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Gear Review: 55 Collection Hard Jacket

Product: 55 Collection Hard Jacket Made in: Barcelona Cost: €480 (US $510)
It’s likely you’ve never heard of 55 Collection; the Barcelona-based leather goods company is relatively small and has only been on the scene for a few years. So, allow me to introduce you to a company that’s making some of the best-looking and unique motorcycle jackets out there at the moment.

Adopting the “non serviam” nonconformist attitude that seems to run through a lot of Spain’s motorcycling culture (check out the crazy/beautiful custom works of El Solitario MC, for example), 55 Collection’s jackets may split opinion because of the company’s willingness to make jackets that are fashionable – that is to say, jackets that have a strong fashion element. The old dudes will decry hipsterism or some such thing. And indeed, I’ll admit that when company founder Aitor Gonzalez offered me a chance to try out one of his jackets I naturally defaulted to the most conservative of his offeri…


The lads of El Soliario
Here are a some miscellaneous things that have been on my mind lately:

Farewell Bob Skoot
It would appear that Bob Skoot, author of Riding the Wet Coast and avowed Crocs lover has died. Within the tiny sub-culture within a sub-culture that is blogging about motorcycles Bob was well known as the guy who would actually read posts and leave thoughtful comments. I didn't interact with him as much as I now wish I had, but he was a definitely a good man. 

Victory's hard sell
Victory is offering some pretty hefty rebates on all of its models at the moment -- up to $2,000. This rebate applies to a huge swathe of models, going back to those from the 2012 model year. Any time a manufacturer has to slash prices it suggests all is not well, but what's particularly telling to me is that there are apparently so many unsold models from years past. Perhaps that's behind Victory scrapping so many models for its 2015 model year line up: it simply wasn't selling the models it was making. And that certainly makes one concerned for the company's future. However, if you're looking for a silver lining, maybe Victory is doing its best to sell old stock because it knows that something considerably better is just around the corner. Perhaps a higher-performance engine that would make older models considerably less desirable? And anti-lock brakes on all the models?

Someone at Yamaha is listening
I suggested in my review of the Yamaha MT-09 (aka the Yamaha FZ-09) that its engine would be better suited to a different format. Unlike the delightful MT-07, the larger MT-09 doesn't have the character and spirit to make you overlook the shortcomings of a naked hooligan-targeted bike (e.g. no viable passenger accommodation, no wind protection). Instead, the MT-09's triple strikes me as better suited to bike suited to motorway (freeway) commuting and light touring. It seems Yamaha has gotten the message. Not too long ago it registered a trademark for an adventure-style sport tourer -- something similar to a Suzuki V-Strom or Honda Crossrunner. Then, this week CARB documents revealed that Yamaha is working on yet another platform for the MT-09's triple. notes that both new bikes will be given an FJ designation (FJ09FCGY and FJ09FCR). I am really bad at divining stuff from motorcycle names but my hope is that all this means Yamaha will be developing a lighter (and cheaper) version of its venerable FJR1300. Something on par with the Honda VFR800F or BMW F800GT.

Keanu's bike costs three times as much as a house in Detroit
Many moons ago, I sang the praises of the Keanu-Reeves-backed Arch KRGT-1. My primary point in liking the bike was the fact that it was American and it was new. At the time, the Polaris Indians had yet to be revealed, so I was simply happy to see someone attempting to move the American motorcycle discussion forward. But then Chief and Chieftain showed up. Then Harley-Davidson introduced Project Rushmore, made improvements to all its models, introduced the Street line, and went all-in on developing the Livewire. Then Indian released the Scout. Now Arch has finally announced it is ready to sell the KRGT-1 and it is a chain-driven, no-ABS, disappointment that looks like something Roland Sands would do on a budget. And Arch is asking $78,000 for it. 

El Soliario has a big set
CycleWorld has called El Solitario's Impostor custom BMW RnineT "the world's most hated motorcycle." El Solitario is a builder based out of Spain that's on the forefront of the custom scene that I love so much -- the Wheels & Waves scene of grizzled Gringo-helmet-wearing Europeans speaking in viscidly poetic terms about motorcycles and souls. Well, them and Roland Sands. Anyhoo, a while ago, as part of its launch for the bike, BMW gave a number of these custom builders an RnineT with which to do as they please. Germany's Urban Motor turned it into a muscled flat tracker, Roland Sands decided to use the bike as an exercise in subtle beautification, Over in Japan, builders transformed the RnineT into sleek cafe, racing and new wave machines. But El Solitario, what did they do? They took a brand new high-performance machine and made it look like a Mad Max prop that had been kicked off a cliff and abandoned for several years. They went rock n' roll; they went punk. Whereas all the other builds effectively help BMW sell its bikes, the El Solitario Impostor is a big middle finger to that idea. Which inherently makes it a thing of particular beauty.


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