Used Bike

Meet the fuglys: alternative used adventurers

They may not be the best looking bikes out there, but is there more than meets the eye when it comes to these presentationally-challenged secondhand bikes?

Beauty is a subjective thing. What one person may find appealing another will consider repulsive. Life has to be like that. Without this diversity how on earth would half the people on the Jeremy Kyle Show get pregnant? Although that could just be down to drink. Or hard drugs. Or both.

When it comes to styling, manufacturers are gambling tens of millions of pounds on the decisions of a small bunch of arty-types with designer specs and monogrammed crayons. Get a bike’s styling wrong and the consequences can be horrendous. Take Ducati’s 999 as a prime example. In almost every way it was a better machine that the 998 it replaced, but the ‘futuristic’ styling was so way out it failed to sell. And, as a result, nearly sent Ducati to the wall. Get it right, however, and you can make millions and build a company’s reputation on a single model. Like with, er, the Ducati 916…

Which brings us to the three bikes in this test. Each one appears to have taken a tumble out of the ugly tree, bouncing off each branch on the way down before being smashed in the face with a shovel on reaching the ground. But your opinion may be very different.

Suzuki’s V-Strom not only has a rather silly name (apparently it’s a wind or a river or something in Germany) it also has a rather gawky, confused appearance. This model is the GT version, which only differs from the stock bike by the addition of a few bolt-on extras. Despite it costing a shade more than £5,000, older and far cheaper V-Stroms are easy to locate. Although they won’t look as pretty…

Next up is Yamaha’s workhorse TDM900, a much-maligned bike with a reputation for dullness. Those looks, with a strong hint of a startled fish about them, don’t help it. At just short of £3,000 this bike seems a bargain. And there will be a reason for that.

And finally the real oddball, Cagiva’s Gran Canyon. With an air-cooled Ducati 900cc engine powering this big trailie, it could prove to be the surprise of the test. However with Cagiva’s reputation for build quality it could equally as likely be the disaster.

So, with a collection of ‘interesting’ lookers that could make a below average Blackpool hen party seem distinctly attractive we headed out into a misty Peak District. It would appear that even the Big Man was trying to shroud these beasts from public view. Are they really that bad?

Move on for the Yamaha TDM 900 used review