Are You Riding the Wrong Bike?

Do you find yourself coming up with reasons not to go out and ride your bike? Weather is too hot or too cold. You come out with phrases such as

‘I don’t like going out in the wet’

Shame I  have to carry a pillion and /or some kit’

‘I don’t want to get it dirty’

Are you too busy with a DIY project? Or you have something on with the family or even work?

Are you ridiculed by your friendly MOT tester when they notice that you have managed a paltry 383 miles in the last 12 months? Has your pristine sport-bike or adventure bike has barely turned a wheel in recent months?

This is all before we get to stuff like seat height (too high or too low!), comfort levels etc. Do you need a session of physiotherapy when you get home? Bursting a blood vessel as you wheel the leviathan back into your garage?

Does all of this sound naggingly familiar? I think that you might be riding the wrong bike and you are in denial.

I’m Not Immune

 I’ve done all this myself: A few years ago, I treated myself to a stunning MV Agusta 1090RR Brutale. I pulled the trigger after a wild and incredibly exciting test ride. The thing was an absolute beast to ride. A 168bhp of barely caged Latin brio! To ride the MV was absolutely bonkers. I couldn’t sign on the dotted line fast enough! However, to use a care worn cliché, it turned out to be a bit of one-trick pony.

A thing of true beauty

For a two-hour blast on a Sunday morning, it was truly amazing. Trouble is that this might have been typical of my riding profile once upon a time: Just short, sharp, and slightly crazy attacks on my local A&B roads. However, these days I am a gentler soul. I need a bike that cossets me as wander off on longer touring trips. I need a bike that covers ground at speed, unobtrusively, in comfort and with enough room for more than a credit card and a toothbrush!

At all of these requirements the Brutale was utterly useless. When faced with a long weekend run to Scotland, I wound up dusting off my venerable old Yamaha YZF600R Thundercat. Swift, comfortable, efficient on fuel and a hoofing great Givi box for my gear. Perfect! It is about as cool as a kipper tie and flares, but the old thing gets the job done.

Old faithful. My trusty Yamaha YZF600R Thundercat

The MV was also too beautiful. It was a joy to swing open the garage door and for my gaze to fall on the Brutale’s muscular good looks, exquisite detailing and pure Italian style. However, if the weather wasn’t absolutely perfect the bike stayed firmly tucked away in the garage. Under a fleecy cover.

The result of all this? In five years of ownership the MV only had 1916 miles added to its odometer. About 383 miles a year. All a bit pathetic.

The MV in what turned out to be it’s natural environment

I traded in my beautiful Italian stallion for a deeply sensible BMW R1200RS. About as stylish as a brick wall. However, the BMW is quick enough, comfortable, well equipped and has a hard luggage system. OK it is more of a steady marriage than a torrid affair, but in just over three years I’ve covered over 10,000 miles on the old crate. 3,300 miles or thereabouts a year. Bear in mind that I only use the bike for pleasure and the world was in Covid lockdown during some of that time.

More Common Than we Realise?

I can think of other examples amongst my peers too: A relative had a stunning Ducati 848 Corsa for several years. Spell binding looks, mesmerising performance and a sound-track Thor would be proud of. But he barely used it. He recently traded it for a Kawasaki Z900RS. In a few months he has already knocked-up more miles than several years on the 848.

Ducati 848 Corsa – Art on Two Wheels

How many people out are still clinging onto their Fireblades, Gixxers, R1s, ZX9Rs etc? Despite the fact they find them really uncomfortable. Squeezing themselves into colourful leathers, lined with Kevlar armour. They have all the freedom of movement of political prisoner.

Conversely many have a ‘adventure-bike’ with all the options ticked; you know the type: Full Ewan and Charlie romper suit, the bike itself festooned with engine guards, aluminium luggage more spotlights than an East-End theatre and a navigation suite that NASA would love! Yet they may only ride out to a local trendy eatery a couple of times a year.

The Image – Long Way Round BMW

The reality for many?

Buy a Royal Enfield for goodness-sake! I even know somebody who uses a KTM 1290 for commuting but works mostly from home! Although he did ride it all weathers for a good while. However a 170bhp commuter? He should really be riding a NC750. But can’t bring himself to!

KTM 1290R RH Side

The 170bhp Commuter hack

Scanning the classifieds reveals hordes of immaculate, low miles bikes for sale. Further adding to my point.

To Hell with it…Buy the Wrong Bike!

However, the desire to own gloriously stupid bikes is a powerful one. I would love another MV or a R1. So long may this mass stupidity continue. Motorcycling is an illogical pursuit at the best of times and it’s good to let your heart rule your head sometimes. Just don’t come crying to me the next time you only do 383 miles between MOTs!

Words and Pictures: Tony Donnelly