Neevesy’s top three bikes of 2009

Published: 31 December 2009

At the end of the year it’s often time to reflect on the last 12 months, so we asked MCN’s road testers for their personal three best bikes of 2009. Their answers may surprise you. Here are Michael ‘Neevesy’ Neeves’… 

 

1. Yamaha R1 - “Many people didn’t believe us when we raved about the new R1, thinking we’d been caught up with Yamaha’s MotoGP-heavy marketing spin. Some magazines just didn’t seem to get the R1 at all and a few vicious, anonymous forum posters even suggested I’d lost the plot!.Granted, Yamaha didn’t do themselves any favours by fitting the R1 with rubbish tyres and giving it slow-steering suspension settings, which may account for some bad reviews, but with these things changed the cross plane crank R1 turned from simply staggering to phenomenal. On control tyres, with fellow tester Bruce Dunn at the helm, it smoked rival 1000s in our group test at Cartagena (it was 2.5 seconds faster than the GSX-R1000 K9!). And on the mountain roads above Cannes it beat Aprilia’s RSV4 Factory thanks to its superior torque, smoother engine, roomier riding position and the fact it didn’t keep cutting out at traffic lights. It’s gone on to win WSB, BSB and almost every domestic superbike championship worth talking about. New R1s can also be seen running at the front of club races, and it’s a sales success. By the time the summer came and fellow journos had a chance to ride the R1 as much as we did in the beginning, they raved about it too, but some only secretly as they’d already condemned it in print. So, the R1 is my top bike of 2009. I’ll resist telling the critics I told you so, but …oh I’ve just done it.”

 

2. Ducati Streetfighter - “My first experience of Ducati’s sexy Streetfighter was riding it against the Triumph Speed Triple in a head-to-head MCN test. Back then we judged the Speed Triple to be much better value for money, more stable, usable and rolled nicer into the corners, and I stand by that. But then I was lucky enough to run one throughout the summer and I fell in love with it. It just goes to prove there are no bad bikes out there, just different ones. I rode my Streetfighter to Ireland, Ibiza and Almeria in southern Spain and did a load of trackdays. It’s a close run thing between this and the GSX-R750 as the best bike I’ve ever had. It has superbike levels of performance and handling, but you can potter around on it wearing jeans and jacket like a Honda Hornet. It’s more comfortable than a sportsbike and the lack of wind-protection keeps speeds down below 100mph, which on the road is a good thing. It’s beautifully put together and I enjoyed cleaning it as much as I did taking the backroads to work and wheelying most of the way. Living with the Ducati Streetfighter has made me question the point of sportsbikes on the road, which is saying something as I’m a huge fan of race replicas. My Streetfighter has gone now and I every time I see one I get jealous. I just wish I could afford one myself!”

 

3. KTM 990 SMT - “One of the revelations of 2009. It’s a touring version of the lary 990 supermoto and in a stroke, KTM has killed the traditional sports tourer. Put simply it can do everything: commute, trackdays, Sunday morning scratching, stunting and it will tour and carry pillions in complete comfort. It can be boringly dependable and reliable or insanely fast and stupid, it’s up to you. With the SMT, there’s no point in having a one trick sports touring pony like a Honda VFR800 or even the new VFR1200, or a big heavy adventure bike like a BMW R1200GS. The KTM does everything these machines do, and more. It looks like Ducati’s new Multistrada could do the same when it comes out next year. I wonder if the Austrian firm knew how successful putting some panniers and high bars on their supermoto would be? I wonder if they ever planned it in the first place, or if they were just trying to find a way of shifting some slow-selling supermotos? If all bikes had to be made extinct tomorrow, except for one model, I’d vote to keep the SMT.”

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