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Bike Shopping 2003

Following is a list of machines I'd been considering buying as a step up from my 600ss Ducati. I ended up buying myself my current ZX-7R but thought I'd leave the list up for interests sake.

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I'm was lookin at getting a 4-stroke, 4-cylinder, good-condition, recent-model 600, or a larger V-Twin machine. My price range was loosely set at the nz$10K mark. I'd pretty much talked myself out of buying 750 or bigger sports bikes, and the proof was in the pudding of course when I started to test-pilot some of these babies when the weather picked up over summer.

Please let me know if you have any comments to pass on about these machines or if you know anyone who owns one.

"Any colour, as long as its Red and/or Black"

Triumph Daytona 955i

Specs: 125HP 955cc Liquid-cooled DOHC in-line 3-cyl machine with a wet clutch and 6-speed box. Dry weight 198kg, tank 18L, wheelbase 1440mm. Twin 320mm floating front discs (4 pot) and single 220mm rear (2 pot). tyres 120/70R17 front & 190/50R17 rear.
Cost: $12k ('97) - $14k ('00)
Reviews: 1 | 2 | 3

Notes: Early models had a single-sided swingarm, in 2001 they switched to double and now back to the single again which seems to be a retrograde step (more weight, less effective). The '98 model was the first to be badged '955i' (previously 'T595') and fixed earlier niggles like ground-clearance, suspension damping and a mid-range power flat-spot (at ~5,000rpm). Another plus, is we have a local dealer for Triumph in Hamilton. I never did end up test-riding a 955, but I reckon it'll be on the list for next time :-)

Moto Guzzi 1100 Sport

Specs: 90HP Air-cooled 4-stroke 90' V-twin shaft-drive Italian beauty with a dry-clutch and 5-speed box. 220kg dry-weight with dual 320mm front-disks and 4 piston Brembo callipers and a 282mm rear. Ships with 120/70R17 front and 160/R17 rear tires.
Cost: $10k ('96) - $14.5k ('98)
Reviews: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4

Notes: There's no 'official' Guzzi dealer locally but one of the shops is a Ducati dealer and I've seen the odd one in their workshop, plus there's a couple of local lads I've seen riding them round. I like the look and sound of the buggers, just need to get a ride on one now. One of the local shops has on on the floor at the moment, but it looks as rough as fuck and a totally bogus claimed-mileage looging at the condition of it.

Honda VTR1000

Specs: 109hp 996cc carburetted 4-stroke, liquid-cooled DOHC 8-valve 6-speed 90' V-twin. Dry-weight 192kg, 19L tank, wheelbase 1430mm, claimed top-speed 230km/h. 296mm front disks (4-pot) and 220mm rear (single-pot), tyres 120/70R-17 front & 180/55R-17 rear
Cost: $10k ('97) - $12k ('00)
1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5

Notes: A couple of months ago I scrounged a ride on a VTR, loved the tourque, comfort, and sound, but came away thinking it was just a bit-too-big, didnt feel as nimble as what I think I want from my next machine. Note to self: models before 2001 had a 16L tank

Kawasaki ZX7R

Specs: ~104hp 748cc carburetted 4-stroke, liquid-cooled DOHC 16-valve 6-speed inline-4. Dry-weight 203kg, wheelbase 1435mm, tires 120/70-R17 front and 190/50-R17 rear. Dual front disks (6-pot).
Cost: $8k ('97) - $11k ('99)
Reviews: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5

Notes: I just had to add a ZX7R to this page. Despite one of my mates calling them "those big green fuckers" I think its almost worth his wrath if I can find one that's another colour. They may be heavy, and haven't won anything in SuperBikes for a few years, but there's just something about them I cannae resist.
NOTE: This is the model I ended up buying

Kawasaki ZXR600 / ZX6R

Specs: 94hp 599cc carburetted 4-stroke, liquid-cooled DOHC 16-valve 6-speed inline-4. Dry-weight 176kg, wheelbase 1400mm, tires 120/65-R17 front and 180/55-R17 rear. 300mm front disks (6-pot)
Cost: $8k ('96) - $11k ('00)
1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7

Notes: The 2000 model won the motorcycle online super-sports shootout review, which is an improvement on the '97 model which came last due mainly to front-end handling weirdness. The '98 model was the biggest selling 600 in Britain (previously the CBR dominated). The 99 review rated the ZX6R well, but behind the R6 and CBR/F4. In 2003 the ZX6 was a major change from the 02, it also went fuel-injected. Although I didnt ride the ZXR600, I did testride a brand-new ZX636 and was really impressed. Only problem was the $17K price-tag.

Yamaha TRX/850

Specs: 83hp 849cc carburetted 4-stroke, liquid-cooled 5-valve/cyl 5-speed 270' twin. Dry-weight 188kg, 18L tank, wheelbase 1435mm, claimed top-speed 220km/h. 298mm front disks and 245 rear, tires 120/60-R17 front and 160/60-R17 rear
Cost: $8K ('96) -> $9K ('99)
Reviews: 1 | 2

Notes: This is the only bike I really regreted not testing. Bit of an ugly duckling, but you never hear a bad word said about them. Check out this testimonial from a website I was reading last year ... "If you've been shopping around for the latest sporty models in an effort to get as much bang for your bucks as possible, your search stops here - Yamaha's TRX850. Capable, value-for-money and user-friendly were more often than not the words applied to Yamaha's popular parallel twin".

Ducati 900ss

Specs: 83hp 904cc carburetted 4-stroke, air-cooled 2-valve/cyl 6-speed 90' V-Twin. Dry-weight 185kg, 17L tank wheelbase 1400mm. Tires 120/70R17 front & 170/60R17 rear
Cost: $10K ('90) -> $12K ('95)
Reviews: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6

Notes: I just had to consider the 900ss. I'd been riding my 600ss now for nine months and had found its geometry and handling both suit me well. Having another 30hp would basically be the icing on the cake. The only thing that put me off one was it would been just too similar to my 600ss.

How I'm Leaning

I kept a wee list of how I was leaning over time, what I liked the look of as the time drew nearer to buying a new machine....

May 2003 - At the moment I'm thinkin best bang-for-buck rather than a big-ticket dream machine. So at this stage the TRX and VTR are at the top of the list, I'd like to get something a little different to my 600ss which is why I'm not too sure about the 900s at the moment.

June 2003 - During June (what I can remember of it) I recall having a swing away from the Japanese twins back to the Duke. The nice thing about the 900ss is I'm familiar with the geometry, I like the way it handles, and I'm getting more torque and better breaking in the same package. The 900ss it is then.

July 2003 - This month I finally got to have a close-up look at a Guzzi 1100sport in the flesh, it looks big, and feels a little heavy balance wise. I'll have to take one for a spin of course. I'm still not as hot on the two Japanese twins, and the 4-cyl 600's I've almost totally dismissed so the Kwaka could be out on its screaming ear. Looks like the 900ss is still top-of-the-heap so to speak.

August 2003 - If I had the money to burn, and the thick-skin to buy and ride a brand-new bike, at the moment I'd be popping into Road-N-Sport and signing up for a spanking-new Buell Firebolt. I know its a Harley engine, but the rest of it is definately 21st Century. The only disturbing thing seems to be the rev-limiter cut-in at ~7,5000rpm which with factory gear-rations is a meagre 120mph

September 2003 - Another month rolls by and another bike pops up to the top of my shopping list. I've pretty much convinced myself that the machine for me is the Triumph Daytona 955i. I've liked the look of the things since I first laid eyes on them. Seems like a good compromise of sports/commuting, loads of power, I just cant see myself getting sick of a machine like that in a hurry.

October 2003 - Jesus I'm such a schizo when it comes to bikes. This month I convinced myself I needed to spend as little as possible, and came very close to buying a TRX in a shop in Taupo. Condition wasn't great but the price was right. If it hadda been a local seller I probably would bought it by now. But nothings changed on the list really, and the fantasy list is still much the same.

November 2003 - Nothings changed really but I came close again this month to buying one of the above bikes. A dude was selling (privately) a reasonable sounding black ZX-7R (the exact one in the photo above as it happens) but the guy sounded a little too car-dealerish and the price just seemed too good. Another deal down the gurgler and no new bike.

December 2003 - Another month and another missed buying opportunity. This time I came close to buying a '97 900SS Duke which popped up in Wanganui. Didnt got own to check it out mostly coz I wasnt organised enough. Price was good tho. Nothing new to add to the list, still shopping around

January 2004 - Well its all over. I ended up buying a ZX-7R Kawasaki. No regrets, its a great machine, looking FWD to a couple of years of fun on the bugger.

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