Friday, 10 July 2015

The bike fleet continues to evolve

Back in 2012 I owned a 1979 T140D classic Meriden Triumph Bonneville. I was aware it wasn't the 'really classic' Bonnie, so went in search of such a bike (see In search of a classic Bonnie).

1979 'classic' Meriden Bonneville

That trip down south reinforced two things I probably really knew; a classic 1969 T120 Bonnie will be expensive. It will also require lots of maintenance on a day to day basis, as well as more substantially, and it will be unreliable and leak oil. That's the realistic side of classic bikes. So I sold the T140D before something catastrophic failed, re-thought the whole 'classic bike' thing, and bought the classy Italian Moto Guzzi Griso 8V 1,200cc, a fabulous machine but not a classic.

1,200cc Griso 8V. Sounds like a Spitfire, and is a bottomless pit of power and torque. The 'thinking man's Bonnie'?

The Suzuki XF650 Freewind which has been in the fleet for almost four years

The 'classic' itch didn't go away. Arthritis in my knees was ruling out big kick-start bikes, and I had to think 'outside the box' if this itch was to be scratched. Also, one bike in my fleet of three (Griso, Honda Innova, and Suzuki Freewind) was a little 'tall' for me, even after I'd fitted it with lower suspension and stands. But the Freewind was my 'practical' bike, the one I used to go places (the little Innova was for local use, like a motorised push bike, and the Griso was for nice day no-luggage blasting round the Peak District or wherever).

The little Honda 125cc Innova

There was a bike that could replace the Freewind as the 'practical bike', while scratching that 'classic' itch and at a fraction the cost of a mint 1969 T120:  the Kawasaki W800. The W800 is a modern Japanese bike built in the style of a 1969 Bonneville. Even the colour schemes hark back to those bikes. But just as the Mazda MX5 is a British 2-seat sports car but properly built so it's reliable and doesn't leak, the W800 is a Triumph Bonneville without the maintenance overhead, the reliability issues, and the oil leaks. So I traded the Freewind for a brand new W800. It took a while to find a dealer who would give me a good price on the clean and low-miles Freewind, and I settled on DK Motorcycles in Newcastle under Lyme who had one W800 in stock - in the cherry red and creme scheme I wanted. I rode the Freewind for the last time this morning, down to Newcastle, and rode the new W800 back home.

 The W800 on arrival home in Wilmslow

 To make the bike practical, I had ordered a rack to enable the Givi top box I had used on the Freewind to be fitted to this bike

 After a couple of hours spanner and socket wrench work, the rack and top box are fitted

I know the top box does nothing for the classic looks, but it does make it a practical replacement for the Freewind. Anyway, it's quickly removable in a 'one click' operation from the rack if I don't need it!


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