The original KNOW YOUR ONIONS
Owner: Your at-a-glance guide to stuff we like to compare
Chippy Wood (50), freelance photographer
After years of riding super-quick and excellenthandling adventure bikes, I had forgotten how much fun a pure sportsbike can be. Why has it taken me so long to haul my old Blade out of the garage and throw a leg over the bike of the 20th century? The acceleration is still ballistic; it loves to be revved hard towards its redline, screaming for another gear, front wheel lifting at every opportunity. With my two mates just a few bike lengths away, I’m trying to prove that this old girl can still go when asked and she’s holding her head high in this esteemed company – too high sometimes as the front wheel crashes down again and I realise that I’ve forgotten how to hold a wheelie. The deep induction noise from underneath that humungous purple and white fuel tank is intoxicating. My legs are bent more than I remember, with the seat-to-peg distance too cramped for my badly beaten knees, but healthy joints could easily tour on this animal. The riding position is far more ‘in’ than the other two and makes you feel plugged in to the chassis – bike and rider totally at one with each other, its aging suspension still full of quality damping and coping well.
Fourteen years ago I swapped a KTM 300 plus £1200 for my RRN, and today I couldn’t imagine swapping my RRN for anything else. It’s only the brakes and their 25-year-old fluid that feel from another time, but I’m going to sort that. There’s a classic little wiggle of the bars as we pop over crests, the one that prompted thousands of owners to fit steering dampers and condemn the 16in front wheel, but no complaints from me. The Blade feels fantastic as I drop into corners I know well from countless trips into the Wolds, past Cadwell Park and beyond. It’s a keeper.
A slightly flappy front end adds to the engaging ride