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What Bike Next? Episode 4

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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Hello and welcome to Episode Four of What Bike Next? in which BikeSocial’s Michael Mann and Simon Hargreaves help a BikeSocial Member find their perfect next bike – literally, What Bike Next?

Michael, Simon and a sales expert from Superbike Factory, the UK’s largest used bike dealer, each choose a bike we think will tick all the boxes for our Bike Social Member – and then we spend a day test-riding the bikes to find out which our potential buyer prefers.

But 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.

And of course in the next episode, it could be YOU – so long as you’re a BikeSocial member!

Apply to take part by emailing with 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 4)

BikeSocial member, Marc, a civil servant from Blackpool, is after a winter hack but can Michael and Simon find him something for his £3k budget?


Today it’s the turn of Bennetts customer and BikeSocial Member Marc Broome, who needs some guidance in choosing his next bike. Marc, 43, says:
“Dear What Bike Next? I’m enjoying watching your series on YouTube and think it could really help me. I have a 2006 Fireblade but am looking for a second bike for commuting and riding in winter.

“My budget is £2-£3k and I keep toying with options like Honda’s 600 or 900 Hornet, a VFR800, Suzuki’s SV650 etc.

“It needs to be sporty enough for weekends but practical for a commute (ie it won’t look daft with a topbox). It’d be great to have your help as a) I can’t decide and b) I might be missing options.”

Choosing a winter bike is an idea a lot of us like to think about – if nothing else, it’s a good excuse to have two bikes in the garage instead of one. But there’s the age-old problem with winter bikes – find something you actually like and want to ride, and you’ll naturally try and find the best example you can. And then you’ll find you enjoy it so much, and look after it, you won’t actually want to ride it in winter!

To help work out these problems, as well as give Marc three bikes to choose from, BikeSocial’s Michael and Simon have invited Marc along to the outstanding Superbike Factory at Donington Park, where the café is always warm and cosy, and the range of bikes and kit for sale is genuinely eye-opening.



Civil servant Marc lives near Blackpool and had been riding bikes for 15 years, starting when he was 16 and riding until he was 21 – then life got in the way for a while. But ten years ago he started riding again, and now he’s got a 2006 Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade in the garage:

“I’ve had it about four years now, and absolutely love it. I’ve changed a few things and got the bike just how I want it. I’m primarily a weekend rider, on the sporting side. I’ve been to the Isle of Man and am booked to go again this year. I occasionally use it for commuting as well – go into the office a couple of days a week. I have a car as an option but if the weather’s nice I use the bike. Not so much touring, just shorter fun rides.”

Marc sounds pretty satisfied with his Blade, so is he looking to replace it?

“No, the Fireblade is definitely staying. It’s a keeper. But I’d like to ride all year round, and the problem is I enjoy the riding, but you can spend an hour riding and then three hours cleaning afterwards. So that puts me off a little bit – I want to go for a ride, but I don’t want all the aggravation when I get back of trying to keep the bike immaculate.

“So really what I’m looking for is a second bike that I’m less precious about – happy to go out in any weather and not worry too much about keeping it immaculate.

So Marc is looking for a winter hack?

“It’s a strange one – I want to love the bike, but not love the bike, if that makes sense? I want to love riding it, but not to the point where I don’t want to ride it.”

Marc means he want a good bike, but not too good. What other requirements does he have, in terms of size – and the all-important budget? 

“Coming from the Blade I want a reasonable amount of power, I still want to have fun. But also the ability to put a topbox on it and go to work. But there are no limitations on style of bike – I usually have sports bikes, but I’m open-minded. Again, I’ve always had four-cylinder bikes, but I’m not against trying something else. And I’ve not got a particular problem with you suggesting anything.

“The maximum I’d like to spend is around £3000, so I’m thinking £2000-£3000. If I spend more than that, I might start loving the bike too much!”



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



Simon’s choice: 2004 Yamaha FZS1000 Fazer 

Simon says: “I reckon Marc likes his power, like an inline four, likes something a bit more easy-going than a sportsbike and that he can easily load with a top-box... there are a few candidates around the £3000 mark: for example, Honda’s own CBF1000 is certainly up there as a possibility.

“But Marc already has a Honda and, although the CBF uses an ex-Fireblade engine and is immensely practical and durable, I reckon it’s a bit too sensible for Marc. He like a bit of speed – and so that really only leaves one choice at this price point. Enter Yamaha’s FZS1000 Fazer.

“This is a 2005 model – they were launched in 2001 and got updated with the FZ-1S Fazer in 2006. So this version has a carburetted early R1 motor, barely retuned to make a claimed 140bhp and wonderfully smooth and packed with midrange. The chassis is a bit soft – it’s not the hooligan tool everyone thought it would be when it was announced back in the day, turning out to be a really civilised, comfy, but very potent, all-rounder.

“This bike has done 25,260 miles and just comes in under Marc’s £3000 budget at £2991 – but I reckon the Yamaha’s power, steady riding position and all-round easy-of-use will really appeal to Marc. But I love Fazers – I’m biased!”

Marc says: “It’s a bike that has semi-crossed my mind... but I’ve never ridden one or discounted it. When I think about the brief I’ve given you guys, it fits. It’s not lacking in power, but... it’s hard, you don’t know what to expect when the cover comes off. I’m genuinely excited to get out and ride it. I don’t think the Fazer is the prettiest-looking bike... but when you’re sat on it, you’re not looking at it!

“I’ve had Yamahas in the past – had a Thundercat for a while – and it is a little bit different; it’s not fully-faired. But you still have some protection... actually, I’ve probably been a bit unfair saying it’s not a good-looking bike because actually, it looks the business.”



Marc’s riding reaction: “It’s a pleasant surprise, a lot better than I first expected. The bars feel quite high, which considering I was riding the Fireblade a few days ago is inevitable it’s a different riding position. But it almost felt like I couldn’t quite tell how much grip there was at the front end as a result. But I think that’s something I’d get used to.

“But the rest of the bike – I mean the engine is fantastically powerfully, had grunt from the off, lots of power higher up the rev range. And the brakes – the brakes felt better than they do on the Fireblade; really really nice.

“The bike felt quite solid and planted – the roads are greasy today but I never felt out of control, it’s solid and planted. The pegs are in the right place – it feels like it could be a jack-of-all-trades. Certainly, once I got used to it a bit more, I could hustle it along if the weather allowed that – but at the same time, I felt like I could kick back and relax and enjoy riding it.

“The suspension is good, moving it around at low speed. You’re conscious it’s a large motorcycle, but doesn’t feel unwieldy, the seat is a nice height, you can get both feet on the ground.

“There is a familiarity – the engine feels quite similar to the Blade, but whether that’s a bad thing or not, I don’t know. It’s different enough – the riding position is a bit more relaxed so it’s different in that respect. It ticks a lot of the boxes.”



Michael’s choice: 2006 Yamaha FZ6 Fazer 

Michael says: “One owner, 2600 miles (not a misprint!). I reckon I’ve got this one in the bag with the topbox, the low mileage – and especially because Marc is looking for a workhorse, not necessarily something to love. And it’s a tiny negotiation away from being under Marc’s budget – at the moment it’s £3187.

“And I know it’s not the most fashionable of loved 600cc Fazer – the first generation with its air-cooled styled engine, which was from the Thundercat (one of Marc’s previous bikes), is a classic. The FZ6 got an R6 engine – plenty of power (98bhp claimed), and smooth and even as you like.

“The FZ6 is light, nimble, easy to manoeuvre, and has tremendous versatility.”

Marc says: “I feel like I’ve been a bit unfair to Fazers, in terms of their looks. I’ve probably never looked at one properly, close-up. And now I am doing, it’s better than what I thought. So that’s a good sign. And given the mileage and one owner, it’s quite incredible for a bike that’s the same age as my Fireblade.

“The topbox is a huge bonus because that’s something I’d be looking to get. And it looks a good size. I love the twin underseat exhausts – looks like my Fireblade! Centre stand as well!”



Marc’s riding reaction: “It’s inevitable to compare with the Fazer 1000 – in some ways it’s similar, but in most areas it’s a little bit less. The engine is very revvy, doesn’t have the 1000’s grunt. It’s there, but you have to go looking for it a bit more. The rev counter isn’t as immediately visible either. Perhaps I could get used to it.
“The brakes aren’t as strong as the Fazer 1000 – fine, but I wanted a little bit more. And the handling, again, it’s okay but didn’t feel quite as solid and planted. I suppose you make those comparisons with the 1000 and it doesn’t feel quite as good as a package.

“I think if you were in the mood for this engine, it would be really good – but I suppose with winter riding you don’t want to be right at the top end of the rev range, you want to sit back a bit. It just felt a bit lacking power. Even though you know it’s there – you’d want to drop down two gears to get that instant go. It’s a smooth engine, but it’s so smooth it seems like it’s taking a long time to build up the revs.

“Size of the bike is good – very comfortable, nice position, I could easily do 100 miles and not bat an eye. It’s not a bad bike by any stretch of the imagination, but it’s not grabbed me.”



Superbike Factory Sales Exec Aude’s choice: 2000 Honda Hornet 600

Aude says: “The bike I’ve chosen is an inline four, it’s a reliable engine, easy to maintain, cheap to run. Marc wanted an all-weather bike for his commute – and with rain and a greasy surface, the bike’s not going to go crazy if you don’t want to. But if you get a nice weekend with good weather, it can have a sporty attitude as well.



“I’ve never owned one of these myself, but I know a lot of people who have – I’m French and it’s very popular in France. It even had a race series, so it’s a pretty good all-rounder. It’s a good choice and he’s gonna love it.

“My choice is a 2003 Honda Hornet 600. It’s £2591 and has done 12,634 miles.”

Marc says: “I must admit, I do really, really like the look of the Hornet – I’ve never ridden a naked bike so I might get on it and not like it. But the look of it...

“And I know there was a race series for them so they’re clearly a bike that handles well if you want to have that little bit of fun with it. And if I decide to have a go with tinkering with it, it’s naked – there’s no fairing to take off. Can’t wait to ride it. Absolutely I do.”



Marc’s riding reaction: “I love it. It’s hard to put into words, really. It felt like I was a child again, riding a BMX, only without having to peddle. Sounds bizarre, but it’s so much fun to ride. I didn’t want to test ride to end; I was hoping you’d take a wrong turn, and we could continue. And really, it’s difficult to pin-point why: the brakes aren’t as sharp as the Fazer 1000, and the engine – it’s interesting, I’m conscious it’s ‘only’ a 600 and it felt quite revvy, but it’s also got a bit more guts to it than the FZ6.

“And if felt light. The bars are wide, compared to what I’m used to, and it took juts a nudge on the bars and the bike dropped into a corner. But it just put such a smile on my face – this is the most fun I’ve had on a bike since I went to the Isle of Man. 

“The one thing I was very conscious of was the wind blast – and maybe it helps make the bike feel quicker than it really was. But again, that’s a positive because you can have so much fun at more legal speeds.”



Spec comparison










25,260 miles

2,600 miles

12,634 miles





Average Bennetts insurance premium





998cc inline four

599cc inline four

599cc inline four


143bhp @ 10,000rpm

98bhp @ 12,000rpm

98bhp @ 12,000rpm


78 lb.ft @ 7,500rpm

46 lb.ft @ 10,000rpm

48 lb.ft @ 10,000rpm

Seat Height




Kerb weight




Tank size

21 litres

19 litres

16 litres




It seems pretty clear which bike Marc prefers – he can’t keep it a secret for long! But has he made the right choice? And which bike would you have chosen for him?

If you’re a Bike Social Member and you want us to choose your What Bike Next?, get in touch with your contact details at