THIS MONTH I HAVE MOSTLY BEEN… “Car­ry­ing a pil­lion.”

Fast Bikes - - LONGTERMERS -

Ihope you guys and gals have been en­joy­ing your steeds dur­ing our ex­tended sum­mer, and shame on you if not; it’s been a corker up to now. I know it’s easy to wheel the bikes in the shed for hi­ber­na­tion given the tra­di­tional weather we nor­mally en­dure, but if the weather’s still on our side when you read this, grab your keys at ev­ery op­por­tu­nity and make the most of your pride and joy.

I’ve cer­tainly been do­ing just that this month as I don’t need much of a nudge to throw a leg over the KTM. Ver­sa­til­ity, prac­ti­cal­ity and a stonk­ing en­gine makes hooning around as easy as can be. To be hon­est it al­ways feels like I’m cheat­ing, whether I’m tear­ing through the coun­try­side with the thun­der­ous growl of the Akrapovic fill­ing my ears or hav­ing a se­date Sun­day morn­ing bim­ble. Ei­ther way, the KTM has the bril­liant abil­ity to de­liver an en­gag­ing and re­ward­ing ride ev­ery time. Hav­ing had the keys in my pos­ses­sion for seven months now, I’ve en­joyed the self-in­dul­gence of just me my­self and I, and no con­sid­er­a­tion has been given to how it per­forms with a pil­lion as the sit­u­a­tion has never arisen. When­ever I ask my bet­ter half if she fan­cies a spin on the back, her squished fa­cial ex­pres­sion would sug­gest she’d rather tor­ture her­self with back to back episodes of Strictly... how weird.

My son has a scooter and I guess be­ing on the back of me prob­a­bly doesn’t do his street cred any favours. Who’d have thought the propo­si­tion of a free hol­i­day to Poland would en­tice my 20-year-old daugh­ter (Ge­orgie) to ride pil­lion though? I’ve ab­so­lutely no doubt the KTM could de­mol­ish the miles, but sadly for the 1290 that didn’t fit the plan. Dunce hat put to one side (for once) and smart think­ing de­ployed had me book­ing a cou­ple of cheap flights to Krakow and hir­ing a Honda Deauville for the week. What? A Honda Deauville?? Yeah agreed, it’s not re­ally my cup of tea ei­ther but for all in­tents and pur­poses it worked a treat. More to the point it was a good com­par­i­son tool against the KTM’s two-up tour­ing ca­pa­bil­i­ties. Schlep­ping to and from Stanstead air­port at 5am and 3am re­spec­tively was the GT’s only task.

Se­lect­ing the elec­tronic preload up to pas­sen­ger with lug­gage and di­alling in the com­fort damp­ing set­tings be­fore set­ting off takes sec­onds and en­sures the bike feels planted. 3am at this time of year can feel pretty nippy, need­less to say, but with the heated grips cranked up and the cruise con­trol set to 70mph you’ll hear no com­plaints from me. Back to back rid­ing of the two bikes con­vinced me there isn’t much to write home about with the Deauville, ex­cept the fan­tas­tic fuel econ­omy.

Both of us agreed the 1290GT is a pro­fi­cient tour­ing bike but not with­out some mi­nor nig­gles. The pil­lion foot­pegs could do with be­ing a tad lower giv­ing a more re­laxed leg and with only a rear grab rail to cling to Ge­orgie didn’t feel to­tally se­cure. Both these could be eas­ily reme­died and the lat­ter is solved by fit­ting a top box if ded­i­cated two-up rid­ing is your thing. Ad­mit­tedly a top­box isn’t cool but think about be­ing able to pop a cheeky wheelie from the traf­fic lights know­ing you won’t lose your pas­sen­ger… that’s the trick.

Oh, and re­mem­ber I holed the ra­di­a­tor last month? Well I couldn’t be with­out the bike while the OEM re­place­ment showed up so I gam­bled on pour­ing in a small bot­tle of au­to­mo­tive leak re­pair. What a re­sult! Six weeks later and it’s hold­ing strong, Time’s been tight this month, mean­ing the new ra­di­a­tor is col­lect­ing dust at the deal­ers. The 125ml bot­tle of won­der has impressed me so much it’s found a new home in my es­sen­tial kit along­side my M&Ms. No stop­ping me now.

Neil en­joys a healthy break­fast with daugh­ter Ge­orgie.

The Dul­lville did the trick...

Just the bare es­sen­tials.

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