Skip to main content


Showing posts from June, 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…

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…

Popular posts from this blog

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…