The challenge Triumph gave themselves when redesigning the Bonneville was nothing short of Herculean. As a company whose entire brand rests on one hundred plus years of biking heritage, this is the bike around which their entire world revolves. How hollow would their references to legendary motorcycling heroes such as Steve McQueen and Marlon Brando sound if the new Bonneville missed the mark? So to this end, the brief from John Bloor, Triumph’s owner, was as clear as it was short. It had to be as good as the original ‘59 Bonneville T120, “and whatever you do,” he said “do not fuck it up.” Which begs the question, did they or didn’t they? To find out, Triumph Australia asked us to take the bikes on an epic journey over some of the most challenging landscapes in Australia to do battle with the weather and the road in a ride we’ll be telling our grandchildren about for years to come.
Tradition, it would seem, is a double-edged sword. While some Japanese bike brands would salivate at the thought of having a model in their line-up whose roots went back more than a few years, the likes of Triumph, Harley Davidson and Norton are in the challenging position of marching headlong in the 21st Century with baggage tagged ‘please return to 1900’. For these brands, a big new model design requires a deft hand to strike just the right balance between influences spanning more than 100 years and the always-fickle ‘modern consumer’. The perfect balance is a bike that will appeal equally to almost any age group. The latest salvo in this old-meets-new battle comes to us from Triumph’s 2016 Hinckley headquarters via a greasy British motorway cafe from 1959. It’s their new take on what has to be one of the world’s best-know motorcycles. So now, after their biggest-ever bike launch, how does the new model stack up and should you really spend your hard-earned shekels on one?
Go on, admit it. For all the lip service you give to motorcycles themselves, there’s something else about the whole two-wheeled, internal combustion she-bang that is pretty damn cool. Something that has pretty much nothing to do with speed, metal or gasoline. What is it? It’s the gear. The get-up. The threads, man. And as cool as it is to rock up to your local café, bar or pub on your Silver Dream Racer, it’s all for nought it you saunter through the front door looking like a Mighty Morphin’ Power Ranger or John Travolta in Wild Hogs. The key to staying safe and looking like Steve McQueen? It’s a sweet leather jacket, dummy. And here’s one from California’s Pagnol Moto that looks like it fits the bill perfectly. But how does it stack up once you’ve dropped the coin and taken the thing home? Glad you asked…
Somewhere along the way BMW Motorrad missed an opportunity. An opportunity to build a real factory café racer. A bike which would make the heart race faster. To continue the tradition that was born in the R90S, that of BMW saying ‘hey guys, look, we can build exciting bikes’. Don’t get me wrong, the R100RS of the mid seventies was a nice bike for its time. But it could have been so much more. Luckily, Donovan Muller of Cytech could see the potential in this 1977 BMW R100RS, and utilising factory componentry, has managed to produce what might have been. And it would have been good.
There was a time when Draggin jeans were the only protective jeans you could find on the market. But not any more. With Kevlar technology becoming more advanced, both small and large companies are putting the material to good use and producing some quality safety apparel for the fashion-conscience rider. We thought we would take a look at the latest Kevlar products that have been creating a buzz in the industry.
SAINT KEVLAR DRILL PANTS
First up, we have an Australian-based company called Saint. They have one of the most exciting Kevlar products we have seen in a while. They don’t just line their pants with Kevlar, they actually make the jean out of Kevlar – so now you don’t feel like you are wearing an adult diaper under your pants.
Review by Marlon Slack.
There’s two sides to Icon. Half their of their apparel draws from a colour palette best described as ‘kids sneakers’ while their motocross jerseys wouldn’t look out of place on a 90’s football team. I guess this is what most people like – but it’s not for me. The other half of their products belong to the 1000 line – blacked out and earthy tones on military-inspired cuts, held together with buckles and press studs you could beat a man to death with. The Icon 1000 line is equal parts On Any Sunday and Mad Max. So when I found out the Basehawk jacket I was being sent to review sat firmly within their 1000 collection I was ecstatic.
A little while back I received an invitation from Yamaha to the XJR1300 European press launch. Naturally, I was thrilled to be part of it and sent back a RSVP with the requested passport information saying I would love to be involved in the European launch. So my mind wanders off, picturing where we would be riding the XJR? Maybe we would be taken on the legendary German autobahn where pesky speed limits have been slain? Or perhaps we’ll disappear down the picturesque Amalfi coast with the Mediterranean breeze flowing in my locks? Or could we be taken up one of the most famous and photographed roads in Italy, the Stelvio Pass, with its endless hairpin turns? Then reality hit when I finally read the details of the invitation. The launch was actually going to be held in Sydney, Australia! What? That’s where I live. So after the initial disappointment, I realised being a native could actually come in handy while doing the press ride, like being comfortable riding on the left hand side of the road… but more on that later.
Review by Marlon Slack.
Of all the items of motorcycle apparel available, I find it hardest to get excited about boots. Jackets? Easy. Gloves? There’s a dozen pairs I want at the moment. There’s even a good variety of Kevlar jeans that don’t look like they’re designed for my Gran. But protective motorcycle boots usually look like a cyborg’s leg sprouting tumours – with lurid bits of plastic and obnoxious logos hanging off at all angles. And for a long time boots like these were the only real option if you wanted to protect your feet and ankles. But then there’s the Icon Elsinore 1000. Modelled after motocross boots of the 1970’s, the Elsinore 1000 tries to combine traditional styling with modern safety features. I think they look fantastic, but if you think that they look like ridiculous steampunk accessories there’s no helping you – you’re probably not the target market for the Elsinore’s anyway. But if you like the look of them, you should seriously consider buying a pair. Here’s why.
This is the review I have been putting off writing. Not that I didn’t want to write it, I just didn’t want Andrew (from Pipeburn) to read it. You see, one morning a few months ago I received a knock on my door and there’s a FedEx dude holding two large boxes. I quickly signed for them and opened up the first one and there in all its glory was a brand spanking new leather jacket from ICON. It’s probably a good time to mention that ICON are a sponsor of this site but we pride ourselves in giving unbiased reviews – just check out the last Icon product review). Anyway, after pulling out the jacket I instantly knew there was a serious problem – there was only one of them. The problem being there are two of us that run Pipeburn so when it comes to products like new leather jackets it can cause problems. I had two options. Don’t tell Andrew that I was sent the jacket and always wear my old jacket when we go for rides together. Or the other option was just to tell Andrew and see what his reaction was. I chose the later. So I text Andrew and he replies faster than Marion Jones on speed. “I want it!” he says. “you have a cool jacket and mine is shit”. He had a point, his jacket is ugly as sin. But this was going to be a hard one to hand over. So I try the jacket on and it fits perfectly. Then my wife walks in right on que. “wow! nice jacket” she says. The last time she said that was on our wedding day and I was wearing a very expensive suit. Seriously. This was a keeper, plus it was pretty much second hand now. Couldn’t give Andrew a second hand jacket could I?
We recently tried to get our greasy little hands on a Harley-Davidson 883 to review. Unfortunately due to a long list of rules (who would have thought Harley was into rules?) we didn’t meet their criteria – and no it wasn’t because of our lack of pony tails. It was mainly due to the fact we hadn’t had years of experience on heavy bikes. Anyway, as luck would have it, one of our good mates Laurence Cronin recently purchased his very first Harley. He is no newcomer to riding, just hung up his riding boots for a few years while he raised a couple of kids. Now they are all grown up, he decided to fulfill one of his lifelong dreams – own a Harley. And like many, he fell for the ‘man magnet’ they call the 883. This is Laurie’s review after riding the Sportster for a few months….