Striking gold just off the M5

I was on the passenger side of my sister’s horse box with the taste of straw in my mouth and the stoneage diesel engine beneath my feet as I was scrolling through pictures of the motorcycle I was on the way to collect. I had spoken to the seller beforehand who was trying to talk me out of buying it. Typically, he explained, Honda owners do not want ‘worn cosmetically challenged examples and I don’t think it is the bike for you’. The pictures supported his claims and I knew at a minimum it would a good overhaul and replacement parts before I started to ride it. However, with Honda’s proven reliability and high quality in mind I put down my deposit. I had researched the bike plenty beforehand and this one was the cheapest that I could find – £1000 less than other similar examples though I was not looking for the cheapest now could not see why the others were more expensive. ‘What you have to ask yourself’, the seller continued, ‘is why it is £1000 less, I don’t want you to make the trip and it not be what you were hoping’.

It was a seven hour journey round trip to pick up the bike and I was growing increasingly apprehensive as to what I had got myself into but was I committed. Though not a typical Honda buyer this machine had everything I wanted. Mid capacity engine, fuel injected, twin cylinder, shaft drive with good weather protection. Without buying + 20 year old carbureted example or a behemoth 1200cc motorcycle these characteristics are hard in find on one machine. Modern enough to have good power with established reliability alongside modest claims of handling I was excited.

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Fortunately, the drive down was an uneventful run down the M4/5. Stopping once to top up the oil (the truck had a persistent leak) and after a quick rest we were on the move again with me driving. Despite the lack lustre engine combined with heavy cargo we made good time watching the scenery around us change as we headed south.

Arriving to pick up the bike was when the surprises started to un-fold. I was expecting a small independent garage but found a large organised showroom floor with over 100 bikes on display. All well presented and clean it was easy to get distracted and buy another motorcycle. I announced myself at the counter and met Liam who I had spoken to on the phone. He commended me on efforts in making the journey down. Liam rolled out the 2007 Honda Deauville from the workshop and perched it on its side stand. The bike in front of me was not the bike in the pictures or the one Liam had described.

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Accompanied buy a Data Tool alarm this machine had a strong presence, depth to the paintwork and clear quality. The switchgear was clean, the tyres brand new and with only minor cosmetic blemishes distracting my gaze. Though I had already committed to buying the bike I was sold. I was blunt with Liam explaining that he had undersold the bike as I was prepared for much worse. The week before I saw a younger lower mileage example that was distressed and wanted a full service and new tyres; the seller wanted £3000 so I walked away. Liam had failed to sell this Deauville twice before as it did not meet other potential buyers expectations therefore he was keen to be brutally honest when discussing it with me over the phone.

To sum up he had bought it some months/?years ago and due to a lack of interest it failed to sell. This is not a surprise for the Deauville because even though it was a sales success when it was in production has since been labelled as a boring underpowered old mans bike – which does not support multiple ownership. Stereotypically these bikes have one or two previous owners and tens of thousands of miles on them (not including the shop I am the second owner of this bike and it has 38,000 miles).

Starting at a price of £2700 I was buying it for £1500. Liam explained that he had lost £300 on the machine but was happy to see the back of it. I am guessing the shop used it as a courtesy bike for customers or something of that nature. From the MOT documentation it appears to have covered three thousand miles in four years, having been dried stored and looked after in that time. Liam’s shop MOT’d it at the beginning of Dec 2016 and as it failed put right what was wrong and then gave it a clean bill of health two weeks later.

After settling up we squashed the bike into the horse box on a bed of straw and poo. Tied it down and set our sights for home; elated. We made it back again in good time and put the bike in the garage; bliss.

Since being home I have had a closer look around the machine and have found some parts that need a service alongside a basic one I was planning on giving it anyway. But as it is road legal this could wait. The bike was clearly ready to go so I set off for a short journey the next day.

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One ‘Men and Motors’ review of the older model of the same machine unfairly described the Deauville as ‘a motorcycle for people who don’t want a motorcycle’. Explaining that it is a machine that is more car than anything resembling a motorcycle. This demonstrates the narrow view of one individuals perception of what motorcycling should be but is also accurate in some ways.

The first thing that stuck me when setting off was that I was not wearing a seat belt. As the seat is encompassing, the engine is quite and the dash readout is analogue everything does feel very car like. The shaft drive is even and the gearbox is silk. With modest but responsive power and class leading weather protection this motorcycle is a welcomed comfort. The Deauville communicates its intention as it is lush, planted, unstressed and serene on fast A roads, sweeping country lanes and motorways. However on tighter twister roads is lethargic, cumbersome and unresponsive. This is not a motorcycle to rush but you can hustle.

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You read reviews describing Superbikes as monsters that ‘always want to go faster’ egging you on to push on and on – this bike is the opposite. With its long wheel base and soft suspension the Motorcycle encourages you to take in the scenery and enjoy the ride – which suits me perfectly (though doesn’t help its reputation).

Another surprise was that it did feel different to the Suzuki and Kawasaki I owned. I bought this motorcycle for the same price I did my Suzuki and £600 more than my Kawasaki but that ‘Honda’ feeling was noted. I cannot put my finger on it but in a small intangible way it does feel special. The coming week will see me fettling with the machine and giving it new oil, fluids, spark plugs etc but this is just basic maintenance and something I want to do and is not necessarily needed yet.

Unstressed and unhurried I have found a motorcycle that suits my needs, was a pleasure to buy and a surprise to ride. I am not a thrill seeker and do not get pleasure from riding fast but do enjoy travelling. This machine will be a good companion to meet that meets that criterion and for £1500 I could not be more pleased.

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