Written on: 24/04/2006 by sjhartland (24 reviews written)
Stability around town and on the open road
Comfort / Wind protection with double bouble screen
Clutch / gearbox
Finish / Build
Slighty dated instrument binnacle
Horn's a bit weak!
Can use fuel quickly (but it is over 1100cc!)
Had my 1999 'T' injected Blackbird for about a month now, after owning a Ninja 636, Ducati ST2 and Triumph Trophy 1200.
I completely love this bike, and would recommend it to anyone. (unless you are under average height and weight - it can be a big bike to manouver out of the garage!)
It has a great riding position, once used to it. I had slightly sore wrists and back after the first hour for the first few rides. The power and smoothness of the engine is excellent, ,and has great torque everywhere. You can leave it in 3rd in town down to about 15mph then it will pull like a train still in 3rd up to about 125 - 130 mph! The engine is as happy at 2000 rpm in top as it is pulling 9000 - 10,000 rpm on the straights.
I personally think the handling is excellent(without the need to follow with '...for a big bike'). I found it more stable and confidence inspiring than the Ninja 636 I still have, it turns is in brilliantly, is super smooth and stable round the bends and just feels 'right'. Though a good rider would be faster round the bends on a sports 600, I believe that more riders more of the time would be just as quick on the Blackbird, and it would definitely be less frantic as the 'Bird does not need keeping at 12,000 rpm to provide power. I have not had a problem with the linked brakes, though on my own bike the front brake does not give me the same confidence as the superb brakes on the Ninja, but that's probably because this example has had little use in the last few years and needs new pads...
The gearbox is very slick on my bike, with clutchless changes very smooth even round town. The bike is VERY stable at town speed, and makes filtering very easy - more so than the Ninja or the ST2. I think the low down torque helps, and delivers power very smoothly and predictably. It can be heavy if you come to a stop and are not balanced right, ie. hit a camber or bump in the road just as you go to put your foot down, but once at a fast walking speed its great.
Lights and instruments seem good, with good mirrors and clear indicators, fuel gauge seems accurate and it has a warning light, clock, trip meter, temp gauge, decent underseat storage, side and centre stand all help to make the Blackbird easy to live with, as does the simply huge tank giving a range of 170 - 200 miles depending on your riding. My injected model has no manual choke (obviously!!) and makes starting super - it always starts in a split second whatever the temp is and ticks over perfectly cold or hot, with no faffing with a choke and revs either screaming at 5000 or coughing at 1000 until warm. To my eyes the instrument cluster looks a bit dated though. Double bouble screen is a very useful addition, as it makes cruising at speed much easier.
The bike gets comments and looks from complete strangers, (in a good, respectful way!) and I think the 'Bird looks the business.
I had trouble thinking of bad points, as there are none really. You could say it drinks fuel like a car but then it has a car sized engine and 160 bhp, I would say it seems to average about 37 - 40 mpg. Its slightly heavy backing it out of the garage, but the weight helps once riding as the front does not lift as bad as smaller 600's do. I would not worry about the linked brakes at all, just get all your braking done before the bend as you should anyway! Perhaps in really wet or icy conditions it would be possible to lock the front by applying the rear, but you would need to be either very heavy with the brake or be on full lock at the time... Lack of front suspension adjustment may be an issue for some, but the front feels fine to me (as long as the tyre pressures are correct at about 42psi - if they lose some the handling really goes off!!) The horn is a bit feeble, but can be changed for a better one cheaply. As you can see these are nit picking and overall do little to spoil what is simply an amazing road bike.
Overall, I feel these bikes truly deserve the glowing reports they get on the web and in the biking magazines. Try one if you can - you will not regret it!