Kawasaki 650cc Versys
My personal favourite. Admittedly not immediately, as a dyed-in-the-wool crotch-rocket hooner it took me ages to learn to appreciate them. And my favourite's still the old MkII, MkI had typically first (of any) new model issues, while MkII and later are all that bit too 'civilised' for my taste? Sorry! I'm old skool, only really enjoy a bike that's engaging, still requires actual riding, including a modicum of ability?! Consequently I detest EVERY "Aid" manufacturers insist on fitting, subsequently sucking all the fun (risk) away from our beloved sport while trying to pull the wool over our eyes (and sadly managing in a considerable number of cases it'd appear) with their clever "new & improved" marketing ploys. If you would like an upgrade to this bike and are a single rider, no problem, just 650b/day extra can see you riding high!
Suzuki 650cc V-Strom
A VERY popular choice! Not for me I'm afraid, all the "safety" features drive me nuts! Damn thing's hiccupping halfway around a bend just as I was starting to REALLY lean into it & give her some, OMG, WTF's the matter with this bloody thing?!?! Ohh, of course, I forgot to go through that whole turning the traction control off malarkey in startup. Again. However, many people have wonderfully fond memories of this as probably a first bike after passing their test. I get that! And I'm sure you'd be able to kick my arse if we were both on one too! With the Versys' I HAD to persist (even though I didn't like it) until I'd at least run in the motor, 9,000k and absolutely no choice, can't exactly let a guest have it, saying "Oh, needs running in, so you can't take her over 4,000 RPM yet..." Some biking holiday that'd be?!?! The 'Strom is becoming way more popular, is only 3/4 as expensive & a little like the CB's, is proving itself in real-world longevity & accident avoidance? A decision I'm going to hate having made for many years to come but...more people every year will go home having had as good a time, without seeing the inside of a hospital.
Our Standard Ride, a fun little machine perfectly suited to these roads, tarmac & traffic conditions. Lovely and light, eminently & easily flickable through the twisties, a bike anyone can swing a leg over and feel totally at home within an hour. Typically Honda in other words! Yes we all love our own bikes / brands to bits, and as many preferences as people out there, but from our viewpoint? For some, inexplicable reason, these and the Versys' somehow manage to get themselves binned far less often than pretty much anything else. I've no idea why, personally far preferred the little Kawi ER6n (before Honda made it here) but we'd have 4-5 people coming off every year. Even with all OEM replacement parts, all serviced/repaired by main dealer, and obviously best (Michelin / Pirelli) branded (Touring) tyres, absolutely every base covered for reliability & safety, years go by & numbers don't decrease? The trouble is, can't help myself, after awhile DO end up feeling personally responsible somehow, even though logic dictates that can't be the case. Until we started using these & the CB500X.
If you'd a baby-adventurer, then this I'll highly recommend! Yes it's typically Honda, typically modern, typically reliable...damn did I doze off? Lol! Nah, joking aside you could do far worse, and what's more there IS still excitement to be had with that bloody huge single front disk! It's hilarious, everyone's read thye reviews, astounded by such a seemingly backwards decision, and has been reliably reported from all quarters that no, don't worry, even under excessive levels way beyond average ability there's never any sign it may fail. Well I suppose that makes me an extraordinary rider? Or just a prick who expects more than double out of anything than it was ever designed for? Yeah, I can live with that! Lol!! And yes, I'll have a little bit of fade at least once a week, then remind myself to calm down
Oh-hohhHHH! So if you've been reading the site & getting to know me a little by now (absolute cock, bit of a cnut? Yeah you got me), probably wondering by now if ANY modern bikes actually manage to impress me? Here it is! A real Beaut. In-line Four, a real howler, reminds me SO much of the old CB400 Super Four's, simply can NOT stop grinning from ear-to-ear from the moment you pull off. By no means the quickest of the 650's out there, but hell yeah, it's grin-factor 8 all the way! They're just SO much FUN! ALL the time!! "Well then" I hear you ask "Why aren't these your Standard Ride?" Actually really simple; around half of our clientele have pretty much only ridden Big Twins, and a lifetime of low-end grunt can't be overwritten in a week. First completely stall-free day is usually Wednesday, true confidence kicks in on Thursday, leaving only Friday they're able to fully relax & enjoy it? So we lose a little magic with the Twin CB's overall, but our guests overall, get more enjoyment outta the slightly less enjoyable bike, overall. Innit?! But then, this is why we have 'Standard's, coz without them, there'd be no such thing as Upgrades!
Yamaha MT09 & FZ09 'Fazer'
For the clinically insane...! DAMN these things are F'kin NUTS!! Frightened myself daft on both of 'em, and had an absolute blast doing it too!! Y'know when you get off, habit kicking in so go to light a ciggie, suddenly realising you can't because your hands are still shaking too much? Yeah! THAT much fun!! Absolutely-bloody-balls-to-the-wall HOWLING through the bends, no, HOONING! Suddenly you remember just how long it is since you've felt this alive. No shit. However. I must put my responsible head on, just for a moment and mention they really are a handful on the surface in this country, which has the Skid Resistance Value of your average supermarket car park back home. Ie. Square Root of Farcall. Yes of course that's the main reason for all the manic giggling inside your lid while aboard, holding on for dear life far more than you'd ever admit - especially to yourself! I can only urge you to consider leaving the hotel daily though, more often than not feeling a little 'ordinary' (Jeez back home you wouldn't dare drive in case had a run in with the law in such a state!), I can't in all good conscience not mention a situation that'll doubtless arise, okay more often than not , now couple that with a slightly damp patch of tarmac, always unnoticeable because always on a bend, in a mountain's shadow (why it's still damp hasn't had any direct sunlight yet), guaranteed it's all gonna go tits'up, getting on for tank-slapper territory at least once for you. Plain as the nose on your face. Fact. So, if you're happy with those odds, I'll trust you, and so am I. 'Nuff Said.