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Showing posts from June, 2015

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…

Europe 2015 pt. V: Final checks

The Topeak Morph hand pump I use for my bicycle can also be used for motorcycle tires. That's where I'll start this update, because, really, that's what the last few weeks have been all about: making sure I have the right gear and that it works.

It's a strange world, motorcycling, that it can induce long internal discussions on air pumps. I suppose that is a reflection of just how much this upcoming trip spins in my head. I deliberate over everything. Yet I feel strangely unready. Either way, the adventure begins on Friday. Or, if you're reading this at some point after 3 July 2015, the trip began Friday.

Up until that point I'll be doing last-minute preparations. The early part of the week, for example, is dedicated to giving my riding gear the full waterproofing treatment: TechWash, TX Direct and Fabrisil for my jacket and trousers, a good clean and two applications of NikWax for my boots and gloves.

I changed the oil on the bike over the weekend. I'll b…

The joy of jerryrigging

There are all kinds of positive aspects to motorcycling –– I wrote about several of them not too long ago –– but one of the lesser-known positives is the incredible sense of satisfaction that you get from coming up with a solution to a problem.

Sometimes the solution can be purchased. My shed is an example of that; it's a solution to the problem of British weather. The Constands centre stand dolly I use is another example; allowing me to navigate the Strom through the tight corners of my courtyard so I can put it in the aforementioned shed.

Especially gratifying, however, are those instances when you come up with your own, homemade solution.

So, here was the problem I faced: there isn't any particularly good place to mount a GPS (aka sat-nav) on a Suzuki V-Strom 1000. Indeed, the only place available on your standard Strom is on the handlebar. And because much of the 'bar space is eaten up by switchgear, handguard mounts, mirror mounts, brake reservoir and heated grip con…

What I wish Victory would do

I talk a lot about Victory motorcycles on this blog. Sometimes I feel apologetic about that -- I realise not everyone is as interested in Victory as I am -- but then I remind myself: this is my blog. I can write what I want.
Anyway, a few months ago, I wrote a post in which I suggested ways to "save" Victory from the dead end it seemed to be speeding toward. Then the company surprised me and everyone else by producing two (a) amazing new bikes designed to compete at the Isle of Man TT and Pike's Peak. Most notably, neither of these bikes are cruisers. 
My extreme excitement over these bikes led me to writing a piece for RideApart a few days ago, in which I declared: "I think it's entirely possible that we are sitting presently on the cusp of a new American motorcycling renaissance. At the very least, though, we are witnessing the rebirth of Victory Motorcycles."

Thanks to Sash being super awesome and letting me have a peak in her little black book I was ab…

Ride Review: Triumph Tiger 800 XRx

Disappointment. If you were to ask me to sum up the Triumph Tiger 800 XRx in a single word, that would be it. There are plenty of positive words I might use in addition -- "fun," "revvy," "light" -- but ultimately this new effort from Triumph is a letdown.
Which is kind of surprising to me. And a relief.

I spent a lot of time pondering the Tiger 800 XRx when first looking into the V-Strom 1000. The two bikes have somewhat similar performance figures and price tags. The Strom delivers considerably more torque and a handful of additional horses; the XRx's RRP price tag is £500 more.

Within the British market, however, the Triumph dominates. Triumph is the home team; whereas Suzuki's sales strategy in the UK perhaps hasn't been terribly wise over the past few years. It's painted itself into a corner with too many discounts.

The XRx is one of a string of new Tiger 800 models released this year. There are so many it can be a little confusing. …

Ride Review: Victory Gunner

"Oh, I like that one," my wife said when I showed her a picture of the Victory Gunner. "I actually like it better than the Thunderf*ck."

"Thunderf*ck" is my wife's nickname for the Triumph Thruxton –– up to that point my wife's favourite motorcycle. When Jenn was a little girl, she collected stickers of motorcycles and Triumphs were always her favourites. So, I want you to just think for a second of how stunned I was to hear her place the Victory Gunner above them.
Not that I disagree. Taken for what it is, the Gunner may very well be the best bike in Victory's current line up. It's been on my What I Want list for quite a while. Having now had a chance to spend some time in the Gunner's saddle, my desire to own one has only increased. Despite my history of being somewhat hard on Victory there's no denying this is a good motorcycle.
All the usual caveats apply, of course. It's not a sport bike. It's not an ADV. It's not…