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Showing posts from September, 2013

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…

What I want: Suzuki V-Strom 1000

Is this the first Suzuki I've put on the What I Want list? Golly, I'm pretty sure it is. I wonder what that says about Suzuki?
Nope. Wait, no. There was that minute or two back before I started riding when I was subscribing to the Start With A 250 school of thought and found myself considering a Suzuki Inazuma. But even then, the reason more Suzukis have failed to show up on my list was evident: Suzuki doesn't make very attractive machines. There's just something about them I don't really like. They look a little too buggy, I think -- even the cruisers. Or, in the case of the Hayabusa, cartoonish (a).
And years ago I test drove a Suzuki Vitara that fell apart as I drove it, which put a permanent bad taste in my mouth for all Suzuki products. Yes, I know that was 13 years ago and the car division is removed from the motorcycle division to such a great extent that the former doesn't even exist in the United States anymore, but still. Suzukis just aren't my t…

Always learning

It's been relatively quiet on the motorcycle front lately. I've been working more and have been really struggling to get things done that are important to me, i.e., write. The knock-on effect is that I don't find myself too often going anywhere other than work. And, as I mentioned in my previous post, I prefer to commute to work via bicycle.
There have, though, been a handful of short trips through town in the last week or so, which have taught me that all important lesson of getting your head right before getting on the machine. 
We don't tend to do that with any other vehicle, do we? With a car, you just sort of get in and go; the safe, stable nature of the vehicle means you can get away with not engaging your brain for a while. Hell, some people never engage their brains. They just point the car in whatever direction their SatNav commands and never fully consider their place on the road, the fact that they are a human amongst humans, and that all those humans -- ev…

Bicycles are not the enemy

Not too long ago, I did that really stupid thing of getting into an argument with someone on Twitter. We should know better than to do this. It is the discursive equivalent of four teenage boys in a pickup truck; absolutely no good can come of it. But I fell into the trap because the person was talking about two things I enjoy, and by disparaging one he was damaging the reputation of the other. 
The person was Chris Hodder, lobbyist for the British Motorcyclists' Federation. As a lobbyist, of course, it is his job to complain about everything. I realise that. But when he recently launched into yet another moan about cyclists I responded with the utterly intelligent "Quit being a twat."
Yeah, I know. Way to take the high ground. But the thing is that Hodder, by his own admission, is jealous of all the positive press bicycling receives in the UK. 
And certainly it does. The two most legitimate newspapers in this country, the Times and the Guardian both have special sectio…

Motorcycle race

In a recent post I mentioned the fact that one of the reasons I like wearing a full-face helmet is that there's no particularly good way to tell who I am. That is to say, unless you are close enough to peer through my legally-required-to-be-clear visor, you can't really tell what type of who I am.
Sure, from my frame it's not too difficult to guess I'm male. If you are a keen motorcyclist, perhaps you might assume from my choice of bike (the ever safe and reliable Honda CBF600SA) that I may be somewhat new to the game. But beyond these semi-educated guesses all else is unknowable. What's my age, for instance? What's my race? With every part of me hidden, there is absolutely no evidence to suggest a viable answer to these questions.
Any answer a person might give would be based wholly on his or her assumptions. They may have a picture in their mind of the person beneath all that leather, textile and plastic. But that picture is nothing more than a reflection …


This is why motorcycling is awesome, and especially why lane-splitting is awesome. This is 100-percent legal in the UK. Just think of how much time this dude saves himself. 
If you are in the United States (with the exception of California), think of how much you are missing out because pro-motorcycle groups are wasting all their time and money whining about helmet laws. They are failing to lobby for the legitimate advantages of motorcycling.

Gear review: BMW Sport helmet

According to the description in this video, BWW Motorrad designs and builds its own helmets. Helmets that look and, apparently, perform a whole hell of a lot like Schuberth helmets. Considering that BMW outsources for all manner of things on its motorcycles, it seems strange and, indeed, unlikely that helmets really are an in-house concern. Have a look around ye olde internets and the truth of the whole thing seems illusive. Maybe BMW helmets are Schuberth helmets, maybe they're not. What's relevant to me, however, is that I feel I've got a top-quality lid.
Admittedly, I haven't got that much experience upon which to base my claim. Perhaps, indeed, quite possibly, there are better helmets out there that can be bought for as much or less, but I haven't encountered them. The BMW Sport helmet is easily more comfortable than the cheap, no-name, head-pinching thing I bought almost 20 years ago, when I took a training course in the United States. Equally, it fits better …

In defence of Aliona

She's like a girlfriend I once had in that she tends to look better in person. What I see in her doesn't seem to show up well in photos; perhaps because what I see is so affected by what I feel. And very much like that aforementioned ex-girlfriend, Aliona's sleek body and performance overcome a somewhat goofy face.
No, the front end of a Honda CBF600SA isn't really goofy. It's kind of bug-like. Mosquito-esque. It's a style that isn't really timeless; I can't imagine the hipsters of the 2050s lovingly resurrecting this particular model.

Whereas one can be certain that Harley-Davidsons will look pretty much the same 40 years from now, in only about 5-10 years the Honda CBF600SA front end will start to look awkwardly dated, like the square tail ends of 1980s sport bikes.

That said, there is a certain quality to it. Not so much bad-ass, but menacing. Rather than being the machine Captain America would ride into battle, it is more the transport of choice fo…