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Showing posts from January, 2017

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…

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’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…

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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…