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The Best Bike of 2016 at Spyder Club

Add comment December 8th, 2016

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It’s a great thing to do at the end of each year, work out what bikes you have gelled with during the last 12 months.  Once again, Spyder Club members had access to many new motorcycles and this year more than ever, they were truly spoilt.  With a total of 30 motorcycles to choose from and our first trip fleet of the year averaging at over £16,000 per bike, it’s been a good riding season.

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And for once I was blessed.  Group One of the Season Starter trip in Spain picked their steads and jaw droppingly, left me with a brand-new Ducati Monster 1200R.  Not only did they leave me with the bike I most wanted to ride, we were also heading to the A-397 from San Pedro, the fantastic Ronda road!

The road is a favourite and after 50 kilometres of heavenly tarmac, so was the Monster.  The engine is a peach, so smooth, so refined but with that Ducati character that lets you know it’s a special bike.

I’ve ridden the standard machine and the S and both are great bikes, but the R, it’s just so much better.  On the Ronda road, a technical ride, it didn’t miss a beat and its hat was firmly thrown in the ring for bike of the year.

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We have owned a KTM Super Duke R for a few years now but I rarely get the chance to ride it, members and trips guests always come first.  Finally, I had the privilege and proper first ride on one of our Open Days, and the hype is right.

The Super Duke is so capable; refined when required, brutal when the throttle is opened, with spirit and handling to flatter every rider.  Just like the Monster, it’s a bike that has so much to offer, and going on the numbers of members buying the KTM, wins hands down, but let’s not make that decision just yet…

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Staying naked (!), I have run two 2008 Triumph Street Triple R’s over the last three years and covered many, many miles on them.  We also have a 2010 Street Triple R and this year bought a brand-new RX.  It doesn’t matter which one you climb on, it just feels like home.

Sometimes the members/trip guests ask to ride my bike, ‘I’m sorry, it has the Sat-Nav and I have no idea where I’m going unless I have it,’ is a great way of saying ‘no’.

With a lot less horses than the Monster and Super Duke, and a price tag of thousands less, you could argue this bike shouldn’t feature, but you’d be wrong.  If you haven’t ridden a Street Triple of any variation, do it.  Sadly, it’s time to say goodbye to the 2008 R but luckily the RX isn’t going anywhere.

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Okay, a very different animal, but again, ride one.  Piaggio Group UK were kind enough to lend me a Vespa GTS 300 for my Lands End to John O’Groats and National Three Peaks challenge in May.  Setting off from Cornwall with 1,013 miles in front of me, plus 21 miles of mountain climbing, I was going to get to know my little white Vespa.

The challenge was to go non-stop so if this was a bad scooter, it wasn’t going to be any fun and could seriously dent my usually, sunny (ish) disposition.  In rain, on the motorway for hour after hour and on the epic roads right across Wales, the Lake District and Scottish Highlands and the East Coast, it looked after me and I genuinely enjoyed every mile.  I love the Vespa GTS, and yes, I am going to buy one.

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And so, what of the most expensive bike we’ve ever bought?  The Ariel Ace had its first outing in Spain in March and was interesting.  In short, it completely divided opinion.  There were many things that didn’t make any sense, the frame being right where you needed to grip the tank, the riding position being somewhere between a sports bike, in relation to the bars, and a touring machine regarding the pegs.

It felt like riding an old race bike, or at least how I expect an old race bike to feel.  It was heavy and whilst it never felt like it was going to leave the road, into corners, it never truly inspired confidence.

Members and trip guests were divided, many thought it was a good motorcycle, others just couldn’t get on with it.  The problems did diminish with more time on the bike; it was a grower, but a slow one.

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Understanding which bikes are in the top tier, is usually cemented by member purchases.  If members and trip guests go home and buy, you know they’ve truly bonded with a bike.  With the Monster, and Super Duke in particular, this has been true, but also for a number of adventure style bikes.

We have owned a BMW S1000 XR for two years and will keep it for one more.  It suits so many riders and has been a popular purchase after a Spyder Club test ride.  With the inline four cylinder from the RR under the tank and an up and down clutch-less shift, plus handling that inspires even the least experienced rider, it’s got to be a contender.

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And so has its brother, the BMW R1200 GS.  Again, a long-term resident at Spyder Club, we’ve had three this year, it does everything so damn well.  It’s a bike I never wanted to like, why would I want to ride an old man’s bike or ‘pretend adventurer’ machine?  Because the GS is truly a world class motorcycle and I’m now a paid-up member of the old mans, pretend adventurers club.  I can wax lyrical about the GS and as many of our riders own a GS, so can they.

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And you can’t leave the Multistrada out, last year on the Isle of Man it made me smile the most.  Just like the Monster, it has a beautifully smooth V-twin and as with all Ducati machines, the handling is the very best.  A worthy mention also goes to the ever popular KTM 1190 Adventure, which I prefer over the 1290 Super Adventure, and a few years ago, was my favourite bike.

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So, what about the sports bikes?  For the first time since 2008 our sports bike offering has been reduced, with only three new bikes on offer at Spyder Club: the Aprilia RSV4 RF, Ducati 959 Panigale and for the sixth year running, a BMW S1000 RR.  Everyone loves the V4 engine in the RSV and the Aprilia is at the top of the pile when it comes to superbikes, however not far behind are the S1000 RR and the Ducati 1299.

All of the modern day 200 bhp Superbikes are just mental and for me, working out which one is the best is impossible.  I am not talented enough to use these bikes to their potential and therefore I love them all, because they really are super bikes.

The 959 Panigale however, now there’s a bike to rave about.  It’s still no pussy cat and with 150 bhp on tap, no slouch either, but I feel in control of it rather than the other way around.  And once again, Ducati have developed the V-twin motor into something of real pleasure.  Gone is the low-down lumpiness of old, now there is a smooth, refined, predictable and precise engine with the usual pinpoint accurate chassis of a Ducati.  Now if only they would plonk it into a Monster 821, which we have just bought and I can’t wait to ride.

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So which is it?  There are many other bikes to mention but if we stick to the bikes bought by members and trip guests this year, those are the contenders.

And at the top of that list, it’s the Super Duke, well actually the 1290 GT and Super Duke R as some wanted a fairing.  Members voted with their wallets and seven have bought or ordered a KTM.  However, if I was buying a bike for me, it would be the Ducati Monster R, well, with the GS or XR, oh and a Street Triple, and can I have the Vespa GTS too?

Although, luckily I don’t need to choose, I’ll just stick with Spyder Club!

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Spyder Club at the NEC Motorcycle Live Show 2016

Add comment December 8th, 2016

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Another season finished and what better way to end it than at the Motorcycle Live Show, our ninth year, and 9 whole days standing on your feet!  Actually, it’s a great way for us to meet potential members, trip guests and short-term lease customers and also catch up with current members, manufacturers and our partners.  2016 has been our busiest year so although the show felt a little longer than usual, it was still great to be there.

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And how the motorcycle world has changed during the last 9 years since we began Spyder Club.  In recent years, the retro scene has been building, with an increasing presence seen over the years in the NEC halls.  This year there was a veritable retro tornado throughout almost all of the manufacturer stands, and some of the new bikes looked awesome.

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Triumph in particular have embraced the mass of interest in retro bikes and the scene.  Their unveiling of the Bobber in London recently was a fantastic event and nod to their commitment towards this genre.  The Bobber launch was superbly organised and filled to bursting with bearded, Belstaff jacket wearing bikers, free drink in hand and primed for purchases.  So far, we have only had the pleasure of owning a Street Twin, which, for the base model, is a truly brilliant motorcycle.  Triumph have really made their mark in the scene, hats (or helmets) off.

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You could argue BMW started the interest of the general populous in retro bikes with the fantastic R nineT a few years ago.  BMW have seen big things from their initially limited run R nineT and this year, have further capitalised on its success with exciting variations and many custom options.  With four R nineT’s spending time at Spyder Club since their launch at the beginning of 2014, it’s safe to say it’s a popular bike with our membership and trip guests, indeed, eight members and trip guests have voted with their wallets and bought their own.

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Whilst the R nineT can be given some of the credit for the eruption of the retro scene in the UK, the Moto Guzzi V7 has been a steadfast option for many years.  At this year’s Motorcycle Live show, the Piaggio Group stand had on display in their Moto Guzzi area the most beautiful V7 model.  The V750 with its chrome tank and brown leather seat was a real show stopper.  The V7 is often at the top of many group tests and whilst Spyder Club has never owned one, we house the Moto Guzzi press fleet so have been lucky enough to ride one on a regular basis, they really are fantastic, simple fun.

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We have owned a Ducati Scrambler, and we’re big fans.  Again, a simple, cracking, great motorcycle.  Retro bikes tend to do without the modern gizmos many bikes now have bolted on and that’s one reason to love them.  With enough power on tap to make you smile, these bikes make huge sense on damaged, busy English roads.  All the bikes mentioned are great on our B roads, however we have enjoyed the Ducati Scrambler on the flowing bends on the Route Napoleon where it kept many a big bike at bay.

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The show wasn’t all about the retro bikes, as usual it was filled with so much we would like to buy, the Spyder Club wallet ached at the thought.  The new KTM 1290 Super Duke and Adventure look stunning and as the current Super Duke and Adventure are already just that, the new ones are only going to be better.  The new colour schemes on the fantastic BMW R1200GS and RS look great, as do those on the Ducati Monster 821.  We love the Ducati SuperSport, one will be on the 2017 Club fleet for sure.

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Of course you can’t pass by the Aprilia stand without ogling the RSV4 and Tuono, well we are bikers!  The V4 engines are just to die for, and now we hear there’s another Italian V4 on the way, that’s a back to back test ride we’ll definitely want to organise for our members and trip guests.

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It’s been a while since the Club had a cruiser, the last being a Victory Judge and Hammer S; great fun and having been, at that time, predominately a sports and naked bike riders, it showed us a more relaxed and laid back style of riding that isn’t to be sneered at.  Another Polaris marque is the Indian, as yet we haven’t had the pleasure of riding one, but the Scout looks to be a popular contender.

Two more honourable mentions to the Moto Guzzi Flying Fortress which looks incredible and of course the new Norton V4 which simply has to be seen to be believed.

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The bikes are of course the stars of the show, however there was a lot of other things to spend your money on, or dream about.  Whether planning your trip to the Isle of Man TT or the annual European tour, testing your next bike or trying on the next set of leathers or helmet, the Motorcycle Live show has a mass of things to see and do.  But let’s face it, us exhibitors know that every morning, when the doors are flung open, the masses flock straight to the manufacturer stands so they can sit on all the new bikes, and we wait until you all filter through to the other stands from 11.00 onwards.

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And so, another year at the NEC, Motorcycle Live show is done, and with it the Spyder Club season.  We are already full speed ahead with plans and ordering bikes for the 2017 season which will be here before you know it.  It’s a tough job deciding which bikes to add to the fleet but one thing’s for sure, with over 160 different motorcycles being ridden by Spyder Club members and trip guests since we started in 2008, we’ll be pushing to break the 200 mark before our tenth birthday.

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Spyder Club November Spain Trip 2016

Add comment December 8th, 2016

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Another Spyder Club season has finished in Spain, north of Alicante, in the best possible way.  With 9 guests, perfect weather and blissfully quiet, challenging roads, our November Spain trip was fantastic.

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Four of our guests were first timers, and all have booked another trip for 2017.  The riding was as we expect, safe and within each individual’s comfort zone.  No egos, no points to prove, just smiles and happy riders on a fantastic range of motorcycles.

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There are some incredible roads north of Alicante which is one of the reasons we head back each year.  We also have a lot of the same guests joining us year after year, why, because those roads just get better and better.  The tarmac is in great condition, the Spanish drivers are very aware and, did I tell you how good the roads are?!

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As usual our guests enjoyed swapping between a stunning fleet of motorcycles each day.  Bikes that joined us included a BMW S1000XR, RR and R1200GS, a Ducati XDiavel, Monster 1200R and 821, Multistrada and Streetfighter 848, Triumph Street Triple R and RX and Street Twin and KTM 1290 Super Duke R, not that shabby.

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As usual all the bikes impressed however, as with most 2016 trips, the Ducati Monster 1200R and KTM 1290 Super Duke R were firm favourites and Spyder Club members and trip guests have voted with their feet as each has sold well as a result of being ridden either on a trip or through membership.

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However, it’s not been just the super naked bikes that deserve praise and ended up producing a bank transaction.  The BMW R1200GS, S1000XR and Ducati Multistrada have all received the same acclaim and as ever, different motorcycles made more sense on different roads.

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A lot more manufacturers are going with wider handle bars on more of their bikes and it makes a big difference.  Especially if you are sat upright, in comfort and with good vision, those big bars mean you can flip from side to side so efficiently and enjoy the bike and road so much more, or does that mean I’m getting older?

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And so, that’s another trip season done at Spyder Club.  Already we are looking forward to our Season Starter in southern Spain, Andalucia and the rest of the 2017 short break, fly-ride motorcycle trips.  If you enjoy meeting likeminded bike enthusiasts, trying different motorcycles and riding enjoyable, challenging roads at your own pace, get in touch to find out why our guests keep coming back.

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