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Showing posts from January, 2014

What it's Like to Crash a Motorcycle

“Damn it. John Burns thinks I’m a dick.”
That was one of the predominant thoughts going through my head as I slid down a Florida highway at 60 mph back in March.
It’s weird how the mind works. Time slows in a crash. Every tiny image burns into memory, so your brain can replay it over and over and over at night for the next who knows how many weeks.
In the moments before I crashed, I was riding the Harley-Davidson Street Rod along County Road 34 in central Florida. I’m not sure which county. The accident report simply records it as “County Code 61,” but the internet can’t agree on which county that is. Maybe I was in Indian River County; maybe I was in Suwannee County; maybe I was in Flagler County; I don’t know. I guess it doesn’t matter; I was somewhere. The road passing through that somewhere was long and straight – not the sort of place where one usually crashes – and the weather was perfect.

“My God, I am so happy,” I was thinking. “I am so incredibly lucky to be here – to live t…

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…

Endurance

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…