Times are tough, but there is an alternative option to buying a new bike...
With the current economic climate making things tight, owning a sports bike or even buying a new one is a pretty big decision to make. Not only is there the initial financial outlay, there is insurance, tax, depreciation, tyres, MOT, servicing... it all adds up. But there is another option and PH2 decided to put it to the test - the Spyder Club.
What is it?
The club's Bimota DB4 gets an outing
The Spyder Club is run by husband and wife team Mark and Lizzi Smith-Young and is essentially a premium bike rental club. The actual ins and outs are pretty complicated but in essence you 'buy' days, points and miles per annum and put these towards 'renting' bikes on a three day basis. Some bikes cost less in points than others, weekends are more expensive in points than weekdays and covering big miles will also affect your points balance.
The basic package is £950 for 10 days, but as well as getting a bike that also includes insurance, tax, servicing and even delivery. So, unlike owning your own bike, that's all you pay. The club will drop the bike off at your house or office then it is yours to mess around on until they collect it again at the arranged return date.
What bikes are on offer? We aren't talking rusty old crappers here - currently the club has a Panigale, Norton, Diavel, Bimota, Daytona 675 and 848 to name a few and there are more on the way. The bikes are continually updated to keep them in line with the latest on the market.
What's it like?
Mark and Lizzi run the club
PH2 decided to give the club a shot and booked a blast on the Norton Commando 961 Sport. As Mark would be with us for the day, he asked if he could bring along the Bimota DB4 as well. Usually the club simply drop the bike off and leave you to it, but as this was a single day-loan Mark fancied a day out on the bikes.
Arriving in a white transit van, the bikes emerge clean and ready to go with the Bimota looking virtually brand new. It may not be the latest bike out there, but with around 200 ever made is pretty rare.
Mark tells me one of the ideas of the club is to give normal people a 'journalist experience'. I admit I'm pretty lucky to do the job I do and while I'm used to chopping and changing between bikes when out testing, not many people are able to - which is another bonus of the club. You can play on a brand new Panigale, show off to your mates for a few days, then chop it in and next week ride an R1 or Diavel.
PH2 sampled the Norton Commando
According to Mark most of the club's members already own bikes, generally BMW tourers. This surprised me as I expected most members to be non-bike owners, however Mark says that many of them use the club to test bikes they probably won't own, such as the Panigale, while keeping their day to day machine in the garage. They are basically enthusiasts who just want to experience as many new bikes as they can - and who can blame them for that?
What's the catch?
Before meeting the guys from the Spyder Club I had kind of written it off as a slightly silly idea - why not just buy a bike? Having seen the set-up and chatted with Mark and Lizzi about how their members use it I now see the sense.
The minimum package of £950 for ten days works out at around £100 a day to play on some great bikes with all your costs covered. To be fair, if you booked only the Panigale this would probably work out as nearer seven days due to the way the points system works, however that isn't bad when you consider how much you throw away a year on insurance, tax, MOT and servicing when you own a bike.
Bimota a rare machine
I've got a garage full of bikes I never use as I don't want to take them out in the rain and one that I hack around on whatever the weather. Working out how much my bikes cost me a year to simply sit in the garage taxed, tested and ready to go on that sunny day isn't far shy of £950 - and for that amount I could have ten unforgettable days on some seriously exotic machine without having to worry about anything apart from fuel and being home when Mark arrives to take it back again! In that context the Spyder Club certainly looks appealing.
For info on the Spyder Club go to their website. There are some terms and conditions, including an age range of 25-70 and a maximum limit of six points on your licence.