Skip to main content

Posts

Showing posts from April, 2016

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…

This will probably end in tears

Last week, Jason Fogelson published an article on RideApart about the infamous Iron Butt Association, the worldwide motorcycle "club" where membership is earned by riding a stupidly long distance in a short period of time.
Jason finished his article by stating: "I'd love to be counted among the world's toughest riders. Wouldn't you?"
Yes, I would. And coincidentally, just before I read that article I had signed up to take part in an event that will see me tackling my first-ever Iron Butt ride. If I pull it off, I'll get to claim membership in the Iron Butt Association and, presumably, get a spiffy patch that I can have sewn into an Aerostich Roadcrafter or some such thing.
If I don't pull it off, though, that'll be OK because this will be an Iron Butt attempt with a difference. Unlike most attempts this won't be a lonely affair. I'll be on the road with more than 200 other riders, all helping to raise money for British military pe…

Ride Review: Harley-Davidson Street Glide Special

According to Harley-Davidson CEO Matt Levatich, roughly 80 percent of the bikes his company sells in the United States are touring models. Harley-Davidson sold 168,240 units in the U.S. market in 2015, which, according to my fuzzy math, works out to 134,592 touring bikes sold in a single year. 
That's more than the total number of motorcycles and scooters — of all brands — sold in the United Kingdom in the same period. Which speaks to the value of the touring segment for Harley, and why the company's Project Rushmore initiative of a few years ago was so important. Those big numbers may also help explain why seemingly every motorcycle I see when visiting my home state of Texas is a Street Glide.
They're far rarer here in Britain, though, so when an opportunity came up to spend a day with a 2016 Street Glide Special, I jumped at it. If nothing else, I was eager to see what my Texas brethren love so much about this iconic touring bagger.
First Impressions
There's no deny…

Long-term gear review: Corcoran Jump Boots

I wrote a post about Corcoran Jump Boots a few years ago, after about a year of use, but I thought it would be good to offer another review, now that I'm considering retiring my pair in favor of some Alt-Berg boots. Or, well, perhaps not retiring, but taking out of regular service.
I first bought a pair of Corcoran Jump Boots about three years ago, based on the recommendation of the dog camping guy. Since then, I've put roughly 24,000 miles on them, using them in all weathers. 
In Wes Siler's article he suggests these Corcoran boots as a good middle ground between fashion, usefulness, and safety.
"[A] little more normal to walk to do normal things in," he wrote. "I can even dance in these."
Since I grew up in Texas, where dancing consists of spinning on your cowboy boot heel while trying not to spill your Lone Star, that's not really an impressive claim. I can "dance" in ski boots.
So, yes, these are dancing boots; perfect for those of y…

Living the Dream

I'm sitting in a hotel in Yorkshire as I write this — about 300 miles north of my home in Cardiff. Known as "God's own country" by locals, this region of England is rich in hills, curving roads, quaint villages and (when it's not raining) staggeringly beautiful sunsets.
I'm here to visit the factory where Alt-Berg boots are made. Primarily the maker of hiking boots, Alt-Berg also offers a handful of rigorously tested motorcycle boots popular among the Iron Butt/BMW-owning crowd.
Partially my visit is personal, seeking out a set of riding boots that meet my ambition to buy local. The factory is the only place to see/touch Alt-Berg's motorcycle offerings in person, and I'm the sort of old-school dude who thinks that's important. And partially my visit is professional, trying to determine whether there's a story to be had here and whether that story would fit on RideApart.
To the first purpose, the trip was a success. I ended up buying a set of…

Victory's NM-4: Remembering the Vision 800

A little more than 10 years ago, Victory Motorcycles revealed a concept bike that featured an 800cc liquid-cooled parallel twin engine, automatic transmission, and storage in the space where a tank would traditionally be. Dubbed the Vision 800, it was a dramatic departure from the sort of thing Americans had come to expect from their motorcycle manufacturers, and it offered a glimpse of Victory's true potential.
If you've never heard of the Vision 800, you're not alone. I only learned about it last year, as I was doing research for my review of the much larger V-twin tourer that shares part of the Vision 800's name, as well as its futuristic look. To my eye, Victory had created the Honda NM-4 several years before Honda, and I was surprised such a unique concept could seemingly have come and gone without more fanfare.
When Victory released its new liquid-cooled Octane model earlier this year, one of the narratives of the bike was that it represented a kind of opening o…

GWTTA: Aberaeron

I first came up with the Great Welsh Tea Towel Adventure a few years ago. The idea was pretty simple: using the map on a touristy dish cloth (aka "tea towel"), I would visit some 66 different villages, towns and cities in Wales, as well as Snowdonia National Park.
The reason for this was twofold:
Firstly, it's an excuse to ride my motorcycle. Wales is a tiny country and just about any location within its borders can be reached and returned to from any other location within the space of a day. Wales has a number of exceptionally good roads for riding and if –– like me –– you live here, the proximity of everything to everything else means you can pretend you're on a fancy, exotic road trip without having to fork out for hotels.
The second reason was that I had developed a deep, unabiding hatred of Wales, and I found this to be somewhat detrimental to my overall wellbeing. I had come to Cardiff in 2006 full of incredulous belief I was moving to my spiritual home, that …

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:
TRACTORS ARE FUCKING AWESOME!!!
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…