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 stone-age 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 Liam the seller beforehand who was trying to talk me out of buying it. Typically, Liam explained, Honda owners do not want ‘worn, cosmetically challenged examples’ and he did not think it would be the bike for me. The pictures supported his claims and I knew at a minimum it would need 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 beforehand and this one was suspiciously cheaper than other examples of similar age and milage. I was not looking for the cheapest machine but this did not put me off. Sporting a price tag that was £1000 less Liam prompted my thoughts saying ‘What you have to ask yourself 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 and class leading weather protection. Without buying + 20 year old carbureted example or a behemoth 1200cc motorcycle these characteristics are hard to 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. We only stopped once and that was to top up the oil in the truck. It had a persistent oil leak and this was the only way to keep the thing running all day. Despite the box framed lack lustre leaky diesel we made good time watching the scenery around us turn green as we headed south.

Arriving to pick up the bike was when the surprises started to un-fold. Firstly, 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 standout quality. The switchgear was clean, the tyres brand new and only minor cosmetic blemishes distracted 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 machine as I was prepared for much worse and would have paid more. The week before I saw a younger lower mileage example that was visibly distressed, aching for a full service and appeared to have just broken out of a scrapyard where is was lucky to escape with its cylinder heads. The seller wanted £3000 so I walked away.

Liam had failed to sell this Deauville twice before as it did not meet potential buyers expectations. Therefore when on the phone he had to be up front and honest to make sure it would actually leave his building.

To sum up he had bought it some months (maybe over a year) ago and due to a lack of interest it failed to sell. The shop used it as a courtesy bike for customers and a run around for the staff until the MOT expired. Liam then had to put right what was wrong to even have a slim chance of selling it as no-one would have bought it without and MOT he explained. I stayed quite at this point knowing how much I love a challenge only to be overwhelmed by it a few weeks later. From the MOT documentation it appears to have covered three thousand miles in two years. Liam was starting to put more and more money into this bike unnecessarily and he wanted it gone.

This is not a surprise because even though the Deauville was a sales success when in production has since been labelled as a boring underpowered old mans bike. These claims do 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 the bike and it has 38,000 miles.

Starting at a price of £2700 I was buying it for £1500. Liam explained that he would be loosing £300 on the machine but was happy to see the back of it. So I was keen to take my new (to me) bike with its fresh MOT and get going.

After settling up we squashed the bike into the horse box on a bed of straw and poo. Tied it down with yarn 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 the Deauville was unfairly described 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 so encompassing, the engine so quite and the dash readout so analogue everything does does shout out car. In a world of screaming fours, thumping big twins and endless petrol stops the Deauville offers a even shaft drive, slick gearbox and 220 miles between fill ups. Accompanied with modest yet responsive power and that supportive weather protection this motorcycle is a joy to experience.

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 harder well this bike is the opposite. With its long wheel base and soft suspension the Deauville encourages you to take in the scenery and enjoy the ride. This suits me perfectly though doesn’t help its reputation.

The most notable surprise was that it did feel different to the Suzuki and Kawasaki I have also owned. I bought this motorcycle for the same price I did my Suzuki bandit 600 and £600 more than my Kawasaki ER5 yet that Honda ‘feeling’ was still present. Confirmation bias maybe but as of yet I cannot put my finger on it but in a small intangible way it does feel special. The coming weeks 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 at this point.

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 these criterion and for £1500 I could not be more pleased.

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