Saturday, 23 March 2013

Getting to the Right Bike - A History and Outlook

I have lots of work to do. Really! As well as parent's evening and all the extra work that comes with one of them, we've got inspectors in next week. There are displays, marking planning and a whole plethora of other jobs that need doing way more than this post which is why, not only am I doing it, but I'm plagiarizing from my own work. 

You see, in an attempt to avoid working on things that need to be down, I thought I'd quickly check up on some other blogs I follow. Texas Rambler was at the top of the list with What Do You Ride? Well, with a title like that, I had no chance of getting any work don for quite some time. You really should read it and while you're there, track back through some of his older stuff to. It's all good. This particular one was brief thoughts on what makes the right bike for an individual. He points out  people often go though three bikes before they find the one that's right for them. The comments so far agreed and detailed the bikes that led them to their most recent. Naturally, I had to leave a comment and much of the following is that comment re-posted. For all I know that may be a flagrant infringement of blog etiquette but as I haven't Googled it just yet, I'm claimed the defense of ignorance. Here goes.

I didn't start out on bikes from and early age as many did. Other than my brother on the other side of the Atlantic, non of my family were into bikes. Until my mate Andy let me have a 'Quick bezz about' on his little CB125Dream, I'd never even considered it. That 'bezz' went further than Andy planned though. I absolutely loved it and from that moment on, I was hooked. Soon after, I went to Kosovo, came back with money and got my licence. My first bike was a CB100n which I wish I'd kept for nostalgic reasons. I used that to ride the 35 miles from barracks to my girl friend's place three or four days a week. The 35 miles back, in the dark with 6v head lights was good fun.

Then I went up to a Kawasaki GT550 shaft drive naked bike. Again, a fantastic bike that took me all over Germany. My girlfriend and I took it around the UK camping. Without protection, I do remember it being a cold place to be and something about my luck meant it was always raining in Northern Europe when I was in a rush to get back to camp. Still, I'd have that back for nostalgic reasons (and for the shaft drive). I only sold it because when I left the Army, I assumed I wouldn't be able to afford it. On that point, I was sadly wrong though not by much.

Following that there was a CG125 (my girl friend's really but I rode it more), 
an ER5,
a Hyosung GT250
and a YBR250. All soulless machines which wouldn't be required in richer times for nostalgic reasons. Well, maybe the CG. I do seem to have a soft spot for super reliable, woefully under powered bikes that cost almost nothing to run.

Now the same girlfriend who had me traipsing across Yorkshire is my wife. She has a YBR125 which I ride more than she does. I've got a DL650 VStrom which is the best bike I've ever owned (except the chain drive). I love it so much, I ride the 125 instead most days. Don't ask me to explain, just know that our roads are awful and the YBR125 gets >100mpgUK. My wife loves riding pillion on the Wee as well. That's been on two small tours already. I might even splash out on some hard luggage so we can sell the children and go on a longer tour eventually. It's stable, tall but not crazy tall, comfortable, cheep enough to run, well protected and the engine is a peach. Just now, the Wee is the perfect bike for Ang & I as well as a lovely treat for the commute now and then.

Like Texas Rambler, I occasionally get folk asking me about what bike they should get for their first. My answer is always pretty simple. 'I don't know and neither do you. The only thing I am pretty sure about is that you won't have it for long so don't spend too much money on it.' Any bike in a pinch is better than no bike after all. I've fond memories trips I've made on each and every bike I've owned, soulless or otherwise. However, the one machine I got really good value for money from was that little CB100n.‭ ‬I paid‭ ‬£50‭ ‬for it and can't remember buying anything but new oil every‭ ‬1000‭ ‬miles or so for two years.‭ ‬

Every time I've splashed out on something with warranty remaining,‭ ‬I've gotten rid of it within‭ ‬18‭ ‬months or so and been hit hard by depreciation.‭ ‬I bought Wee four years old with‭ ‬13k on the clock so hopefully I've found the right balance.‭ ‬Mind you,‭ ‬a year on,‭ ‬it is still my favourite bike ever and I can't see me getting rid of that until it's time to retire and buy an RT.

In conclusion,‭ ‬I don't imagine there is ever a perfect bike for any one person.‭ ‬It will doubtless depend on‭;

  • Means‭ (‬for me,‭ ‬not great but not terrible‭)
  • Build‭ (‬for me,‭ ‬average with a bit of extra gut‭)
  • Purpose‭ (‬for me,‭ ‬rural commuting,‭ ‬two up or solo rideouts and short tours.‭)
  • Aspirations‭ (‬for me,‭ ‬get out and ride to and through places,‭ ‬speed not an issue‭)
  • Other stuff.‭ (‬for me,‭ ‬two cylinders in a V do something special to a bike‭)
Those factors will change with time.‭ ‬And the best bike I've ever owned,‭ ‬God willing,‭ ‬won't be one day.‭


  1. WOW... Thanks for the shout out. I hope your readers you sent my way like my stuff as much as you ;-).

    Great post. I enjoy read post as much as I enjoy writing them.

    Happy blogging...
    Ivan (aka The Texas Rambler)

    1. Pleasure :)

      I enjoy reading and writing blogs. I've been at if for a year or two now and I'm trying to focus on motorcycling (my only true passion after my family) increase my posting rate. One thing I know for sure is I'm still learning all the time. It's great to get feedback from bloggers (or anyone) for just that reason. Thanks for stopping by.


  2. I love the Stroms mate. I have a DL1000 and have 95,000km on it now. I follow the Texas Rambler also. I would like to get there 1 day and ride some of the roads. They look great.
    I am sure the UK would be to cold for me. Looks like you have ridden a few different bikes over a few years. Sounds like your enjoying the Wee.

    Ride safe mate.


    1. The Vee is a great bike. More than I needed or could justify. The new model coming this year looks, well, strange. My Wee is taking it fairly easy at the minute cause I'm no ace home mechanic and it needs a full valve service which will leave me pure skint.

      UK can be cold. You need luck and a bit of weather tolerance to enjoy a good tour here but there is awesome riding to be had. I've ridden over in the states and a lot of Northern Europe (what feels like a lifetime ago but really just two children ago). The USA trip was awesome and I need to go back there. We only really saw a tiny bit and there's so much left to explore. Mind you, that's the whole world really isn't it.

      I love the Wee. No question there. Loved my brother's K75RT as well. His SV650S was good fun for short blasts. Truth is, I love getting the chance to ride more than any particular bike. If it goes, steers and stops, I'll be having fun. Just that the Wee does that really well.

      Gosh, I've really rambled there.

      Thanks for stopping by. Hope you enjoyed it.


Please leave a comment if you can. Let me know what you think. I crave feedback and human contact.