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.” [...]

Kevin Ash trained as an engineer and entered motorcycle journalism in 1991 as one of the original founders of Fast Bikes magazine. He later joined MCN as a staffer and later as Assistant Editor. In 1997 he decided to go freelance and began writing for various papers, magazines and websites around the world – his latest collaboration was with Dutch motorcycling website Testmotor – as well as being the Telegraph’s motorcycling editor. He also gave rise to the well-known Ash on Bikes website.

As a blogger and budding would-be motorcycling hack myself, I enjoyed Kevin Ash’s style and his neutrality and honesty in his road test reports were a breath of fresh air in the sometimes biased world of motorcycle journalism (Suzuki and BMW did on occasion take umbrage at his write-ups, whilst he was declared persona non grata by Triumph for a while). What’s more, such neutrality and straightforwardness was nothing short of a tour-de-force for a freelancer: freelance journalists often have to tread a fine line between reporting on a bike and sucking up to the manufacturer so that they ensure that they get invited to their next press launch. As such I looked up to him and took him as an example and an inspiration for my own motorcycle writing. Therefore today I feel somewhat like an orphan.

I would like to extend my sincerest condolences to Kevin’s family (he leaves behind a wife and three daughters), friends and colleagues. His words, friendliness and sense of humour will be missed in the world of motorcycle journalism for a long time to come.

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