‘I WANT A BIKE THAT’S LIGHT, FAST AND DOES 500 MILES TO A TANK!’
Martin Brundle was one of Britain’s top Formula 1 talents in the 80s and 90s, with 10 podiums to his credit. He’s still fast and scored pole in this year’s Le Mans support race, but he’s also a deeply knowledgeable motorcycle fan. The first bike he ever rode was a Yamaha YZR500 GP bike at Catalunya in 1994, during a video shoot for Marlboro.
As luck would have it, he’s been itching to ride each and every one of these bikes, so over to you, Martin:
“My K1600 is an incredible piece of kit. I’ve ridden home from the Ring, 500-miles in one sitting after a weekend working at a GP in the pouring rain. You can set the cruise control to pretty quick speeds and you don’t get wet, tired and you don’t have to stop for fuel.
“It’s just relentlessly fast. I also like the fixed luggage, the dealer back-up and the dash display – I like to keep an eye on tyre pressures. But what I’ve learned today is that I want a lighter bike. My perfect bike would be a lightweight K1600 GT. I would give up all the central locking, music and a bit of the fairing for something around 270kg.
“The Yamaha is fun, but it’s not a touring bike because of the fuel range. Coming back from GPS late at night through France, fuel can be difficult to get, especially if the machines won’t take your card. It doesn’t have much wind protection, either.
“I really enjoyed the Yamaha on the B258 towards the Ring. Once I started to believe in the front end a little bit, after five years on a K1600 GT, it was great. The engine is a cracker, but the front brake left me wondering a few times. It seemed to be however hard you pulled it didn’t seem to bite. I expected it to stand on its nose on the brakes. My 1600 has a better front brake than that and it stops, despite being 320kg. It’s got a nicer bite and feel to it.
“The Yamaha has a nicer gearbox, although I didn’t get off it thinking I need to buy one, but I really liked it and it was cracking around the track.
“Like the Yamaha, I was a little bit surprised at the lack of wind protection on the KTM, so it couldn’t be my 500-mile bike. I love that engine, though and it handles well on track, but if I ever wanted to do something on the dash I couldn’t get anywhere with it. It’s not intuitive. It’s like the Aprilia’s cruise control button on the right bar – who signed that off?
“The Kawasaki’s engine is like a torque-laden turbine and you’d buy it just for the motor. It’s my favourite here and makes me wonder why I haven’t tried the GTR.
“But I gelled with the Aprilia Caponord better than the KTM and Yamaha, which surprised me, and I don’t know why. I liked the torque from the engine, the clutch, brakes and the shift. I just rode it better and more smoothly, but there’s no reason why I’d swap my BMW for it. Nothing about it stood out and excited me and it was the second one to need fuel after the Yamaha. Wind protection, even with the screen raised, was still ordinary. It could do with more upholstery on the seat, and I was surprised at the vibes coming through the pegs.”
‘The ZZR’S motor is my favourite here... why haven’t I tried the GTR’
Yes, before you ask, Brundle’s pretty rapid on his K1600GT... or any bike, for that matter