When the cold, damp days of late winter give way to the crisp bright mornings of spring, many of us turn our thoughts to dusting off and prepping the road bike ready for early season forays on salt free, dry roads under clear skies, with a whole summer of biking enjoyment to look forward to after the long 'dark months'.
At least that's how it should be! Meanwhile back in the real world, a few bright days in May and we all go mad, flashing the cash in the wild hope (rather than realistic expectation) of a great summers' biking ahead.
After fulfilling a boyhood dream by owning a Ducati 748 for the last 2 years, this year something simply had to give. The question was (at a 'young' 46 years old); would it be my knees, wrists or back that would 'give' first!
The real truth is a change was on the cards from the moment I first slung a leg over a mates' Honda CBR900RR-Y (2001 model). It was lust at first ride! It fitted me like the proverbial glove, responded to my every wish and whim, went like stink and looked pretty good too – all essential qualities for a meaningful relationship!
A few phone calls later and the deal was done. MCN's own Tony Boskovic (bike trader and literary genius of some repute) handled the outgoing Duke and Firstline delivered the new, gleaming blue & silver Blade complete with micron titanium end can, Harris exhaust bracket and carbon hugger – we're sorted, bring on summer!
However, just like with some girlfriends the big question is always – "she's great for a quick ride, but what would she be like to live with?" It's always best to follow the old mans' sound advice in these things: "look at the mother son, and you'll see what she'll be like in a few years time".
A quick glance back at the history and provenance of Blades gone by provide the required reassurance on this occasion.
The real answer, and peace of mind that the 'right' decision had been made, lay not of course in other peoples' assessment but my own. Enlightenment was provided by way of a 600-mile round trip up to the Lake District in late May.
A terrific, 6-hour journey right up the spine of the country, avoiding motorways wherever possible and taking in the best roads and scenery this wonderful country of ours has to offer.
Suffice to say the old girl did not disappoint. True she's not your latest supermodel, but she does possess the endearing and enduring qualities of handling (great suspenders front and back – nice!), comfort (good screen, clear dials, great ergonomics – truly built for comfort and speed – always nice!) and performance (130bhp+ of silky smooth, screaming grunt – very nice!).
OK, I hear you. And you're right. Yes, there's always something newer, shinier and 'better' out there. Those good 'ol boys at MCN and their media colleagues can be relied upon to encourage us to pray to this years gods.
But if you're going to take a trip down the altar and get hitched to the two wheeled love (lust) of your life then I reckon the way to wedded bliss (bike style) is; try mates bikes, take test rides and open your mind, find what really suits you and your needs, strike a good deal and a long and happy life can be looked forward to.
Then again, take a look at that new R1 'babe' over there…ooooooo suit you sir! You little temptress you!