I am back from my trek around Europe, and it was a blast, great mates, great roads, great food and not a little beer. In our 2500 miles we took in France, Switzerland, Italy (blink and you missed it), Lichtenstein, Austria, Germany, Luxembourg, Belgium, Holland and finally back to France.
On the road you have plenty of time to think, and as I was on the road so much I thought a lot. One of those thoughts was “Of the six bikes with us which was the best for our tour”? It is an interesting question, and flippantly answered by saying, “the one you are on” but in this case, for me, it is not true.
Much to my annoyance my bike, much as I love it the Triumph 1050 Speed Triple, is not really built for taking luggage and rider on long road trips. The luggage carrying possibilities are minimal, even bungee points are hard to come by. The seat is comfy, for about 150 miles and after that it begins to resemble a brick and the engine, in the hot summer, does its very best to add to global warming, you end up baking in town. That said, when we got to the mountain passes it was the bike to be on, excellent handling and plenty of torque and power made me forget just why I had been complaining for the rest of the trip. It wasn’t the greatest bike to tour on, but, if you are minimalist and can convince better equipped mates to share, then it is perfectly capable of doing so.
I can only talk about the other bikes from an observer’s point of view, but it is from this point of view and from the comments of the other riders that I have made my decision. So next up is an Indian Scout, it is powerful enough, and with the aftermarket luggage and one up very able to carry a large amount of kit. It also seemed very comfortable but when asked to hustle through the twisties it was found wanting and it should never have gone anywhere near a mountain pass. It is a good bike to pose on however, it got a lot of admiring looks, and it is a good bike to eat up the miles on a long straight or slightly curvy road. Unfortunately, in Europe, unless you are on a motorway you are not going to find many of them.
Not a motorway!
We also had Triumph 1050 Sprint with us, packing all the official aftermarket luggage, and a lovely wind removing fairing. This bike should have been the best, and I would rate it as number two for eating up the miles, but I would still take my Speed Triple instead of it because of one reason and one reason only, it has no character. Everybody and their dog tours on bikes like these, because they are great at doing it, but that is what they do and only that, they eat miles. They are not bad looking, not bad in the corners, not bad fuel consumption, fairly quick and, for want of a better description, it is like comparing Miss world to Angelina Jolie and I will let you decide what I mean by that!
And so it comes down to one bike, the one that I would have chosen to do my holiday astride and that was a Triumph Tiger 800. There were two of these with us, which in itself should say something and basically they would do anything the others could just as well, almost. The only thing that they lacked was a little power in the Alpine passes, but only in comparison to the speed triple, they were capable of running circles round all the rest. This doesn’t come as a surprise to me, I have owned big trail bikes before and toured on them and they really do give the best of both worlds, they can hold their own happily in just about any company and situation, doing whatever is asked of them and doing it with a little style.
So in a practical world we should all ride big trail bikes, but who buys a bike for practicality? If you did that you would only have room for one in your garage and that would be no fun at all!