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Showing posts from October, 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…

The baffling case of motorcycles in the UK

Few peoples know how to tumble down the ladder of success more spectacularly than the British. When they fall, they fall hard.
For example: the British Empire. Although her father and grandfather certainly laid the foundations, I think it's safe to say that Elizabeth I (under the guidance of a Welshman, I'd like to add) really got the Empire going back in the 1600s. And over the next 300 or so years it grew and grew to the point that, famously, the sun never set on British territory.
Things wobbled a bit in the early 1900s but the wheels completely came off after WWII. In just two decades -- 1945 to 1965 -- the number of people under British rule outside the UK plummeted from 700 million to just 5 million. The bulk of those left were living in Hong Kong, which was relinquished from British control in 1997. These days all that's left are a handful of islands that you would be incredibly hard-pressed to find on a map (e.g., the Caicos Islands). And, of course, it's p…

Astride the fire-driven dandy horse!

Ever have one of those moments when you feel you've been particularly clever? 
"Ho, ho. Good one, me," you say to yourself approvingly. "You really are the epitome of wit."
Then you spend the rest of the day continuing to congratulate yourself and feeling slightly despondent that more people haven't recognised your genius.
That was me recently after leaving a comment on RideApart, one of my favourite motorcycle websites. The comment was in response to an article noting the fact that the whole media uproar in the wake of the Nonsense in New York© about a month ago (a), was not anything we hadn't seen before.
In the article, Tim Watson draws parallels between the media's hysterical response to the NYC incident and its similar reaction to an incident in Hollister, California, some 66 years before. I'd like to point out, by the way, that I had already made the same observation long before Tim, which I feel is further proof that RideApart should hir…

What I want: Motus MST (MSTR)

I feel a little uncomfortable putting the Motus MST into the What I Want category because it lacks a key feature that is a priority for any bike I would consider spending my money on: anti-lock brakes. But, hey, we're dealing more with the theoretical here than the practical. There are a whole load of bikes on the list that I will almost certainly never own nor seek to own, so let's go ahead and include this V-4 from Alabama.
It's the last two words in the previous sentence that should let you know from whence comes my affection for the MST: it's made in America. And it's not a cruiser. There's a dearth of American not-cruisers, so I feel emotionally obliged to support just about every one that comes along. I realised this the other day when the new EBR 1190RX was announced. I don't actually like the look of that bike and all its power would be completely wasted on me. But I am nonetheless supportive of this latest Buell initiative and really want it to su…

Winter's coming. What do I do?

The bike has been sitting in its little spot beneath a cover for about a week now. The last time I rode, it was just a collection of very short jaunts –– from the house to work, work to the city centre, city centre to Cardiff University, the university to home. That's less than 11 miles, spread out over a space of 15 hours. So, effectively I've not ridden since my road trip to Mid Wales.

Going too long without riding makes me antsy, and I start to worry about all kinds of things. For example: is the bike clean enough? I have a fear of the next time I pull away the bike's cover finding it has somehow transformed into a great indecipherable pile of rust. After all, I didn't clean it before putting it away last time. Though, it was a dry day and I had cleaned it after the road trip.

"Clean" is a relative term, perhaps. I had invested £2 to buy 5 minutes at the power washer in the Morrisons car park. They say (whoever "they" are) that you're not su…

Journey to Middle Earth

Round trip, it is roughly 250 miles from Penarth to Pennant. Well, this particular round trip is that far, because it is one that takes in a fair number of detours, wandering first through a blur of same-as-the-other-one Valleys towns, then up through Brecon Beacons National Park, off onto an unmarked road, then a stretch of tiny B roads until arriving in a village that is so middle-of-nowhere that the mind boggles at how (and why) anyone ended up there in the first place.

The distance is not so great, I suppose. Especially when broken into two days. In the summer I did a 220-miler in one day. Admittedly, though, I got so tired (and, as a result, inattentive) on that trip I almost sped into the back of a lorry. Additionally, that journey took in more well-travelled roads than this trek to the deep, green heart of Wales. And perhaps it's that last aspect that had me so unnerved. In the days leading up to the adventure I couldn't sleep.
The whole adventure started with new…

Los Harlistas

Here's something people may not know about me: I have always wanted to be Latino. A Texican, specifically –– best of both worlds, in my opinion –– but any sort of Latino in a pinch.

It's a strange wish to have, I suppose. I am a white male Protestant of Western European descent, with all the societal privileges that entails. Cops don't hassle me. Despite flunking out of high school (because I was too busy chasing girls), I charmed my way into college. In fairness to me, I am pretty damn awesome; so, many of the positives I've experienced in life are very much my own doing. But I realise that, at the very least, my skin colour/heritage has never hindered me. Whereas I am fully aware that being Latino can earn a person a tremendous amount of unwarranted abuse from certain people with my ethnic background.

But still, for as long as I can remember, I've thought Latinos were cool and wished I could claim such heritage.
I grew up in Texas, of course, where the Latino an…

A whole mess of wrong

By now you will almost certainly have seen The Video. You know the one I'm talking about: the video in which an altercation between a large group of bikers and the driver of a Range Rover leads to a high-speed chase and a fair bit of violence.
If you've somehow managed to miss it, here's what I'm talking about.
Like everyone, I have my own opinion on the whole thing and because we live in a world where it is so obnoxiously easy for me to share my opinion, I'll do so here. Before that, though, I want to make a few points about other comments and opinions I've seen: The bikers involved in the whole brouhaha were from all over the country. While there may have been gang members in attendance (a), they cannot collectively be described as a gang or a club or any other such thing that implies collusion. They were there to take part in a loosely organised mass event.In principle there's nothing wrong with a loosely organised mass event. Many of the people I see o…

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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…