Interest really does seem to be on the up and up. Back in December 04 BIKE magazine did a glowing write-up on an SP2, and this fired me up to buy mine, some 8 months after that. I let a friend at work ride it a couple of weeks ago, he's had CBR 600's and an MV Augusta F1 and these were his thoughts :-
"Now Iíve calmed down a bit (Iím still grinning, but my mind has now returned to this planet), and am a little more able to verbalise, I thought Iíd go over my impressions:-
The bike was surprisingly comfortable, apart from being a little cramped for my legs (it would probably only need an inch or so more), the riding position was excellent. I felt I was less prone than on the MV or a GSX/R, and very similar to the 916, which would bode well for longer rides. The clutch was HEAVY, but was still easy enough that it didnít feel snatchy, and only added to the Ďsolidí feel of the ride. As expected, it was a little temperamental when it was cold, but I would imagine after a few weeks of ownership, this would become second nature and wouldnít really pose a problem. I didnít think the brakes were too bad, even when cold (Iíve certainly ridden bikes with worse!), but, in fairness, I was a little cautions when I set off anyway until I got a feel for the bike, so they probably had a chance to warm up before I really had to use them. That really leads me on the major difference between the 851 and the 916, which was getting a feel for the bike. With the 916, I really felt I could be filing down the footpegs on the first roundabout I came to, where as the 851 takes a lot more time to work out exactly how far you go. Admittedly, it probably took a little longer today as well because the road was still wet and, despite the sun, it was still pretty cold, so I was being more cautious. Having said that, it astonishing how much you can do with it when you start shuffling around on the seat. Although itís not as Ďeasyí to ride as a more modern bike, Iíve absolutely no doubt it would embarrass a few the new superbikes round the bends. The suspension is what I would describe as Ďfirmí, certainly not too hard to be uncomfortable, but also able to soak up most of the undulations in the tarmac without becoming unsettled. Itís definitely a firmer ride than my old CBR (thatís probably not that hard though), so all in all astounding for a 15 year old bike! But as for the engine and the performanceÖ OH MY GOD! That sound and the torque are SO addictive. I did find myself holding off changing up for as long as I could just to listen to that roar and feel the pounding in my chest from the reverberation coming through the bike! The torque made it very easy to potter around as well, because the engine would pull beautifully from around 2000rpm all the way up (okay, so I Ďonlyí saw around 9000, but it still wasnít easing up then). There was a real urgency that really isnít present in most 4 cylinder bikes, where there is much more dependence on peak power at higher revs, rather than being able to pull throughout the range. This is where the 916 always felt better then the MV, despite the MV having quite a bit more power, the urgency through the gears was much more noticeable with the Duke.
Overall, I think I would sum it up as being quite raw, pretty ferocious and totally captivating. The experience is so much more involving than a modern bike and much more rewarding because of it. When you get it right, you feel fantastic because you know itís down to you, and the bike is more than capable of taking whatever you throw at it (well as much as I can throw at it anyway!)."
I think he quite liked it !
Anyway, on the way home , I gave it some stick, and was bombing along the Dual Carriageway, when another bike pulled alongside. I thought Blimey, you're going some, as I was doing well over the ton for a fair bit, and then I realised it was a copper ! Oh. Bum.
He pulled me over, and gave had a chat, saying that he'd been following me for a while, and that I'd touched a 100 a few times and then was consistently doing 90. He warned me that I should be up before the judge looking at a ban, but he was sorry that he would have to give me a ticket for the 90+mph he had been traking me at. I could have kissed him as I knew I'd been doing a ton in a 50mph section of Dual Carriage way, so I was lucky he was being so lenient.
My excuse was it was cold and I had another 50 miles to go, and it was alright for him cos he had heated grips !
I was certainly lucky that night.