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Nothing succeeds like excess and Perth is a horsepower town where  you can’t have too much of More. This growth ethos reflects how motorcycles have been developed by manufacturers since forever, even if today the excess tends towards electronic and rider aids as much as outright performance.  The motorcyclist who at sometime hasn’t attempted to get more out of their bike through tuning or adaptation is a rare best indeed, I mean why wouldn’t you want the best? “The best” is of course a moot point depending on your beliefs, current understandings and needs. Advertising will try to tempt and corrupt you with seductive whisperings or blatant appeals that you need a street bike that comes with Z rated tyres if you are to be taken seriously and at 300kph who’s going to choose anything less? Horses for courses and all that but when a set of tyres exceeds $600 and lasts a weekend at the track the price of dating a mechanical supermodel can start to get a bit steep. In the current  budget stretched days we live in with the cost of living going through the roof how can we get our motorcycling highs without breaking the bank?

This is going to sound like heresy, and to some it is, but you don’t need the latest and greatest and costliest to have a stupendously good time on a bike. I’ll get to  Historic Racing later which more than proves the point,  but for now let’s stick with road bikes. “You don’t always get what you want” doesn’t mean that you have to compromise, compromise is death, make an active choice! If you have ever ridden a CT110 you will know that at times its meagre output can be frustrating or indeed terrifying, however under many conditions it can be waay too much and the terrifyometre needle will go off the scale in the opposite direction. Like Forrest Gump’s mother said, life is a box of choc-o-lates, so pick and choose and learn to appreciate different flavours.

If you have been riding big bikes, go out for a ride on a small one, if nothing else it will probably make you feel younger and bring back memories of your earlier motorcycle days. The fact is that we are all still learning how to ride better – it is a life long apprenticship – and the type of riding we undertake determines how hard we push before  a sense of self-preservation or practical physics cuts in.  The maxim, “It ain’t what you ride, it’s how you ride it”  (or even, where you ride it) that makes for two-wheeled fun. It doesn’t have to be a painful body and soul scourging marathon of unpleasantness, I have seen V-Max owners giggling hysterically after been let loose on a Vespa. It doesn’t have to be a licence saving choice (although that is sort of logical) or guilt ridden Green planet saving sacrifice of dubious practical merit. So what are these modest motocycles that provide outrageous smiles per mile?  Carefully adding the caveat that there is no motorcycle that has never given someone a cause not to smile, here are a few cheap and cheerfuls to consider:

Honda Grom, Honda CT110, Kawasaki GPX 250,KLR650, Suzuki GS500, DR650, Yamaha Virago (any)

In the slightly more eclectic basket: BMW F650 GS,  Gilera DNA, Honda Spada 250, MC19, GB400,  NT650 Revere,  Kawasaki GPZ250R, Balius 250,  GPZ500, MZ ETZ250, Suzuki RV125, DRZ- 400SM, Yamaha SRX250,  YZF250Zeal,  SZR660, XJ600 Seca

and for the dreamers, poets and finders of Unicorns (and probably not cheap) :  Aprilia Pegaso 650, BMW CS Scarver, Gilera CX125, Saturno 500, Italjet Dragster 125, MuZ Skorpion (any)

I would love to add the little CBX250 to this list, but brilliant little bike that it is, front tyres are no longer available.

Why the suggested list? I  have always been attracted to little bikes and as I age just looking at the current vast cruisers and towering 1200cc 160HP adventure bikes causes a hernia. The skill of maintaining momentum, learning efficient lines and corner entry/mid/exit and appreciating and learning how your inputs affect the bike makes you a more aware rider. It’s better to ride a slow bike  fast than a fast bike slow speed and it can be more rewarding than riding a fast bike fast. The dollars and cents, tyre life, running costs, and initial investment wont cause domestic disharmony. Lightness adds convenience when wheeling the bike around the yard and filtering through traffic on a slim bike is easier. It may be a function of my own aging process but just looking at a physically large bike can give me a hernia

If you want to go Historic Racing the bike that springs to mind is the Honda MC19 or 22. Quite frankly there is no better bike to start racing on and the 40HP they put out allied to excellent handling ensures you will be in for a brilliant time and your  riding will develop expotentially. If this praise of small bikes is causing cognitive dissonance go and watch P6 250 Historic races and the scales will fall from your eyes. Less can give so much more.

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Retro Moto

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