‘I WANT A BIKE THAT’S LIGHT, FAST AND DOES 500 MILES TO A TANK!’

Motorcycle News (UK) - - Features -

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

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