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

- George Washington

Saturday, 3 July 2010


I am now in a quandary.

My XT trailbike, which was my bike of choice over its stablemates (a Ducati GT1000 and a Honda Pan European) for two years, is now sulking. Regular readers (hi, both of you) will remember that I got the Triumph to replace the Honda as a touring bike, and I fully intended to keep the Yam as my daily driver. When I got the Triumph I expected to use it a lot for the first few weeks until the novelty wore off, and then I assumed I would put it in the garage and keep it for the next big trip.

Of course, it hasn't happened like that. I rode the Triumph a lot, and then I kept riding it a lot, because it's a nice bike. I took the Yam out every week or so, just to keep it turning over, but when it came to a choice, it was the Bonnie every time. It's got to the point where the Triumph feels natural to ride, and the Yam feels awkward - the clutch lever is just slightly loose, and the brakes aren't quite as good, and I miss the way the Triumph picks up its skirts and razzes off down the road to a booming soundtrack. And, of course, it's shabby. That was the point of it - a bike I could ride in any conditions, that didn't need polishing or preening, that would always just be there to be used. But now the torn seat cover and the rusty rims are starting to look ugly rather than scampishly charming.

I had a shopping mission to accomplish today, on Anna's instructions. When the list grew to beyond rucksack size, I realised that I would need to take the Yam as it has a top-case. Of course, it handled the task without any drama, but when I was riding home I was struck by a thought: if the Triumph had a reasonable luggage capacity, I wouldn't use the Yam at all.

I'm scanning eBay for a set of Hepco and Becker panniers to go with the rack I fitted a while ago, but nothing has been on the site for many weeks now. The plan was to get them when a pair became available, in time for the next longish trip. But I am now wondering whether to bring that forward by buying the panniers new, and then retiring the Yam.

I couldn't sell it: there's too much of me in there, and it would be like taking your old teddy-bear to the tip. And I doubt if I would get more than a few hundred for it anyway in its present state ('100% maintained, reliable but shabby' doesn't sell as well as 'uncertain but shiny'). So what to do? I have had a long-term plan for a while to take it off the road at a suitable moment and give it a full or partial restoration. Perhaps that moment has come.


  1. You CLEARLY have to restore it. Or sell it to me!

  2. Sorry, I couldn't part with it in a million years. Mind you, I am a soft bugger. I wouldn't let my Mum throw out my teddy bear when I was about 10, and I've still got it, somewhere.

    I bought it as an eBay semi-wreck and made it reliable, and it has always been part of the plan that one day I would take it off the road for a few months and treat it to some TLC, either a full-on resto, or a bit of tasty customisation to turn it into an adventure tourer. The loom needs completely replacing, for one thing - it's obviously had a series of bodge-it-and-bugger-it owners in the past. But it's got heart, and it will be treated well.

  3. endemoniada_884 July 2010 at 13:36

    Ah - the oft-discussed multi-bike problem! There'll always be a favourite (and I confess that since getting the VFR, the Versys has had much less of a look-in).

    It's high summer, though, and there's no real reason to get the "other" bike out at the moment. For me, that'll change when the weather does and the manifest advantages of a less techno, lower-powered, easier-riding machine outweigh the shiny fast factor.

    I guess it may depend on whether you want to treat the Bonnie as an all-year-rounder as much as anything - for which there are likelty to be significant cleaning overheads! Maybe the thing to do is restore the Yam to full health and strength for a reliable winter bike. Or to concourse condition for an unusual dining-room feature...!

  4. The Triumph twins have a history of putting the "other" bikes out to pasture. I have a couple of riding buddies that are in the same quandary as you. One purchased a Scrambler, the other a Bonnie, both of their daily riders were relegated to garage duty as they could not stop riding the Triumphs.

    I say keep the XT clean it up. Even though it may be not worth much, it's not about the money, it's a labor of love.


  5. @endo - I like the idea of summer and winter bikes, and the Bonnie certainly needs a bit more upkeep than the neglectable Yam. I see it as a year-rounder, I must admit - it's fairly robust (and I am aware of the weak spots as far as finish goes), but the advantage is that all of it is get-attable and cleanable, unlike a faired bike. And the weekly clean is bike-time, after all. I can't see Anna viewing the new dining-room ornament in quite the same was that I would, though.

    @Gymi - interesting that two of your buddies should have had the same experience as I have had. Sounds like the same situation. The problem with the XT is that it is a real dog, with a crappy wiring loom and rust and chewed fasteners all over. If I just went down the route of 'cleaning it up', I would have a better XT, but still no reason to ride it. I think I have to forge a newe purpose for it, something that the Trumpet can't do. A proper adventure tourer (à la Dakar) might be one way.

    Now, how to afford it?

  6. A very late comment:
    The XT deserves to be no.1 in the yard. Hope that you spelled out the hierarchy to the Triumph by now.
    From a proud 1997 XT600E owner - viva XT

  7. Neels, the Triumph got its Hepco and Beckers and was top dog for a while, but that is now sold and a Triumph Sprint is in its place. We're back to horses for courses - a workhorse and a racehorse - and the XT is back in daily use. It has outlasted three 'better' bikes so far, and I know that if I sell one now, the Sprint will be the one to go. The XT is currently on garage duty as it has a mystery electrical issue involving lights going off at random and cutting out, and with my commute (both ways in the dark at this time of year) I'm using the Sprint. Next day off, the XT will be sorted, though.

    Viva XT, as you say. Thanks for visiting and taking the time to comment.


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