E, is now the right time to buy a nearly new bike?
Triumph Street Triple, New £7499 Used from £4700
The Street Triple’s balance of power, light weight and torque made it a huge hit. 2013 saw a sharper styled new generation launched.
than a new one, and does a three-yearold MT still cut the mustard against its similarly aged rivals?
There are pitfalls to buying used. New machines come with a two-year manufacturer’s warranty, which will have expired, and after three years a bike also requires an annual MOT. Is this an issue? If you buy from a dealer you can often negotiate a warranty for peace of mind, and unless the bike’s been terribly neglected or abused then an MOT should pose no problems.
“Very few bikes fail their first MOT on anything other than consumables such as tyres or brake pads. Although on machines such as these, head bearings can cause a failure but they’re not a massive issue to replace,” says fellow tester Mark White, a mechanic who runs his own bike business.
So mechanically there shouldn’t be any downsides, what about service costs? Again, Mark gives his advice: “PCP plans insist the bike is regularly serviced, and if you buy a new machine you would be a fool not to adhere to service schedules,” he reckons. “But you need to be aware if the bike is nearing its valve clearance check, as this procedure can add a few hundred quid to a service bill.”
But the biggest concern for any used bike buyer is one of vanity. Does a threeyear-old bike look and ride like its age suggests? Surprisingly, no.
That’s the great thing about the current crop of middleweights. Out of the Street Triple, Z800 and MT-09, only the Yamaha has been updated since 2013 and it has only received small fuelling and suspension tweaks, and gained traction control this year. Visually, nothing has changed on any of these models, so aside from a digit on the licence plate, they look just the same as the latest 2016 models. However, on closer inspection a few of the used bike perils do raise their heads.
Carrying the most miles on its clocks, at 11,386, the Z800 displays a few typical used Kawasaki traits. The brake line ends were showing discolouration and Seller says 2012, 12-reg, 6830 miles, FTSH, two owners from new, Datatool System 4 alarm, belly pan. MCN says Very clean example with suitably low mileage and useful modifications. Looks great in black. the axel nut had lost its plating, while the aftermarket exhaust barked loudly. Zed owners are far more likely to customise their bike than Street Triple or MT owners, so this is to be expected, but overall the bike has shrugged off its mileage remarkably well. While the Street Triple appeared standard, a quick look at the shock revealed the spring’s preload had been wound off, Seller says 2013, 13-reg, 2600 miles, FSH, two owners from new, sports screen, tail tidy, carbon can. MCN says The modifications don’t add any value, but it’s super-low miles and in nice condition. hinting the bike has been lowered for a shorter rider. When buying used, your first task should be checking and returning the suspension to standard settings if required. And the MT-09, which had covered less than 5000 miles in total, was showing surface rust on its shock, which isn’t a complete surprise. Overall, the finish on the MT far exceeds what you would expect on a bike with such a budget price tag, but the MT’S suspension has always been its Achilles’ Heel.
From the first day MCN rode the MT-09 we found the overly long fork and soft shock gave it a floating sensation, whereas the Z800 and Street Triple feel far more secure in corners. The evidence in front of us certainly backs up our suspicions that corners had been cut on the MT’S suspension, and experts agree. Darren Wnukoski, who runs MCT Suspension, has seen more than his fair share of MT-09S.
“We’ve had over 50 MTS through our door,” he says. “The standard suspension is very poor, but a £240 fork oil and spring change and a £400 Öhlins shock transforms the bike.” Does the standard suspension ruin the ride? While most owners agree it isn’t great, they learn to live with it as the rest of the bike is so good. Especially the engine.
Again, it isn’t without its faults and Yamaha pretty quickly issued a fuelling map update to rectify an overly abrupt throttle, but the MT- 09’s motor is leagues ahead of the slightly sterile Z800 and relatively underpowered Street Triple. The Yamaha’s triple is an engaging engine to use, brimming with the real spirit that has been sadly sucked out of the Kawasaki’s inline four in the name of usability. The throttle is certainly sharp, but compared to the muted Kawasaki I’d much rather have a bike with a bit of fire in its belly than a super-flat power delivery. And while the Triumph’s triple is beautifully smooth, when you ride it back-toback with the MT-09 it feels like you have to spend your days wringing the Triumph’s neck to get it to perform. Which it most certainly does, just in corners rather than on the straights.
Against the soft Kawasaki and floaty Yamaha, the Triumph is pinpoint precise in the bends. Aim a Street Triple at a set of corners and it never fails to impress. If Yamaha had given the MT a similar set-up in 2013 it would have been even further ahead of the field than it already was.
Which brings me to answering this road test’s overriding question – is it worth buying a three-year-old bike over a new one?
Sign up for PCP on any of these bikes new and you will spend around £5500 over three years before having to hand the bike back. Opt to go for a used example and you can buy a three-year-old MT-09, Street Triple or Z800 outright for the same amount. Yes it will be a three-year-old bike, but it will be your three-year-old bike not a finance company’s. Buy a good one – which isn’t hard to do – and it will look as fresh as a new bike and may even perform a bit better if you spend some of your saved cash on simple upgrades.
Which is the one to go for? Europe has spoken with their collective wallets and new or used, the Yamaha MT-09 is still the front-runner if you want a do-it-all middleweight with style and spirit.