Want Dakar styling without breaking the bank? Try one of these rugged beauties
Honda XRV650 (RD03) Africa Twin (1988-1989)
The original 650 Africa Twin was never officially imported to the UK and is neither as powerful nor as well braked as the succeeding 750/RD04 (which was imported to the UK) – but this is the true game-changer. Conceived at the height of the Paris-Dakar boom as a replica of Honda’s winning NXR750 it was built by HRC and sprinkled with classy touches (Dzus fasteners, headlamp guards, dual-texture seat and more) to be as close to a ‘Dakar RC30’ as it gets.
What you’ll pay today Ultra-rare in the UK. We’ve seen hounds for under £2000 but good ones can approach £4000.
But should you? Increasingly a classic, but still useful – and sure to appreciate.
Suzuki DR750/800 ‘Dr Big’ (1987-96)
Monster single lacked the sheen and speed of rival twins of the era, couldn’t match their race-winning pedigree and was never as popular as Honda’s Africa Twin or Yamaha’s Super Ten. As a result, the ‘Doctor Big’, either in 1987-89’s 750 guise or as the succeeding 800 (1990-96), is rarer and less desirable. The big Suzuki still retains a rugged, macho charm, however, its oddball, ‘beaky’ looks stand out from the crowd and it’s cheap, too.
What you’ll pay today From under £1000 up to £2750 for a good ’un with a decent length of MoT.
But should you? Probably not, unless you’re a hardcore aficionado or after all-weather transport.
Cagiva Elefant 750/900 (1987-19 95)
Ducati-powered beast that went through a variety of incarnations in both 750 and 900 capacities. It was probably the sportiest, most dynamic offering of the era and, in full-factory spec in the hands of Edi Orioli, won the 1990 and ’94 Dakar races back in the days when the event crossed Africa for real rather than South America. Few, however, made it to the UK and those that did were let down by iffy build quality/reliability. As a result, hardly any survive today.
What you’ll pay today £1750 for a runner up to £2700+.
But should you? There are barely any around and most are exhausted. But a mint, later Edi rep in ‘Lucky Explorer’ replica livery remains mouth-watering.
Yamaha XTZ750 Super Tenere (1989-1996)
Latecomer to the rally-replica scene was also one of the best, largely due to its invigorating and effective, purpose-built 70bhp parallel twin motor, which later saw life in the TDM and TRX.
What you’ll pay today Most are grotty by now so £900 will get you a runner, £1800 something half decent.
But should you? The 750’s performance is now outclassed but a good example (if you can find one) still classy and useful.
Honda XRV750 (RD04/07) Africa Twin (1990-2003)
Bigger engine gained 5bhp, extra disc improved braking and the front cowling and screen was enlarged. In 1993 it was updated again to become the RD07 with revised chassis, lower tank and seat, curvier bodywork and a basic on-board ‘computer’.
What you’ll pay today You won’t find much under £3000 and good ones still fetch over £4000.
But should you? Still a decent all-rounder: durable, with a strong image.
BMW R100GS Paris-Dakar (1990-1996)
Before BM’s first GS Adventure – the R1150GS Adventure in 2002 – the firm had dabbled with lesser-known ‘Paris-Dakar replicas’. Best is a production R100GS Paris-Dakar, defined by its 35-litre tank, panniers, rear rack, raised front mudguard and gaudy styling.
What you’ll pay today Decent R100GSs go for £4500+. Add at least another £1000 to that for a Paris-Dakar.
But should you? Yes, it’s hugely cool and collectable, too.
Triumph Tiger 900 (93-98)
Although, strictly speaking, not a true Paris-Dakar replica, reborn Triumph’s first big Tiger was such a good bike that it’s worth including. Its imposing image combined with that characterful triple and decent handling made it a key bike in Triumph’s evolution.
What you’ll pay today Becoming scarce in good nick. £800 will still buy a runner, just. Up to £2k for a good one.
But should you? Later 955 is better but nothing has the presence of the original 900.
Words: Phil West