Used bikes that’ll go for­ever

These old-timers just keep chug­ging along. Kawasaki ZRX1200 (2001-2008)

Motorcycle News (UK) - - This Week - By Neil Mur­ray

BMW K100RS (1983-1992)

The orig­i­nal Brick: the four that was sup­posed to re­place flat twins for­ever, but didn’t. Its in­cred­i­bly tough en­gine will run for 200,000 miles. Fuel in­jected and built like a brick out­house. The RS was the so-called sporty one with the very aero­dy­namic fair­ing and slightly taller gear­ing than the naked K100. It went to 16v and Motronic (rather than LE Jetronic) fuel in­jec­tion in 1989 and later mod­els also got ABS. It will do 140, and is very, very stable at speed though a bit buzzy be­cause the en­gine has no bal­ancer and is rigid mounted. Gear in­di­ca­tor switch fail­ure means re­mov­ing the swingarm, which is a pain, and cor­ro­sion can af­fect the in­stru­ments, but that’s about it.

What you’ll pay now £800-£2000. But should you? Oh yes – go for a snap­pier and chip­pable 16v with ABS.

Honda CBR600 (1987-present)

They just don’t break. Honda’s wa­ter­cooled 600cc four was a di­rect ri­poste to the Kawasaki GPZ600R, which started the whole 600 su­per­sports thing. Honda put in the same qual­ity con­struc­tion that they put into the orig­i­nal VFR750. The build was sen­sa­tional; the fin­ish su­perb. You could buy one, com­mute on it, thrash it, ride it to a race­track, prep it for a pro­duc­tion race, and then ride it back again with no trou­ble at all. The bikes were care­fully up­graded ev­ery few years (more power, even bet­ter qual­ity, bet­ter com­fort, and even­tu­ally al­loy frames) but there was never a duff model in the range. Fi­nally, af­ter nearly three decades, the model is be­ing killed off. Other than reg/recs, which can fail, hardly any­thing goes wrong with them.

What you’ll pay now £700-£5000. But should you? There’s a bike for ev­ery pocket. So yes.

Honda CG125 (1976-2008)

When the world is in­can­des­cent ra­dioac­tive slag, some­one will be rid­ing a CG125 through the dev­as­ta­tion. They with­stand in­cred­i­ble ne­glect and if you run one out of oil, just let it cool down, re­fill, and carry on. Sure, it’ll rat­tle, but it’ll work. Honda found their SOHC CB125 was blow­ing up in some places where main­te­nance was skimpy and pur­chasers ba­si­cally un­car­ing. Places like Basil­don. Run­ning the oil low trashed the camshaft and cylin­der head. So they made a pushrod ver­sion and ditched the bat­tery/ coil ig­ni­tion for a fly­wheel mag­neto so the bike could run with a dead bat­tery. The ear­li­est Ja­panese-built ones are the purest and most ba­sic. Pro­duc­tion moved to Brazil in 1985, and they gained 12v electrics and even an elec­tric start. But they re­mained in­de­struc­tible.

What you’ll pay now £500-£2000. But should you? Oh, come on. Of course.

MZ TS250/1 (1977-1981)

A long-lived two-stroke? Be­lieve it. The en­gine was rub­ber-mounted, the chain was fully en­closed, the rear shocks had ad­juster levers built in ( just like a BMW), and be­cause the long ex­haust stran­gled the en­gine be­fore it got stressed, they would cruise flat-out (80mph+) all day. And they did 70mpg. What you’ll

pay now £600-£1000. But should you? De­pends whether you fall for idio­syn­cratic charms.

Du­cati 750SS (1994-1998)

This is the most re­li­able bike I have ever owned. I kept mine for 17 years, and it was only ever brought to a halt twice. “They’re bul­let­proof,” says Sur­rey dealer Pro-twins. Why, when the 900SS had a rep­u­ta­tion for fragility? Be­cause the en­gines were less stressed, and the five-speed gear­box more ro­bust. What

you’ll pay now £1000-£3000. But should you? Not if you reg­u­larly carry a pas­sen­ger – there’s only 65bhp there. The en­gine is es­sen­tially a de­tuned ZZR1100 lump, which was it­self de­rived from the orig­i­nal Kawasaki GPZ900R – one of the great­est bike en­gines ever made. At 113bhp it’s mas­sively un­der­stressed for a 1200 and can eas­ily be tweaked to 130bhp or more. What you’ll

pay now £2500-£4500. But should you? If you like a big bike that needs to be mus­cled around, then yes.

Suzuki GS500 (1989-2008)

Bog-ba­sic air-cooled two-valve par­al­lel twin that harks back to the orig­i­nal GS400 twin of 1977. Al­ways sim­ple, al­ways very cheap, al­ways re­li­able. The en­gine is as solid as a rock and there’s pre­cious lit­tle else to go wrong. Not fast – 110mph is about your lot, and the han­dling is good but com­pro­mised by re­ally cheap sus­pen­sion. What you’ll

pay now £400-£1700. But should you? Snaf­fle a naked for £750-£900.

Tougher than a cock­roach and faster too, Honda’s hum­ble CG125

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