What Bike Next? Episode 5

 

Hello and welcome to Episode Five of What Bike Next?, the series in which a BikeSocial Member looking for their next bike test-rides two potential candidates chosen by BikeSocial’s Michael Mann and Simon Hargreaves, plus a third ‘mystery bike’ chosen by Matt Isherwood, sales expert at Superbike Factory, the UK’s largest second-hand bike dealer.

And the catch is, the BikeSocial Member doesn’t know what we’ve chosen for them until the day of the test-ride.

Then, at the end of the test-rides, we find out how close we got to choosing the right bike – or whether we missed the target completely.

And of course in the next episode, it could be YOU – so long as you’re a BikeSocial member!

Apply to take part by emailing enquiries@bennetts.co.uk with your riding and bike history, what you’re currently on, and some idea of what bike you fancy next – and you could be chosen for a day test-riding three surprise bikes on What Bike Next?

Meanwhile, enjoy the show!

 

What Bike Next - Episode 5_05

 

Today it’s the turn of Bennetts customer and BikeSocial Member Luke Selfe, who needs some guidance in choosing his next bike. Luke says:
“I’m entering my fifth year as a rider and currently on my second bike, a 2015 Yamaha MT-07. Prior to this I had a Suzuki GSR600. Much as I love the MT-07, I’m looking to move up the biking ladder and find something with more power and more range.”

To help solve Luke’s problem and find his next bike, BikeSocial’s Michael and Simon have invited Luke to the magnificent Superbike Factory at Donington Park, where the café is always warm, the food exceptional, and you get service with a smile. And it helps that the range of bikes and kit for sale is genuinely eye-opening. It’s like a sweet-shop for motorcyclists.

What Bike Next - Episode 5_06

 

Thirty-year-old Luke is looking to trade-up from his current bike, Yamaha’s MT-07. Luke has a few miles under his belt, but is still making his way in motorcycling and keen to try out new bikes, and discover new places to ride.

“Up until recently my riding was purely free time, short rides and days out at the weekends,” he says. “Then I reproduced and time has become less abundant.”
Ah, that often happens.
“Now the majority of my riding is commuting, and very occasionally getting out at weekends or the middle of the week if shift-work and childcare allows.”

So what is Luke looking for specifically?

“I’m in the market for a new bike and at the same time, doing that thing that all bikers do; promising to ride more next year! This year I’m determined to ‘tour’ for the first time – whatever that may mean – and I’m getting back into trials riding, the original way I got into motorcycling.”
So you want a touring trials bike?

“No! My list of requirements goes something like this: 

1) More weatherproofing than the MT and heated grips as a minimum to facilitate my desire to ride further and for longer

2) Not an inline-four. My experience may be marred by the GSR I had as a first bike – which I hated – but the engine characteristic doesn’t excite me in the slightest

3) Economical. The MT is used to commute for a lot of the year and can easily creep upwards of 70mpg so it would be a shame to achieve much less than 50mpg with the next bike

4) A touch more power. I’m just starting to reach the limits of the MT on faster, open roads and would welcome a bit more performance – as long as it’s usable on the road!

5) Low and light is always beneficial. I’m 5ft 8in in heels and 70kg so I’m not all that keen on anything too tall or heavy. This is mainly an off-the-bike consideration for moving it around, and general man-handling.”

And the all-important question: what is Luke’s budget?

“No need to sell the MT to fund the next one but likely will; you can only ride one bike at a time and garage space is at a premium! Budget wise I’m thinking £8000.”

Luke is being pretty specific in some ways – much have heated grips – but not so specific in others – he doesn’t say what style of bike he wants. So that’s a big target to aim at, but it has to have a few specific items.

 

What Bike Next - Episode 5_07

 

So Luke has thrown down the challenge. What bikes will Simon, Michael and Matt, Superbike Factory’s sales expert, come up with?

 

 

Michael’s choice: 2018 BMW F850GS Sport

Michael says: “This is an 850 Sport, and ‘Sport’s’ is the important bit because it means lots of extras – specifically, heated grips, as well as extra riding modes and cruise control. The GS is also pannier- and top-box-ready, with pre-fitted pannier rails – so touring is definitely an option. It also comes with hand guards and an extended screen, and there’s plenty of range from the 15-litre tank at an average fuel consumption of 51mpg.

“The parallel twin engine will be familiar to Luke, and it makes 94bhp – more than Luke’s MT-07 so that’s another item ticked off his wish-list.

“The GS comes on some fairly aggressive knobbly tyres which Luke might feel on the road, but Pirelli have offered something more road-focussed for the GS, so that’s not a problem.

“This bike has 5000 miles on it, and it’s on sale for £7989 – that’s just under Luke’s £8000 budget. I reckon it might be a bit tall – but Luke can get a lower seat and even a lower suspension kit as well.

“I think I’ve met just about every want on Luke’s wish list. He’d be mad not to go for the BMW – it’s a consummate all-rounder.”

 

Marc’s reaction

Luke says: “Ah, interesting. You’ve gone for an adventure bike – not something necessarily on my radar but they’re popular and I’m keen to try one!

“I really like it – it’s a baby GS to some extent. I actually like the styling, it looks good, and it’s not an inline four. And yes, it certainly ticks all my boxes. I’m keen to get out and have a try.”

Luke’s riding reaction: “That was very interesting! First impressions are it is definitely a bit tall for me, I have to say that – it felt like riding a daddy long-legs and with the knobbly off-road tyres it felt a bit skittish. But I’m actually quite surprised at how well it handles. It tipped-in really nicely, the parallel twin engine is really good – it feels as if it’s got a broader range of power than my MT for sure. And you can tell the engine has more power.

“The brakes are really good – impressed. Lots of feel, a lot of bite, and it doesn’t dive too much, considering how tall the suspension is. And it’s comfortable – on the move with those big, wide, sit-up bars, it feels good. And in terms of weather protection it suits me too – hand guards are great, the screen is good.

“A big plus is my hands were warm – but again, that height; it’s tall. I was struggling on tip-toes a bit when we were turning round for the photos and video – but otherwise I quite enjoyed it. For my first-ever ride on an adventure bike, I’m not dismissing it yet.”

 

 

Simon’s choice: 2020 Yamaha Tracer 900

Simon says: “This is the obvious choice. This three year-old Tracer has just 22 miles on it – not a misprint! – so I reckon someone basically bought it on PCP, then decided they didn’t want to ride it after 22 miles and parked it up for the next three years.

As a result it’s effectively new-old stock. And it should suit Luke – it’s a Yamaha and he already has one and like it. It’s got more power than the MT-07 (quite a lot more – 113bhp), and it has one more cylinder, so it’s not an inline four. In fact the 847cc triple is bursting with character – it’s genuinely hard not to ride the CP3 motor and laugh out loud.

I’ve not ticked all Luke’s boxes, to be fair – we have a fairing, but fuel economy might be an issue if he starts using the throttle. And it hasn’t got heated grips (Superbike Factory say they’ll throw in a pair of Oxford heated grips, so that’s a bonus) and there’s no cruise control. But it’s not the tallest bike, it’s relatively light for its size.
“One more problem – at £8789 it’s a fair chunk over Luke’s budget, but I reckon it’ll suit him so perfectly he’ll overlook that and swing for the Tracer.”

 

 

Luke’s reaction

Luke says: “Ahhh, cracking. Never had a go on a Yamaha triple – coming from the 700, I think the CP engines are really good so I’m really keen to try this. I have to say, this is one of the bikes I *thought* fitted my criteria. It seems like the natural progression from my MT.

“It’s got hand guards to keep off the cold, got a bit more wind protection, bigger engine and bit more power, flexible… and I think it looks good. £8789 is way over my budget, but I can cope with that – it still starts with an 8!”

Luke’s riding reaction: “When you pulled the cover off I thought this is it, you’ve fitted the bill. But – and there’s a ‘but’ coming…

“As soon as you set off, yes, that engine is just phenomenal; really cracking. It’s got a sense of excitement to it – nice big, broad range of power, and it’s quick.

“The ergonomics surprised me a bit. It scoots you forward to the tank and feels quite ‘wristy’. I had to relax into that quite a bit. And again, I was on tip-toes – which is clearly my problem, not the bike. But it’s a factor. And I actually didn’t feel that confident on it – obviously it handles a bit sharper than the BMW, got a more sporty feel.

“It’s not what I thought it was going to be – maybe if I gave it more time I’d get used to it, but it’s off-putting. It felt sharper, but felt more difficult to place than the BMW. So when we were avoiding speed bumps, the BMW could put its wheel exactly where you wanted it, but the Tracer felt a little bit more vague.

“And I thought this would be ‘the one’…”

 

 

Superbike Factory Sales Exec Matt’s choice: 2017 Triumph Tiger 800 XRx

Matt says: “The bike I’ve picked for Luke is a nice middleweight tourer. He asked for heated grips and plenty of weather protection, and my bike gives him that. The engine is smooth but not an inline four, and there’s plenty of power there; 94bhp. And the bike is light and nimble, even when it’s fully loaded.

“It’s got a lower seat and lowered suspension too, and it’s £7787 with 3600 miles on it, so I think the Triumph Tiger 800 XRx Low is the perfect bike for Luke.”

 

Luke’s reaction

Luke says: “Well, it’s a lot of competition for the BMW. It’s in the same sort of vein; an adventure bike for the road, styling-wise. And it ticks a lot of the boxes. Excited to try a Triumph triple, never ridden one before, apart from a go on a Speed Triple. It’ll be interesting to see how it compares to the Yamaha.”

 

 

Luke’s riding reaction: “Flip side to the Yamaha – to be honest, when we took the cover off I thought, ‘Oh god…’. I don’t want to upset anyone, but I thought it’s an old man’s bike. But it’s a triple, and a Triumph so the finish is good. And the truth is I enjoyed myself the most on it. And I felt the most comfortable. It’s very low – in fact it’s too low – so if felt like you were riding a Harley with ape-hangers. So if the seat could be raised… but having said that I could get both feet on the floor, the turning circle was better, the triple engine was good – but not as good as the Yamaha. And it sounded a bit more agricultural.

“But yes, I enjoyed it – I felt I could hustle it a bit more, for want of a better phrase.”

 

What Bike Next - Episode 5_24

 

Spec comparison

 

BMW F850 GS Sport

YAMAHA TRACER 900

TRIUMPH TIGER 800 XRx

Year

2018

2020

2017

Miles

5000 miles

22 miles

3600 miles

Price

£7989

£8789

£7787

Ave. Bennetts

insurance premium

£178.20

£142.30

£97.93

Engine

853cc parallel twin

847cc inline triple

799cc inline triple

Power

94bhp @ 8250rpm

113bhp @ 10,000rpm

95bhp @ 9250rpm

Torque

68 lb. Ft @ 6250rpm

65 lb. Ft @ 8500rpm

58 lb. Ft @ 7950rpm

Seat Height

860mm

845/860mm

810-830mm

Kerb weight

229kg

210kg

220kg

Tank size

15 litres

18 litres

19 litres

 

What Bike Next - Episode 5_25

 

Verdict

Luke seems unimpressed by all our choices! Is he just playing his cards close to his chest, or have we completely missed the mark on this one and completely failed to find Luke his What Bike Next?

If you’re a Bike Social Member and you want us to choose your What Bike Next?, get in touch with your contact details at enquiries@bennetts.co.uk

 

What Bike Next? Episode 5
In episode 5 of our What Bike Next? series, in which Michael and Simon attempt to help a BikeSocial member choose their next motorcycle, it's the turn of Luke Selfe who has an MT-07 to upgrade.