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Showing posts from July, 2013

2017 Triumph Bonneville T100 – Ride Review

Photos by Megan Harris

"I've had a look at this motorcycle of yours whilst you were having your supper," my wife's grandmother says upon my return from the pub.
Grandma, as she allows me to call her, is upper-middle class and English to the core. She is naturally wary of Americans and has been known to suddenly burst out laughing at the idea of my being able to make a living writing about motorcycles. Add to this the fact she is somewhat deaf, a condition not helped by my natural Texas mumble, and it's easy to see why she and I don't chat a lot. When my wife is around, Grandma prefers to deal with me in third-person terms: "Now then, Jenny, does Chris want tea?"


My wife isn't around this time, though. I've ridden the 2017 Triumph Bonneville T100 down to Devon on my own, staying the night, so I can get meet photographer Megan at the beach the next morning before tourists arrive. Without my wife as interpreter, Grandma and Grandad (who is also…

On the road

The blog will be quiet for the next fortnight, while life gets pretty busy. First, we're getting married on 20 July. That probably seems a bit silly, since Jenn and I are already married. But we didn't get a chance to have a proper wedding back in November, so we're throwing a big to-do for friends and family. In a shock turn of events, the British climate will be cooperating and it looks as though the weather will be ideal for the barbecue we have planned at the reception.
After that we'll be in Ireland for a little while.
Thanks so much for all your support of the blog. I'll be back on 1 August.

Gear review: Hein Gericke Panther II jacket

It's too short. That is my primary criticism of the Hein Gericke Panther II leather jacket. It seems to have been made for a strange long-armed circus freak of a man who is as thin as me, has arms as long as mine, but who is at least five inches shorter than me. 
Or perhaps I am the freak, as it seems the intolerable bulk of motorcycling gear is built for people shorter than me. Maybe this is why ABATE is so successful in Minnesota: with so many people in the Land of 10,000 Lakes being of Scandinavian descent, the safety gear doesn't fit them anyway.
Anyhoo, this jacket was one of the first bits of gear I bought. I was so terrified of my getting in "trouble," afraid that Jenn would discover my motorcycle gear, that I had the jacket delivered to my office. I wore it from my very first day of training -- my CBT -- in February and now wear it any time I go out. As such, I have experienced every season and every weather condition whilst wrapped in this jacket. So I can …

135 miles

On average, Britain experiences five really good days a year. Sometimes less, rarely more. The last time we experienced anything of the sort that an American would describe as summer was in 2006, when there was about a month of hot weather. Everyone lost their minds that year –– Ninjah took to wandering the city centre claiming to be a sun god prophet, and the Prince of Wales pub installed an air-conditioning system they have not used since.
The five good days a year are not even consecutive. Nor are they placed anywhere near one another. Perhaps one will come in early March, another in late May (though, not on the bank holiday), two lovely days in July perhaps, and then an incredible and unexpected weekend in October or November. That's about it. If you're lucky.
So, living here teaches you to seize upon climatological opportunities. You have to be always ready to act, always prepared to make the most of a sunny day. Many Britons falter on this point. Their inexperience mean…

Praise for the hipsters

I don't really know what to call them. The postmodernists, perhaps? The baroque classicists? The custom culturists?

The Old and Boring of motorcycle culture tend to call them hipsters; I'm never really sure. 
I think I get confused in part because I may be looping at least two different sub-cultures: the Iron & Resin crowd and the Born Free crowd. In both there are beards and Pabst and old motorcycles and Biltwell helmets and tattoos and genuflection to art and authenticity, but maybe there is a fine line that actually draws out more than one culture. 
Indeed, with the Born Free crowd one can convincingly argue they are simply the present incarnation of the long-lived American chopper culture, and that the fine line that separates them from hipsterism is one drawn by the wheels of a Harley-Davidson. But then Deus ex Machina builds a Harley and the crew from Death Science take Hondas on a Revenge Run and the waters are muddied. Not to mention the whole additional tangent o…

Respect for Thunder Road

Remember in my previous post I mentioned I've been suffering mild paranoia lately; getting a call from Thunder Road the other day didn't help that. But still I'm glad they got in touch.
For those of you playing along outside of South Wales, Thunder Road Motorcycles is one of the better known motorcycle dealerships in the area. Serving dually as Honda and Suzuki dealers, Thunder Road has two locations: Cwmbran and Bridgend. Both of which are exactly 21 miles from my house.
A while ago, I had decided to check out the Bridgend location and feel out the cost of certain modifications I'm hoping to add to my bike before winter, namely engine bars and heated grips. I figured I'd also check out their gear and try to get a sense of what costs I'll be facing when a full service comes due on my CBF600. So, it was basically a Getting To Know You sort of trip. 
Wales is a small place and when you've got an American accent people tend to remember you. So my relationship…

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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:
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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…

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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…