The bug

I knew two things about the Ten when I bought it: I hated it, and it wouldn’t stay in standard form for very long.

Even before I made the reluctant switch from European to Japanese, I had spotted aftermarket products. Strange enough, I had particularly spotted engine crash bars and handguards. You know, the ones that would have saved my clutch lever and cable and fairing in the very unlikely event of a fall.

‘Don’t do tomorrow what you can do today’, is the saying that kept hitting my brain Tyson-style as my Ten laid helplessly on the road, then in Fabrice’s trailer, then in my garage, then on Whitechapel Road, then at the MECW’s carpark, then at my garage again.

Yeah yeah, got it now.

So, a few hours after my first crash, I scoured the Internet once again, full of renewed energy for spending money in order to hopefully save some. And I ordered:

– Barkbusters handguards EGO VPS.

– Metal Mule crash bars.

– High rally front fender.

– Leovince SBK silencers.

Some from Triumphland, some from BMW country. Nothing from the empire of the rising sushi, strange enough.

The issue of side luggage is still undecided: soft, hard? It will have to change. The Yamaha topbox is just big enough for a flip-up helmet. The Yamaha topbox, by the by, in which one of the two lid-to-box link screws came loose (head shake).

On the R, I had about 120 litres of carrying capacity, what with the BMW topbox and panniers, + a fantastic Touratech tankbag. And it was just how much I needed for touring, whether alone or two-up.

I will defo get another tankbag for the Ten, with a map pocket up top. GPSs never worked for me. I got one with the R, which I never used.

I like maps. I like to get lost and ask for directions: I get to see unexpected things, I get to swear, I get to meet various people and experience kindness which GPSs completely bypass.

I like to unfold a map, stare at it blankly until 10 minutes later I finally spot the place where I possibly am. I like to run a finger along a twisty road, tap a city, a village, dip my toes in a river of paper.

I like to see age showing on a map. Ideally, my maps would get so battered and crissed and damp that they’d end up looking like a 13th century portolan map. Then I can sell it, be rich and dump my Ten for ten European motorbikes.

Let’s see which ones.

1) First and foremost, the Husqvarna Nuda R. With ABS… Testrode it twice, twice skidded at the lights. Amazing bike, feather-light, awesome sound, great engine. Rare on the roads.

2) The Aprilia Dorsoduro, in either cc. Lovely supermoto too.

3) The Triumph Scrambler. With Arrow pipe. Never ridden it. Was very close to during a group ride to Normandy on a charity event. I sat on it, turned the ignition on, and the alarm went off. It blasted for 30 minutes before one of the twenty amateur mechanic present found a way to disconnect it. Somehow, I didn’t feel like asking for the key again afterwards. Sorry again James.

Anyway the Scrambler is mighty cool, sounds yummy, and it ticks Alex’s retro look box.

4) The KTM SMT. A travelling SM. Tried it, was not especially taken by the sound, but it’s not often you can ride an SM with a hint of wind protection. And I like orange.

5) The Ducati Monster, probably 1100. Tested Fanch’s old 900 in Prague. Awesome sound, great character. Yellow or red. And let’s face it, without the Monster I’d probably still be riding a Honda PCX…

6) I’d have to go for the Triumph Sprint ST. Sports bikes, and sports tourers, are not right for me: I have a weak lower back, and the forward-leaning position, especially in town, is a killer. But god did I love the week I had on Matt’s ST! The guy had faith: he went away on holiday and wondered whether I’d fancy giving the bike a go. The triple engine was so frikkin good I had to go along with the bike’s running theme: three cylinders, three lights, three exhausts. So I shaved by beard and kept the sideburns and a thin vertical goatie. Oh yea. Even thought about marrying two other women.

7) Speaking of Triumph triples, I’d defo get the Street Triple. Never tried it either, but a small ST’s engine in a lightweight body and great sound? Bring it on.

8) The new MV Brutale 675. Slightly decadent, but I keep reading that it has the Street Triple beat for exhaust note. Mamma mia!

9) Close call between three Ducatis: the Multistrada, the Diavel, or the new Hypermotard SP. Okay, probably the latter.

10) And finally, for old time’s sake, a 1200R. With Remus Powercone exhaust from the off. Come see daddy.

Damn, I’ve just wet myself.

Are these bikes not slightly redundant, you might ask? 4 SMs, 5 nakeds?

I have no idea what you mean.

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