As if by magic. . .2006 appeared

A brief review of 2005 by Simon Bradley

From the admittedly narrow perspective of the editor here at MBT, 2005 was a year more of consolidation than anything else. Coupled, of course, with a brief period of intense discomfort on my part. We've been fairly light on new bike reviews this year, partly through injury and other commercial commitments and partly through some difficulties with insurance. If any of you know of an insurer that we could talk to who don't want our first-born as a premium while putting as many exclusions as possible on what they'll actually pay out for, please do let me know. We will make it worth your while...

There are still a few good causes we've managed to promote. We've got folk from Infinity walking up Kilimanjaro for breast cancer research, we've got Burning2Learn continuing to support children and get them involved in bikes and we've got the Imps, about whom there'll be a proper article later in the year, still doing their thing to give young people direction in life. Happily this year we've been very light on obituaries, with only one appearing as we bade a sad farewell to Gus Scott, killed at the TT in a collision that also cost a marshall her life.

2005 also gave us an opportunity to directly study the NHS and, in particular, A&E units around the country as well as having a chance to destruction test both a very good sportsbike and several items of protective clothing. This all on top of the road tests we have managed, product reviews and some of the best racing we've yet seen.

But far more important than what we've been doing, and indeed what we were impressed by is what's been going on outside in The Real World and what you, our readers, got excited over.

So without further ado, let's look at the categories and nominations are, in no particular order:

New bike of the year (regardless of whether you've ridden it or not)

Triumph Daytona 675
KTM Adventure
BMW K1200S and R
Buell CityX
MZ 1000ST
Suzuki GSX-R 1000 K5

Triumph's new Daytona, while not yet available to us for testing (and indeed currently without even any media materials ready) looks like a truly fabulous machine. It's stylish, it's got the best engine layout ever and it's home grown. If it's even half as good as the claims suggest then it'll be a world beater...

The KTM Adventure should have been a winner straight out of the crate, and would have been if it wasn't so cripplingly uncomfortable. But now KTM appear to have fixed that, giving a bike that's more fun and tylish than any of the competition while managing to be quite alot cheaper than the current leader as well...

BMW's K1200 comes in twice, as the full fat K1200S sportsbike - the fastest and most powerful bike ever to come out of the Bavarian factory - and the caffeine boosted totally barking mad K1200R, which takes the same rip-snorting power plant and removes all the creature comforts that make the S such an accomplished long distance missile. The result is, frankly, eccentric in the way only the British can be. Which, for a German company, is rather impressive.

Though we reviewed the Buell CityX at the end of 2004, it didn't go on sale in the UK until 2005 and so it gets in here. The eager character, daft styling and quirky yet oddly effective engine makes it a cracker for the discerning urban hooligan while the low price, miserly fuel consumption and cheap maintenance makes it a winner on the wallet as well.

A surprise entry is the MZ 1000ST. It's a great bike, from what we understand, and several of you have found it good enough to tempt you away from other brands, including the market leader sports tourer. Which in itself says a lot.

The Suzuki GSX-R 1000 K5 has to be in here if for no other reason than the simple fact that this incarnation of the big Suzuki has rewritten the benchmark for litre class sportsbikes yet again with an unbeatable blend of power, handling and confidence inspiring usability. It's stupidly fast and so much more than you could ever need on the road, but comfortable enough to ride all day and relaxed enough to use in all weathers. Plus, of course, being able to go out and win the odd World Superbike championship with it at the weekends.

Man (Woman?) of the year - someone in biking who has really achieved something special

James Toseland
Valentino Rossi
John Reynolds
Phil Curtis
Chris Vermeulen

James Toseland didn't manage to hold on to his world title this year, despite riding the wheels off a Ducati which was rarely on the pace and, truth be told, seeming to be getting very much the second best from a team desperate to boost their standing in France - a large market they haven't really penetrated despite having a French rider. The fact that he still managed to beat his team-mate and finish a very respectable fourth says an enormous amount for his skill and commitment.

Valentino Rossi, of course, gets a nomination. Just for being Valentino Rossi, really. And for being, arguably, the most talented motorcycle racer the world has ever seen. After last year's sensational debut on the Yamaha M1, this year just got better and better, with the possible peak being a rain soaked Donington Park where the Italian simply re-wrote the laws of physics to storm home in appalling conditions.

John Reynolds. For being one of the toughest, most committed guys in racing. For being a really worthy champion. For racing so hard while still in plaster after a practice crash that he was wearing the cast down on his leg going around Brands. And for finally having the courage to say "enough" after another huge crash, also at Brands Hatch, that could so nearly have made him a top of this page feature instead of down here.

Phil Curtis. A lot of you will be scratching your heads and wondering who Phil is. Phil was an instructor with Rapid Training, a traffic policeman and one of the nicest, kindest most ludicrously talented riders that you'll ever see. His death earlier this year didn't make an obituary on the site because not enough of you would have known him, but the impact it had on me and his friends was profound and so he gets my nomination.

Chris Vermeulen gets a nomination for being a smashing guy, being as fast as you like on the Ten Kate Fireblade and for resisting the urge, when offered the Big Carrot of MotoGP, to go for the easy option and ride a Honda. Instead he went to Suzuki. He'll not win much this year but my word he'll learn and the bike will get faster and faster. If he doesn't make it to the top of the tree in five years I'll eat my Arai.

Event of the year - the biking event that you think was best or most important for biking

World Superbikes at Silverstone
MotoGP at Donington Park
That last corner at Jerez MotoGP
Rapid Training Mallory Park trackday, 12th May

Silverstone SBK saw, as it has for the last few years, well over 50,000 people attending without any trouble, attitude or overwhelming Police presence. The weather was, um, interesting with high winds making things a little exciting in places, but the main thing was the fantastic performance put on by James Toseland, out-riding his team-mate, qualifying well and silencing at least some of the critics with a superb and well deserved win in race two.

If the weather at Silverstone was bad then that makes the Donington MotoGP positively atrocious. Heavy rain, biting cold and winds turned the circuit into a lake on a hill, more suited for powerboating that MotoGP. So naturally Valentino Rossi turned in an incredible peformance, catching highsides as they started, sliding everywhere and still lapping at a decent pace. Coupled with exciting support races, this has had the most nominations for event of the yearl

Jerez was always going to be the MotoGP round that saw Sete Gibernau really make his mark and mount a serious challenge to Rossi. First race of the season, on his doorstep, with the best bike. What could possibly go wrong? Well, the answer is a lapse in concentration that saw him run wide and leave the door open for Rossi at the last corner, only to try to correct it, collide with the Italian and end up lucky to stay upright in the gravel. Couldn't have been better if it was scripted.

Rapid Training's Mallory Park trackday has received several nominations so I have to mention it. It seems that it stuck in people's minds after a certain motorcycle journalist managed to have a large highside there. Well - it stuck in my mind, that's for sure, though others saw something rather more positive than my experience and talked about prioritising, focus and the great feeling of cameraderie between bikers. So there you go. Personally I'd rather take the lessons away and forget the rest, but it looks as though I'll not be allowed to do that...

What you're most looking forward to next year

Buell City X 2006
Riding on warm roads with sticky tarmac
The World Superbike season

The Buell CityX has already been tested and indeed nominated as Bike of the Year. But the 2006 version has sufficient changes - mainly in the shape of a slick new gearbox and a cracking new colour scheme - that it deserves a second try.

Almost everyone has mentioned how much they are looking forward to the Spring and all that it brings. Who am I to argue?

And similarly, lots of people are looking forward to the race season starting again. 2006 is shaping up to be a beauty, with lots of hungry riders out to prove a point after an unusually turbulent end of season contract negotiation session.



Disappointment of the year - the thing or person that could have been great but...

Max Biaggi
Sete Gibernau
Ken Livingstone

Max Biaggi spent another year as the bridesmaid when he had all the equipment and support, including a full works Honda ride, to be up the front at the altar instead. Consistently out performed by his young team-mate, Biaggi's star seems finally to have waned completely and at the time of writing the firey Roman is without a ride for 2006.

And talking about being a perpetual runner-up, Sete Gibernau broke the record this season for throwing his motorbike into the gravel when in the lead and under little pressure. After his coming together with Rossi at Jerez, which was a genuine racing incident but which was the Spaniard's fault, Gibernau made mistake after mistake, finally finishing the season way down the field.

Ken Livingstone is the Mayor of London. Again. We'll stay off his politics except to say that London is still the most backward city in the Western World when it comes to integrating bikes into transportation policies. Bikes still aren't even allowed in bus lanes, and the only reason we don't get hit with congestion charges is because we don't have front number plates. This hasn't changed from last year.

Product of the year - as it sounds

The V2 Sponge
Hein Gericke roll-top bag
The bungee net

The V2 Sponge is simple, cheap and effective. That alone would make it a possible nomination for product of the year. The fact that more than half the responses we have received mention it as well means it gets in on points alone.

Hein Gericke roll top bags are as cheap as chips, waterproof, strong and easily available. And Dick Henneman thinks they're great, so that'll be OK then.

The Bungee Net. We've all had 'em, we all use 'em and we all swear by 'em. Not a new product, of course, but enough of you mentioned it to make a nomination essential.

The rest is all pretty personal. Seeing your editor highside in front of you. Why does that keep coming up? Falling off your bike at The Nurburgring and doing virtually no damage to it or yourself. Going through a whole season without falling off. And that's just our team. Your extras are more eclectic still, but all seem to revolve around one simple thing. It's great being a biker.

But we can't vote on any of them because they're so subjective. So they don't belong here, though they were great to read...

But finally, then, we can announce the winners of the classes. And they are:

Product of the year, 2005

V2 Sponge
by miles. So many of you voted for it that it was a given. Fantastic value, fantastic product.

Event of the year, 2005

World Superbikes, Silverstone
for hearing the crowd go crazy as a Brit took and held the lead

Person of the year, 2005

Valentino Rossi
for being Valentino Rossi. And doing it so well.

Bike of the year, 2005

MZ 1000ST

By a very small margin from the Buell CityX. It's a great bike, it's fantastic value and it's winning conquest sales from the VFR800.That must make it a very, very good motorbike.

That's it until next year. No doubt you'll have opinions, and no doubt by now you know how to air them, too.



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