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MCN Plus - The Buyer: ‘Let a cheap bike do the donkey work’

Published: 02 September 2015

Updated: 10 September 2015

So we come to the end of the summer, and people wonder how they’re going to keep their nice shiny bike looking, well, reasonably nice and shiny come spring 2016.

Face facts: if you use it every day, it’s not possible. 

What you want is a nice winter hack. A cheap bike to do the donkey work for the next six months, while the price and joy can be reserved for the few (count ’em on the fingers of one hand) days when the roads are dry, not coated in salt, and the sun is shining high in the sky.

“But I can’t afford a second bike!” I hear you cry. Yes, you can.

Let’s say you will put 4000 miles on your superbike between now and April. That’s one rear tyre and half a front one: £150. That’s a fifth of a big chain and sprocket set. Another £40. It’s fuel at 40mpg: another £120. It’s more money in brake pads, servicing, and (critically) money lost to corrosion, dirt, and general mankiness unless you’re prepared to clean the thing, surgically, every week. Let’s call it £750 all in.

So you buy a used small bike and run that. Petrol at 80mpg halves the fuel bill, tyres, chains, sprockets and brake pads all cost peanuts, and the insurance will be zero as almost every insurer lets you add a second bike for free, or very close to it.

What to buy for £750?
Something cheap to run under 400cc. A Suzuki GN250 single (can be run on the dole), anything with an MZ badge (ask your Dad), an old trailie (I bought a low-mile Kawasaki KL250 for £525 this summer) or a Suzuki GS125 (overlooked, bulletproof and 100mpg).  

And come spring, your hack will not have depreciated a penny. It’s free motorcycling.

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