The Way We Were


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Andy's next bike was certainly a bit different. The TDM850 was quite unlike anything else on the market and Andy was hooked after a demo ride. This was to be his ride for over five years, and was a great bike except for an uncomfortable seat (replaced with a Corbin) and a tendency not to start if left for too long in the cold weather.

Janet had always wanted to try out a four-cylinder bike, but thought that they would be too big and heavy. Eventually, purely by coincidence, she bought this FZR600 about a week after the damages came through for the injuries she sustained in the accident on the GPZ500. She kept this bike for over five years and it was completely reliable other than one replacement regulator/rectifier when it was about five years old.

After over five years of no changes in our garage, Andy bought a Bandit 1200 late in 1997. It was a bike that suited him well—he likes torquey bikes.

Meanwhile Janet sat on the new R1 at the bike show in late 1997 and liked it a lot, but said “how could you ever use the extra power over my FZR600?” However, by the end of 1997 she had given in and placed an order for one. She picked it up at the end of February 1998 and has been unable to completely escape the lure of the mighty R1 ever since!

Andy was very happy with his Bandit, but it was perhaps inevitable that with an R1 in the garage (which he did ride sometimes), when FireBlades were being sold off at ludicrously low prices he'd give in and trade his Bandit for his first ever race-replica.

Unfortunately the FireBlade experience came to an untimely end in a shower of sparks on a roundabout covered in construction dust. Andy was unhurt and sold the 'Blade on, unrepaired, to somebody who wanted a track day bike.

Andy bought a VFR800 to replace the 'Blade but, while they were generally very highly rated, he never really felt comfortable wih the fuelling or the handling.

Meanwhile Janet was finding that the R1 could be frustrating, as an only bike, on roads that were often congested and totally unsuited to such a fast and focused bike. She took a demo ride on a Cagiva Raptor and loved the V-twin power delivery and sound. Unfortunately the one she bought was marred by jerky fuelling low down, and the frustrations of Italian bike ownership soon reared their ugly head when it proved impossible to obtain even the most basic spares. Eventually it was sold on due to ill health preventing Janet from riding for a while. On her return to biking she bought the Hornet 900 which, while lacking the outright hooligan edge of the Raptor, more than compensated by being such a good (and fun) all rounder.

Andy got a second bike for his fortieth birthday—the GSX1400 torque monster. Great bike, but eclipsed by the CB1300 when it was launched a year or so later.

Andy didn't even trust the handling on his VFR800 as much as his GSX1400, so he clearly wasn't getting on with it very well! He traded it for an SV650, which was a good workhorse and back lane bike.

There is only room in our garage for three reasonably sized bikes (though we have fitted four small bikes in). When Janet was seduced by a much reduced CBR600, Andy gave her the SV650 to trade in against it, as selling the Hornet 900 wasn't an option, given its commuting and touring ability. Anyway, what Janet wanted was a “standard” bike for regular use and a “Sunday morning bike”, purely for fun. The CBR was a great bike, but Janet never really “gelled” with it—perhaps it was too rev-hungry after being used to larger bikes—and it was traded against Janet's 2003-spec R1, which proved to be a much better “Sunday morning bike”.

The CB1300 was fast and an excellent handler for a big heavy retro. However, after two years with it, including a couple of trips to France, and other great rides, Andy felt it was time to try something completely different—the Triumph Daytona 955i took over its spot in the garage.

The 2003-spec R1 was a great Sunday morning bike, and better in just about all ways than either the CBR600 it replaced, or the original 1998-spec R1. However, after nearly four years of owning two bikes, Janet was beginning to find that it could be more of a liability than a pleasure during the British winter, and wanted to go back to having just one bike for occasional commuting, touring and, of course, Sunday morning blasts. First she experimented with “standard” bikes that might be more exciting than the Hornet for Sunday morning blasts, but it quickly became clear that such a bike didn't exist. So it was going to have to be a sportsbike that was more capable of being used for commuting and touring than the 2003-spec R1. This proved to be the 2006 R1, which has a much more relaxed riding position and much plusher overall ride. So the more focused 2003-spec R1 had to go.

And the Hornet also had to go. This picture shows the Hornet getting ready to do what it did best—A-road touring. The Hornet was almost certainly the best bike Janet has had to date, and it was a wrench to part with it. However, it had to go if she wanted to just have one bike to run, and she was ultimately ready to move on after nearly five happy years with the Hornet.


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