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Having owned a Honda Blackbird for 6 years and used it for Sunday runs with the fast boys and 2 trips to Italy/France/Spain I sold it because I was going much too fast much too often. I bought a Triumph Speed triple, which I still have and love.
Wanting to tour again, I recently also bought a 1999 Varadero 1000. I wanted something cheap enough to let me keep the Triumph for hooning around so went for the oldest bike I could find in really good condition.
Having put about 1000 miles on it in a few weeks I would thoroughly recommend the Varadero with a couple of conditions. The previous owner fitted a centre stand - essential and should have been standard. He also replaced the rear shock with a Hagon and had the forks fitted with Hagon progressive springs and heavier oil. This has made my bike handle so much better than others I tried.
I can honestly say that, for anything other than straight ultra smooth A roads, I'm as quick on the Dero as I would have been on the Bird. The roads near me (Northern Ireland) are mostly bumpy B roads and the big Varadero just soaks it all up and stays totally stable where I had to shut the throttle on the Blackbird or Triumph to stay in the seat. With the Varadero you can open the throttle much earlier in a corner than a sportsbike without the rear spinning up so can let the torque fling you out of corners. It'll also lean over enough to scare pillions & the sportsbike boys can't believe the big bus just doesn't need to slow down for bends!
In traffic, it's the bees knees - big and wide it intimidates car drivers to move over and has enough low down grunt to make urban work fast and relaxing.
Downsides - I get about 190 miles from a tankful (£28 to fill). That's slightly thirstly but I'm not hanging around and think it'll be better when I head to France. I also notice the front wheel wants to follow the overbanding strips a bit (could be the front tyre but it doesn't look worn). It's tall (I'm 6' 1" and only get my toes down) and very heavy when stopped on uneven ground so would be easy to drop. The standard screen is well known to give lots of buffeting and windnoise above about 60 mph which makes motorway runs at 75-80 unpleasant. Being too tight to buy another screen which may or may not work I've fooled around with a bit of perspex clamped in various positions to the top of the screen and have got a real improvement. I'm now going to screw this on. It only increases the height by about 100mm but makes a good difference.
The Varadero has been called ugly but I don't think it is. Look at the front of one and the front of the new 1200 Multistrada and the major differences are the mirrors & handguards which are old fashioned on the V. I've changed my mirrors for Multistrada 1200 replicas (Hein Gericke £20 for the pair) and am looking out for slinkier handguards (if possible with LED's built in).
I also considered a BMW 1200GS but everyone I know who had one sold it because of reliability issues. Also I couldn't have afforded to keep the Triumph if I bought one. The 1150's for sale were expensive with big miles and I was worried about major repair bills.
All in all, a cheap reliable bike which is a load of fun and, on B roads, can keep up with most things.
I have owned my Varadero for 7 months and it puts a smile on my face every time I go out on it. In the dry it's great in the bends, needs respect on the wet. Fuel about 35mpg depends on how you ride. It is a big heavy bike and tall in the saddle, but agile on the road and great road presence and comfortable. Put a smile on your face. I did.
The mighty Varadero doesn't seem to have won many friends in the UK (Unlike Europe), but I recon it's been wrongly written up by the so called 'know it alls' of motorcycling. At 6' 3" & 18 stones, I was looking for something big & comfortable, which would carry me & a pillion for many hours at a time. Love it or hate it, I recon the Varadero is a top machine & fell in love with it at 1st sight. Considering that they're not selliing well in the UK, I expected to pick up a nice cheap bike from a UK Honda dealership, but that wasn't the case, as the ones I found were around the £7,300 mark. After looking long and hard, I managed to secure a good deal, purchasing a new 'Y' Reg, Australian Import from a local dealership, for £5,600 on the road. From the moment I rode out of the showroom, I've had nothing but pleasure from my bike, notching up 7500 miles in the 1st year. The meaty twin pot Firestorm engine makes light work of long liesurely rides out with her indoors, yet allows me to keep up with the boys on those lads outings!?! Despite its size, the Varadero is a superb road holder and I have no real complaints in any area. Being particularly picky, I did find several things which could be improved with my bike and it's nice to see that Honda have addressed most of them on the 2003 Varadero. On my example, the lack of a 6th gear causes it to rev unneccesarily high at normal motorway speeds, attributing to the poor fuel consumption. Also, I find that the front screen is too low, causing deafness & brain damage at anything over 60 mph in a slight wind. Lastly, the lack of a standard fitted centre stand (I'm too tight to buy one as an extra) is a real headache when it comes to routine rear wheel maintenance. That said, I'd have another!
XL1000 Varadero is THE most enjoyable motorcycle I've had the pleasure to shoehorn my ample backside into for years. Its not a pocket rocket nor a full blown monster tourer. It is a bike I can ride for 8 hours+ a day without having to pre book a chiropractor before hand. The finish is Honda perfect and after 12,000 miles it still polishes up like new. Top speed is about 125mph but its real strength is low down torque, it can pull better than Russle Crow in the Newcastle Big Market. Two up with full luggage does take its toll with the bike squatting a little because of its under sprung rear chassis. All in all, I'll have another without hesitation.
Torquey, powerful, agile, the mile-eating Varadero XL1000V is the supreme two-up, big on comfort adventure machine admired for its power and maneuverability. And now available with ABS.