A couple of weeks ago we took two of our Grandchildren to the Llangollen Bike Festival (Llanfest 2016). When I wrote a Blog post about the festival I mentioned it was a decent day out and good value with an entry fee of just £10 each.
What I didn’t realize at the time was that it was to be the catalyst for a bit more spending. It’s been a long time since my wife Pat went on the back of any of the bikes that I have had (and I’ve had a few) – but whilst we were wandering around the show her eye was taken by a Triumph America that was on show at the Triumph Stand – with words along the lines of ‘that looks comfy’ and ‘I’d go on one of those’.
Now bearing in mind that bikes that I have owned and ridden in recent years have included four bikes from the Suzuki GSX-R family (a couple of Suzuki GSXR 600’s, a 750 and 1000) along with a couple of Honda’s (a Fireblade CB1000RR and a CB 1000R) and that my current bikes include a Kawasaki Z1000SX and Moto Guzzi V7 Cafe, then you may not be too surprised to know that my eyes have never really been drawn to that style of bike.
Cutting a long story short: Pat’s throwaway comments at the show led to a conversation that in turn led to me going to look at a few bikes that might be suitable for us to buy and to use together – the criteria was fairly straightforward, we were not looking for the most expensive bike, the fastest bike, the bike with the most gadgets, a pillion seat that would leave her perched too high up nor were we looking for a bike that had the loudest exhaust or came with the best and most incredible performance statistics.
With that in mind I went to a couple of places, initially with my nephew Andy and then later with Pat. We considered three bikes: the Triumph, a Yamaha XV950 (from Yamaha’s Sport Heritage Range and a Kawasaki Vulcan S – a model that would best be described as Kawasaki’s take on a lightweight/medium weight cruiser.
As nice as the Triumph may be, it didn’t quite do it for us, it was the Speedmaster model that we checked out (which apart from the luggage options isn’t a world apart from the America).
After spending a few hours at various bike shops we ended up at Robinsons Rochdale , part of the Moto GB group and went back and forward (in between complimentary coffees) sitting on the Vulcan and XV950 – and essentially arranged for a test ride of the Vulcan last weekend.
They two XV950’s actually looked to be decent value, both were the 2015 (non ABS) models – one in white and one in the classic Yamaha Speedblock pattern in colours made famous by the legendary Kenny Roberts, Both were priced well below list of the 2016 model, and to be honest if I had the cash and space I wouldn’t have minded one of those in the garage as well.
Decision made: I took the a demo model of the Vulcan out for the test ride as planned and thoroughly enjoyed it and ended up ordering a new one.
I picked the bike up yesterday and it’s much too early to write a sensible review of it as I only went for a 100 or so miles ride but the indications are that it’s going to be good fun. It’s a complete contrast and not a replacement to the other bikes I have, which is also part of the appeal. Its pretty lightweight with a 649cc parallel twin engine, the same engine used in the ER6 and Versys 650, with a few tweaks to provide a bit more from the off than you might normally expect with this style of bike.
It’s a pretty different riding position as well with the higher bars and the feet forward stance. We’re both off out on it today and once I’ve got a few miles in I’ll write some more – not to compare it with my other bikes as in many ways that would just be daft and pointless, and I wont be able to compare it to other ‘cruiser’ style bikes as I haven’t ridden any, but what I will be able to write about is what it’s actually like on the road and what its like for the two of us.
Was the dealer any good:It’s probably also worth mentioning something about the dealers Robinsons Rochdale that we bought the bike from. I suppose like many purchases there is more than one outlet to buy a bike from.
Buying a motorbike in some respects isn’t so different than many other things, yes of course its a different product in its own right but what you generally want is an opportunity to look at your potential purchase without being unduly hassled, someone on hand to answer questions when you ask them and to treat you reasonably – throw in some decent customer service and a bit of banter and the boxes are ticked. And to be fair Graham the General Manager and Kris the sales guy were more than helpful and when I come to get my next bike I’ll be calling back to Robinsons.
When I’ve done a reasonable amount of miles I’ll write more and also aim to include Pats perspective but for now here’s some pictures from yesterday and the first 100 miles or so.
The only other thing to mention is that we’ve ordered the Hepko & Becker bar and rack that you can see in the last picture below, and yes the rear end really does need tidying up! Clicking the first will open a scrollable gallery.