2021 : A Return to Biking Normality?

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So, that was 2020. What a shitshow of a year. Here we stand in 2021, getting mostly vaccinated, and hoping that this will encourage our well-meaning but bungling politicians to finally release us from our permanent house arrest, so we can return to biking normality.

Those of us who have two wheels can get out and about and start to enjoy the hobby that we once had. While those of us without can start to dream about the summer months ahead, and start planning which bike we will acquire.

I fall into the latter category, and I’m having a lot of fun thinking about what bike to get. I’ve decided that I want a sports bike, and that it will likely be 1000cc, and my shortlist is currently three bikes which I like the look of:

1. BMW S1000RR – Sport

As a fan of the venerable K5 GSX-R1000, I had to put this bike on my shortlist, as it was modelled on the K5 Suzuki. A roomy riding position, road creature comforts like cruise control and heated grips, not to mention ABS, traction control etc, all of the latest gizmos.

The S1000RR sport also has the electronic suspension, which should make it a better road bike when in ‘soft’ mode and a better track bike in ‘hard’. The 2019 S1000RR with shift-cam tech looks nice, but is serious money so I’ll probably be looking at a 2015-2019 vintage. I rode the 2014 bike and found it to be a bit rough compared with my K5, so I think a test ride would be required ahead of any purchase.

My favourite colour combo, the White and Blue with red trim. Bonza!

2. Yamaha YZF-R1

Having just come off a Honda V4, I’m a huge fan of the firing order and the Zero inertial torque design of the V4, and also the I4 crossplane crankshaft engine from Yamaha (hereafter referred to as CP4). If you want to understand what makes the V4 and CP4 engines so special, read my article : What’s so Great about the V4 engine. The TLDR is that you have a much more connected feel between the throttle and the rear wheel on a V-Twin, V-4 or CP4, than with a traditional I4. If you find yourself flinching when you rev out an inline 4 to the redline, you’ll love the smoothness of a redlined V or crossplane cranked engine. A V4 and CP4 have the same firing sequence as two V-Twin engines one after the other.

I love the styling of the 2009-2014 bikes and these are much more road focussed which is what I like. Track days are nice, but I like to ride on the road mostly, and would need a road focussed machine. From 2012 onwards, the R1 came with traction control and ride-by-wire throttle. 180BHP is more than enough for anyone.

My favourite colour combo : 25th anniversary colours in red and white

3. Honda CBR1000RR- SP

Bit of a flyer this one, as these bikes are probably a bit too expensive for my price range, but if I had twelve grand burning a hole in my pocket, this is probably the bike I’d want in my garage. Why?

Well, it’s a ‘Blade for starters, so a meticulously crafted gem of a motorcycle, and in its HRC paint scheme with gold adaptive ohlins and gold wheels, it just looks gorgeous. Even the standard exhaust looks great!

Honda fit and finish, a truly every day usable bike which can do everything you want it to; from touring to track days. It’s light and the engine is super smooth, and powerful enough for the road, and did I mention how it looks? (Kawasaki styling dept. please take note)

So there are a few question marks over the gearbox, and the electronics package means that you can’t pull monster wheelies as the system cuts the power to bring things down to earth, but the rest of the time, this bike will do everything you ask of it without any complaints, and it’ll stay looking good for decades to come. I owned a 1999 VFR800FI which covered 30,000 miles under my ownership and which never missed a beat. The paint is thick and lasts. Honda makes great motorcycles, and this one is going to be a future classic, the last of the great 09-19 batch, before they went for the super short stroke engine.

So there’s my shortlist. I’m aiming to test ride each bike, ideally fairly closely back to back, so will report back on progress. Do you agree, or do you think I’ve missed a candidate off the list?

Let me know by joining the Shiny Side Up telegram group and leaving a message. https://t.me/shinysideup