I can't speak for anyone but myself, but the asphalt on the '02 is what first caught my eye back in the day. I wasn't riding street back then, but seeing that bike, I decided that's what I wanted if I were to get a street bike.
I didn't get serious until '09, and due to availability in my area I ended up with an '06. Definitely loved the red on that bike, but it didn't make me dislike the asphalt at all. If I were to get a 9'er again, it'd be a tough choice for me.
On topic, I'd have to say the red on the '06-'07 9'ers is one of my favorite red finishes.
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'96 DR650, '01 SV650, '10 Aprilia Tuono 1000R