I like big singles. Sure, I know they’re not very powerful or fast, but they’re almost all huge fun, have wonderful low and mid-range throttle response, and are relatively cheap to buy and to keep running. Servicing is quick and simple and fuel consumption miserly.
They’re a dying breed. Yamaha’s Ténéré is being replaced by a twin, Kawasaki’s KLR650 hasn’t been sold in this country for years, Suzuki, Honda and Aprilia no longer offer a big single so, really, only KTM’s 690 Duke and Supermoto and Yamaha’s overpriced SR400 are left. Once they’re all gone, of course, then people will be hunting them out. Old Yamaha thumpers are already rising in price.
If you want a big single trailie (the best thumpers are trail bikes) then it pretty much has to be a Yamaha. The basic XT600E ran for a decade here, but the valuable one is going to be the 600 Ténéré. This was never a big seller in Britain, but is the epitome of cool now, and there are quite a few imports around, mostly from France. You’re going to need a grand minimum, and remember the early models are kickstart only, but this is the one for transcontinental trips and prices are going to rise.
My tip for a real urban weapon would be to a CCM 604, preferably one with the Rotax engine, before they went to Suzuki power. They’re tough, reliable, massive fun – I frequently see a guy throwing one through traffic on my morning South London commute – and you can choose from roadster, trail, supermoto or enduro versions. Plastics are cheap if damaged, they can be tuned and tuned, and they are so minimalist you wouldn’t believe. Like the Ténéré, starting money is a grand and that’s not a lot to invest.
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