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Showing posts from July, 2014

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…

What's in the box, Polaris?

I try very hard not to pay attention to this blog's stats. It is, after all, a site dedicated to my own obsession and interaction with the motorcycling world -- what's interesting to me. Paying attention to stats inevitably leads to trying to cater to other people's interests. I don't want that. I'm not trying to sell anything here; I'm just sharing my own thoughts and experiences.
Even so, I can't help noticing what "works" in terms of topics, which posts draw the most readers. And in that I know that not a great deal of people care about the various faces of Polaris as much as I do. But hey, as I say: this is my blog. And I am a slut for all things Minnesota. So, I want to carry on a bit from my previous post and talk about a number of the interesting things coming from the Mendina, Minnesota-based company.
Maybe Victory isn't all that bad
Firstly, in the feedback I got on my post about Victory's 2015 model year line up, there were a lot…

Deep sigh: Victory's 2015 model year line up

We're always toughest on the people and things we love, I guess. This is why we sometimes fall into the trap of hurting feelings when offering "constructive feedback" to partners, We want the things we love to present their best selves, to fulfil their potential. And the expression of this desire can sometimes come out as overly harsh.
Outside of personal relationships, though, we pay less attention to feelings. We speak our minds a little more forcefully. This is why we throw things at the TV when watching our favourite teams lose. It is why we turn apoplectic when the politicians supposed to be running the countries we love fail to do so effectively. Caring about something can make you very angry when that something fails to live up to your expectations.
Essentially, this emotion was at the heart of the post I wrote not too long ago, lamenting that the majority of Minnesota motorcyclists are fat, old and woefully under-skilled. I had a few people react negatively to t…

The search for true love

Many, many moons ago, when I was attending college at a forgettable Midwestern state university deep in the heart of American farmland, I dated a girl who was, by any metric I chose, close to perfect. She was easy on the eyes, witty, intelligent, strong, caring, attentive, a good cook, and, uhm... well... good at some other stuff, too.
But I didn't love her.
Despite the fact she was wonderful, I more often than not found myself in her company thinking: "Oh, man. When are we gonna be done with this?"
It annoyed the hell out of me I felt that way. I felt evil. I felt vain. I felt hypocritical. I knew that if you were to have asked me to describe my perfect woman, the ideal girl for me, I would have more or less described this girl. OK, maybe my 100-percent perfect partner would have had a bit more fashion sense, and maybe she wouldn't have worn a perfume quite so sickly sweet, but that's kind of my point. I really had to dig to find problems with this girl.


Gear review: Viking AXE Saddlebags

I've been a little sloppy about posting ever since Jenn and I returned from the United States, because the weather here in Her Majesty's United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland has been unusually fantastic. And we are desperate to make the most of it, hopping on the bike whenever we can. To that end, we both skipped out of work a little early recently to speed over to the Gower, a tiny peninsula on the southern coast of Wales that -- when the weather's nice -- is arguably one of the best places in the world.
For the past 34 years, Jenn's grandparents have made an annual pilgrimage to the Gower, trundling up from Devon in their camper van and spending two weeks at a camp site on the peninsula's southern coast. Every year, y'all. For 34 years. To the same place. The fact that this sort of behaviour is quite common in Britain is at the heart of why I will never really understand its people. But I digress.
To carry our clothing and sundries to see Jen…

Bring on Dirt Quake IV

Dirt Quake II by Iron Bird from SIDEBURN on Vimeo.
I'm missing Dirt Quake III this weekend and I can't help feeling ridiculously foolish for doing so. Oh, sure, I have a good reason for doing so -- actually, two good reasons -- but that doesn't make me feel any better. I can't help feeling that this is the sort of thing that will go on the list of Greatest Regrets to be flashed before me in my final moments within the mortal coil. Right up there with the time I chose not to dance the polka with Miss El Cajon at an Oktoberfest celebration in Santee, California, and the time I changed my mind about going to senior prom with a girl after she had already bought her dress.
OK, perhaps it won't be that bad. But, still, I really wish I were there.
Dirt Quake, for those of you who don't spend hours of your life searching motorcycle tags on Vimeo and Tumblr, is a ridiculous motorcycling event that takes place each year in eastern England. Perhaps it is best known for ho…

Where fat, old men ride bikes

Hola, by the way. I was so eager to write up a post about the Harley-Davidson LiveWire as soon as I got back that I didn't even take the time to mention it's good to be back. Well, back blogging, at least. I wouldn't have minded staying in America for a little longer.
Mrs. Cope and I were there for a little shy of three weeks, visiting my family in various parts of the Central Time Zone. First we spent a few days in Texas, where we celebrated my grandfather's 90th birthday. Then we flew up to Minnesota to spend some time with friends and family in the Twin Cities, as well as celebrate the United States' 238th birthday.
As I say, I would have liked to have stayed longer, and one of my biggest regrets is that I didn't get a chance to meet up with Lucky, who I count as one of my real influences in this whole motorcycle obsession thing. I especially would have liked to have gotten his thoughts on some of the things I observed about the state of motorcycling in the…

What I Want: Harley-Davidson LiveWire

We seem to have fallen into an unhappy pattern in the modern era: any time anything happens –– anything at all –– there is an instant chorus of vicious critics.
Take Ann Coulter, for example. If you live outside the United States and have never heard of her, count yourself lucky. She is an awful and ridiculous person who goes out of her way to say awful and ridiculous things. Recently, while the United States men's soccer team was finding success in the World Cup she declared it was "a sign of the nation's moral decay."
Obviously, she is simply saying nasty things to get attention. Sadly, she's nowhere near being alone in such behaviour. We have built a culture in which vitriolic criticism is instantly issued for all things. The new, the old, the different, the same, the big, the small, the beautiful, the ugly, the stupid or the brilliant –– it all gets met with a tidal wave of harsh words on the internet.
But listen, y'all: sometimes a thing is just good. S…

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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…