Moto Guzzi V100 Mondello – A New Dawn for Guzzi?

Recently I was lucky enough to have an hour long test ride today on a base specification Moto Guzzi  V100 Mandello. It looked great in white with gold wheels.

It’s a handsome beast in my opinion

For once this ‘summer’ the weather was playing ball: Dry and cool at 15c with a high overcast cloud cover. Later it got sunny close to the end of the hour. I trundled my Yamaha R7 the hour’s journey from my home in Wymondham down to Stowmarket in Suffolk.

Here I was greeted by the Mototechniks Aprilia/Guzzi/Piaggio salesman and a quick sign up to provide my licence and NI number before a demo of the controls. Always good to be given a run through as modern bikes do tend to have so many toys these days

Formalities Over Let’s Get on With it!

Heading out onto the A14. I did an 18-19 mile loop a couple of times that took in fast A road, a sweeping B road and a twisty B road with sharp bends. I also mixed in  some 30mph village and light traffic through the middle of Stowmarket.

Just under 40 miles in about 58 minutes of riding provided a reasonable overview of the bike. First impressions on moving away from the shop is a little disorientation from the polar opposite riding position and weight/balance from the R7 I’d just stepped off: The V100 is taller and the higher bars with lower, more forward pegs made manoeuvring the increased weight tricky initially. By the time I’d got the bike out onto the road and rolled up to the A14 slip road roundabout I’d acclimatised enough to give it some berries onto the dual carriageway.


It picks up very cleanly from low revs with a good shove of grunt. Then at about 5k rpm it begins to bellow nicely from the airbox and takes off with an impressive surge. The base spec bike doesn’t have the Quick-shifter that is standard on the S model. Another thing to adjust to having just been riding the R7 with its Yamaha optional fit Q shifter.

The Guzzi  isn’t too keen on clutch-less changes unless the throttle is dipped well. So I find myself dipping the clutch for as clean a change as I can to match the smoothness of the engine. Turning off the A14 onto the A140 I press on through some long corners with reasonable elevation changes. Then past the Stonham Barns turning and onto the Stowupland junction. Here I turn onto the B road running through the rolling Suffolk countryside with a selection of S bends and sharp turns with occasional 30 and 40 limit villages.

Getting Into the feel of the Mandello Now

I’m getting the flow of the bike and starting to throw it into the turns a little more. The leverage of the bars and the excellent suspension and brakes mean it’s an easy bike to press on with: Nimble without ever getting twitchy. The Guzzi pulling up well for the tighter turns and lunging forward away from them with little effort and grin inducing noise. Returning through the outskirts of Stowmarket it’s an easy bike to manoeuvre through traffic and 30mph limits. Often balancing at standstill for a few seconds before pulling away and only then realising you’d not put a foot down.

Lets Go Round Again…

I begin the loop again, pressing on more this time and swapping the riding mode from Road to Sport. There’s a Tour and Rain mode too, but I didn’t bother with them. I even lowered the electrically adjusted screen. I let the bike rev out as I head down the slip road onto the dual carriageway again and it is mere moments until the speedo is reading high enough that I have to roll off to preserve my licence and click the cruise control on!

Time for a chill

The cruise and other functions work well: Easy to operate and the TFT dash is clear and informative. Not only that but it’s also very pretty. Anyone with a modern Aprilia is aware how good this set of electronic equipment is. Therefore it came as no surprise that the application here is as effective as those stable-mates.

It’s my first experience of it and I’m very impressed. Back onto the twisties after another blast along the Single Carriageway stretch of the A140 and I’m able to press on more, pushing as hard as I had on the R7 on the way through earlier. Once you get used to the balance and how quickly it turns with the leverage the bars give you it’s possible to string together a lovely flowing rhythm and the response of the engine in sport mode is just a little crisper to back this up. I trundle back into the dealers after filling the bike back up in the BP station next door, before handing back the keys. Incidentally the big V Twin ‘s used just over 3 litres of fuel in the hour I was out.

The verdict?

Overall I have to say that it’s a hell of a thing. It’s a physically large bike and you can feel it’s a heavy one too. Particularly stepping straight off an R7. However, it’s been really well thought out and just works whatever you throw at it. It feels a teeny bit more top heavy than my old V11: The engine is a taller.  Still a 90° V twin it’s the overhead cams making it taller when compared to Guzzis of old. In addition moving the Fuel Injection etc to between the cylinders has put more weight higher there too. However, as soon as the bike is rolling it just flows along effortlessly.

They’ve really put effort into the build quality and components and the base spec suspension feels as good as anything I’ve ridden on the road. Certainly on a par with the Ktech kitted R7 and miles better than the stock R7 fit.

God knows how good the S model is with the Ohlins kit. Brakes are brilliant, being decent specification Brembos you’d expect that. The clutch is light yet positive: Another brembo master cylinder.

Love the Meaty V Twin and Intuitive Tech

That all new engine is an absolute hoot too. OK so 100hp isn’t setting the world alight but it’s enough to outpace regular traffic comfortably. Just as importantly the way it does it is hilarious: The Mandello sounds amazing.

The electronics and dash, along with the fun little things like the electric screen and winglets just make it fun without being gimmicky.

Can it Take Life on UK Roads?

The test bike has been in use since December and has covered over 1000 miles in all weathers and road conditions, through the months of salt and ice. Whilst benefiting from a good cleaning regimen and ACF50 it’s held up very impressively and still looks like new. I’m testing a Ducati Supersport 950S next weekend, so will decide between the Guzzi, the Ducati or another sports car  after that. Currently a Mandello S in green is top of the list.

Words and Pictures: Dave Court

Checking out Surfing Country: Cornwall by GS and Thundercat

For reasons that I can’t fully explain this year I just didn’t fancy a bike trip over in mainland Europe. I wanted to just stick a few bits of kit on the bike and head out somewhere. No ferries, passports, green cards, copies of my logbook etc. Simple was the order of the day, just as biking should be. Again in the simple ethos of the trip it was just me and my old partner in crime Andy on this run. No trying to line up the availability of half a dozen mates. Even this can be a difficult task sometimes!

Destination Needed

So where to go? Scotland or Cornwall featured on the shortlist. Scotland is a long haul until you get to the good bits. So the land of King Arthur it was! The funny thing with Cornwall is that I don’t see it as natural pick as biker’s destination unlike Scotland. Possibly because the area is so associated with the surfing sub-culture and family beach holidays. Anyway destination selection made I booked a 2-bedroom cottage on the Devon/Cornwall border. A couple of weeks later we headed for the southwest meeting up with Andy on route. He was on his trusty BMW R1200GS while my weapon of choice for the week ahead was my venerable, but very capable Yamaha Thundercat.

No Need for Distractions

I find it therapeutic just to be on a bike and up to now I have resisted to the temptation of going ‘connected’ and listen to music, a sat nav or even take mobile calls while riding. The isolation is part of the pleasure for me, even when just humming down the M5. Now Cornwall isn’t exactly what could be called handy from the midlands so we broke up the journey with a visit to the excellent Jet Age aviation museum near Gloucester. This  is well worth the effort of a divert if you are in the area.

Parked up at the excellent Jet Age Museum: Bizarrely old friend flew over us in a Robinson R22 helicopter while we were parked up!

Great Accommodation is Key

Once down there we found our digs for the next few days pretty easily, a holiday cottage just outside Launceston. Again keeping it simple: No erecting tents in the pouring rain to the light of your bikes main beam! It proved to be a comfortable, well located and convenient base for the next 5 days. As I alluded to earlier and Cornwall is not natural bikers territory, but that doesn’t stop it being a fantastic part of the world to escape to for a few days. No work, no family to keep happy. Just me, my bike and an old mate in a similar frame of mind. Best of all the phone signal was generally crap too! In other words proper escapism!


The next few days saw us picking along the north coast. Here the views are stunning and (in an off peak week at least) the roads quiet. The pace was deliberately gentle, which is fine: You don’t have to ride everywhere with a rocket up your jacksy you know! Sometimes it pays to roll off the throttle and just wonder along and take in the peace and quiet. We made our way from the north to south coast. Checking out the lovely little villages that hug up against the cliffs and broad, sandy beaches. Places such as Boscastle that was famously devastated in floods about a decade ago. Visit there now and it seems hard to believe that the places was torn apart to such an extent.

Home of the Odd Place Name

Other noteworthy places included the home of the long running TV series ‘Doc Martin’; Port Isaac. The village is blessed with extremely tight and twisting streets and was very busy, so we didn’t linger. Pretty place though. Generally, the views are great and beaches open and attractive, creating a real draw for the surfing and water sports community. We, however just gently trickled along wending our way from village to village, checking out little tea rooms or pubs when refreshment was needed.

Places with wonderful names evocative of times past and redolent of old Cornwall, of smugglers and fishermen: Crackington Haven, Boscastle, Tintagel (great name, but actually slightly disappointing), High Cliff, Port Isaac, Port Quin, Polzeath, Rock, Wadebridge, and Padstow. The later is the home of the famous Rick Stein seafood restaurants and chippies.

Grass Up the Middle

In the great tradition of our ride outs Andy even lead us down some pretty remote lanes with grass growing up the middle. He excelled himself this time though and found a lane that required me to negotiate a ford on my longsuffering Thundercat! Cheers mate! I also threw one of my traditional strops! A bike trip isn’t a bike trip without at least one ‘Blue Sparkly Dress’ hissy fit moment from me.

Can’t beat a bit of paddling

Aston Martin DB7 in an ‘interesting’ colour scheme

We did mix a little quicker work with all this pottering. We discovered that while Cornwall  might be knee deep in VW Type 2 campers piloted by middle class surf dudes pretending to be poor, some of the inland roads do offer the scope for some spirited riding. The Thundercat was more in its natural environment here and the A39/395 and A30 are all enjoyable roads that still offer great views as well as good riding. Somehow Cornwall, despite its popularity has managed to retain a feel of isolation and getting away from it all, in off peak periods at least

Andy did consider tackling the slipway on his adventure bike, but couldn’t find that mode on its computer…

Good Old British Weather

Any biking trip in the UK irrespective of the time of year leaves you at the mercy of the weather  and sure enough we had days when clouds and rain were more prevalent than sunshine. This didn’t stop the fun however as the worst day we rode into Launceston to check out our nearest town and its rather magnificent Norman/medieval castle. The visitor centre was manned by an extremely talkative lady and Z650 owning guide. I must admit that talking air-cooled Zeds wasn’t what I had expected on entering the castle, but it was an entertaining diversion!

Charming Tea Rooms

The views from atop the castle keep were impressive. You could certainly see why it had been chosen as a key defensive position it so dominated the surrounding area. Well worth a visit if you are in the area. Launceston was also home to ‘The Red Chair Cafe’ where I enjoyed a cuppa and good natter with the owner about bikes: It turns out he has a Yamaha MT-09 Tracer and as soon as we went to sit down he presented us with a book about classic bikes while we drank our tea. One of the regulars (also into his bikes) brings them in for customers to look at! He was sat at the next table to us and we were soon nattering away about bikes. The interior of this smartly presented little cafe is also fitted out in the style of the Art Deco period and the chairs are of the ‘Mackintosh’ type. Great little place.


Salad Pasty Anyone?

By now the weather had improved so it was back on the bikes once we found them. We went back to the wrong bike park initially! Heading over Bodmin moor to check out the charming little port of Fowey, which is a lovely town and with great views over the River Fowey estuary and it was in this town we finally got our hands on a Cornish Pasty. Unbelievably they don’t do a salad pasty (now there’s a concept…). Sadly I was FORCED to have a traditional one. To make matters even worse they only had large ones left. The sacrifices I make…

A small ferry runs across the estuary and we decided to take it in order to go to Polperro. I last took this ferry back in 94 whilst riding my old Yamaha FZ750. I was in the area while visiting friends based at RAF St.Mawgan. Hard to believe it was so long ago. In the end we skirted Polperro as we enjoying the ride too much to stop. The Thundercat was running beautifully despite having sat under a cover in the garage for much of the last few months. Shame I don’t find the riding position as comfortable as I once did. The time for a ‘sensible’ bike looks to be upon me. Update: I subsequently bought one of these, but also kept the Tundercat too.

Rounded the Trip off Nicely

The final day in Cornwall saw us ride across the spectacular Bodmin Moor and head for the National Maritime Museum in Falmouth. A great ride despite being all main roads as the moor provides a suitably spectacular backdrop. The museum itself is excellent and manned, by knowledgeable and friendly staff. I particularly liked the Healey speedboat on display as you entered the museum, but the place was full of interesting exhibits and had a watch tower with a brilliant view of the harbour area.

Less Than You Might Think

A ride around the headland and a blast back over Bodmin saw us back at our digs for the final evening. Base for the week was a converted barn and it was most comfortable, and cost effective compared to B&B’s and even camping surprisingly. Off peak the area is surprisingly affordable: The price was £355 for 5 days for a well-appointed, 2 bedroom cottage. This is excellent even if the Range cooker had us baffled initially! The local town of Launceston was a good place to stock up on provisions and The White Hart pub served hearty food, including the biggest burger I have ever seen! I needed a good pint of ‘Proper Job’ ale to wash it down. It’s a hard life sometimes!

The Long Trundle Home

We wrapped up the South West run by plodding back up the M5. Once again we broke up the tedium of the journey. This time at the Bristol Aerospace museum, the star exhibit of which is the last Concorde to be built or flown. This is on display in a new state of the art hangar. Riding past the amazing Brunel designed Clifton Suspension bridge was also a personal highlight

So a great few days away and travelling by bike is always special somehow. The area may not be a bikers heaven like Northern Spain, or even Wales but the place does have an atmosphere and feel all of its own: The desolation of the moors, the beautiful beaches, the pretty little harbours and a bike is great way to get they and check out all the little nooks and crannies. One tip though: Don’t ride around the area flat out. Take in at a laid back pace, roll the throttle back and just enjoy your surroundings

Words and Pictures: Tony Donnelly


Ducati Multistrada V4S – Adventurous Style

Whilst I gently pondered on what to do with my slightly leggy KTM, in proper motorcyclist fashion I started to contemplate the new options. Having previously tried a couple of the Japanese Adventure bike offerings and being less than impressed, I looked a bit closer to home, Europe.  In my head there are certain attributes that all the premium European Adventure bikes have:

Time to Try One Out

So, it looks like the first port of call is the Ducati Dealer in Worcester. I’ll ignore the purchase price and servicing costs for the moment and tick the V4 box. I need to get my priorities right!!

So, Saturday morning comes around and after a quick bit of admin I’m in possession of the keyless key and staring at a rather stylish looking motorbike.

The Handsome Beast (This was also the name of local Birmingham band in 1980’s you know…)

A quick run through of the controls before setting off. However, I had no intention of playing with electronic suspension or throttle settings.  I am sat astride the Italian beast ready to hit the starter button whilst I admire the LCD screen. Hitting the red button awakens the engine is a muted steady beat, unlike the usual Ducati L-twin bark. Then easily snick it into first gear and let out the light clutch and we’re underway.

Neatly presented information on the TFT screen

First impressions are that you sit slightly “in the bike” rather than on it. Possibly because of the tall tank and the location of the LCD panel. The bike is light to manoeuvre especially with the wide bars. There is something a little strange with the exhaust though; it seems to lag the throttle by ½ a second: You open the throttle expecting a joyous noise but nothing initially and then close it awaiting the thrum and bark but more of the same. When it does catch up, the noise is great, different to anything else I’ve ridden. Maybe I need to be on the throttle quicker or perhaps the engine is tuned to the seemingly obligatory Termignoni or Akrapovič aftermarket pipe that all Ducati’s are fitted with. We’ll ignore the £1000 on-cost!

Speedy locals

As I round the corner of the Worcester city one-way I tuck in behind a local chap (Worcester dealer plate) on a newish z1000. Well, he clearly knew the local roads and wasn’t shy in showing me how quick his bike accelerated. Well, I thought I’d see if I could keep him company and give him more chances to show off. Thankfully, the Ducati was more than capable of keep up: It turns out that even after only 2 miles on a demo bike that I was quite significantly “making progress” along the dual track out of Worcester! Perhaps I should show a bit of caution. Play time stopped as we went our separate ways but I didn’t care, I was on my regular route home along the A44. A 25mile route of sweeping bends and short straight that makes for a glorious ride that I had been enjoying daily (and getting quicker) on my KTM. This should be a good comparison!!

Lived up to Expectations

Well, the Multistrada didn’t disappoint, throttle response was great, instantaneous power delivered smoothly and endlessly accompanied by a glorious blarr from the exhaust. The ride was smooth and controlled, soaking up the bumps and undulations and very little fork dive when braking for the occasional tight bend. It tipped into the corners with ease and gripped effortless. Watching the rev counter climb and looking out to the open road I was definitely “in the zone”.

Was I going quicker than on my KTM? Possibly, but not by much. What it does show is how easy a ride this bike was. Do I think that I would run out of talent long before the capabilities of the bike? Oh  yes, something to keep very much in mind! I am sure that sometime during the summer I had considered buying a lower powered bike to slow me down. Foolish boy! In short, by the time I was home I was slightly smitten.

Slim and you sit in rather than on the V4

I walked the boss-lady/financial controller around the bike. She thought it was lovely too but did insist on asking the sensible questions about price and whether I really needed a bike that was that powerful or had that many toys. I mumbled some suitable comments. Time to quickly get going on the return to the dealers before the Spanish Inquisition pointed out the blatantly obvious and I am forced onto a NC700X !

Meander Back to Base

The return trip was taken in a slightly different manner, no need to explore the limits of my skills with this bike. So my best Rossi impression (Valentino not Francis) was not required. Just a brisk blast back to Worcester in the summer sunshine, enjoying the unlimited power and its forceful push along the road along with how sweetly it turned into the corners and rode the imperfections.

Handing back the keys gave me a chance to talk to the dealer principal about costs, servicing and residuals. Turns out the servicing is not as scary as I thought. They are still eye watering but so is the KTM I currently rides. The residuals no worse than the KTM, but the kicker was the price-tag ! By the time I’d added the things to make it a daily commuter  the price tag started with a 2! Even with the £1800 promotion that was current at the time and no fruity Termignoni pipe!

So a much as I was truly impressed with the bike and it many talents, I couldn’t justify the additional £4k over the equivalent KTM. Maybe if I’m feeling really flush in the next 18 months I could be tempted….watch this space !

Words and Pictures: Stuart Holiday

BSA Gold Star – Singularly Pleasurable

The world of motorcycling has been submerged under a Tsunami of nostalgia for many years now. Arguably as far back as the 1990s and the launch of the first significant ‘retro’ bikes, such as the Kawasaki Zephyr range

As the demographic of motorcyclists has collectively aged we seem to have an increasing desire for bikes that hark back to what we perceive as simpler, happier times

Part of the Come Back

The new BSA Goldstar is aimed at that market slot. It’s almost as if the collapse of the British motorcycle industry never happened.  You can go out and buy new bikes from Ariel, Brough-Superior, AJS, Triumph, Norton, Royal Enfield and now BSA.

Ok so in the most part they come from factories all over the world, China, Thailand and notably India, but it shows the strengths of the brands that they have been so successfully resurrected

The new BSA Gold Star has been causing quite a stir hacking back as it does to one of the true legends of British motorcycling. It was with great anticipation that I set off for my first ride on an example. Has the legend being honoured or defiled?

Is it True to the Legacy?

Well it depends on your point of view. There is a school of thought that original was a very sporting bike, at the front of the pack back in the day, more akin to a R1/6 or GSXR of its time. So the new model should be in that spirit, modern and sporting. Then there is the more popular view that it should dial in to the look, feel and pace of traditional ‘Brit-bikes’, but with modern conveniences. No I don’t mean it should have toilets, rather it should be easy to use, ride and reliable

The boy is back in town

So, is it Any Good?

I am happy to report that it meets the traditional brief beautifully. As I made my way along some  typical British A &B roads through some truly beautiful Worcestershire countryside, it felt completely in tune with its surroundings. This kind of running is the new Gold Star’s ‘happy-place’. The surprisingly perky 45bhp, 652cc water cooled single provides enough pace to enable the rider to enjoy the sweeping nature of these typically British roads.

Water-cooled and emissions friendly, the engine still very much looks the part

The suspension is simple and effective. I didn’t bother checking for adjustments and setting. I just hopped aboard and rode away.  In fact the ride comfort in particular is good. The bike is composed and very controlled at the pace I was riding, hovering in and around the national speed limit. I love the Pirelli Phantom tyres. Not just for the grip and feel they yield, but they look great too. I remember many a big Japanese superbike having these fitted back in the day. Brakes are again, simple, effective and with a good feel at the lever.

At Ease With Life

This is just what the bike is made for: No particular place to go and no rip snorting hurry to get there. Just ride in a flow in unison with your machine. Take in your surroundings, the sights, the aroma, the feel. Then rock up at a local pub, cafe or bikers hang-out for a cuppa and butty. The perfect way to spend a day, especially when the sun is on your back.

Just head to a Country Pub. What’s not to like??

Build quality on the example I rode seems good. Evenly applied deep paint, lustrous chrome and neat castings and mouldings. All better than the Mash 400 I tried a few years ago. I would say its comparable to the other big player in this market place, the Royal Enfield Interceptor.

Looks are convincing in isolation, especially when viewing the right had side of the bike: The exhaust flows down and back in true Gold-Star manner. For future updates I’d point the chaps at BSA towards the other side of the bike. In addition the integration of the radiator needs a little more work

Some good details

Cool Clocks

I really like the simple analogue clocks, that sweep, just like the original, across the lower halves of the dials. Quirky and kind of cool. Bit weird at first, but you soon get used it. I also like the nod to the old Brit-Bikes where the circular warning light pack was integrated into the headlight pod, where often an ammeter or some such would reside.

Forget the Past?

So have BSA pulled off a fitting tribute to the original ‘Goldie’? Having never ridden the original it is hard for me to definitively say. No it doesn’t emerge from a factory in Small Heath, Birmingham (as an Aston Villa fan this makes me happy). Yes the engine does have its roots in a 90’s BMW F series Rotax unit. However none of this matters.  The new Goldie, is an enjoyable, good looking bike that is an easy-going pleasure to ride.

The Beezer would be the perfect foil to your modern gizmo laden sports or adventure bike. For days when all the fhaff that goes with those bikes is rather tiresome. You just want to ride, find a nice place to stop and have a chart with likeminded folk, while the sun glistens gently off the bike’s paint and chrome. Perhaps you have a traditional old British bike and don’t want to be tickling carbs, kick-starting a big single and performing running repairs. Or maybe you are one of the new generation bikers who just love the look and vibe of a traditionally styled machine. It ticks all those boxes

For £6500-7000 (March 2023) it represents a good value way to get your yourself onto a stylish enjoyable machine. Get yourself down to your local dealers, try one and maybe come back with a piece of the action

Words and pictures: Tony Donnelly

Thanks to Mark at Mid-West Moto for the use of their demonstrator.

Honda CB600F Hornet – Ride it Like You Stole it

My name is Rachelle and I have been riding motorbikes for 34 years. When I started riding there weren’t many ladies riding motorbikes or if there was we didn’t know about it because social media wasn’t a thing. I had to play out with the boy’s. Thankfully with the rise of social media lady riders have now shown their faces! Quickly I realised there are more of us than we ever knew. Apparently there are 5 million full motorcycle license holders in the UK of which 525,000 are women, excellent news!

In the Beginning

I started with the good old two strokes: First a Honda Ns125f and then on to the wild RGV 250 SP.  Finally I settled down with my old faithful my 2009 Honda CB600F Hornet FA-9 ABS.

Before that however I bought a 1999 Hornet from the Motorcycle Mart in Kidderminster in 2013. This was a carburetor fuelled variant. My husband adopted this one in 2015 when he passed his test. He loved it, lucky boy but my current Hornet is one that I bought in 2015 from Sutton Honda in Bromsgrove is on a different level. I aim to keep it because I believe the traditional 600 class may be dead and buried with the advent of euro5.

The 1999 Hornet, that became the ‘Hubby Mobile’

So What’s it Like Then?

Right on with the good stuff, my bike is a dream to ride but it really gives you good feedback if you ride it like you stole it. People really underestimate these reliable little tools: Often they are seen as a starter or a commuter bike, but it has a lot more to give: The in line four cylinder 16v engine develops a useful 101bhp 16v engine. OK while the motor has lost around 16bhp when compared to the RR, it has the same of torque and that’s what really matters on the road. Not top end power figures. Let’s face it none of us can out run a speed camera!

This fairly grunty little engine is stuck in a light, chuckable and agile chassis. The whole package weighs in at only 173kg. This makes the lithe little Hornet a bit of a weapon a wolf in sheep’s clothing if you like.

The Honda boasts  Ø41mm upside-down forks and high speed stability is flawless. The Hornet thrives on being cranked into a bend. However a slight adjustment on my rear shock was needed, because I was scraping the belly pan on the floor. Opps!

Honda’s Dual breaking ABS system stops you when you need it too but who needs breaks eh?

Sensible Too!

The bike will, if ridden with restraint, return you around 62mpg from its 19 litre tank. However the fuel injected engine  saps the juice if you spend most of your time keeping up with the big boy’s! Hey ho, that’s what makes it fun!

The Hornet’s RR-derived engine is incredibly reliable and has very few faults. I have had the occasional regulator/regulator  failure. This is a bit of a Honda blind spot. On the whole though it has never let me down. The only advisory it’s ever had on its MOT history was tyre close to worn. I can live with that!

Handsome Beast

The Hornet was shaped by Honda’s European design studio in Italy, and built there at the factory in Atessa. I had to Google that!

But this is my Baby!

The seat height is 800mm. Adding to this the seat is quite wide and comfortable. The down side of this is that it restricts a lot of women, who are often vertically challenged from being able to touch the floor easily. Although there are options of lowering the bike and scooping the seat out available if you hunt about.

The digital LCD display is basic but sufficient. Ok it doesn’t have all these fan dangled riding modes like all these modern bike’s, but in my eye’s that means there is less to go wrong.

Tough too

My little bike lives outside under an Oxford cover and has never failed to start. OK except on one occasion when I took it for its last MOT and it laughed at the MOT tester when he tried to start it up. It needed a new battery as the old one had given up after about 5 years service. With regular servicing and a bit of love, care and attention these little bikes should reward you with many years of fun!

I will leave it there so as not to bore you all, but do not underestimate these little bikes, because they have a sting in the tail!

Words and Pictures: Rachelle Hornby

Murray’s Motorcycle Museum – Isle of Man

As might be expected of a place with such a strong link to the world of motorcycling, through such legendary events as the TT races, the Isle of Man loves all things two-wheeled.

Nowhere is this more evident than at the eclectic and quirky Murray’s Motorcycle Museum. Located not far from the famous Fairy Bridge on the road to Castletown

I visited during the Manx GP in 2022 and as a result the museum was really busy. On a lovely sunny day it was great to be mixing with so many likeminded people. As an additional bonus the bike park itself was like miniature bike show! A stunning BSA particularly stood out for me. We hadn’t even gone inside yet!

A very traditionally attired gentleman and his beautiful BSA

(Picture: Julian Oliver)

Once in, having paid the (very) reasonable entry fee of £5, you are greeted by what is, frankly, an assault on the senses. There are bikes and artefacts literally everywhere. I would advice that you go around slowly. Make sure that  you look up and side to  side, making sure to look around things. There are items of interest absolutely everywhere

So Much to See

Obviously the bikes are the star attraction, but there is so much else to see. Old engines, artefacts and memorabilia abound. The Raleigh Chopper pushbike with a moped engine/transmission installed just hanging on a wall is a prime example. As are all the old photos and posters from years gone by taken at the TT and other events held on the island.

Engines and memorabilia abound

First bike to catch my eye was (obviously) a Yamaha RD350LC. I seem to have acquired a reputation for always including a reference to, or a picture of a RD I’m many of my posts, blogs and articles. Well this one will be no different! A stunning white LC, what’s not to like??

Yamaha RD350LC

Amongst the bikes on display was a tidy blue Honda 400/4 once owned by a friend of mine (hello Helen!)

My old mate Andy was certainly enjoying himself

The mount of a legend

Impressive line up

We ventured up the slightly rickety stairs to be greeted by yet more bikes and displayed packed with fascinating items

You have to take time to absorb all the detail

Mick, also enjoying himself

The bikes on display spanned the decades

Still enjoying himself

Overall the museum is an absorbing place to visit.  I would highly recommend that you pop in and visit whenever you’re over on the island for  any racing events, or even just as a tourist.

Words: Tony Donnelly

Pictures: Tony Donnelly and Julian Oliver (BSA)

Ducati Scrambler 800 Classic – Grand Old Thing

Recently I passed a (very) minor milestone on my Ducati Scrambler Classic: I clocked up my 1,000th mile on my pretty little V twin. It has taken me around 18 months of ownership to reach this point, and here resides the crux of the problem:

As I said, I had owned the Ducati about 18 months and covering only 1,000 miles over that time can hardly be described as ‘sweating your assets’ to use an industry term.

The odd thing is the bike is an absolute hoot to ride. In addition it is comfortable for the limited distances I have traversed on it. So why have a managed such a meagre amount of miles?

It has Competition

Well a few factors have played their part. The Scrambler has competition for my precious ‘biking-time’: I am lucky enough to own another couple of bikes. One of these in particular is a supremely comfortable and capable sports-tourer. So that tends to get the nod for my longer distance, longer term outings. The other in older 600 with a Givi rack and box. So that tends to get the slot for the odd bit of commuting I do in the summer months.

The other key thing counting against the poor old thing is just how good looking it is and the excellent condition it’s in for what is now an eight year old bike. the result is I don’t like going out in bad weather or on grubby, muddy, wet or salty roads: It would seem cruel!

It’s a good looking bike

Therefore before the Ducati gets the nod I have to be going fairly locally in decent weather and not carrying anything other than me!

However whenever I do use the bike the thing is an absolute pleasure. But not perfect. Read-on:

Performance is brisk and plenty quick enough to nip past any traffic with ease. The little Ducati is a ‘naughty’ wee thing and it seems almost to ‘egg-you-on’. Honestly officer…Oddly this perkiness puts me in mind of my barmy Spaniel dog! Always into mischief! Laid back, the Scrambler isn’t. The  delicious rasp from the Termignoni high-level exhaust, just adds to this character.

The fuelling isn’t spot on though, so a bit of fizzing and popping goes on. Adds to the fun, but can be a tad embarrassing in some situations. Throttle response low down the rev-range can be slightly ‘fluffy’. However I can live with it to be honest, so clearly it’s not that intrusive

Good in the Twiddly Bits

The handling remains great on the road. Islands and roundabouts can be attacked with some verve. Although a second disc on the front brakes would be welcome. The retardation available when compared to the S2R1000 Monster I ran previously just isn’t as good.  To make matters worse the disc that is fitted seems to be very slightly warped.  As a result you feel a little wobble on it as you shed the last few mph off under gentle braking. I can live with it on the basis that a new disc front Ducati is £300!

The forks remain a little harsh in feel. I certainly don’t think the off-roading capability would be that great if you were to venture away from anything much worse than a graded gravel track. Despite the high rise exhaust, engine bash plate and the  dual-purpose tyres fitted. I might go for straight road tyres if I keep the Ducati for a while.


Reliability has been total, but in 1000 miles on a low mileage bike so it should be! The Scrambler is only on a total of 4000 miles now. Finish is still virtually perfect, but the Ducati lives snuggled up in a  garage under a tartan blanket!

So the main problem is that the Scrambler is too pretty and in too good a nick! There are worse problems to have in life it has to be said! A service is looming, so let’s see what that brings….

Words and Pictures: Tony Donnelly

KTM 1290 Super Adventure S – The Life and Times of a Crazy Austrian

It has been a while since I did a running report on my mighty 1290 Super Adventure. My KTM has been my faithful daily transport to and from work racking up 200 – 300 miles a week. All without much issue apart from the usual servicing and fuel any bike would need. The odometer is now showing 33,000 miles. Not bad for a four  year old bike. I get a sense of  shock and  horror from FWR’s when I mention the mileage.

Man and machine in harmony. Isn’t that a hairspray?

The bike continued to prove to rapid transport on A roads and dual carriageway roads in the main. I wont mention my Banzai approach to high speed filtering,  but having a super bright LED headlamp is very useful to alert drivers: Assuming they’re not playing on their phones. It’s comfy on poorly surfaced B-roads and reasonably manoeuvrable in an urban setting, accepting the fact that it’s a physically big bike with a lumpy V-twin engine.

Unsurprisingly its not all plain sailing….

One morning, the “Ready to Race” button decided to not work which left the bike completely incapacitated. Not even a flashing LED! Thankfully, it happened in the garage at home so the bike was safe. A quick call the KTM assistance resulted in the local recovery mechanic coming out and reviewing the problem. In spite of trying to dissemble the switch surround (he went further than I did) but we agreed that it was unresolvable in-situ and recovery to the dealer was required. Unfortunately, he didn’t come in a suitable van so his colleague was called and he departed.

So, a couple of hours later the colleague arrives in a suitable vehicle and we start to try and remove the bike. However, as the button was not working, the steering lock could not be disengaged! This in turn meant that it would only track in a large radius arc. This wouldn’t have been a problem but the bike was next to classic car and there was a high possibility that we would have run out of space and damage the car. At this point he wasn’t prepared to take the risk, advised me that I’d need to call KTM assist again to get a specialised bike transport company to come out and collect the bike and promptly left !! Useful. A disgruntled call to KTM Assist resulted in a promise to send out a more dedicated operative would be with me tomorrow: Doubly useful, not.

A New Day Dawns

The following day, with the new guy, a bit of planning and the deft manipulation of the bike on the side stand, between the two of us we man-handled the bike into the van. Once strapped in off  it on its merry way. I ring the dealer to forewarn them and returned to my kitchen table so that could continue to WFH.

The next day, I give the dealer a call to find out about progress, to be told the bike hadn’t arrived !! Now slightly perplexed and panicking that the bike had evaporated, I ring KTM Assist again. Turns out the guy who collected the bike was on holiday that day and the bike wouldn’t be delivered until the following day. Good job this isn’t my primary transport for work then isn’t it. FFS

After three days the bike finally arrives at the dealers. However not before the transport guy had snapped the grab rail by lifting the whole weight of the bike on it. In fairness the offending part was replaced at his cost. The dealers diagnosed a faulty switch and ordered a replacement from Austria. A week later I collected it from the dealers and normal service resumed.

Feeling the Pressure

Whilst riding home one summer evening the TPMS warning flashed up to warn of a pressure drop in the rear tyre. Thankfully, I wasn’t too far from home so with a level restraint, something I’m not known for, I nursed the bike home. Removing my helmet so I could investigate further resulted in a “hiss” greeting my ears. No, its not my Tinnitus from driving classics for years. Clearly, the TMPS is working and it must be a big hole if the leak is audible. Sure enough once I’d spun the rear wheel around a suitably big hole duly appeared.

Crisp, well presented information allows you spot flashing warnings with ease

The following day I wheel the bike out onto the drive to give it a clean before removing the rear tyre to get a new one. It’s a much nicer job if all the road grime is removed. Easy up onto the centre stand and washing commenced. All was going well and the cleaning complete, I knocked the bike off the centre stand and onto the side stand prior to wheeling it into the garage to remove the wheel. I settled the bike on the stand, released my grip to move the hose pipe out of the way to make a clear path and promptly watched my bike topple over!

More Damage

[email protected]. It landed with a crash on the drive-way. The hand guard shattering into a thousand pieces. With my rage induced super strength I pick the 200Kg bit up and put it back on the centre stand to survey the damage: Hand guard smashed, mark on the wing mirror (thankfully nothing smashed), bent rear brake pedal  and a big scar on the tank side panel. Double [email protected]’s!  Back into the garage, ring the dealer to order a new hand guard. The side panel replacement was put on hold whilst I pondered on a local repair at paint shop or wrapping the whole bike.  Finally out came the rear wheel out and off to the tyre shop. A week later the hand guard is in and fitted and the new tyre already had 200 miles on it.

Covid Strikes

Covid brought a drastic change in my riding. Six months with no job meant that the bike sat languishing whilst I hunted for a new position. In the middle of summer I managed to find a temporary job that was not very well paid but better than nothing. The KTM was pressed back into service as my daily transport. Thankfully I have a massive top-box on the bike so I could carry all the gear I need. Whilst I was travelling, I was noticing some hesitation in acceleration Initially I chose to ignore this and nurse the bike along until I got a better paid job so I could afford to get it investigated. The the prime suspect was chain and sprocket which were showing some level of wear at 18k.

Respect the Limit!

Things were going well until early one summer  morning. There I was barrelling along the main road to work: Suddenly I had a lack of forward motion and an easy revving engine. Having coasted to a suitable layby, it was time for an investigation. Well it would appear my suspicions were spot on: The chain had escaped like a python in the night and that would explain the lack of motion.  Another call to KTM assistance (thankfully my policy was still valid!) and the bike was eventually in the back of a van and on its was to the local bike shop. Thankfully it was still open.

They ordered a new DID chain and sprocket kit and I returned home to go and get the car and off to work.  Three days later the bike was collected along with a comment that the front sprocket had no teeth on it and I was lucky when the chain came off that it didn’t wrapped around my leg or wreck the crankcase !! Mental note: 15K on an chain and sprocket is the limit !

Keeping it Local

A new job in the autumn brought another change to my riding pattern. Now I had a mere seven mile door to door commute! It took me longer to get changed than riding to work! Clearly, such a short run is not sufficient to charge the battery. Especially if I used the heated grips and seat. So the heated seat was turned off and Fridays turned into ‘Flying Friday’s’ as I did a quick 20mile loop around the back roads to charge the battery. This served to blow the weeks cob-webs out. It seemed to charge the battery but the longer I rode the bike the more crunchy the gear shift was getting.

Pump it Up

It clearly wasn’t a chain and sprocket issue. I assumed that the clutch slave cylinder was on the way out as pumping the lever seemed to improve the situation. A new Oberon cylinder was ordered after a bit of forum surfing and the local guys fitted it one afternoon. All seemed to be ok initially but after a week, the issue returned. I immediately thought that the new cylinder was the problem, so I rang Oberon who were then very helpful and sent out a replacement. Whilst awaiting its arrival, I rang the local boys and booked in a slot for replacement. The replacement duly arrived and the bike was in the workshop and the strip down started. However, when they took the old cylinder off they notice an accumulation of engine oil behind the cylinder. This is feeling like it could get expensive!

They took off the crank case cover and there was a weep from the clutch rod seal. What was happening was that the oil was leaking out of the crank case and into the cavity behind the slave cylinder. This then prevented the cylinder from working properly. Only with the use of excessive lever force could the cylinder rod move by pushing the oil out of the cavity. It might explain the slight oil misting around the cylinder I had noticed. To be honest I’d not paid attention to as it was in the area where front sprocket caused an oil mist build up previously. One partial strip down and rebuild and I was back up and running.

Back on the Long Slog

Another new job in the summer again changed my riding pattern. This time is was a 45min trip along some glorious sweeping A roads and bypasses: Suffice to say I regained my biking mojo. I was  starting to re-profile the very square tyres of the last 12months: My chicken strips were becoming a dying breed.

The bike was absolutely awesome on this sort of going. Pulling fast out of corners on demand, barrelling down the dual carriage ways, stopping with vigour when required and generally looking after me when I over exceeded my talents. The consistency of the route mean I was getting quicker and quicker but still well within the capabilities of the bike.

Unfortunately, all this enjoying myself and using the bike how it should be meant that I needed the 28K service all too soon. Thankfully this is not the big one when they adjust all the valve clearance etc. Whilst it was at the dealers, who were nearly as cheap as the local guys, had a quicker lead time and offered a loan bike, they pointed out that the tyres, chain and sprocket, disc and pads were all getting to the end of their life.

Weighing it All Up

They gave me a quote for replacing everything and I went away to have a ponder. Without the tyres it was nearly £1500 inclusion of  the fitting. This raised the question; could I find a better bike for money. Whilst I was there, I enquired about a new bike. However the PX price offered by the dealer was frankly pitiful! I concluded after some consideration and discussion that refreshing all the parts would be the most cost effective solution.

They’re What!?

Biting the bullet, I ordered all the parts in advance of the two week of the fitment date. A week before the fitment date I rang them to make sure that the parts were in. KTM can sometime be a bit flaky with the parts delivery. I didn’t get an answer. I left a message hoping for a call back. After the weekend, I tried again but no reply so I pinged them an email this time. Still nothing. A couple of days passed and emailed again. Then followed up with another call only to hear ‘Kestrel Motorcycles have now ceased trading, please refer to the receivers for any further enquiries’

Oh No! More than slightly panicked I made some enquiries. It seems that even if they had my parts, which they couldn’t confirm, I was 6 weeks away from getting them.  Assuming I could prove they were mine. Thankfully, I had paid for all the items on my credit card. A a quick call to them resulted in them refunding me and going into battle with the administrators to get the money back.

This gave me a chance to ponder my decision again: Do I continue with the repairs with the other local dealership or the local boys, neither of which inspired me with confidence or do I go for a change??? The decision is a story for another day.

Overall, a Great Workhorse and a Huge Smile Generator

In the 33k miles the bike has been continually awesome. Regularly it caused me to chuckle inside my crash helmet like a naughty school boy. It has done everything that I have asked it to do. Apart from the above minor issues has been reliable in all seasons. In snow, with temperatures down to -7ºC and summers up to 38ºC. In torrential rain, wind and every other permutation between. No, I never did anything than commute on it or even change any of the settings on the bike. Simply there was no need. The KTM was that good.

A dependable, but potent friend

Quality wise, it was top draw apart from the small component failures. The powder coating was going matt on the rear wheel. However in fairness I think that was from me continually trying to clean off the chain oil residue. This being a function of running a Scottoiler. The orange paint on the crank casings had faded too, caused I think by my cleaning regime again. There was a little bit of engine paint lift where a small rock had hit it.

In short it the KTM significantly more reliable and robust than the very popular German rival that I rode previously. For anyone in the market for a upmarket full sized adventure, buy a KTM 1290 Super Adventure. You won’t regret it based on my experiences

Words: Stuart Holliday

Pictures: Stuart Holliday and Tony Donnelly

Honda CD185T Benly – Ringing Endorsement

It is a long time since this willing little Honda passed through my sadly abusive hands. The CD185T seems to be virtually extinct now. But for anybody out there who must have one or is about to look at one here are my experiences:
The exact detail of how I came to own her are shrouded in the dustier corridors of what is laughably called my mind. As I remember a  colleague had been using it as a winter hack. When spring came he wanted shot of it. He was only asking £90 so I thought “why not” and promptly bought the bike from him. I think there was even some MOT and tax left!

A Rich Heritage

The Honda CD185T Benly, to give the twin cylinder bike it’s full and not especially glorious title could trace it’s blood line back to the famous giant killing racing 125 of the 1960’s. However by the time YVF 823S came into the world all sporting pretension had been firmly snubbed out. She still looked pretty racy next to a C90, but that was about your lot!

Honda CD185T (not mine…it was somewhat tattier than this example!)

No, the CD was the commuter tool for those who ranked high mpg numbers as a priority. Riders who liberated their waterproofs from the local council road repair crew! So, saving the tarmac rippling capability of my GS550 purely for fun(!), the 185 was pressed into service on my 5 mile cross country hack to work.

The engine throbbed away willingly enough and gave a passable impression of an old Singer sewing machine. Acceleration was definitely present, but you had to be pretty sensitive to detect it: All the local milk float drivers used to give me very smug looks. However on one glorious rip down the A11 towards the teeming metropolis that is Attleborough a heady velocity of 85mph was reached on the lonely speedo (no rev counter). To be honest what the speed actually was is anybody’s guess as the needle used wave up down the scale just like those on old British cars such as the Morris Minor.

What, no rev counter?

Well the Brakes Were There, Technically

On balance speed was best kept to a minimum anyway as the brakes were not exactly brilliant. The appropriate lever was there, connected by cable (no flashy hydraulics here!) to a drum like device in the middle of the front wheel. Only problem was that no matter hard I pulled on the lever very little in the way of actual retardation seemed to take place. Luckily I am a fat bastard and sitting up always seemed to produce a surprisingly effective air brake!! The only other way to stop was to hit the rear brakes as hard as the kick start lever! Double discs? For pansies on R1s! Seriously, I dread to think what a rider of even a vaguely modern bike would make of the Honda’s pathetic stoppers, you have been warned!

Sparks Fly!

Handling? On a 185 Benly, are you kidding?! Having said that I did get a huge amount of fun from scrapping out the foot pegs at really shallow angles of lean! It threw up huge arcs of sparks behind me! Be careful when indulging in this rather silly practice as the foot pegs don’t fold back.

In summary you don’t need to spend thousands on a Harley for crap ground clearance, glacial acceleration and useless brakes. As a bonus the fuel consumption is better too. Nor do you don’t have to dress up like up an American cop/ Peter Fonda in Easy Rider/ the bloke in Village People (delete as appropriate), to ride it. Seriously, performance was OK for work and back in Norfolk where everybody thinks traffic is the name of a weird German rock band.

Cheap Trick

Running costs were low: It seemed to go for ages on a tank of fuel. I didn’t actually ever work out what the fuel consumption was. Assume about the 70 mpg mark. By the way watch out for leaking fuel filler caps. This affects the 125 and 200 versions too and is a real pain. My tip is to make a new cap gasket out of an old inner tube.

Tyres seemed to withstand the modest power and braking stresses put upon with ease and no detectable wear took place on my Honda. The bike came fitted with Avon Speedmasters and these things last forever anyway. Chain and sprockets can wear pretty quickly if not lubricated and adjusted regularly. This is the case even when enclosed as on the Benly. Replacements are cheap anyway so don’t worry too much.

Get what you pay for

The Honda was built build down to a price so finish wasn’t great. If you buy one that still has the original steel mudguards it would be worth painting the inside with under-seal as they rust pretty quickly. I should think that most are already too far gone by now anyway. The exhausts rotted out between the down pipes and the silencers, but I just had a mate weld in a section of steel tubing to rejoin them. This was economy biking you know! One thing you must do is keep the oil nice and fresh: Don’t let the interval between changes go anymore than 2,000 miles. Small Honda’s do not like grubby oil.

Happy Ending?

My time with the Honda only lasted a few months; you see I had met a woman and she had her wicked way with me. Marriage was the only option (my Mom had stopped doing my washing), and I needed an engagement ring. One problem, no money. So the 185 was sold for £100 to pay for this trinket. I kept the Suzuki GS550: I wasn’t going to fall victim like so many to the pressures of married and family life stopping them biking. Today I still have the wife (and a bike), she still wears the ring that the Honda was sacrificed for. So in way the 185 is with me even now. Anybody know a good solicitor?

Words and Pictures: Tony Donnelly unless stated

Kawasaki Ninja 1000SX Review – Top Gun Tourer?

When its time to decide to purchase a new Motorcycle there is so much choice these days, you only have to rock up at biker café, a bike night or an event like  the TT and there will be hundreds of bikes and not one of them will be the same. So why did I opt for the Kawasaki Ninja 1000 SX ?

Why the Ninja Got the Nod

A few reasons, the brand name and reputation, I’ve owned two Kawasaki’s before and  loved them both. Then there is the aesthetic: A bike has got to look right obviously.  Also I was looking for a faired bike after many years of riding naked bikes. Finally a key factor for me was being able to put my feet on the deck!

My initial thoughts was to go for a Yamaha Tracer 9000 GT but when I called into Fowlers in Bristol one Sunday morning I was only just able to touch the floor on tiptoes and just didn’t feel safe. I wasn’t too impressed with the split two piece TFT screen either.

Tip Toes

I had also considered the new Triumph Tiger 900, However I had the same issue with the seat height.  As a result the Adventure Tourer option didn’t seem to be right for me, so my thoughts turned to Sports Tourers.

So in November 21 I made the fatal mistake of dropping into Completely Motorcycles Worcester “just to have a look”!  The Ninja 1000SX caught my eye and I could touch the floor flat footed too: Result!  So the following Saturday I booked a test ride and on damp cold November morning took a ride out to Bromyard on the A44 and back and just loved it.

Good Deal, left me with no option!

The next thing I know, after being given a very generous trade in offer on my FZ8 (only £2500 less than I paid for it 8 years previously!), and somehow managing to convince the Finance Director (AKA the Mrs!) that it was good idea, I’d put a deposit down on this black and White 2022 Performance Tourer edition.  2 weeks later it’s delivered to my house at no extra cost just in time for Christmas!

The Clever Stuff

So a bit of the technical stuff,  the Ninja 1000 SX Performance Tourer is 1043 cc 140 bhp16valve in line four, with more power and grunt than you will ever need on normal road riding.  It pulls from 30mph in 6th gear if required but use the gear box and it really shows its capabilities.  You’re doing license loosing speeds very effortlessly and its sewing machine smooth.

It came fitted with a Carbon Fibre Akrapovic end can as part of the Performance Tourer option.  It’s more pleasing to the eye than the OE Standard “rocket launcher” and gives it a deeper tone but it’s not loud courtesy of the catalytic converter. The baffles can be removed. However it means drilling a 12mm hole in the Carbon Fibre tailpipe and according to Face book group comments it doesn’t make much difference to the noise levels. Understandably then I haven’t bothered.

Generously appointed

Other options that come as standard on this version are the Kawasaki OE heated grips, crash bungs, the tinted tourer screen, rear seat cowl and colour coded hard Panniers.  It has a very intuitive TFT screen (a bit more about that later) Kawasaki’s Traction control system with 4 settings, Rain, Road, Sport and rider specific. Rounding off a very comprehensive list are a quick shifter that handles both up and down changes, and finally cruise control.

Nice telly

The OE heated grips look the part and are easy to operate but I would describe them as barely adequate. They don’t get hot, even on the hottest setting, just about take the chill off at best.

The tourer screen is slightly bigger than the standard one, which you get in the box if you ever want to re fit it. It’s also is slightly smoked and is adjustable through four heights via simple push button.  I have experimented with each setting and whilst you can tell the difference it’s minimal: I tend to leave it on the 2nd or 3rd settings. These seem to suit my 5ft10 frame and does a good job of taking the wind and rain off your chest.

The seat cowl replaces the standard rear seat, (again this also comes in the box) and looks the part. It’s very simple to remove and swap with the pillion seat.

Luggage Too!

The colour coded panniers are excellent, they look the part and locate and lock onto the rear Grab rail.  Slot in and slide forward and lock in place with the ignition key, the opposite to remove.  The LH one was a bit stiff and tricky at first but that’s eased off with use.  They unlock and open like a book and come with a pair of very natty inner bags that have a carry handle that are perfect for small clothes and perfect if you have an overnight at a B&B, no need to remove the panniers which are big enough to fit a full face helmet.

Doing what it is best at

The Telly is Good

The TFT screen is easy to read and has two basic themes.  Both options have a black background with white lettering or light background with black writing.  It’s fairly easy to navigate the various screens. All the usual information is there: Time, fuel consumption, range, etc.

It has Bluetooth connection to your phone but doesn’t have the SAT Nav capability like the New Suzuki GSX 1000 GT.  The Kawasaki Rideoligy App does connect to your phone. Sadly it is a real pain to set up, but you can review the settings etc from your sofa. However, to be perfectly honest it’s a gimmick only and not much use.

What a Revelation

The quick shifter is a revelation! I’ve never had a bike fitted with one before. It makes going up though the box an absolute delight. Just keep the revs on and click it up through the box with ease.  It’s very smooth and really easy to use. Going down the box is not quite as smooth and takes a bit of getting used to.  I tend to use the clutch on anything from 4th down. The system can feel a bit clunky. On the plus side it’s great for dropping down 2 gears coming into roundabouts!

The cruise control is fairly simple to use: One button to switch it on. Then up and down to adjust the speed by a mile per hour at a time.  Close the throttle or touch the brake and its switches off.  Very handy on long motorway stints or speed restricted areas but not used it much on normal road use.

Traction Control system has 4 settings, Rain, Road, Sport and a rider choice option.  I tend to leave it in Road. I have used Rain (when it’s been wet obviously!!)  and tried the Sport option too. The later you have to try! Overall though, being honest it’s difficult to really notice the difference under normal road use.  I guess it’s doing its job without being obvious. It’s a nice comfort blanket I suppose!

Out on the Road

So what’s it like to own& ride? In short it’s excellent: The best bike I’ve ever owned and ridden.  Power is smooth and smile inducing, handling is solid and predicable, corners brilliantly on the OE fit Bridgestone S22 Tyres. I’ve just replaced them after 3500 miles with a new set of Bridgestone T32’s. Hopefully these will be as good but last considerably longer.

The fruity pipe just adds to the fun!

Grinning from Ear to Ear

So In summary: If you’re looking for a good all-around bike that’s fun for scratching on a Sunday morning, or a tourer to ride all day long with the practicality of the panniers and cruise control etc. then I can highly recommend it.  It brings a smile to my face every time I ride it and in my opinion it’s a looker too, particular in the black and white colour option.

Words and Pictures: Richard Hale

The rivals:

Suzuki GSXS1000GT



Yamaha Tracer 900GT