I left the house on Friday and rode my GS over to the local Triumph dealer, had an hour on the 1200 Explorer and then took the GS round to the Honda place and rode the Crosstourer.
They are, as the video said, all very good motorcycles, and quite frankly any of them would be a pleasure to own. I’ve done over 20,000 miles on my GS in 2½ years and would be more than happy to keep it but testing the Triumph and Honda seemed like a good idea on the only sunny afternoon we’ve had in the UK for several weeks! The Triumph impressed with its smoothness (but remember that I’ve had a Bavarian twin for the last 20,000 miles!) and it has so much torque that it really isn’t bothered what gear it is in. I’ve heard criticism of the fly by wire throttle, but I liked it and found it very easy to control. The bike was very comfortable and all in all, the only thing I wasn’t too keen on was the dash – some of the stuff was quite hard to read and although there’s nothing wrong with it, I just didn’t like it.
And pretty much everything I have written about the Triumph also applies to the Honda, except that the dash arrangement is much neater and feels better put together. Honda’s screen felt a bit small, so I’ve got the taller one thrown in too and I will no doubt mess about trying them both to find the right compromise for me. However, the big difference is that V4. I’m a VFR owner of old, so it was a very familiar sound and I love it.
Importantly, the Honda guys took time to chat to me and offered coffee while saying that I could take the bike out for as long as I wanted, as long as I brought it back 15 minutes before closing time. Triumph’s guys didn’t seem over busy but somehow didn’t make me feel all that welcome either and were very clear that the bike had to be back within an hour (although nobody else was due to ride it that afternoon). And, most importantly, Honda gave me a firm offer of over £1,000 more for the BMW than Triumph’s man, who could only be bothered to say “I guess it’s worth about £x”. With a bit of discount off the list price of the VFR1200X, financially the deal was a no brainer.
And, for completeness, I guess I ought to say that either bike would mean missing two of the features of the BMW which I have grown to like. I thought that ESA would be a bit of a gimmick, but have actually grown to like being able to adjust the suspension with the push of a button – although I bet it will be expensive when it goes wrong! And, of course, the telelever front end which doesn’t dive is the BM’s real strong point. It will take a little while to get used to more conventional front forks again.
So, all I have to do now is wait 2½ weeks for my next red VFR to arrive.