THIS MONTH I HAVE MOSTLY BEEN… “Get­ting cold and wet.”

Fast Bikes - - LONGTERMERS -

The sights and sounds of spring are in the air and I’m not talk­ing about the birds tweet­ing, bees buzzing or the daf­fodils pop­ping up on ev­ery round­about. Head down to your lo­cal bike meet or cof­fee stop and you’ll hear the whis­per­ings of fel­low rid­ers plan­ning the sum­mer’s knee down shenani­gans, epic rides and gen­eral tom­fool­ery. Once full of cof­fee and in­spi­ra­tion, bikes are fired up, throt­tles cracked open and newly fit­ted end cans chirp and bark as they dis­ap­pear in the dis­tance.

An­other sea­son is un­der way for the ma­jor­ity of the biking com­mu­nity but mine started six weeks ago when I was handed the keys to a KTM Su­per Duke GT. Six weeks of ming­ing Bri­tish weather has been made eas­ier to cope with by the well spec’d GT. Heated grips, cruise con­trol, elec­tronic rid­ing modes, a quick shifter and an ad­justable screen have been fit­ted to my steed, and I’ve made the most of them on ev­ery ride. I’ve mainly used the GT so far for my com­mute to work, which has just scratched the sur­face of the bike’s po­ten­tial, but it’s also made me re­alise what a bril­liant piece of kit I’ve got this sea­son, and how gen­er­ally great this time is for mo­tor­cy­clists.

It wasn’t so long ago the only cred­i­ble op­tion for a proper fast, well han­dling bike was a su­per­bike, end of. But the goal­posts have moved, as my KTM shows. The GT has the DNA from the awe­some Su­per Duke R, pack­ing a 1301cc 173bhp V-twin mo­tor in a ded­i­cated chas­sis with a few tweaks and bolt-ons to give it sports-tourer sta­tus. Per­cep­tion is a bitch and would have you think­ing sports-tour­ers aren’t ca­pa­ble, but this is a mod­ern era of pow­er­ful en­gines matched to bril­liant chas­sis and tech­nolo­gies that lead you to shop down dif­fer­ent aisles. I’m not go­ing to deny the kerb ap­peal of a sports­bike, when you walk away and glance over your shoul­der ad­mir­ing the beauty of the thing but I’ll ad­mit to glanc­ing over my shoul­der a few times at the GT. My shop­ping list when look­ing for a road bike has changed slightly of late due to creak­ing bones and want­ing more than a Satur­day af­ter­noon blast, which is why this new era of mo­tor­cy­cles ex­cites me. How do we de­fine a su­per­bike th­ese days?

I’m not the best with maths, but here’s a bit of an equa­tion for you… Let’s say I’m go­ing to do four track­days this year and cover 8,000 miles of road rid­ing. It means my time on track and con­se­quent de­mand for a track fo­cused bike isn’t all that great, when com­pared to the big­ger pic­ture of fast road rid­ing and gen­eral com­fort. I know this bike will be great on track as it’s got an im­pres­sive core, a stiff frame and a class lead­ing arse­nal of tech to make up for in­abil­i­ties. But be­fore any such an­tics come to the fore, I’ve got to get this bike ser­viced. I’ve just about clocked the 600 miles needed to get it in for its first ser­vice, which I’m look­ing for­ward to get­ting out of the way. Hell, I might even give it a clean.

Neil’s been out and about... both­er­ing peo­ple.

Chang­ing the can is a must for Neil.

Sum­mer can’t come soon enough.

Rider aids have helped no end.

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