At the end of the day...
“My overall favourite is the Ducati,” says Chippy. “It’s close between that and the BMW, because the Beemer has such a stonking engine. But the Desert Sled is nimble, light, the suspension works, the brakes are great, it’s fast enough and it looks the best here. And it’s comfy too. And that’s just as a road bike – as an off-road bike, it’s head and shoulders over the others. The BMW is a blooming handful off-road.”
Jimmy is equally firmly on the side of the Ducati. “You gotta be honest,” he says. “It’s mainly for the looks. But it’s also the most capable off-road and it’s the most fun. The motor is pokey, the brakes are good, it handles well, it’s great at low speed, and it’s neutral – it feels thin and controllable.”
Which makes the Ducati our group winner, whatever I say. But it’s not quite my fave. The BMW just edges it thanks to the bigger, faster motor – which gives the flat twin more riding range than the others, even without the extra mileage from the tank. I also like the deadly brakes, the steady, weighty handling and – yes – the looks. It’s only the price that puts me off.
The Triumph is no-one’s favourite – but no-one dislikes it either. “It has plenty of strong points. It looks the least intimidating and it’s the easiest to ride,” says Jimmy. “And the handling’s really good,” chips in Chip. “It’s a great bike – but I’d rather have the other two.”
And finally, Chippy notices there’s no Japanese bike here. “None of the big four make a retro-scrambler,” he says. “But if they did, it’s hard to imagine it looking as quality as these. It would be all thin, cheap, horrible plastic.”
And that’s not something you can say about any of these three.
“The Triumph looks the least intimidating and is the easiest to ride”
At this stage, we still don’t know if we are above or below the high-tide line Mmmmm, delicious AND nutritious... A&E, here we come Getting off the beaten track for a little fun is what these bikes are about