Whacking Permalink Archive
15 April 2004
- Professor Farnsworth,
The following line appears in today's Guardian:
Sure it does, just
like the army needs more transvestites.
"I never get no respect"
The Honda VTR1000 is one of my all-time favourite bikes. I've always liked it equally as much as whatever motorcycle I have been infatuated with at various times. Yet it has not been one of the four new bikes I have bought since 1999, which I find rather bemusing.
Mostly unchanged since its launch in 1997, it has sold like hotcakes, is loved by its owners and is one of the best all-round practical sportsbikes ever made. It was really the first Japanese sports V-twin, after decades of Japanese firebeathing inline fours. It's ridiculously easy to ride, bloody fast, superbly built, has that wonderful v-twin "feel" and is comfy enough to tour on.
Yet, it is an object of derision for a strangely large number of riders. The hardcore looney-boy Japbike sports riders have never liked the VTR: not enough power, crude suspension, not enough "character" (ie. it's stable and doesn't scare the shit out of you on every corner). The v-twin crowd brought up on Italian machines don't like it: not enough "prestige" (ie. people can afford to buy them), not enough "character" (ie. everything works and it doesn't break down every week), and hardly anyone I've met within my own circle of contacts will admit to liking the machine.
The bike certainly has shortcomings: the brakes are wooden, the gearbox is clunky, the fuel consumption is terrible and throttle response is harsh (which can make opening & closing the throttle on wet roads a dicey proposition). The 998cc v-twin also falls way short of the horsepower figures offered by the big fours like the R1 (140hp at the rear wheel compared to 110) and is 20+ kgs heavier. The suspension is too soft for "serious" sports riding, and the newer models have the worst-designed speedometer I've ever seen.
But seriously, you'd have to be a complete wanker not to have a blast on the VTR. Horsepower and weight figures might impress your mates at the pub, but it don't mean all that much on the road.
Let me put it this way: two riders of equal ability go for a blast thru the Snowy Mountains on the Alpine Way. Rider A is on a GSXR1000, Rider B is on a VTR. On 95 out of 100 rides, Rider B will reach the destination just as quickly, and he's probably going to be more relaxed when he gets there. Yes, there is a performance difference, but you have to be going seriously fast before you notice it.
When the hell are you going to hit the upper rev range on a big four anyway? Pretty much only on track days. The VTR meanwhile offers bigass, useable v-twin grunt anywhere in the rev range, which means rapid, easy progress in the twisty stuff, while riders on big fours are trying to keep it in the powerband. As for 600cc machines, the grunt of the VTR will leave them waaaay behind.
The suspension has its limits, but again, you're unlikely to find those limits on the road, and even at a track day, it will be a "feel" thing, rather than any kind of handling or safety problem. Aftermarket springs will fix that anyway. The bike is stable over even the roughest of tarmac.
The VTR is well balanced, steers brilliantly, and with a set of aftermarket cans (I recommend Staintune) it makes a beautiful noise. It just feels great - a problem-free, no-bullshit, fast, ballsy bike you just wanna get on and ride, and ride, and ride. It makes a decent pillion mount too. It still looks great too, and certainly better than the revolting new Ducatis.
You can keep your prestigious, badly built euroshit and road-legal superbikes. I'll be off blasting through the mountains on the VTR while you're all standing around masturbating each other.
Dammit, I still want
one. Why haven't I bought one yet?
Grab the nearest book.
His head was saying: blood.
From The Midnight
Meat Train, in Clive Barker's Books of Blood: volumes 1-3
Via Sasha Castel, comes this vomit-inducing interview with Oliver Stone, about his new Castro-loving "documentary".
Coming soon: Stone's
Mengistu: Man of the People.
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