Popular engines, unfashionable bikes

Published: 08 April 2017

Why picking an unpopular version of a favourite will save you cash

Manufacturers these days use engines in an increasing variety of basic forms and chassis platforms. This is because emissions legislation makes it much more expensive to develop motors and to recoup the investment they have to sell many more units.

A few decades ago, Kawasaki did this better than most – think of how many bikes were powered by derivatives of its air-cooled 650/750 four – but now they’re all at it and there’s a wide variation in desirability, not to mention price, between different models using the same basic heart.


Take Suzuki’s 650cc V-twin.  The original SV650 was a brilliantly conceived budget bike with a modern twist, and it’s still with us. It’s been around for so long that there are examples for every pocket, starting at around £750 for a good ’un. The V-Strom version tapped straight into the adventure bike market but appeared relatively recently, and so used ones are pricier. The Gladius was walloped by the ugly stick and its girly colours and name-association with Dame Edna’s favourite flower killed its chances as soon as it appeared. A Gladius’s used value is some 10% below an equivalent age SV650.

Or there’s the BMW R1200C, dismissed as being too bizarre, yet the other BMWs powered by the same engine are all popular.  

Choose wisely and think about what you’ll be able to sell it on for.

Also catching my eye this week 

1997 Honda ST70 Dax £2400

Seller says Less than 1000 miles on the clock and in perfect condition
Neil says Wish I still had mine. Late model with 12v electrics, too. Everyone should own one once.

2002 Kawasaki ZRX1200S £2400

Seller says 21,000 miles, speedo convertor (Continental import), always garaged
Neil says I’m going to buy one of these. Old-school muscle bike.

2012 NC700X DCT £2350

Seller says 22,000 miles, heated grips, hugger, some scrape damage
Neil says I’d pass. The 750 is a much better bet, and these DCT versions really aren’t in demand.


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