Tuesday, 25 December 2012

Christmas Day Entertainment

Well it's Christmas Day, the kids are noisily playing with/destroying their presents, her inside is in the kitchen fighting a losing battle with the turkey and the sprouts and the father-in-law is droning on about his prize turnips...

Anyway, here's something to keep you occupied and to help you keep your sanity. It's a behind-the-scenes look at what makes people want to participate in one of motorcycling's most legendary and prestigious events, the Isle of Man TT Races. As a point of interest it was produced and broadcast by Al-Jazeera's English-language news channel. We hope that they don't mind our publishing it here, because it really is an interesting little documentary that a lot of people will overlook - mainly because of its source in many cases.

Oh and please excuse the fact that the video window is so small: it's an issue that we're looking into. Until we can sort out a larger-sized video window, just play it in full-screen mode.

Merry Christmas!


Friday, 21 December 2012

Christmas Cheer

Now that it seems obvious that the Mayans got it wrong (cue the "Journalist's Curse"! - Ed), The Thruxtonian would like to wish all our readers and friends, as well as their families and loved ones, a very Merry Christmas, and much Health and Happiness for 2013! We hope that Santa will leave all the presents you've asked for under the tree and that the Christmas dinner will be copious and cooked to perfection! See you all next year and Enjoy the Ride!!
 
 

Saturday, 15 December 2012

Newtown, Connecticut

After the sickening events at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT, The Thruxtonian would like to manifest its condolences to, and solidarity with, the inhabitants of Newtown, whose lives were forever changed by yesterday's senseless and cowardly act. Our thoughts and hearts go out to the victims, their families and their community at this harrowing time.

This violence must stop. NOW.


Marc Michon
Editor, The Thruxtonian

Friday, 14 December 2012

Stella Alpina

It's the weekend before Christmas and you should all probably be submitting to the hell of last-minute Chrimbo shopping - you know, choosing that tasteful present for the mother-in-law, stocking up on booze, etc. - but if you can, why not wheel the bike out and get away from it all for a couple of hours? Here's a bit of inspiration in the shape of the Stellalpina, the latest custom creation to come from the Mantua-based Italian Harley-Davidson dealer and tuner Roberto Rossi (no relation to "The Doctor", as far as I know). There is also a Roberto Rossi blog.

Enjoy the Ride!


Thursday, 13 December 2012

Obituary: Reverend Graham Hullett

It is with great sadness that The Thruxtonian has learned of the passing of Father Graham Hullett on 5th December. He was 80 years old.

Reverend Frederick Graham Hullett is notably famous for having been the charismatic leader of the renowned 59 Club during its golden era in the 1960s.

Father Graham - the Ton-up Vicar


His love of motorcycling took off during his National Service, most of which he spent aboard a Matchless G3 in Germany. Once he had returned to Civvy Street, the young priest volunteered to collaborate with the legendary youth club, since this would combine his religious duties with his enthusiasm for bikes. The Church hierarchy readily accepted, not least because the previous Club leader, Rev. William Shergold (affectionately known as “Father Bill”) wished to move on to other things.

The 59 Club prospered under Father Graham’s leadership and went from being a youth club that welcomed Rockers and ton-up boys to becoming a fully-fledged motorcycle club. Rev. Hullett would rarely miss a club ride and regularly led club outings to the TT races on the Isle of Man, but also took members several times to the Dragon Rally in Wales and the Elefantentreffen rally in what was then West Germany. Thanks to these runs, the 59 Club gained its international fame. [...]

Friday, 7 December 2012

Cover-up Chic

When your go-to crash hat is an open-face lid, some kind of facial protection is necessary, particularly on long rides. And if you can look cool into the bargain, then all the better.

Protecting that pretty face


Naturally, classic bikers and ton-up rockers will choose the WW2 fighter pilot’s white silk scarf, which deals pretty adequately with both of the above issues. Of course, a “proper job” silk scarf doesn’t come cheap, it’ll get dirty very quickly and it’s a pain in the proverbial to clean, not to mention that putting it on takes a bit of practice and can’t always be done at a moment’s notice.

Cash-strapped riders, or those seeking practicality, on the other hand, don’t have much of a choice. You either have the good old bandanna, which has its limitations, or the neck tube, which is more practical and versatile, albeit usually about as cool as a barbecue at Lucifer’s gaff. But now Sunday Speedshop, a French start-up, has solved the problem. It has taken the humble and frumpy neck tube and turned it into something funky.

Ready to ride


Sunday Speedshop offers a wide range of designs, going from chequered flag prints for street racers, to paisley-inspired colourways for the refined motorcyclist who likes to get around with a modicum of style and elegance. The neck tubes are made of lycra with a silk-touch finish, giving them that luxury feel borrowed from the aforementioned silk scarf, combined with the practicality of man-made fibre: they’re easy to wash and dry quickly which means that you can stay smart even on long road trips. What’s more, the wide range of designs, along with a relatively cheap price, means that you can afford to acquire several of them to suit your mood, dress code or bike.

Which one will I wear today?


You can find the whole Sunday Speedshop range here.

All photos © Sunday Speedshop 

Saturday, 1 December 2012

Permission to come aboard?

Just to prove that motorcycle journalism isn't always fun and games, the French journalist Laurent Cochet, from Moto Journal magazine, suffered a freak accident while road-testing the 2013 Yamaha FJR 1300. Whilst riding at walking pace on the port of Saint-Martin-de-Ré, in France, one of the bike's side panniers snagged a bollard, which projected the bike and its somewhat startled rider into the drink. Fortunately, the bike landed on one of the pleeasure port's walkways, while Cochet landed aboard a yacht moored alongside it. Despite the spectacular nature of the crash (see video below), the Gallic journo only suffered a badly sprained thumb, although I guess that the bike will be declared a write-off. Get well soon, Laurent!

P.S. At The Thruxtonian we'd love to see a copy of the accident statement: we're sure that it would make for some pretty comic reading!


Video footage © Moto Journal 

Friday, 30 November 2012

T.G.I.F.

So once again the weekend is upon us. It looks like the weather is going to be pretty chilly this weekend, but don't let that discourage you from hitting the road on your iron horse. Let's hope that this photograph will encourage you to make the most of your bike this weekend! Just remember: keep the rubber side down and your knees in the breeze and... Enjoy the Ride!

Have bike, will travel...

Editor's note: If you have any photos of your motorcycle road trips and travels that you would like to see published on The Thruxtonian, don't hesitate to send them in. I can't promise that each and every pic will be published but we'll do our best! We would preferably want landscape or townscape photos featuring classic, vintage, cafe racer and custom bikes, whether loaded to the gills with luggage or not. Submit your photos to: Thruxtonian@gmail.com.

Thursday, 29 November 2012

Elephants in the snow

As winter draws closer, temperatures drop and road conditions become more and more dangerous and treacherous.

Of course, modern motorcycling gear is fantastic, keeping you warm and dry without being too bulky and hindering your movements on the bike. But how did riders cope in the good old days before the existence of Goretex, Thinsulate, Cordura and so on? The other day I came across this short French documentary film from 1970 about the fabled Elefantentreffen motorcycle rally in Germany. The most high-tech clothing in sight is the Belstaff wax-cotton jacket, and full-face helmets for road use didn’t exist yet. But that didn’t stop hundreds of riders from braving sub-zero temperatures, sleet, snow and black ice to get to the Nürburgring, including 80-year old Robert Sexé (note the prudish spelling of his surname in the opening credits – “Autres temps, autres moeurs” as the French would say), a journalist who had already been round the world a few times by bike.

                                 


So we really don’t have any excuse for not riding once temperatures drop into single figures. Just get a cheap winter hack, invest in some good riding gear and get out there on the road – who knows, you might even like it!

Film footage © INA

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Keeping it Simple


The Suzuki Savage (or Boulevard S40 as it’s been called since 2005) is hardly the type of bike that is likely to keep you up all night in a “gotta have that bike” kind of frenzy. Proof of that is the amount of them one can see on the roads. In my 20+ years of motorcycling, I myself have seen three of them in the flesh – and one of those was sitting forlornly in a corner of the Suzuki dealership where I bought my first bike (a 400cc Suzuki Bandit). Even the Dealer Principal dissed it when I showed curiosity about it. “Oh no, you wouldn’t be wanting that one…” So we’re obviously talking about a seriously underwhelming machine here.

Ryca CS-1: Rebel with a parking ticket


But the Savage/S40’s dowdy looks and decidedly lacklustre performance figures didn’t deter ex-NASA technician Casey Stevenson when, along with his business associate Ryan Rajewski, he decided to make it the basis of their company’s activity – even if making aftermarket conversion kits and parts might initially strike one as a rather elaborate form of corporate suicide. Stevenson claims that he was looking for a simple single-cylinder machine to get him around L.A.’s urban sprawl in style. The fact that he ended up forking out his foldable for a Savage can only be ascribed to the fact that NASA must encourage “thinking outside the box”.

Once he had the bike in his workshop (and no doubt with the thought “what the fuck have I just done?” ringing round his mind) he decided that he was going to turn motorcycling’s equivalent of Nora Batty’s wrinkled stockings into… a café racer. [...]

Thursday, 22 November 2012

The Thruxtonian would like to wish all its American readers a great Thanksgiving Holiday!


HAPPY THANKSGIVING AMERICA!!!

"HMMMM....Turkey!!
 
 

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Attention all Graphic Designers!

In the on-going bid to revamp The Thruxtonian and to make the blog progress to greater horizons, I think that it is time to create an eye-catching logo for it. Unfortunately I have neither the know-how nor the tools for the job.

The Thruxtonian is therefore looking for a generous graphic designer who would be ready to create a logotype for the blog and who would be ready to do so in his/her own time and “pour la gloire”, as our Gallic friends would say. This is because The Thruxtonian is a non-profit concern and that its Editor and General Dogsbody (four stars) is very much broke!

So if you are a graphic designer who is into bikes, or a graphic design student who wants to practice your future trade, email me at Thruxtonian@gmail.com and we’ll discuss the project.

Enjoy the Ride!

Marc

Friday, 16 November 2012

Have a great weekend!

It’s not every day that The Thruxtonian offers you a double helping, but this is Friday evening, so sit back and enjoy the video. It’ll no doubt give you ideas about how to spend the two most important days of the week! Enjoy the Ride!



I suggest you watch the video in fullscreen mode, it's worth it!

Carry On Valencia

Three blokes, three 125cc bikes, £125 apiece. Their mission (and they accepted it): to get to the final round of the MotoGP World Championship in Valencia, Spain, without mishap. What could possibly go wrong?

Last year Steve Keys, Danny-John Jules (of Red Dwarf fame) and Matt Roberts (roving reporter for the BBC’s coverage of MotoGP, world-famous for his quiff and snappy sartorial style) rode from the UK to Valencia aboard a trio of Yamaha R1 sports bikes for the Riders for Health charity. This year however, they decided they had to do things a bit differently, and Challenge 125 was born. It involved putting one lucky youngster through the CBT and then unleashing him (or her) on the roads of continental Europe. So Steve and Danny were joined by George Nickless.

 Challenge 125 trailer

According to original plans, their adventure should have taken place earlier in the year and taken them to Italy, but this isn’t a perfect world, there were various setbacks and so they decided to go back to Valencia. I had the pleasure of catching up with the lads when they bivvied in Sitges, on the eve of their final charge down to the MotoGP track in Valencia, and I must say that I spent a pleasant evening in the company of three great blokes and pukka bike enthusiasts to boot. Steve, Danny: if you’re looking for your third man for next year’s derring-do, give me a shout and I’ll put the day job on hold for a couple of weeks!

Thursday, 15 November 2012

Rider Down: Luis Carreira

It is with great sadness that The Thruxtonian has learned of the death of Luis Carreira during today’s qualifying session at the Macau Grand Prix.

Portuguese rider Luis Carreira


The Portuguese rider came off at Fisherman’s Bend, the right-hander that connects the fast blast down to the Reservoir from the Melco Hairpin with the straight that runs along the Reservoir’s seaboard side. Although emergency medical crews were quick to attend the fallen rider, Carreira was pronounced dead at the scene. He was 36 years of age.

The plucky, smiling racer had become a well-known figure in road racing, participating regularly in the Macau Grand Prix, the Isle of Man TT and the North West 200. He had also had wild card races in the World Superbike Championship as well as having competed in several endurance races. He will be sorely missed by road racing fans and fellow competitors alike.

Although, as road racing fans, we are aware that death is one of the risks of the sport that we love so much, it is always heart-wrenching to hear that another racer has paid the ultimate price to this cruel mistress... Sleep well, Luis.

Monday, 12 November 2012

Onwards and Upwards

After a rather prolonged period of inaction - much to our regret here at The Thruxtonian - I am happy to announce that business will soon be resumed and that the blog will be progressing onwards and upwards.

Amongst the changes that are in the offing are a dedicated Twitter account and Facebook page, to give The Thruxtonian greater visibility and to make it easier for you, the reader to access and read the articles. This will also enable you to contact the blog and leave comments, observations, as well as photos and videos that you believe might be of interest to The Thruxtonian. In fact, in the short term we will be further developing reader input to the blog - who knows, your input might even end up published right here! But we'll jump off that bridge when we reach it, as the saying goes.

The aim is to gradually turn The Thruxtonian into a key blog in the world of motorcycling and motorcyclists, albeit with a marked slant towards classic and vintage bikes, café racers and custom motorcycles, along with the fashion and lifestyle aspects that go with them. I'm looking forwards to your company in this new chapter in The Thruxtonian's adventure.

Enjoy the ride!

Marc

Friday, 24 August 2012

O how the Mighty are fallen!


I would like to begin this article with an apology: please excuse me for publishing an article that has nothing to do with the subject matter of this blog, but this is an issue that I could not let pass. Also, I would like to make it quite clear that the following words constitute my own personal opinion and engage no other responsibility than my own. If they lead me into trouble then so be it: I shall stand by them and accept whatever effects – negative or otherwise – that saying them publicly might bring upon me.

I have long been a fan of competitive cycling. On a human level it is a tough sport, perhaps the toughest sport of all, particularly in its ultimate expression, the stage road race: for the best part of a month, pushing those pedals over vast distances, day in and day out, in all kinds of climate conditions, falling off and getting back on again…

Undoubtedly the most renowned of these multi-stage road races is the Tour de France, with its “Maillot Jaune” that echoes Jason’s Golden Fleece. And this morning, whilst sipping my coffee, I have learned that its aura and reputation have once more been sullied and dragged in the mud. To add insult to injury, it has been besmirched by a man who has achieved mythical and almost demi-godlike status, Lance Armstrong. Seven times he went out to conquer cycling’s Golden Fleece, and seven times he prevailed. Seven victories that were deemed even more laudable because the victor had successfully overcome cancer after a particularly tough medical therapy. [...]

Friday, 22 June 2012

RAD Motorcycles Magazine


In this day and age, launching any new business is a risky affair. Nonetheless, many brave entrepreneurs are still taking the bull by the horns despite a generalised atmosphere of economic doom and gloom. One such venture is a new French motorcycle magazine called RAD Motorcycles Magazine.

In the mood to get RAD

The magazine is the brainchild of my good friend Pierre Brancaleone and is published in collaboration with Wild Magazine, another French publication that is centred on custom bikes and choppers, but concentrates more on café racers and classic bikes, although some custom bikes will no doubt make their way into RAD’s pages. Some of you may know Pierre from his Facebook persona, “Pierre Classic-Spirit”. When he launched the RAD project over a year ago, his intention was to position it as a rival to the well-established French publication “Café Racer” (which now has an Italian version, by the way, published in collaboration with the Playboy group), which in his view has become too diluted in order to appeal to a broad readership demographic and has become too steeped in the snobbish overtones of some of its staff writers, who tend to think that the café racer world is a select environment accessible only to a chosen few cognoscenti.[...]

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Product Review: Halcyon Mk 9 Rider goggles


For those of you who, like myself, enjoy wearing open-face helmets and ride classic or neo-classic ‘bikes, finding decent eye protection that also looks the part is a very difficult task. Nowadays, most motorcycling goggles are of the off-road variety, and are hard to tell apart from ski goggles. And when companies do offer “classic style” goggles, they usually have more of the comedy-opera look about them than anything else. Neither is exactly what you want to be seen in when proudly riding your Vincent Rapide, your Triton or your Hinckley Bonneville.

Fortunately, some companies do take us classic stalwarts seriously. And none more so than Halcyon with their pretty extensive range of goggles. This range covers the ground from exact replicas of the goggles worn by RAF pilots during the war to more colourful items for the Vespa-borne fashionista. I am personally a rather subdued fellow, so I chose the Mark 9 Rider goggles in black synthetic leather (yes I know, I’m a cheapskate…), and also ordered the supplementary smoked polycarbonate lenses.

As you can see, we're not in Skeggy.


The goggles are truly magnificent: the grey powdercoated brass frames are hand-stitched to the facemask and held together by the screw-action nose bridge adjuster. Absolutely no difference with a similar pair of goggles a motorcyclist would have worn back in the Fifties. And they’re not made in the Far East: the right-hand frame has “MADE IN ENGLAND” proudly stamped into it. [...]

Friday, 20 April 2012

In Memory: Francisco Hernández


It was with very great sadness and distress that I learned yesterday of the passing of Francisco Hernández “Topopaco”. Barely in his mid-forties, he succumbed to a massive heart attack. He leaves behind a wife and a young son.

Francisco Hernández "Topopaco" (right of picture)

Paco wasn’t a famous name in Spanish motorcycling but despite that, he was known to countless motorcyclists throughout Spain. He was the moving force behind the Spanish Triumph Owners’ Club and did more than his fair share to promote the Triumph marque in Spain. And, true to his nature, he did all this for the sheer pleasure of it. [...]

Thursday, 19 April 2012

Stop Messing Around!

I’m sure that many of you will have heard that Norton will be present at this year’s Isle of Man TT races with a V4-powered bike. And those of you who, like myself, are Brit-bike enthusiasts will have been most excited at this news.

However, as I gathered further information about this bike, my enthusiasm turned to indignation. Quite simply put, this motorcycle does not deserve to bear the famous Norton name on the flanks of its petrol tank. Yes, I can already hear those of you at the back muttering “yet another bloke who can’t see beyond a ’71 Commando”, but it’s not that at all. I have a fondness for V4 engines born of many a ride aboard various examples of Honda’s VFR 750 (by the way, I’m still angling for a ride of the fabled RC30 – if there are any kind-hearted owners out there who wish to oblige in return for a full write up in The Thruxtonian, please make yourselves known!). But I digress. [...]

Thursday, 12 April 2012

A Personal Appeal


No, I’m not going to do like the fellow from Wikipedia and ask you for your money (though if you do want to give me some dosh I certainly won’t say no! And I promise to put it to good use!). In fact this is on behalf of a friend of mine.

He is the very proud owner of a Bimota YB9 SR. However, during a track day last weekend, his front mudguard came to a grisly end. Now here in Spain bodywork parts for Bimotas are more rare than rocking horse droppings.

Therefore if any of you have a front mudguard for a Bimota YB9 SR lying around, please leave a message in the comments section with contact details and I’ll pass them along (the comments are moderated, so your contact details will not appear publicly on the blog). Or if you know of somebody who might have such a part, or if you see a classified ad for such a part, please give me a heads-up with the details of the ad.

Thanks

Marc

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

MotoGP: Qatar

 Today is the day after the first round of the MotoGP World Championship [article written 09/04/12 - Ed.]. This season sees another engine size change and the arrival of the CRT (Claiming Rule Teams) bikes, which are an expansion of the Moto2 concept: an engine derived from a street-legal 1000cc sportsbike placed in a bespoke chassis. These CRT bikes have been heralded as a means of bringing more bikes and, it is to be supposed, more excitement to the racing. The combination of the CRT bikes and the change to 1000cc capacity for the full-on MotoGP machines is aimed at making the category more interesting and less of a snooze-fest. So what does it give in practice?

After all the hype about this new MotoGP season I decided that it was my duty to watch the race and see for myself. The CRT bikes do indeed look like slightly bigger versions of the Moto2 machines, with styling that looks rather bland compared to that of the “pukka” MotoGP bikes; like the Moto2 machines, they look as if they were pencilled by small-time designers or design students who aren’t’ familiar enough with motorcycles to be able to draw a bike that looks like it means business. If a manufacturer unveiled designs like that for its next litre superbike, most punters would laugh it back to its drawing boards. The engines are heavily-modified powerplants taken from the latest bevy of road-going litre sportsbikes – for example, Colin Edwards’ bike has the lump from a BMW S1000RR – and have power outputs and top speed figures that are pretty much in the same league as World Superbike Championship machines. [...]

Monday, 9 April 2012

Resurrection


This isn’t the first time my blog has stumbled and required a jumpstart. There are various reasons at play here. First of all, my day job. Much as I would love it, my blog does not earn me any money, and as such it has always been clearly and deliberately subordinated to my workload. But having made the firm decision to expand my professional domain to motorcycle journalism and writing, it is clear that this blog can be of great strategic value to make my work and myself known – a sort of organic, living and breathing business card, as it were. Of course that depends upon whether or not anybody in the motorcycle writing and journalism sector – or in the motorcycle industry in general – actually knows of and reads this blog. But that is a gamble that I am ready to take.

Secondly, over the past year or so, my personal life has impinged upon my will to take interest in my blog, but as the expression suggests, that is a personal aspect that is not germane to this blog so I shall say no more on the subject.

So anyway, The Thruxtonian is back. And this time I really want to make it work. And to do that I’d be very grateful for your feedback: don’t hesitate to comment on the articles that I publish, so that I know if I’m doing things right. Of course all comments to the blog are moderated, so I shall only retain and publish those that I think provide constructive and relevant opinions, or those that can lead on to an interesting subject of debate.


Ride safe,

Marc