Thread: Highland Motors
View Single Post
Old 01-09-2007, 04:02 PM   #14
John in Leeds
Gnarly Adventurer
John in Leeds's Avatar
Joined: Jan 2007
Oddometer: 378
I tried one

Originally Posted by AceRph
There is one at my KTM dealer. I've been in there a lot of times & have never seen it before. The counterkid told me he thought it was for sale. No, I didn't ask.

I had the chance of a ride on the Highland Motard 950 demonstrator at Rock and Road in Bolton (UK) just before Christmas. For some time I have wanted a dual purpose fun bike – a bit of an impossibility I suppose but after being conned by the 1150gs I gave up the quest and just went for biking fun and interest. Present bike after numerous large jap sports and tourers is an ’04 Rosso Corsa Guzzi – not the most powerful bike on the road but in my humble opinion certainly the most engaging to ride, after 18 months of real pleasure this ones a keeper.

The BM was marketed as a dual sport machine with excellent build quality and reliability. The reality was some what different – fantastic handling on tarmac and well surfaced dry dirt, strong motor, good fuel mileage but desperate gearbox (nice high top for cruising) crunch clatter ‘they are all like that sir’. Corroding rims and cycle parts in less than 6 months. No low speed ability for technical stuff and gargantuan weight. Did a lot of gentle off road in the Yorkshire dales to improve my technique but what a brute, did well not to kill myself. Just couldn’t get it to work. Sent it on it’s way after a trip round Italy (it wept oil in near 40 degree heat) and not regretted. BTW I thoroughly recommend Rainbow in Sheffield for service – head and shoulders above the rest.

Tried the Wee Strom, what a nice machine, comfortable all rounder but too much plastic for my adventure stuff. Smooth sweet motor with good range in slow and fast going, budget suspension is just that but acceptable. It does not pretend to be something it isn’t.

Africa twin and Transalp do the job quite well but are very greedy when pushed, a bit heavy and I found (sorry Honda fans) a bit boring.

Suzuki DRZ400s has the handling but is hard work on the open road. Could just do with that sort of off road ability with a bit better touring capacity. To be able to plonk along at a comfortable 90 with a little luggage and reasonable fuel range and consumption. The relatively close ratio gearbox and untuned motor won’t allow both ruff stuff and decent touring. Shame, close but no cigar.

Had a look at the KTMs 950 990 Adventure, God are they BIG and Ugly (sorry that’s not objective) so didn’t even try one.

So to the Highland – looks good to me, excellent materials, fit and finish, best quality parts in suspension and wheels. Weight 165 kilos dry seems a bit lardy for an off roader but for a 950 that’s a real lightweight. So to the ride on wet roads, sealed but rough with bad potholing and washouts and smooth motorway. What a bike, all the power I want with loads of effortless grunt where you need it and as much top speed, easy peasy 100+ but could do with a small screen to reduce the wind blast. Sweet handling although the suspension had been set a little firm for road use (apparently they have been using it at Cadwell Park circuit to frighten the sports bikes in it’s supa moto guise). The motor was really smooth over 2500 but off idle would not fuel smoothly where you really need it for technical trails, tight rocky turns and that sort of stuff. For riders who like to ‘really get on’ this would be no problem but for me there are places I just want to plod. Unusually for this type of bike the seating was really comfortable and could be used for all types of riding (not head down, ass up) suited me well 6’ 1”, 200lbs, 33inch inseam, just a little high but when you are moving no problem.

This could be my perfect general purpose bike, even giving me some pride in it’s obvious build quality and components. But…. could I live with the off idle fuelling? What a dilemma – I will get back when the decision has been made.

John in Leeds screwed with this post 04-16-2010 at 01:35 AM
John in Leeds is offline   Reply With Quote