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Showing posts from April, 2016

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…

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 …