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?
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.
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….
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Next time you walk into your local newsagent just have a look at how many crappy magazines there are crammed on all those busy little shelves. And let’s be honest, most of them were more useful as trees – and probably better looking as well. So when we were sent a copy of a new magazine called ‘Head Full of Snakes’ we were initially sceptical, to say the least. Until about 10 seconds after we opened up the envelope and pulled out a magazine that didn’t feel like the usual glossy motorcycle mag we’ve come to expect. This felt more like something that was made in the 60’s or 70’s. It felt handmade. It felt like an old friend; the way a motorcycle magazine should be. Not completely filled with advertising. Not overly polished or slick, but instead a solid collection of great photographs and honest stories. You can almost smell the passion and sweat that went into it. The magazine is the brainchild of motorcycle nuts and graphic designers Luke Wood and Stuart Geddes. Here’s how Stuart describes his magazine…
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Everyone loves a shortcut. And everyone hates it when they find out that the way they’ve been doing something for years and years might have not been the best way to go about it at all. Take, for instance, washing you precious personal transport – a ritual handed down from parents to siblings for thousands of years. Or there abouts. And here’s how it goes. Wet the vehicle. Apply approved soapy substance with sponge. Rinse the vehicle. Chamois dry the vehicle. Wax if desired. Armour-All if anal retentive. Now what if there was actually a better way to do things? Namely, what if you could remove all the elbow grease involved in the process and jump straight to the chamois part? Sounds good, huh? Well there’s a fairly big chunk of the bike cleaning market now occupied by products that promise just that – a spray on, wash off, wipe down set of instructions that would have us believe that we’ve been wasting a hell of a lot of time in the past. But have we?
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My Dad. Knows absolutely nothing about motorbikes bar their mechanical basics and (in his eyes at least) their inherent danger – that and whatever his still-sharp 60 year-old senses tell him. So picture the vista when I roll up to my parent’s farm for Mother’s Day on a brand new Kawasaki W800. Of course he knows that the last bike I reviewed was Zero’s brave but flawed Zero S, and he briefly casts his eyes over this new one as I rev it up to give him a listen to the engine. There’s a moment of deep contemplation, much like a Kung Fu master might do, then he calmly pronounces, “Another electric bike, is it?” I laugh out loud. An electric bike? “Come on! Just look at the thing,” I blurt, pointing out the two massive pipes hanging off the back. “I know it doesn’t look like an electric bike,” he replies. “But it sure does sound like one…”
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When I was a kid growing up on Sydney’s southern beaches, there were two certainties you could count on during the long, hot Christmas holidays in January. The first was cricket on AM radio, and the second was afternoon storms. Now the two may not seem to be related in any way, but stick with me for a moment. You see, while I was standing there in my swimmers and towel, dripping chlorinated water on my mother’s linoleum floor and sucking down a Berts soft drink, I’d often hear little bursts of static interrupting the monotone drone of the commentary coming over the airwaves. They’d be faint and infrequent at first, but slowly and surely they’d build in volume and frequency until they were joined in a chorus of distant thunder and white strobes of light on the horizon. Our little valve radio had discovered it’s second job; as a lightning detector for the approaching electrical storms.
Our most recent poll asked a simple question; electric bikes – yes or no? Surprisingly (well, to me at least) most of you were in favour of them or at least were willing to give them the benefit of the doubt. But how many of you have actually ridden one? I’m guessing not many, and I too would have been on that list had we not been contacted by Phil Wilkinson of Zero Motorcycles Australia. He was kind enough to offer us a lend of one of his electrical wonders for a few days to get a first-hand feel on just what the future of motorcycling may be like. Or at least Zero’s version of it. I’m also pleased to note that this is the first ever proper bike review Pipeburn has done, and by the looks of the emails in my inbox it won’t be the last. Now if you’ll follow me…
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