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The Best Bike of 2016 at Spyder Club

December 8th, 2016


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.


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.


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…


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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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