If the freedom of speech is taken away then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter.

- George Washington

Thursday, 30 August 2012

One door closes ...

So, after an excellent trip 2-up through France and Germany, why did the Sprint have to go?  I suspect the reason is as much psychological as technical.  I've always been a bit of a grasshopper, jumping from one idea to another without much logic or planning.  Sometimes, a bike just stops being 'the greatest' and becomes merely a roadblock on the way to the next thing.  I think the Sprint was a victim of that thinking.  Perhaps if I could change my car for something completely different at a cost of a few hundred pounds, I would change that more often, but that's not really possible, and nor is it in any way interesting.

Two things sealed the Sprint's fate, and again they have nothing to do with logic.  One was the minor tumble I had on it a few months ago.  This made it very clear that the Sprint was a pretty heavy old lump, and having to ask for help in lifting it back on its wheels made me feel that perhaps it was just too big and heavy for me.  And, illogical though it is, once something like this has happened it dents the confidence just a little.  The bike is never quite the same again.  The second was the bike's oil consumption on the Europe exploit.  More on this when I get to posting the rest of the holiday snaps, but one litre of precious fully-synthetic per 1000 miles travelled is not acceptable in my book.  To be fair, this mileage included some high-speed autobahn motoring, 2-up with luggage, at speeds of between 90 and 120 mph; and oil consumption during normal use was negligible.  But it raised doubts in my mind, probably groundless, about the long-term durability of the bike.

I was already considering moving it on, and the lightbulb moment came when I took a trip up to North Wales for the day to meet up with Nikos.  Riding up in the rain, I realised that I hadn't considered taking the fast, comfortable Sprint for a moment: I just assumed that, for a fun ride, the XT was the obvious choice.  Like the massively-capable (and just plain massive) Pan European before it, the Sprint was in danger of becoming a driveway ornament.

I started to draw up a kind of mental checklist, trying to focus in on the kind of riding I do, and the kind I want to do more of.  The wish-list that I came up with looked like this:
  • Ability to cruise at ~70 mph
  • All-day comfortable
  • Able to take a light pillion along with full luggage
  • Upright riding position and easy frame geometry
  • Able to tackle light off-road riding
  • Robust and able to take a few knocks
  • Mechanically/electrically simple and owner-repairable
  • Reasonably light (max about 200 kg dry)
  • Fast enough to be fun.
The XT is in the right ballpark with a lot of these requirements, but is a bit lacking in some areas.  I realised that what I was looking for was a kind of super-XT - similar in concept, but just a bit bigger, faster, more comfortable.  I started to draw up a shortlist.  The ones that made it through to the final audition were:
  • Yamaha XT660R or XT660Z Ténéré
  • Kawasaki Versys 650
  • Suzuki V-Strom 650
  • Honda Transalp
  • Honda Africa Twin (the classic choice - probably too old to be practical, but I love 'em)
Ones that almost made it were older airhead GS BMWs (heavy and long in the tooth at the price I could afford), Triumph Tiger (on closer inspection, a Sprint with wide bars and tall suspension), and Yamaha's TDM850 and 900 (logical but didn't spark any lust in my heart, and therefore likely to be back on the market within the month).  The Sprint was (despite it's clumsiness-induced attack of acne on the right-hand side) still a good-looking bike and in full working order, and I hoped it would raise about £2300.  I could probably add up to £1000 on top of that for the right bike, so I was looking at bikes in the £3000-3500 area.  Parker's price guide for bike no longer exists, so the asking price was a bit of a shot in the dark, but I based my estimate on what I had paid for it a year before, and took off a bit of depreciation and a bit more for the gravel rash.  I had made a few improvements and put new tyres on before the Europe trip, and I thought that price was a fair one.

It might have been, but the market didn't agree with me.  More on that in the next post.


  1. An interesting explanation of your thought-processes, Richard.

    BTW - just noticed your "tagline" below the Blog Title. Very appropriate for you. Has it been there long?

    1. You callin' me a pedant? Sorry. Is it the case that you are referring to me in pejorative terms as one who places excessive emphasis on minor details of linguistic correctness?

      Probably right. I nicked it from the internet a few days ago. No idea where. But Oi loikes it.

  2. With oil consumption like that I would not have used fully synthetic! 2 stroke oil may have been more apporpriate!!?


    1. I ran for 2k miles on the new oil the dealer promised he had put in on purchase, but decided to treat the bike to fully synth for the Euro-trip. Bad move. I changed it for Halford's own-brand semi-synth when I returned and the problem seemed to go away (not a fair comparison as I rarely do 200 miles at full whack in Pembrokeshire). It solved the annoying clunk in the gear change, too.

      Custard. Good idea.

  3. It sounds as though this was a well thought out decision. I think you will be happy with it.

    When you don't give them a second thought to riding them it is time to move on.

    1. It was a great bike, or rather a great bike for someone else, and I had no regrets about seeing it go.

  4. You've put some serious thought into it, and I can fully understand why you are looking for a different bikes. Getting one out of the way to make room for the next seems like the right thing to do.


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