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What it's Like to Crash a Motorcycle

“Damn it. John Burns thinks I’m a dick.”
That was one of the predominant thoughts going through my head as I slid down a Florida highway at 60 mph back in March.
It’s weird how the mind works. Time slows in a crash. Every tiny image burns into memory, so your brain can replay it over and over and over at night for the next who knows how many weeks.
In the moments before I crashed, I was riding the Harley-Davidson Street Rod along County Road 34 in central Florida. I’m not sure which county. The accident report simply records it as “County Code 61,” but the internet can’t agree on which county that is. Maybe I was in Indian River County; maybe I was in Suwannee County; maybe I was in Flagler County; I don’t know. I guess it doesn’t matter; I was somewhere. The road passing through that somewhere was long and straight – not the sort of place where one usually crashes – and the weather was perfect.

“My God, I am so happy,” I was thinking. “I am so incredibly lucky to be here – to live t…
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Ride Review: 2017 Indian Chieftain Limited and Indian Chieftain Elite

OK, let’s address the elephant in the room: the new Indian Chieftain Limited and Chieftain Elite are not really new motorcycles. They are motorcycles based on an existing model that has been blingdazzled with fancy paint, stereo components, cut fenders, and a big front wheel.
As such, how you feel about these models will rely somewhat on how you feel about the brand. Most people know I’m a fan of Indian Motorcycle, so it won’t surprise you to learn I think the Limited and Elite models make sense – within context, which I’ll get to in a bit. Equally, though, I won’t be surprised when some of you go into full hate mode. Haters gonna hate, and arguably Indian’s timing has left it open to some easy jabs; this wasn’t the best way to respond to the Harley-Davidson Street Rod.
But before you fire up the TrollTron3000 let’s take a look at these two models, which I first got a chance to ride way back in February.

What’s New? Indian says the new Chieftain Limited and Chieftain Elite represent “…

Ride Review: 2017 Harley-Davidson Street Rod

You may remember that when Harley-Davidson's Street 750 first came out, one of the biggest criticisms people had of the bike was that it didn't live up to the Harley standard in terms of fit and finish. It looked cheap – not very well put together. Well, Harley heard you loud and clear and it has fixed that with its all-new Street Rod model.
It looks well put together, and it is. This thing is built like a damn tank. I know because I crashed one. We'll get to that story – and the reason Common Tread's Lemmy and Cycle World's Joseph Gustafson have given me the nickname "Trashcan" – in a moment. But first I want to encourage you to test ride the Street Rod for yourself.
This bike represents a new direction for Harley-Davidson and it has something of a mountain to climb in terms of ensuring retail success. The conventional wisdom is that Harley's ever-dwindling core audience will turn their noses up at this new motorcycle, so the 114-year-old company h…

Ride Review: 2017 Indian Roadmaster

Back in February I was in Southern California to attend a super-duper top-secret Indian Motorcycle press event for the Indian Chieftain Limited and Indian Chieftain Elite – two very cool motorcycles that I'll tell you about at some point in the future.
Equally cool was the standard Roadmaster (not to be confused with the new Roadmaster Classic) Indian lent me to get around during that time. I had the bike for four days, putting roughly 500 miles on the clock (riding from Los Angeles to San Diego and back, as well as all over San Diego County). That's not as much seat time as I would have liked, but it certainly gave me a taste of what it would be like to live with such a beast.
It was at least enough time to make me wish for more. One of the criticisms of a motorcycle of this sort is that ginormous machines like the Roadmaster aren’t fit for purpose. They’re too big, people say – too heavy, too slow, too expensive. Yes, there are grains of truth in those criticisms, but, trus…

How do you solve a problem like Suzuki?

Six months ago this week I handed over the keys to my 2015 Suzuki V-Strom 1000 Adventure, a bike that had been a workhorse for me over the past two years, trading it in for a moto I think will suit my needs a little better (i.e, a bike that is shaft-driven). Before doing this, I took the ‘Strom on one final hurrah: a goodbye ride through the undulating curves of Brecon Beacons National Park to say “so long and thanks for all the good times.”
I’m the sort of all-the-feelings guy your grandfather thinks is ruining America, so I’ll admit I got a little weepy at this parting of ways. As I shed tears of melancholy delight, I thought about the people who wouldn’t understand such an emotional connection to a V-Strom. And that got me thinking about the people who make the V-Strom 1000, and an interesting problem they face as they navigate toward the future.
But before I get into discussing that problem, let me back up a bit and walk you through my thought process.
The 2017 Suzuki V-Strom 100…