A welcome change in the weather, Saturday dawned bright although still very cold. It seemed like the perfect time to try out the new heated grips, so I went out on one of those aimless rides that are so enjoyable. I headed down the A316 into Surrey, then decided to call in at Jack Lilley Triumph as they usually have hot coffee and some interesting bikes to look at while warming up. The new paintjob on the Bonneville really took my eye - shame its too small for me.
Anyway, as I was admiring it, I got chatting to one of the salesmen, and ended up taking a Tiger 800 out for a test. It seemed quite nippy along the dual carriageway, running up to 100 quickly enough and feeling very stable, although the noise generated by the tall screen was pretty high. Off into the twisty lanes and it handled quite well, all in all it did what it should for a new bike - it all worked, except that is for the gearchange, which was notchy and seemed to have more nuetrals than gears. The seat also seemed pretty hard and unforgiving; I mentioned both of these points to the salesman when I got back to the garage, he reckoned the gearbox problem was due to an incorrectly adjusted gear linkage, which you would have thought they would have rectified before letting their demo bike out! Obviously the seat problem could be rectified by eating more meatballs.
I realised I wasn't far from the local Suzuki dealer, so decided to take the chance to ride over there to see if I could get a demo ride on their Vstrom, as that seems to be the bike closest to the Tiger, on price anyway. What a revelation! It was comfy, relaxed, not that much slower than the Tiger and also did everything a new bike should, including changing gear easily! One thing both bikes had in common is that they were quiet, whooshing along rather like a motorised refrigerator.
Its good to ride these new bikes; firstly to help with that decision as to what to buy when funds allow, but also to put into perspective the views expressed in those bike magazines that seem to think these bikes are slow plodders. They're fast enough for me. Strangely enough, once I got back on the Triumph, it didn't seem much slower, and with the soundtrack from the exhausts bouncing back of the trees was actually more fun. I got home with a big smile on my face.