All the Motorbikes I’ve Owned
I've been a biker for a long time...20 years this year, actually. While having one of my many email conversations recently, a reader asked me to write about the motorbikes I've owned over the years. I thought that was a great idea, so here they are...
Having sat down and worked it out, it seems I've owned 12 bikes over the years. That's actually more than I thought considering I had a break from riding for a few years.
Anyway, enough waffle, let's get into the list of motorbikes I've owned over the years.
Suzuki EN 125
The first bike I got was back in 2004, I was 19 years old and I couldn't really afford to run a car. My granddad was a biker back in the day, and he recommended I try getting a little bike. They're way cheaper to run than a car, and a lot more fun.
So I did my CBT (Compulsory Basic Training) which allowed me to ride a 125 with learner plates, and went out and bought myself this beast:
Unfortunately I don't have a picture of my actual bike, but this one is exactly the same. I've always had a thing for traditional looking bikes, and with blue being my favourite colour, I thought this was the coolest thing on God's green earth.
Around 6 months after buying the EN 125, I joined the Army and was based down in Dorset (an 8 hour ride from where I lived on my plucky 125). That didn't bother me though; I strapped my bags to the back and off I went. This was when I really fell in love with motorbikes.
After 18 months of riding the EN 125 around the country, I decided it was time for an upgrade. So I got my full motorbike license and, sticking with the blue Suzuki theme, I bought an SV650S.
Once again, I don't have a picture of my actual bike, but this is exactly the same as the one I had:
I'm not gonna lie, folks, I thought I was the dogs bollocks when I got this thing. I absolutely loved it. Even now, nearly 20 years later, I think it's a great looking bike.
Just like the little 125, I rode the SV the length and breadth of the UK. I used to regularly go away for the weekend on it, as I was young, single and had nothing holding me back. It was fantastic.
But then reality hit. I deployed to Iraq, then Afghanistan, and then I met the woman who would become my wife. So my priorities changed, the bike was sold and Kev the biker fell by the wayside for a few years.
That was until 2013 when I decided it was time to get back into bikes. Bikes are powerful, dangerous things though, so I decided to do a refresher course and bought myself the first brand new bike I ever owned.
Aprilia Shiver 750
I decided I wanted something a bit more exotic. The kinda bike you don't see on the road very often, and the Shiver ticked that box:
It would turn heads wherever I went, but it wasn't all rosey. You see, dear reader, this is also the time that I started getting into working on bikes, as well as just riding them.
It wasn't through choice though. The Aprilia wasn't exactly the most reliable bike in the world, and instead of going back to the garage every 5 minutes, I decided I'd learn the ropes and fix the thing myself. By this time, I had a car too, so it wasn't the end of the world if the bike was off the road for a week or two.
I ended up taking the Shiver on a 3-day tour of Northern Ireland with a good friend of mine. True to form, the Aprilia broke down, so we found ourselves dismantling it at the side of the road. Great memories.
After a couple of years of owning the Aprilia, I decided I wanted to get a second bike as a project to fix up. So I bought I tired old Kawasaki ZZR600 in - you guessed it - blue, and got to work fixing the old girl up.
After 6 months work, a lick of paint and many new parts, the ZZR was ready, and here's a picture of me and my friend Dave out on both the ZZR and my Aprilia, taking it for a shakedown run after the work was complete:
I'm happy to say the old girl did great and I kept her for a couple more years after this. Until I traded both the Aprilia and the ZZR in for my next bike.
Triumph Tiger 800 XRX
When I bought the Tiger, I wasn't actually in the market for an adventure bike. I went to test tide a different bike, the Street Triple, but took the Tiger out after not really liking the Street.
I immediately fell in love with it and bought it there and then.
As we recently learned, I ended up crashing the Tiger, so it ended up going to an early grave. But for the 18 months I owned it, my wife and I managed to put lots of miles on it, and had lots of fun.
Suzuki Bandit 600
Back to Suzuki, and of course, back to blue too. At the time I was working in Warrington, which is a nightmare to drive through, so I sold my car and bought a cheap second bike as a commuter.
I got the Bandit for a steal, as it was an absolute wreck. Little did I know it would end up being my second project bike, but after some elbow grease, it ended up being a lovely bike:
When I changed jobs, and ended up moving from Warrington, I sold the Bandit for a tidy profit.
Once I had healed up from the accident, I wanted to get straight back on 2 wheels, and having the insurance payout burning a hole in my pocket, I decided to get 2 bikes - one for touring and another for fun.
Kawasaki Versys 650
First I bought the touring bike, and boy did I tour on the little Versys. I did the North Coast 500, and numerous tours of Wales on it.
The Versys was such a comfy bike - I could do really long days in the saddle on this thing and still come off relatively fresh.
Here it is in it's full touring getup, ready to go on another great trip:
The older versions of the Versys have always been something of a Marmite bike - you either love them, or hate them. Personally, I really like the look of it. It was like an ugly pet that only its owner could love.
Up until this point, I'd never had a 1000cc bike, so I decided to change things up and get something more sporty. Enter the CB1000R, and this thing was a beast.
I think the Honda is probably the best looking bike I've ever owned, maybe with the exception of my Royal Enfield. With it's single-sided swingarm, beautiful metallic paintwork and glorious exhaust note, this thing was gorgeous.
But the 1000cc, Fireblade derived engine, was just too powerful for me. I've never been a particularly fast rider - I enjoy the technicalities of riding well, rather than just riding fast for the sake of it.
Because of this, I never really got on with the CB1000R. So after a year or so, I decided to sell it.
Yamaha Tracer 900
I was now down to a single bike again, but really enjoyed the Versys. So I decided I wanted something a little bigger. I really enjoyed the triple cylinder engine of the Tiger, but didn't want to the same bike again, so I opted for the Tracer.
It was slightly more powerful than the Tiger, and looked a little sportier too:
The Tracer is probably the bike I regret selling the most. If I had the Enfield and a Tracer in my garage, there are few bikes that could trump that pairing, I think.
But, the kids came along and I didn't have the free time to go touring, so I decided to trade in the Tracer for my next bike...
Royal Enfield Interceptor 650
When I bought the Enfield, I decided I wanted to get an old school bike again. I'd had modern bikes for the last few years, so it was time to get back to my EN 125 roots. I always fancied the Enfield, so I took a punt and traded the Tracer in without even test riding the Enfield.
I'm not sure I can put into words how much I love this bike. It's the bike I've done the most work on, and also made the most memories with. But not how you think - I've not been on any tours with it, actually I've only done around 2,500 miles on it during my nearly 3 years of ownership.
What I have done though, is a tonne of work to the bike, most of the time having my little helpers with me:
The Enfield is great fun to ride. It's a one of a kind, and it holds so many memories for me and the kids. I can't see myself ever selling this one.
We then moved house and I renovated our garage, I had space for more bikes. So I decided to buy another project bike.
Triumph Speed Four
The Speed Four is a 20 year old bike that's had a tough life, but she's a good looking thing. The previous owner wasn't asking much for it either, so I decided to take it on and fix it up as my next project.
The Speed Four is pretty much done at this point, but I've never really fallen in love with it, so I'll likely sell it come spring.
This brings us on the the final bike in this list...
Moto Guzzi Breva 1100
The Guzzi was a bit of a spare of the moment purchase. It was my nextdoor neighbour's bike and he was upgrading to something new. I'd always liked the Breva and told him if he was ever thinking about getting rid of it, to let me know as I might be interested.
He made me an offer I couldn't refuse, so I snapped it up.
Like the Shiver, you don't see many of these on the road. Also like the Shiver, the reliability is questionable. But that big stonking 1100cc v-twin is just a joy to ride.
I know it's a big engine, but unlike the CB1000R, the Breva isn't built for speed. It's built for torque, which means it's fantastic on the road. It's a characterful bike that I love riding.
And with the Breva, that brings us right up to date. That's all the bikes I've owned so far.
Like I said earlier, I'll probably sell the Speed Four this year, then maybe trade in the Guzzi next year for another tourer. Maybe even the new 1100 Guzzi, the Mandello. We will see.
I've had such an eclectic mix of motorbikes over the years. Some I've loved, others not so much. But each one has brought me some kind of joy in its own way.
I wonder what my next 20 years of biking will bring me?
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