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So, What Next?

Blog Date 28 June 2023

Oh no! What a terrible dilemma! What a problem! What a monumental conundrum I am facing!!

I have a first world issue. In the third world there are people having to choose which of their children will eat today. In the second world someone is choosing which of their children will get a basic education. Here in the first world I'm trying to choose between a 125 or 250-300. Poor poor Ren, everybody say "awwwwwww".

Firstly the 100,000 mile CBF125 is not dead yet. It's still running and riding and being pressed into service from time to time. However my circumstances have changed. 

When I was racking up the big miles on the 125 I was working 3 days a week in Runcorn, a trip of between 25 and 40 miles each way depending on the choice of route that day. That's 50 to 80 miles a day, 150 to 240 miles a week. Add to this using the 125 while Sharon was still learning. Add to this the 125 at that time not drinking oil hence being used for trips to Scotland, Ireland and The Netherlands for example. 

CBF125 with camping kit
It's been around that CBF125

More recently? My last job was only 7 miles away, 3 days in the office, 42 miles a week although I'd do more because 7 miles ain't worth starting the engine. The bike started to drink oil so I didn't want to use it for touring. Sharon got the 250 so we weren't going out on the 125s much any more. 

Today? I'm working from home all the time now. Zero miles of commuting and the 125 is barely racking up 20 miles a week, if that.

So........ At the time of writing I find myself in the regrettable position of being a WEEKEND LEISURE BIKER! This makes me sick to the pit of my stomach to admit this. However - I have no desire to be getting up at daft o'clock in the morning, kitting up and facing a sub zero ride of 40 miles to work every day. I fall out of bed, step into the spare bedroom and I'm at work. 

Presently there is no reason to have a 125. The 125 was used primarily to cover that expensive and traffic filled commute, and for that it was ideal. Economical, light and nimble, and also dirty, battered, unattractive and not worth a lot which meant I was less concerned about it being stolen. Working from home negates that problem, hell, the spare bedroom overlooks the shed. 

As such I'm leaning towards a 250-300cc second bike. Why? 

Why not get a big bike? I could buy a nearly new 600 plus machine, but I won't. Firstly there's no models out there that are really floating my boat save for Honda's new parallel twin TransAlp. However the TransAlp in my eyes is just a CB500X with better off road ability and more power. 

The NC range has been on my radar too - still to big.

I have learned that there are scant few places in the UK where you can legally ride off road. What you end up doing is 100 plus road miles to get to a green lane that's half a mile long. Plus that power is wasted because all those road miles are at the most 70mph, more and more and more of them are limited to 50, 40 and 30. The 125 can go that fast.

Plus with a TransAlp and the CB500X I'd struggle to get them both into my tiny shed. And the TransAlp won't return 80mpg. 

There's no point getting another 500. I'm rather liking Honda's CL500 but it's just the CB500X in a new outfit. And even though it's not a BIG bike I suspect it's large enough to make getting both 500s into the shed a faff.

Which leads me back to the 250-300 class. Having once again ridden Sharon's Z250SL and enjoyed another test ride on Honda's CB300R there's a lot going for these bikes presently. 

Sid of the Honda CB300R
I'm developing a thing for the CB300R

They are physically smaller which means I will be able to get both the 500 and this smaller model into the shed. They will return the good fuel economy that I'm looking for. Admittedly this isn't as much as I'd expect from a 125 but far better than any of the big bikes out there. They'll also be cheaper to run with less mass helping tyres to last longer and chains to suffer less. They are still great fun to ride too - it is far better to ride a - ahem - "slow" bike fast than a fast bike slowly.

And another thing. Why have 2 bikes at all? The CB500X is a great all rounder and yet having had the benefit of 2 bikes for so long now I'd feel "exposed" with only one. If the 500 is having a service or a hissy fit then I have the other bike to play on, or go and retrieve parts on. I enjoy the contrast between bikes too although this is in fact a plus for a 125 as the difference between a 250-300 and the 500 is much less than between a 125 and the 500.

With a trip coming in the none-too-distant I'd feel happier with a 250-300 in reserve than a 125. Yes of course I've toured on the 125 and thoroughly enjoyed it too - but - if we're with friends or even just Sharon on her 250 then I'd be somewhat lacking. 

So - at this very moment in time that's where I stand. BUT. There's always a but isn't there. 

Things change. I've only been in this new job a few weeks - what happens if it all goes wrong and I need to start commuting again? What if fuel prices go mental again? I'll sure miss that sweet 140 plus mpg of a 125. Oh I don't know. Right now I've decided not to decide. 

Oh just give me a bike on long term test will ya? Contact ren@bikesandtravels.com

Reader's Comments

ROD¹ said :-
Your thought processes are all valid and I follow most of the reasoning.
Choosing not to decide is a valid non decision if you are still not sure.
If the second bike is not that different to the first bike (especially on fuel consumption) then it becomes more difficult to justify. You can do a lot of miles on the first bike for what it costs in road tax, insurance, depreciation, and eventually mot of the second bike.
My 125 can only just justify itself doing 125cc mpg Vs 1150cc mpg with minimal depreciation at only £1399 new.
As you know I do not regard a big bikes power as wasted. We may be restricted in this country to 70mph but it is not about speed it's the way the bike feels. Everything is effortless on large capacity bikes.
Last year I did an overnight down to Cornwall on the 125. 550 miles in two days. It takes ages to get anywhere trying to stick to back roads, the bike does not carry the weight of camping gear ect well, and although the bike in general is comfortable to ride, I could not relax with cars constantly overtaking on the main roads, and the strange handling with the extra weight.
My conclusion 125s are OK to tour very slowly covering small mileage. The only time I felt the 125 was better in anyway than the BMW was when I filled it up at the fuel stations and crossing a muddy camping field.
I know you like Honda as a brand. Get a Gold Wing! You know you want to.
28/06/2023 22:03:36 UTC
Upt'North ¹ said :-
Firstly.......stop exposing yourself.
Secondly........don't go to work in your under crackers.
Why consider changing the 125 at a time you don't need to.....it'll cost money? No?
I do like the CB300 nice attractive bike but will it carry the luggage as well as the 500, I think probably not. Plus why do you need a just incase bike?
If you've won the lottery and you have a pile of notes burning a hole in your sky rocket just change the 500. What for? Well that's up to you fella.
You seem to be trying to purchase an item to fill a gap that doesn't exist. Throw the thought into the back of your head, just behind painting the skirting board and vacuuming and go for a ride.
Just my two'penneth.
28/06/2023 23:20:07 UTC
Ian Soady¹ said :-
"Everything is effortless on large capacity bikes."

Apart from manhandling the thing in & out of the garage, parking space etc. And of course the effort of opening your wallet far more often for petrol, tyres etc - not to mention scary depreciation if you're one of those odd folk who buy new.

When you get to my age son.......
29/06/2023 10:28:54 UTC
ROD¹ said :-
I consider myself TOLD.
I will go to the naughty step and keep quiet.
29/06/2023 13:16:35 UTC
Upt'North ¹ said :-
Pick a wide step you'll have plenty of company.
29/06/2023 17:26:07 UTC
Bogger said :-
My turn. Why don't you buy an oldish 250 for reasonable money. It'll be fast enough and frugal enough and if you don't get on with it you'll not have lost a lot of money if you sell it on.

A lot of people seen to like the Inazuma, there's some 250 Honda singles to choose from. An older bike will need a bit of fettling, which is always fun.

Or how about...............a scooter. Now there is loads to choose from. Ahh what am I thinking. You're too butch and manly for a girls scooter. I'm so sorry to mention the OBVIOUS choice.


p.s. I know where there's a reasonable BSA Bantam 175 going for not too much money
29/06/2023 17:36:03 UTC
Ren - The Ed¹ said :-
ROD - We are all quite different and that's what makes the world... er... interesting. Where you see effortless power I see frustration. The most powerful bike I've lived with was the Fazer FZS 600 which put out 95bhp. It was easy to ride as the power was mostly higher up and yet it always felt as though the poor thing was being constantly strangled to reign it in against the speed limits. The only place it ever managed to breathe a little was The Highlands.

It would be fair to say it was the wrong kind of bike though - being an engine derived from the very sporty (in it's day) ThunderCat 600. Maybe there's some truth that a big Beemer with it's lazy boxer twin grunt could give me that effortless power without feeling perpetually subdued. Never-the-less there would be absolutely zero chance of getting any of the 800cc+ "R" models into my shed - I struggle with the 500. Maybe I need to move.

Kudos to you doing 550 miles to Cornwall and back on the 125. Both Sharon and I rode back from Ipswich (about 250 miles) on our 125s once. That was a long day and our trip was then over - you had it all to do and more again the next day.

Upt' - I've had 2 bikes in the shed since... oooh let me see... probably around 2006 or 2007? I like it that way. If, perchance, motorcycling is a pleasant casual pastime for you then one motorcycle is sufficient. Me? I need my fix and if the 500s in bits for servicing or having a dickie fit then I take comfort in having another bike. Of course sure enough there will be times when they conspire in the shed to both need attention at the same time. Hell I don't know how but once they even got the car in on the game too. It's a conspiracy I tell ya!

Bogger - shurrup about ya scoots! As you well know I'm so butch and manly I mince when I walk. Yes I shall consider all options - quite fancy another CBF250 but there's not many about these days.
29/06/2023 19:31:43 UTC
nab301 said :-
Ren , I'm with you on the two bikes in the shed but give yourself plenty of time to look and broaden your horizons , sometimes looking for bikes is more fun than actually purchasing.

Alternatively offer Glyn a finders fee when you've decided what you want , he seems to be able to dig up bargains on Ebay!!. I'm sure he'd even deliver it for you.

29/06/2023 20:47:44 UTC
Glyn said :-
My two bikes (not including the CCM) are very different and I'm enjoying that. The Dragstar is amazingly comfortable with the feet foreward, high hands riding position. The Deauville is upright, nowhere near as throwable and a tad unstable at low speed with Mrs Glyn on the back plus luggage. I've only covered 220 miles on it so far. Both bikes are 650cc V twins with about 50bhp and about the same mpg. I don't have any dilemma of which to choose as they're suitable for different occasions. They're not cheap to run fuel wise and are also in the upper road tax band. I'd be happy to ride a 250/300 as the performance would be similar. I did find the Honda 125 was lacking in performance at times.
30/06/2023 08:14:39 UTC
Glyn said :-
I have to add that, when it comes to potential bargains, Bogger has offered a gem in the BSA 175 (how cheap is it?). Probably no MOT or Tax required. It might suit the Ed's 20 miles a week and be worth more tomorrow than it is today. It would almost fit on his back pocket as they're very small. The problem with bikes like this is that they're always surrounded by old men (like me) wherever they're parked requiring the rider to be extremely sociable (unlike Ed).
30/06/2023 08:34:20 UTC
Upt'North ¹ said :-
Y'all know you're recommending a two stroke to Ed. Although he could convert it to electric!
That's a thought.....stop it.....a small electric runabout for shoppin.
30/06/2023 10:53:00 UTC
Ian Soady¹ said :-
I do think that for anyone used to modern (ie less than 30 years old) bikes a Bantam would prove a real disappointment. I can't remember whether the 175 has a 4 speed box which would at least let it keep up with town traffic and electric scooters. I have about a gallon of 2 stroke mix drained from my Grumph if he takes the plunge.....
30/06/2023 16:48:53 UTC
Ren - The Ed¹ said :-
People PLEASE!! 2 stroke Bantam indeed, really. Would I be correct in thinking the Bantam's setup has the rear brake and the gear shift the wrong way around? I have a vague recollection of riding an old brit 125 (it might have been a Bantam) and getting it all terribly wrong. What a silly idea.

Whichever way I go, whatever I decide, there are two things I insist upon.

Tubeless tyres. I started out on 2 Honda H100s (H100A, H100Sii) back in the day. Nasty 2 strokes with wire wheels and tubes. You don't get punctures, you get blowouts. Regrettably this eliminates the CRF250/CRF300 which I do like. A friend of mine has an Enfield 650, can't recall which one but it has wire wheels and he's converting it to tubeless with some way of sealing the spokes - I'll see how he gets on.

4 stroke - obviously.
30/06/2023 17:34:33 UTC
Scot-in-exile said :-
First time commenter, and longtime lurker here….
Have you considered the R.E. 350 singles? Super smooth, 100+mpg, easy maintenance and, in the case of my New Classic, completely reliable.
So, What Next?...
30/06/2023 21:36:01 UTC
Glyn said :-
Interesting comment on the fact that the Bantam has the gear change on the right and brake on the left. I had at least 4 bantams in the 70s and that was normal for me. I wasn't alone as Barry Sheene had all his Jap bikes converted to this configuration as that was his preference. I had 125's and 150,s Bantams all with 3 gears and I'm not sure if the 175 had 4. If you research it you can find 4 speed conversion kits but not sure about tubeless tyres for the old BSA's. Personally, I think you're dismissing this opportunity too soon Ren. Come on Bogger, we're eager to know the price and location of this British icon.
01/07/2023 08:05:32 UTC
ROD¹ said :-
Can I come off of the naughty step now?
I will not mention New bikes, Two strokes, or Large capacity bikes.
Owe I just did!!
What is a large capacity bike?
When I started riding, a 650 - 750cc bike was a big bike, but I recently heard a Triumph Tiger 900 called a middle weight.

So I would like to take issue with the bantam having the gear change and brake the wrong way round.
Many on here are tall compared to myself so will not know what I am talking about. Others on here that are short, have not been riding long enough and are too young to remember when the foot controls were correct for UK riding.
When I come to a stop on the bike I keep one foot on the brake and the other on the ground. As I am a hobbit, I do not have the luxury of putting both feet down.
So when the brake pedal was on the correct side (the left) I would place my right foot to the ground. The camber of the road normally has the high point in the middle of the road and the low point at the kerb, this means that the ground can be an inch closer for my short legs when riding on the left side of the road.
So the bantam has the foot controls the correct way for shorties in the UK.

I need to ride more in Europe or get an old Norton!!
01/07/2023 08:11:38 UTC
CrazyFrog said :-
Just one word.


Go on, you know you want one...
01/07/2023 09:43:23 UTC
Ian Soady¹ said :-
Re spoke sealing - I did this on my Tiger 955i and it was very successful. It did of course require removing / refitting the tubeless type tyres which was a chore but not impossible. I did detail the process on a Tiger forum but can't at the moment remember which one.

Re Bantam gearchange - yes on the correct side but IIRC the wrong way up ie down for down. Barry Sheene and others brought up on proper racing bikes always had the change up for down as on my Norton but Triumphs for some reason always reversed that. I have a cunning plan to reverse the direction on the Grumph when (if?) I eventually get to that stage. The trouble with the 3 speed Bantam was the yawning gap between 2nd and 3rd. I find it ironic that bikes like the Tiger with a huge torque spread are considered to need 5 or 6 gears.....

As for groms - they may suit people of reduced stature but I would look even dafter on one than I did on the departed Ariel Arrow. And they're hideous!
01/07/2023 09:59:33 UTC
CrazyFrog said :-
I must admit though, I really do like my 'Zuma. Perfect proof that it's more fun to ride a slow bike fast. I can wring it's neck in every gear without fear of loosing my licence, and now I've fitted an Akrapovic exhaust, it sounds like a mini GP bike once the revs get over 7 or 8,000 rpm. Makes me feel like I'm 17 again :-)

How about a VStrom 250 (same engine)?
01/07/2023 10:02:49 UTC
Ian Soady¹ said :-
Spoke sealing link. I wouldn't do this on chrome rims like on a Bantam however.....
01/07/2023 10:17:42 UTC
Ren - The Ed¹ said :-
Scot-in-exile - We've previously mentioned the Enfield 350s and yes, in my case there are many benefits.

Good economy, easy maintenance, not too big for the shed, tubeless and I reckon it'd do well with luggage for touring. There's one other thing too. My concern about a 250-300 being a little too similar would be somewhat addressed with the Enfield 350. It's not a Honda (obviously the best motorcycles IN THE WORLD) and it will have quite a different character. Gets me thinking again.

ROD - get back on your naughty step - if you're tall enough. I take your point regarding the camber and keeping the rear brake on. BUT - it's the rest of the world that rides on the wrong side of the road, FOOLS!

CrazyFrog - GROM! Why yes of course, and they even do a luggage kit for them too. There's a VStrom 250 that looks clean and quite well priced I've got my eye on at the moment.

Ian Soady - that sealant. Does it dry? Does it remain flexible? If it dries like say epoxy resin I'd fear the movement of the spokes etc would eventually crack the sealant. As such I figure it remains "rubbery"? I've also hear that the wheel rims are shaped differently, lacking the small step as previously discussed and again shown below.

Posted Image
01/07/2023 10:52:57 UTC
Ian Soady¹ said :-
The sealant did in fact stay rubbery as checked when I changed the rear tyre after a few years. And although I thought the ridges weren't on my wheels, this photo seems to show otherwise.

I think you may find an Enfield 350 too far a step but other offerings such as the Interceptor may be more suitable. Pete Crazyfrog had a Himalayan if I remember correctly but can't remember what he said about it. Remind us Pete?
01/07/2023 14:45:07 UTC
CrazyFrog said :-
Pleasant enough to ride Ian, but overweight and under powered.

Strangely three of my last bikes have been in the 24 - 25bhp bracket. The worse performing (but perhaps most charming) was the Jawa 350cc, in the middle was the Himalayan (411cc) and at the top by a country mile is the Inazuma 250cc. Both the Jawa and the Himalayan struggled on the Motorway, whereas the 'Zuma will hold a genuine 70mph all day long, up hill and down dale. I guess Japanese (or Chinese) horses are more sprightly than European or Indian ones!

I also had a slight worry about the Enfield's reliability. Mine misted oil out of the rocker cover from the get go, and a friend's dropped a valve after 11k miles. Another friend has one with 18k on the clock though, and he's had no issues a all.
01/07/2023 15:48:39 UTC
Scot-in Exile said :-
I can honestly say the Enfield 350 singles behave rather differently from the average Japanese single in that they are pretty torquey. There’s no top end to speak of but they are incredibly relaxing and, although not fast, they don’t feel slow either, if that makes sense.
I’ve ridden a Hunter and it does feel rather more nimble and sprightly compared to my Classic.
01/07/2023 23:41:29 UTC
Ren - The Ed¹ said :-
I went to one of the many Enfield dealers we have around here to ask about a test ride on "any of the 350s". It seems they have none available for demonstration purposes. Maybe I'll have to try one of the other dealers. Dagnammit.
03/07/2023 18:49:26 UTC
Scot-in-Exile said :-
Bolton Motorcycles have a demo Hunter available.
03/07/2023 19:04:32 UTC
nab301 said :-
Ren , if you do manage to get an Enfield test ride make the dealer aware that you run a very influential blog and for a large discount you'll give them a favourable review .....
03/07/2023 19:20:02 UTC
Ren - The Ed¹ said :-
Aha! Thank you Scot-in-Exile - I take it you're fairly local to me then?

nab301 - it'll go like this "Hi - I'm Ren and I run a very influential blog, how about a great discount for a good review?" "Who?!?!?"
03/07/2023 19:39:42 UTC
Scot-in-Exile said :-
Aye, I’m in Bury, so still up North, but from not as far up North as from Upt’North :-)

03/07/2023 21:06:39 UTC
Ren - The Ed¹ said :-
I lived in Bury for a while, Tottington Road, or "Totty Road". I'm guessing your handle "Scot-in-Exile" suggests you were once from WAAAY up north?
04/07/2023 07:47:11 UTC
Scot-in Exile said :-
Ah, good old Totty road! That’s where I go for fuel.
Yes, I’ve been down here for just shy of 40 years and still can’t get my head around the concept of chips and gravy.
04/07/2023 18:52:20 UTC
Ren - The Ed¹ said :-
Chips n gravy? Food of the gods.
05/07/2023 07:50:08 UTC
Ian Soady¹ said :-
To someone used to deep fried mars bars chips and gravy must sound a bit odd.
05/07/2023 09:59:49 UTC
Scot-in-Exile said :-
I’ve never eaten (and never will eat) a deep fried mars bar. To be fair I think that was all a bit of a publicity stunt in a few of the Glasgow/Edinburgh chip shops. I’ve never seen it on offer in any of my local chippies when I go home.
I will admit to a deep fried pizza, which is every bit as hideous as it sounds.
05/07/2023 16:17:40 UTC
CrazyFrog said :-
Deep fried haggis is the true food of the God's as any fule kno...
05/07/2023 17:33:04 UTC
Ian Soady¹ said :-
A local (to me) chip shop was offering deep fried mince pies last Xmas..... And I'm in Redditch, centre of the known universe.
06/07/2023 10:19:32 UTC

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