Some hard choices have to be made when spring is just around the corner.
Springtime always has me itching, either to go for a ride on my bike, or to buy a new one. This year it’s the latter itch that needs scratching. I had bought a brand-new Triumph Scrambler 1200 in August 2021, but unfortunately that bike had to go less than a year later due to a change in my living situation.
Well, my living situation has been resolved and is more stable now, and it’s time to look at perhaps getting another new machine. Logic would dictate that I replace the Scrambler with another one, but I’m not sure that’s the way I want to go. Don’t get me wrong: I loved that bike, and had I not sold it I’d be loving and enjoying it still. But, considering that I already have two off-road capable machines — my ageing but rock-solid 2008 Kawasaki KLR650 and a small but oh-so-fun 2005 Yamaha XT225 — I think it might be time to get a more focused street bike. I do have a street bike already, a 1982 Honda FT500 Ascot, but realistically, I want something newer, more practical, and more powerful.
Now, when I say more powerful, I’m not talking about a 200-plus horsepower sport bike. Anything making maybe 50 horsepower or more would make me happy, and it has to be more practical — and comfortable — than a supersport machine.
While I like multi-cylinder machines, I do have a preference for those with fewer than four cylinders; I prefer the simplicity, light weight, and sound of twins. Any layout will do: V-twin, L-twin, parallel twin or boxer. This, of course, doesn’t make the job of selecting one bike easy. I do have a shortlist of possible candidates, which I’ll go through here in alphabetical order. The prices and styles of these bikes vary greatly, but I find them all desirable, and one of them will likely end up in my garage this summer.
First up is the BMW R1250RS. While it’s the sportiest bike in my selection, it’s not an outright supersport machine, with a more relaxed riding position and a wonderful, 135-horsepower boxer engine with huge low-end torque. It can be used every day, and can also satisfy an occasional urge to put in some fast laps during a track day. I’d have to really consider adding the optional dynamics package, solely for BMW’s remarkable electronically adjustable suspension. The main reason I’d shy away from it, though, is because of the added complexity of the system. The bike is among the priciest of my selection, starting at $18,195, though it comes with a very appealing three-year warranty.
Next up is the Moto Guzzi V7 Stone. Yes, it’s a big departure from the BMW, but I love its retro styling, and at $11,490, it’s much more affordable. It has a torquey, great-sounding 90-degree V-twin, and a no-maintenance shaft drive. One potential deciding factor is a limited dealer network, though as I’ve always done with all of my machines, I will take care of the maintenance at home.
There are two potential Triumphs I am considering. The first is the bike formerly known as the Street Twin: the Speed Twin 900. I briefly owned a Street Twin, and there was nothing I did not like about the bike. It had a smooth, torquey parallel twin, a slick-shifting five-speed gearbox (the Guzzi one-ups the Triumph here with six speeds), and classic, Brit-bike styling, of which I’ve become very fond. Even though the Speed Twin 900 has same engine as the Street Twin I had owned, it has 10 horsepower more, at 65 hp. At just $11,195, it’s the most affordable bike on my list.
The other Triumph on my radar is the 900’s bigger sibling, the Speed Twin 1200. I’ve ridden this bike, and like the 900, love everything about it. It’s actually sportier than the 900, with an inverted fork, 17-inch wheels (18-inch front on the 900), bigger dual front discs and radial-mount calipers, and it’s more powerful, at just a touch below 100 hp — I’d certainly try some racetrack lapping on it. It also retained analogue gauges, which I prefer, as opposed to the 900’s newer digital gauges. And, it has the simple, retro styling I love. Its price is also quite reasonable, starting at $14,295.
There’s one more bike I’d consider if Harley were to make it: a sportier version of the new Nightster. I’ve had Sportsters before, and I’m hoping I will have one again soon, but the current lineup is too cruiser-ish for my taste and riding style. If the current bike had more appropriate cornering clearance and a sportier riding position and wheel sizes, it would be high on my list.
I’ve narrowed my list to a handful of bikes, any of which I know I will enjoy immensely, but now I have serious thinking to do.