In deciding to spend more time with my family in Australia I started shopping for a full-time motorcycle to keep at home in Brisbane.
This is a somewhat personal article, showing a bit of what I like in a ride, as well as what you can get in this big brown land.
Update — I bought the BMW R1200S and I love it. But it won't be the last motorcycle I buy in Australia!
What's unique about Motorcycling in Australia (particularly Queensland)
It's important to bear in mind that riding in Australia is quite different to riding in the US and Europe. I wrote a whole article about it here.
Most important things to know are that
- There are fewer curves on the roads. Probably a function of fewer mountains.
- Speed limits are low and strictly enforced. The areas known to be popular with riders are very heavily policed, and doing just 5 km/h over can get you a ticket.
- Dirt roads are plentiful. This means that you might think you're taking a normal road home and you end up on an unsealed road that's 10km long!
All this means that slower dual-sport motorcycles are best. At most, hypersport motorcycles are NOT a great idea.
But they're cool, so I considered them anyway. Just not an 848... there is a reason so many are for sale (they look good but are bad to ride in Australia).
1998 Ducati 900SS
I've always liked Ducati motorcycles, but I've always wanted to own something other than a Ducati Monster.
I'm attracted to the Supersport line because they're powered by a very similar engine, but with a sportier stance. The Supersport 900 weighs 207kg wet and is powered by an 80 hp fuel injected L-twin.
This one is priced $6,790 and has 58,000 kms on the odometer. But importantly, a full restoration was done just 4,000 kms ago. Look at this thing shine! More critically, timing belts and valve clearances were done - saving me lots of maintenance money.
It also comes with a Staintune exhaust and a Power Commander III and full dyno-tune.
So many other modifications were done to this motorcycle - swing-arm, sprockets, brakes, filters, fairings, a whole paint job... man. What a machine.
I was excited to see this motorcycle for sale, but eventually didn't buy it.
The 900SS isn't too fast, unlike its brethren the 916 and 996 from the same era. Those are superbikes, whereas the 900SS is the equivalent of a convertible — cool and fun to ride without being overpowered.
When I contacted the owner, he was away and provided so few windows for inspection that I had time to buy two motorcycles before he was even available.
Still, lovely motorbike. Someone should get it. (Maybe me, if it's still around in half a year...)
2006 BMW R1200S
This one was on eBay, so I didn't even get a chance to ride it. But — I bought it! And I'm keeping it unless I get an offer that'll let me get a similarly good motorcycle.
This was listed for $7,900 on eBay with 45,000 kms on the odometer. It was in "excellent condition".
The R1200S has an 1170cc Boxer opposite twin pushing out 110 hp. It has a dry clutch, shaft drive, and a single-sided swing-arm. Plus, this one comes with Laser pipes and a power commander... and even heated grips for the colder months!
Look at that machine! So beautiful. It even comes with an owner's manual, a second key, and registration.
It's a little on the heavy side at 221kg wet, but whatever. I don't need to go that fast.
What I love about the R1200S is that it has so much Ducati super-bike appeal without being a Ducati. It has a thunderous 1200cc twin, a raucous exhaust, and a gorgeous single-sided swing-arm.
On top of that, the BMW has a driveshaft rather than a chain, which means far less maintenance. And valve jobs are a cinch — they're less frequent (every 20,000 kms) than a similar vintage Ducati, and a doddle to do.
Seeing the BMW service records was incredible. This kind of opportunity is very rare!
After picking it up and riding it I fell in love and you can't have it for less than A$9,250 (actually, it's no longer for sale).
2006 Yamaha R1 Anniversary Edition
Ultimate sports bike, classic collector
Another motorcycle I was considering was this limited edition Yamaha R1. Lightly modded, and extremely fast.
The Yamaha R1 is the most iconic motorcycle out of the Yamaha stable. And the 2006 and 2016 are the most collectible — definite future classics. I'm more likely to pick up a 2016 in the future, though.
For this one - it was priced $7,990 with 20,000 kms on the odometer. The engine is a 998cc inline 4 with EFI pushing out 172 hp.
As much as I love the Yamaha R1, it's just not a practical motorcycle for Australia. I'll never see the redline without losing my license (or dying), and for me, there's no fun in that. So I didn't even go look at this.
But if I were to get an R1, it'd be a 2006 or 2016 anniversary edition in yellow, just like this one. The 2016 is more tempting because it has the crossplane crank AND it has a bunch of rider aids to keep me alive.
2006 Ducati Monster S2R800
The final motorcycle I was considering was an S2R800.
This is one of my favourite Ducati Monsters. It was priced at A$5,500 with 45K kilometers on the odometer. The 803cc engine produces 80hp, perfect for Australian roads.
This one was fully stock. For me, this is a downside for Ducatis. I much prefer for them to come with expensive Termignoni exhaust systems.
Something always nags at me about the S2R 800 and that's the lack of a dry clutch.
The smaller Ducatis never have it. The 750 didn't, and 696 didn't... it's not a bad thing, but it takes away from that Ducati character that I really want.
Despite this, the S2R800 is known as being the better-balanced of the two Monsters. It produces more power than my old M900 (one of my favourite motorcycles of all time, as I raved about in my buyers guide to the Ducati Monster), and I'd be happy with it. But is "happy" enough?