Choosing the best motorbike for the Ireland trip – the stronger the better – right?

Last updated on November 22, 2023

Many motorbike fans are also collectors – and the garage is far too empty with just one motorbike!

A scooter for the trip to the bakery on Sunday morning, a roadster for the house round with friends, a really big excavator for the big trip and the annual festival, a classic car because it’s so beautiful and at least two touring enduros – the big GS also for travelling and a small older Suzuki V-Strom 650 for the wife – but it’s mostly in the garage because the wife doesn’t ride any more…

At the regulars’ table the weekly motorbike skat is on: “112HP”, “136HP”, “150HP”, “170HP” !

The scenario of a trip to Ireland is on the agenda for our example collector: “Which motorbike is going on holiday with us?

“Yaaaa the big bagger of course!!!” exclaims one faction. “Noooo – the big GS of course!!!!!” cries the other faction.

“Take your wife’s little V-Strom 650!”, I say.

“Rummms” – the beer mug falls out of the club mates’ hands. Perplexed silence, then a polyphonic hiss and cackle of protest rises up….

Only one person, Andi, nods silently and is pleased that someone has finally said what he has been thinking for a long time: that motorbikes are getting higher and higher, heavier and heavier, more and more unwieldy and more and more expensive. Why? Well, so that they become more and more expensive, because the manufacturers earn better from it.

Travelling used to be more fun for Andi, back then with his XT600. It didn’t even have 48 hp, but that didn’t bother anyone back then. But it was light and handy, and easy to turn around on narrow roads. Paddling 20 m backwards because the parking place was wrong – no problem. A bit of gravel road to the campsite – no problem. Driving into a narrow lane, where the lane is narrow if there is oncoming traffic – a problem, the light Enduro is always easy to turn. 500 km of motorway – no problem either.

Change of scene: Let’s move from the imaginary regulars’ table to my real everyday work: We have our second home in Ireland and I run a motorbike rental business there in the summer months ( We also offer nice guest rooms (

Last year we had two BMW R1250GS for hire there. They were rented a lot, but soon half of the riders found them not so convincing for Ireland in the end.

Many riders simply took the biggest bike engine-wise – more is better. However, this also means a high total weight and the seat height is not low either. Loaded with luggage and perhaps a pillion passenger, it adds up to quite a lot. Not only smaller riders were often a bit overwhelmed, or at least strained, because in Ireland you often have to stop, manoeuvre or make tight turns.

Several riders who used to have an R1150GS were also not really happy with the sensitive (sporty-aggressive) throttle response on Ireland’s bumpy roads.

At the end of the season, the picture of customer satisfaction was a very mixed one: about half of the customers were super satisfied and also got on well. The second half were less satisfied. Too high, too heavy, too complicated with too many electronic bells and whistles, too violent in its pull – too aggressive an engine.

I’m not really happy when only one in two of my customers is satisfied with the bike – especially when the bike previously cost 25,000 euros! Every single one of them.

For comparison: we also have the newer F750GS. Hardly anyone knows it, most people underestimate it, but afterwards practically everyone was happy with it.

This is even more true for the older F800GS and the F700GS, of which we still have several in the pool. With the F800GS you have to be careful with the high seat height, but the F700GS fits most people because it is not so high. No electronics (except for ABS), no frills, easy to ride, quite light, very handy, goes everywhere and you can manoeuvre and turn everywhere – everyone happy!

At the end of the season we sold the two R1250GSs and bought a few young used F700GSs with few kilometres – before there are no more.

Dear R1250GS fans, I can already hear you protesting. But I’m not just talking about the big GS, but also about other “touring enduros” in the 1200 class with a weight of 250-280 kg and 134-170 hp.

If you ride one at home and are happy, I’m happy for you – really. But in Ireland, lighter and more manoeuvrable is definitely better. We will only offer medium-sized and lighter touring enduros for rent. Almost every rider can manage them well.

But only almost – because many women under 1.75m and many men of similar height still struggle with seat heights around 850mm.

Back to our regulars’ table:

“The touring enduro will fit you” says the man – “Plumps” says the woman (who is not that tall) “I don’t ride anymore, the sh….ding always tips over”.

(We feel for you and that’s why we have really light, really handy and really low cruisers in our range. On the Honda CMX Rebel 500, the footrests are in the middle, so it’s really easy to ride, almost like a roadster, no change).

“Yes, I’d ride a smaller bike like that, then I’d come along too – the Rebel looks cool too!”, says the woman.

“Yes, but it only has 48 hp, so I’ll have to wait forever for you,” says the man.

“No”, says Andi, “I used to have even less than 48 hp and that was always enough”.

“Thanks Andi” says the wife, books the 500 Rebel and has a fantastic holiday in Ireland! To her husband’s infinite surprise, she also has no problem at all with 48hp and the cruising speed.

Let’s solve the mystery and briefly talk about the road conditions in Ireland:

Left-hand traffic, narrow country roads, confusing with walls and hedges, many small hidden curves, partly mediocre road surface and also sheep, dogs and cows on the road. 80kmh are allowed.

How fast do you think you really drive on Irish country roads? Yes exactly, mostly under 80kmh. On average, most clients were doing 50kmh during the day. They usually felt they were doing around 60-80kmh. At 60-80kmh, do you need at least 1200cc displacement, 136HP and a big windshield? Everyone can answer this question for themselves…

The good news: the now numerous 700cc, 800cc and 900cc motorbikes on the market are selling super. And there are also more motorbikes in the 500 and 650cc class – and the trend is rising. Even with significantly less than 100 hp, they are perfectly adequate for the vast majority of people.

I include myself in that. For every journey. And I have really ridden a lot of kilometres, so I am not a beginner.

The medium-sized and smaller bikes are lighter, more manoeuvrable and more fun. Not only I say that, but also several motorbike dealers with whom I am in regular contact.

There is a counter-trend to recent years: Smaller, lighter motorbikes are starting to sell well again. This is the new (rediscovered) lightness – lighter is more fun!

I hope you’ll forgive my somewhat exaggerated writing style, but I’m so tired of the “higher-faster-stronger-heavier-more-complicated-more-expensive-brocks” and the eternal discussion about them – so I’ll try to throw another idea into the ring:

Lighter is better – for most people!

Maybe you feel like me – and many others. And maybe I can motivate you to give the new lightness a chance. Especially in countries where you will be travelling slowly on small and tiny country roads anyway – like in Ireland!

With this in mind, I wish you a great, easy and exhilarating motorbike holiday in Ireland.

And if you are still looking for a (not too heavy) rental motorbike for your trip, you can find us here:

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Photo credits cover photo: Ulrich Knüppel-Gertberg (

Uli Written by:

Hello and welcome to my blog. Originating from Germany, my family and I now live in Ireland (at least part time). We have travelled this amazing isle many times and know many parts of it very well. In this blog, I would like to share valuabe tips and information for your next trip to Ireland with you. Enjoy the content, yours, Ulrich Knüppel-Gertberg