member and you want us to choose your What Bike Next?, get in touch with your contact details at


*With huge thanks to Pirelli for supporting this episode.