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Showing posts from 2015

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…

Ride Review: Victory Vision

Parts of this review were originally published on RideApart.
I put more than 2,500 miles on a Victory Vision recently –– primarily on my trip to EICMA, but also on the familiar roads of Wales, where I live. I rode it in good weather and bad, at high speed, through cities, and down winding country roads.
Despite its contemporary looks, Victory's Vision motorcycle is hardly new, having first been introduced to the world in 2005 as a concept bike. 
Back then, it was presented as an 800-cc liquid-cooled parallel twin with automatic transmission. Its bulbous front end offered storage where the fuel tank would normally be. In other words, Victory invented the Honda NM-4
The mind spins at what might have been had Victory chosen to pursue such a direction. Instead, the Vision became a top-of-the-line tourer, powered by an air- and oil-cooled 1731cc V-twin. Brought into production in 2008, it remains relatively unchanged today, which seems to be the formula for tourers: Find something t…

Models are hot, but let's drop sexism from motorcycling

Here's the thing: I'm a fan of the ladies. I'm a fan of looking at the ladies. And, when there is mutual agreement to do so, I'm a fan of touching the ladies.
That's just the way I am. Some deep something within drives me to think this way — to look at certain females and think: "Oh, golly, I think I'll keep looking."
The Methodist and Baptist churches that my parents and grandparents dragged me to until I was in my late-teens would describe my behavior as normal, red-blooded and American. I personally wonder if there really is such a thing as "normal" when it comes to sexuality, but I will say that I have no problem with how I think. I'm a man and I like women, and I'm OK with that.
So I will admit that when I go to a motorcycle show, such as last month's EICMA, and I see that every manufacturer — and, in some cases, accessories provider — has festooned its product with extraordinarily gorgeous women, there is a part of my brai…

Wind, rain, and terrorism on a Victory Vision

The original plan was to ride to EICMA on a Victory Gunner. I had come up with the idea in summer, imagining French back roads and Alpine passes.
When I get in touch with Victory's PR team in the UK, however, they gently point out the flaws in my thinking: EICMA takes place in mid November and I've given myself very little time to get there. Which means spending time on the motorway (aka freeway/interstate).
"You can do what you want, mate," says Victory UK's PR man, Steve. "I can get you a Gunner, no problem. But, well, have you ridden here in November?"
I have. Britain is terrible this time of year. Incessant rain and gale-force winds. The sun disappears until March. When Steve offers a Victory Vision as an alternative, I say yes before he finishes the suggestion.
The Vision is Victory's top-of-the-line tourer, happy to be brought up against the likes of the Indian Roadmaster, or Harley-Davidson Electra Glide. Relatively unchanged since being int…

Long-term ride review: 7,000 miles on a Suzuki V-Strom 1000

One of the many things the Suzuki V-Strom 1000 has going in its favor is the fact it has 7,500-mile service intervals. This is a vast improvement over the 4,000-mile intervals I had with my Honda CBF600SA
For reference amongst comparable bikes, the service interval on a Triumph Tiger 800 XRx is 6,000 miles; a Kawasaki Versys 1000 also brags 7,500 miles; and you'll get 8,000 miles between garage visits on a Honda VFR800X. So, the V-Strom 1000 fits into the pack respectably.
I have just scheduled to take my bike in for its first service (a), and I expect it will actually have more than 7,500 miles on the clock by the time it reaches the good folks at Fowlers of Bristol. Because that's the the thing about the 'Strom; you want to ride it.

It is an adventure motorcycle in the broader sense of the word; it encourages you to take the longest route between points A and B. It is the kind of bike that will have you looking at maps, thinking: "You know, riding 300 miles for a…

The week that showed just how badly Harley-Davidson have failed with the Street 750

This is an exciting time of year for motonerds. Around the world, a number of trade shows are taking place and manufacturers are in the process of unveiling their latest, greatest products.
If, like me, you are a motonerd with a soft spot in your heart for hipsterism (I still contend that hipsters have saved motorcycling), this week in particular has been very exciting because it's seen the unveiling of no less than five new Triumph Bonneville variants, as well as the launch of the super sexy Yamaha XSR700.
At the presentation event for the latter motorcycle, Yamaha project manager Shun Miyazawa joked that in light of Ducati's success with its Scrambler model his company were "jumping on the hipster bandwagon." According to Visordown editor Tom Rayner, the joke fell flat –– in part because everyone knew it was true.

The style of bike that Triumph refers to as "modern classic" is where the tastes of many lie at the moment, regardless of how much it upsets t…

Bryan Harley, I hope you're right

By now you will have figured out I'm a Victory mark; I get grumpy when they don't do exactly what I wish they would do, I swoon every time that they do something cool, and I will bite on just about every rumour I hear. 
So, it goes without saying that I've been going out of my mind ever since I read speculation by MotoUSA's (a) Bryan Harley that Victory may be planning to unveil a new liquid-cooled model at EICMA
The basis of his speculation comes from a save-the-date-type email sent out last week to members of the media, letting them know the time and place of a "world premiere" at this year's EICMA show in Milan.
"Victory Motorcycles has been showcasing American Muscle throughout its product line and in racing," the email says. "Our pathway to the latest evolution of the brand will be revealed (at EICMA)."

Also within the email is the above photo of a Victory-branded case cover unlike those seen on any of the manufacturer's ex…

Gear review: Buffalo Bay leather motorbike gloves

I'll admit that I bought the Bay motorcycle gloves by Buffalo in something of a panic. Summer was on its way and the Furygan Revol Evo gloves I had been using through winter and early spring were getting to be uncomfortable. 
With temperatures pushing north of 16ºC my hands were getting sweaty in the Furygans, soaking the fleece lining and making them difficult to put back on after a stop. Unfortunately I had no money to speak of, so I bought the cheapest pair of gloves I could find that looked like they could hold up at least until my next paycheck.
That was in 2013. I've put in thousands of miles with the gloves since then, including using them almost exclusively during my trip to Italy back in July. And only now, with their third summer having come to a close, am I thinking of replacing them.
That will be hard. They have become my favourite gloves to wear –– so comfortable now, so broken in, that I don't really notice I'm wearing them.
The leather of the glove is d…

Ride Review: Indian Chieftain

That screen, though.

I have quite a lot of good things to say about the Indian Chieftain –– it is, after all, easily one of the best motorcycles coming out of America at the moment –– but the bike's windscreen is so awful that, for me, it would be a potential deal breaker.

OK, I'm probably lying. If I somehow had enough money to buy a Chieftain I'd probably be so eager to own one that I could be placated with a free keychain or some other trinket. But I'd like to think I'd have the principle to insist that any dealership expecting me to fork out £20,500 (or $22,000 in the United States) for this bike must replace the screen at no additional cost.

I'd like to think that if they refused, I would have the testicular fortitude to walk right... across the showroom floor to cast an eye on the Victory Cross Country, which costs several thousand pounds/dollars/euros less.

After all, both motorcycles claim Polaris as their parent company, so they're effectively the…

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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.
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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…