New bikes are pricey and even old bikes are creeping up in value – but you can get SO much and so many bikes for the price of a new one, CB-NET investigates: here’s part 2.
Last week we mentioned the cost of modern, brand-new bikes. Today’s Yamaha YZF-R1 is £16,500, a decade ago it as a shade under £11K but 20 years back it was just over £9000…
So, if we had £15,000 in our pockets: a lot of money, we know, but some of us have windfalls, or PPI, or inheritances or we get a few grand from a house sale. Would we buy a new bike? Pah! Never! Instead we’d go find appreciating assets in the world of used motorcycles. Last time we looked at sportsbikes, today it’s tourers but as we said last week: why not mix and match for the perfect ‘dream garage’ of sports bike, tourer, naked and the like?
And please – feel free to suggest differences… it’s all personal taste, right?
Ok so the 1100RT is ugly and looks like a frog, but it’s capable and the 1150RT looks much better. We’ve seen 1100s for just around £2000 with 60k on the clocks or (get this) one with 6000 on the clocks for around £3750… who buys a tourer and does that little in 23 years?
The 1150 is the better bike – with perhaps the best weather-protecting fairing we’ve ever used on a bike: tuck yourself in, use the electric screen and scythe through the elements. OK, so the motor isn’t a beast: it will leap away up to 80mph and then run out of puff as you head to 100, but what more do you need? The EVO power-assisted brakes are also awesome and you can easily do a 250 mile commute on a single tank. Rough ones of these also kick off around £2400, but the more money you spend the lower miles and the more kit you get: you want top-box, panniers, the heated grips and audio.
Just remember that on the 1100 and 1150 you may have a ‘compact cassette’ player… do you even still have any of those?
We also like the 1200 and have seen high-ish milers (50K) around the £3000 mark. What we would say on all of these Beemers is this: don’t believe the hype of high build quality. Fork leg bottoms pit and flake and bolts corrode easily. It’s mainly because the owners are fastidious that these machines fare well over time/miles and are meticulously maintained! Those are the ones you want to find!
Honda ST1100 Pan European
Why on earth is this amazingly-built, modern classic mile-muncher available for such a low amount of money?
How much then? Well, rough ones are a grand and below: and even the last of the line (around 2001) will still only go for around £2750-£3000. These majestic V4s are unburstable when it comes to the motor so it’s little wonder you’ll see big miles on these of 50, 60, 70 and up to 100,000 miles!
OK, we did say it was amazingly-built and we’d stand by that with the motor, but other things do let the bike down a little. The alternators can be troublesome and the swingarms can rot, often leading owners to think they should scrap the bike – but you can get replacements and make them rustproof!
So, this is the original top-up, twos-up bike: just top-up the oil, top it up with fuel, change tyres and brake pads and off you go, two-up. Much better than the troublesome ST1300 that replaced it…
Total: £3000 tops!
Ducati 1000 DS Multistrada 2003-2008
OK, we will address the most important factor of the ‘pre-beaked’ liquid-cooled before 2009 Multistrada: the original version is freakish ugly.
However, we also think ‘handsome is, as handsome does’ and this does very well indeed. Yes, we’re talking the air-cooled models here. The Pierre Terblanche-designed looks weren’t to everyone’s (well, anyone’s) tastes, even with some decent looking bikes like the Ducati Supermono and Cagiva Gran Canyon behind him.
The motor is brilliant: Ducati’s 1000DS (dual spark) and later 1100 air-cooled twins are some of the best to come out of Bologna, air or liquid-cooled. The first model has a decent enough 84bhp but the power is packed wide and long in that rev-range. Bung on some open pipes and it sounds good, too.
Chassis-wise it’s been built and developed over the tricky, difficult and bumpy Passo della Futa – so it can handle Blighty’s blighted B-roads with ease. The basic bike has fully adjustable Showa suspension while the saucy S-models came with Ohlins: yummy. Comfort is great too and the bars are even adjustable. We’d aim for something with lots of genuine extras and for a decent one with all the mod-cons and low miles would still only set you back £3500 tops… Better still, if you fancy a tiddler, the 620 version was sweet too and sits around the same price bracket.
Yamaha’s TDM900 was derived from 1991’s 849cc five-valve per cylinder TDM850 – the one with the bug-eyed look.
By 1996 the bike was updated with smoother looks and a 270-degree crank (from the TRX) which gave it more of a V-twin feel on the throttle. By the time the 900 (897cc) version had come along in 2002 it still was a comfy bike, with the motor in a Deltabox frame and (by now) was the second-best seller in Europe in the 750-1000cc category behind Honda’s VFR…
But not in the UK: we seemed to hate it, which was a shame as the punchy, fuel-injected motor delivered around 87bhp which was plenty really. With 10bhp more than the 850, six not five gears, brilliant Blue Spot Sumitomo brakes (which showed up the soft forks) and more assured handling all round (wheelbase was up from 1470 to 1485mm) it should have been a winner.
Today we’d have as late a model as we could – and they were around from 2002-2011 so there are plenty out there. What we would do is put a decent new shock in and put in harder springs and heavier oil in the forks. Price: well, lots around so don’t pay any more than £3000 and good ones can start a fair bit lower than that…
Honda CBR1100XX Super Blackbird
For 11 years the Blackbird ‘stayed classy’ being a well put together, powerful and beautifully finished powerhouse of a motorcycle.
OK, so it’s more ‘sports-tourer’ than tourer in this list, but check it out: it has 16 valves, it’s an inline four cylinder, DOHC motor. When released at the end of 1996 it produced a brilliant 164 claimed bhp with 91ft/lb of torque. All the cycle parts were also ‘par for the course’ when it came to the mid-1990s: it had an ally beam frame, a Pro-Link shock and beefy swinging arm, 43mm Showa normal-way-up forks, and smooth, close-fit fairings to cut through the air. As a Kawasaki ZZ-R1100 beater, it did the job: until the Hayabusa came along but as a tourer it still really cuts the mustard today.
Sure, it’s not as comfy as any of the machines listed above, but it’s not crushingly crippling either and it’s still 178mph fast! With 224 kilos and a 1490mm wheelbase it wasn’t going to carve up sportsbikes, which is why it comfortably sits in our list as a tourer… just a ruddy quick one!
What sets it apart are two things: quality and cost. Quality still shines through: an early 1997 bike looks just as good as a 2007 bike if well looked after. Not much changed, after all. All that did was a move to injection in 1999, an update to the ram-air system, two more litres in the tank (up to 24), revised tail lights and updates to the linked brake system. For 2001 a new LCD speedo dash was also introduced. Those linked brakes upset the journos of the time – but not us.
Price wise you can start at two grand… TWO GRAND! But we’d spend the rest of our £15,000 (do the maths) and get something polished and standard then keep it and watch the prices rise…