BIKE LIFE

Don­ing­ton Burnout, Boasty’s last road race and much more…

BIKE (UK) - - CONTENTS - Mark Wil­liams Found­ing editor Been rid­ing for: 54 years An­nual mileage: 2000+ Favourite B-road bike (and why): Honda VT500 As­cot: old school back-lane burner Owns: Honda VT500 As­cot Tracker, BMW K75S and CB400N Tracker.

AFORTNIGHT ABOARD ON a Z900 RS, trips to Lon­don, the coast and my mag­a­zine printers oop norf. I couldn’t re­sist, es­pe­cially as I loved the orig­i­nal Z1 that trounced Honda’s hith­erto class-lead­ing CB750F back in the day. But the day was 1972 and plenty of scrib­blers since, some of this par­ish, have cor­rectly pointed out that to­day’s Z900, and its RS sib­ling, are mod­ern bikes com­pet­ing with other mod­erns for your hard-won cash and shouldn’t re­ally be judged as re-imag­ined mu­seum pieces. But that’s dif­fi­cult be­cause they look un­can­nily sim­i­lar. Lot’s al­ready has been said about this too and it’ll bear no rep­e­ti­tion here other than to say its old-school er­gonomics, born out of that wide, teardrop tank, long well padded seat and pulled back ’bars suited this old fart very nicely. Oh, and at a steady 75-90mph the re­ported vibes never numbed me. An­other nod to nos­tal­gia im­me­di­ately hit me when I picked up Bike’s long-ter­mer on a rainy Peter­bor­ough day: like its fore­bear, the big Kawa’s for­mi­da­ble power de­liv­ery can lead you quickly be­yond temp­ta­tion and straight into trou­ble… un­til you get the mea­sure of it. Which on a wet road is the sooner the bet­ter. That said I never did quite fig­ure out how to set the trac­tion con­trol, so I just rode the thing as fast as I could. Which, I has­ten to add, was faster than any­thing

‘Its old-school er­gonomics suited this old fart very nicely’

else since I owned a race-tuned Laverda Jota which had the same belt-in-the-gut ac­cel­er­a­tion from around 2000rpm. But the Laverda didn’t go round cor­ners any­thing like the RS, didn’t stick to the road any­thing like as well ex­cept maybe in a straight­line, which flat-out as­ton­ished me. Throw this RS into a cor­ner, any cor­ner at speeds I wouldn’t have dared con­tem­plate on any­thing else I’ve rid­den in re­cent years and it goes round as if on rails. Okay, I haven’t rid­den re­cent, cut­ting-edge sport­bikes, but so what? The RS is in­cred­i­bly sure­footed with a ton of lin­ear power in­stantly on tap. How­ever, there’s a glitch in the map­ping which causes that power to hic­cup or hunt a lit­tle at lower throt­tle open­ings, es­pe­cially be­fore the engine’s prop­erly hot. Dis­con­cert­ing, be­cause of its un­pre­dictabil­ity. Lack of cen­tre­stand also nig­gled. And top gear, though flex­i­ble as all hell could use­fully be higher for com­fier cruis­ing. But it’s a beau­ti­fully fin­ished, solid-feel­ing bit of kit that I’d very hap­pily own as my mon­u­men­tally mus­cu­lar daily ride down to the shops… or down to Tus­cany.

Teardrop tank and long padded seat – just the job Mod­ern and throw­back in one bin­na­cle

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