Author: Scott Redmond Posted: 15 Apr 2016
Each week we bring you three selected bikes from the online world of the classified ads and auction sites in the form of The Good, The Bad and The Ugly.
Casting his expert eye over the internet for your benefit is Scott Redmond who has written for almost every classic motorcycle magazine in the UK and for over 25 years he's bought, sold and broken up motorcycles for parts. From doing deals in person under the streetlights of London to surfing the web and buying bikes on his phone he's purchased bargains, howlers and few he'd rather forget.
Here is this week's selection:
THE GOOD: Yamaha XJR1300SP
It’s rare that a motorcycle is more than the sum of its parts. Most manufacturers build bikes with parts that started their life in other models with varying end results.
The XJR1300 is a pretty good example of what I’m whittling on about.
On paper there’s not too much to get your juices flowing, which is exactly why it works so well in the real world.
It’s a bruiser of a bike, handsome and pretty all at once. Its silhouette is something every school kid could replicate with a Biro on their exercise book during a dull lesson of double maths.
It’s classic sit up and beg stance makes for a comfy if breezy ride. A true retro muscle bike looks tougher with none of that wind protection lark, no matter how tempted the owner might be to fit a screen up front.
XJRs have always been a popular model and there’s a trendy cafe racer version still in the current 2016 range. The latest version uses fuel injection to feed the massive air cooled engine. These earlier bikes rely on a bank of carbs to feed unleaded into the combustion chamber.
This example is very tidy. It’s had seven owners in 16 years, one of them actually owned the bike three times, who’s to say he won’t make it a fourth time? Or it could be your first entry on to this XJRs logbook.
THE BAD: Suzuki GSX1400
You can’t beat cubes? It’s a saying that I’ve never really understood. It implies the bigger the engine the better the motorcycle? Still I am sat here pondering if that’s true? And still thinking it’s a load of nonsense.
Suzuki have given us stacks of great machines over the years. Despite looking like a million dollars the GSX1400 is a bike that I feel was always too big for its boots.
1400cc, it’s a massive amount of motor, but the return on all this cubic capacity doesn’t warrant the effort.
Sure, it’s bursting with torque, and it’ll stick a smile on your face at every traffic light grand prix, but beyond that it’s a victim of its own success.
The chassis isn’t up to the brutal grunt that the 1402cc’s chucks out. The twin shocks look cute but struggle on twisty roads, the pegs are low, touch downs might feel heroic, but they prove that the GSX1400 is a Billy Bunter. This example is in the best colours, and with the aftermarket silencers fitted it will sound like a proper bike too.
Maybe I’ve been too harsh as it isn’t really a bad bike, it’s just not a really good one either.
THE UGLY: Kawasaki ZRX1200S
The Kawasaki ZRX1100 was a beauty of a bike designed to look just like Eddie Lawson’s AMA racer of the 80s, and got the mix of old school looks and modern technology spot on. Kawasaki patted themselves on their back and tweaked it into the ZRX1200, again every box was ticked.
With the once niche market of big bore retro inspired machines getting crowded, manufacturers came up with new ways to serve up the models to those who weren’t fussed about living in the past.
The ZRX1200S is pretty much a stock ZRX1200 under the ugly fairing.
Like Cinderella missing her coach, the lovely looking ZRX ends up turning into a pumpkin.
The fairing might offer superior weather protection, but it comes at a price. The weight of the bike went up, and kerb appeal went down.
If you are considering a comfy mile muncher than suddenly that crude fairing makes sense, but the tank range of around 140 miles means you might not really get to benefit from having half of a greenhouse strapped to the front of your bike?
The ZRX1200S was never the cream of the all rounder crop. It’s a bike that was overlooked when new, and maybe even more now that it’s out in the used bike market? That is good news if you like value for money as at £2,595 this 21,000 mile old bike suddenly looks a lot more attractive.