When it was launched in 1994 the 916 passed me by. As did the myriad of variants it spawned. Don’t get me wrong – I agreed with the mass opinion that is was one of the most stunning sportsbike designs of all time. I loved watching them on track and I thought they sounded fabulous. I understood all of the hype.
But I’m big and they looked a little small. I was broke and they looked expensive. So I carried on the love affair I was having with a FireBlade at the time and just sort of ignored them.
24 years later it turns out I actually quite like the 916. Which is rather fortunate because I now have one. At 21 years old it is quite probably the shabbiest 916 on the face of the planet, but I’ve got one. It’s mine. The cosmetics are certainly a bit rough, and I’ll be doing some sort of band-aid job involving some Chinese bodywork to get me through the summer, but the ride is as good ever. As is the noise. On top of this the riding position is nowhere near as tortuous as I expected it to be. – and I expected it to be bad. Full-on pretzel job just to get feet on pegs. But it really isn’t. All I needed need to do is show this thing a few flowing bends and all thoughts of the shonky livery vanished as it opened its lungs and bellowed through the curves.
I was looking for a FireBlade when I bought it. I’m glad that particular deal fell through. There’s a lot to do on this one but number one on the list is ride it. A lot.