Thumping good bargains waiting to be bagged
It’s one of biking’s oddities that people gush over big singles when they are stashed in a trail-style chassis – think Honda Dominator – but look the other way when they are in a dedicated road bike such as the Dominator-powered SLR650
The thinking is that a 650cc thumper is fine in a trail bike that is hard-pushed to do more than 100mph (nobody makes very fast trail bikes). A 650cc road bike, however, finds itself competing with twins, triples and fours, where you seemingly get a lot more bang for your buck.
However, there are plenty of reasons for liking road thumpers. They are different, fun, incredibly cheap and easy to run and because people tend to overlook them, demand is low and so are prices.
They tend to be small and low, so if you are small and short-legged yourself you might find you fit one perfectly. Most of the old 1970s and 80s things are pretty humdrum. Yamaha’s SR500 is astonishingly long-lived, and still with us as a 400, but it is kick-start only and is slow even by thumper standards.
Cagiva made something called the River in the 1990s in a 500cc and 600cc guise. A sort of beginner’s Deauville, it had panniers and screen as standard but combined slug-like performance with horrible looks. A dealer I knew once ran one as a loaner and wryly called it the ‘discourtesy bike’.
No, there’s really only one contender – the Yamaha MT-03. With a 4v 660cc engine, (not to be confused with the later 300 twin) you can get a super low-miler for under £2000 – or at least £500 less than an equivalent Ténéré and it’ll make you grin every time you ride it. Hunt around the MCN classifieds and you’ll get a single-minded bargain. NEXT WEEK Don’t pay over the odds on your next used bike
Yamaha’s original MT-03 is a classy single for not much cash