New bike? How about an old one...

Yamaha cut £1400 off the TDM

IF there's been one thing that stands out in the crop of new models released so far for 2012 (and the ones for 2011, and 2010, and 2009) it's that ultimately innovation and technological breakthroughs have been pretty thin on the ground.

Blame recession, blame the faltering and fragmenting market for new bikes, whatever. The fact is that, for manufacturers, profits are harder than ever to come by and as a result they're simply not developing new models as fast or as ambitiously as in the past.

Five years ago, when the bike market was on the crest of a wave and no hint of the trouble to come, it would have been hard to recommend buying a model that had been in production, virtually unchanged, for more than a decade. But so little has moved on since then in terms of the ultimate quality and ability of mainstream bikes that now there are plenty of bikes that hitting double-figure ages without falling too far behind. And some are actually becoming more tempting than they were in the first flush of youth.

Take Yamaha's TDM900. Even when it was launched in 2001 it was little more than an update of its predecessor, the TDM850, and it's never been a massive draw in showrooms despite being a more than capable all-rounder.

Back then, superbikes were everything and a quirky road-oriented, two-cylinder bike with off-road inspired riding position and only 70-something horsepower wasn't ever going to make many headlines.

Now, though, there are plenty of adventure-styled but firmly road-based bikes out there, and (strangely) as huge power figures have become more commonplace, the temptation of the fastest superbikes seems to have diminished. As noted before, the market is fragmenting, and many people are looking for something other than pure performance as the source of their riding joy.

Why this eulogy to a bike that wasn't even one of the best when it was brand new, and is now into its second decade of life? Well Yamaha has just dropped some £1400 off its price – and where the TDM was understandably easily ignored at £8399, at £6999 it's a different proposition entirely. OK, so a BMW F650GS (the current 800cc twin, not the old single) still undercuts it by a few hundred notes while offering newer looks and similar power, but even so the TDM doesn't deserve to be written off quite as readily as before...

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