Snag looks at a group of used motorcycles that offer fabulous bargain buying and have a reputation for being rock-solid, reliable bikes.
I’ve picked a group of bikes that I consider offer good used value.
Of course, I’ve tried to make them a little different from the normal price-pointed offerings such a guide generally throws up. This is INFO MOTO after all!
2011 Triumph Bonneville A1
Price new: $10,990
Price now: $6500-$9000
Why: The British twin experience for a relatively small outlay.
Triumph gained a very strong foothold across a number of categories by producing quality motorcycles and pricing them very aggressively. So it was with the entry level 2011 Bonneville – the A1.
Powered by an air-cooled, 865cc, DOHC, parallel twin good for 49kW at 7400rpm, and 69Nm delivered at 5800rpm, the bike was no rocket, but appropriately powered for its design brief. It’s a boulevard cruiser, with a comfortable riding position and relaxed ergonomics.
In 2009 the Bonneville became a much more refined machine than its predecessor, gaining Keihin electronic fuel injection – cleverly disguised to look like good old-fashioned carbs.
Economy was improved, and emissions significantly cut. Seven-spoke 17-inch wheels replaced the more traditional appearing 19-inch wire-spoke rims. Handling was improved, and the smaller wheels made for a broader tyre selection.
The bike offered the new buyer the opportunity to legitimately buy into the brand lineage of the Triumph phenomenon with modern reliability and parts backup.
Okay, it’s true that the bike slots in at the bottom end of the Bonnie range, and therefore the A1 may feel a little austere and plain, but the money saved by that very competitive price can be spent personalising the bike via the wide range of add-on parts that Triumph offered.
Triumph has a strong reputation in this area and things like a host of screens, seats, sissy bars, knee pads, performance pipes, grab rail and panniers were amongst the accessories catalogue. Look for a bit of added bling to be already there when hunting used examples.
Consider the Bonnie if: You like the idea of a retro that offers modern reliability and a good degree of street cred. A daily user that will commute and tour happily.
Give it a miss if: You are used looking for sporting prowess. While handling is competent, there are bikes of lesser capacity that will blow you into the weeds.
2011 Suzuki DL650 V-Strom
Price new: $10,390
Price now: $6200-$7000
Why: All the fun of its big brother (and perhaps more) at a significantly lower price. Superb engine.
The Adventure Touring category had become huge in the first decade of the new millenium and manufacturers now offer wide ranges to satisfy the demand.
The focus has been on the big bore offerings, but the simple fact is that middleweights are much better suited to the task of light off-road operation.
This hasn’t escaped the canny Australian marketplace and the Suzuki DL650 sold its socks off. While most of that success can be sheeted home to that very competitive price, this one owes a good deal to its engine and the fabulous reputation the liquid-cooled, 645cc, DOHC, 90-degree, V-twin rightly forged.
Power figures were 49.6kW at 9000rpm and 63.1Nm at 7600rpm.
There’s a twin-spar aluminum frame and swingarm, Showa monoshock and Showa forks, both ends preload adjustable. In keeping with the dualsport brief, the bike had a 19 inch front and 17 inch rear wheel.
It’s not only locally that the bike was lauded, in fact, it was named one of the “ten best” bikes under $10,000 by Motorcyclist (USA) magazine, October, 2007– beating out, among many others, the V-Strom 1000.
In a September 2006 article, Cycle World magazine wrote “the DL650 may just be the most shockingly competent machine in the world today.”
Where the bike was a real winner over its bigger brother is in the weight department coming in 17kg lighter at 189kg dry. That is a very significant number and couteracted easily the more powerful output the DL1000 offers.
Consider the DL650 if: You want a bike that offers a deal of light dirt competence. For a ‘round-Australia’ bike, we really can’t find a better offering.
Give it a miss if: Looks mean everything to you. This one wins on its utilitarian versatility. Pretty it ain’t.
2011 Hyosung GT650
Price new: $6990
Price now: $2700-$3400
Why: Cheap and very cheerful. The market-wariness of the brand has rightly diminished and backup is still reasonably strong.
When the Korean manufacturer entered the Australian marketplace in 2001 there was a measure of buyer resistance.
After all, little was known about the brand and dealers were few and far between. And, let’s face it, the name is not the sexiest ever stamped on a tank.
All that has changed with a strong dealer base and competent backup. Buyers arrived in droves.
The GT650 was the entry offering in the Hyosung middleweight bracket and is powered by a liquid-cooled, 647cc, fuel-injected, eight-valve, 90-degree V-twin that is good for 59.6kW at 9250rpm and 67Nm at 8500rpm.
Those are pretty impressive performance numbers, and suspension was more sophisticated than that purchase price would suggest with 41mm USD forks, adjustable for rebound and compression at the front, and the rear boasting a preload adjustable monoshock.
Brakes also were above the price odds with twin 300mm discs with four-piston calipers at the front and a single 230mm disc affair at the rear.
The GT boasts a very flickable 196kg dry weight and it really offers a good degree of sports ability. The bike offers more than the sum of its parts suggest it should. It is remarkably composed over most road surfaces, rider ergonomics are great and this is just about the perfect choice for the cash-strapped newcomer that may also be LAMS-restricted (GT650L).
Consider the GT650 if: You want a utilitarian middleweight that offers reasonably high-spec running gear but can’t come up with the sort of dollar figures asked by most of the competition.
Give it a miss if: You are highly badge-conscious. While Hyosung came a hell of a long way, not too many hearts go a-flutter at the mention of the name.
2011 Harley-Davidson XL883L Super Low
Price new: $12,895
Why: Simple. You want a Harley and this one will not break the bank.
The Super Low makes use of the brand’s Evolution air-cooled, fuel-injected, 883cc V-twin. Offering a great choice for the less experienced and of smaller stature, the entire design brief for the bike demanded ease of use for the newcomer.
Black, five-spoke wheels with polished rims graced the SuperLow and you’ll never feel that you are a little down-spec on the budget-priced H-D offering. Handling and grip are assured and, in a big improvement over the ‘Low’ the bike replaced, specifically designed Michelin Scorcher 11 radial tyres were employed.
The handlebars are nice and wide, with the grips placed in a position considered to offer the most control and comfort and footpegs are mid-mounted, once again, the H-D boffins claimed this to offer the optimum control for a smaller rider.
The mini ape-hanger bars look really neat and work very well indeed. It’s a nice position, offering the ‘newcomer control’ for which H-D was looking and a good degree of comfort into the bargain.
Brakes are ubiquitous Sportster fare in dual piston calipers gripping a 292mm rotor at the front and a single piston and 260mm arrangement to the rear.
There’s no tacho, but instrumentation offers about as much info as you’ll ever need. You get: Handlebar-mounted electronic speedo with odometer, time-of-day clock, dual tripmeter, low fuel warning light, low oil pressure light, engine diagnostics readout, LED indicator lights, high beam, neutral, low oil pressure warning lights, turn signals, engine diagnostics, low fuel warning, low battery, and there’s an optional security system.
Consider the Super Low if: You are of smaller stature and require a low seat height. The bike brings the dream of owning a Hog to the masses, with a very non-challenging suite of smart ergonomics.
Give it a miss if: You are not into the whole H-D cruiser thing. Clearance is a little limited, so ‘relaxed’ riding will need to be your thing, or this one will simply frustrate.
2011 Moto Guzzi Breva 750
Price new: $11,990
Price now: $7000-$9000
Why: Italian brand heritage and a large degree of individuality.
The Breva 750 was released in 2003 and remained pretty much the same over its entire model run until the end of it all in 2011. It was the little brother to the higher-specced Breva 1200 2V which came in at a hefty $6000 dearer.
The nice thing about the bike was its ease of use. After all, Guzzis can take a bit of getting used to and this one makes the whole adjustment to the inherent ‘idiosyncratic’ engine characteristics that people either love or hate about the Guzzi experience, all pretty simple.
This makes it a smart option for newbies or those coming back to motorcycling and the bike is very easy to ride. It is remarkably smooth and everything happens with a minimum of fuss.
This all adds up to a great commuter, but it’s hardly going to get the pulse racing with just 34.7kW at 6800rpm and 54.7Nm (at 3600rpm from the bike’s air-cooled, 744cc, DOHC, fuel-injected V-twin. Dry weight is a nicely nimble 182kg.
This one offered really nice ergonomics and the option of a 30mm lower seat (790mm at standard) was offered to bring the bike to the shorter rider. The seat is comfortable and there’s fair pillion room, plus a handy grabrail.
The handlebars offer good leverage, the footpegs are perfectly positioned and you can tell Moto Guzzi had thought hard about the bike and its likely usages. You can even see things in the mirrors other than your elbows and surely that was a first for an Italian motorcycle!
Looks are in the eye of the beholder, but we reckon this one is very pretty indeed.
Brembo brakes and Marzocchi forks added to the quality feel and build quality and finish is extremely good. Shaft drive keeps maintenenance costs down as well.
Consider if you: Want a thoroughbred from one of the world’s great constructors. Guzzi owners love them with all their hearts and the Breva continues that tradition.
Give it a miss if: You like it mainstream. Guzzis are different. A test ride of a decent length is a must for those with any doubts.
Snag’s career in motoring journalism spans 29 years with stints at major bike mags Australian Road Rider, Motorcycle Trader and AMCN along with contributions to just about every other outlet worth a hill of beans. He was editor of Unique Cars magazine and hosts his legendary podcast ‘Snag Says’ when he gets off his date.