A day of cruising sunny, funky San Diego is enticing enough without a brand new ride underneath you. All the better, then, when Yamaha brought us to downtown San Diego for a well-organized day aboard their new Bolt, an American-style bobber — an exercise in convincing some die-hard riders that their bike is a viable alternative to Wisconsin iron.
If only movie remakes were this good. BMW has just pulled the covers off the BMW Concept Ninety at Italy’s Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este at Lake Como. Consider this one of the finest homage bikes ever, created in honor of both the legendary BMW R90 S and 90 years of BMW Motorrad, the motorcycle division of the famous Bavarian car company. In partnership with prominent designer Roland Sands, BMW brings to life a truly modern bike with echoes of the vintage R90 S.
No ride like the present
Now that the riding season is under way in many parts of the country, it’s time to sign up for riding lessons and start thinking about the machine that’s best suited for your needs. You could jump right into researching bikes for months online, but we’d recommend starting with our roundup of the 5 best starter motorcycles first.
The Spirit of Burt Munro
Burt Munro set his first speed record in New Zealand in 1938. He was riding an eighteen-year-old motorcycle that was factory built to top out at 55 MPH. Burt clocked 120.8. That sort of bump doesn’t happen on its own. When it left the assembly line, Burt’s Indian Scout was powered by a side-valved 600cc V-Twin complete with a mechanical oil pump and helical gear transmission, a very advanced system for the time. The tinkering began almost immediately, and the speeds increased. Munro would continue to chase speed on the salt flats of Utah for the rest of his life.
Gatsby's Great Garage
Jay Gatsby had it all, except perhaps the presence of mind to dial down the drama so he could hold on to the good things, namely cars and bikes that would stand the test of time for unrelenting beauty and elegance. The art deco era, spanning over two decades, influenced design internationally — and vehicles were beneficiaries of this arty approach to industry. So much of what was built in the ’20s, ’30s and ’40s now only exists in the hallowed halls of museums and collectors’ garages as we drool upon this glorious motoring past. Gatsby’s greatness could’ve remained had he chosen to drive one of these beauties into the West Egg sunset, leaving Daisy behind in a cloud of rich exhaust. Fresh for Baz Luhrmann’s full throttle cinematic interpretation of the landmark Fitzgerald novel, we’ve collected 10 of the finest art deco cars and bikes ever built.
1199 problems, but a Suzy ain't one
Short on space in the garage? Gear Patrol’s new series, “Want This, Get This”, moves into a whole new vein this week, presenting a lust-worthy sportbike along with a more affordable alternative that scratches the same itch. Read on for the dream screamer and its reality-based substitute.
Forged in the Far East
Based on the 400cc Honda Bros, the Bandit9 Hephaestus (~$13,635) is truly impressive — forged from all stainless steel, including the tank, cowl and fender. The custom frame is also accentuated by side covers, exhaust, muffler and turn signals that have been designed and fabricated by the Bandit9 shop, so you know the Hephaestus isn’t some Frankensteined job created by a crazed creator screaming behind closed doors.
Who needs a bike to look cool?
Aether shook up the outerwear market by blending the technical chops of today’s most advanced outerwear with the clean lines and styles of the city. The newly revealed Aether Skyline Motorcycle Jacket ($650) looks poised to do the same thing for a niche most fashion brands ignore.
Ride roughshod in style
The folks at KTM are on a roll, and not just with their X-Bow track monster. Their motorcycles are just as impressive (with an excellent color scheme, we might add), including the brand new, limited edition KTM 990 Adventure Baja Edition ($14,899). Designed specifically for North America, the 990 Adventure Baja makes the world of enduro riding even more sexy.
Mad Max has it on his wish list
The last time we mentioned Ural, they were introducing a bike with an integrated paddle; the time before that, we drove a beautiful sidecar bike through the snow of Seattle. This time, they’ve teamed up with Icon 1000, a company renowned for its armored motorcycle gear, and the resulting one-off Quartermaster is just as spectacular as past fare.
Protect your hide
We’re always huge advocates of motorcycle riding safety, and you can’t scrimp when it comes to protection on the mean streets or on the tarmac. The Alpinestars Atem Leather Jacket ($700) boasts the kind of materials and design that make it one of the most complete riding jackets available today.
More dignified than a Zipcar
If the tumble off the fiscal cliff should ever occur, you can blame it for everything from your thin wallet to your kid’s meager college savings account. Another unwelcomed consequence of our current financial disrepair? Motorcycle riding isn’t purely for fun anymore — more and more people are opting for two wheels to save some coin at the pump. The 2013 Honda NC700X is evidence of that change — but in this case, it’s change we can get behind.
Classic Looks, Vespa Prices
If you love motorcycling but happen to be on a budget and you also don’t plan on doing any “serious” riding, the Royal Enfield Bullet 500 B5 ($5,495) might be just the bike for you. A once popular UK bike manufacturer in the 1950s, the brand took a major hit due to the glut of…
We’re no strangers to Ural sidecar motorcycles, having run them on wet asphalt, dirt and snow. Ural’s offerings — rugged, versatile and as nostalgic as they come — make us long to get out during each of the four seasons. They’ve topped things off in 2012 with their 2012 Ural Yamal Limited Edition Sidecar Motorcycle,…
12 gifts for the lead foot
To find gifts for those men who consider driving simply a way to get from point A to point B, head to the nearest Brookstone. For those impassioned drivers you know — the ones who have 5W-30 running through their veins, love talking about tire aspect ratios and own some kind of driving/riding apparel (which…
While smartphones and google calendar might have replaced much of the functional need for a physical calendar these days, we’re still nostalgic for the analog. Following in the tradition of our Grandfather’s garage, our pick for 2013′s planner is the Custom Motorcycle Calendar from Bike Exif. What it lacks in Bettie Page pinup curves it…
Light, tight, ready to fight
Ducati motorcycles are the kind of machines that make us sweat, bleed and tear up all at once — and that’s a good thing. The introduction of the king of the Ducati superbikes makes us grovel. The Ducati 1199 Panigale R ($29,995) has assumed the throne, and he’s all business. Not just your standard 1199…
Sometimes when things are naked, life is just better — notwithstanding mole rats and fat guys. But when it comes to motorcycles, we’re huge fans of letting it all hang out; the brand new MV Agusta Brutale 800 (~$12,586), a much-welcomed addition to the Italian bikemaker’s handsome naked line, does just that. The Brutale 800…
Portuguese Man o' Gold
In most parts of the country, motorcycle riding season is coming to a close, unless you’re in one of these, but that doesn’t prevent us from showing off some awesome custom jobs. To worsen the blow, the Ton-Up Garage “Gold Digger” Kawasaki W650 has already been sold — but hey, we’re still drooling over it,…
No espresso needed
“Café racer” was originally a derogatory term, identifying a poseur-type of motorcyclist who typically rode from coffee shop to coffee shop without doing any real riding. Luckily, the category has outlived ridicule to become one of the best retro styles around today, as exemplified by the Cafe Racer Dreams BMW R100RT “Ruby Ring”. With the…
Getting hit with road chum, dirt and rain is an inherent part of motorcycling. While you can’t always anticipate what’ll be thrown at you, you can at least combat it with carapaced clothing. Part of L.A. manufacturer Mister Freedom’s Speed Safe Clothing for Modern Riders, the Mister Freedom x Sugar Cane Mulholland Master ($900) motorcycle…
Keep it away from barbed wire
If you just so happen to have an itch that involves jumping a motorcycle over a huge wooden and barbed wire barrier while wearing a grey sweatshirt, then Italian custom bike shop Drags & Racing has just the motorcycle for you: their stunning ‘La Grande Fuga’ (Great Escape) Triumph Bonneville. Just remember how that whole…
Few things in life pull at a man’s heartstrings like the open road and the promise of adventure. Long Live The Kings is a short documentary by Clement Beauvais shot solely on super 16mm film (which can still stand up to digital any day). The doc showcases some fine rides courtesy of Blitz Motorcycles along…
We love a cafe racer bike, especially when said bike is both Ducati and vintage. The JvB-moto Ducati Pantah is just such a beauty. The Pantah’s designer, Jens vom Brauck, wanted his build to look like “it was found in a shed… a futuristic design study for a 1981 motor show” that was never displayed….
Rubber, nuclear green paint and ninjutsu are a winning combination — at least when it comes to motorcycles. That’s been the magic formula for Kawasaki since the 1980s, when the Kawasaki Ninja hit the market like a flying sidekick to the esophagus. Numerous versions have found success, including the ZX-14R Ninja, a 200 mph rocket…
A fairing fight
Slapping a fairing on a Harley Sportster is like putting a velodrome cycle helmet on Sly Stallone. Somehow, the nutty design works wonderfully on the Roland Sands Designs “Race-ster” Sportster. Through mods that the American bike designer claims could be done in your garage (yeah, right), the Race-ster alters the basic Harley-Davidson Sportster with an…
An affordable cup of café
Café racers are all the rage in motorcycling today, but they’re not all affordable, especially in custom format. The vintage feel and echo of yesteryear, coupled with the unique style make for a bike that turns heads. The Cleveland CycleWerks Misfit is a stylish and very affordable café racer that looks the part without stomping…
BMW Motorsport is the hand that’s pushed BMW harder and faster for 40 years now. Responsible for BMW’s racing programs, including automobiles and motorcycles, BMW Motorsport GmbH (or BMW M-Technik or just BMW M) has delivered to the world legends like the E30 M3 and the legendary M1 supercar and continues to produce M-badged cars…
Let the Good Times Roll
The Deus x Makr Tool Roll is what happens when you combine the leather-crafting talents of Florida’s Makr Carry Goods with Australia’s legendary motorcycling company Deus Ex Machina. The resulting limited-edition love child has a nostalgic look and a pragmatic usefulness any motorcyclist would love. Individually hand crafted and constructed from #10 cotton duck Martexin…
C the future now
BMW is making waves in the scooter scene, using its extensive knowledge in motorcycle technology with their C 600 Sport and C 650 GT maxi scooters (which will hit showrooms in the fall) and the same lithium-ion battery technology used in the futuristic BMW i8. On the heels of the two remarkable maxi scooters comes…