1999 Honda Varadero

 05 August 2002 00:00

After several long Continental holidays on my Firestorm kitted out with big tank, taller Givi screen and Maxton suspension front and rear I decided that the time was ripe for a change of riding position.

I just love the V twin character so the obvious choice was the Honda Varadero. I located a used bike with 23,000 miles on the clock first registered to EMAP,small world !

My first impression was a soft, woolly, boring old fart’s bike but my 5 ft 3 inch lightweight wife declared it the most comfortable pillion she had ever sat on, take note BMW (of which I've owned a few). I bought it.

The bike is tall so for me and was a problem until I dropped the yokes 30mm down the

forks, now my toes on one leg could reach the ground.

Several thousand miles on and with a fabulous ride around the Spanish Pyrenees with a

few loonies I have a wish list of improvements and some praise.

No one is going to ride this bike off road so why the big wheels limiting tyre choice Although spirited riding is quite possible its advisable to wear brown trousers and keep your leathers tucked into your boots as the ride is quite imprecise, and despite the excellent Avon tyres it does not engender confidence, rather a sod and lets have a go anyway attitude.

Front forks are way too soft, soon to be fixed by sending them to Maxton for a


Rear shock, this bike is on its 4th unit because its not fitted with a crap deflector so all the debris from the back tyre literally grit-blasts it, reducing it to rubbish in less then 10,000 miles.

I've a fully shrouded Maxton unit on now and a custom made crap deflector. bBuild quality is questionable. Both wheels,one rear shock ,pair of front forks ,all replaced under warranty .Rectifier failed,front Cylinder cam chin tensioner failed.

Could do with a lower first gear for times when you want to just amble along at walking speed .

I've fitted a Givi screen,tall and very effective. Overall the bike is comfortable to ride over long distances ,has a very flexible engine and has a surprising rate of acceleration, cruising at 100mph plus is no problem at all and still leaves something in reserve. It carries two people with panniers, top box and tank bag with hardly a change of pace. The headlights are the best of any bike I've ever ridden.

I adjusted the chain just after fitting a Scotoiler 7,000miles ago and have not touched it since. Its not a track day tool but can be hurried along and journeys are over deceptively quickly, arriving relaxed without the need for a hot bath before the pre dinner drinks.

Would I buy another one? No, BUT if I could convert a Firestorm into the Varadero,s

riding position I suspect I would have found my ideal bike .