Top 10s

Top 10 winter hacks for under £2000

The nights are drawing in, summer is fading and soon the clocks will change - but you can stay on two wheels regardless

TODAY'S motorcyclists increasingly own more than one bike and if you’re among those multi-machine keepers you’ve got no excuse not to have a cheap winter hack in your collection.

We all know what damage Britain’s salt-ravaged roads can wreak on a bike. Try as you might – whether via endless cleaning, protective coatings or both – if you ride through winter then the exposed parts of your pride and joy will start showing the signs of it.

For some, that’s fine. The patina of year-round use is a badge of honour. But if you’re not one of those people, then you can buy a winter hack for less than the price of rectifying one winter’s worth of damage to your main bike.

What’s more, if you put your mind to it you might even find a winter bike that’s actually more fun, or more capable, in poor conditions than your main ride is. A naked Ducati Hypermotard might be endless fun on a summer’s evening, but on a freezing, wet winter night you’d give your eye teeth for some heated grips and a fairing.

Here are our top 10 winter hacks for under £2000 at today’s used prices. They cover a wide range of styles and sizes so should suit virtually any rider.

Starting with...

10: Honda Deauville

Often dubbed the Dullville for its boring appearance (why are they always brown?) the Deauville is nonetheless one of the ultimate winter bikes. Hunt around and our £2000 budget will find one with ABS – vital on slippery winter roads – luggage and heated grips. Throw in the adjustable screen and not-quite-a-Pan-European fairing and it’s hard to argue with for half the year in the UK.

It’s a mainstay on everyone’s list of cheap runabouts, and for good reason. For winter use we’d hunt out the half-faired S model, and make sure it’s one with ABS fitted. It might not be the most sophisticated thing, but that oil-cooled motor is renowned for its longevity and many will already be fitted with some GIVI luggage and heated grips by a previous owner. Thrash it until it dies.

Our budget should get you either the 250cc or 400cc MP3, and if your winter riding is mainly city-bound or low-speed stuff, it’s a strong choice. That clever, tilting three-wheeled suspension system doesn’t feel as weird as it looks, and if you hit some spilt diesel or black ice you’ll be thankful for it. While not uncrashable, the extra rubber on the road and the stability of a third wheel means saving front end slides doesn’t require Marquez levels of riding.

The BMW R1200GS is still the most popular bike in the UK. But for all its roughty-toughty looks, with new prices deep into five figures owners might shy from the idea of getting them covered in winter road muck. So why not get its predecessor, the R1100GS, for under £2K? Since it’s a BMW, ABS brakes are the norm even if the older GS doesn’t have the plethora of gizmos of the new one. The high riding position and wide-barred stance gives good control in slippery conditions, too, despite the size and weight. Again, heated grips are commonly already fitted.

If you’re a more into sports bikes, then finding a suitable winter runabout is a tougher job. The single-cylinder, 26hp CBR250 might not be the fastest thing on the planet, but a soft, tractable single is great engine for slippery conditions and most have ABS brakes. Yes, you will end up looking like a teenager (which is fine – you might well be a teenager!), but the CBR250R is Honda-sensible through-and-through.

While BMW’s boxer bikes have quite a following these days, you can avoid any price premium by opting for perhaps the most unloved engine in the firm’s history, the three-cylinder K75. A K75RT is virtually the epitome of a winter hack – shaft drive, comfortably-faired, long-lasting and reliable. Most have ABS, too, and in terms of price there’s a good chance you’ll be able to get one for under a grand. Other K-series bikes also fit into our budget, so if you prefer a K100RT or K1100LT, you should be able to find one. We even scoped out a K1200RS, albeit an ex-police bike, under our budget.

Prefer a BMW boxer? No problem. The R1100RT offers much the same in terms of creature comforts as the K-series tourers, but with the firm’s classic twin-cylinder engine.

We’re not going to pick on a specific model here, but if you’re not fussed about staying warm or dry, a supermoto’s chuckable nature (not to mention crashability) makes it a decent winter choice. A Suzuki DR-Z400SM (picture), KTM Duke 2 or Honda FMX650 should all be in the price range. Or, how about something more fun and left-field? We found several CCM R30s for under £2k. We wouldn’t recommend them if your commute is more than a few miles, though.

At the other end of the spectrum, Honda’s Pan European will swallow miles like they’re Smarties and even with a £2k budget there’s a good choice of 1990s ST1100 versions out there. Many will have ABS and some even have a very rudimentary (ie, don’t rely on it to save your skin) traction control system. Plus there are all the usual tourer comforts, heated bits and pieces and a fairing that actually keeps the worst of the weather away.

Kawasaki’s Versys 650 combines traits of many of the other bikes on this list to be perhaps the ultimate £2k winter hack. It’s got an adventure bike style riding position, but sensible wheel sizes that will accept the best winter road rubber. Many have ABS – make sure you get it for a winter bike – and there’s enough of a fairing to keep some of the cold wind-blast away. As with many other used bikes of this sort, a lot have had heated grips fitted already, and if not you can always add some aftermarket ones yourself. Plus, it’s got that famously good Kawasaki parallel twin pushing the whole caboodle along.

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