I love motorbikes! More to the point, I love motorcycles and have been fortunate enough to have a job that allows me to try out all the latest models when they come out. As my wife will grudgingly attest to, I also have been known to buy a motorbike and sell them on occasion too.
Which is why, when I get speaking to like minded individuals, the conversation always ends up leading on to the same question. ‘So, which one is your favourite?’
Relieved to hand the keys back
That’s a tough, almost impossible, question to answer and usually depends on which way the wind is blowing. A ride down the road on a sports bike will certainly blow your mind but, at least in my now blown mind, they tend to be rather generic and way too ‘good’ for public roads, never mind my own average abilities.
Triumph Daytona 675
A couple of years ago I was lucky enough to spend a few weeks with a Triumph Daytona 675, a truly magnificent bike that is probably the best real world sportsbike you can buy. It made me feel like a hero everytime I rode it, but at the end of the day the practical side of me was just relieved to hand the keys back and get back on the clunky old BMW R1100RT I was riding at the time. Well, at least it didn’t hurt my wrists and had space for more luggage than just a pair of underpants.
Mind you, that BMW makes a good case for being my all-time favourite too. Ok, so it came out of the mid-90s, but it was well ahead of its time in lots of areas, with ABS and electric everything. I bought mine cheap and did 2,500 miles in three months before selling it on. That bike was just so comfy and easy to ride in the four trips I made to Scotland on it.
That said, I spent most days cursing the Bee-Emm and waiting for it to break down (which it never did, thankfully). Much as I liked my time with the big boxer, I think that it’s the trips we made together that are lodged in my mind.
More about the motorbike memories than the metal
You see, as I note down this list I realise more and more that it’s about the memories than the metal. As I try to answer the all important question, I realise that there’s a story attached to each and every one: R1 (rode it at Monza), Road King (trip across South Africa), Super Blackbird (flat out down Bruntingthorpe), ZX-6R (my ‘this-could-end-up-in-jail’ moment) and Speed Triple (well, just because)… the list goes on. But when I think about it, and strip away the nostalgia, do you know what my favourite bike is? I really surprise myself…
Well I suppose I always had a penchant for the Yamaha XJR1200/1300 in the mid-90s. I never actually owned one, but it always looked such a ‘proper’ motorbike. Then, when I finally rode one, it was one of those ‘don’t meet your heroes’ moments. Very disappointing….
Wild motorbike – 1980s-style superbikes
But then came Kawasaki’s ZRX1100. Unashamedly designed to appeal to those who remember wild 1980s-style superbikes. The ZRX is another proper motorbike but this time one with the go to match the show. With an amazing ZZR engine in a chassis topped off with a neat 1980s type handlebar fairing, it truly looks the biz. And I love the wide seat, riding position and, well, everything about it. Sure the suspension is a bit low rent. The later S version adds half-fairing practicality at the expense of looks. But it’s just what I think a motorbike should be.
Retroheads will love the fact that it looks like an old Z1000 or early GPz. But I’m too young for that. For the record, my youthful reminisce is of Niall Mackenzie and Nori Haga wanging around on YZF750s. I’ve got one of them and love it!
So my favourite bike is a parts bin special, a mid-range model that excels in nothing in particular. Long live the Kawasaki ZRX1100. I’m heading off to that well-known internet auction site to find the going rate on a green one!