Th­ese bikes missed the mark when new, but have gained staunch fol­low­ings

Motorcycle News (UK) - - Garage - By Neil Mur­ray

Kawasaki ZX-9R (1994-2002)

Widely ex­pected to be a firm Kawasaki ri­poste to the Fire­blade, it came over as hav­ing been rushed into pro­duc­tion. Fast all right, but it was much heav­ier and bulkier than the Blade and the rear sus­pen­sion sim­ply wasn’t sorted. Kawasaki per­se­vered, and word got around that the 9R had all the speed and com­fort of the ZZ-R1100 but with a more sporty de­meanour and it’s now re­garded as a bril­liant sports-tourer. Late E and F mod­els are the pick of the bunch but build qual­ity and fin­ish aren’t up to Honda stan­dards.

What you’ll pay now £1100-£4000 But should you? As long as you re­alise it’s a (very fast) sports-tourer, yes.

Honda Transalp (1987-2012)

A bit of a co­nun­drum at first: a not-very-pow­er­ful 600cc V-twin in a sort of soft-roader chas­sis. There were bet­ter trail bikes and more pow­er­ful faster tour­ers, and it took a while for peo­ple to re­alise that, ac­tu­ally, it was a very cun­ning piece of de­sign. It re­ally would go any­where, in com­fort, with lug­gage, as long as you didn’t want to go fast. It grew to 650cc and then 700cc, and fi­nally died af­ter a quar­ter of a cen­tury. The Con­ti­nen­tals loved it, and while it wasn’t a big seller in Bri­tain, its own­ers are fa­nat­i­cally loyal. Young peo­ple don’t buy th­ese things at all, so the im­age is a bit pipe-and-slip­pers. What you’ll pay now £600£3500 But should you? If you like lawn bowls, cricket and the ship­ping forecast, yes.

Yamaha FZ750 (1985-1991)

As fast as a Kawasaki GPZ900R, with an even bet­ter de­vel­oped chas­sis on the later mod­els with Yamaha’s Deltabox frames (the orig­i­nal FZ750 chas­sis showed that all the de­vel­op­ment cash had gone into the en­gine). The en­gine has a gen­er­ous spread of power and torque that’s im­pres­sive even now, and is in­cred­i­bly tough. Yamaha cam­paigned it very suc­cess­fully in en­durance rac­ing.

The in­clined block and down­draught carbs have been copied by ev­ery­one since. Seven­teen-inch wheels al­low for fit­ment of mod­ern tyres, and the brakes – on the Deltabox mod­els – are still good if prop­erly cared for. A won­der­ful piece of en­gi­neer­ing. What you’ll pay now £600-£1200. But should you? For that money? Of course you bloody should.

Du­cati ST4S (1996-2003)

It bris­tles with neat touches in­clud­ing pipes that could be an­gled lower to ac­com­mo­date pan­niers ( Tri­umph copied that on the Sprint). How­ever, in 1996, the world wasn’t ready for Du­cati sport­s­tour­ers. It sol­diered on for seven years, and the last mod­els were sold, brand new, for £6500 on the road.

What you’ll pay now £2500-£3500 But should you? It’s a 916 you can tour on, so of course you should.

BMW R80ST (1982-84)

The orig­i­nal R80GS made a good road bike, so BMW de­cided to make a pure road ver­sion but BMWS then weren’t about situp-and-beg wide-barred road­sters, so it was dropped af­ter sell­ing only 6000 units. Now, though, ev­ery­one seems to want air­head BMWS and they’re in fash­ion.

What you’ll pay now £2000-£3500 But should you? Yes, but get a good one to start with, rather than try­ing to re­store a shon­ker.

Moto Guzzi 1000S (1990-93)

In the late 1980s, Guzzi were on the rocks, their rep­u­ta­tion de­stroyed by dis­as­trous ex­per­i­ments with 16in front wheels and acres of plas­tic body­work. So in 1990 the Ital­ians went back to ba­sics with a stripped-down naked painted up to look like the gor­geous S3. What you’ll pay now £3000-£6000 But should you? Un­til Guzzi have the sense to make a mod­ern ver­sion, and not the 750 they presently build, yes.

Tri­umph T-bird (1993-2003)

Tri­umph’s first at­tempt at pro­duc­ing a retro – ba­si­cally the orig­i­nal 885cc en­gine, re­turned for more torque, in Bon­neville-looka­like clothes. Apart from the lower seat (achieved by re­mov­ing most of the pad­ding on the early bikes), no­body re­ally saw the point. It looked nice, though.

What you’ll pay now £2250-£4500 But should you? It’s ac­tu­ally more con­vinc­ing and a bet­ter bike than the early Hinck­ley Bon­neville.

Want to cross the Alps? The clue’s in the name…

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