Category Archives: Automotive

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.

2016 BMW R1200R

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Edit: Some folks have asked what boots I’m wearing. Icon 1000 “Elsinore”, from Revzilla. They are badass. But they are based on a Motocross type boot, so they are stiff and not great to walk around in.

2016 BMW R1200R. Just a simple standard motorcycle, done very well.  Just a wonderful motorcycle.  Let me tell you why…

Very comfortable, with an easy upright position, mid, to slightly rear sets on the foot controls that is comfortable but just back enough to be sporty.  The seat is good for several hours in the saddle at a time without causing any pain in the buttocks.   The mirrors are actually usable, and stay put and stable at speed.

But really, this bike is all about that engine.  That classic BMW Boxer 1200.  It’s rolling on 125 horses that are packing 92 pounds of torque.  And that is a lot of power in what is really a small-ish bike. What’s great about it though is the way BMW has made all that power very accessible and controllable.   There are three riding modes for the traction control and suspension.  Rain, Road, and Dynamic.  Dynamic is the fun mode.  Like all BMW’s now, ABS is standard of course.

But there’s more to the engine than just numbers.  The engine can be lugged, and you can just put put put around at low speeds… and if you want to go fast… This bike is fully FAST capable.

The brakes are very good.  With the ABS system that works as well as this one does.  Highway Speed to Full Stop under Death Grip Brake Stomp happens very suddenly, but with no drama, no skittering and nothing unexpected.  The bike just comes to a well controlled stop.

The suspension is excellent.  It takes in all irregularities and small bumps and turn them into distant miles behind you.  The bike is very composed when the tarmac is less than perfect.   Even in turns, under acceleration.

14642494_10209656302817772_8758185170773246197_nThe R1200R is all about Competence.  The bike just does everything well, without being flashy.  It has no flair that might draw unwanted attention or get you accused of being a showboat.  The R1200R is subtle in being awesome.    It’s so subtle in fact that it garners very little attention in the motorcycle press.  And in the showroom it’s one that is often overlooked and passed by, by those who’s eyes are caught by the more flashy of bikes.  It might be the Big Brother to the  R Nine T series, which might look more trendy and hip.  Especially the R Nine T Scrambler… which is just amazing looking.  But the R1200R should be the one you look at first.  The R1200R has the better tech, and while it’s a similar 1200 Boxer to the Nine T series, this version is tuned to higher output thanks to the liquid cooling.  Which makes it far more versatile for long range riding, more spirited riding, and lower maintenance.

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When you are on a truly great bike, you can tell because the ride is about the ride and the bike becomes transparent.  You don’t think about the bike anymore and all your attention is on the ride.  And that’s what this bike does… It disappears when you get rolling and all you are thinking about is the road ahead.  This is a beautiful thing.

BMW is most impressive with the engineering they’ve put into this machine.  The quick shifter system, the switch gear, the GPS ready set up, the keyless ignition, the heated grips…  And the simple menu system that only took a moment to figure out without having to pull out the manual.  This bike makes my old ZX-11 look like it was from the Bronze Age.

2016 Triumph Thruxton R 1200

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Yesterday I had the opportunity to ride a brand new Triumph Thruxton R 1200.
This bike was absolutely amazing in it’s composure and balance. It didn’t care what gear I was in… you could lug it… you could wind it out. Six speed transmission and the engine couldn’t care less…. Riding position is a bit leaned forward, but not enough that your holding yourself up by the wrists… It’s almost a Standard. Very comfortable.
It’s so much better than the old Bonny engine, which was an 865… and fine for… the 80’s… I guess.  It was fine before… but somehow just a little lacking.  Now, the new 1200 engine – which looks and feels weight wise like the same engine as before… is just so much BETTER at everything.  Better top end.  Better torque.  Better power delivery from idle to redline… it’s just all completely better.

Having not ridden in some time, I was kinda nervous. But once I threw a leg over and grabbed those Clip Ons… it just felt RIGHT.
The bike didn’t feel like it was in a hurry to go fast – but it was. It cornered easily like you had already done that a thousand times.  The handling was very neutral, with no drama.  It turned in well, with no feeling of sluggishness or twitchiness.  It stayed remarkably stable through the curve and powering out passed the apex.
The suspension was a very nice balance between comfort and road feel… You felt everything, but nothing hurt your spine or your gentleman’s nuggets.  The seat feels both firm and comfortable as well, and you could easily spend enough time in the saddle to run from a full tank to vapor.
The bike was just a very pleasant, willing, and spirited companion.

EDIT:  About a Month Later:
It’s been awhile since I rode it about a month ago now… And I’ve ridden pretty much everything else in between then and now. So I wanted to revisit the “Thruster”.

I am pleased to say that the Thruxton R has remained my favorite Sport Bike. The Bike is just hands down a pleasurable experience. The big bore engine makes effortless power, which translates into effortless motion. For a Twin, the Thruster is exceptionally smooth. And it’s extremely well behaved. In Rain Mode and Road Mode, the Thruster is the perfect gentleman. In Sport Mode, it gets straight up Dashing.  It can keep up with most every other sport bike on the market save for the 200 horse power Ground Rockets. But it’s not trying to be a Race Replica… It’s only trying to be just what it is… a well built classic sport bike that can have fun carving canyons, and while doing so, it will be more relaxed, comfortable, and composed… It’s the Nicest of Sporting Motorbikes you will ever throw a leg over.
I just love this thing. Honestly, I can’t think of a single thing to do to it to make it better.

Left Lane Campers

Dear Carolina Drivers, I love you guys.  You guys are some of the best drivers in the Nation.  No, seriously… you really are!  You guys are polite and friendly… you guys let people merge and there are few times when horns get used.   You guys are great.
Save for one thing.   Some of you guys are chronic Left Lane Campers.  You guys are awesome until you get on the Freeway where you move all the way to the left and just camp there.  You guys are going to just set that cruise control to the speed limit, and just ignore the whole freaking world around you.   Or worse yet, you decide to set your pace to the freaking truck right next to you!   Either way, you are in violation of a simple principle…
SLOW TRAFFIC KEEP RIGHT.
Let me make it easy for you.

If there is no one in front of you, and people behind you… You Need to Move Right.

If there are people Passing you on the Right, you need to move to the Right.    Let’s give you an example… Look at this picture:

Tailgating

Now… We see 3 vehicles.  A Blue Van, a Silver Car and a Blue Car.
The Blue Van is a LEFT LANE CAMPER.  He needs to move his slow ass over to a lane on the Right.  GTFO of the Fast Lane!
The Silver Car is needing to back off a bit.  But he’s trying to communicate to the Left Lane Camper… But you can’t.  Left Lane Campers are too busy text messaging to pay attention to actually driving.
The Blue Car, if he’s over taking the other two, is probably contemplating moving to the right and passing on the right.  When he does so, the Silver Car is going to be fed up with the Blue Van’s bullshit and he’s going to move to the right as well, but without looking because he now has anger issues.  As as result, the people in both cars are going to explode and die… all because of the Flaccid Left Lane Camping Sphincter driving the Blue Van.

Don’t be a Flaccid Left Lane Camping Sphincter.  Don’t make people explode and die… Move to the Right.

Random Image Drop:

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Musk’s next move

I was just reading the latest issue of Road and Track.  Last story was that Tesla is having a bit of a crisis.

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Well no kidding.  Gas is 2 bucks a gallon and Tesla cars are hella-expensive.   I looked at one and it was the same price as our house in Utah.   While the cars are gorgeous, they are not that gorgeous and they hold curious design elements.  The car isn’t an air-breather like a traditional car.  So why does it have a traditional grill?  Why?  AC and cooling of components can be fed air from other areas.   It doesn’t need a huge intake like a Ford Fusion.  That’s one of the problems with the Tesla design… It’s a good looking car, but it looks like a regular car.  It needs to look more like something from the future… something from space.  Instead it looks like something from only 2 years ahead.

Here’s the thing.  Tesla’s marketing is all about the Elegance and Style, and the touching of the Future Tech.  When it needs to stop touching the future and get on about absolutely molesting it.  It needs to be all about the Performance.   Because the Tesla S while a high performance beast – is one freaking heavy barge.    Instead of looking at the Ford Explorer as the model to save the company… it needs to look at another model…

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Take all that E-Tech… and put it into a car like a Miata.   For two reasons.  First, there’s nothing on the road that competes with the Miata.  There’s nothing in it’s class.  A small, light, 2 seat roadster for under 30 Grand?  Name one that’s in production.  Available in the USA, smartass.  There’s nothing else in it’s class.

The second reason?   Let me tell you something.  I was leaving work and pulled out into the street behind one of the most impressive cars I’d ever want to own.  A Porsche 911 S4 Turbo.  I was taken by how small the car is if you take away those hips.   Now, the 911 has a back seat.  As long as the passengers have no legs.  And are children. Children with no legs.  Actually, it’s best to just use the back seat to carry your back pack or day pack… small book bag.  Or a wallet.    Beautiful car.  Just gorgeous.   But it’s not for the Family Guy.  It’s for the Selfish Elitist?  No… I wouldn’t say that… I’d say it’s for the automotive enthusiast.  The serious Car Guy.  And those guys will pay whatever the price it is to get that serious car.

Now, the Tesla S has the potential to be a serious car… but it’s not.  It’s too bloody heavy.  Sure it handles well, but it handles heavy.  It’s pulling too much Car.  It’s trying to stop too much car.  It’s trying to turn too much car.  There’s just too much car.   Yes, there’s a lot of weight in batteries – we all know that. Batteries are heavy.  But the Teslas also have a lot of weight in regular car stuff that doesn’t have to be there.  Take out all the drive components and other things required for the S to be a functional vehicle.  What you have left over needs to be minimized.

To do that, there needs to be a new model… The “Tesla R” perhaps. Look at that Mazda Miata and DO THAT.

Forget the 15 inch touch screen inside.  The serious Car Guy doesn’t need that.  Take the super plush seats out.  Throw in some Recaros or a type of seat similar to a Recaro that costs less.   Take away everything that the Serious Car Guy doesn’t need.  Take away everything that makes it expensive.    Strip it down to the bare essence of what makes a pure sports car.    It should be less than 40 Grand.

Tesla – You do that.  You will sell everything you can crank out.

Why Car Magazines are fading…

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Car and Driver, Road & Track, Motor Trend… They seem to be fading out.   Motor Trend as a brand is doing the best, thanks to the YouTube video efforting… but I’m talking about the pulp magazine articles.
The latest issue of Car and Driver had a head to head comparo between the Toyota Taco and Chevy Colorado.  With the outrageously imaginative idea to drive the two trucks from Tacoma Washing to Colorado.  Whoever had that idea – demote them to Spell Checker.  Because that’s just… not even trying.

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But what’s worse about that idea, is that they missed the opportunity.  They didn’t write about the Journey.  If you take a long road trip like that – tell the story of the road trip and then talk about each truck helped or hindered that trip.  Instead they just made it a long linear road test that’s about as interesting as watching the gauges on an emissions test.   Tell a story and work the review into it.
Most articles I’ve been reading have been like this.  Again, Motor Trend seems to be doing the best job of Creative Non-Fiction.
But Car and Driver and Road & Track are just boring to read and disappointing.  Good photography though.

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Between the two trucks though… The Toyota has had some slight upgrades but is still very outdated inside.  It wins on the outside though, hands down.  It has the right stance… some ground clearance and can handle bigger tires.  The Colorado is just the opposite.  It’s great inside the cab, and while handsome on the outside, it pretty much just an Equinox with a pickup bed.  It needs more ground clearance and tires better suited for all terrain work.  But then again, Chevy is just playing to the truck’s strengths – it’s a street truck. Chevy knows that.  So Chevy isn’t even trying.   But it needs to.

Toyota’s small work-truck reputation is built on being able to go anywhere and do just about anything.  World wide.  Chevy needs to build that reputation.
And how is it going to do that?
It needs the Automotive Press to push that narrative.  Chevy needs to make a version that looks like it’s a tough SpecOps Warfighter that eats rocks and spits gravel.   Then Chevy needs Auto-Writers who have no damns to give, and will take these trucks on some Orc-Hunting Adventures.   Write about that and write about how the Colorado tanked through it all like it just didn’t care and would rather be on top of some summit.  And they need to take that Colorado, maybe a couple Colorados… and go Everywhere.  Do All kinds of crazy stuff.  Write about the Journey.  The Adventure.  And how those trucks got them through.    Write about it.  Video it.  The Long Way Around Style – with Midsized Trucks.  Look what The Long Way Around did for BMW Motorcycles.  You can’t have any conversation about Adventure Bikes without talking about BMW Motorcycles.  Chevy needs to get that Reputation by getting out there and DOING IT.
Car and Driver is not going to give you that kind of article.  Road & Track is certainly not going to give you that kind of article.
Maybe Motor Trend can.  Maybe.