Variety is certainly king when it comes to bike choice. There’s a lot out there, and it all depends on what you want to do. The first choice is between off-road, on-road, and on-off-road. I figured the on-road was for me, and more specifically something that either is or looks like a superbike. With bike choice you once again have to go with your fancy and instinct. Find the bike that takes your breath away. You’re going to form a bond with this machine, and you don’t want that based on regret.
A number of people suggested a small off-roader to learn how to mess around and fall. Others recommended a small, light on-road bike to develop those skills. Still others suggested top of the range 1000cc beasts.
Now I know you’re saying in your head that going for a 1000 is insane and the bike is uncontrollable etc. The argument put forward here was that you would use the smaller bike for a year or less and then want something bigger and more powerful as soon as possible. i.e. There are financial benefits to getting a bigger bike sooner.
Always bear in mind that bikes (especially new ones) lose value faster than Eskom shares in winter.
I very quickly set my sights on a Honda CBR600RR. It is a beautiful bike, and is the best quality you can find. All the bikes in this class, Honda, Suzuki, Yamaha and Kawasaki are incredible pieces of engineering that should never fail you.
Somewhere along the line though I’d developed a preference for Honda. In fact, My first pillion ride, first actual ride and learning were all done on a Honda. (Yes I learned to ride a bike on a Fireblade!) This probably biased me towards them. That, and Brad’s endless preaching about the virtues of Honda.
A curveball hit when I rode a GSX-R750 for the first time. Man, what a comfortable bike! And extremely good looking too.
I roughly ironed out the choices between a CBR600, a GSXR-750 and a wildcard which I called a “good deal”. I honestly had no clue what to get and many hours were spent, whole Friday and Saturday nights, pondering the choice over a good whisky.
With the help of the Tomster (my mentor throughout the process), I started calling around and finding out price, availabilty and more. Intereseting lesson: Bike retail is nothing like the car retail business. Prices vary significantly across dealerships, areas, mileage, demo models, and even time of day. I saw 13000km GSX-R750’s going for close to R100k, I saw CBR600s for just under R75k(demo 800km) and going up to R87k(brand new). That’s twelve grand difference for 800 kilometres worth of riding!!! I saw pretty bikes, sexy bikes, fast bikes, well-used bikes all with very different parameters and pricing.
Autotrader and other websites such as bikefind.co.za were also invaluable in the hunt.
So my criteria boiled down to this:
– Low mileage (preferably less than 3000km, hopefully less than 6000km).
– A year old at most.
– Sexy as all hell.
– Excellent condition.
– No mods. I believe that a sign of a bike that’s been driven hard is a custom pipe, or indicators that have been removed or any other non-standard deviation.
– Fair price. I was willing to take it to R100k if necessary, and if the bank smiled at me!
– Must have the “instinctive yes” feeling attached.
And yes, despite all the above I did manage to find the perfect bike for me – turns out, bikefind.co.za lead me to a private sale of a black, 2007 Honda CBR1000 in absolutely spotless condition. So at last, (a month and nineteen days after that first bike ride) I took this pic of my gorgeous Fireblade:
So I’ve chosen the bike I want, made an offer that was accepted. Next time I’ll tell you about the hell that is financing a private deal…