Yamaha T7 Tenere – The Bike of the Moment – Or is it?

The new Yamaha T7 Tenere is very much the darling of the biking press at the moment . One of my old friends, Michael Bell has bought an example. However a certain little bug you may be aware of has stopped him using as much as he originally planned. Nevertheless he still has managed to gain an revealing insight into the bikes capabilities. As ever it’s always great to hear what an owner in the real world thinks of a machine. So over to Michael…

I was so excited when I collected the Tenere, but so far I have only ridden it for 1300 miles. Due, of course, to good old Covid 19. My plan for the bike and why I bought the T7 was to use it for an annual 3 month tour. I am lucky enough to be able to undertaken such a trip each year. This year, 2020,  should have seen me riding to the new Yamaha across Central Asia. The plan was to ride through Europe to Turkey, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan and back. It was going to be epic and I thought from everything that I have read and seen online that the T7 would be perfect for the trip. However to be to be honest, I have not bonded  with the bike at all yet. When compared back to back with my trusty 2015 Tracer 900 on which I have covered over 42,000 miles from new during visits to 30 countries, the old master comes out on top. The Tracer is a better bike in every area bar one; tackling actual trails type riding. To be fair to the T7  I need to undertake a ‘proper’ big tour in order to bond with a bike. Until that happens, I have to admit, the Tracer gets pulled out of the garage first.

Proud owner on day one…

Everyone on the forums says the Yamaha T7 is best bike ever blah blah blah. But in my opinion it’s too heavy for the dirt and too slow for the road. I am hoping that for the expeditions I have planned, it will be the best bike for my purpose. Consider this; the T7 is a significant  30kg lighter than the much vaunted Honda Africa Twin and (by repute at least) much more reliable than a KTM 790 Adventure.

Here’s hoping for more blue skies….

Yes, my Tracer has been great. Now, with all those miles on the clock and bearing a few scars,  it’s not worth selling her. She still runs so smoothly. T7 has been bought for travel as I said, but also to slow me down. Maybe that’s been the hardest thing to get used to? Heavy and low power? On my usual UK rides, it lacks the thrill of my Tracer. Riding with mates, it’s too slow. Tracer is still the best when it comes to thrills and fun. T7 is for adventure travel and fun I guess. The Tenere still feels a bit awkward with the 21 inch front wheel and towering 875mm seat height. Psychologically it’s still ‘new bike’ precious too, and I don’t feel comfortable just hacking about on it no matter what the conditions. Going forward I still need to get the seat on the T7 sorted to my tastes and upgrade the front and rear springs for my weight. Riding her daily on tour will cement the relationship I am quite sure. More in the next thrilling episode!

Words and pictures Michael Bell

Real Riders takes on some of the rivals…

KTM 790 Adventure – All you Actually Need?

Maybe something a bit more simple?

Royal Enfield Himalayan – Rugged, simple, affordable. What is not to like?

Recently updated but worth consideration?

Africa Twin CRF1000L test ride, March 2016

The Favourite….

Yamaha MT-09 Tracer  (2015)

Yamaha MT-09 Tracer – Review and Pictures


Royal Enfield Himalayan – Rugged, simple, affordable. What is not to like?

Another ‘Real Rider Review’. This time Freddie Sheddington, a very experienced long-time biker has treated himself to perhaps the Adventure bike we actually need as opposed the the one we actually are told we want…

It might have been September 2020 when I bought a Royal Enfield Himalayan but the story behind why really starts at its launch back in 2015. It was immediately apparent that it  represented the distilled essence of motorcycling for me: Simple, affordable and , capable….what’s not to love?  The concern for me was reliability, not a word often associated with Royal Enfield in the past. It’s   something they have worked hard to improve in recent years,  and they have even moved R&D to the UK in a purpose built state-of- the art facility.  Frame building legends, Harris Performance have also joined the RE family to help develop their bikes.  All this investment has paid off and certainly shows in the quality of their more recent bikes such as the extremely successful 650 Interceptor .

Bumpy start for the Himalayan

The Himalayan got off to a rocky start with reports of cracked headstocks on the early Indian bikes amongst other issues. A now infamous promotional video even showed a foot peg fall off.  By the time the Himalayan was launched in the UK/European market Royal Enfield had solved these and other issues. Reports since then on reliability have been mostly positive with the likes of Nathan Millward, Itchy Boots and others racking up some serious miles on their beloved Himalayans.

In 2019 I was planning a trip of a lifetime (UK to Singapore) and looking for a bike for such a trip. Contrary to popular belief the majority of overland travellers favour smaller capacity, lighter, and less technology laden alternatives. With 850 GS’s, KLR 650’s and CRF 250L’s being popular choices. It seems amongst this crowd the Himalayan had gained a following. It was one of two bikes at the top of my list due to its mechanical simplicity, off-road capability and an unintimidating seat height of 800mm. An important factor being only 5’6.

Snows no boundaries!

Keen to see if it was as good as owners claimed, I found myself on a wet autumnal morning gazing at the bike that I hoped would carry me to the other side of the world. A quick glance showed it had everything I would need. It had chunky tyres, reasonable ground clearance, the ability to fit luggage and a lack of technology that could go wrong.

So is it any good?

My first reaction when swinging a leg over was “I can flat foot this”, a joyous revelation for someone of my size. The 2-hour test ride flew past. Riding a mixture of twisty B roads, bumpy single lanes and some dual carriageway. Despite the pouring rain the Himalayan made me smile so much my face was hurting. Its 24.5bhp was enough on the majority of roads allowing me to keep up with traffic but it also made riding engaging changing gear frequently to keep it on the power. If you want a bike for motorway miles the Himalayan is not for you, it will do an indicated 80mph but is happier cruising at 65. Considering its power, the low-end torque is impressive, a real benefit to those wanting to take it off road. There are some small vibrations through the bars and pegs but not enough to cause any discomfort. They add the character, something which it has in abundance. The brakes are more than sufficient for the Himalayans size and pace but don’t expect Brembo performance. I also found out the ABS works well when having to do an emergency stop on a wet and greasy road. The suspension handled the lumps, bumps and potholes really well and it proved stable and nimble in the corners.

The ergonomics mean an upright riding position with legs just under 90 degrees perfect for serious stretches in the saddle.  The seat is very comfortable despite a slight tendency to slide you towards the tank. The screen did a decent job of keeping my head out of turbulent air whilst providing gentle airflow which would be most appreciated to keep cool in warmer climates.

Needless to say, I walked away from the test ride know this was the bike for me. It had far surpassed my expectations in every way. The downsides being the compass not working and the standard exhaust being virtually inaudible with ear plugs. I’m a petrol head, a little noise is always a good thing.

It even has a actual compass!

Unfortunately, due to the events in my life the Big Trip was no longer possible despite this I wanted a Himalayan more than ever. Fast forward to September 2020 and I found myself with a redundancy cheque in my hand, and a need to cheer myself up. Needless to say, I did what any responsible person would do, went straight to the dealership and bought a Himalayan.

The late 2020 models have shorter side stands, improved rear brakes (both common complaints of owners) as well as a blue backlit display. Whilst the Indian and American bikes also get switchable ABS, Royal Enfield have confirmed this will not come to the UK / European market.

Early Days but the signs are very positive 

The Himalayan has a pretty restrictive run-in period. I was advised to keep it below 3,000 rpm (40mph) until the first service (due at 300 miles) and 4,000 rpm (50mph) until it has reached 1,000 miles. After the first service it needs valves checking every 3,000 miles with oil and filter changes every 6,000. Due to its simplicity the normally costly valve checks with an Oil and Filter change than are less £200 from a dealer. I covered the initial service period in three weeks, the advised 40mph was in no way dull as I feared. You notice a lot more at a slower pace and tend to ride smaller roads you previously ignored.

The 700 miles I have covered so far have not been trouble free. The gauges mist up in cold weather and my bike kept stalling when starting with a cold engine. For some reason the idle was set lower than it should have been. Like every Himalayan it will probably transpire that the factory didn’t put enough grease on the headstock bearing.

Despite the issues I have loved my 700 miles of ownership it still makes me smile like a man possessed. Owners say it improves further as the engine loosens up around the 1,000-mile mark. It is a simple, fun, grin provoking motorcycle.

The Himalayan certainly isn’t perfect but the imperfections give it a certain character. It is often described as the Land Rover of the bike world. It is not the fastest nor the flashiest, but makes every ride feel like an adventure. What more could you possibly want?

Words and pictures: Freddie Sheddington

Royal Enfield 650 Interceptor review:

Royal Enfield 650 Interceptor – The Empire Fights Back! Review and Riding Impressions

A more mainstream alternative?

Yamaha T7 Tenere – The Bike of the Moment – Or is it?

 

 

Freddie is also a ‘Vlogger’

https://www.youtube.com/agardenshedvlogs


Honda VFR800 – Cool, calm and collected

If you want a quick bike with a great racing heritage why not opt for the bike that just gets down to business of being quick and capable without the need to shout it from the roof tops….I give you the 2004 Honda VFR800.

If a V4 Honda was good enough for a certain member of the Dunlop family I suspect it will be good enough for you. Our resident bargain Honda fan, Paul France, discovered recently that a slice of the action is available for as little as £2500 these days. Read on to see how he got along with his example of perhaps the best all round mid-range bike of the last twenty years… has the spark faded since 2004 when his example first took to the tarmac?

Great looks, great exhaust

The VFR800 is a great looking bike, especially when finished in the Italian red with a matching pillion seat cowl and with a cool smoked black double bubble screen finishing it all off nicely. The combination lent it an aggressive sports bike look. My example hailed from from 2004, but even by today’s standards this bike looked modern. Personally I’m a big fan of under seat exhaust systems and I think the standard stainless end cans looked great, even if they were a bit quiet and lacking in character.

A characterful V4 but where’s the thrill?

Speaking of character, where this bike really had any was in Honda’s renowned VTEC V4 engine that nestled neatly in the beam frame. At 6800rpm you really notice it kick in (and I mean kick) giving a distinctive gurgle and sudden surge of energy. That is it though I’m afraid, and about as exciting as this bike got – at least for me anyway. If, like me, you’re used to riding 1 litre bikes and upwards where power is usually more than you’ll ever need anyway, you might find the VFR800 leaving you wanting a bit more.

Handling is not the strongest point

The handling on my VFR wasn’t particularly confidence inspiring, but doesn’t do too badly on most twisty roads, but I found when I wanted to push it harder it wasn’t giving me the feedback I was looking for, plus it didn’t take much before the pegs grounded out. I did put some Bridgestone BT023’s on which I swear by on all my sport touring bikes. I must say they did suit the bike well. Perhaps if I gave it more of a chance I could have gained more confidence on it, but I just didn’t connect with it in the way I have done with others.

Comfortable but ‘numb bum’ syndrome strikes

In terms of comfort, my bike was fitted with bar risers which gave a pretty decent riding position for long distances, my only complaint is the standard seat gave me a numb bum after 2 hours of A roads/motorways, which isn’t bad going, but I’d recommend upgrading if you can. If you’re a taller rider (I’m 6ft) the MRA touring screen is a must. I certainly noticed the difference when I replaced it with the sporty double bubble.

Other things to note, I wish the bike had a gear indicator, I found it hard to get to grips with what gear I was in at times. The throttle I found to be a bit ‘snatchy’ low down, so a remap of the fuel injection would have been on the list if I decided to keep the bike, which I’ve heard isn’t too expensive with a power commander add-on.

Conclusions

To finish off, I think the bike is perfect for mid-range touring/commuting but could be good for even longer distances with a more comfortable seat and of course luggage add-ons, otherwise it’s also relatively good for the more reserved Sunday scratcher. It could be better or more ‘hard-core’ if the suspension is upgraded perhaps?

But, of course, the best thing about this bike is that it really is a nice looking machine which definitely turns a few heads. It seems however that the racing heritage is well hidden…

 

Review and road test by Paul France for BikeMeet – all image and content rights reserved. If you’d like to publish a motorcycle or bike accessory review on here, get in touch via the contact page.

 

 


Z900RS road test & review

Kawasaki Z900RS Café – Retro clothes, modern performance roadster

I’d been hankering after a retro-style bike for quite a few years. I’d read and heard positive views on the Z900RS, but the bike was never really on my radar. After a little research, I found that they produced the bike in the lime green Café version with the old school style headlight cowl.

There seemed to be an over-supply issue with the Café version and I found brand new bikes for sale at M&P Swansea for £8,000! That’s well down from the £10,299 retail price. The purchase was made and I began to experience life with the Café. It soon became obvious that this is one of those bikes that is greater than the sum of its individual parts.

Z900RS – Beautiful looks and sounds

The looks of the bike are stunning! It manages that rare combination of retro and contemporary styling perfectly. The silver-rimmed clocks, easy-to-read dials and tail section emulate the original Z1 design. The headlight cowl is also classic 70’s style and the exposed engine has faux air-cooled fins. With the lime green livery the bike really ‘pops’. I’ve lost count of the times that other bikers from Joe Public have approached me to ask about the bike and comment on its ‘wow’ factor. The standard exhaust also gives a purposeful auditory raspy note, something that is rare on modern bikes out of the factory. Kawasaki clearly gave serious thought to how the bike should look and sound.

 

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Performance in the real world

Nevertheless, this bike has thoroughly modern performance with KTRAC traction control, a slipper clutch and ABS. The motor is fundamentally a Z900 948cc supernaked unit. It is re-tuned for less peak power but more low and mid-range torque The short wheel base, tubular chassis (again based on the Z900 SN) and the fully adjustable suspension gives the bike very sharp handling. Even with the mediocre OE GPR 300 Dunlops, this bike shines on the twisties. If your mate is on a sports bike, they may be in for a surprise when you ‘do’ them on a corner!

Make no mistake, this is a quick bike! The low and mid-range shove gives a superb spread of power when you need it most. Rapid progress and overtakes are a breeze; short shifting with little effort at 6 to 7k on the tacho. The bike also loves to rev! Full throttle and higher RPM give a searing top-end rush. Fortunately, the brakes match the performance, with plenty of power and good feel. The gearbox is smooth and slick.

A few issues

Of course any machine has the odd negative issue and thankfully these are few with this bike. A common complaint is the clocks getting moisture behind the lens. This occurred with my bike during the winter run-in period. It did dry out quickly when stored and it didn’t occur in the warmer summer months, so it’s something I’ll put up with. Another issue is a snatchy throttle and ‘fluffy’ fuelling due to Euro 5 emissions regs. I never found the throttle snatchy, although I did get the odd ‘fluff’ at low revs when pulling away in higher gears on a roll on from a closed throttle. Fortunately, there’s a cheap and easy fix to this in the form of a plug-in O2 sensor eliminator that pretty much solves the issue.

Pillion comfort

The Z900RS Café is just as happy with two-up, having a decent-sized pillion seat and a stunning OE chrome grab rail which enhances the retro-styling of the bike.
Of course I parted with my own cash for this bike and I’ve covered over 2000 miles to date. Notwithstanding this I’m being entirely objective when I say the Z900RS, either naked or Café versions really are excellent motorbikes.

 

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Cliché or not cliché?

The term ‘roadster’ can be a little bit of a cliché. All too often it’s style over substance and rideability… but this is certainly where the Z900RS shines! It delivers on every level – style and performance. That to me, is the definition of a modern roadster!

 

Review and road test by Geoff P. for BikeMeet – all image and content rights reserved. If you’d like to publish a motorcycle or bike accessory review on here, get in touch via the contact page.

 


kawasaki zh2 supercharged road test review 2020

ZH2 Supernaked – This engine is bonkers!!

By pure chance, I’d managed to blag a ride on Kawasaki’s new ZH2 Supernaked at a recent Kawasaki demo day. The group ride was going smoothly through some tasty twisties of rural Worcestershire. The only slight fly in the ointment was that we were under strict instructions not to overtake anyone else. With a bike like the ZH2, this was a little frustrating…

Nevertheless, there had been a few opportunities to give the bike some beans as gaps opened up in traffic. The break came when I got separated at the junction of an A-road while the bikes in front got away.

Opening the throttle wide was to be rewarded with a tsunami of unrelenting power that had my adrenaline glands on overdrive and a grin that spilled out the side of my lid!

This was just the start of it. Going up the box at at higher revs using the excellent quick-shifter, I was on the crest of that power wave with the anti-wheelie working hard to keep the front down. It was still allowing the thrill of the front lifting as the power tried to batter the electronics into submission. The lack of fairing increased the raw and visceral sensation.

Supercharger madness

All too quickly, the madness was over as I caught up with the rest of the group and had to calm my jets. The brakes are excellent, as is the auto-blipper downshift at higher revs. It is lumpy lower down the rev range. Compared to the system on my 2018 BMW S1R it is not as smooth The ‘chirp’ of the supercharger when off the throttle is intoxicating, a sound I would never get bored of. Especially as you can do impressions to bemused friends when back at the pub…

kawasaki zh2 supercharged review road-test

The demo route was on roads I’ve ridden many times. Accordingly, I was able to test the handling. It was impressive, at 239kg wet weight the bike is not light; once on the move though this weight really does vanish. Cornering was precise & planted with quick turn-in due to the short wheelbase and fork rake angle. The Showa suspension worked well. My only issue was that the settings were very hard & the seat like a plank. I really felt this on the rural bumps. Of course it is fully adjustable & a good setup works wonders. Again however, it was inferior to my S1R semi active system. No doubt next year’s bike will come with the option of the same semi active unit as the H2SXSE+.

The instrumentation is comprehensive on the full colour TFT dash; with trinkets such as lean angle display as well as the more usual information.

Verdict

I really enjoyed riding this bike – it is a beast! Looks can be subjective, but I’m a fan of the Japanese ‘mangaesque’ style. If you’re in the market for a new supernaked, I would certainly recommend the ZH2.

Finally, thank you to Completely Motor Bikes of Worcester for organising & allowing me on the demo ride. Big thanks also to my friend Jamie Crawford who provided photos of his own ZH2 for this review.

 

Review and road test by Geoff P. for BikeMeet – all image and content rights reserved. If you’d like to publish a motorcycle or bike accessory review on here, get in touch via the contact page.

 

 

 


Triumph 900 Street Twin – Cool bike for a chilled out ride

Sports bike fan Neil has recently had to have his Suzuki GSX-R serviced and was given the opportunity to ride the 900 Street while his Suzuki was under the knife….he came to the bike with a little prejudice against Triumph bikes, but came away with a new view point altogether…

I like to say it how it is, regardless of others opinions, facts are facts, I have never had a good word to say about Triumphs. This is probably due to friends of mine who love the old ones and keep telling me these new ones are nothing like the real ones they own. This along with the fact they are not my style of bike, so here goes:

I took my Suzuki GSXR1000 in for a service, MOT, new tyre and a couple of other jobs. The dealer gave me a choice of courtesy bike: A Suzuki SV650, a scooter, another bike I can’t even remember and this Triumph. I instantly said I will take the Triumph; let’s see how poor they really are. The example they let me loose with was a brand new bike with only 150 miles on the clock – the 900cc ‘Street Twin’. My first impression as I took off was bloody hell where to I put my feet!? I have been riding super bikes all my life! As I got underway, I thought hmmm quite punchy, takes off quite well. Sitting upright, my arse started to hurt before I got home, a trip of a whole 9 miles. Not good, but I quite enjoyed the ride.

Time for another try…

The next morning comes and decided to take it for a longer ride out: Tee shirt, no gloves just enjoying the weather (I know, I know…) One thing I did notice, a couple of other bikers thought they could pass me, I even had a Audi driver race me off the lights! These things never happen on my GSXR, and I didn’t let it happen on the Triumph! I got the impression others see me cruising in a Tee shirt on a sit up style bike, they can take advantage and blow me away.

Changed Opinion:

Never mind, doesn’t interest me to be honest. Anyway, I just want to say that I have changed my opinion, I actually like the bike, I will never say another bad word about Triumph; each to there own. It’s not my type of bike, but still a nice ride, I certainly enjoyed it, another ride awaits before picking up my own bike. Oh the only one downside I thought: My left leg gets cooked by the heat radiating from the engine! I kept leaning my knee out, as the heat was burning me. That said, it wouldn’t stop me buying one…

Neil

Originally posted in the ‘Over 50 UK, still on two wheels with engine and loving it’ FB group


Moto Guzzi V7 Special III – Cool Blue – Review and Pictures

The first thing that hit me when I walked up to the V7 wasn’t anything to do with how it might ride or perform…it was the looks. For me the  combination of teal blue and orange was absolutely gorgeous, oddly reminiscent of the late 1960’s Porsche LeMans race cars in Gulf colours. I know this is a bit shallow, but there you go and the look of the latest generation of retro bikes is key to their appeal. As the trend in biking seems to continue to swing from sports bikes and sports touring towards ‘adventure’, naked and retro bikes the little Guzzi V7 is ‘on-trend’ and has pretty much nailed the retro look. With a transverse V-twin motor and shaft drive transmission the bloodline back to the classic 70’s Moto Guzzi is direct and unbroken. This isn’t a ‘tribute’ band type of bike, a Counterfeit Stones to the Rolling Stones, no this is the real deal. But all the modern amenities are there too, fuel injected Euro 4 compliant engine, traction control., ABS. The Guzzi even has a simple trip computer!

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Get aboard and the upright position with just the slight lean forward gives you that classically sporting stance, but relaxed, un-flustered. Big tradition analogue dials for speed and revs are crisp and classically presented. Thumb the starter and the V7 comes to life with a little shiver to remind you that you are on a V twin. Less pronounced that the larger V9, but still evident and still welcome. Snick into 1st and it immediately becomes obvious this bike has  sweet drive train, certainly when compared to its bigger brother the V9 Bobber I also rode on the same day. The special is a ‘proper’ motor bike, everything has a solid feel and there is no plastic adornment on the bike. However, like the V9, it really needs some decent aftermarket pipes to release the V twin character the regulated pipes are busily strangling the bike in order to  meet noise regulations.

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Once on the road I really enjoyed myself. The 750 doesn’t produce much power…52bhp and 60Nm of torque, but it is enough whisk around the country lanes of Worcestershire at a decent lick. This is no sports bike, but it isn’t trying to be and really is fun to ride….the bakes and suspension cope well with the power and get into a grove and on a sunny day and on  classic English A and B roads this bike is a honey to ride. You don’t feel obligated to try too hard, just push on briskly and popping past any traffic that appears. If you want to a major adrenaline rush, buy a MV or a Ducati….this Italian is more about making swift understated progress and looking cool. A bike to ride nowhere in particular and not to a schedule, this is a good thing…a very good thing.

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To summarise the Guzzi is beautifully finished bike: delicious detailing abounds from the paintwork, through the badging the chrome etc. This is a bike I really enjoyed. On a sunny afternoon the V7 is the perfect companion….stick on leather jacket, some wrap around shades and an open face lid and just go out and enjoy the ride. Drink in your surroundings, stop for a coffee, take your time appreciate the niceties of life


Indian 1200 Scout ‘Bobber’ – Black is the new Black….Road test and Review

Fancy a ‘full-fat’ American V twin but without the bling and attendant BS to put you off? Well the resurgent Indian Motorcycles might have just the thing for you! It ticks all the important boxes…authentic USA heritage, big V twin motor, brooding good looks and above all…it’s just cool! The ‘Bobber ‘takes the stock 1200 Scout as a base and pares the concept back still farther. Black is very much the order of the day: Black paint, black engine, black exhausts, black wheels, black faced clocks..you get the vibe….

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Low, mean…ready for action

Appropriately as I set off the Worcestershire skies were as dark and brooding as my mount, I felt like a cast member in a 1950’s film, all very ‘Rebel Without a Cause’. To ride the Bobber is very like the Scout I tried a few months ago, but with just a little more ‘attitude’ for want of a better word. The small mods making a real difference to the stance and feel of the machine. Shorter rear shocks, dropped the back end a little. Dual purpose indicators/rear light clean up the back end significantly and the much better looking (than standard) Vance & Hines pipe meant the Bobber had a bark to go with its 1200cc bite.
The Indian handles the bumpy, twisting, leaf strewn A and B roads that surround Midwest Moto with aplomb. While you can’t chuck it about like a sports bike you CAN cover ground at decent lick with a little planning. I found it great fun to hustle along making good use of 4th. 5th and 6th gears in particular. The exhaust has  great barking rasp on change downs as you blip the throttle…big grins all round!

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The gates of heaven or hell?

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V&H pipe added a bark to match the looks

The V twin motor is a perfect match for the look and the performance is strong and very easy to access, using that slick 6 speed gearbox. The brakes cope easily too with whatever you and bike throw at them within reason. In summary what we have here is a pared back take on the American dream. For me the Bobber is the perfect foil for slightly softer Scout; everybody needs a tough, streetwise brother and the Bobber is very much that sort of bike!

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Brothers-in-arms

Thanks to Mark of Midwest Moto for the opportunity to try and look cool, for at least an hour or two at any rate!

https://indianmidwestmoto.co.uk/


Moto Guzzi V9 Bobber – If Al Pacino was a motorbike… Review and riding impressions

The ‘Bobber’ style machine is a very American look with its origins in prewar racing in the USA where bikes were stripped back to help reduce weight and boost performance. It included cutting back the rear mudguard, a process called Bobbing the tail… hence the bikes became to be known as ‘Bobbers’ . In the immediate post World War 2 years customisation of demobbed military Harley Davidsons and Indians took off and look became popular on road bikes ridden by thousands of young veterans looking for excitement that many struggled to find in day to day life after their wartime experiences. It is a paired back minimalist look and in recent years has made a resurgence first in the custom world and latterly amongst the manufacturers themselves. Not only the American manufacturers have caught on but Europeans too. Moto Guzzi joined the fray a couple of years ago with their well received V9 Bobber. It adheres well to the genre; ‘balloon’ front tyres, simple clocks, jet black paint and anything not needed simply isn’t there. The Guzzi is a great looking bike, it’s V twin layout lends itself to the look well

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Guzzi have always had strong links with American culture and their bikes were even used by the famous California Highway Patrol for many years. So the blend of American custom culture and an Italian bike works well on the V9…like a Pasta  restaurant in downtown New York. The Bobber is an attractive machine and I hopped on board revelling in the low seat height, kicked back the side stand and thumbed the starter button. The 850cc V twin bursts to life and gives the bike a little ‘shimmey as the torque reaction kicks in. I snicked the bike into first and it engaged with a healthy clunk…Guzzis are a mechanical experience, and pulled away. I checked out the roads that twist and turn around the Worcestershire/Herefordshire border countryside that surround Readspeed the dealer that provided me with the demo bike. I must admit to a degree of surprise at just how well the V9 goes….55bhp and 62Nm isn’t a huge amount of power and torque, but the ballsy delivery of the Euro 4 compliant V twin pushes the bike along at a pace that is a little surprising. However it does need some fruity pipes to prove a proper soundtrack…the European noise regulations have seen to that. I wasn’t sure I would like the way the bike cornered, but again the Guzzi was very capable and fun to throw about. The brakes could cope with the performance on offer and the ride was better than I expected too. Function had not been completely scarified for form, thank goodness. The riding position is upright and the controls are all logical and easy to use. A simple speedometer (no rev counter) gets over the required info well. The bike hides all the modern tech well, it has traction control and ABS, but they are unobtrusive and the Guzzi isn’t the type of bike to call them into action often, but its good to know they are there! Fit and finish was good too, especially the suede look seat and mean black paint. The bike has a quality, solid feel.

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The Guzzi comes in at around £9k depending on how barmy you go in the accessories catalogue, this less than offerings from some of the rivals, so it isn’t bad for a bike from a brand with some real history behind it  Can an Italian bike bring home that American feel? I think it can yes, its a cool bike, looks great and performs well….I can see a brooding Al Pacino type character riding one in a film, cutting through the mean streets and rocking up outside a diner….the V9 is the real deal….


Yamaha 700 Tracer GT – The Quiet Man – Review and Road Test

The MT07 first came on to my radar when I test rode an example not long after they came onto the market in early 2014. I was impressed; the bike was fun, could be flicked about with ease and with 74bhp on tap it was reasonably brisk too. Then a couple of years ago I was on a ride out led by none other than Nick Sanders and he was riding a MT-07 Tracer that he was about punt across the frozen wastes of Mongolia (never has been one for pootling to the shops has our Nick…). If he trusts one that much  they are undoubtedly a handy piece of kit.

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Recently I have been  looking to get a more comfortable bike for longer trips and for my two up riding when the poor old Mrs gets dragged along with me. The new GT version of the Tracer comes complete with a set of colour matched side cases, a manageable seat height and on the demo I rode a comfort seat. All this on a bike for around £8k seems almost to good to be true

I took the little MT over one of my standard runs up over Clee Hill and covered around 40 miles or so. What a cracking bike…quick, cornered well and the brakes dealt with the available performance without any fuss or drama. It looked well built too and I really enjoyed myself for the hour so I was out. There are a few downsides however and I have to say the bike is a bit lacking in character…it is a bit like that quiet bloke in office whose name you can never remember and people forget to invite to the official socials. He is good at his job, always on time, never off sick and never asks for a pay rise. This is the MT07 Tracer GT to a tee unfortunately. There absolutely nothing wrong with it, the ONLY thing it lacks a little soul and ironically the ‘comfort’ seat wasn’t…not for me anyway and I come ‘pre-padded’ so to speak!

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Looking very cool in blue

Perhaps a few miles to add some scrapes and marks and an exhaust with a bit more of bark might help, but even though the bike is good to ride, offers the comfort and luggage space I am after and is great value for money it just doesn’t ‘talk’ to me

There is only one thing for it….I am going to have try ‘big brother’ the 900cc triple Tracer GT….

https://www.motorcyclemart.co.uk/

https://www.yamaha-motor.eu/gb/en/products/motorcycles/sport-touring/tracer-700-gt/