Dunlop RoadSmart III sport-touring motorcycle tire review

Dunlop tires on a BMW

Test riding the new Dunlop Roadsmart III sport-touring tire on a BMW R 1200 RT. Photo by Brian J. Nelson.

I had a shock last year when I changed the front tire on my Kawasaki Versys and went to write down the mileage in my maintenance log. According to the numbers, that Dunlop Roadsmart II had been on the front wheel of my Versys for 25,000 miles!

I was certain it was a mistake. I must have changed it without writing it down. But since I only buy tires from RevZilla, where I work as managing editor of Common Tread, I had an easy way to check. My purchase records there confirmed it.

I got 25,000 miles out of a front tire. I’m certain I’ve never done that before.

Now admittedly, the Versys is fairly easy on (especially front) tires and I don’t ride the bike that hard, typically. But still…

So when I got a chance recently to attend the press intro for the next generation of Dunlop sport-touring tires, the Roadsmart III, I was really interested in seeing how they’d do.  Continue reading Dunlop RoadSmart III sport-touring motorcycle tire review →

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Indian promises the future, but for now we get a fringed monstrosity

Indian Roadmaster Classic

This is not the future.

Ever since Polaris decided to shut down Victory Motorcycles after 18 years and go all-in (motorcycle-wise) on resurrecting the Indian brand, just about every public comment by company executives has reassured us that they know they have to attract new customers, that they will expand the product line beyond heavy cruisers and great things are coming. For now, though, we have this 900-pound fringed monstrosity.

It’s the new 2017 Indian Roadmaster Classic, a $26,999 barge (in black; two-tone paint costs more) distinguished from the regular Roadmaster only by being slathered in fringed leather (which also means you can’t lock that luggage, so the bike is less useful). In other words, Indian took a bike that hardly anybody under 40 would pay attention to and turned it into a bike that young new riders or young potential riders might actually look at — but only to gag a little. Continue reading Indian promises the future, but for now we get a fringed monstrosity →

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One man’s idea of the perfect sport-touring motorcycle

Mark Morel on the road

Mark Morel built his own vision of the perfect sport-touring motorcycle.

What comes to mind if I say the words “custom motorcycle?” Maybe a themed cruiser where form always trumps function, sitting on a bike show pedestal. Maybe a lowered sportbike gleaming with custom paint and neon lights.

Mark Morel’s bike wouldn’t get a second look (at least not an admiring one) from the people who love those kinds of customs. But in many ways it represents the essence of customization. It is one individual’s vision of the ideal bike, with all the work done by the owner’s hands. But instead of going for the perfect look, Morel aimed for a personal ideal in terms of function.  Continue reading One man’s idea of the perfect sport-touring motorcycle →

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The American motorcycle company death of the week

Buell logo

Pegasus grounded, once again.

We are 26 days into the new year and I’ve already written about two motorcycle companies ceasing operations. If the closure of Victory came as a bit of a shock, the shuttering (again) of Erik Buell Racing felt more like a mere formality, a begrudging recognition of the inevitable. Continue reading The American motorcycle company death of the week →

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The not-so-polar-bear ride

coffee stop

A quick stop for some gas station coffee and to warm my fingers on a sunny but chilly January 1.

Some people say going for a ride on the first day of the year brings good luck for the following 364 days. That’s probably just an excuse to ride, but in the gray days of winter at these latitudes, I’ll take what I can get. Continue reading The not-so-polar-bear ride →

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A look back at my 2016 in riding

California sunset

As the sun sets on 2016, here are a few of my memories from the year on two wheels. Photo by Kevin Wing.

In the waning days of December, the nights come early and the tendency to look back comes easily. For me, the year of riding was far from the best or the worst.

For some, riding a motorcycle is a hobby, maybe even an expensive and time-consuming one, like playing golf or owning a boat. These are the people who post ads for used motorcycles for sale, saying “no time to ride.”

I don’t need time to ride because riding is just one more thread in the fabric of my life. It’s my job and my hobby, my entertainment and my recreation, and it’s my transportation. So I never have to make time to ride. It just happens because I’m living my life and going places.

In 2016, that riding included no epic, once-in-a-lifetime trips, but no year on two wheels is totally uneventful. There was that foolish thing I did back in April, a couple of “work” trips to the Superbike races, trips to the office in Philadelphia for work and to the hospital in West Virginia for family, and to Maine and Michigan for fun. Here are a few highlights in photos. Continue reading A look back at my 2016 in riding →

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First ride review of the BMW G 310 R

When BMW showed its G 310 R roadster at the EICMA show a little over a year ago, I wasn’t sure I’d ever see it on U.S. roads. Even less did I expect that a year later I’d be riding one through the Santa Monica Mountains to the popular motorcycle hangout, the Rock Store, or slipping through stalled lanes of traffic in Hollywood.

BMW G 310 R

I didn’t really expect to find myself riding this motorcycle in the United States, but BMW is giving U.S. riders a shot at their new world bike. The BMW G 310 R handles canyon roads just fine, though it will probably spend a lot more time in the city. Photo by Kevin Wing.

This motorcycle was built for the world, not so much for riders in North America, but with the proliferation of new, smaller models, BMW decided to bring it here, anyway. After riding the bike for a day at the official press intro, a few things were clear: Yes, the littlest BMW is capable of keeping up on U.S. freeways; no, that’s still not the primary or most important market for this bike; and finally, BMW recognizes that this motorcycle, and the models to follow in what will surely be a fuller G line, are critical to achieving the company’s goal of selling 200,000 motorcycles worldwide by 2020. Continue reading First ride review of the BMW G 310 R →

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I’m a Life Member of the AMA and I have mixed feelings about that

AMA Charter Life Member certificate

My AMA Charter Life Member certificate.

I am now a Charter Life Member of the American Motorcyclist Association. All that means is that I just paid my annual dues for the 25th time, so I don’t have to pay dues the rest of my life. It’s a milestone that’s both more significant than I would have predicted 25 years ago and less satisfying than I imagined 10 years ago. There have been some detours in the road over the past quarter century, as there are in any life.

Of course the most significant detour in my case is that I went from being an AMA member, to an employee, and back to being just a member. Some of the things I learned about the association along the way surprised me. Continue reading I’m a Life Member of the AMA and I have mixed feelings about that →

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