If the freedom of speech is taken away then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter.

- George Washington

Sunday, 21 March 2010

Early candidates

I have been mulling this decision over for a while, and it will be no surprise to any who knows me that I have already given it some thought and have a few 'possibles' lined up. I mentioned my requirements in a previous post, and these are some that would fit the bill in one way or another.

A summary of my requirements:
  • Able to cruise at 70-80 mph
  • Comfortable for at least 300 miles in a day
  • Single or twin cylinder
  • No enclosing plastic bodywork
  • No complicated electronics or gimmicks
  • Looks like a real motorbike
  • Sounds like a real motorbike
  • Useable pillion accommodation
  • Room for luggage
  • Character, soul, whatever you like to call it.
Top speed, as long as it is adequate, is of no concern. Let's say the ability to do the ton would be nice. Relaxed cruising at a decent pace is more important. My days of willy-waving over three-figure numbers on the dials are over, if they ever existed.

In no particular order:

Moto Guzzi V7 Classic

I've always liked Guzzis since I had a V50 back in the 80s. It was the 'nicest' bike I have ever had, and I regret selling it to this day. Its only disadvantage was a lack of power. This V7 is a 750 V-twin, which would be reasonably powerful without having a Warp Factor 10 licence-threatening top end. It is, to me, beautifully-proportioned and even elegant, and I'm a big fan of V-twins in any case [1]. It's similar in many ways to the Ducati I sold to fund the Honda, but even better-looking. Downside: expensive, and they haven't been out long enough for many to be on the second-hand market yet.

Triumph Bonneville

I had never considered a Truimph before. I liked the old Bonnie back in the 60s, when it was an icon, but I have never yearned to own a Triumph like some misty-eyed old codgers do. The new ones always looked too chunky and overweight compared to the 'genuine' ones, and the performance was, reportedly, pretty modest. But it would fit my requirements well, and everyone I have spoken to who has owned or ridden one says that they are excellent bikes. Since my local bike shop is a Triumph dealership, there may be a good deal against the Honda on a new, or newish, Bonnie, and that may be worth looking at.

Royal Enfield Electra

Yeah, I know. Slow, vibratory, and a bit of a plodder. And yet there is a kind of individualism and anti-mainstream vibe about these. Could I be happy with a cruising speed of between 50 and 60, and a bike that can't really hack it on motorways? Possibly not. But the rebel in me says that this could be a viable choice - 80 mpg and owner servicing with a nail file and a screwdriver. And there's that lovely doff-doff-doff of a British single, without the hassle of owning and running a 40-year-old bike. This one may be the first to be voted off by audience text-vote, but I'd like to consider it first. Quite inexpensive new, and plenty of second-hand ones about, mostly with very low mileages.

Harley Sportster

Until recently, I would never, ever have considered a Harley. Too American, too good ol' boy, too much chrome, too corporate, with their Hog accessories and their Hog rallies and the sheer damn superiority and bad manners of some of their acolytes. And yet I met many Harley riders on the road and in Denmark, and they all said the same thing - "yeah, I don't go in for all that either, but they are a very good bike to own and ride." Slow and easy, a whole different approach to two wheels. And the Harley has soul in spades. I may be willing to be a convert.

Ural Dalesman combination

This is the joker, the wild card, the off-the-wall option. I have never considered a sidecar combination before; never wanted one in nearly 40 years of riding. I rode a combo for the first time in Denmark (admittedly a left-hooker) and I was anxious and uncomfortable with it. But that was only for a few miles - people tell me that it takes a while to acclimatise, and then the fun starts. But ... all the discomfort of a bike (you get just as cold and wet) but you still get stuck in traffic jams. And yet, this might be a way of hauling Anna around. We could still go biking as a couple, rather than going alone. New, this would be unaffordable, but a nice used example? Possibly. After all, I'd still have the XT for proper biking.

And there will be more, no doubt. Any suggestions?

[1] V-twin character: what multis don't have, and singles have too much of. Heh. It's true.

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