Skip to main content

Posts

Showing posts from December, 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…

Oh, uhm, Merry Christmas, by the way

Things on the ol' blog have been relatively quiet these past several days because Jenn and I were out in the wilds of Cornwall. Which is about as wild as one can get in the overpopulated mess of southwestern England. We were staying in a cottage on Bodmin Moor, the bleak nowhere made famous by Daphne du Maurier's novel Jamaica Inn. The roads were only wide enough for a single car and mobile phone signal was non-existant.
It was only when we were out hiking the tors (craggy rocks that serve as promontories on the moors) did my phone grasp just enough signal to alert me to comments on my previous post about the downfall of RideApart. I genuinely appreciate the fact that Wes took the time to leave a comment, even if it was snarky and insulting. Be valuable, indeed.
Perhaps it was for the best that signal was too scarce for me to reply. At the time I had a fair few snarky and insulting things I wanted to say in response but now, meh, I don't care. I feel morally superior enou…

The strange and sudden decline of RideApart

UPDATE: I wrote this piece in December 2013. A lot has changed since then, including the fact that I am now managing editor for RideApart. Here's a link to all the stories I've written. The site has largely moved away from the things that I criticise in the post below and with every piece that I write for RideApart I hope I am doing my part to make it a quality, interesting site that will continue to inspire people to ride motorcycles.
If you're a regular reader of this blog, you'll have likely picked up by now that one of my favourite motorcycle websites is RideApart. Or, rather, was RideApart. In the last few weeks its quality has rapidly decreased and it has become something that both angers and saddens me, whereas it used to inspire.

And if you're a long-time reader of this blog you may remember my story: I got my motorcycle endorsement in Minnesota when I was 18 years old, but didn't actually make any effort to ride until almost two decades later. Then, su…

The wind, the fear and the ridiculous

You know that advice they always give about riding with a passenger? "Take it easy," they say. "Make everything as gentle as possible. Don't frighten your passenger."
They have obviously never met my wife.
"YAHWOOOOOOOOOOOO!" she screamed against the wind as the two of us zig-zagged down the A449 Saturday.
We were flying down the dual carriageway ("freeway" for those of you playing along at home) at 90 mph with crosswinds kicking us around in our lane. In curves, the wind would occasionally push us upright and I'd have to fight to drop us back into the lean. At other times it would punch so hard it felt almost tangible, as if an animal had jumped out and headbutted us. Leaves and sticks and all manner of things swirled in the air and plinked against our helmets. Jenn was having the time of her life.
We had ridden that morning to the Farmer's Boy Inn, a pub 10 miles west of Gloucester, which I had spotted during one of my many Starin…

I think we may actually be better

I've spent a lot of time thinking about this: if I'm ever riding in Minnesota and find myself in a situation where I deem filtering to be appropriate, I'm just going to go ahead and do it. If any drivers shout at me, I will say this: "Actually, it is legal. Check Minnesota Statute 169.974, particularly subdivision 5, clause E. See, the reason I know that is because a lot of people think it's not legal, but, really, it is. I'm sorry to have frightened you, though."
The statute referenced is, of course, the exact one that explicitly forbids filtering ("No person shall operate a motorcycle between lanes of moving or stationary vehicles headed in the same direction, nor shall any person drive a motorcycle abreast of or overtake or pass another vehicle within the same traffic lane"). But the driver won't know that. 
If I get stopped by a police officer, I will mention living in the UK and explain that I was confused. I will apologise profusel…

20 things I've learned about motorcycling

Today marks exactly six months since Aliona came into my life. That's not all that much time in the grand scheme of things, but she is, of course, my first motorcycle. So, a lot of things have happened since that exciting June day I took the train out to Cheltenham to pick her up. And from all the experiences since then, those thousands of miles travelled, I feel I've gained a certain amount of knowledge. So, here are 20 things I've learned in my first six months of motorcycle ownership: When kids wave at you, it's awesomeExpect spiders to be hiding in the motorcycle coverExpect spiders to be hiding in your helmet. They will usually only reveal themselves when you are taking a curve at 80 mph. Baby wipes are your friend. They are especially useful in cleaning your helmet -- inside and out. Cold tires really are slippery. That's not just something that people say. Pay attention to tire pressure. And the chain. And fluid levels. And tire tread. And all the other …

A small request

Hey, all y'all with motorcycle-related blogs: Can you please not have white text on a black background? I mean, it's pretty much every single one of you. Clearly, it's a look that a lot of people like and one of the general rules of this here blog is that I don't like to piss on things that other people like -- especially when it comes to things that are motorcycle-related. 
But, see, here's the thing: white text on a black background induces headaches. No, really, look it up. Web designers hate light text on dark background, but more importantly up to 50 percent of the population may suffer adverse effects from staring at that combination too long. That is especially true for me. The two times in my life that I have suffered a migraine headache came after reading white text on a dark background for too long. So, now I generally don't do it.
This means that for many of you, I don't really read your blogs as much as I'd prefer unless I can find a workar…

28 months before

"I wonder if I could put together £8,000 within 28 months," I find myself asking.
That's how long I have until my 40th birthday, which, I keep telling myself, is when I want to buy a new bike. Actually, I'd like to buy a new bike today. And tomorrow. And the day after that. And the day after that. There are dozens upon dozens of bikes I'd own if I had the deep pockets and storage space of, say, Jay Leno. But in the real world, in this life that I'm actually living, my 40th birthday seems the most likely milestone upon which to hang such a target.
I like to do that: set goals for myself and attach target dates that have some sort of greater significance. For example, in July 2005, when London was announced as the host city for the 2012 Olympic Games, I promised myself I would be living in the UK by the time the games took place. As it turned out, I accomplished that goal with six years to spare.
Life throws happy surprises at you. Maybe a new bike will come s…

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…