Thursday, 4 July 2013

Happy Fourth!

The Thruxtonian would like to wish our American friends a happy Independence Day!

If you're heading out on the road this weekend, Enjoy the Ride and stay safe!!

Thursday, 13 June 2013

Biltwell Gringo: The Road Test

Back in mid-May we introduced Biltwell’s new-for-2013 Gringo full-face helmet, saying that we hoped to bring you a full test sometime in the near future. Well thanks to the guys from Biltwell in California, we’ve been able to put a Gringo through its paces and give it a few appropriate prods, pokes and sniffs to see just how well built it is (see what I did there?).

I don’t think I’ve ever been so impatient for the postman to deliver a helmet-sized parcel. When it finally landed on my desk here at Chateau Thruxton, I was like a kid on Christmas day, hastily opening the box to see what was inside. As I unboxed the helmet, I was struck by how light the package seemed to be; indeed at one point I wondered if the lads from Murrieta had mistakenly shipped out an empty box! But indeed there was a Gringo in there, much to my delight and relief. I have yet to actually weigh it, but it is much lighter than my X-Lite X801-RR, despite not having a carbon fibre shell.

Another thing that surprised me pleasantly was the colour. In the photographs I had seen, the flat titanium colour looked a bit dull and boring, but the photos don’t do it justice because in the flesh it is really fantastic. Combined with the total lack of branding, it gives the helmet an air of sophisticated, sleek minimalism. And just like the metal it’s named for, the paintwork seems to change hue slightly depending on how the light falls on it. In a word, classy.

Hola, Gringo!

Moving along to the inside of the crash hat, we find a black brushed Lycra lining with orange stitching and two orange mesh inserts on the crown. The lining is also where Biltwell have chosen to place their branding with a neat looking tag sewn onto the rearward part of the liner. There again, everything is spot on, giving the Gringo the look and feel of a helmet twice its price from one of the “big name” brands. The only criticism I can make is that the lining isn’t detachable so that you can hand- or machine-wash it. The cheek pads are detachable, but that’s more to be able to renew them when they get old and worn. Perhaps this is a point that Biltwell could take into consideration for next-gen Gringos. One interesting touch is the quilted padding on the inside of the chin bar, also done in black brushed Lycra with orange stitching. It’s a totally gratuitous but nonetheless very pleasant touch.

Anyway, that’s enough greasy fingerprints on the helmet, let’s put the damn thing on and go burn some rubber! For the dynamic test, I tried it out in various configurations: without a visor and wearing sunglasses, with a bubble visor, with goggles and finally with the tinted visor from my trusty Airborn open-face lid.[...]

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

TT 2013 - Monday evening Practice Session

What a way to start serious proceedings in the first proper practice session of this year’s Isle of Man TT. Unfortunately I’m not talking about fantastic course conditions or blistering lap times. No, Monday evening’s practice session was one of those moments that you wish had never happened.

The weather had been bad all day and, as the practice session drew nearer, there was much debate about whether or not to go ahead with the evening's proceedings. It was cold and wet, the roads were beyond damp and as if that wasn’t enough, mist was announced on the mountain. Nonetheless, the roads closed pretty much as per schedule and, just before 7 PM local time Clerk of the Course Gary Thompson announced that the session would go ahead, albeit untimed and only for Superstock and Supersport bikes.

Despite the adverse conditions, speed trap times were pretty good, particularly from the top riders: John McGuinness and Cameron Donald both posted speeds of 174 mph through the ‘trap and later, Dan Kneen upped the mark to 184 mph. Meanwhile, Chinese rider On Jai was finally able to do his first laps of the Mountain Course behind Richard Quayle; the Chinese entrant was unable to take part in Saturday’s newcomer session due to an electrical fault on his machine. Brandon Cretu, for his part, had a rather embarrassing moment when he dropped his bike just out of the start gate; however he took that one on the chin in fine style, even posting a humourous tweet about it on Twitter.

Yoshinari Matsushita

However, all the mirth was soon knocked out of the evening. At around 7:30 PM the session was red flagged after an incident at Ballacrye. News later came through that 43 year-old Yoshinari Matsushita, riding for the Tyco Suzuki team, had unfortunately lost his life during the accident. Ironically, just a couple of hours before, the Tyco Suzuki paddock area had been all smiles as Hector Neill and “Yoshi”, as Matsushita-san was known to everyone, posed for an official photo session. Although Yoshinari Matsushita had been racing on the island since 2009, this year’s TT was his first ride for one of road racing’s top teams. The Thruxtonian would like to extend its condolences to Matsushita-san’s family and friends, as well as to the Tyco Suzuki team: Hector and Philip Niell strike me as being of that rare breed of team owner/managers who consider their riders as “part of the family”, so one can imagine that this tragic loss will have affected them profoundly.[...]

Saturday, 25 May 2013

2013 Isle of Man TT

Yes, it’s that time of year: the Isle of Man Tourist Trophy fortnight is once again upon us! This year, The Thruxtonian will be attempting to bring you as much news as possible from the TT practice sessions and races via our blog page, our Facebook page and our Twitter account.

As ever, Practice Week will get underway this evening. The Mountain Road will be closed at 5 PM, followed by the rest of the course at 6 PM. The first bike is due out at 6:20 PM. Tonight’s action will consist of newcomer laps for solos (bikes) and sidecars, led around by the Travelling Marshals, after which the solo newcomers will be unleashed on their own, along with the Lightweight and Supertwin machines. The newcomer sidecar outfits will round off the evening’s proceedings.
A classic view of Kate's Cottage from Creg-ny-Baa

The weather today on Ellan Vannin is sunny and calm and temperatures are expected to reach 16º C (61º F) this afternoon. You can listen live to tonight’s practice session on Manx Radio TT, which broadcasts on 1368AM, 100.6FM on the northern portion of the Mountain Course and 87.9FM in the Douglas area, as well as over the internet and via the Manx Radio TT app ( for iOS & Android) for road racing fans around the world.[...]

Monday, 20 May 2013

Irish Humour

Amongst all of the images of this year’s rain-sodden North West 200 - Jamie Hamilton paddling one of his team’s hand carts down the starting grid, impromptu rain shelters that McGyver would have been proud of, the BBC Northern Ireland commentary box looking like the bridge of the Costa Concordia (complete with three disreputable-looking matelots) - and wild rumours of space-hopper races, parade laps by the local fishing fleet and that the viking ship on the Ballysally roundabout had magically come to life, sprouted a crew and raided Portrush (though I hear that this mainly occurs on Friday nights once all the pubs have closed), this wonderful feedback sheet filled in by the corner marshals at the Hillcrest post is a pleasantly witty summary of the event. It is interesting to note that the “Marshalling Team” page of the official NW200 website includes the following (under)statement: “Possible challenges may include variable weather conditions”. Indeed...
Is the Chief Marshal called Noah?

The next stop for the road racing circus is the Isle of Man TT. And all things being equal it’ll probably start snowing (again) by then!

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Biltwell Gringo: Si, Señor!

After the recent revamp of their El Fuerte DOT-approved open-face lid, which has transmogrified into the Bonanza, the Biltwell crew have finally unleashed one of the most awaited products of 2013, the Gringo full-face helmet. Surfing on the neo-retro and custom trends, the Gringo is the latest old-style full-face crash helmet to arrive on the marketplace, joining the Ruby Castel, the GPA Pure and the soon-to-be-released DMD Rocket.

White is the new black - even if it's vintage...

The shape of the Gringo’s outer shell is quite similar to the Castel’s - minus the central ridge - in that it is pretty much generic late-Eighties/early-Nineties and that it doesn’t have a visor. However, its styling is more reminiscent of Mad Max than the Champs-Elysées; it goes great with a beat-up denim or leather cut (indeed, Biltwell also make a very smart denim cut, by the way), road-dirty jeans and scuffed-to-Hell-and-back boots on a righteous old-skool chopper or 70s/80s Japanese bike, whereas the funky French headgear is at its best with designer rags on a haute-couture bistro-racer. It’s also easier on the wallet than the sumptuous French item and possibly you won’t mind when it picks up a scuff mark or two, like all helmets eventually do however careful you are: with a few “battle scars” the Gringo will look even more hardcore. [...]

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

Kiddo Motors "Friends & Family" Event

Lots of new things are happening at Barcelona custom shop Kiddo Motors. The guys have just moved to new premises and to celebrate this new phase in their existence, they are organising a special event on Saturday 20th April called “Friends & Family”. From 10 AM to 5 PM, not only will visitors be able to hang out with the guys, but they’ll also be able to get great deals on clothing and accessories from such über-cool brands such as Deus, Herschel, Brixton, Comune, and Ruby. Naturally, The Thruxtonian will be there to check out the action!

© Kiddo Motors BCN

Saturday, 2 March 2013

The End of the Road

We regret to announce that for reasons beyond our control, The Thruxtonian is closing and will remain closed for the foreseeable future.

We hope that you enjoyed the content on our blog; we truly enjoyed bringing it to you.

So long and Enjoy the Ride,

Marc Michon
The Thruxtonian

Photograph: Jim Lo Scalzo / EPA

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

"Keep your eyes on the road..."

That’s the way a well-known song by the Doors starts. And when it comes to riding bikes, it’s perhaps one of the most important, straightforward and self-evident rules of the game.

Of course, gazing fixedly at the patch of tarmac just ahead of your front wheel, or at the rear end of the vehicle in front of you, isn’t good enough. You’ve got to look as far ahead as is humanly possible. Naturally, you have also to cast your mind forwards along with your gaze, so that you can read, analyse and act upon any situation that you identify in the middle distance. Is that car five or six vehicles up the road from you braking? Cover your brakes and get ready to slow down or stop. In corners, follow that vanishing point: it can tell you so much about the turn – if it’s tightening up, staying constant-radius or opening out – allowing you to adapt your speed and road position to negotiate the bend cleanly and be perfectly prepared for the following straight and the next corner. And of course, the further you look along the road, the earlier you identify any problems that may arise.

The video above shows precisely what can happen if you overlook this basic premise of riding motorcycles (and of driving any motor vehicle, really). The police motorcyclist was obviously not paying enough attention and not looking far up enough the road, otherwise he would have noticed the speed bump in the road, slowed down accordingly in order to negotiate it and also inform the riders behind him to slow down in turn. In my humble opinion the policeman was lucky to get away relatively unscathed from the crash (in a longer cut of the video one can see that the bike suffered extensive damage) – he could so easily have been very seriously injured, or worse. He committed a stupid error that is difficult enough to forgive coming from a common-or-garden motorcyclist, but that is absolutely unacceptable from a police motorcyclist.

So next time you’re out on a ride, remember: keep your eyes  - and mind – on the road, the rubber side down and Enjoy the Ride!

Monday, 11 February 2013

Let it snow, let it snow...

A retweet this morning by Toby Moody (@TobyMoody) showed this marvellous and somewhat eerie photo of the front straight and pit lane at Mugello under a heavy mantle of snow. An unfamiliar view of a familiar sight.

Photograph © Mugello Circuit

Sunday, 10 February 2013

Vespa all'Arrabbiata

La Dolce Vita just got a bit frantic

Saturday, 9 February 2013

The Artful Bodger

Artful Bodger...

Friday, 25 January 2013

News Update: Bikes still good to go in the Vosges

In a development to the article we ran on Wednesday (“Does France want motorbikes off its roads?”), we are pleased to announce that Mr Alain Perret, Prefect of the Haut-Rhin Département, whose jurisdiction includes the Vosges region, has backed down from his intentions to pass a measure banning motorcycles from using the regions roads at weekends.

Alain Perret, Prefect of the Haut-Rhin

It would appear that Monsieur le Préfet didn’t expect that the announcement of his intentions would cause such immediate and large-scale furore amongst France’s active and vociferous motorcycling community. He was so taken aback by the reaction that earlier today he announced that the controversial measure “is not on the agenda”. However he went on to justify the original measure with the following words:

Thursday, 24 January 2013

Obituary: Kevin Ash

A tweet yesterday by Charley Boorman caused me great sorrow. He was announcing that Kevin Ash had died in a road traffic accident in South Africa during the press launch of a new BMW motorcycle. The news was confirmed by a release on the website of the Daily Telegraph, one of the various newspapers and magazines for which he wrote.

Kevin Ash

BMW Motorrad released the following press statement: “It is with deep regret that BMW Motorrad confirms the fatal injury of Kevin Ash in a motorcycle accident during a launch event in South Africa. The accident happened to the north of a town called George, 250 kilometres east of Cape Town. Out of respect for Kevin's family and friends, no further information is being made available at this time.”

BMW Motorrad UK’s General Manager, Adrian Roderick, made the following comment: “We are shocked and deeply saddened to hear the awful news about Kevin Ash; one of the most well-liked, experienced and respected journalists in the extremely close-knit motorcycle community. Losing Kevin is a tragedy that will be felt across the entire industry. He was a friend, as much as a journalist, and will be sorely missed. Our heartfelt thoughts are with his family, friends and colleagues at this awful time.” [...]

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Does France want motorbikes off its roads?

While I was browsing the French motorcycle news website Le Repaire des Motards I came across a rather alarming snippet of news (read it in full – and in French – here) that could represent a great threat to motorcycling in France.

For those of you who used to sleep at the back of the classroom during French lessons and can’t read the linked article, it would appear that Alain Perret, the Prefect (govt. representative) of the Haut-Rhin département would like to make it illegal for motorcyclists to ride on the roads of the département’s Vosges region at weekends.

His argument for touting such a measure is that people in the Vosges are sick and tired of motorcyclists’ high-speed shenanigans on the local mountain roads, along with the high accident rate for motorbikes. In his view, both these reasons warrant a blanket ban on bikes at the weekend.

This photo could soon be a thing of the past

Now don’t get me wrong: I feel concerned by both issues mentioned. I am as annoyed as anybody else by the antics of an irresponsible minority of brainless morons on bikes who go tear-arsing around with scant regard for the safety and welfare of other, more sedate road users. And I also applaud any intelligent measure aimed at reducing motorcycle accident statistics. But gunning for an entire collective just because a handful of them misbehave is outrageous. It smacks of racism; imagine preventing people from ethnic minorities from moving around freely just because a handful of them screw around – people would be up in arms, and rightly so! Well I’m sorry, but this measure is just as discriminatory and unacceptable. [...]

Monday, 14 January 2013

Obituary: Jean-Claude Olivier

In France, when you mention Yamaha, chances are that people will reply “Jean-Claude Olivier”.

For 45 years, Jean-Claude-Olivier, or “JCO” as many people knew him, was the face of and the brains behind Yamaha’s presence in France. So much so, in fact, that it sometimes seemed as if Yamaha France was a one-man band. Of course, that’s not the case, but it is true that Olivier did a vast amount of hard work to durably implant Yamaha motorcycles in France.

A typical day at the office for "JCO"

JCO joined Sonauto in 1964. At the time Sonauto officially distributed Porsche cars in France and had recently acquired the rights to do likewise with Yamaha motorcycles, having recently taken over from early importers Levallois Motos. Auguste Veuillet, Sonauto’s boss was a close friend of JCO’s father, Gonzague, (the pair had notably won the 1955 24 Heures de Paris endurance race). Olivier Sr. asked Veuillet if he could take on his son as an intern. Veuillet accepted, and the young Jean-Claude quickly found himself at the wheel of a Peugeot J5 van with four Yamahas in the back (a 50cc, an 80cc, a 125cc and a 250cc), crisscrossing France in order to set up a stable dealership network. After one year, in 1965, the network had sold 117 bikes. Three years later, in 1968, that figure had risen to 1,000 units.

At the end of the Sixties, Yamaha brought out a range of dual-purpose trail bikes that instantly met success on the American market. JCO realised that these simple and easy-to-ride little bikes would be ideal for making motorcycling appealing to a wider client base. And so it was that, thanks to his circle of friends and business relations, he managed to get Brigitte Bardot on a small AT-1 for one day (presumably without any mishap to the French star’s person). Naturally, hordes of paparazzi and proper press photographers were on hand to immortalise the event. Predictably, Yamaha’s sales figures jumped sky-high. [...]

Thursday, 10 January 2013

Stolen Bike Alert!

The bike shown in the following pictures has been stolen from its proud - and currently distraught - owner.


The bike in question is a Honda CB 500/Four in a rare brown colour. It was sourced in Germany for its owner by French Honda restoration specialists Génération Scrambler , and is fitted with a German-spec rear lights and indicators (turn signals for our transatlantic readers). It bears the chassis Nº CB50-2074302 and the engine Nº CB500E-2162885.


If you are proposed this bike by a seller, or if you see it in a classified ad, please get in contact with Génération Scrambler by email or via the following phone Nº: (+33) (0)1 77 19 85 94 (only dial the 0 in brackets if calling from France).

Photos © Le Repaire des Motards / Génération Scrambler