Fast Bikes - - CORE TEST -

One thing I’ve ne­glected to men­tion thus far when it comes to buy­ing used, is that quite of­ten pre­vi­ous own­ers ad­dress a bike’s weak points for you. Or, they leave lots of stuff they pur­chased on them. While com­pletely stock tends to be the pre­ferred sales stan­dard, it’s still nice when there are bits and pieces sav­ing you even more cash.

So, Ben’s ’Blade had a Pipew­erx can, some nice levers and an af­ter­mar­ket screen al­ready fit­ted. The BMW had an Akrapovic ex­haust and a few choice extras, too. All of these things weren’t cheap and may be some­thing you’d have wanted to fit for your­self, so it’s yet an­other bonus for buy­ing used, es­pe­cially if all the stock kit comes with it. Added to that, chances are there will be brand new rub­ber on too, so in­clud­ing price, parts and maybe new shoes that’s a win, win, win sce­nario.

But on to the Honda, and I must point out that 2008 ver­sions are on the mar­ket right now for around £5,000. Con­sid­er­ing the bike barely changed for years, and that most Hon­das are in great nick, you may not even need to stretch any fur­ther fi­nan­cially to get what you’re after. But slightly newer, like Ben’s or sim­i­lar, are more than worth look­ing at. It’s only when you spend some time on the oth­ers that the Honda’s shine wanes a lit­tle, yet if it’s a Fireblade you’re after, you’ll never know what you’re miss­ing – but will still be ab­so­lutely made up. The Honda is just so easy to do every­thing on, you can do an en­tire ses­sion on track near your own limit with­out even break­ing a sweat. It may not make 180bhp, but you’ll never get bored of the torque curve, just look at the graph and you’ll see how it mon­sters the oth­ers – right where you’ll spend most of your time on the road.

With the Kawasaki, it’s es­sen­tially a bang up to date, thor­oughly mod­ern superbike with all the mod cons you’ll ever need and few foibles to contend with. Yes, it can be a bit barge like some­times, yes the long gear­ing and seem­ingly ab­sent bot­tom end sits in stark contrast to the Honda and, yes, not every­one likes their bikes in green. But con­sider this – you can’t see much of the bike when you’re rid­ing it, and there are other colours avail­able! It may not be to every­one’s taste, but when the dash is do­ing the funky chicken as it blazes straight past 10,000rpm to­ward Ninja heaven, I very much doubt you’ll care what it looks like. And this bike from Fowlers was as if it had just come out of the box, like brand new, it was in as­ton­ish­ing con­di­tion for a five year old, sub-£8,000 beast.

So, the BMW. You’re prob­a­bly not sur­prised to learn it wins here but at the same time it’s

true that we’re stretch­ing our price point quite a bit. The thing is, de­spite the Mark I’s frayed edges, it’s still an ut­terly lu­di­crous bike to own and if we were able to find some around £7,000 just re­cently, there’s bound to be more com­ing on the pri­vate mar­ket sooner or later at around the same fig­ure.

If you can go the ex­tra ten yards then a 2012 is the one you re­ally want, the first ‘com­plete’ S 1000 RR. The dif­fer­ence be­tween the first and sec­ond gen­er­a­tion is pal­pa­ble rid­den back to back, but be­tween 2012 and 2017 you’re talk­ing much thin­ner de­grees of sep­a­ra­tion, but for far less out­lay. And I love the lit­tle touches, like the asym­met­ric nose, and the ge­nius idea of putting num­bers on the sus­pen­sion ad­justers mak­ing life so sim­ple – wind anti-clock­wise for road and clock­wise for track – why hasn’t every­one done this?! It’s just an­other rea­son the BMW is a clear win­ner here. True, some peo­ple al­ways want brand new, but smash­ing the granny out of a vir­gin isn’t ever as fun as some­thing with a few miles un­der its belt, n’est pas? And in an ideal world it would be this BMW I’d opt for, ex­cept for one fresh fly in the de­ci­sion mak­ing oint­ment.

Just as I was clos­ing this test, I came across a pri­vate 2012 Kawasaki ZX-10R, less than 6,000 miles, in black, su­perb con­di­tion, with a full ti­ta­nium ex­haust, quick-shifter and other clever mod­i­fi­ca­tions for, drum-roll, £6,899... Now, given that even as stan­dard this model of­fers about five per cent less abil­ity than the brand new 2017 ma­chine, but for less than half the price, per­son­ally speak­ing that’s what I’d go for. That’s too much bike to ig­nore, and I’m frankly not sur­prised that for a few years you couldn’t find any of these ma­chines on the used mar­ket. With the new ZX out last year, used ex­am­ples like this are now ap­pear­ing, so get out there and go fill your boots!

Have I got some­thing in my teeth? Rossi, he ain’t... Re­mem­ber 2010? Ah, mem­o­ries!

You naughty girl, you...

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