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Showing posts from June, 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…

Service temporarily disrupted

Hello. Just a quick note to apologise for the sudden quietness on the blog. The lovely Mrs. Cope and I are in the United States for a few weeks and I'm finding myself too occupied with the consumption of ice cream and barbecue to sit down and blog.

Which is kind of a shame because there are some exciting things happening. I am really really interested in the Harley-Davidson Livewire project, for example.

Anyway, if I don't get a chance to do so sooner, I'll be back on 9 July. Thanks for your patience.

Bring on the Buell 1190AX

I'll admit I've never really been a Buell guy. That is to say, I've never really been that hot on the look of the bikes he's produced. The guy himself I don't know that much about, though. And his vision of producing American-made motorcycles that aren't cruisers is something I applaud. So, for that latter aspect alone I'd be willing to try to force myself to like his bikes.
If you've been in a closet for the last few decades, Erik Buell is a guy who fell in love with motorcycles thanks to a P.O.S. 1957 Harley-Davidson panhead he rode around in his home state of Pennsylvania. After college, he got a job working for Harley-Davidson and in 1983 branched out to start his own small venture, Buell Motor Company. The company, based in Wisconsin and always maintaining close ties with Harley-Davidson, produced the first American-made sport bike since the Nova Project had been axed.
The close relationship was a blessing and a curse, of course. And it wasn't…

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 …

Thoughts upon travelling at 110 mph

If you are a member of the South Wales Police Department I want to stress to you that the following story is totally made up. Actually, let me extend that to all police forces in Her Majesty's United Kingdom of Great Britain & Northern Ireland. And maybe the UK Home Office. And the DVLA. And any other body or individual that has the power to issue fines, take away my license, deport me or in some other way sanction me for riding a motorcycle at 110 mph. That did not happen. Or, if it did happen, it was on a closed track and I was supervised by professionals. Because on British public roads I always ride at or below the speed limit, and according to the relevant conditions. Always. I am respectful, courteous and law-abiding. Always.
For everyone else, though: Dude, I did the ton for the first time the other day.
Before I moved to this country I had never heard the phrase "do the ton" –– an old-school British term for riding a bike at or above 100 mph –– and I still c…

Part IV: The final day

It took me nearly an hour and a half to pack everything up and get it on my bike. And as had been the case in previous parts of my journey, I felt annoyed at the process taking longer than I had anticipated. 
Calming down, though, was easier than it had been the day before. I reminded myself that with Jenn staying that night at a friend's house in West Sussex there was no one for me to rush home to. Additionally, I was in Lancaster, which meant riding through the urban tangle between Liverpool and Manchester was inevitable; better to avoid tackling that during rush hour.
Because I had nowhere to be and motorways are boring and I felt good, I decided to increase my mileage for the day and meander home via the winding A roads of Wales rather than speed down the relative straight of English motorway. For those of you playing along in the United States, a motorway is the British equivalent of a freeway/interstate; an A road is an undivided highway where speed limits can range from 30…