Two things sealed the Sprint's fate, and again they have nothing to do with logic. One was the minor tumble I had on it a few months ago. This made it very clear that the Sprint was a pretty heavy old lump, and having to ask for help in lifting it back on its wheels made me feel that perhaps it was just too big and heavy for me. And, illogical though it is, once something like this has happened it dents the confidence just a little. The bike is never quite the same again. The second was the bike's oil consumption on the Europe exploit. More on this when I get to posting the rest of the holiday snaps, but one litre of precious fully-synthetic per 1000 miles travelled is not acceptable in my book. To be fair, this mileage included some high-speed autobahn motoring, 2-up with luggage, at speeds of between 90 and 120 mph; and oil consumption during normal use was negligible. But it raised doubts in my mind, probably groundless, about the long-term durability of the bike.
I was already considering moving it on, and the lightbulb moment came when I took a trip up to North Wales for the day to meet up with Nikos. Riding up in the rain, I realised that I hadn't considered taking the fast, comfortable Sprint for a moment: I just assumed that, for a fun ride, the XT was the obvious choice. Like the massively-capable (and just plain massive) Pan European before it, the Sprint was in danger of becoming a driveway ornament.
I started to draw up a kind of mental checklist, trying to focus in on the kind of riding I do, and the kind I want to do more of. The wish-list that I came up with looked like this:
- Ability to cruise at ~70 mph
- All-day comfortable
- Able to take a light pillion along with full luggage
- Upright riding position and easy frame geometry
- Able to tackle light off-road riding
- Robust and able to take a few knocks
- Mechanically/electrically simple and owner-repairable
- Reasonably light (max about 200 kg dry)
- Fast enough to be fun.
- Yamaha XT660R or XT660Z Ténéré
- Kawasaki Versys 650
- Suzuki V-Strom 650
- Honda Transalp
- Honda Africa Twin (the classic choice - probably too old to be practical, but I love 'em)
It might have been, but the market didn't agree with me. More on that in the next post.