Andy Downes' top five bikes of the decade

Published: 23 December 2009

Five best bikes of the decade – Andy Downes, MCN Chief Reporter

1. BMW K1300R
The bike I have just done 9000 miles on as my long term test bike this year and one that was a brilliant combination of road bike manners with a nuclear power plant of an engine.

Managed to combine staggering performance with a 220 mile tank range, brilliant practicality with panniers and a sat nav fitted and was so good I managed to do 1040 miles in one go by riding back from Slovenia to the UK.

It even handled a three day training course at the Nurburgring where I saw an indicated 175mph on the speedo and has the best brakes ever tested by MCN.

Not bad for a naked bike.

2. Ducati Desmosedici RR
Just the fact that this bike was made is enough to put it in my top five bikes of the decade.

No one else has put a proper MotoGP bike onto the road and got it fully type-approved and on sale around the world, so respect to Ducati for getting the job done.

I’ve not ridden one but part of me doesn’t want to because of the people I know who have ridden it, they say it’s hard work and I know there is no way I could do it justice.

In the same way there are heroes I don’t want to meet, the thought of getting on a Desmosedici RR and being scared/disappointed/crashing it almost makes me not want to ride one.

3. Ducati 1098
When we got the first scoop photos of test hack 1098s outside Ducati I knew this was a bike that I was going to love.

This was the bike Ducati should have built instead of the slightly odd-looking 999. It also had a serious amount of performance to back it up.

I was lucky enough to be able to borrow one for a couple of weeks and it was simply lovely to look at, listen to and to ride fast.

Managed to turn me into a complete loon within minutes of leaving the office.

4. Suzuki GSX-R750 K4
I was privileged to be able to run one of these as a long term test bike for MCN back in 2004 and to me (at the time) it was a perfect combination of road and track bike.

The best trip was with a mate on his K2 GSX-R750 when we headed down to Mugello for the MotoGP race that year.

Lashing rain, Route Napoleon, far too many beers, the race, more rain and then a madcap dash back to England was epic fun and something I will never forget.

All was going brilliantly until my mate’s bike blew it’s gearbox into a million pieces just south of Stanstead airport. Happy days.

5. Honda VTR1000SP-1 and 2
This was a lovely road bike back in the day but that’s not why it’s up there in my top five.

For a few years I was MCN’s World Superbike reporter which meant I travelled to every test, launch and race of the WSB calendar.

I also got to see firsthand how the ultra-professional Castrol Honda squad took the SP-W (as the factory bike was called) and turned it into a world championship winning bike.

Rarely the fastest bike out there, the combination of the V-twin grunt, Colin Edwards’ slightly lunatic determination and the team was brilliant.

Never looked better than in Laguna Seca in the Stars and Stripes colour scheme in 2002.

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