We’re just adding a new entry to our ‘2016’s most obvious facts’ list. Right below the lines that say “American elections go for too long,” and “David Bowie was pretty good,” we’ve just added a fresh entry. It reads “Triumph Motorcycles is having an amazing year.” Even if we disregard their triple cylinder and off-road offerings and just focus on their Bonnevilles, barely a month seems to go by without us receiving an invite for another big launch. The Street Twin. The T120. And now, little more than a week or four after their big Thruxton R launch, comes the global reveal of their top-secret Bobber project. We were there. We went to the launch. We visited the factory. And then we pushed our luck and asked to ride the thing. What was it like? Read on, dear bobberphiles, read on.
With the world’s motorcycle manufacturers feeling the enormous weight of progress and the ever-increasing pressure of emission regulations pushing down on their leather jacketed shoulders, it’s no surprise that many of the bikes we’ve been reviewing of late have bitten the Euro 4 bullet and made some fairly big changes to their powerplants in order to woo Mother Nature and please those pesky EU bureaucrats in Brussels. But Moto Guzzi are amongst a handful of the big makers who have buttoned down the hatches of their little air-cooled castles and dug in for the long haul to 2020 when Euro 5 rules will kill off the genre for good. Which brings us to this, Moto Guzzi’s latest release, their ‘youth-orientated’ V9s, the ‘Bobber’ and the ‘Roamer’. But are they just dinosaurs teetering on an ever-decreasing piece of sea ice, or buy-them-now-before-its-too-late motorcycling classics in the making?
Yamaha’s MT range is a funny old thing. With a single outing in the noughties in its ‘MT-01’ guise, the segment seemed to be pretty much done and dusted with Yamaha’s announcement in 2012 that the model was kaput. With the GFC barely over and Japan still reeling from the tsunami, few expected Yamaha to replace this ostentatious, genre-defying brute. And yet they did just that. 12 months later and hey presto, we get the MT-07 & MT-09. Well, not so much ‘we’ as ‘they’ because we’re guess there’s not too many Pipeburn readers who’d be desperate to own one. But now Yamaha has tried to redress that with their XSR700 & XSR900 bikes. With similar underpinnings to the MT models, they’ve enlisted the help of Shinya Kimura and Roland Sands to appeal to ‘us’ and the new-school custom scene as a whole. So, have they succeeded, or have they flunked out? Step into today’s class and let’s find out.
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.