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Showing posts from January, 2017

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…

Review: 2017 Harley-Davidson Street Glide

Man, what a difference a year makes.
You may remember I spent a day with the 2016 Harley-Davidson Street Glide Special in early spring, and the tl;dr version of that review is that I was not a huge fan of the bike. It was cramped, hot, caused physical pain, and - although I enjoyed its hayride-like performance in urban areas - was ill-suited to its stated role as a touring motorcycle.
I had wanted to love the Street Glide, feeling a sense of obligation to do so because it is wildly popular in my home nation of Texas, but had come away feeling let down. For the 2017 model year, however, Harley-Davidson has dramatically updated its touring line-up, replacing the Twin Cam engine it’s been relying on (in one form or another) for the past 17 years with the new Milwaukee Eight, as well as overhauling the bikes’ suspensions.
Needless to say, I was particularly eager to throw a leg over the new Street Glide to see if these changes to the bike would change my attitude toward it.


First Impress…

2017 Harley-Davidson Road Glide – Ride Review

Sitting on the new Harley-Davidson Road Glide atop Hurricane Ridge last September, in the northern part of Washington’s Olympic National Park, the ridge was living up to its name.
I was amid a small but hardy group of moto-journalists waiting to ride past photographers Brian J. Nelson and Tom Riles - each crouched in the mud further down the road, waiting to make us look good. The temperature here was several degrees cooler than it had been at the bottom of the mountain and we were more exposed to the rain. It seems I had brought the British weather with me.
As the intensity of the rain increased, the plink-plink sound of raindrops against my helmet was surpassed by howling laughter from Motorcycle.com’s Evans Brasfield: “Ha! The glamorous life of a moto-journalist!”
His laughter caused a flashback to a moment from earlier in the day, when we had been speaking to Harley-Davidson Chief Engineer Alex Bozmoski. In response to a question about the new Milwaukee Eight engine’s performance…

Help Me Understand, America

Last summer I spent a month driving across the United States, exploring 10 states –– Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Texas –– in the iconic road-trip machine that was my mother’s Toyota Prius.
Oh, sure, it’s not a ‘63 Mustang or a Harley-Davidson FLXWTFBBQ –– a Prius may not be everyone’s go-to choice for a road trip –– but I counter all criticism with the fact I was able to drive from Minneapolis to Kansas City on just $20 of gas. (Travel tip: Pay cash at Pilot) Plus, my parents don’t have a motorcycle that I could have borrowed. It was the Prius or walk.
Still, my mind remained two-wheel focused and I soon found myself using the 4,500-mile peregrination as an opportunity to observe the state of motorcycling in my homeland. I may not have visited your particular neck of the woods, but based on my observations I'd say that overall things are pretty good. Certainly, they are better than I remember from even a few years…