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...