I really wish I could blame Covid inactivity or a medication that has weight gain as a side-effect (though both are true), but the responsibility for my physical state rests firmly on me. As a kid, I could eat anything and everything at any time and not gain a pound. For most of my life, I wanted to gain weight, and until my late 40s, I never had to think about my diet. Oh, and I have a relentless sweet tooth. So, as I celebrated my 59th birthday, my bulk had grown by almost 60 pounds during my tenure at Motorcycle.com. Stepping on the scale in mid-May and seeing it register 218 lbs was the last straw.
Three weeks ago today, I got hit by a car while testing a bike for a future comparison story. While on a two-lane canyon road, I was approaching a left-hand bend. In the opposing lane the car driver misjudged his speed for the right turn, crossed over the double-yellow lines, and nailed me. Airborne I went – over the hood of the car, doing my best Superman impression.
Carbon fiber, it’s light, it’s sexy, and it looks fast standing still. However, unless you’re a pro racer at the top of your game, no one could ever call it necessary. So, let’s just admit it, carbon fiber bodywork on sporting street bikes is the equivalent of chrome on a cruiser. While we can extoll its high-tech construction and light weight, we install it for pure vanity. Yeah, shaving an ounce of unsprung weight off of the front fender is always good, but can you or I feel the difference? Not likely. (An argument can be made for carbon fiber wheels, but other issues need to be considered for them on the street.)
My daughter had Monday off from school, and she spent a good portion of the day learning how to draw hair curls. Periodically, she’d express frustration, as only an eleven-year-old can, with her inability to make her ringlets as good as those in the instructional video, and I’d have to remind her that the artist had probably performed this task many, many times, and these were only her first few attempts.
I’ve never been a fan of the mid-’90s – early 2000s Suzuki Katana. To me they were fat, underpowered, and hideously ugly – three traits that should spell instant death to any motorcycle. It’s an utter shame the Katana name – a once well respected and sought after model – was attached to that motorcycle in the end. I made my distaste of that bike well known when I met James for the first time. He laughed it off, even agreed with me on some points, then changed the subject. It was like he knew the Katana he was riding was bad, but didn’t want to dwell on it any more than he had to. Maybe he got it for free?
Although it began in November, the new model introduction season gets into full swing this month. In the next three weeks, we have no less than three bike introductions slated on our publishing calendar. Other intros are also looming on the horizon. Friday, I’ll brave new, longer TSA lines on my way to Mallorca for the 2019 Triumph Speed Twin debut. By mid-week (-ish), you’ll be able to read my thoughts about a bike I’m quite excited to ride. In the two following weeks, Ryan and John will be returning from introductions for… well, let’s not spoil the surprise… to give you their riding impressions.
Congratulations to all of you who’ve survived the holiday season (relatively) unscathed—you deserve a reward, and some of the web’s biggest moto gear retailers have got you covered. Both Revzilla and Cycle Gear (among others) have been discounting some of your favorite motorcycle gear as we count down the final days of 2018. In the case of Revzilla, their aptly named “ Holiday Hangover Sale” covers a range of riding gear and casual gear from a ton of different brands. Cycle Gear on the other hand is looking ahead to 2019, and their multi-category sale seems to have been meant as an early 2019 promo that they decided to launch early. This January Clearance Sale deals in riding gear, helmets, bike parts, and other goodies. Of the range of deals, here are a handful that stood out to us as being worth a closer look.
It’s flying under an odd name, but Revzilla’s new Orange Week Sale is giving you yet another great excuse to shop for motorcycle gear in time for the holidays (whether for yourself or for others). They’re blowing the doors off all sorts of moto apparel and accessories, with daily deals being added every 24h, and other deals lasting all the way through the week. Of the many deals on the list ( the full list can be found here), here are some of the biggest savings we spotted so far.
The Tuesday before Thanksgiving, I found myself at the top of the longest staircase I’d ever seen. My family and I were on a six-mile hike along the Great Wall of China, and we’d just traversed miles of the unrestored wall, clambering over stones that had fallen out of place and pushing through the trees that had grown in the centuries since the Wall’s construction. I’d expected the going to get easier once we reached the area that had been restored just 45 years ago, but this length of stairs pulled me up short. We’d encountered similarly steep sections of steps in 20-30 foot chunks along the wall but nothing like this. In the time of the wall’s construction, the terrain it traversed dictated its shape since the high explosives and heavy machinery we take for granted in modern construction weren’t available to lessen the mountain’s angles to suit those of humans on the wall.
This past weekend, the Motorcycle.com staff participated in our third UMRA 24 hour endurance race, which you’ll get to read about in the near future. However, my experience of the weekend got me to thinking about how life can interfere with motorcycling. I can say that I happily missed three-fourths of the 24 hours to have some special time with my youngest daughter, driving her to Las Vegas so she could participate in a gymnastics meet. Because of the confluence with high school homecoming, my wife would stay behind to handle our teenager’s dance prep needs, which gave me two full days alone with my youngest only a few short years before she too becomes a teenager and I turn into an idiot. With this special trip planned, missing the 24 hour race didn’t seem that onerous.
You can find a cheap motorcycle phone mount all over the internet these days, but pricing versus quality don’t seem to run entirely linear. After a bit of digging the evidence is clear; yes you can spend $50-60 on a higher end mount that will be rock solid, but there are also a few great well-built buys out there that don’t break the bank. Enter the Roam Universal Premium Bike Phone Mount for Motorcycles—a simple and sturdy mount currently on sale for $12.98 with free shipping via Amazon. with over 4,700 customer reviews and an average score of 4.4 out of 5, this mount is tough enough to do the trick on a budget. If you do a fair bit of off-road riding, even if just on bumpy logging roads, we’d suggest going the heavy duty route, but if you’re a commuter/highway cruiser there’s no sense breaking the bank here.
Crowdsourcing. It’s one of the hottest new ways to design and launch consumer goods, with dozens of successes, including a watermelon carrier, a pancake griddle that embosses pirates on your pancakes, and an all-pug production of Shakespeare’s Hamlet. Surely, since the modern motorcycle industry has failed us all so completely, the combined wisdom of the general populace can be harnessed to design the ultimate motorcycle. Or can it?
Did you see the 1965 film Flight of the Phoenix? It’s the adventures of a group of oil workers who crash their cargo plane in the Libyan desert. To fly to safety, they build another plane from the wreckage. It’s a good flick, and pretty realistic — famed stunt pilot Paul Mantz died during filming. Any gearhead will identify with the struggle to build something just good enough to barely get the job done.
News flash: Motorcycling can be dangerous. Illustrating this fact are the left hands of myself and international roadracer, Jeremy McWilliams, seen in the above picture, a photo I imagine many would think is more than a touch morbid. The missing digits are the result of crashing motorcycles while racing.
MotoGP’s season finale at Valencia was a better nail-biting cliffhanger than Game of Thrones, albeit not quite as erotic. The he-said-he-said soap opera of 2015 ended when the season-long heroics from the sport’s golden boy (pictured above) came to no avail when the come-from-behind win failed to materialize. The 2015 championship is now in the record books, but the underlying drama of accusations, mistrust and treachery continue percolating below the surface, waiting to rear in 2016 given the opportunity.
Maturity. For me, I look back at the point I became a mature human as the time in my life when my voice deepened, I was hungry all the time, and I was incredibly awkward talking to girls (some things never change). I’m guessing it was an awkward time for many of us, but the term “maturity” is also one I hear a lot when it comes to electric vehicles. As I noted in my long(ish)-term review of the Zero SR, my wife and I had contemplated an electric car for our daily transportation.
The asphalt and tar strips are baking. When they throw the red flag on the first lap, you can guess what happened. Somebody screwed up and made a bloody mess out of things and you have to trundle back to the hot pit. If it was a three-wave start, it’s chaos – you are baking in your leathers, and now you have to start thinking. A rational human being would be thinking about what poor soul just augured in somewhere and brought out this red flag in the first place. But you’re not remotely rational, you’re a racer.
In April I passed my eighth year working as Ed-in-Chief of the online moto publication you’re perusing, and I’d like to thank you for your attention to the thousands of articles MO has published since then. Lots of hard work has gone on behind the scenes to deliver all the latest news and reviews of motorcycles at a level of quality that puts us ahead of anything that can be found on the web. Hell, with the current roster of amazingly versatile and talented editors, I’d rank us up there with the best moto content to be found anywhere, let alone the internet. I’m blessed with my exceptional crew. So are you.
My recent purchase of a new Toyota Tacoma (not merely “new to me” and certainly not a just-on-the-cusp-of-being-a-beater-at-the-time-of-purchase like all my previous trucks) got me noodling about the importance of enthusiasts. While researching my purchase, I haunted the forums of the models I was considering, and before the ink was fully dry on the contract to siphon money from my bank account for the foreseeable future (and beyond), I was on several Tacoma sites seeking information and links to items that would make my truck better at the bike hauling duties for which it was being conscripted. In addition to finding the information I sought, I was reminded, again, about the importance of enthusiasts to niche activities.
Last month, Editor-in-Chief Kevin Duke opined on his fear for the future of motorcycling because kids weren’t growing up on two wheels the way previous generations have. The crux of his argument was “the kids of today find adventures in a virtual world rather than immersing themselves in the real one.” This past Friday night, as I waited between performances at my daughter’s ballet school fundraising gala, I was struck with an idea (and surprisingly, all that thinking didn’t set off any smoke alarms). Kids need motorcycles as much – if not more – than the motorcycle industry needs kids. I’ve told friends for years that my misspent youth might have been invested more wisely had I been bitten by the motorcycle bug before I was 26. However, now the draw for teenagers is much more complex than the sex and drugs and rock and roll of the past.
The myth of the American open road permeates our culture as thoroughly as gun worship and our cowboy history of conquest by might equals right. The idea posits that every American man* can remake himself by packing up his troubles and setting out on the road towards a distant horizon to discover what awaits for him in the remainder of that infinitesimal slice of eternity making up each of our lives. Lest you think I’m disputing this, I’m as susceptible to the myth as anyone. After all, as I’ve written before, I came to motorcycling through a months-long cross country trip to escape an unpleasant situation.
Freedom is likely the most oft-used word to describe the feeling of riding a motorcycle. For most, the first real taste of that sense of freedom was experienced while riding a bicycle, which, almost universally, was as a child. I loved the feeling of taking off on my bicycle to see and experience new things as I explored the exciting sensations of freedom on two wheels.
On weekdays, when the canyons are devoid of weekend road warriors, our bike testing, photo and video shoots take place. Because we maintain the same weekly, nine-to-five grind as most worker bee motorcyclists, rarely do we cross paths with the average enthusiast out for a Sunday ride.
This might ruffle some feathers, but when I think of an all-American form of motorsport, I think drag racing (sorry NASCAR fans). In this land of excess and consumption, what’s more Americana than 500 cubic inch big blocks drinking 11.2 gallons of nitro-methane per second, pumping out massive amounts of horsepower (top fuel dragsters make in excess of 8000 horses!), and clearing the quarter mile in under 4.5 seconds at over 300 mph. It’s impressive stuff. Add in the one-on-one competition between two drivers/riders and the emotional highs and lows that come from victory or defeat, and you have a drama-packed event with non-stop action. I mean, have you been to an NHRA drag race before? It’s intense.
There’s only one reigning Miss Universe. She’s a beauty, but make no mistake, during the competition any woman on that stage will get a man’s mojo working. And so it is with our annual selection of Motorcycle.com’s Best Of 2014 awards (MOBOs). A winner and honorable mention in 12 categories leaves only 24 spots to fill. Occasionally, a particular motorcycle is so good it might win or be honorably mentioned more than once, leaving even fewer spots available.
I don’t have any tattoos. Nothing against them, not even worried about needles. Nope, I suppose I’ve just never felt strongly enough about anything to have it permanently inked into my skin. Oh, I’ve come close before. For maybe the past eight years or so I’ve often had this recurring thought about inking myself with a design that pays homage to my Indonesian ancestry, but alas, I’ve never gone through with it. Whether it was a lack of funds, a change of heart, or simply putting it off, the design never made it onto my body.
The Isle of Man TT officially began two days ago, and from now until June 6 the grandest spectacle of two-wheeled sport will captivate viewers and race fans for yet another year. Personally, I love the TT. The grandeur of racing through the town of Douglas, with the sight of walls, homes and pubs whizzing past at triple-digit speeds is exciting in a way few who have never ridden a motorcycle will ever know.
Two weeks ago I attended the Grand Prix of the Americas, at the Circuit Of The Americas in Austin, Texas. It was my first time going to Austin, my first time at the track, but not my first time attending a MotoGP race. However, this time was different. For once, I didn’t have a media credential. I didn’t have to wake up early, dart to the track, setup shop in the media room, and watch the action from a television screen 100 yards away from where it was all happening.
Riders have two important events to look forward to each spring. First, as the weather warms, layers of clothing come off, exposing more skin and allowing us to remember why we’re so attracted to the gender of our preference. Pause for a moment, close your eyes, breathe in through your nose and think about the smell of spring and the sight of your favorite fantasy date in a swimsuit rather than a parka. OK, exhale. The second – and more important event for riders who live in climates with real winters – is the beginning of the riding season. The bikes get dusted off, checked over, and put back out on the road.