So, discussion this morning turned to commuter bikes and led to a bit of an (almost heated) debate about which bike would make the best choice for getting to and from work every day.
As a rough and dirty checklist, hastily scribbled down on the back of a fuel receipt we reckon that ideally we’d be looking for a bike that:
- Offers decent MPG – being late for work because you had to stop for fuel gets old very quickly
- Has at least ”some’ weather protection, making it a reasonable choice for when it’s tipping it down
- Is a bit of fun to ride – it’s meant to be a viable alternative to just jumping in the car after all
- Has somewhere secure chuck & leave a laptop bag and/or helmet when you’re away from the bike
- And lastly, it has to do all of the above at a reasonably low cost (both up-front and on an ongoing basis)
Here’s a list what we’ve come up with so far:
CG125 / YBR125, or even a trusty old bomb-proof C90.
These have the advantage of being brilliantly efficient on fuel, cheap as chips to buy, live with and run, but are perhaps a little too painful on anything much longer than a nip into town or short scoot along the back roads. One of our guys travels 45 miles each way (on fast A roads) every day to get to MotoGoLoco HQ, so 125′s have kinda been ruled out.
Which is a pity, because the KTM 125 Duke is a very, VERY nice looking little bike and we ‘re all in agreement that it looks like an absolute hoot.
The sensible choices, i.e. Honda’s NC700 or the G650GS from BMW are often thrown into discussions like this.
Certainly they tick a LOT of boxes; nippy enough (both are in the 50bhp range), dead economical and both have the capacity to take boxes and luggage for files/laptops and whatever other crap we need to lug around with us on the day.
These are a really sensible, almost obvious choice, but, I don’t know – something just doesn’t excite me about them. Maybe (as Boss-man Dave tells me) that’s because I’m an idiot for missing the point of a ‘commuter bike’ completely and expecting Fireblade performance and thrills every time I sling a leg over something.
I think the biggest hurdle for me with these kind bikes is that for just a little bit more cash, you can wander firmly into TransAlp / F800GS / Tiger 800 territory, all of which DO start to get a lot more interesting.
Of course, nothing’s ever simple in the world of motorcycling (or at least MY world of motorcycling), so they all have their own pitfalls to consider; Much lower MPG, higher up-front costs and a dangerously tempting ‘extras’ list to prise a few more quid out of my wallet for starters.
The likes of eBay, Gumtree and MCN are all awash with used (and only in very seldom cases abused) middleweights, such as CBR600F’s, SV650′s, Hornets, Fazers and Bandits – pretty much all of which would be really well suited to the daily grind up to the office and back.
You’ve got the usual risks attached with buying a used bike (and in some cases, somebody else’s problems), but in reality – all of those mentioned above come with a solid, ‘bullet-proof’ reputation for reliability. Wear and tear bits such as tyres, brakes and suspension are all potential money-pits, and none of them are all that economical on juice either, really if we we’re being completely honest with ourselves.
There are plenty of solid and sensible choices in this category however, and it’s definitely not infeasible that it’s where my next bike will come from.
A bit of a curve-ball and an option that I’ll admit to never really taking very seriously; until now.
Recent advances in technology have put these right up there as genuine contenders for a daily runner. Certainly, flicking through the marketing bumph paints a pretty rosy picture for bikes of this ilk, especially when their main (and almost sole) purpose is going to be covering the same journey day in, day out. The limitations of distance-per-charge don’t really come into play, as I’d be able to squeeze 2 round trips in and have power to spare – if the claimed 130+ mile limit is to be believed.
The bike could happily sit on charge during the day while I’m at work, ready to be jumped on and ridden home when the end of day hooter sounds. Costs wise, after the (admittedly somewhat eye-wateringly) high initial outlay (circa £8,000 – £10,000), your running costs are down to the bare minimum – figures of £0.01 per mile are commonly claimed, a fraction of the £0.10 – £0.25 p/mile I’d get on an average sports-bike or tourer.
Hefty up-front outlay aside, (which admittedly is somewhat of a stumbling block to most of us), the only other real downside to owning an electric motorbike is the question of unknown reliability and sparse dealer networks. Logic suggests that a bike with fewer moving parts will actually have a positive influence on it’s reliability, but time will tell.
So, what about you?
What do you sling your leg over of a morning and trust to get you to work and back every day? Would you recommend it and what – if anything – would you change about it?
Tell us your thoughts in the comments box below – we’d love to hear from you.