Yes, we’ve seen a drastic improvement in safety and performances levels since the turn of the century, but this test was far more than a trip down nostalgia lane. This quartet offers something for every pilot and, as we constantly blabber, the used market is there for abusing. Not all of us (not least us journos) can afford the latest offerings and this test demonstrated that you don’t necessarily need them anyway.
There are obviously things to be aware of when scouting for used bike talent that’s nearing the 20-year-old milestone. The UK is brimming with gifted painters and bodyshops, which means hiding nasties is an easy task nowadays. Without scaremongering too much, we live in a world full of nasty bastards, so don’t rush into buying something you’re unsure of. At the same time, don’t be afraid of Cat C/D damaged bikes if the history and trust is evident. What’s remarkable is there’s now extensively talented bikes out there for as little as £1,500.
There’s no real finishing order here, more of a celebration of what’s on offer. As previously mentioned, there’s something for every taste and budget, but the Honda CBR600F falls short against this competition in almost every aspect, bar price and practicality. Not only are there plenty of examples, there are plenty of clean examples too – thanks to the 400,000 sold before the RR took over.
This stunning Ducati 748S ticks every luxurious box imaginable. Its fussy dynamics and horrible ergonomics make it redundant for commuters or those looking at lengthy journeys, but there’s something intrinsically special about the 748. It makes you feel special, although finding one is now becoming more challenging.
On the contrary, in the Suzuki GSX-R750, you could have yourself one of the best handling sportsbikes ever built readily available if you don’t mind 20,000 milers. Most have been decorated with shit stickers and anodised bolt-ons, but the inherent aptitude isn’t skin-deep.
Dynamically, there’s only one bike to go for here. There isn’t the buyers’ appeal that comes with the original model, but the 2001 Yamaha R1 is the bike I could spend the most time in the saddle, it’s the bike I’d want to spend most time riding. There’s only one concern with the 2001 R1 and comes in the shape of Suzuki’s GSX-R1000 K1…
It’s a strong look. Maybe a bit too strong.
These boys can’t get enough of some layby action...