Buy your dream bike – now!
I've been dreaming of this moment for 18 years. To be honest, I never thought it would happen – but several things conspired to form a perfect storm, and the dream has finally become a reality.
Oddly, the story starts with a momentary feeling of disappointment. It’s 2002, and I’ve been obsessing about Honda’s newly-released VTR1000 SP-2 for months. Resplendent in its white livery – thoughts of the SP were keeping me awake at night.
And then the moment I’ve been waiting for finally happens. I slide the key into the ignition, press the big square starter button and churn the V-twin into life, a pulsing bellow reverberates off the garage walls as it sits idling – then I’m climbing aboard and easing away from the office bike park towards home...
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It all felt exactly as I’d dreamed it would. I’d negotiated town without even the vaguest hint of negativity, but as the buildings melted away and the magic white circle with the diagonal black line through it loomed roadside up ahead, I opened the throttle and bashed straight into the rev limiter. I quickly snicked 3rd and decided to watch the tiny LCD tacho arc across the letterbox dash as I accelerated towards 4th. Another rapid surge and I hit the limiter again before my brain had caught up. What a numpty.
Somehow my rhythm had been thrown by too much time on an inline-four and my lack of feel for the SP’s flat delivery was marring what was supposed to be the first glorious moments savouring its WSB-bred aggression. But it didn’t feel fast, didn’t feel aggressive, and compared to the howling 954 Fireblade I was riding daily, it seriously lacked any sense of drama. I felt deflated.
But the next day was a 300-mile odyssey of emotional poetry. The previous evening’s ham-fistedness erased as my brain dialled-in to the SP’s rhythms. Despite the awful OE Dunlop D208s, it felt sublime. And that lasted for two whole weeks in 2002 – before Honda asked for their press bike back, and I was left bereft. I couldn’t afford one then, and wasn’t sure I ever would.
Fast forward to 2020 and I’m surfing the bikes for sale on MCN’s website... Not without purpose, I’m always looking for the same few bikes. And then I see it: A 2007 SP-2, the last of the run, in one of the only two paintjobs I’d ever own (all-black or all-white).
It’s almost standard – which is a deal-breaker for me – has just one previous owner, 14,000 miles on the odometer, a fat service history and all the original parts included. It’s for sale at Colchester Kawasaki, a multiple MCN-Award winning dealership – so I know it’s kosher. I genuinely get a spike of adrenaline and my heart flutters.
I promised myself in 2002 (when the five-year HP deal on my bought-new Yamaha TRX850 finished) that I’d never buy another bike on finance – and I’ve stuck to that. But I’m not a rich human, so I’ve been saving every penny I can now for a decade. The last bike I bought was my Ducati 996 back in 2010.
Not only is the SP right – but I can afford it. Just. Two weeks of sleepless nights debating such a big purchase, and I make a snap Saturday morning decision to blast down to Colchester Kawasaki to take a look. And it looks superb.
And then the digging really starts. I felt slightly sorry for the sales guys, whom I bombarded with a stack of questions. But it had to be right – this has been an 18-year dream and it was going to wipe me out financially. After a week of pedantic interrogation, I take the plunge and do the deal.
Then there’s the wait. Oh god, the wait. The team at CK put it though their workshop and make sure it’s all checked over, serviced and ready to go, then work gets in the way and I have to wait another week before I can make the 250-mile round-trip to pick it up. It’s excruciating torture.
But on a blustery wet Thursday morning I wander into the expansive dealership to meet CK’s Andy Tietjen, hand over every penny I own and collect my SP-2.
What I should also reveal at this stage is that I’d not actually ridden an SP-2 since 2002. The fear of disappointment, of misremembered adoration, is now building like tinnitus inside my brain. But I’m giggling like a child as I stare at it in my garage. There’s only one way to clear the doubts.
Heading out on my favourite local roads it takes all of about two miles to know it was the right move. It’s glorious. My eyes actually feel a bit stingy, and I’ve got a breathless sense of exhilaration bursting out of my chest. I know it’s not the fastest, or the best handling bike I could have bought – but I love it. It speaks to me in a way my 996 does.
I love its lazy delivery, the surging tide of power and torque, the effortless non-digital simplicity (no rider modes, traction control or ABS, not even a clock...). It’s so pure. The next 80 miles evaporate in a blur of sensory indulgence. And I still can’t believe it’s mine.
I’m gradually removing the light mods the previous owner made. Some new OEM parts are on order now, others already refitted and eventually it’ll be almost totally standard again (aside from the gorgeous Harris carbon fibre hugger I’ve fitted).
Yes, it’s a garage queen that’ll only come out on sunny days, an indulgence to be savoured – but even stepping into the garage with a cuppa and just looking at it brings inordinate pleasure and an instant smile. It was worth every penny saved. It was worth the wait.
Top five buying tips:
The internet can be a wonderful thing and isn’t just full of cat videos. Use reputable sites to read reviews from proper journalists and owners (like motorcyclenews.com, obviously), and dig up every morsel of information you can about the bike you want to buy and get a solid feel for current prices.
- Use owner forums Hunt for info on known problems, cures and mods – but don’t get put off by random fantasists, or ham-fisted owners bemoaning over-exaggerated niggles. Assess whether the information gleaned has an impact on your decision to buy.
- Check for hidden history Do an HPI report on any bike you plan to buy, but especially on private purchases. With so many new bikes being bought on finance it’s absolutely crucial.
- Ask every question Don’t be shy, ask every question you can think of – and if you’re buying remotely from a dealer and having the bike delivered (as is increasingly popular, especially right now) get high-res photos of every aspect of the bike. If you want pics with the fairing off, or of specific parts – ask for them. Don’t be fobbed off with 'oh, it’s mint, mate!' or 'they’re all like that'.
- Make sure it's 'The One' This is your dream bike – don’t buy an example that’s just 'ok', nor the first one that comes on the market (unless it’s genuinely perfect). Wait.
- Now’s the time to buy But, if you’re financially able – now is the time to buy. As we plunge though the quieter months of winter, many sellers will be open to offers.
'I've bought mine'
MCN reader, Matthew Platt and his 2020 Ducati Panigale V2
I managed to get one of my dream bikes this year and absolutely love it. I get no end of compliments wherever I go. Getting there is theatre and the handling is perfection.
Having ridden and owned two Triumph Daytona 675s in the last 12 years, I decided due to age and experience it was time to go up a peg for more power, modern technology, the dream of the Ducati ownership experience with a hope of the renowned soul and character.
- Related: Ducati Panigale V2 review
It was love at first sight and then a test ride in May had me hook line and sinker. The 955cc desmodromic V-twin engine is absolutely breath-taking – it pulls like a bullet train – and oh, that noise!
The mechanical grip is so confidence inspiring it has me wondering why they bothered with the electronic wizardry. I bought it in June and have done 2500 miles – and the love affair is going strong. Much to my wife’s disappointment!