At the end of the day...

RiDE (UK) - - Travel / Group Ride -

“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

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