Bobbing Around: Building a Bespoke Harley Custom. Part 4

Time to see how Tom Shaw is getting on with his Bobber build again:

Front and Rear End

As I mentioned at the start of writing this blog, it is my intention to change the front wheel from 19” to 16”. This will make the front wheel match the rear wheel and give me that classic American bobber look that I like so much. Unfortunately though, it is not as simple as swapping one wheel out for the other, as the 2003 Sportsters come with a “narrow glide” front end. In real terms, this means that a fat 16″ tyre will not fit between the forks!

Do Your Research and Use Your Contacts

Now after lots of internet research and forum scrolling it seems that there are several different ways I can go to get the bigger wheel in there. Some people have actually grinded the inside of their forks away to give the clearance necessary (yikes!) and some have gone for using the front end of a Harley ’48 Sportster which comes with this wheel setup. However I essentially just need some wider yokes so that I can create more space between the front forks.

I am lucky enough to live fairly close to Second City Cycles, and while I was getting the Yamaha MOT’d I took the opportunity to pick their brains. They always have a wide array of bikes in the back that they are working on, predominantly Harleys, and they don’t seem to mind too much when you have a nosey around. Anyways, the short version is that I explained what I was trying to do and I came away with a set of wide glide yokes, and a wide glide front hub that I could use on my build.

They will look better on my build than a Wide Glide!

Now these yokes are wide enough for the 16” front tyre, but they are for a different set of front forks. My Sportster has 39mm diameter fork tubes, but the yokes only fit 35mm ones, so some machining is required. Now I am DOUBLE lucky, in that it may be possible for me to arrange this machining via certain people at work who potentially may use some of the tools at my current employer, cough cough. Let’s just say I had a word in the right person’s ear, and I now have the yokes machined out to take my forks.

Time to Get Serious

Unfortunately the stem that came with the yokes doesn’t seem to be long enough for the neck on the frame, so I decided to use the one from the original yokes instead. The correct thing to do would have been to find some sort of large pressing tool to remove and replace the neck, but being the impatient and belligerent DIY-er that I am, I opened up my box of “serious encouragement” tools, and used a blow torch and a four pound lump hammer. One thing I will say, is that whenever you do this sort of heavy hitting it is important to use a drift, otherwise you will just smash up whatever it is that you are hitting with the hammer.

Time to polish up my Wheelie skills, or perhaps I’ll just fit a front wheel…

After a little cleaning up and some new headstock bearings I can now put the forks on the bike. I am happy with the new wide front end and I can’t wait to get some wheels on it so I can move the rolling chassis around and really get a feel for the new stance of the bike.

Fiddling with the Rear End; Is this Carry on Bobber?

Alongside working on the front end, I have also been fiddling with the rear (easy!). I want to re-use the rear brake on this build, but unfortunately the hardtail isn’t setup for a 2003 rear brake calliper. I double check the instructions and it says that if you have a pre-’99 calliper it will fit fine, and if you have a later calliper then you should buy a pre-’99 one as they fit better: Not to be dissuaded by this I get the grinder out again, it is a custom bike after all! The calliper I have mounts nicely off the rear axle, but the issue I am going to have is fitting the rear brake torque arm. For those that don’t know, this basically stops the calliper spinning around the wheel when it grabs the disc, so it needs to be strong.

Repeat after me: ‘It does fit, IT DOES FIT!!’

I get the calliper in place on the bike, and then I stop to think of my options. This is very common when bike building, and at times it can be frustrating also as it really slows you down. I’d love to live in a world where I can just go in the garage and spend 100% of the time chopping and fabricating, but the reality is that everything needs a coat of thinking and in my experience this can take as long as actually doing the task itself, if not longer. There are several things to consider, firstly; will this work?

Why do I put myself through this?

Whatever solution you come up with needs to actually work so your cool custom bike actually operates as a real life working (and safe) motorcycle. In this case, it also needs to pass an MOT. Secondly; will it fit? It’s easy making one part in isolation, but what about when the bike is fully assembled; will it clash with something else, what else needs to go in that area, etc. And thirdly; does it look good? If you are not making the bike look better than the original then why are you wasting your time, why did you spend all of this money, maybe you should go home and rethink your life…?!

Apologies for the brain dump, but I just want to give you an idea of what goes through my head when I’m working this stuff out. In my opinion the only way you get any better/quicker at the above is through experience. On the first bike I built I had to remake some of the parts two or three times, as they got in the way of another part, or they just broke and fell off while riding, and some of those parts I still look at now and think that I could have done them better.

‘Keep it simple stupid’, as the old saying goes

One of the best pieces of advice that I was given when starting out, is just to try and make the simplest solution possible that works. So with that in mind I get the grinder out and modify the calliper so that I can put a 10mm hole in it for fixing the torque arm. I also cut off the slotted tab that came on the hardtail and relocated it in a position that won’t clash with the rear mudguard. The hardtail came with a torque arm which is adjustable in length, this combined with the slotted tab should provide any space I need when adjusting the chain tension.

Going back to a chain

Speaking of chains, I am converting the final drive on this bike from belt to chain drive. This is a common modification on custom Sportsters, as it basically allows you to mess with the distance between the gearbox and the rear axle as much as you want. After some internet research I purchased a front and rear sprocket that should fit my bike. I have gone for 23 teeth on the front sprocket, and 48 on the rear as this replicates the original gear ratio as closely as possible. I could now wax lyrical about final drive ratios, but in my opinion the manufacturer picked that one for a reason, and whichever way you go there is always a compromise on either top speed or acceleration.

I have a metal rule, therefore I am a proper engineer!

With the engine in the frame and the sprockets fitted I use a long straight edge to check that they actually line up, which they seem to (few!). I have also bought a cheap roller chain that I fit to ensure it does not clash with the rear tyre. I know this isn’t the actual tyre I will be using, but it should be the same width, and the chain clears happily. A little cheat I use for quickly putting a chain on in cases like this, is to just join it with some zip ties. This means that the chain doesn’t have to be the right length, and you don’t have to start fiddling with split links to get it on and off.

Getting There

I’ve covered lots of different areas today, some more exciting than others. Next I really need to pull my finger out and get these wheels built up so I can see how the bike sits. This is important for what comes next which for me is very exiting – the major fabrication.

Words and Pictures: Tom Shaw

Really looking forward to Part 5!

Part 1:

Bobbing Around: Building a Bespoke Harley Custom. Part 1

Part 2:

Bobbing Around: Building a Bespoke Harley Custom. Part 2

Part 3:

Bobbing Around: Building a Bespoke Harley Custom. Part 3

 

 


BMW F800GT: Compact but Capable Sports Tourer (2015)

A More Manageable Option?

Don’t get me wrong I think that my current bike, a 2016 BMW R1200RS S Sport (pause for breath….) is a fabulous bike to ride: Fast, very comfortable and secure when punted through a bend with a little enthusiasm. It’s a bike that exudes a certain confidence. The quiet man that doesn’t over react or shout latest. Rather it is cool, calm and capable. So what’s the problem with it? In a word, weight: Not so much when being ridden, but when you are the bike and trying move it about in the garage or parking up somewhere. It feels like a proper chunky old thing and I feel the need for something easier to move about on the horizon. Time to have a look at some my options when the time comes

An Ideal Opportunity

So when an old friend of mine popped in on his 2015 BMW F800GT I jumped at the chance. The GT boasts many of the attributes of my RS: Low seat height, comfort, no chain drive (belt in this instance), hard luggage and heated grips etc. The list goes on for sometime. However while the F800 is only 7kg lighter on paper it feels significantly more manageable in reality. As soon as I got on the GT I was comfortable. I felt at home quickly as all the controls fell naturally to hand. The seat on this particular bike has been sculpted out and is even lower than standard. Oddly I found it almost too low! This is a rare feeling for me!

The BMW F800GT. Understated, but not unattractive

The GT is propelled by a willing 90bhp parallel twin engine. It revs cleanly and with no obvious peaks or troughs in the delivery. I rode it on some country lanes that are local to where I live. Very soon I was covering the ground pleasingly briskly. The linear nature of the power delivery and quiet exhaust means that is perhaps a tad lacking in character. Also it did feel  lacking in the grunt department. The F800 suffers when compared to my 1200, having to be worked harder for a given level of performance than I have become accustomed to. But it was no hardship as I found the bike good fun to ride.

Other than some Buell’s & smaller Kawasaki bikes belt drive has not really been all that popular

Easy to Ride

The gear change is crisp and certainly better than the somewhat clunky affair on RS box. The brakes are well matched to the level of go on offer and I can’t say that I noticed them much, which is a compliment. Handling was assured too and the F800 could be jollied along at a decent lick with the minimum of fuss and great level of enjoyment.

My friend tells me this example is excellent on fuel , I have heard this from other F800 owners too. So when you consider that the bike is fitted with hard luggage and all the kit you truly need  it would make a logical, easier to handle replacement for my current ride when the time comes.

Neatly Finished, it’s one to consider

The BMW is well finished too and I have not heard as many horror stories about these as I have the R1200 range. In summary I came away impressed, but not blown away. It is a really capable bike and willing bike. There is nothing wrong with that and there isn’t much wrong with this excellent bike.

Words and Pictures: Tony Donnelly

Other Options I have considered:

Ducati 950S Supersport – Slick, Quick, Capable

My Current Ride:

BMW R1200RS – Better than the all conquering GS?

Another take on the F800:

BMW F800R. A Fun BMW! Brief Riding Impressions

 


Four Seasons in One Day: Bikers Cafe Run – 02042022

Four Seasons in One Day

The Facebook group has been running for years now having emerged from a couple of old style internet forums everyone used to be members of. However unlike the forums the FB group has rarely got together. So we decided to put this right and arrange something.

An event was posted on the group and twenty-five folks said they were coming along. Thunderbirds are go!

As the day drew nearer the weather, which had been pretty good worsened. Temperatures plummeted and much of the proceeding week was wet and miserable. But what the hell; let’ see who turns up!

I Was Not Alone!

I rolled up at The Food Stop Cafe and initially thought I was the first one to arrive, but I wasn’t sure who was actually coming, so I didn’t know that for sure. In the end five other  lads arrived on bikes and two lads and a lass arrived on trikes. I must admit That hadn’t expected to see trikes, but it’s all good and interesting stuff. I particularly liked the one based on a Austin Maestro 1.6 Auto of all things! It even had MG wheels! Very cool

My R1200RS at  the good old Food Stop Cafe

Austin Maestro Trike: Obviously!

The solo bikes were good mix, my old mate and former Thundercat owner Paul rocked up on his spangly new BMW F800X. There lots other people also called Paul on the ride too oddly. I am terrible with names so it suited me! The other bikes were a Honda CB500X, a Thundercat, and a brace of Honda Rebels, one an 1100 the other a 500.

Honda CB500X and proud pilot

Shining new BMW and my old wreck spoiling the shot

Mild Confusion: Standard Ride Out Procedure

As we set off from the cafe we caused a bit of confusion on the A442: It wouldn’t be a group ride out without a sprinkle of chaos and confusion. But we quickly sorted things out and got underway. I decided to take the group of one of ‘my’ standard loops and headed off towards Bridgnorth, but headed off on the A448 before we got to the town itself. From there we quickly turned on to the fantastic, but challenging B4364 towards Ludlow heading for Clee Hill, a local beauty spit that boasts some of the best vistas that you will see anywhere.

What a Road!

This road combines twists, turns, bends, dips, rises and straights whilst picking its way through some truly beautiful country side. The pace was relatively gentle as people had not ridden together before and I didn’t want the trikes to get dropped; it’s a group ride out after all. We formed up for a few photos on route too before getting off the bikes once at Clee Hill. Despite the weather being a little iffy; it was very chilly and we had even had flurries of snow at one point! That completed the set as we had rain, sunshine and now snow! The view from the hill was spectacular as always.

All the Bikes and Trikes On Route

Getting Along Famously

What was as pleasing as our surroundings was how well the group seemed to be getting on. Well that’s biking for you: People who were strangers an hour before now chatting away and sharing banter and memories of a cracking ride so far. This is as much part of the joy of motorcycling as the riding and bikes themselves in many ways.

The compulsory group shot

Team Rebel and friends

Got to love a Thundercat

Heading Back

Back on the bikes and trikes we headed away from Clee Hill, passed through Cleobury Mortimer, another quintessentially (c.Henry Cole) English country village before making our way through the middle of Bewdley, a charming market town on the River Severn. It often features on the national news when the river is in flood. No such excitement today thank goodness.

Skirting the outskirts of Kidderminster we headed back to the cafe via the sinuous bends of the A442 as it cuts a swathe through the glorious Severn Valley. This includes one fabulous long, long left had sweeper as you climb away from Kidderminster. This one is a particular favourite of mine. Such a glorious bend!

All back safe and sound

Everyone rolled back into the cafe not too far apart. I was pleased to have held a line of solos and trikes together reasonably well. Once back everyone had a bit of a natter and some enjoyed the excellent food and drink the cafe serves. I caught up with my old mate Paul properly over a cuppa and he attacked a bacon and egg buttie whilst I picked at a light salad…

I counted them all out and I counted them all back in again

The perfect way to round off a great ride out. My salad is out of shot…

All in all a very successful ride out that everyone seemed to enjoy as much as I did. So thanks to all who turned out, rode so well and mixed so easily. Here’s to the next one!

https://www.facebook.com/groups/2413763460

https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Food-Stop-Bikers-Cafe/159759424036103


Bobbing Around: Building a Bespoke Harley Custom. Part 3

Time to see how Tom Shaw is getting on with his Bobber build again:

You’ve Been Framed!

Now my work in the garage starts to get a little monotonous. I want to clean up the welds from hard tailing the frame, and remove the ugly neck gussets that the factory put on.

Let’s talk tools. Angle grinders are great and have plenty of uses, but I find them a bit cumbersome for some of the finer detailing work I like to do. A lot of it comes down to personal preference, for some people a quick wiz over the frame welds with a flapper disc will be enough, but for me I like to go one step further and really get all of the welds on bike frame clean and tidy. And for this you need something a little more delicate.

A More Delicate Approach

I have invested in a Milwaukee M12 die grinder, as it’s small, powerful and battery powered. You could use an air powered die grinder, but then you need a compressor, and therefore space for a compressor, and how often are you actually going to use that compressor and how often will it be sat there taking up precious garage space collecting dust? But it’s down to personal choice, and my choice was a cordless electric power tool.

Milwaukee M12 die grinder

What’s great about die grinders, is that you can get loads of different heads for them. I’ve got a big box full of all sorts of abrasive attachments that I can use to tackle the welds on my frame with, and because they are no bigger than 50mm across, you can get a much lighter touch than the big 115mm angle grinder. It’s only con is its short battery life, so you need to have something else on the go while you wait for the batteries to recharge.

Let’s Talk Gussets. Stop Giggling at the back!!

Removing the neck gussets is a right pain, I have to use a combination of the cutting disc and the flapper disc to tease them away from the frame tubes. And I didn’t do a very good job of it, in some places I was overzealous and cut into the actual frame tubes underneath – more welding for me.

Just ask Mrs Slocombe about Gussets (Those under 45 might have to Google this!)

Eventually though they do come away and I am presented with much more tidying up for my little die grinder. And before you start complaining that these were essential structural frame supports, I will re-strengthen that area of the frame at a later date. The tank and the engine will play a part in how I do it so I am going to park that decision for now.

Gussets Gone!

The Devil is in the Detail

Now let’s finish by talking about this sort of work in general. It’s not the glamourous side of customising bikes, it’s not making a cool sissy bar or re-tunnelling a tank. It essentially comes down to how many hours you are willing to put into your build. It’s also what people don’t appreciate when they ask you to make a part for them. Cleaning and tidying things up takes time, it will sap hours and hours from you, and it’s a decision that you have to make for yourself: how much do you really care? I do care, and I like to invest time in the little details which unfortunately slows down my builds. Now it’s worth saying that this doesn’t make me any better than people who leave their welds on show, it’s just down to personal preference.

Worth taking the time

Look Closely is the Moral Here

For me when I’m looking at other people’s bikes I notice whether they have cleaned up the welds, or removed that ugly stock bracket. Admittedly it doesn’t make much of a difference to the overall look of a bike when it’s finish, but when I get close to a bike and can see that someone has invested time and thought into tidying up all those little bits it adds up. And I think “wow, what a nicely finished bike”. Have a look next time you are around some custom builds and see if you can spot what I’m blathering on about.

Time for the Traditional Cuppa again…

Back to actual bike work next time I promise!

Words and Pictures: Tom Shaw

Part 1:

Bobbing Around: Building a Bespoke Harley Custom. Part 1

Part 2:

Bobbing Around: Building a Bespoke Harley Custom. Part 2


Bobbing Around: Building a Bespoke Harley Custom. Part 2

Tom Shaw is cracking on with his Bobber Build. Let’s see how things are progressing:

Who Needs Suspension Anyway? Time for a Hardtail!

The first job was stripping the bike down to its bare bones. I always feel bad doing this to a running bike, but I’d also much rather start any project with a fully functioning motorcycle before the work begins. So then at least you know – it ran before, so if you don’t change too much it SHOULD run again.

Getting Down to it

There is not a lot to talk about when it comes to taking a bike to bits, it’s by far the easiest part of any work you do on a bike, but there is a few simple thing that I do now to save me headaches in the future. I take lots of reference photos as I go and label things up. This can be as simple as putting all of the bolts off the front mudguard in a bag and writing “front mudguard” on it, or putting “L” and “R” on parts, depending on which side of the bike they come off. Another useful tip is to use bits of masking tape round wire connectors, and writing some reference on them and the corresponding fixture. I’m left with two piles of parts: stuff to keep and stuff to sell.

Now I Can Really Get Going

Now the frame is stripped bare, I can finally get into some actual customising! After reviewing the different weld on hardtail kits available for 2003 Sportsters, I settled on the TC Bro’s kit from Ohio USA. The main reason I went for this one was that the backbone is a single piece which curves down behind the engine, which I think gives a much more pleasing overall finish than others on the market. It comes with detailed instructions, but I also get on the good ol’ YouTube to watch some installation videos. This helps highlight anything that I may need to watch out for, and helps to familiarise myself with the process as hardtailing is not something I do every week.

When two become one…Have I just quoted The Spice Girls??! 

But, you can only do so much looking and measuring, eventually the time comes to put your money where your mouth is and make a cut. Cross all your fingers and all your toes, check all your measurements three times and fire up the trusty grinder! To help me make the cuts square, I wrapped tape around the frame tubes to give me something to line my eye up against. Once cut, I get the file out and tidy them up a little before checking for squareness with an engineer’s square.

Now for the Tricky Bit!

That was the easy part, the tricky bit is lining the new hard tail up with the cut front frame and getting it all lined up straight and true before putting some welds on it. I spent easily two hours doing this, and I think that it’s time well spent. The engine on the Sportster actually helps quite a lot in this process, as it acts as a sort of jig for mating the two parts of the frame together. It also has a very exact and solid rear engine mount with four bolts in it, so that gives you a really good place to start.

I really hope I’ve got this right!!

I won’t bore you with a detailed description of everything I did in those two hours, but essentially, as with any frame, you are trying to line a few things up. The drive train all needs to be straight, so that you don’t have any twist from your engine, to gearbox, to rear axle. The Sportster is a unit engine making this a lot easier than it was for the Shovelhead. You also want the headstock to be at a 90 degree angle from the line of the drive train. Again, there are some good videos online that go into some detail about this, so have a look if you’re really bored!

This being a British Bobber, there’s only one way you possibly end the day!

One of the joins on this hardtail kit was halfway up the backbone, so another thing I did was hold a straight edge along this to ensure that my frame would be going together at least somewhat straight. Eventually you get to a point where you have measured and checked everything 16 times, re-read the instructions another dozen times, and have to commit. So I got the welder out and started making some tentative tacks. When I had welded up as much as I could with the engine in the frame, I removed the engine one last time to finish off.

Getting There

And there you have it, a hard tailed frame. Still plenty of work left to do on it, but I’ll leave it there for now. Time for a cup of tea.

The vital element of ANY Build

 

Words and Pictures: Tom Shaw

Part 1 is here:

Bobbing Around: Building a Bespoke Harley Custom. Part 1


Bobbing Around: Building a Bespoke Harley Custom. Part 1

Tom Shaw is an accomplished custom bike builder with a track record of producing bespoke creations dripping with style. Join him on his latest build as sprinkles his magic over a 2003 Harley Sportster

Old School Bobber: Old School Blog

A long time ago I used to have a blog and I enjoyed making regular updates on my progress with whatever I was working on at the time. Now it’s all on Instagram and I miss going through my list of favourite blogs and forums, catching up on people’s custom motorbike builds, and I miss being able to look back over the story of my own endeavours. Then Tony asked if I wanted to blog on my new Sportster project, so how could I refuse?

From Acorns do Mighty Oaks Grow. The Starting Point: A 2003 Sportster

Around Christmas I purchased a 2003 Harley Davidson XL1200 sportster with the sole intention of chopping it up and customising it into my own creation. It’s hard to describe what I’m aiming for in terms of the build, but hopefully the pics of my previous projects will give you a good indication of the kind of bike I’m into. Now I hate to use generic descriptive terms for “styles” of bike, and I don’t like to put things in boxes, but I guess you could say I like the looks of classic bikes and American “bobbers” from around the 1940’s and 50’s era.

Yamaha 650 Custom, my previous bike and showing elements of what I am shooting for

Style and Performance?

Why a Sportster? Well, my last build was a 70’s shovelhead that I imported from the States. As you can see from the pictures, I dialled the technology back even further with springer front suspension and mechanical drum brakes. I love that bike, but unfortunately (or not as it may be), that shovelhead engine is actually too good for it. This means you are forced to ride it very gently with an engine which could give you a lot more. While I am not looking for a go fast sports bike, I always feel that it is a shame I cannot ride the bike to its full potential. Sooo… this time I have gone for a more modern bike, that will have disc brakes, hydraulic forks, etc. That will hopefully give me a bit more of the kind of ride I’m looking for. Style AND performance? Maybe not, but hey we should all aim high!

My current mount gives a flavour of my previous work

In The Beginning

When starting a new build, I tend to spend plenty of time on the internet looking at what other people have done with the same bike model and creating a folder full of inspiration pictures. I also like to do a rough sketch (usually on my pad at work!) of what the finished build will look like in my mind’s eye. This is an important step for me, as I believe a build is not only a collection of cool one off custom parts, but also the finished bike as a whole should be a pleasing composition with flowing lines and overall good aesthetics. Still with me…? Good, then let’s talk about what I am actually going to do to this bike.

What am I Actually Planning to do?

First off I will hardtail the frame. I’m not going to get into a big discussion about the pros and cons of no rear suspension, I like the look and so that is what I’m doing. I will also be changing the front wheel to a 16” one and putting matching tyres on front and rear to give it that classic American Harley bobber look. This has farther reaching impacts as I will also have to change the front end to get that wheel in, but I will come to that in due course.

Another major change will be the tank. I’m sorry, I am just not really a fan of the shape of the original Sportster tank. I know that puts me firmly in the minority, but it just doesn’t do it for me so I will be swapping that out. Currently I am thinking of using older style Harley Fatbob spit tanks and chopping them up to suit.

More to Come

I don’t want to bore you too much with listing out every part that I am going to customise on this bike, but it I feel that with this build I really want to push myself in terms of metal fabrication. That is the part I really enjoy when I’m into a custom project: making things out of metal. I’m lucky in that I can TIG weld and have a little hobby lathe, so with that and my angle grinder, there isn’t much I can’t create. I can’t wait to get stuck in!

Words and pictures: Tom Shaw

Can’t wait for Part 2!

Here is part 2!

Bobbing Around: Building a Bespoke Harley Custom. Part 2

 


Yamaha Niken: Wonderful or Wacky?

Our latest Real Rider Review covers a bike that I am really interested in: The Yamaha Niken. Typically Yamaha have gone a bit left field and been the first to apply the two front wheels concept to a ‘Super-bike’. Peter Wills is the lucky man who got to have a try of this fascinating machine:

Should Mr. Skywalker be Riding One?

The first time I saw one of these bikes in the flesh was at the NEC when they first came out (back in 2018).  With its futuristic looks, it was like something out of a science fiction film and I wanted one!

But I had my Rocket 3 and Tiger Sport and hadn’t had enough of either one at that time (there is a very limited space in my garage).  So I waited…….

Fast forward to two weeks ago when my wife and I were visiting friends in Bournemouth and I said “We just need to pop in to see Richard at Moor Valley Motorcycles.  I haven’t seen him for a couple of years”.  Walking into the bike shop, the first bike I saw on the right was a Niken!!  I was as excited as my wife is when she sees a Luis Vuitton handbag.  So after a brief chat with Richard I swung my leg over the beast.  Riding position was very relaxed and comfortable.  “Can I take it out?” I asked Richard.

Three wheels on my wagon! 

Last weekend I went back with my Tiger Sport and after the usual paperwork I got to take it out.  Riding out of the dealers and onto the road, I was very impressed by the normality of it.  It felt like a normal bike.  But it wasn’t until I got to the dual carriageway that I had a chance to give it the beans.

In the words of a certain J.Clarkson: More Power!!

I guess I shouldn’t have been too surprised at the lack of oomph as it was a heavy bike (260Kg) and only an 850cc engine.  It could really do with an upgrade to maybe a 1200 in my opinion, but of course, that would make it even heavier.

It had rained last night, so there were a few wet patches around.  Coming to my first roundabout (which was dry) I entered the roundabout at normal speed and the bike felt very stable.  The next roundabout I pushed a little harder – no problem at all.  The third roundabout (yes, there are a lot of roundabouts on this road) was damp but the bike felt very stable again.  A little too much throttle on the exit saw the back start to lose a little adhesion, but it all felt very controllable.  Coming to a long straight, I opened it up and at 60mph the wind noise was significant.  At 70+ it was deafening (a big minus).  I was later informed by Richard that this “standard” model has the touring screen, whereas the GT (there’s a GT??) has a shorter screen, which should be better.

Filckable, but a tad heavy?

Off the dual carriageway and onto some twisties, the handling was very sweet.  I could flick the bike through the bends with ease.  The sun was finally out and I was able to push it harder and harder.  Had a lot of lean angle with nothing grinding (I believe it’s advertised as having 45° lean angle, which is more than most people will use).

Not our author, but it shows the bike being pushed hard. A guy at his work goes on regular track days and there was one of these there a few months ago. He said nobody could touch it in the corners.

I turned off a side road and got off the bike.  I wanted to see how easy it is to manhandle.  When I get home, I ride up to my garage then have to turn the bike 180° and back it in (all on a slight incline).  So I wanted to simulate this but turning the bike around.  As I suspected, it was heavy.  I’d already sold the Rocket a year ago as it was starting to get too heavy to push around (I’m 65).  Hmmm…….another negative.

Good, the Bad and The Ugly

So looking at the pros and cons, here are my conclusions (albeit after a short 45 minutes on the bike).

 Pros                                                                       

  • Futuristic looks
  • Very grippy front end
  • Very comfortable riding position
  • Cruise Control
  • Lots of lean angle

Cons

  • Significant wind noise
  • Heavy
  • Messy instrument panel (looks a little dated)
  • Underpowered

Got back to the dealers and decided it just wasn’t for me.  The weight and lack of power were the two big negatives for me.  Got on my trusty Triumph Tiger Sport to go home.  After the Niken, the Tiger Sport felt sooooo much more lively and fun.

Not sure what the future holds for the Niken, but it needs to go on a diet before I’d have one.

Words and pictures: Peter Wills

Interesting insight from someone who has also ridden this fascinating bike:

I have ridden quite a few Niken; Until April 2021 I worked at a Yamaha main dealer and even managed to get on the dealer launch! This took in the back roads all around Matlock, led by a  rider that runs focused event’s track days. We weren’t hanging around 🙂
I used to regularly take the demo up to the Norton bike night they used to have at Donington. The engineering is just clever geometry, nothing too technical, an extra hour labour at the 12k service for greasing the bearings is the only extra work involved.
Get on one . Anyone who says they are pointless or OK for disabled riders has obviously never ridden one , ignore potholes and odd gravel patches and just enjoy it .
Nigel Cartwright

Some other 3-wheeled options:

Piaggio MP3 500 HP – Tre sono meglio di due?

Yamaha Tricity – a trike, but not as we know it. Review and Pictures


Honda CBF500 (2006): You Know Where You are with a Honda

Time for another one of our popular Real Rider Reviews. This one recounts the tale of very hard working Honda. A bit of an unsung hero of the biking world. Take it away Dan White:

The Simple Things in Life

In mid-2018 I changed jobs and got back into riding again after a few years commuting via train.  I chopped my Tuono in for a BMW K1200R Sport.  As almost any BMW owners know they don’t exactly have a reputation for reliability nor paint finish (to be fair this was my first BMW).  After doing a few minor maintenance tasks and cosmetic upgrades I decided it was too complex a machine for me to “practice” my DIY skills on.

I decided to look around for a bit of a project bike.  I was happy doing oil/coolant changes and rebuilding brakes but anything more complex scared me.  I was pretty much set on a budget of £1,500,minimum 250cc and it must have ABS. This, as you can imagine, narrowed the market.  One that kept coming up that met the requirements was the CBF500.

I found both a CB500 and a (much higher mileage) CBF500 online.  I’d asked for opinions as to which was best on ‘Reddit’ of all places.  Low and behold someone commented that they had a CBF and wanted rid of it before the imminent ULEZ came in.  We decided to meet, and the deal was done there and then for £540. Bonus: The Honda even had a (VERY short) MOT!  It was a 2006 model, black, with 67,000 miles, and pretty much standard apart from some Renthal bars and a Black Widow Can.

It might not be glamorous, but it is CHEAP!

First job was to make sure it passed its next MOT (10 days later). This meant a rebuild of the rear brake caliper due to a corroded piston.  Luckily it passed, albeit with a stern warning about the exhaust noise.  It had been a good 4 or 5 years by that point since I’d ridden anything less than about 120hp so this was a real learning curve.  Considering I felt like I was going to die every time I hit a corner on the way to the MOT station, I knew I’d need to upgrade the suspension!  I’ll add here that I’m about 6ft and 18stone so even on brand new stock springs I’d be pushing it…..

Let the Project Begin

I duly brought a street upgrade kit from Hyperpro but then found out nobody would/could refurb the stock shock so only kept the new fork springs.  Then somehow I ended up getting a YSS Z series shock with a custom weighted spring (I didn’t realise Hagon did custom spring weight as standard and for less money) and an ABBA stand and took the forks and shock off.  Again, this was the first time I’d ever touched suspension – I’d never even thought of touching preload before. The stench from the fork oil was awful!  Without too much difficulty I got it all back together and went for a run.  The difference was startling, no longer did I fear imminent death at every corner!

Since then, I’ve changed the chain and sprockets, put on a Lextek exhaust with BSAU mark, rebuilt then replaced the carbs, hardwired a dash-cam, uprated headlight, auxiliary lights and socket, blacked out almost everything, Givvi rack, TRK Stainless front brake pistons, EBC disc, Titanium bleed and banjo bolts, new head bearings, Stebel Nuatilus airhorn and a new EBC clutch.  This may sound like a lot but it’s been my experiment as much as a project bike.

Tough Old Thing

The ONLY thing to have failed has been the radiator fan switch.  The clutch had some life left in it but the new one has smoothed things out. The carbs were just worn, and a second-hand set was cheaper (£35) than rebuilding them fully.  This has allowed me to tackle similar jobs on much more complicated bikes.

I mainly used it for very short journeys or urban commutes to work and back.  Also, considering its low cost and weight I’ve even ventured out in Icy conditions (commuting) which I’d never have considered on a bigger bike.  When my several BMWs turned into absolutely hatefully, unreliable pigs I just ended up taking the CBF more and more instead. I just knew that it wouldn’t let me down and would always give a good account of itself.  In fact, apart from when I tried to start it on a freezing December morning with the new E10 fuel it’s NEVER had an issue starting nor broken-down.  It’s been to many a bike night and day trip.  I took it on a 500-mile weekend camping trip to Wales and back – 250 miles on the Saturday alone.  It’s been on IAM ride outs, ordinary social rides and everyone has been shocked by not only how it kept up but by it ticking over 71,000 miles without issue.

It’s a Tourer too!

You do have to bear in mind that this is at heart a budget commuter/first big bike.  As such the front brake isn’t particularly
brilliant and you have to use quite a lot of back brake to help it slow down.  Whilst it HAD 56hp I’d wager it’s lost a few (most likely due to poorly synced carbs) however it’s far from struggling.  It will happily cruise and overtake at shall we say, “Motorway Speeds” and has no problem leaving cars for dead.  The only real issue on any sustained high-speed cruising is the total lack of wind protection resulting in rider fatigue.  It is BRILLIANT on smaller B roads and urban environments.  It turning circle is very small and aided with the big wide Renthals it makes shoulder checks and very fast filtering an absolute dream.

Remember it is a Budget Bike

Due to the relatively relaxed nature of the steering angle and simple damper rod forks the front suspension isn’t the best.  It has a tendency to crash over high-speed bumps but never to the extent it feels dangerous.  I’ve had trouble finding linear rate springs in the correct size as well.  I’m looking at getting either some YSS PD valves or possibly (if they fit) a second-hand set of forks from a CBF1000 due to their Cartridge design.  Again, this isn’t a deal breaker, and the majority of people would be absolutely fine with it as standard but I’m always after a new project.

Considering it’s apparently spent its life commuting year-round around London the cosmetic condition isn’t terrible.  I decided to black out the Engine as it required less work than repainting and keeping the silver/grey clean.  I’m going to get the swinging arm powder coated due to quite a few stone chips and maybe the triple clamps due to key scratches.

A Few ‘Rider Aids’:

I have auxiliary lights on the front mudguard, the hardwired dash-cam, USB charger socket and wiring for Gerbing heated gloves.  Not once can I remember needing to charge the battery nor does it give starting problems.

On the original carbs I was averaging around 32mpg.  From what investigating I could do it seemed either the diaphragm or elsewhere was worn.  My eBay special secondhand set worked wonders and it then returned around 65mpg ish – this has gone down to mid 50s since the Lextek has been fitted.  It used very little oil and certainly nothing to worry about.  As mentioned, the only other issue I had was around using E10 fuel.  It backfired terribly and wouldn’t idle with the choke off until I had ridden a few hundred yards.  A change back to E5 sorted this out although the E10 works fine in warmer weather.

You Know Where You are with a Honda

Overall, these are absolutely fantastic little bikes that will be more than enough for the majority of riders out there.  What you lose in the straights you can gain in the corners and the smaller roads.  You will have very little – if any – real reliability problems and insurance, running costs and maintenance will be minimal.  It’s impressed me SO much that I’m now a 100% Honda convert and have chopped my BMW in for a VRR1200F.

Words and Pictures: Dan White

Honda VFR1200F

HONDA VFR1200F (2010) – Sporting Tourer or Touring Sports Bike?

 


Small Ones are More Juicy – 250cc Selection

There is Something About a Quarter Litre Bike

I don’t quite know why but somehow over the course of the 40 years I have been riding bikes, I’ve somehow managed to own quite a few 250cc machines. They are just big enough to be a ‘proper’ bike and still small enough to be light, flickable and fun. Well some of them are…

So my 250cc odyssey started just after I passed my bike test in 1984: I couldn’t afford a big capacity bike, something like a GPz550, so I went for the quickest 250 then on the market: The Yamaha RD250LC. That was 36bhp of pure two-stroke fun. What a great bike it was. Fast; just over 100 mph could  be squeezed out of it when your mate with the slightly downhill private test track gave you free reign (ahem). The LC also handled and stopped well. Compared to the CB100N that I had been riding up to then it felt like a major upgrade.

Man I loved that LC

I kept the LC for about a year and enjoyed some brilliant adventures on it. Ride-outs to rallies with my bike club, a superb trip down to Cornwall with a mate on a GS250T Suzuki. On one memorable ride while on that trip I massively out-braked myself on a twisting downhill section. I wound up taking to a dusty escape road!  The LC bounced along it gradually loosing speed, while I was barely keeping the thing upright. We came to a halt right at the end , swathed in swirls of dust. I looked around and the eyes of my terrified passenger were wide open and staring. In addition his fingers had all but crushed my grab rail as he was gripping it so tightly – oops!  Many other blasts and just loads of general messing about followed.  The two-stroke buzz was such that I sold it to help pay for a RD350 YPVS, aka ‘The Power Valve’ , it’s bigger brother . Now that was a motorcycle, but those tales are for another day

A Bit More Sensible. Well Much More Sensible Actually

Back to the 250s and next up was perhaps the most divisive of the them all. The Honda CB250N Superdream. The poor old Superdream is to some degree looked down on by many to this day. Nowhere near as fast, or perhaps more crucially, as cool as a Yamaha RD or a Suzuki X7. The fact is the dowdy Honda sold in much bigger numbers than either of those bikes.

If you’re trying to look cool, don’t wear cheap trainers and an Arran jumper. Oh, and don’t sit on a Superdream! 

I came across my 1978 example in mid-1984 on sale for pennies. The thing was in good condition,  had a rack / top box and a truly awful handlebar fairing. I seem to remember paying £100 for it. That wasn’t a lot even back in 84! I immediately pressed into service as my commuter hack, whilst my 250LC was reserved for the fun weekend stuff.

The poor old Superdream was rather out-gunned by the LC that I had at the same time

The rear suspension was taken care of by a pair of the infamous FVQ spring/damper units. Everybody used to say that stood for Fade Very Quickly. True to form they had indeed faded very quickly and the bike pogoed through corners in a way that Zebedee would be proud of. I cured this by obtaining another bike, yet another Superdream. I was actually given this one! It had been in an accident and so long as I could collect quickly it was mine gratis.

My parents hallway is a thoroughfare!

The best memory I have of this unfortunate example was how I wheeled it through my parents house; a neat semi-detached house in a leafy Birmingham suburb. Let me tell you it is tricky to push a bike with bent forks through a narrow porch door, then a front door before tackling a long hallway, taking a sharp right into the lounge and then out through a pair of ‘French-Doors’ on to our yard! What made all this sweat and tears worthwhile was that this battered old thing had some shiny new Girling rear shocks! I quickly swapped these over to my other example and the handling issue was promptly sorted.

The crashed one. I can’t remember what I did with the front wheel. Note the missing shocks

Not too much later the two Superdreams were traded in as part of the same deal that saw the  RD350 YPVS come into my life. This meant I remained without a 250 for awhile. Then I crashed the YPVS into the side of a Bedford TK. I think it was the law if you had a YPVS to crash it in those days! That was if you hadn’t had it nicked by then. The 80’s was fun.  The upshot of all this was that I needed another bike in a bit of a hurry. So I bought a tidy looking Kawasaki KH250B5 to use while I attempted to piece the YPVS back together.

Classic? Are you kidding?

Now the KH is revered and viewed as a classic. However I hated my example. It wasn’t all that quick and I could never get the thing to run properly. The air-cooled 2 stroke had three sets of points if memory serves. Kawasaki themselves tacitly admitted it was fiddly to set up by including a neat rack under the seat for spare spark plugs!

If you look closely you can see my stricken YPVS lurking in the garage

The most notable event in the brief period that I owned this miserable device was having to ride in the coldest conditions I have ever had the misfortune to encounter. Temperatures in the winter of 85/86 plummeted and I had to head out over the seven miles to work as they hit as low as -15ºC! This was added to by several inches of snow. It was not fun battling through it on a temperamental spluttering 2 stroke triple. A few weeks later I was glad to see the back of the thing and got a bus pass. That’s how much I hated it. Classic? You have to kidding!

Taking a break for a while

So another period sans 250 followed as I had patched up the RD350 by now. I was a happy boy once more. Then one Friday evening the RD started to misfire and then barely run. Great, the CDI had gone west and I needed to be somewhere a long way away in short order the next day. Brilliant. I couldn’t wait for parts so went out and bought, you guessed it another 250. This time a Honda CB250RS-A, a plucky little single putting out 26bhp if I recall correctly.

This picture was taken after I sold the RS. My mate still has the bike

Well this turned out to be a bike that provided fun in a measure well beyond its meagre power output would lead you to believe possible. I used the RS intensively over the next 3-4 months and managed to rack up around 9000 miles on  this plucky little machine

The RS pounded between Birmingham and Norfolk every weekend as I had moved over to the East coast for work. I also took the Honda up to Northumberland. This was all taken in its stride and on one occasion I squeezed an indicated 90 mph out of it. I was been pushed on by one of those vast double-decker express coaches in the outside lane of the M6. I couldn’t get over due to the traffic. Thank God those things are governed these days.

Overall the CB250RS is a way better bike than its 250 Superdream stable-mate. However excellent the service it gave me I didn’t need it once I had a permanent base in Norfolk. So a mate bought it from me in early 1987. He still owns it to this day. That says a lot about how good they are.

A return to a 2-stroke

Next up on my quarter litre journey was another RD. But his time a ‘coffin-tank’ air-cooled model of 1980 vintage. It was about seven years old by the time I picked it up, but had only covered about 5k miles. I didn’t pay much for it, but despite it being great fun to ride I don’t have much use for it. So it led a quiet life really apart from one crazy blat to Dorset from Norfolk in company with a lad riding a FT500.

Looks so cool in those KR colours

I had to move it on after cracking a piston trying to keep up with a boy-racer driving a Ford Escort XR3i. I had him comfortably in hand on acceleration, but top end was a different story. The RD lost power and I eventually  tracked down the issue to a  cracked piston. So I sold it to a dealer by memory as the poor thing still idled perfectly. Naughty boy really

Back to plodding

Move on a couple of years and for reasons lost in the mists of time I bought another Superdream. This one the snazzy DX model. Reverse ‘com-star’ wheels, little spoiler on the tailpiece. Shame it was clapped out. I didn’t use it much and sold it at a bit of loss. About the only notable thing I did with this pile of poo was, appropriately enough, go and buy nappies for our then newly born daughter. She was going through them at a rate of knots at that point. Not the most glorious of memories, but there you go.

Not my actual bike, but it was just like this one. Note the ‘spoiler’ on the tail piece 

A bit of a Hiatus, then a fun single again

Well that put me off 250s for a good while and another 12 years passed before I made a comeback: Another CB250RS, but the posh deluxe model this time. Notable amongst the mostly cosmetic upgrades was an electric starter. Shame that it only worked occasionally! This one I enjoyed too and rode quite a lot over the next few years. The RS is a great bike. You really can have such a lot of fun on them on urban and country roads in particular.

Simple, fun

The RS was at its best on that kind of running along with commuting occasionally. Best memory was a proper silly dice riding it in company with a mate on a SRX400. They were well matched and you don’t have to have a huge bhp output to enjoy a bike to the full. However generally it just got on with things and being a good bike.

Like all my other 250’s with the exception of the LC it was my second bike and in three years I notched up a few thousand miles. I sold it when a FZ600 caught my eye on eBay.  Like my other RS it is still with the lad I flogged it to back in 2006. Another testament to how decent a bike they are.

So How do they all rate?

So that’s it, eight 250cc bikes over twenty-two years. So which was best?

  1. Yamaha RD250LC – My first big bike and a bonafide classic now
  2. Honda CB250RS – Fun and dependable
  3. Honda CB250RS-D – As number 2!
  4. Yamaha RD250E – Great bike, but it did blow up!
  5. Honda CB250N-A – Effective but dull
  6. Honda CB250N-DX – The one I owned was a bit of a shed
  7. Kawasaki KH250 – Sounded great, other than that it was dire
  8. Honda CB250N-A – This was the crashed one!

So no more 250’s have graced my garage since 2006 apart from a fun blast on Kawasaki KR1S last summer and couple outings on dirt bikes, I have not even ridden a 250 in recent years.

However I do keep an eye on the new 250cc bikes and a Lexmoto Vendetta does take my eye. If only the name didn’t remind me of a posh ice cream!

Anyway that concludes my tale, I hope you enjoyed the ride!

Words and pictures Tony Donnelly

More 250 based reading, just in case you are not completely bored yet:

Yamaha RD250E

Blasts From my Past – Yamaha RD250LC – Autumnal Adventures

Kawasaki KR1S – Way More Fun Than a DeLorean!

Lexmoto Vendetta 250 – Is it me or are Chinese bikes getting cooler by the minute?

 

 


BMW R9T – Why Have Vanilla When You can Have a Strawberry Sorbet?

Next up in our series of  Read Riders Reviews is the BMW R9T. Steve has come to the world of flat twins from the towering competence of the XR1000. He has bought a slower, less well equipped machine with minimal tech. You know what? He absolutely loves it! Read on to find out more…

First Impressions Were Really Positive

I first rode a BMW R9T a couple of years ago. It was a bike I had always liked the look of. So when offered a demo ride while my XR1000 was in for a service I jumped at the chance.  What followed was probably the most enjoyable 50 miles riding I’d done in a long time: I just couldn’t get the smile off my face! In fact I didn’t want to go back, it ticked a lot of boxes for me. There and then I vowed that one day I’d have one in the future.

Two Years Later

Fast forward two years, we are just coming out of lockdown: I’ve just come back from “another” ride on the XR and just decided: I’m buying a 9T. Don’t get me wrong the XR was all the bike you could ever want; lightening quick, responsive, powerful, blah blah blah. Yeah, it was boring and the 9T had lit something inside me.
So the research started and I decided if I was getting one it had to be the real deal: All the toys, the right paint job, all the bells and whistles. I opted for the original the R9T 719 edition, a brand new 2021 model. Incidentally 719, for those not familiar with the history here, is the code for the custom arm of BMW in the 1950s, . There are cheaper Pure, Urban GS & Scrambler editions also available, but I wanted the full fat original.
719: The number of biking fun!

More than the sum of it’s parts

Now for a little history on the R9T: It’s a ‘parts-bin special’ born out of the necessity. About seven years ago, following the world conquering water-cooled GS selling faster than frothy lager at Oktoberfest, BMW found they had a load of air cooled boxer engines kicking about gathering dust. So a light bulb pinged above someone’s  head and they decided to pop all these old air-cooled lumps into to a heritage frame. Then they made it look all cool, retro and cafe racer inspired with no fairings. Add spoked wheels and basic tech, keeping frills and BS to a minimum. Then they sent their latest creation on its way. The public, bike builders and the cafe cool crew loved the inspired old school look of it. BMW had also made it possible to customise the bike almost infinitely. They offer a bolt on back end which means a catalogue of cool parts can be used instead giving each example a very individual look.
Now seven years later with several other models the R9T is now a firmly established mainstay of the Bavarian heritage range. The point is though as much as its beginnings scream afterthought, it really isn’t: The bike is original, real and everything that went into the build looks as though it was put there with a purpose in mind. Well thought out. The 719 isn’t trying to be something else, it isn’t a Triumph Bonneville nor a Ducati Scrambler. It has it’s own identity that others are now racing to copy. I think the 9T looks amazing and the attention to detail is plain to see if you look underneath the skin, the DNA is there to see.

Difficult first few months

Following a few teething problems,  stemming in the main of a completely incompetent sales assistant I picked it up one cold, wet Saturday morning. I was decked out in a full goretex textile suit ready for the conditions. The ride home wasn’t the romance I remembered from that spring day two years ago. I got home, put the thing away and sat considering if I’d made a mistake.

Then it happened, the following morning the sun was out. The day was cold but dry and I had arranged to meet some fellow members of the IAM. I set off and within a few miles the whole experience changed. The bike was back! It was magical, it was a comedian, it was fantastic.

In it’s natural habitat

Retro styled clocks with a hint of tech, simple easy to use switchgear, god awful looking mirrors (more later). Its an 1170cc air-cooled flat twin boxer shaft drive and here lies the first bit of quirkiness. On top of all that the exhaust note is amazing, not V-Twin deep grunt but it sings. When stationary if you blip the throttle, depending on where the pistons are in the stroke it pulls you one way or the other, it’s hilarious but in a bend it’ll do the same: Either pull you out or drag you in a bit more to the bend.

Such fun to ride

It is a real hoot to ride. But real genius is that you have have to work at it. You don’t point and squirt, it isn’t blessed with power to paper over the cracks in your riding. So you work the rev range and gearbox (which incidentally is as smooth as butter):  short-shift, jump on the revs, use the engine braking, get is singing. It is planted and sure footed but you have to make it be that, it is an all involving complete pleasure to ride, a scream. This is a brilliant piece of machinery.

Lose the Tech

Now like I said earlier, it isn’t blessed with tech, flashing lights, TFT screen, bells and whistles as it is a retro bike at heart. Don’t get me wrong there’s some rider aids: ABS, traction control, 3 rider modes and electric engine braking in sport mode for example. I thank the stars for the  heated grips too. Of course all this, and the paint job etc costs extra; it’s a BMW after all!

Since picking it up I’ve added some extras myself, sympathetic to the retro feel of the bike: Luggage, radiator guard, sat-nav. bar end mirrors and some fancy aluminium milled parts. I have also swapped out the tail tidy for something more discreet as the plastic original was reminiscent of a yawning donkey.

See what I mean about a yawning donkey!

But the bike at heart is the important thing and it is an absolute hoot to ride. Spirited, sometimes hard work, but my god you have fun. It is ultimately customisable so if I ever get sick of the look of the bike, I can make it look completely different. Not that I will because look at her: she’s stunningly beautiful.

Worse, but so much the better for it!

It gets a lot of attention when I’m out as it looks so different, the styling and paintwork is unique, I’ve not seen another like it. The attention to detail, the red frame, the build quality, everything is done right on this bike, built phenomenally well. The engineers in Germany did not miss a trick and built probably (personally speaking) the best bike I have ever ridden based on everything I have just said.

It’s horses for courses, the XR was the do everything bike, quick, comfortable, capable of eating motorway miles and getting down & dirty on the twisties.  However, and here’s my point, it did it all so well, it was soulless, boring, vanilla. The 9T gets me going, it excites me, I want to ride it. It’s not the fastest but you can ride it quick if you work at it, the riding position is comfortable.  I’m 6ft and probably make it look like a small bike but I can ride it all day without the usual back, shoulder, age related issues of other bikes. Definitely a serious consideration if you’re in the market for an uber cool retro looking bike to jump on and have some serious riding fun.

Words and Pictures: Steve Durden

His previous bike….

BMW S1000XR….Sensibly Stupid! Is it just too good?

What he does on his days off…

Manchester Blood Bikes – A Few Days in the Saddle…