Yamaha XT600E (1995)
This bike is a classic 1980s/90s trailbike - a compromise between 'useable on the road' and able to tackle green lanes and moderate trails. It's a dog, if I am honest. I used to own a beautiful and pristine Ducati, and with a change of job my journey to work ended with a 200-yard stretch across a muddy building site. I bought the Yam as a winter bike, to save the Duke from all the mud and dirt, but quickly realised that the Yam was good for 90% of all my needs. It was a cheap purchase, unseen off eBay, and has needed a lot of attention. However, I have put a lot of time and effort into it, and it is now reasonably reliable. It's my daily driver and I'm also very fond of it. Trail bikes are brilliant for commuting: fast enough to keep up with traffic, but able to hop over a kerb and find alternative routes if necessary. And if I drop it and break something, I won't be heartbroken. I can't see myself ever selling it - it's only worth a few hundred pounds, and it's worth more than that to me just to have a robust, worry-free motor to fool around with.
Triumph Bonneville (2005) - now sold
I'm a big fan of 'traditional' bikes, and last year I acquired this Triumph to replace a big touring Honda that was getting very little use. It's a 'modern' Triumph from the Hinckley factory, and is designed to look like the original Triumphs of the 1960s and 70s. It's a very traditional design, but with modern features such as disc brakes to make it useable in modern traffic. I resisted the 'new' Triumphs for a long time, as I reckoned they were nothing more than plastic replicas, but a test-ride on one convinced me that they were good bikes. It goes and handles well, and I'm very happy with it. It has some aftermarket exhausts which turn the standard muffled exhaust note into something more fruity, and I have made some modifications to the airbox and carburettors to give it a little more 'go'. The only drawback is that it is a little small and cramped for a six-footer. I need to rectify this before the next long trip, or my knees may not forgive me.
Triumph Sprint ST 955i (2002) - now sold
Bought July 2011, to replace the Bonneville. I need my non-trailbike bike to be capable of big miles, and the Bonnie just wasn't cutting it - riding position too cramped and engine too wheezy to cruise happily at the sort of speeds that make long trips fly by. A good deal with the local supplier saw the Bonnie taken away and the Sprint on my driveway for not many pounds. So far (Sept 2011) I am very pleased with it. More in this section when I have more to say.
Other bikes - pics to be added later:
BMW F650GS - awful mess of a thing, seat too low, engine too revvy, build quality astoundingly bad. Put me off Beemers big-time.
Yamaha XT660R - had two of these. Excellent bikes. Surprisingly comfy for a trailie, good economy, grunty motor, handle well. One got me back into biking after a 10-year layoff, and it was so good I had to have another.
Triumph Trident 750 - cheap eBay punt, shouldn't have bothered. Seriously neglected by a million previous owners, uneconomic to put right. Potential to be brilliant with a lot of work, but I ran out of enthusiasm.
Honda CB900F Hornet - one of the best I owned. Naked, smooth, fast, comfy.
I won't be buying bikes as daily transport any more. But there are some that could tempt me to buy them and use when the mood strikes. Some I would consider:
- Resoration Project - perhaps a big old Brit bike such as a BSA A10 or, going further back, a rigid-framed BSA B31 or similar.
- A Moto Guzzi from the 1970s or 1980s - I once had a 1979 V50II, and it was possibly the nicest bike I have ever owned. Modest power, but impeccable handling and a shedful of character. I have never regretted selling anything more than I regretted getting rid of this one. If I can't find the actual bike I owned (it's still on the road, somewhere, according to the DVLA), then another V50, or a T3, would suffice. If anyone knows the whereabouts of GAT 904T, please let me know. Deals could be done.
- A full-on sportsbike like a Fireblade or Gixxer. Just the once, for the rush. Sell again in a month.
- Something with a sidecar. Just for the giggles.