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Digital Subscriptions > Fast Bikes > Issue 326 > HALF PRICE HEROES


Why buy brand new, when modern technology (and ludicrous speed) is available for as little as £7,500, or less?


Sportsbikes are dead. Yep, dead, deader than a dead thing, we’re repeatedly told. Well, what a right load of cobblers, say we. New sportsbike sales did indeed dip alarmingly a few years ago when prices finally returned to where they should always have been, from when they were drastically slashed pre-millennium to combat grey-import machines. The recent price increases also coincided with the global economic slowdown, so of course new bike sales were going to suffer, d’uh!

This period did, however, also coincide with the ascendency of electronics and, therefore, another small price increase on top of the other one. A double hit then, which understandably put off many potential buyers. The upshot is that manufacturers are now mostly packing their sportsbikes out with as much tech’ as they can and charging a premium for it. Only those like Kawasaki and Suzuki offer a brand new litre machine at the sub-£14,000 price point, and short of anyone changing their ways, this is how it’ll likely stay for the foreseeable future.

True, nearly every new big sportsbike is one shiny, hugely tempting object of obsession, but there is another way to savour a modern slant without breaking the bank. If one dips into the exact same marketplace that in actuality is keeping sportsbikes alive, healthy and well in the UK – the used market – you too can have your cake and eat it.

Dealers, for example, simply cannot get enough used sportsbikes through their doors, especially those up to six seasons old. They’re in, then they’re out in the blink of an eye. And it’s understandable. Why? Because you can get bikes nearly as advanced as the latest and greatest, for about half the cost. The new stock Fireblade is over £15,000, so what can we get for half of that? The truth is you’d be really surprised, and this is most pertinent in the private market where there are deals galore. You’ll pay less for private, more from a dealer but will also get sales back-up from the latter, and not the former.

So we’ve picked three iconic bikes, two packed with electronics and one more traditional (yet still relevant) that can be found advertised at dealers or elsewhere at (or somewhere around) our rough £7,500 price point. Honda’s Fireblade, Kawasaki’s ZX-10R and BMW’s slightly cheaty (read more expensive) and epic S 1000 RR. Which is worth your money the most? Read on!

New leathers are great at hiding middle aged spread, er, apparently…

2010 Honda Fireblade

In 2008, Honda once again rewrote the rulebook for the production superbike class. The first proper upgrade for years, where they put their all into the endeavour, won our big 2008 and 2009 SBOTY (Sportsbike Of The Year) tests back to back, beating the best of the rest including Yamaha’s then new and flashy big-bang R1. That’s how good it was.

The problem for Honda was that this was right on the cusp of everything changing with BMW, then Ducati, Aprilia and Kawasaki loading their machines up with game-changing pukka electronic aids. Honda, from then right up until 2017, has eschewed the electronics revolution, claiming a rider’s own skill and a well balanced package, which the Fireblade certainly is, is all the ‘aids’ a rider should need.

An admirable stance, but one which saw buyers flock to the new. The ’Blade still sold well, it’s a Honda after all, but there’s little doubt a lot of sales have been lost over the past few years due to their stubborn refusal to play the game.

Even when it came to power figures, Honda stuck around the 160bhp (at the wheel) mark for a long time, claiming they didn’t want to get involved in a power figure war but, at the same time, completely ignoring the fact that the electronics they scoffed at made huge horsepower figures easily accessible and usable to all and, thus, extremely attractive to all at the same time.

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Fast Bikes is home to the best sportsbike tests on the planet and is packed with new bike launches, technical insight, hardcore action, masterclasses, racing, reviews and loads more.