Category Archives: Motorcycles

My favorite Sport Bike: The Thruxton R.

Bar none, the Triumph Thruxton R is my favorite Sport Bike on the planet.   First off, let’s talk about the Looks.  This bike is drop dead gorgeous.  It looks like what a motorcycle should look like.  This is the modern quintessential Cafe Racer, from the company that pretty much invented the Cafe Racer.  This is a two-wheeled Audrey Hepburn… always good looking, never goes out of style, and will still be good looking 200 years from now.     But under that classic good looking exterior, this bike is truly a modern machine.

The 1200cc Parallel Twin is a pleasure at every position of the Rev Meter… it has plenty of usable power, and I’ve never felt the bike lacking in Pull.

Continue reading My favorite Sport Bike: The Thruxton R.

Bucket List Bikes

These are the bikes on my Bucket List.  Bikes that one day I will have.
Triumph Rocket III Roadster.
British humor is based on exaggeration.  When I first straddled a Rocket III, I thought it was a joke… a two wheeled Monty Python sketch.  It’s just so huge.  It’s a massive bike!  But at the same time, it’s very well balanced, it handles beautifully, its brakes are strong… and that torque!  That torque is phenomenal.  There is just something undeniably cool about this machine… and that something is the 2300cc Triple engine.  2.3 Liters.  It’s fantastic. And these bikes are not priced unreasonably… They retail around 17 Grand.

Ducati Multistrada Enduro

This is the hotrod of the big 1200cc ADV bikes. 160 horsepower, tons of torque, stunning good looks, and fully capable rider assist technology that I’ve seen and felt work first hand.  This bike is one of the bigger Wants on my list here.

Ducati XDiavel S

This isn’t Ducati’s Cruiser.  No.  It’s not a Cruiser.  It’s a foot forward positioned sport bike.  Ducati’s quickest bike 0-80MPH.  It’s very powerful… but it’s power in control.    It’s very cool, fists in the wind, power cruising… badass.  You can pitch it into the twists like nothing else with your feet out in front of you.   It’s the most unique motorcycle on this list… and somehow… the best looking.

BMW R Nine T Scrambler

Great looks… solid engineering background… but there’s something more passionate about this bike other BMW’s.   I’ve taken one home as my weekend bike a few times… and each time I get on it, I just cruise till I get lost… not even caring where I go.  Few bikes do that for me.  This is one of them.

 

Triumph Street Triple 765 RS

The new 2017 Triumph Street Triple 765 RS is going to turn out to be the Bike of Choice for the Rider Aficionado.  It will be one of the best new motorcycles of the year, and it’s going to be… already is… a huge Home Run for Triumph Motorcycles.  Now, let’s look at the numbers a bit… This bike has 123 horsepower, which is a big increase for the Street Triple… and it’s 5 pounds lighter than the outgoing bike.  Lighter, with gobs more power.  But at what expense?   Continue reading Triumph Street Triple 765 RS

Motus MST: Utter Disappointment

Motus MST.  It’s all about the engine.  The engine is the business.  The engine is fantastic.

The rest of the bike leaves much to be desired…  Such as traction control, ride modes, ABS…  For the price, it needs those things.

The Rep said “Well, some guys don’t like those things.”
I say bullshit to that.  Because this bike is $37,000.00 USD.

Continue reading Motus MST: Utter Disappointment

Bike Review: BMW R 1200 GS Adventure

BMW Invented the modern Adventure market when it comes to Motorcycles.  They made it, and they own it, and despite what everyone else says and does, nothing has changed that.  Because of the GS.

When I first came to Motorcycles of Charlotte, I had never ridden a BMW R 1200 GS before.  And to be honest, it was intimidating.  These bikes are huge.  And the GS Adventure version, what we call the “GSA” is even more so.  I had never even really looked at one up close before… and initially my impression was that “it’s a water buffalo”.  I had no interest in even throwing a leg over a water buffalo, let alone take one out for a ride.

Continue reading Bike Review: BMW R 1200 GS Adventure

My Triumphant Trip to the Conch Republic

Triumph Motorcycles had a nice event planned for it’s Triumph Champions, and I was invited to go to represent Motorcycles of Charlotte.  I happily agreed to attend.   The event started in the Florida Keys, all the way down in Key West.  “Key” is evidently Floridian for Island.  Key also means critically important, so it’s a little self aggrandizing for them to call their islands keys.


This is me, having just landed at the world’s smallest airport.  We actually had walk between different aircraft to reach the terminal.

This is the terminal.  It has statues on it.  The statues have more clothes on than most of the people on the island.

That’s the aircraft I flew in on.  It’s made in Brazil.  So it’s basically a Taurus of the Sky.  Half of them have to go back to the factory for a Fluff and Buff, under warranty.  But they have great customer service.  And no resell value to speak of.  But I did land safely.  So I go that going for me.  Which is nice. 

Continue reading My Triumphant Trip to the Conch Republic

Ducati Multistrada Enduro

I’ve talked about the Ducati Multistrada before.   But this one is a bit different.  This is the Enduro version.  Now, everything in the Enduro is based on the 1200 S version.  The 1198 CC V-Twin is on board, cranking out the same 160 Horses of Power pulling the same 87 Foot Pounds of Torques through the same 6 Speed transmission.


The differences come in all the areas making the Multistrada more Off-Road Capable.  Now, it was alright off road.  As long as that off road wasn’t too off the road.  But it was lacking… The Enduro fixes all that.
New on the Enduro is larger spoked wheels, taller ground clearance, a heavy duty bash plate under the engine, and new suspension programming and calibration.  There’s also a different seat and handlebars… and a shorter first gear.  The changes all add up to make the Enduro almost a completely different bike.   The 1200S is a great bike for anything on the road.  The Enduro is just a great bike for anything.   I put a lot of miles on one this weekend, and that included some off roading… and any shortcomings it had before are all gone.

The Enduro isn’t just a motorcycle like the 1200S is.  The Enduro is a full grown, well trained, War Horse.

What sitting on the Enduro Feels Like.

Continue reading Ducati Multistrada Enduro

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

15181523_10209912504182646_6097258542033185383_n

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.