The re-introduction of the Honda Trail in the United States marks a homecoming of sorts for a model that was, and still is, very special to American Honda and many Americans that grew up riding it. While attending the introduction of the 2021 Honda Trail 125 in Julian, California a few weeks ago, I had the chance to see the new model sat next to a well-preserved, but used 1985 Trail 110. The resemblance is commendable. From the dimensions themselves, to small details like the large hub on the front wheel that looks reminiscent of a drum despite the new model’s disc brakes (front and rear), Honda has done a really great job making the 2021 model a spitting image of the Trails imported to the US in the ‘80s.
Something about California’s central coast never gets old. It’s not just a single something though, rather a whole lot of somethings. The color palette plays a part for me. The way the wind-swept Monterey Cypress’ deep green leaves contrast with its pale gray bark as it hangs hundreds of feet above jagged cliff faces. The ominous dark blue of the ocean that transitions to turquoise in the shallow waters where the Pacific meets the coast. And the coastline itself, a melange of Franciscan assemblage topped with golden coastal prairie scrub.
Last month, during EICMA, Kawasaki announced a pair of new retro bikes in the W800 Cafe and W800 Street. At the time, Kawasaki Motors Corp. U.S.A. announced the Cafe version would be coming to the States, leaving people to assume the Street version would not be making its way to these shores.
Time really does fly. Hopping onto the laptop for my morning coffee and daily fix of the American Dream, Facebook informs me that I joined it ten years ago. What? How is that possible? A lot of people my age refused to take the FB plunge, but that’s okay because I still see what they’re up to on Instagram, via random text and on the news ( David Pecker). I tweet but rarely.
Well, there’s absolutely nothing funny about the latest set of fires consuming California. Closest to home is the Woolsey fire, which is currently burning up our finest riding roads in Malibu, all the famed “canyons” I read about in the bike mags when I was a kid. Not to mention a few friends’ houses who live up in there – at least one of whom managed to secure for himself a quite palatial estate right in the middle of the burn zone complete with an impressive chicken coop. I hope his five-car garage makes it. I knew this was a serious fire when I saw a beautiful ’69 Camaro SS driving past the roadside reporter when the news first broke last week: Oh damn, that’s another downside to being wealthy I never thought of: Which of your collectible automobiles do you flee in? Your motorcycles, since they can’t carry much stuff, probably aren’t going to make it unless you’re good at loading your trailer pronto.
Adventure bikes are one of my favorite categories of motorcycles. Ask me what I would take on a long trip given the choice between full-blown touring bikes, sport tourers, or ADVs, and it’ll be the adventure bike every time. I like to explore so the additional ground clearance and better equipped-suspension means that I don’t have to stop when the road does. With the big ADV bikes floating around 1200cc, they generally pack enough oomph to be a lot of fun on a canyon road while still delivering enough torque to chug along at low rpm off-road. When I pitched a two-up ride to the Quail Motorcycle Gathering to Mr. Brasfield, I already knew which bike I would propose to take, the Triumph Tiger 1200 that had been floating around the garages of our staff for a couple of weeks.
Lane-splitting, as the practice of riding a motorcycle between lanes of stopped or slow-moving vehicles is called, is either explicitly against the law or is a riding style that will get you written up for violating some other law in every state in the USA except California – and even there, you can’t do it however you want. Ride smart or get a ticket is the rule, but if you get caught, what’s the fine for lane splitting?
Hitting the road (or trail) on a motorcycle can make you feel like a modern day cowboy chasing the sun into a horizon of new experiences and foreign places. I think just about every motorcyclist will agree with me in saying that there’s an air of adventure that is inherently built into every bike. Whether it’s on or off-road, motorcycles can take you places in a way other vehicles cannot.
Blessed with beautiful weather year round, weekend mornings at the Rock Store of southern California can rival the best bike shows around the globe. Eclectic characters come out of the woodwork every weekend to enjoy riding through some of the tightest, twistiest, off-camber, up- and downhill roads motorcyclists dream of. Their owners are pretty interesting, too. It’s not uncommon to see Jay Leno on one of his bizarre and rare machines or other celebrity motorcyclists such as Arnold Schwarzenegger, Matt LeBlanc or Laurence Fishburne.
On Monday, August 1, 2016, California bill AB 51, the lane splitting bill, passed the full California State Senate in a 38-0 vote. AB 51 recently passed the Senate Transportation Committee in an 11-0 vote. The bill now returns to the California State Assembly for approval.
Listen, if you think it’s easy to arrange borrowing nine Sports-Adventure-Touring motorcycles from seven manufacturers and clearing a week in nine guys’ schedules, you should apply for work as some kind of General at the Pentagon or someplace. We’re keeping our jobs. We’re not complaining, but it’s not all a bed of roses. Ducati made us wait a long time to get our hands on its new 2015 Multistrada S, and our only slight disappointment is that Yamaha couldn’t come through with a Super Ténéré. It’s doubtful the Yamaha would’ve won in this company, but we could’ve come up with some great headlines if we’d had a nice even 10 bikes.
Dang, we really do need to get out more. Frankly, I had misgivings about six days on the road with eight other MOrons, but by the time we got home I was wondering, why do we all live with these other 11 million morons packed into SoCal anyway? Can’t we just keep riding? Oh well, at least we lucky few have the chance to escape it now and then, to see the other California. The Central Coast, like between Santa Barbara and Monterey, is nice enough. Camping at Big Sur on our first night out was okay, but to me, camping in campgrounds is like staying in a hotel with no walls. It’s not until you make it north of San Francisco, quite a ways north, that the real mental adjustment can begin.