Skip to main content

Gear Review: 55 Collection Hard Jacket

Product: 55 Collection Hard Jacket Made in: Barcelona Cost: €480 (US $510)
It’s likely you’ve never heard of 55 Collection; the Barcelona-based leather goods company is relatively small and has only been on the scene for a few years. So, allow me to introduce you to a company that’s making some of the best-looking and unique motorcycle jackets out there at the moment.

Adopting the “non serviam” nonconformist attitude that seems to run through a lot of Spain’s motorcycling culture (check out the crazy/beautiful custom works of El Solitario MC, for example), 55 Collection’s jackets may split opinion because of the company’s willingness to make jackets that are fashionable – that is to say, jackets that have a strong fashion element. The old dudes will decry hipsterism or some such thing. And indeed, I’ll admit that when company founder Aitor Gonzalez offered me a chance to try out one of his jackets I naturally defaulted to the most conservative of his offeri…

Slow and steady

Remember the film Wild Hogs?
Yeah, no one else does, either.
I'm part of a demographic, apparently. I suppose that's always true Рone is always a member of some demographic or another. But there's a tiny sense of disappointment upon learning such a thing, learning I'm not the only one, and, in fact, there are quite a lot of people like me. I'm not unique; I'm clich̩ enough to be quantifiable.

In this particular case, the demographic of which I am a member is: dudes aged 36 and older who are keen to get back into riding motorcycles. I was reading an article about my type the other day, which said we are prone to get ourselves all worked up then go out, get a massive bike we can't control and shortly thereafter kill ourselves in a collision with something large and unforgiving (e.g. a tree, a mountain, linebacker Ray Lewis, etc.). I am a part of the demographic that produces Boss Hoss owners and people who wear Harley-Davidson socks. I hate my demographic.

I am very pleased to say, then, that in all my daydreams about riding the thought of getting a massive cruiser remains far away. Maybe. Some day. But in the immediate and not-too-distant future, I am keen to ensure I first know what I'm doing. That's the most consistent advice I've gleaned from the articles, blogs and motovlogs I see: learn to walk before you run.

It's a philosophy built into the UK's licensing system, which limits a bike's engine size according to the rider's age. At first, a rider is only allowed a 125cc. Still enough power to fatally hurtle oneself into an inanimate object, but small enough to be forgiving on a fair few mistakes. And when I was first thinking about getting my UK license, I told myself that even though my age allows me to bypass many of the restrictions I would follow the same route.

After a while, though, I realised I would need something just a tiny bit more powerful were I ever to go to Bristol, which is the nearest properly cosmopolitan city. Cardiff is nice enough but it is parochially small in culture terms. Unless you are a chav, there is little to do.  Bristol is a short 45 miles away, with much of the route possible on smaller roads. But eventually one has to get on the motorway (freeway) to cross the River Severn. Any alternate route would require driving to Gloucester and tacking an additional 50 miles onto the journey.

A 250cc bike would, I think, provide the necessary power to make the short jaunt over the bridge. Additionally, that extra engine capacity would make it less chaotic an adventure should I be able to convince my wife to join me on short trips in the immediate area. So, a 250 is where I think I'll start.

After an undetermined space of time (randomly, I imagine this to be two years) I'll move up to something in the 700cc range. After another undetermined space of time – if I feel like it – I'll move up to something even larger. One of the things that appeals most to me about motorcycling is the promise of relating more to my environment – not just the world around me, but also the machine that's moving me through that world. Making sure I'm comfortable with the machine is vital in attaining that zen.


Popular posts from this blog

Ride review: Harley-Davidson XL 883 L (aka Sportster SuperLow)

Yes, as a matter of fact, it is like riding a tractor.
That's the criticism so consistently levied against Harley-Davidson motorcycles: that there is something agrarian to the experience. And I can now say from personal experience that all those critics are right. But I can also say those critics are leaving out a key piece of information, which is this:
It's a tractor that hurtles forward with roller-coaster intensity, a tractor that goes really fast, a tractor that makes you feel like Brock Lesnar in a children's ball pit. A tractor from the Land of Bad-Ass, with which you can sow the seeds of awesomeness.
But let me back up a bit...
A few days ago, I decided to take the day off, solely for the purpose of getting a chance to ride around and finally make use of the free breakfast coupon sent to me by Thunder Road. As I was gearing up, I suddenly decided that since I was already heading west, I might as well push a few miles further and che…

Ride review: Yamaha XV950 / Star Bolt

Imitation, Charles Caleb Colton famously noted, is the sincerest form of flattery. If that's true, the flattery the Harley-Davidson Iron 883 receives from Yamaha's XV950 is enough to make one blush. Put the two bikes side by side, and the inspiration for the latter is undeniable. Yamaha claims its bike has a "new neo retro Japanese look," but that's clearly just nonsense –– lorem ipsom that was used instead of "totally looks like a Harley-Davidson Iron 883."
Certainly the XV950 –– known as the Star Bolt in the United States –– isn't the first example of a Japanese OEM adhering faithfully to the styling cues of America's best-known motorcycle manufacturer. The orthodox members of the Church of Jesus Harley Latter-day Davidson write these bikes off as "wannabes," and tend to be pretty dismissive of anyone who would dare consider purchasing one. But I'm going to commit blasphemy here and tell you that the XV950 is unquestionably the …

Ride review: Triumph Bonneville

"OK," I said. "I want one." "Well, you know, maybe you should ask your wife first." "She loves Triumphs," I said. "Still, Chris. You should give it a think. Go home, discuss it with your wife, give yourself a chance to think clearly. After all, this is one of Triumph's most popular models; there's plenty of stock available."
The voice of reason in that conversation was Drew, the salesman at Bevan Motorcycles. He was doing his best to talk some sense into me after my test ride of the 2014 Triumph Bonneville. I was wild-eyed and yammering like a teenage boy who has touched boobies for the first time. This, my friends, is what the Bonneville does to you. It is an instantly rideable, instantly enjoyable, instantly lovable motorcycle that surprises you in just how good a simple motorcycle can be.

The Bonneville, of course, is a storied machine that's been around in one form or another for 55 years. It is a classic. Partially b…