If you’re anything like us, you’ve likely pondered the question: if you had so-and-so dollars to spend, what motorcycles would you have in your garage?
Automotive journalists have the great privilege of having access to all kinds of bikes, often before they are available to the public. Nevertheless, the bike-scribe profession ain’t exactly the most lucrative, and so many of us have to think long and hard about how we’d spend our loot.
We recently asked a number of Aussie motorcycle journalists what bikes they would actually spend their hard-earned cash on, with a couple of stipulations. Those who join in are to pick four motorcycles, they must be new, and each must fall into a specified pricing bracket. And well, that’s about it!
If you had to choose four bikes, one that is priced from less than $12k, one less than $20k, one less than $30k and one priced from more than $30k, what would they be? Have a think, and let us know in the comment section below.
In the meantime, here’s what some of Australia’s best motoring journos had to say.
Geoff Seddon – Editor of Retro Bike magazine
Sub-$12K: The Royal Enfield Continental GT 650 is a no brainer, with enough in the budget to add some sports mufflers. Enough poke for an old bloke and handles well enough.
Sub-$20K: Harley-Davidson 1200 Sportster. I tested an 883 back in 1985 and bought an Ironhead 1000 the year after. Love the things.
Sub-$30K: Triumph 1200 Thruxton R, the one with the fairing. I’ve been a British bike fan all my adult life and this is the ultimate vertical twin. Too much poke for an old bloke but I’d manage
$30K-plus: Harley-Davidson Road King. Big twin Harleys are my favourite touring bikes. Road King is the best mix of Harley style and touring practicality. Bit heavy for an old bloke but I’d manage.
Jeff Ware – Editor/owner of BikeReview
Sub-$12K: Royal Enfield Interceptor 650. Chassis developed with Paul Young as rider, handles like an old TZ with 19in wheels… Sweet motor, great style, $180 a month x 5 years = beer money.
Sub-$20K: Suzuki GSX-R750 is still one of the all-time best handling sportsbikes on the market when set-up, best overall engine and chassis package for fast riding. No electronics, most fun.
Sub-$30K: Harley-Davidson Softail Standard. Comfy, good ground clearance, sharp steering, sweet engine, great price, plain looks and a nice basic Harley.
$30K-plus: BMW S 1000 RR HP4 because sideways…
Bill McKinnon – Former editor of Two Wheels
Sub-$12K: Royal Enfield Himalayan. So I can race Groff and Roothy. They’re both Enfield owners already. The bike suits our advancing age and declining ability.
Sub-$20K: Moto Guzzi V7. Produces the same power and torque as my 1974 BMW R75/6. Embodies the concept of “Enough”.
Sub-$30K: Ducati Monster 1200S. For those days when an overdose of crazy is required to restore your normal.
$30K-plus: Harley Ultra Limited. Pretenders abound, but this is still the ultimate in first class, long distance travel.
Kel Buckley – Former editor of AMCN
Sub-$12K: KTM 390 Adventure. For a well-bred adventure bike, its bang for buck is second-to-none. Appointments like lean-angle sensitive electronics and TFT screen belies its price tag and, frankly, if you had all four in the garage it would probably be the one you’d ride the most.
Sub-$20K: BMW F 900 XR. Cos when you’re spending in this range, it’s a head decision over a heart one. Just as capable as its 1000cc sibling, but far more usable. Just as good for a blat up and over a mountain pass as it is a comfortable all-day mile muncher. Oh, and it’s lost all the agricultural blandness of its predecessors.
Sub-$30K: Aprilia Tuono Factory. Ne’er has a motorcycle made so much soul-stirring sense to me. Superbike performance in a real-world package that turns any rider into a hero. And it sounds amazing. If I had a $30K, I’d buy one tomorrow.
$30K-plus: MV Agusta Superveloce 800. Completely a heart over head decision, as all bikes in this price range should be. Modern tech, triple-cylinder goodness and possibly the best looking bike currently available on the market. If you had the cash, you’d buy two; one to thrash and one to keep untouched for decades. An instant classic.
Ian Falloon – Author, walking bike encyclopedia
Sub-$12K: The Kawasaki W800 SE gets in just by a whisker. I have always had a thing for bevel gears and this provides classic engineering with modern reliability.
Sub-$20K: Moto Guzzi V7III Special. Now finally with a hemispherical combustion chamber and decent performance. Guzzis are also designed to outlive their owners.
Sub-$30K: While I cannot really ride full on sportsbikes anymore, the Ducati Panigale V2 represents the end of the road for Ducati’s high performance V-twin. Uncomfortable but appealing. If I had to have a bike more comfortable to ride it would be BMW R nineT.
$30K-plus: The MV Agusta 1000 Rush is more motorcycle than anyone really needs but if you’re going to spend a lot this really is special.
Brian Rix – Author, adventure columnist
Sub-$12K: Suzuki DRZ400E Cape York Edition. A rock solid Trailie that is reliable, proven and light enough to take on tightish stuff but fitted with a larger tank could cross the Continent via the dirt. I have no need for a highly strung desert blaster that will break me or itself out in the boonies.
Sub-$20K: Kawasaki Z900RS Jaffa. I lusted after its grandfather and Kawasaki have done a good job of re-creating this young’un albeit with modern day handling, engine and brakes. Maybe a classic in its own right one day that my grandkids can cash in on.
Sub-30K: Moto Guzzi 1400SE touring. A cruiser with all the fruit but something that still handles, goes and stops as a bike should. Being one that doesn’t like following the herd, the big Guzzi appeals as a mile muncher with a sprinkling of Italian pizzaz…
$30K-plus: BMW R 1250 GSA. The big Bavarian ball buster. I love ‘em. Something to scare your mates on their crotch rockets in the tight stuff, will blast around the country, take on the Tanami or carry you across the world. Nothing better than riding 500 kilometres while your mates stop twice for fuel. You’re at the pub on your second jug before they unfurl themselves from their lesser steeds.
Guy Allen – AllMoto, Motorcycle Trader
Sub-$12K: Absolute no-brainer – either of Royal Enfield’s 650 twins. They’ve both got a bit of style about them and are a reminder that simple undemanding fun is alive and well.
Sub-$20K: Suzuki Hayabusa. Brute force with a bit of finesse and you’ll get $1000 change out of your 20k for the previous gen, so the next set of tyres – which will be fried in short order – is covered.
Sub-30K: BMW S 1000 RR. Beautifully developed sports bike that has lost its original Weird Harold looks – it would have to be in the Motorsport colours.
$30K-plus: I’m not spending this kind of money on a regular production bike, so it has to be a halfway convincing limited edition. The Ducati Panigale V4 916 tribute was a candidate and has sold out. Let’s see what comes up, as there’s nothing current out there that grabs me in this range.
Andy Strapz – Motorcycle and travel gear expert
Sub-$12K: Geez, $12k is a bit light but I reckon we could just about do a deal on the venerable 650 V Strom. I got one and it surprises me each time I ride it, puts the V in value!
Sub-$20K: Leaves a lot of choice here. I’d find it difficult to go past a 700 Tenere. I’m yet to ride one but the reports from customers are glowing.
Sub-30K: Geez that’s a big wedge past what I’ve ever spent on a bike. I’d take a punt on the new 900 Tiger. Triumph insider goss reckons it is the duck bollocks.
$30K-plus: Bloody Norah! I hope service is thrown in for that! Bugger it, I’ll have a big fuck off bagger Harley.
Spencer Leech – Owner/news editor at INFO MOTO
Sub-$12K: Yamaha MT-07 – Perhaps an obvious choice, but there’s a good reason why this bike is so popular. Does wheelies, lane splits like a champ and has lots of aftermarket potential.
Sub-$20K: Ducati Desert Sled – I’ve lusted after this thing since I first laid eyes on it. Huge adventure potential, a tasteful touch of retro, and a tough and proven chassis for off-road hoonery.
Sub-$30K: BMW S 1000 XR – Just stupidly precise. There is no better touring missile.
$30K-plus: Yamaha R1M – If I feel like disappearing into the multiverse, the top-end Yamaha supersport is the way I’ll go.
James Brandt – Owner/product editor at INFO MOTO
Sub-$12K: Suzuki DRZ400E – A true bang for buck motorcycle – you
could go anywhere on this machine.
Sub-$20K: Indian FTR 1200 – A stunning bike for the price, got the donk, got the street cred and still comfortable enough to enjoy for the whole day.
Sub-$30K: BMW R 1200 GS – Money left over to load it up with all the fruit. It’s the best bike I’ve owned. Period. I can’t fault it. At all…
$30K-plus: Ducati Superleggera V4 – For its exclusivity and simply to look at, fire up, listen and relax (and possibly the odd track day). It really is sex on two wheels.
Greg Leech – Owner/crasher at INFO MOTO
Sub-$12K: Suzuki V-Strom 650XT. It’s over the set mark after ORC, but the littler Strom makes so much sense it hurts. All the fruit, most of the grunt, fewer kilos and an engine that will outlast religion.
Sub-$20K: Yamaha Tracer 900 GT. You know when a bike just fits right from the get-go? Magnificently appointed for the quid, an engine to die for and smart looks.
Sub-$30k: BMW S 1000 XR. Luscious, creamy grunt, wild, refined design cues, more fruit than the local market and brand cred that few can match. The best bike on the market. Period. I was so impressed, that it became the first new bike I’ve bought in my 60 years.
$30K-plus: Harley-Davidson FXDR 114. I love the looks of this thing. The 114 M8 engine is a peach, there’s reasonable clearance here and I feel like a movie star on it. Tough as.
This question has unravelled quite the discussion. As such, we consider it an evolving story. We welcome you to join the conversation in the comment section below.
Spencer has a keen eye for hard news, and does some of his best living on deadline day. He loves more than anything to travel on his motorcycle, and is adamant that Melbourne Bitter is a world-class lager. He also knows how to operate the big computery thing in the office. By night, Spencer plays guitar with Melbourne punk outfit LOUTS.