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What Bike Next? Episode 8

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.



What Bike Next 8 KTM 1050 Honda VFR Yamaha Tracer_01
What Bike Next 8 KTM 1050 Honda VFR Yamaha Tracer_02
What Bike Next 8 KTM 1050 Honda VFR Yamaha Tracer_03
What Bike Next 8 KTM 1050 Honda VFR Yamaha Tracer_04


Hello and welcome to What Bike Next? This is Episode Eight in the series, in which BikeSocial experts Michael Mann and Simon Hargreaves go head-to-head to find a BikeSocial Member their ideal next used bike.
This week, BikeSocial Member Ben Smith has written in asking for help with What Bike Next?

Ben has told us what he wants in his next bike, what he doesn’t want, and how much he’s got to spend. Michael and Simon each choose a used bike they think could fit Ben’s criteria, and a third ‘mystery bike’ is chosen by Sam Jewkes from the Milton Keynes branch of Superbike Factory, the UK’s leading used bike dealer.

Ben will then take each bike for a test ride, to see if we can find his perfect What Bike Next? And, as usual, Ben has no idea what bikes have been chosen for him 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 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 8 KTM 1050 Honda VFR Yamaha Tracer_05


Meet BikeSocial Member Ben Smith, who needs help choosing his next bike. Ben, 41, is an accountant from Oxfordshire who currently rides a Suzuki GSX-R750. Ben says:

“I’ve only had my licence since 2019, but I always wanted a bike. I don’t know if it was a mid-life crisis or whether I was just waiting 25 years, but I learned in my late 30s and now I love it. It’s my principal hobby, but it makes me feel alive and happy to be on the earth! But going from reading about it and watching videos to actually doing it is a different thing...

“At the moment I have a Suzuki GSX-R750, which I’ve only had for around six weeks. I love it but it’s not the most practical of bikes, so I’m looking to supplement it with another one.

“I use the GSX-R for riding around near my house, doing things I shouldn’t be doing, going to Sainsbury’s to milk. So what I’m looking for is a commuter bike. I’m starting a new job in around a month, and I’ve found myself going round in circles thinking about what I need and what the best bike is to meet those needs. I live in Oxfordshire, and I have a motorway commute followed by filtering in London – so I need a bike that’s purely functional.

“I tend to prefer big bikes – which may or may not be sensible. In terms of cylinders, love the sound of twins, love the sounds of inline fours – I’ve had a few triples which I bought because they were the most rational things to get at the time... but I don’t really love triples.”

That’s a lot of bikes to have had in a fairly short riding career so far!

“Yeah, I’ve had about ten bikes, I’m extremely indecisive. Which is why I’m hoping What Bike Next will be able to help me!


What Bike Next? Ep8 – what can Ben get for £5k?

BikeSocial member, Ben Smith, is after a bike that can do the motorway miles but also master the city traffic. So, can Michael and Simon help him?


So let’s look a little closer at Ben’s wish list:

“I tend to like fairings, my first bike was a V-Strom 1000 which wasn’t the best choice for a first bike, and I don’t really like the looks of adventure bikes. I like sportsbikes but they’re not practical for my commute and I already have one!

“I have filtering and motorway to think about – so something like a Pan European would be great on the motorway, but maybe too heavy and wide to filter.

“My budget is... well, if I’m talking to my partner, it’s £3000 but for you and the internet searches, it’s £5000!”

In addition, Ben specifies that he wants:

  • A minimum of 100bhp

  • Engine capacity and layout: already have an inline four so something different, 800cc and up. Don’t really like triples.

  • Current shopping list includes Suzuki V-Strom 1000, Honda VFR800F, Honda ST1300, Kawasaki Versys 650. There are lots!

  • Manufacturer: prefer Japanese bikes, for reliability.

  • Annual mileage: 8000 (weekly commute, Oxfordshire-London)

  • Rider aids/electronics: prefer traction control (for winter), but not essential.

  • May occasionally take a pillion – would be nice to put the wife on the back!

  • Budget up to £5k

So Ben has set up the challenge: a commuter bike with a big engine, agility and a fairing for less than five grand.

What bikes will Simon, Michael and Sam, Superbike Factory’s sales expert, come up with? Let’s get shopping.



Michael’s choice: 2016 KTM 1050 Adventure

Michael says:

“Ben talked about big bikes, he talked about twins; it’s narrow, it’s just over £5600 but there’s always a negotiation to be had. It’s done 19,000 miles with three owners from new. It has a 23-litre tank, so fewer stops to fill up, 94bhp – loads of torque, all at the bottom end – plus rider modes, traction control, ABS.”



Ben’s reveal reaction

Ben says:  

“I’m extremely excited – it looks great, never even considered one, so that’s great because I’ll be learning something. Can’t wait to ride it! My first bike was a V-Strom 1000, so this is sort of a better version.”



Ben’s riding reaction:

“It was great! It’s a lovely bike, handles beautifully. The engine is great, nice throttle response, it’s lovely winding it on into corners where you can just throw it around. Comfortable riding position but the high stand-over height might be a thing when moving it around – not so much at low speed, but when you’ve stopped. It’s not tip toes and it’s manageable, but it’s something to take account of. I loved it – but then, to me, all motorbikes are great!”



Simon’s choice: 2017 Honda VFR800F

Simon says:

“Michael’s KTM is only a bit over-budget, but the VFR is well over the Ben’s ideal price – it’s up at £5900 but Superbike Factory say it’s been on their floor quite a long time, so a deal is definitely possible. I’m just hoping the combination of Honda’s stunning V4, its proven durability, and the fact that a classic, old-school sports tourer has the agility in town and the civility on a motorway Ben needs. I think this one does. It has traction control and Honda heated grips, and it’s in really nice condition, with 18,000 miles on it. And it makes 105bhp, so it’s over 100bhp – another of Ben’s criteria. In fact, Ben actually had the VFR down as a possible option! This is the ultimate all-rounder.”



Ben’s reveal reaction

Ben says:

“Blimey – it’s red and it’s a Honda. Interesting! I think it’s a thing of beauty, I think the V4 is also beautiful. So that’s all great – the only thing pops into my mind is too much of an overlap with my existing GSX-R. Obviously the Honda is very different, but it’s also kinda sporty. It is on my list though!”



Ben’s riding reaction:

“I loved it! I felt immediately comfortable and happy throwing it around. And it sounds lovely, it’s a beautiful machine. Not quite sure about the riding position and general comfort compared to the KTM, and it’s not all that different from my GSX-R either, like a soft sportsbike. But it’s great to ride. It is quite analogue – it feels as though it’s come from the 1990s and it feels quite heavy.”



Sam Jewkes’ Mystery Bike choice: 2017 Yamaha Tracer 900

Sam says:

“The Tracer costs £5386 and ticks a lot of Ben’s boxes: it’s Japanese and they don’t go wrong, it’s got wind protection and tank range for long range commuting, it’s light and agile for in-town traffic, it’s got good power at 113bhp, the pillion arrangement is there if you need it, and it already had aftermarket panniers but a top box is no problem for these. I think it’s just what he’s looking for – even though it’s a triple.”



Ben’s reveal reaction

Ben says:

“Oh, it’s a good choice. So one of the many bikes I’ve had in my time was an XSR900, which has the same engine as this bike – and although I like that bike, I’m not so keen on triples. It could be a rational choice though – I’d junk the panniers and get a top box. But I think it’s gonna be a great bike.”



Ben’s riding reaction:

“I really like it. It’s complicated – I got lots of buffeting on my head, which isn’t so good on the motorways, but it’s a really great, fun-handling bike. Really snatchy throttle, but a comfy riding position. I tried different modes – I found it snatchy in Standard, unrideable in A and B is great but reduces the power. These things are really nuanced – all three are really good bikes!”



Spec comparison


KTM 1050 Adventure

Honda VFR800F

Yamaha Tracer 900








21,000 miles





Average Bennetts insurance premium





1050cc V-twin

782cc V4

847cc inline triple


94bhp @ 6200rpm

105bhp @ 10,250rpm

113bhp @ 10,000rpm


79 lb.ft @ 5750rpm

55 lb.ft @ 8500rpm

65 lb.ft @ 8500rpm

Seat Height





230kg (kerb)

239kg (kerb)

210kg (kerb)

Tank size

23 litres

21.5 litres

18 litres



What Bike Next – EP8: Verdict

Well, Ben’s turned out to be a real conundrum – he’s crammed a lifetime of not riding bikes into a few short years, skipping from one bike to another across all styles of machine; it’s almost as if he’s searching for his biking identity.

Just a few days after recording this episode, Ben contacted Superbike Factory and had his offer for the same Tracer 900 he’d tested with us accepted. Pirelli provided a brand-new set of tyres and Ben is a happy man!

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


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.


Massive thanks to Pirelli and Zerofit for their support and help to make this feature.

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