"What's your favourite bike then?" is a question I get asked rather a lot. And it is an absolute bastard.I mean ETI Ducati's current 998 BSB bike is the most ludicrously sorted racebike I've ever been near, yet I still have an odd affection for Harley ElectraGlides.
A Honda CR125 motocrosser had me dribbling over it at a standstill a couple of weeks ago, then wetting my pants with laughter and fear on the move, while a turbo Hayabusa last month stands out thanks to its daft ability to spin the rear and lift the front at the slightest twitch of the throttle in top, at a ton. The ZX-12R I took to the Bol d'Or last summer was stunning, and how could I forget the Mille-R, the Ducati 916SPS, the...
A favourite? It would be easier to learn Chinese.Ask me what I would buy if my own money were to come into it and life gets a whole lot simpler. It would have to be a GSX-R750.£4000 gets you a clean private-sale 2001/02 model if you look hard enough and frankly, what more could you want? Depreciation will be negligible as long as you don't lunch it, reliability is up with the best, and insurance isn't quite into stratosphere territory either.
Oh, and it is an awesome bike. Handy handling, fast as you like, and with perhaps the greatest four-cylinder motor ever made - the way it howls out of the mid-range and into the top end has to be felt to be believed - the GSX-R rocks in its box. I know the brakes aren't all that good, and it's not very comfortable either but it'll do in a sportsbike kinda way, and as far as I'm concerned the way this bike makes me feel more than makes up for minor gripes.
Obviously my GSX-R is neither secondhand, nor bought with my own wedge. It is brand new and was given to me for nowt. But then that's a perk of this job and doesn't change the fact these bikes make me very, very happy. They're modern classics and so much more individual than your ten-a-penny GSX-R1000s and R1s.
Changes so far include throwing the standard steering damper in the bin (it's atrocious and wrecks low speed handling), slipping a 20mm spacer under the top rear shock mounting for more ride height (speeds up steering, doesn't compromise stability, costs 50p), and throwing on some Pirelli Diablo Corsas to replace the OE Michelin Pilot Sports which suffered a puncture. The Diablos are sticky as hell come track time, steer beautifully and can also manage greasy town rainy days when asked.Talking of tracktime, me and the GSX-R have had a rare old time of it this summer, squeezing in a couple of days at Donington on assorted mag duties, plus days at Silverstone and Rockingham courtesy of 100% Bikes (www.100pc.co.uk). Every time the bike has been a beauty making playing a pleasure.
After all, there's plenty of poke in that 750 lump. It may only have managed 161mph in our 750s road test this month, but that was in soaking wet gale-force conditions.Another rip down Bruntingthorpe's runway on a hot, still and dry day saw the tacho just nudging the limiter in top, 186 on the speedo (that's as much as it'll read), and a genuine 178mph through the lights. Much more like it.The brakes still aren't great, however, and I'm looking for more out of them before our next track outing. Rather than go down the braided hoses route as I did on my last GSX-R - which did boost power but also robbed feel - I'm trying a few new pad compounds and first ones in have been SBS RS (£20.99 per pair, 0800 0183790) which have improved stoppies considerably in town, so should hopefully earn their keep at the track too. We shall see.
On the day-to-day front, the 4000-mile service came and went painlessly, despatched in expert efficiency by the spanner dudes at First Bike in Tooting.I could also go on about the new Gilles rearsets, that sweet Akrapovic titanium race system, or even the new Ÿber-trick Translogic quickshifter that have found their way onto the bike this week, but I shan't. Outta space here you see, so they'll just have to remain a story for another time.
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