2018 Aprilia Shiver 900 first ride review

In 2007, I flew to Arizona to test ride a new motorcycle with a strange name and a cutting-edge innovation. The name was the Aprilia Shiver and the innovation was a ride-by-wire throttle.

Instead of cables tugging on mechanical parts, as had been used for decades, the Shiver (second in the U.S. market only to the 2006 Yamaha YZF-R6) used electronics to tell the ECU how hard the rider was twisting the throttle. My verdict? Ride by wire worked well enough, if not perfectly. I didn’t see it as a selling point, and I didn’t foresee where it would lead. Ride by wire opened the door to more important advances, such as traction control, and eased convenience features, such as cruise control.

Aprilia Shiver 900

The 2018 Aprilia Shiver 900. Photo by Brian J. Nelson.

This month, almost exactly 10 years later, I few to Southern California to ride the Shiver once again, now that it was finally updated. The 2018 version has many features I never expected back in 2007: anti-lock brakes, multi-setting traction control, multiple ride modes and a flashy TFT full-color instrument panel.

And here’s the last part I didn’t foresee: Despite all the added technology, as well as increased torque, the MSRP for the new Shiver is $9,399, only $400 more than it was a decade ago. So let’s see how the new Shiver works. Continue reading 2018 Aprilia Shiver 900 first ride review →


Three success stories from MotoAmerica riders who almost gave up… but didn’t

Mathew Scholtz and Chuck Giacchetto

Mathew Scholtz gets a boost from Yamalube/Westby Racing Team Manager Chuck Giacchetto after winning the MotoAmerica Bazzazz Superstock 1000 championship. Photo by Lance Oliver.

Professional motorcycle racing is an extremely precarious career choice, and not just for the reason most people think about first (crashing). Continue reading Three success stories from MotoAmerica riders who almost gave up… but didn’t →


The downside of photochromic helmet faceshields

Three years ago, I wrote that photochromic helmet faceshields were my new favorite piece of motorcycle gear. I still love them. All three helmets I own have a Transitions visor. But you do need to know what you’re getting into. Not only are the visors expensive, but they have a limited life span.

The photos below show the evidence.  Continue reading The downside of photochromic helmet faceshields →


REV’IT Enterprise II motorcycle pants review

REV'IT Enterprise II motorcycle pants review

I’ve been wearing the REV’IT Enterprise II pants for more than half a year.

When I went to the press intro for the BMW G 310 R in December, RevZilla sent me a pair of REV’IT Enterprise II pants to wear in the photo shoots, along with the REV’IT Shield jacket I reviewed earlier. Now, after more than half a year of wearing the pants in all kinds of weather conditions, it’s time to render a verdict.

What I found is that REV’IT made a variety of changes to this version of riding pants: some positive, some neutral, but at least in my case, I found one fatal flaw that prevents me from recommending these pants, even though I like the way they fit and look.  Continue reading REV’IT Enterprise II motorcycle pants review →


Two images that show why the AMA is going nowhere

2017 Ride to Work Day at the AMA

The photo above shows the motorcycle-only covered parking for visitors and staff at the AMA on the 2017 Ride to Work Day. The video below shows the RevZilla parking lot on a recent Ride to Work Day. One entity is stagnant, the other thriving. Could it be because one is staffed by people who understand enthusiast motorcyclists and one isn’t?

A few months ago, AMA President Rob Dingman wrote a scolding column titled “Fake news in motorcycling,” in which he asserted there was “a deliberate attempt to defame and undermine the AMA” using information from AMA tax filings, an approach he called “naive at best and intentionally misleading at worst.” He cited a specific article from last year, supposedly written by someone formerly affiliated with the AMA, that said the association would run out of money this month (July, 2017). Honestly, I don’t even know what piece he’s talking about. I haven’t seen it.

I will give Dingman this much: I am not an accountant. So let me stick to simple facts that even a journalism major can understand. The real measurement of the health of the organization is not the amount of cash in the bank (or unrealized net gains, deferred revenue and the other stuff his column talks about). What really shows the trend is the membership of the organization, and it doesn’t reflect the optimistic projections Dingman has made over the years.  Continue reading Two images that show why the AMA is going nowhere →


Short shift: A quick review of the 2018 Triumph Street Triple RS

2018 Triumph Street Triple RS

Triumph updated one of its most popular models, the Street Triple, with a new engine and other refinements for 2018.

On paper, the 2018 Triumph Street Triple RS looks like just about the perfect motorcycle for me. It seems to combine the best attributes of the three motorcycles I currently own — only better in every category.

It is the descendant of my 1997 Speed Triple, but improved by any measure except, arguably, looks. The benefit of 21 years has made the Street Triple RS lighter, more powerful, more nimble and far more sophisticated, especially in terms of electronics. It is also a descendant, in a way, of my 2006 Daytona 675, which was the first year of the 675 cc Triumph triple that remains one of my all-time favorite engines, only the new 765 cc Street Triple makes more power and broader torque and doesn’t impose the Daytona’s punishing riding position, which is sublime at 125 mph on the back straight at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course but is just torture when stuck in city traffic on a hot day. And the Street Triple provides just as much comfort as my Kawasaki Versys, but is miles ahead, again, not just in more power and less weight, but also higher quality that shows in the brakes, transmission, suspension, everything.

Yes, on paper, I’d have to say that if a meteor wiped out my garage tonight and left me motorcycle-less, I’d be wise to start shopping for a new 765 cc Street Triple tomorrow. But we don’t ride motorcycles on paper. Sometimes what looks perfect leaves us indifferent when we live with it in the real world of metal and asphalt and human flesh and synapses. So when RevZilla’s Common Tread got a Street Triple RS for a long-term loan, I was really looking forward to trying it, more than I’ve anticipated riding any motorcycle in a long time.

Would it really be the perfect motorcycle for me?

Continue reading Short shift: A quick review of the 2018 Triumph Street Triple RS →


It’s a motorcycle: You gonna look at it or ride it?

Speed Triple at RevZilla HQ

My 1997 Triumph Speed Triple joined the other motorcycles ridden to work at RevZilla, though mine was ridden 500 miles to get there. That’s Spurgeon’s 2015 Triumph Tiger next to it, covered in mud from a hard weekend of off-road riding and held together with zip-ties and hope. I thought it might make my old bike look better. It seems that didn’t work as well as I’d hoped.

Two of my colleagues at RevZilla were considering my 1997 Triumph Speed Triple. “It’s kind of sad that a bike owned by someone in the industry is in that condition,” one of them said after a minute’s hesitation.

OK. So maybe that’s not what I was expecting to hear. Or, on another level, maybe I was.  Continue reading It’s a motorcycle: You gonna look at it or ride it? →


Why we’ll miss Nicky Hayden more than most

Nicky Hayden

The best attitude in the paddock.

Even if he had never won a motorcycle race, Nicky Hayden was the kind of guy who would be greatly missed.

But of course millions more will miss him precisely because he did win a lot of motorcycle races. That’s not the only reason, or even the main reason, why we’ll miss him, however.

Nicky was way more than his accomplishments on the track. He was the youngest rider to win the AMA Superbike title and then he went on to win the 2006 MotoGP world championship. What made him different from other racers, and even from other world champions, was how he handled himself in a cutthroat world of hypercompetitive professional sports.

I was born and raised in West Virginia and Nicky grew up in Kentucky. There’s a lot that’s admirable about the working-class, small-town Appalachian culture, but there are also aspects far less laudable. Nicky embodied the best of it.

He worked hard. He didn’t complain, whine or blame others when he failed. When he succeeded, he didn’t forget to thank those who had helped him along the way. And again, he worked hard, whether it was turning more practice laps than anyone else or the hours spent training away from the track. He was pushing his 35-year-old body hard on his bicycle to maintain the kind of condition only the world’s elite athletes attain when he was hit by a car, causing the injuries that led to his death today.

I once heard a small, bitter and ignorant man say that Nicky “got lucky” when he won his world title. Here’s what I always say: Nobody ever won a world championship by luck alone, or without some luck along the way. It’s easier to conclude Nicky had more than his fair share of bad luck: his Honda team deciding to build the program around Dani Pedrosa instead of him; joining Ducati at a time when that program badly lost its way, leaving him on an uncompetitive bike in what could have been his best years; going back to Honda when he had to move to World Superbike, and being provided with yet another uncompetitive bike to ride; and finally, being in the wrong place at the wrong time on a bicycle in Italy.

Whenever his career handed him bad breaks, instead of whining or sulking or giving up, he slapped a “no excuses” sticker on his bike and worked harder.

In our culture, we look up to movie stars, athletes and other celebrities, but only a select few show the kind of character that truly deserves our admiration. Only a few are the kind of people we’d hope our children grow up to be. Nicky Hayden was one of those few.