2016 Triumph Scrambler


One of my favorite Motorcycles… the Triumph Scrambler.

Just rode this one…  It’s a 2016 model with the well known and battle proven 865cc Oil-Air Cooled engine.  This engine produces as modest 58 horses and 68nm of torque moving a 500 pound bike… so that sounds like it’s not enough.  Sounds as if it’s going to be a dog.  But this is one of those bikes where Numbers don’t Matter.

One thing that stands out to everyone looking at the Triumph Scrambler is the Pipes.  No, they wont burn you.  Yes, you will feel the warmth from them on a hot day if you are not moving.  This is like any Air Cooled twin… You are going to feel the engine heat no matter what.  These pipes have two layers of Heat Shielding over them.  The first plate is angled to funnel air under the heat shields to keep them cool.  I’ve ridden these enough to where I know that if it could burn you, it would have burnt me.  I don’t even know anyone that has had a burnt leg because of the pipes.  I do know one guy that fried his hand when he grabbed the pipe in front of the heat shield… because he wanted to know if it was hot.  Turns out, yeah.  It was.  Don’t do that, and you’ll be fine.

It is such a great bike. There’s something about the classic Triumph Scrambler that really speaks to me.   See, the engine is not all that powerful. The bike isn’t really light at all.  It even has far too much chrome on it for my personal tastes… and the suspension really isn’t even all that great.  But the bike is more than the sum of it’s parts. Everything about it FEELS RIGHT when you ride it. Not looking at it, or sitting on it in a showroom… It Feels Right when RIDING.   It feels like this is what Motorcycling should be.  What it’s all about.


The bars are at a good height and it gives you a very Fists in the Wind positioning, but with good width for leverage.  This makes the bike feel very agile for it’s size and weight.  Low speed maneuvers is easy and the bike’s good sense of balance helps that.  For going where the pavement ends, standing up on the pegs feels almost as good as on a BMW GS.  The bars have enough height, even for a Six Footer like myself, and the big fat rubber sleeved pegs give you plenty to anchor on.  The big rubber welcome mats on the sides of the tank give you even more to grip on with your legs… so standing is easy.  Which is good.  Because I love standing up on a bike.

The engine has enough torque to get you moving… it’s no Rocket III, but it’s more than enough to get the job done.   One of the things that helps with this is the ease of shifting.  The Shifter feels very good, and communicates well.  Unlike on any given Ducati, this one never gives you a false neutral.  The shifter it’s self also doesn’t tear up my boot leather.  It’s just “Nice”.

I do wish it had better brakes up front.  It’s only sporting a single rotor up front, and I would be happier with two.  However I do not feel like the bike is really lacking in actual stopping ability.  And of course, this model doesn’t have ABS or any Traction Control… this is the last of the Caveman Simple motorcycles from Europe.  And I think that’s one of the reasons I really dig it.

When you ride these Scramblers, you get a sense of understated competence from the bike.   It’s ruggedly handsome, but not flashy. It’s just simply able to do everything you want it to do… and it does so without any undue drama.  It doesn’t cry out for attention. It doesn’t need screaming exhausts, or blistering acceleration or Buck Rogers Fairings… It’s just a good solid motorcycle. And I LOVE THAT. Because after all… It’s a TRIUMPH.

Now I’ve heard some people say that they just “Don’t get the point of a Scrambler”.  I feel sorry for those people… The Scrambler, more so than any other type of Motorcycle is a Jack of All Trades type of bike.  Meaning it can do anything that you want to do on a bike.   It’s a both a great City Bike, Urban Explorer, and it’s also a great Adventure Bike.  I’ve seen them in the Uintah and Rocky Mountains, high up on single track trails.  I’ve seen them cruising down city streets at night.   You do not need a specialized machine for each task… and really the Scrambler is competent at both in the same way that a specialized machine sacrifices one type of riding to better at the other.  The Scrambler lets you have your cake, and lets you eat it.

Triumph’s Scrambler is not a perfect motorcycle… and at the same time, it is the Perfect Motorcycle.

2017 Harley Davidson Road King

When I was given the invitation to check out Harley Davidson’s new Milwaukee 8 engine, I was very excited.  I had heard some very good things about it.   I had my choice of Touring and Bagger bikes, and I wanted to try the Street Glide, but the problem with that was that I had never ridden a Street Glide so I wouldn’t have a yardstick to measure this new bike with.  The last Bagger I had ridden was the Road King… So sacrificing new experience for familiar, I had elected to take the most objective path as possible.  And I’m glad I did.  The differences became apparent as soon as I let out the Clutch. 

It would be easy to just go over all the technical details, in detail.  But engine specs don’t really tell you what the bike is like.  However there is some important details I’m going to give you that backs up what I am about to throw down here.   Right off the bat, my impression was that this Road King, while looking overall similar to the last one I rode, (which was either a 2012 or 2014 model year) this 2017 is a whole new machine.   The Main Course for this dish is the Engine… But before we get to that, let’s go over the appetizers that help make this machine so delicious. 

Let’s start with the brakes.  In 2014 the Motor Company has really stepped up their Brake Game with an optional upgrade for ABS.  The downside is that it remains an optional upgrade.  It should be standard equipment.   But make sure you check the ABS box when you spec out your new HD.  They are using a linked ABS system similar to what you find on a BMW motorcycle.  This is good stuff and I was very glad to hear this.   What this system does for you, is not just giving you anti-lock brakes… But it makes the brakes work together.  So when you crush down on the front brake lever, you are applying breaking forces to both wheels, and the ABS system will work at both wheels to keep a wheel from locking up.  But if you only stomp the rear brake, you are only getting rear brake force.  To the Rider, this system is completely transparent. You never know this is happening… but it’s there.  I believe this is the most important option on the whole list.  Take it.  Now, the brake feel is still on the heavy side.  This should remind you that this is a big and heavy motorcycle.  It is in fact heavier than the outgoing model, by 11 pounds.   Again, get the ABS option.

Now let’s talk about the suspension.  Up front the forks might not look very different, but inside, they certainly are.  They feel more stable during high speed sweepers, they feel more stable during braking, they feel more stable over rough road surfaces.    At the rear the suspension is new as well.   It’s using Dual Bending Valves and I wont even pretend to know what that means… All I know is that they got ride of the air over oil system that never really impressed me on these big bikes.   Regardless of how this new system works, the results were immediately apparent to me.   With new suspension in the front and the rear, the bike feels so much smoother on the road.  It feels more confident.  It flat out feels better.  If you have an older Road King (Note, that the new suspension is in all the new Touring and Bagger bikes) and you have been thinking about upgrading to a new bike… this is reason enough to step up.

The biggest reason to buy a 2017 is really and truly the new Milwaukee 8 engine.  The new engine is nothing short of Fantastic.  It’s all new and comes from a blank sheet on up build.  Everything is redesigned.   Let’s start with the name.  The 8 means the number of valves.  Four valves per cylinder lets the engine breath with better efficiency.  More air in, more air out.  In between that cycle comes the ignition and HD is now giving you two spark plugs per cylinder to fire these coffee can sized pistons.  Dual plugs give you a more efficient burn, and since it’s lighting up from opposite sides, the time it takes to burn all the fuel-air mixture is reduced.   In short, it’s giving you more bang per stroke.    Combined with the better breathing, you have a much more efficient engine that gives you more power and a better delivery of that power.  On paper, this engine is about 10% stronger.  But that’s where the numbers don’t do the results justice.  There is a dramatic increase is power in the lower revs.  This bike is lot quicker off the line to get you up to speed effortlessly.   Roll on passing power is better too, pulling you from 60 to 80 mph with power and glory that I’ve not felt in before in a full sized, factory stock Harley.

The engine is not just more powerful… It’s also a lot smoother.  Thanks to a combination of both rubber engine mounts, and an internal counter-ballancer, Harley has been able to reduce engine vibration by 75%.  There’s still enough shake to let you know you are on a Harley, and you still feel that power that the engine has… But it’s much more refined.   Harley could have removed all the vibration and shake… but if that’s what you want, go look at a Honda Shadow. This is a big bore Harley, you will not forget that.

Another thing worth talking about is how the Motor Company is keeping all this new power cool.   It’s using the new liquid cooled strategy at the exhaust ports at the top of the engine – the hottest part of the engine.   It also uses precision oil cooling in other areas of the engine, and of course good old Air Cooling helps in other areas.  So really Harley has a triple cooling system that works impressively well.  My weekend Ride was very comfortable because of this.  I only got caught in traffic a couple of times, and it was only then that I felt some warmth off the engine.  I never thought “this is getting hot” like I did before on the older Road King I had previously ridden.

Another thing I really liked, and I thought was noticeably lacking in the previous generation, is the new 6th Gear.   This was a very welcomed addition on a long high speed burn across Carolina Interstates.   In 6th, the engine just lopped along with little effort while I was passing traffic like that was my job.  Even at lower speeds, upshifting early into six the new engine didn’t make the bike feel like it was lugging in that tall gear.  (Man, this engine is good)

I’ll be honest, I have no idea what this cover is, but it looks boss.  

The emblem on the front fender… for some reason I just dig it.  

I’m not one for Floor Boards on a bike, and I’m not used to Heel Toe shifting… But I can see why people like them.  My leg position was very comfortable, even with my shattered knees.   The transmission was very good and never gave me a false neutral or felt “clunky”.   So I am guessing that Harley worked some sorcery in there more than just giving at a +1 on the gears.  

The seat though, is the real hero when it comes for comfort.  It gives you a little room to move around on a long ride, but I really didn’t feel the need to.  This is a good saddle.

One thing I didn’t mention before, the new Road King is feeling a lot more agile.  When moving it feels light on its wheels.   It’s almost “flickable”.   Transitions between directions happen quicker than the last Road King I rode.  Part of that has to do with the new suspension… but I mention that here because I found that the seat really does a good job of keeping you in it as you flick the bike from one curve to the next.   On a bike that you sit in more than sit on, being able to feel secure and confident and totally comfortable is a good thing.  I love that the seat gives you just enough support behind you to keep you anchored during hard acceleration.  It’s also enough to give you some support for riding real laid back and letting your arms stretch a bit.     Your passenger will have a nice back rest as well… and there’s a little rack behind her to strap down some luggage.

Speaking of luggage, HD’s saddle bags are awesome.  They are cavernous.  I’ve not looked up the capacity, but it’s huge.   But they also look very nice, streamlined, and they really fit the bike perfectly well.   Very easy to open and close.  These are good bags.   Harley could probably make some good money by selling hard bags for bikes other than HD.

Better Engine.  Better Brakes.  Better Suspension.  Better Transmission.  The whole bike is just completely better.  The 2017 Road King is hands down the best Road King that Harley Davidson has ever built.  Yes, it’s worth trading up an older Road King for a new one.

I really can’t wait to see Harley put their new engine tech into the rest of the Motor Company’s line up.  Especially into their Sportster lines.  A 48 with an engine that has 4 valves and 2 plugs per cylinder with some liquid cooling… That makes me excited.

Ducati X Diavel S

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The X Diavel S is one of the most unique bikes on the market.  It’s Ducati’s first and only cruiser… and really the only thing out there to compete is/was the HarleyV-Rod.  But HD has killed the V-Rod… Because Harley is stupid.  And really, the X Diavel just crushes the V-Rod anyways, so maybe it doesn’t matter.

Let me give you my impression of the X Diavel S here.   It is Jack The Riper on two wheels.

On one hand, the bike is surgically precise.  It handles fantastically well thanks to it’s heritage and engineering… you are not going to be disappointed here.  And oddly enough, thanks to the wide Drag Bars, it gives you a lot a of leverage that makes it’s handling feel Sport Bike Light.  You can pitch it into a curve with little more effort than a thought, and the bike tracks like a guided missile… until you tell it to go a different direction and then it eagerly flicks over to take the new heading.  Now, it doesn’t flick as quickly as a sport bike… but it does flick easily, like a sport bike.  There’s a difference.  And it’s not a bad one.  The X Diavel can carve through an Apex like a clean cut with a scalpel.   Like I said before… Surgical.

On the other hand, this bike is shockingly savage… offering no quarter. Brutal and merciless.  It accelerates harder than anything else I’ve ever experienced… and I’ve ridden pretty much all of the most powerful bikes on the market now.   But nothing is like this bike in Sport Mode and using the Launch Control.  Judas Priest… This thing is insane.  It will pull your eyeballs out of your ear holes.   Thanks to the well designed seat, it will keep your ass from sliding off the back.   Pro Tip on the Launch Control:  Hold on tight and grit your teeth.   Because… Damn.   Just trust me on that.

The three ride modes are interesting. Urban mode is the softest and most mild.  Don’t use it.  That’s not what you bought this bike for. But if anyone else is going to ride it – put it in Urban.  Or if it’s raining. That’s the only reason to ever use Urban Mode.   Now, Touring Mode is where you want to be most of the time.  Because it just makes sense.  Not sure why they called it “Touring Mode”… But this is where you want to keep it.  It’s the medium setting.   It’s the every day setting.  Sport Mode?  Sport Mode is the Axe Murderer setting.  It gives you all the power the bike has, all at once.  It also sets the suspension to its stiffest… most kidney and spine abusing. You will feel every bump. Hard. Sport Mode turns the bike from a power cruiser, into a weaponized cruise missile.  Don’t use this when you just want to go fast… Use this on Track Day.    Again – just trust me on this.  Seriously.   Your kidneys and your license with thank you.

This bike isn’t for everyone. It’s not even for most experienced riders out there.  This bike is for those who want a cool comfortable cruiser, but just needs… More.  More of everything.  More speed.  More power.   More passion.  More fury.   This is for guys who turn off alarm clocks with hammers.   This bike is for those guys.

BMW S1000RR

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BMW’s S1000RR is one terrifying bike.
This is the most terrifying bike I’ve ever ridden.  Never before have I been hurdled to triple digit speeds so suddenly and so effortlessly.  The engine drones at an almost constant tone as the velocity increases to relativistic speeds and being so smooth and so stable, you don’t realize how fast your going.
Two things comes into play then, and do so with great abruptness… First, is the brakes.  They are utterly fantastic, and backed up by an ABS system that not only works, but set the Gold Standard.  Next, is the handling.  It’s like a scalpel.   These two factors are very important when riding a machine that has 200 Horsepower and weighs less than an Infantryman’s Ruck Sack.  Because that power is going to get you into trouble, and with these brakes and handling, you not only somehow pull it off… but look like a super hero doing it.

This is one  fucking terrifying machine.  And I’ve been riding some insanely fast machines lately… But this bike… This thing is next level. I’m going to let Yammie Noob explain just what this feels like:


This is, without a doubt… the fastest motorcycle I’ve ever ridden.  Now, here’s the thing about it.  This bike is like a Nimbus 2000 with Rockets.  It’s not just blindingly fast, but it’s telepathically precision guided.  The bike is so good – that the bike disappears when you ride it… it’s just you and your will.

And that’s the problem… It will do everything you ask of it.  It will go as fast as you can think.   How is that a problem?  Sounds like it’s perfect!  It is… It is perfect… and that’s the problem.  There is no barrier between You, the good Dr. Jeckyll… and the monstrous speed demon inside you, the Mr. Hyde.   There is no filter.  You get on this machine… and it all feels so bloody good… it feels magical… and the next thing you know you are addicted to the speed and power.    Next thing you know, you are spending your money for Track Day passes and Knee Sliders and dipping into your Savings to pay for it all more and more.

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BMW R Nine T Scrambler

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This bike was a Classic the moment it was uncrated.  Everything about it is just so good looking.  It’s just beautiful.  But the beauty isn’t just skin deep… not at all.

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What makes it so good is the engines… The heart and soul of any bike.  The Scrambler uses BMW’s R1200 boxer engine… the well known Oil-Air Cooled version.   This engine really is world class.  BMW’s put it in Adventure Bikes, Touring Bikes, Sport Bikes, Roadsters… they’ve pretty much put this engine into every kind of bike they’ve made…. and now they’ve put it into the Scrambler.20161101_183619-1

The Scrambler isn’t just a more rugged version of the R Nine T.  It’s quite different.  We’ve got a different suspension, different forks up front, different tires, different brakes, and a different rack angle on those front forks.  This gives the Scrambler a completely different feel than the regular R Nine T.  The R Nine T feels sharper and quicker handling, where the Scrambler feels more composed and stable, even on dirt roads.  But dirt roads is not this bike’s natural habitat.  This bike is an Urban/Suburban type machine that wont throw a fit if you ride over some dirt.20161101_183644-1

Did I mention how cool and good looking this bike is?  It radiates cool factor like few bikes do… It attracts a lot of attention too.  From all the boys and girls.  I was sitting at a red light in Pineville, NC on this bike, and a car full of young ladies pulled up next to me.  After a moment one of the girls starting yelling something at me.  I don’t know what all she said, but it ended with “put a baby in me!”   I’m not really sure all what that means… but the gist I got was that she liked the bike.
But really… Who cares about what other people think about your bike?  A motorcycle is a very personal thing… it’s a very emotional thing.  Because there other other practical options for personal transportation out there…. and motorcycles are not about practical and they are not about Personal Transportation.20161101_183717-1

No… a bike is about transporting your soul.  It’s about how it makes you feel inside when you look at it, and when you ride it.    And this is where the BMW Scrambler excels.  It’s a small bike packed with a big 1200 Boxer.  It rumbles with authority and you can feel the torque with just a slight rev of the engine.  The machine feels like a caged lion at a stop light.  It wants to rev and it wants to leap out and charge.  Yet when the light turns, the Scrambler steps out smartly, but without any unwanted surges.  It remains well behaved and centered.   Even through the curves the Scrambler just goes where it’s pointed, with no unnecessary drama.   It doesn’t tip in as quick as the standard R Nine T, it’s not lazy… it’s not twitchy.  It’s just a good, solid motorcycle.   One of the best on the market.   One that can make you smile riding or standing still.  Few bikes make me grin like the Scrambler does.   This is a bike you want to own after just a few moments in the saddle with it.  She’s gorgeous, she’s smart, she’s got the whole package.

Ducati Multistrada 1200S

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Ducati is one motorcycle company that is pretty much batting a thousand when it comes to building exciting motorcycles that stir the soul.  Also, they don’t know how to make anything that isn’t fast. The Multistrada keeps up with that tradition big time.  It’s Ducati’s Adventure Bike.  And being Ducati to the core, the formula is simple.  Take the engine out of one of their super bikes, and put on a tall suspension.    If you don’t know anything else about the Multistrada, that’s all you really need to know.  Let’s look at the specs:
527 Pounds Wet.
5.3 Gallons of Fuel.
1198 CC V-Twin (Ducati calls it an “L” twin)
160 Horses of Power.
87 Foot Pounds of Torque.
6 Speed transmission.
33″ Seat Hight.
This is a big bike… It’s a heavy bike.  But it really doesn’t feel big or heavy once your in the saddle.  Unless you are short legged… then it’s going to feel pretty tall.  The Enduro version is even taller by a couple inches.

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The Multistrada though, is more than just a butch superbike…  Thanks to the DTC and Skyhook technologies (Traction Control and Active Suspension) the Multistrada becomes a very road-worthy bike that can devour the miles on pretty much any road surface you would care to travel on… and even when there is little to no roads.   You could easily take it on long trips .  The bike shown in the photos is a used bike that I borrowed to check out.  It’s sporting factory hard cases, and an aftermarket windshield, which sets this bike up nicely for some serious distance touring.  The Multistrada is very comfortable, and after an hour in the saddle, I really felt like I just wanted to keep going.

Pitching the Multistrada into the curves is pure joy.  The bike is flickable like a Switch Blade.  It really thinks it’s a sport bike.  Cutting the apex and gassing it, you can feel the bike wants to play.  20161027_112004-1

The Engine is what makes this bike rather special… Typical full bore Ducati Twin feeling, it’s happiest when you are keeping the RPMs above 5000.

My first impression on this bike was that it was “Naughty”.  It wanted to misbehave.  It didn’t like to be lugged… it didn’t like to go slow… It wanted to RUN!  It wanted to buck like an excited wild horse.  It would lift the front wheel on a whim, and would exceed the posted speed limits at moments notice if I didn’t keep it in check!   In short – This is a FUN motorcycle that you could spend a lot of time on.

I can’t speak to the offroad prowess… As I didn’t take it over anything more challenging than some damp leaves on the ground… But the Multistrada 1200S isn’t really meant for Off Road.  There’s another version for that.  The Multistrada Enduro… But dirt roads wouldn’t be a problem at all for the 1200S, thanks to the onboard avionics.  The bike is filled with tech… gyros that measure Pitch and Yaw and bank, as well as throttle position and tire slip… it’s basically the flight control systems out of an F-16.  The computers take all that information and adjusts the suspension and the power to the wheels and brakes to keep you on two wheels…. at pretty much any speed.  And all done seamlessly and transparently.   It makes you feel like a much better rider.  It gives you confidence.   It urges you to ride a little harder… It’s a naughty bike for sure!

If you think Adventure Bikes are boring… Friend… You need to try a Multistrada.

BMW S1000XR

20161102_183310The BMW S1000XR. Lucifer’s own Bike, right here. The Ducati Multistrada is a naughty bike… This? This bike is straight up EVIL.
Satan, Darth Maul, and Handsome Jack all ride one of these.
See, the Ducati and BMW both claim 160 horse power. In actual dyno testing, the Duck gave out something like 135… and the XR put down a smoking 153, if I remember correctly. That might not sound like a whole lotta difference… But it’s the way they put down the power.

20161102_183253The Duck feels more like a truck by comparison… and this… This feels like a freaking F-22 Raptor. And the RPM range doesn’t stop climbing and the thrust doesn’t relent. This bike is epic fast. And better yet, you can flick this bike like it was a butterfly knife.

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Okay, now give it the same ergonomic geometry of a GS Adventure Bike, and a comfortable seat. So yes, you can sit tall in the saddle, with one hand on the reigns, relaxed like Napoleon on his horse, while doing Warp Factor 10 like a Sir.

20161102_183351This is The Most Amazing Bike… (Clarkson Pause) In The World. You ride this bike – You WILL have to call your Doctor after 4 hours.

20161102_183337BMW calls this an ADV bike.  You can luggage it out with BMW’s excellent hard cases… But really, this is a Sport Touring Bike for those that want to sit up more.   Whatever you want to call it, the title probably fits this machine in one aspect or another.

Last word on this bike:  Dynamic Mode is the Hot Sauce.   Work your way up to it.

Also – This is what every Motorcycle Police in the USA should be riding.   This is THE COP BIKE.

Triumph Rocket III Roadster

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The British love to find humor in playing with the line between social norms and absurdity.  The Triumph Rocket III Roadster is very British in this regard.  This bike is huge.  This bike is heavy.  This bike has a crazy 2.3L triple coffee can sized engine.   This bike is a Hawker Typhoon on two wheels.    Everything else on the bike is also huge.  The extra wide bars, the extra wide levers… It’s just an awesomely large bike.
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At the same time… The bike is dang good looking.  It’s not out of proportion in any part.  It’s that tall dark and handsome thing.  Muscular, not fat.  Rugged, not girly.    It has a good sound too.  It’s a mellow, low rumble and not that loud burbling of certain American twins.   Because this bike doesn’t need to be overly and artificially loud.  It has nothing to prove to anyone.   It’s a fact that it’s the biggest production motorcycle engine in the world.  20161029_123656

Riding this thing for the first time, a certain specific song popped into my head.   Sitting on the bike, I felt just like what that song is like.   The upside, is that this thing was super smooth and strong in the brake department.  The bike is very stable.  But that engine… MAN!  This engine is right out of a Hot Rod.  It feels like a hot rod, it shifts like a hot rod… and when you get on the gas… it’s a total hot rod.  And that’s the whole point of the Rocket III.  It is a two wheeled Hot Rod and it makes no apologies for that.

A lot of guys look at the Rocket III, grin at it, and wish.  Because it’s just awesome…  Some shake their heads.  It’s not for everyone.  Hot Rods are not for everyone.  The Rocket is not for the timid.  It’s a ride apart… And that’s what makes this bike so great.


Could I own a Rocket III?  Yes.  Yes I could.  It couldn’t be my One and Only bike… but yeah, I could have a Rocket.  See, I’m glad that we have gonzo bikes like this, just because they are excessive to the point they border on being absurd.  This is why we have Dodge Power Wagon trucks, and Animal Style Burgers at In and Out, and music by AC/DC.    Because we can.  And I respect that.

Getting Started in Motorcycling.

triumphstreetwin1A great question came in:

I’ve been wanting to get in to motorcycle riding for a while now and considering your recent shift , I thought this would be a perfect time to ask. Where do I get started? How do I choose a bike? What should I consider before going full bore in to this? If you feel like this is too much to respond to in line.    Thanks! – Snallygaster

Continue reading Getting Started in Motorcycling.

BMW vs Triumph

This is the battle of the ages.  Or more specifically, the battle of the adventures.  Adventure Motorcycles has grown from about 4% of the market about 5 years ago, to a full 10% of the market today.  This makes ADV bikes, the fastest growing segment.  Since the genesis of Adventure bikes, BMW has been leader.  They practically invented it.

The king of the Adventure Bikes is the R1200GS.

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As of this moment, I’m riding a white 2015 GS with the new liquid cooled engine, which is the same exact mill that is in the R1200R that I recently tested.  This is a great engine.  World Class.  And honestly, one of the best engines in Motorbikes – period.  It has plenty of power, plenty of torque, and is very compliant and composed.   The blue GS in the photo above is a 2012 model, which is using the tried and true old Air Cooled version, which is the same as what you would get in the R Nine T bike… which people are loving.

20161026_115350Now, the #1 Contender to the King of Adventure is the Triumph Explorer.   There are others out there that want that title, namely the KTM Adventure, Ducati’s Multistrada, Harley’s… no… Not Harley.  Harley doesn’t have anything in this segment.  But pretty much everyone else does, and they all want a piece of this action.  But for Full Sized, Full Power Adventure, in my humble opinion, the Triumph Explorer is the only real challenger for the Crown.

The Explorer is powered by Triumphs 1200 Triple.  This gives the Explorer 1/3 more pistons… but really what it gives you is a much smoother power delivery.  From a rolling start to a pinned throttle, the Triumph surges forward with a sense of power and speed of biblical proportions.   In just the span of a few heart beats, you are absolutely flying.

20161026_115359BMW owners always speak of the lower center of gravity thanks to that boxer engine.  And that’s true.  But this really only matters at crawling speeds.  Once you are rolling and you have your landing gear up and locked on the pegs, this doesn’t matter at all, and the Explorer feels just as composed.   I think the Explorer handles beautifully and turns in like a dream.  Every bit as good as the GS.  In fact, I liked the way the Explorer handled long sweeps and transitions to opposite lean angles better than the BMW.  But that’s just my opinion, and could very well be my impression based on difference the tires could be giving instead of just the bikes.  Well… Whatever the Explorer is rolling on, is the tire every bike of this sort should be working with.  Because it’s fantastic.

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The Triumph’s power plant stomps a mudhole in the BMW’s.   It just does.   It feels far more energetic and willing to be naughty than the more librarian BMW.  But where the BMW shines is in the avionics.  The Electronic Sorcery in the BMW is more sorted, better layed out and executed.  With the BMW I was able to play with the system and quickly came to an understanding of how it all worked.  With the Triumphs’s package, I had to RTFM and asked to be shown how to do it.  This wasn’t Ogre being a knuckle dragger… this is the Triumph’s system being flat out poorly designed and executed.
Example 1:  Traction Control.  On the BMW, you select Rain Mode, Road Mode, Dynamic Mode, or your own User Defined Modes.  Done.  Easy as that.  Find the mode you want, select it, and it will be in that mode until you decide you need something different.   On the Triumph, you have Mode 1.  Mode 2… WTF?  Where’s the TTC Decoder Ring?  What’s Mode 1 do?  What’s Mode 2?  What’s TTC?  What is all this?
Example 2:  You finally set it to the mode you want, after consulting a Customer Service Department in India, and you go for a little ride.  You stop for a gas up or a cool beverage and go to turn the bike on again.  All the sudden that Traction Control Mode has gone back to Default Settings and all that previous effort has been lost.
Example 3:  Keyless Ignition can be found on the BMW GS series.  This is not found on the Triumph.  This is 2016, and soon to be 2017… and Triumph still hasn’t given us Keyless Ignition.   Keyless is the future.  Keep the Key Fob in your pocket, and your fine.  This is a small detail no one cares about – until you’ve used it.  And it’s like the first time you got to use Blu-Tooth.  You don’t want to go back to anything else.

Because of these 3 examples, it’s easy to conclude that the BMW might be the winner.  And for some… it is.  But for me… the Bike its self is what’s important and I think the Triumph, though simple and less high tech…. has the much better engine.  It’s the engine that pulls you out of the danger zone and forward unto dawn… not the Menu Layout.   Between riding the two bikes, I had a much better experience on the Triumph.  I really liked both, don’t get me wrong.  Both bikes are truly World Beaters… I just liked the Explorer better.

For me, the winner is the Triumph Explorer.