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Showing posts from January, 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…

Bullet points

Things have been pretty dead around here lately. And by "dead" I mean "wet." It has been raining nonstop for weeks. On top of that, it's been cold and I've been working long hours, which means the only free time I have is at night. So, I haven't ridden much.
I feel the need to try to assert my non-wussyness by pointing out that I am willing to ride in the dark and rain and cold -- I have before and most certainly will again. But when the purpose of a ride is simply to get out and clear your head, those conditions aren't ideal.
As a result of this stagnation I've been living vicariously through the internet, consuming just about every motorcycle-related thing I can. To make myself feel I haven't wasted my time in this, I've decided to share a few of the things I've found most interesting in the past week:
+ The reviews are out for the new Suzuki V-Strom 1000 and the basic consensus is: "meh." In my own daydreaming look at m…

Gear review: Oxford HotGrips Premium Heated Grips

EDIT: The switch on these grips failed after only a month of use. Replacing the switch cost £20.

Saint David, patron saint of Wales, famously said: "Gwnewch y pethau bychain." Do the little things. 
Fond of spending several hours standing naked in cold water as a means of testing his faith, St. David was no doubt well acquainted with little things. Nonetheless, his advice remains sage in modern times –– especially for motorcyclists. Because one of the unhappy truths of of motorcycling is that it can be an exacerbating process; little things often become big problems very quickly.
That's true in the case of both the machine and the rider. I am slowly learning that simple annoyances can have a huge affect on the quality and longevity of my riding. But I hadn't realised just how much until I had a pair of Oxford HotGrips (badly) installed on my bike.
As I mentioned in my previous post, the shop I took my bike to dropped the ball somewhat in fitting the grips. They manag…

Robert Pirsig was right

If you're in to motorcycles it's a good bet you've tried to force yourself to read Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance at some point. And, if you're like me, your attention started to wane once the Sutherlands headed back to Minnesota. Partially because there is from that point increasingly less talk about motorcycles and partially because, deep down, I can relate more to John Sutherland than I can to Pirsig.
Well, at least where motorcycles are concerned. Because Sutherland, you'll remember, wasn't terribly interested in learning how to work on a motorcycle. This is why he spent so much money on a new BMW R60/2 (a). He wanted a machine he didn't have to fuss with, and he bought into the idea of BMWs as the most reliable of machines. Keen observers will note from my recent post about sport tourers that this is more or less the same reason the modern BMW F800GT sits amid the top three motorcycles I would most like to own.
I'd like to tell myself t…

Tall in the saddle: Middleweight 'adventure' motorcycles

Let's not go any further before we tackle the issue of the word "adventure." When discussing adventure machines, it's ridiculous. Adventure bikes are the SUVs of motorcycling. Indeed, just as it is common to turn the phrase "sport utility vehicle" into an acronym it is equally popular to refer to these motorcycles as ADVs. And in both cases, the name is value weighted. That is to say, you are expected to think of additional things that aren't actually promised. Specifically, the phrase that's supposed to come to mind is "off road."

But are these things actually intended to go off road? Nope. Not really. Which is fine, because the simple truth is that the majority of cases neither vehicle will ever see more dirt than that found on a well-maintained farm road. People buy them not for the sake of competing in the Dakar Rally but because they are comfortable and they look durable.

Plus, adventure is what you make it. Hell, a Lexmoto Vixen cou…


In addition to daydreaming about which motorcycle I'd like next, one of my favourite things to do when stuck indoors is stare at a map and imagine the places I could go. 
The obsession from which this blog gets its title is one borne of a desire to see more of the world around me. I have lived in the United Kingdom for 7.5 years but I really haven't seen that much of it. I have never been to Scotland, for instance. Never to the eastern side of the island of Great Britain. Never to Northern Ireland. Never to Manchester, Liverpool, York, or Newcastle. Until this past Christmas, I had never been to Cornwall. Most of what I have seen and experienced on this side of the Atlantic Ocean exists within 30 miles of the M4 –– the 190-mile-long motorway running from South Wales to London.
Part of the reason for that has been lack of adequate transportation. There was a space of time there when I had a 1995 Peugeot 306, but I didn't trust the thing. This mistrust proved to be well-fou…

Checking the mirrors

Today marks the 1-year anniversary of this blog. Only one year, mis amigos. Wow.

In many ways it feels as I have been doing this for longer, because so much has happened in that year. And in another sense, because I am so obsessed with motorcycling, and love talking about it so much, it feels I haven't been doing it nearly so long.
I started this blog on 14 January 2013 because I was so consumed with thoughts of motorcycles and motorcycling I could no longer hold it inside. I had no one with whom I could share my passion (a), so I created this blog as a sort of mental dumping ground. Without it, I felt, I might go mad. As I said at the time: "If I felt this way toward a girl there would be incrimination; restraining orders would be issued. People would look at me with their best serious faces, speak in their best concerned tones and say: 'Chris, you are sick. Very, very sick. You need to get help.'"

The blog wasn't intended to be more than a little internet …

Weighing the options: Middleweight sport tourers

Not too long ago I started the process of thinking seriously about my next bike, which, at this stage, consists of little more than saving money (a) and daydreaming constantly about what that next bike will be.

Because I'm an American, my default setting, it seems, is to daydream about cruisers; the post linked to above focuses on the Triumph Speedmaster, Harley-Davidson 72, and Victory Judge. But as happened before I got Aliona, the more I think about it, the more practical concerns like safety and performance and comfort start to creep into my thoughts.

The other day, fellow moto-blogger Sash offhandedly mentioned in a Google+ conversation that she is likely to return to a sportbike for her next machine. And I found myself thinking: "Yeah, I'll probably end up choosing something non-cruiser as well."

Because the thing is: although cruisers definitely have the benefit of long-term aesthetics –– you can take a picture of yourself on your cruiser and 50 years from no…

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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…