What Bike Next? Episode 6


Hello and welcome to Episode Six of What Bike Next?, the series in which a BikeSocial Member looking to buy their next bike test-rides two potential candidates chosen by BikeSocial’s Michael Mann and Simon Hargreaves, plus a third ‘mystery bike’ chosen – in this case – by both Michael and Simon.

And the catch is, the BikeSocial Member doesn’t know what bikes we’ve chosen for them until the day of the test-ride.

Then, at the end of the test-rides, 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 enquiries@bennetts.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?

Meanwhile, enjoy the show!


What Bike Next? (Ep 6) – Leonie’s 5’3” and needs our help!

Despite her diminutive stature, BikeSocial member Leonie rides a 2017 Multistrada 1200 but she’s looking for a replacement, so what can Michael and Simon come up with?


Today it’s the turn of Bennetts customer and BikeSocial Member Leonie Blakely, who needs a bit of help choosing her next bike. Leonie says:
“I currently ride a 2017 Ducati Multistrada 1200 – I love the V-engine configuration, but the bike is starting to show its age and I feel the time has come to make a change for something a bit lighter so I can commute on it more confidently. But I still want to able to tour on my next bike, and do ride-outs.

“I've been riding since I was 12 on a spectrum of bikes (BSA Starfire, Honda VT500, Bros 400, RVF400, GS 650, SV650), but I’ve only recently come to ‘recreational’ riding. I adore adventure style bikes.

To help solve Leonie’s problem and find her next bike, BikeSocial’s Michael and Simon have invited her to the Donington Park branch of the UK’s finest used-bike emporium, Superbike Factory. With thousands of used bikes to choose from, it’s a proper pick ’n’ mix of motorcycles.

So Leonie, tell us a bit more about what you want and don’t want...



“Rider aids aren’t critical for me as I’ve never had them – although Hill Hold control would be a bonus, given my height! And heated grips are a must. Engine-wise, I’m not bothered – I’m never going to use all I’ve got; I’m a gentle throttle person. But I would like lots of torque please. If it can pull me up the side of a house, I’ll be happy. Vs do this by default but I’ll try anything.

“I’m five foot three and a half inches tall, so seat height, seat and bike width and seat placement are big considerations. I use stacked boots, which adds about an inch and a half. A lowered seat will do, and I’ve got used to finding tips and tricks to help me out. Weight plays a factor – it’s a ratio at all times. Where the seat ‘sits’ in the bike is also key – tried a Ducati Hypermotard; the bench seat doesn’t help me out at all. Given what I’m on now, seat height is a consideration but it’s not insurmountable.”

We see that you did there!

“Pillions aren’t a massive consideration, likewise luggage – nice if it’s got it, but not a deal breaker because top boxes fit to anything. Economy and tank range – more than an MT-10 please (shouldn’t be too difficult!). Not fussed about colour or age – nothing in green, please – and currently internet shopping for a Honda Transalp, Suzuki V-Strom 800 and the Ducati Multistrada V2.”

Any particular style of bike you don’t want?

I don't want a custom/cruiser/Harley and I’m not into sports bike styling – it brings my body too close to the tank and limits my already short-arsed view of the world even more. The ‘sit up & beg’ style (as my Dad called it) is much more sensible for my frame, but not a fan of naked bikes as I’d like protection from the wind – again, aftermarket screens are available where the need might arise.”
And now the all-important question: what’s your budget?

“I’ve got up to £13k, depending on the part-ex deal I get on the Multi 1200.”

So Leonie has thrown down the challenge. What bikes will Simon and Michael come up with? Let’s get shopping.



Simon’s choice: 2020 Triumph Tiger 900 GT Pro

Simon says:

“I’m pretty confident I’ve got this in the bag. Triumph’s 900 GT Pro is perfect for Leonie: it literally has everything she wants. It’s adventure styled, but with a distinct road sensibility – the seat height should be manageable for her, at 810mm on its lowest setting. At 94bhp the motor is less potent than her Multi and it won’t have that lumpy throbbing torque, but the Tiger engine has the wobbly T-plane crank adding a bit of gruff character, and it’s also nicely balanced in terms of performance. The chassis is forgiving with a typically neutral Triumph steering and good suspension quality – no nasty habits. The bike is light too, and agile enough to pilot through traffic on an everyday commute yet still physically significant enough to cover big miles with peace of mind.

“Leonie says she’s not bothered about electronic rider aids – but the Triumph comes with them anyway in case she wants to meddle. It also comes with cruise control, heated grips, heated seats and luggage aplenty, plus conveniences such as an adjustable screen, centrestand, 12v socket and backlit switchgear. Stuff you don’t realise how useful it is until you need it. And it’s not green.

“So this must be a slam-dunk home run touchdown, as they say. Go on Leonie, make the right choice!”


What Bike Next - Episode 6 Triumph Tiger BMW R1250R Suzuki VStrom_11


Leonie’s reaction

Leonie says:  

“First impressions are good – suits my style in terms of the adventure looks, got touring taken care of with luggage and a big screen. Nice narrow seat so I’ll be able to get on it no problem – the Multi, with the lower seat, is 790mm seat height, but it’s a 230kg bike. I imagine this is a bit lighter? [Triumph claim under 200kg dry weight, but it’s probably nearly 230kg fully fuelled]. I’ve certainly seen a few Tiger 900s out there with riders of similar dimensions to me – and I’ve thought yes, that’s something in my ball-park. Engine characteristics might be the sticking point – it depends how it pulls. But I’ve never ridden a Triumph triple before so I’m curious!”



Leonie’s riding reaction:

“I like it, it’s very easy to ride, very pleasant and easy to get into. I felt very comfortable on it. And it’s easy to get onto – the seat height is lovely. I can touch both feet down, which is nice.

“It’s the first time I’ve ridden a triple and in comparison to what I’m used to on my Ducati, there is a lack of torque and less engine braking – I noticed going into corners I had to brake more than I’m used to.

“And to be honest I found it a little bit bland. I like its adventure styling and ruggedness, but does it command a second look? I’m not entirely sure that is does.”



Michael’s choice: 2020 BMW R1250 R

Michael says:

“The R 1250 R is basically a naked GS but with better suspension and handling, it’s quite an understated motorcycle too. It’s still got the Shiftcam engine of course, which is BMW’s version of variable valve timing, meaning that its two cam profiles allow for a smooth and torquey low speed ride before seamlessly transferring into a little more aggressive version higher in the rev range above 5,000rpm.

This example has got the small screen and the heated grips which should both tick boxes on Leonie’s checklist plus the boxer twin motor which offers more power and more torque than her current Multistrada, again which she specified.

An aftermarket seat should allow for a 16mm drop from the one of the bike right now, and Pirelli will throw in some new tyres too, so surely I’m onto a winner. I mean what else could I have chosen? It’s top-box ready, low mileage, it’s in perfect condition, and has both the HP Sport Package and Dynamic Package fitted from BMW, which includes an up-and-down quickshifter. Come on Leonie, you know it’s the right choice!”


What Bike Next - Episode 6 Triumph Tiger BMW R1250R Suzuki VStrom_17


Leonie’s reaction

Leonie says:

“Ah, ok! I have some experience of one of these (ish) from the Off Road School, any of the GS range in the BMW world. I quite like the look of this, but I’m a little concerned possibly from the touring aspect because it’s naked but there are things that can be done about that. I’m intrigued. It’s very clean, it would need a few bits and pieces from that point of view to enable touring ready, but I’d certainly be very happy to give it a try and seeing how it goes. The shaft drive is nice and practical in some ways.”



Leonie’s riding reaction:

“I found it really contradictory! I like it and it inspires confidence, but at low speed it’s a little bit twitchy. So I’m battling with how I feel about it. The front end found lumps and bumps I didn’t notice on the Triumph, so it was like riding on a new road. I felt as though I was quicker on it – more confidently quicker – but then it caught me out because it found things I hadn’t noticed before. So I found it quite difficult. I’m 50:50 on it. The engine character, the amount of torque – that was familiar and similar to the Ducati. I didn’t need to use the brakes as much, there was plenty of engine braking, I could roll on and roll off – so that was marvellous.”



Simon and Michael’s Mystery Bike choice: 2023 Suzuki V-Strom 800 DE

Simon says:

“Okay, so here’s a curveball, and a first for What Bike Next? – we’re giving Leonie the chance to ride a new-for-2023 model. She said a new Suzuki V-Strom 800 DE was on her shopping list, and with her budget she can afford it – it’s £10,665 otr. So we’ve decided to give her a go. The Suzuki doesn’t meet every one of her criteria – it comes with neither luggage nor heated grips (but both can be fitted of course). And at around 82bhp there’s quite a bit less go in it than her Multistrada. But it’s brand new, and very much an adventure bike. Let’s see what Leonie makes of it!”


What Bike Next - Episode 6 Triumph Tiger BMW R1250R Suzuki VStrom_23


Leonie’s reaction

Leonie says:

“I did put it on my list and I have been thinking about it. Slightly concerned about how tall it is right now, standing next to it... because I hadn’t actually done that bit! But it’s a very narrow seat so that could be helpful. However it’s almost the same claimed weight as my Ducati, so that’s something to think about too. Have to admit a little bit of trepidation with this one... but, I’ll give anything a go and see what it feels like!”


What Bike Next - Episode 6 Triumph Tiger BMW R1250R Suzuki VStrom_24


Leonie’s riding reaction:

We hit a problem! The Suzuki isn’t the tallest bike in its class – in fact it’s lower than most and no taller than its direct rivals. But it’s still a step too far for Leonie, and that’s entirely our fault and no slight on the V-Strom. It’s the first new bike we’ve chosen for What Bike Next?, and it’s easily our biggest cock-up.

“It’s too tall for me! I’m tip toes on one side and not even foot down on the other! I’m not very comfortable on this – I don’t feel confident riding it. At five foot three and a half, that’s the reality even with stacked boots. I could get rolling and ride it, but I’d be looking for where I’m going to stop all the time, making sure the road is flat and I can get a foot down.

“It’s an 855mm seat height, but it’s the seat width as much as anything. It’s narrow near the tank, but that’s no use – it needs to be narrow where you actually sit!”


What Bike Next - Episode 6 Triumph Tiger BMW R1250R Suzuki VStrom_25


Spec Comparison



BMW R1250 R







14,468 miles

3258 miles

0 miles





Average Bennetts insurance premium





888cc inline triple

1254cc flat twin

776cc parallel twin


94bhp @ 8750rpm

136bhp @ 7750rpm

83bhp @ 8500rpm


64 lb.ft @ 7250rpm

105 lb.ft @ 6250rpm

58 lb.ft @ 6800rpm

Seat Height





198kg (dry)

239kg (kerb)

230kg (kerb)

Tank size

20 litres

18 litres

20 litres


What Bike Next - Episode 6 Triumph Tiger BMW R1250R Suzuki VStrom_26



Leonie is a hard one to please – she doesn’t appear to be impressed by any of the bikes we’ve chosen. But we’ve also reduced our chances by one-third by choosing a bike she can’t actually ride! So what have we got so wrong for Leonie?

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 enquiries@bennetts.co.uk


If you’d like to chat about this article or anything else biking related, join us and thousands of other riders at the Bennetts BikeSocial Facebook page.