Skip to main content

Gear Review: 55 Collection Hard Jacket

Product: 55 Collection Hard Jacket Made in: Barcelona Cost: €480 (US $510) Website:www.55collection.com
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…

One step closer

I needn't have worried. Before I took my CBT course a tiny doubt was swirling in my head that, maybe, maybe I would not enjoy riding a motorcycle. It had been a long time since I was last on a bike. Tastes change. Maybe, too, had my affinity for motorcycling.

Nope.

I loved it. Well, eventually I loved it. In the first few moments of being on the bike I did a fair bit of swearing. First there was the fact I kept stalling out the bike, exacerbated by my forgetting to use the rear brake. These were mistakes I overcame within a few minutes but I felt angry at myself for not being awesome right away. Some part of me had quietly assumed I would be as proficient on a motorcycle as I am on a bicycle. I cycle through crowded urban streets every day; I had not been on a motorcycle in 18 years. But one is rarely reasonable when being self-critical.

I wrote an extensive post on my CBT experience on my other blog, because I don't hold myself to a 500-word limit on that one. And when writing about taking the first step toward doing something you've wanted to do (on some level or another) for 18 years, you need more than 500 words.

Suffice to say, however, things went well. Because I'm one of the few fools willing to train in the winter I found myself with one-on-one instruction, which made things more relaxed. The instructor was surprisingly complimentary of my balance and handling of the bike. By the end of the day his only quibbles were over how well I show that I am looking in the mirrors and checking my blind spot.

"Those will come, though," he said, and encouraged me to carry on through the Direct Access scheme to get my full license and be allowed on any size bike I choose.

To that end, both he and the owner of the training school (he had popped in to say hello in the morning) strongly advised that I rethink my plan of starting with a 250cc bike and moving slowly up.

"You're a big fella," he said (I'm 6-foot-1, which is big in the UK). "You'll outgrow a 250 really quickly."

That was probably the biggest surprise of the day. I suspect he may be right, though. Just one day of training was enough to prove I was correct to no longer want a Yamaha YBR 125. The engine was small enough that I was starting to play around after just a few hours, and the bike itself was so small I felt like a Shriner.

The instructor was confident in my ability. So, the next step is to take the two theory tests, then spend a day getting used to a bigger bike, then take the two Direct Access tests. This is actually happening. Slowly. But it's actually happening.

Comments

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:
TRACTORS ARE FUCKING AWESOME!!!
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…