Monday, 4 August 2008

What I want from a motorcycle, revisited

At about this time last year (although that really is purely coincidental), I put down my thinking-as-I-go list of what I'd like my next motorbike to be like. At the time I said that I had "at least two years". Oh, to laugh hysterically. Probably, realistically, a little bit longer than that.

But I thought it would be intriguing to revisit the topic and see how my opinions had changed or, alternatively, not.

So, here goes:

Two cylinders. This one remains. I still don't like four-cylinder bikes. They're good for racing, but on the road they don't seem to be the most useful solution. And they don't sound as nice. Or feel as nice. And are less fuel-efficient.

Triples still sound good, but the Triumph Tiger feels weird to sit on and frankly there are better looking weird-looking bikes out there. The Benelli Tre-K (get it?) is exotic, but honestly? A Benelli? I've got more sense than that. Which means that a twin it is, by default.

Heated grips. I'm still not going to argue about this, so don't even bother trying. If the bike I end up choosing doesn't come with them stock, I will be getting an after-market kit.

More power. Well, yes. As if it's even possible to get less power than a Seca II these days.

A comfortable riding position. Yep, still current. There just really doesn't seem to be any point to sacrifice a bit of comfort for a bit of speed unless you race. Anything else is just wankery.

A good range. Again, still current. Current financial situation curtails the weekend jaunts a bit, but a good day's ride, or overnight camp, is made a bit tedious by having to fill up three times between home and destination.

Flexibility. To reiterate: Must be able to go hard. Must be able to go far. Must be comfortable. Must be easy at slow speeds and stop-start traffic. Why compromise? This is now even less necessary as technology marches inexorably onwards.

Rough road ability. Yeah, still a handy idea. Not only does this make the occasional dirt road and more interesting camping trip possible, but it also comes with the consequence of tougher tyres and rims. Which is handy.

Adjustable suspension. Well, actually, I can't be bothered any more. The changes of me fecking it up are, in all honesty, better than the chances of me making any improvement to the way a factory-standard bike behaves with my riding ability.

Luggage. Better to say: "Luggage attachment points". Right now, if you get a Yamaha TDM, an excellent base for long-distance, most-of-Australia tourer, you can get factory luggage for it at nearly $1,000 per pannier and, to add insult to insury, $300 for the mounting hardware. Ditto for a top-box. Or, you could drill through the existing rack to mount a top-box, or buy from Givi or Hepco & Becker or even Rjays and save yourself about 300%. Realistically I'm not going to get a bike with nice universal attachment points. That's not how the gouge-the-bastards accessories market works. But it'd be nice, is all.

A bit of design flair or passion. I repeat: Why the hell else do you buy a bike? Even BMWs are getting a bit interesting these days, and this is still as good a reason as any to not buy a Honda.

Clever. See above, but this is probably going to be the most likely point of compromise, given probably price points.

Semi-faired. I still don't like fully-faired bikes, and I still don't like naked bikes. Luckily, most of the interesting ones, and most of the adventure tourers, pretty much fit the bill. I'll also add to this a decent windscreen.

A power outlet. Yes, still handy. It means I could use my mobile phone as a GPS tracker and not have it go flat halfway through the ride.

Oh, and one more thing: An easy way of adjusting the drive system and checking the oil. Realistically I'm unlikely to be able to afford a bike with a shaft drive, only Harleys (and Buells) and the F800 come with belt drives, and the only "easy" way to adjust a chain is with a well-designed single-sided swingarm that won't let you fuck up the alignment. But even they all need the right amount of oil, which, without a on-side-stand-only check system which I have never heard of, needs the bike to be level. What this really all boils down to is: Put a centrestand on more bikes, you tight-arse bastards.

Anything else? Well, since it can be done simply and cheaply with aftermarket bits and bobs, how about Tyre pressure monitoring. While we're on the subject of wild leaps into the known, I'll add fuel consumption monitoring on cheap trip computers on cheaper bikes.

But I'm getting away from myself.

That is actually a disappointingly not-very-revised list. Only a couple of modifications of priority, but... Am I really that predictable, or did I make the right decisions first time around, or do I desperately need to get out and test-ride bikes on a flimsy pretence? Hmmm, that sounds like fun...

Link to the original post.

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