I took out the 959 early this morning and went for a quick 200km ride. The route I took was mostly highway riding and some twisties and parts of an old and abandoned racetrack. Here are some of my observations of the 959 so far:
Power: I can't comment on this yet since I've been conscientiously breaking it in and keeping the revs under 6k rpm (as per the suggestion of the mechanic at the dealership). I'll compare it with my 02 R6, 03 954 and 07 R1 after the break-in period and post my observations here.
I've tried using Race mode around 5 times and I must say that I'll be using this mode most of the time after the break-in period. Sport mode seems best when riding in traffic though, as it seems to "dull" the edge of the throttle.
Handling: I love the handling! My 02 R6 felt sharper but nervous - the 02 R6 had a "falling in" sensation when entering a curve and it sometimes took away confidence from me because of this. The 954 felt dead - it felt really lifeless and boring as ****. The 959 feels planted. It nails the corner/apex without any drama, which makes it seem almost slow but then I realized that I was hitting the corners/apex faster than ever before when I had the chance to take a peek at my corner speed as compared to my older bikes. I'll post my observations again after I do a proper track day after the break-in period. But I'm loving the handling so far!
Comfort: I know that this isn't supposed to be a category used to review a sportbike but I used to travel around the country using my sportbikes and so I'm used to long rides with these types of bikes. The 959 is by far the most comfortable sportbike I've owned. The 954 comes close to the riding comfort and even still, the 954 felt cramped compared to the 959. The R1 and R6 became uncomfortable after 2 hours of riding them and that's saying something considering that I was riding these bikes almost 12 years ago! I have been riding road bikes and mountain bikes for hours and hours for the past 5 years though and that might have made a difference with regards to my observations of comfort. There's far few things more miserable than going up a 36 grade road after riding for 5 hours on a saddle that's made of carbon fiber which made the 959 feel like a cruiser compared to this! I'll be doing a multi-day ride on my 959 next month and again, I'll post a ride review after that.
One thing I didn't like though was the heat! The first time I rode the 959 I got stuck in grid-locked traffic for about 5kms and I ended up with a small blister in the back of my right leg. That may have been caused by riding in 36deg c weather too but the heat can become uncomfortable. I rode today with cycling shorts underneath my jeans and that helped the discomfort tremendously!
Suspension: I would describe the ride as harsh - especially when riding in roads with multiple bumps. I haven't touched anything at all after riding it from the dealership. That's going to change on the next ride. I plan to follow rucks22 and dial the suspension in using the figures given by Fast Bikes. Hopefully, that would make the suspension a bit more forgiving.
I've owned a few bikes ranging from dirt to cruisers, from naked bikes to scramblers, from scooters to sportbikes. The 959 is the bike that I would ride for a quick blast around town or a quick trip up the mountains and back. It would not be the bike that I would ride on a rainy day or if I had to ride to a new location. That would probably be my Monster. That bike is easy to ride and sedate enough to overcome any riding condition as well as having enough "soul" and charisma to make you feel satisfied with the ride.
But if I had to have only 1 bike in my quiver, then despite being a creaky 42 years old, despite having knee problems and back problems from playing ball for almost 37 years now!) despite riding in 35+ deg c for 5 months, tropical rainstorms for 4 months and perfect riding conditions for the remaining 3 months, I would choose the 959. This bike is not the most practical, not the most comfortable, not the most easy to ride motorcycle I've had. But in terms of sheer satisfaction and pleasure that one only gets from riding a motorcycle, that particular feeling that a rider can never seem to accurately explain to a non-rider, the proverbial "soul" that one finds in a particular bike, the 959 is the bike I would choose every day of the week, and twice on sundays!
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