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Two Buddies Tour the Rocky Mountains

A Dream Come True - Two Buddies Tour the Rocky Mountains Moto Guzzi Spirit of the Eagle Rideaway V85 TT
Kit (on left), Guy, and the Moto Guzzi V85 TTs in Kanisku National Forest, ready to take on the resplendent Rocky Mountains. (Photos by Guy Pickrell)

“You’ve got to enter this!” said my touring mate, Marco, when he called me about Moto Guzzi’s Spirit of the Eagle Rideaway competition.

Describe your dream tour, anywhere in the USA. Win the use of a V85 TT adventure bike for 14 days and a $2,500 travel budget.

I threw down a route. Start in Seattle, ride east to Glacier National Park, then follow the Rocky Mountains south through Yellowstone, Grand Teton, Flaming Gorge, Capitol Reef, Grand Staircase-Escalante, and finish in Las Vegas. Eight days, seven states, six national parks and monuments, 2,600 miles. Epic!

Click here for the REVER route shown above

When the Piaggio Group called me last August to tell me I had won, it didn’t leave much time to prep and hit the road to beat the cold weather in Glacier National Park. My buddy Kit agreed to join me, and Moto Guzzi generously offered us a second bike. The adventure/dual-sport market isn’t Guzzi’s typical realm, so when I read that the TT stands for tutto terreno (all-terrain), I figured the least we could do is put them through a genuine off-road test. Part of the budget went toward Michelin Anakee Wild tires; billed as 50/50 on-/off-road, they have a surprisingly aggressive tread pattern. At 500-plus pounds, the V85 TT is no dirt bike, but if adventure is your goal, sooner or later you’re going to find yourself off the beaten path, and that’s exactly where we planned to be.

Our Chariots Await

We flew to Seattle and first saw our V85 TTs parked outside at Optimum Performance Motorsports. Their styling reminded me of old Paris-Dakar bikes. I took the Adventure edition, sporty in bright red and white livery, with only a gesture of a windscreen. Kit took the Travel edition, with a sophisticated metallic sand color and a larger windscreen, auxiliary lights and heated grips. Both bikes were fitted with excellent panniers, and the Adventure also included a top box, which I removed to allow more room for my DrySpec soft bags. After a chat with Alan Kwang, the dealership owner, he handed us the keys and wished us well. It was surreal riding away on brand new bikes without having exchanged anything more than a conversation.

A Dash Across an Apocalyptic Plain

It was nearly noon by the time we packed everything on the bikes and rode east out of Seattle. U.S. Route 2 climbs into rugged, pine-strewn mountains and goes over Stevens Pass (4,061 feet) before descending along the floor of a dramatic, glacial valley. During a late lunch in Leavenworth, the smell of smoke reminded us there were wildfires still burning across Washington State. After crossing the Columbia River, a steep ascent took us out of the rocky canyon onto a vast, windswept plain. Rolling grassland swept off to the horizon in all directions. Huge areas, scorched black by the recent flames, were still smoldering. It was like riding through the wake of a recent battle. We raced across the plateau for 140 miles, and then descended into Spokane and made quick time to our hotel in Ponderay, Idaho.

Two Buddies, Two Bikes, One Big Adventure
Going-to-the-Sun Road provides panoramic views of the dramatic arêtes, cascading valleys and ribbon lakes that make up Glacier National Park.

Majestic Glacier National Park and Deer in the Headlights

Still refining the bike-packing process, we began the first of 440 miles much later than planned. Just shy of the Canadian border, Route 2 turns east near Bonners Ferry, into the dense fir and spruce forests of Montana. Entering Glacier National Park, crystal-clear Lake McDonald sweeps up the valley alongside Going-to-the-Sun Road, a narrow strip of asphalt (and an engineering marvel) carved into the side of a mountain range. Logan Pass (6,647 feet) offered awesome views, as sheer valleys tumbled down to the lakes below and knife-edged arêtes towered above us. The light was fading by the time we got on the deserted forest road to Missoula. Kit spotted a mule deer, her almond eyes reflecting brightly in the Travel’s auxiliary lights. She was the first of many, and it was 10 p.m. when we finally walked into the Missoula Club bar, famous for its burgers and beer.

The Glorious Mountain Roads of Montana

After refueling in Hamilton, we turned east into the Sapphire Mountains on a steep gravel track and climbed up to Skalkaho Pass (7,257 feet). It was our first off-road test for the bikes and tires, and we quickly found our confidence on the hard-packed gravel. Abundant torque served us well, especially in 2nd and 3rd gears. By afternoon, the towering canyons had relented to reveal panoramic views of the dramatic scenery. We swept up another pass, riding into Virginia City, a marvelous authentic gold-rush town established in 1863. Following the Madison River south from Ennis, we had a breathtaking sight as the setting sun lit up a colossal rift running along the western bank. Eventually, we made it to our hotel in the dark, tired and hungry, only to discover the nearest restaurant was eight miles away, in West Yellowstone.

Two Buddies, Two Bikes, One Big Adventure
Clouds of sulphur-smelling steam billow up from boiling pools along the road through Yellowstone.

Enchanting Yellowstone and Towering Grand Teton

As the sun came up, we brushed the ice off our seats and rode into Wyoming and Yellowstone National Park. We rode a clockwise loop around the park, passing steaming geysers, volcanic hot springs that belched scorching, sulfurous gas, and bison that grazed the roadside meadows, eventually coming upon enormous Yellowstone Lake. We made a quick stop at the amazing Old Faithful Inn, just as its namesake geyser erupted.

Two Buddies, Two Bikes, One Big Adventure
The Tetons looming over Jackson Lake

The road exiting Yellowstone’s southern entrance runs along the edge of a sheer canyon, ending at Jackson Lake, where the Tetons, a series of three spectacular peaks, soar up from the western bank to over 13,500 feet like giant fossilized teeth. It was late afternoon when we stopped at Alpine to buy supplies. The Guzzis always drew a small crowd and a flurry of questions. I discovered our next leg, a 95-mile dirt track through Bridger-Teton National Forest, was only graded for the first 40. Undeterred (somewhat), we proceeded anyway and soon found an idyllic spot to make camp by the river.

Scarlet Sockeye and the Stunning Beauty of Flaming Gorge

After a chilly, restless night, we rejoined the track running along Greys River, a ribbon of blue and lush green framed by rocky bluffs. As predicted, the track became steep and challenging, but the V85 TTs’ suspension capably soaked up the abuse, while their V-twins churned out torque with a lovely, distinctive rumble. We savored awesome view after awesome view as our fifth day’s route took us out of Wyoming’s forested mountains and into the painted desert canyons of Utah.

Two Buddies, Two Bikes, One Big Adventure
Steaming in the early chill, bucolic Madison River flows into Yellowstone National Park

Desolate plateau roads delivered us to a series of tight corners cut into the red rock, descending hundreds of feet into Flaming Gorge. At the bottom, we stopped at Sheep Creek, where the shallow, limpid water was teeming with sockeye salmon. A series of thrilling sweepers and twisties climbed out of the gorge, providing a spectacular view of the sheer, banded cliffs of crimson and terracotta strata and the reservoir below. The plateau finally ended with a dramatic zig-zagging 3,000-foot descent to the town of Vernal, Utah. We used every electrical socket in the room to charge the crap out of everything — cameras, phones, drone — making the most of our last night in a hotel.

Ridge Riding on Top of the World and A Steer Standoff

After a dash across the vast Uinta Basin, we descended into Scofield (pop. 23), home to Snack & Pack, a quirky gas station where customers broil their own burgers. With us and the Guzzis refueled, we climbed into the mighty Manti-La Sal Mountains and onto Skyline Drive Scenic Backway, a rough unpaved road that follows a knife-edged ridge at over 10,000 feet, with sheer drops down both sides to the valleys below. I tried to focus on the riding, despite the arresting views at every turn. This was not a good place to screw up.

Two Buddies, Two Bikes, One Big Adventure
Skyline Drive can test the nerves, but at 10,000 feet the views are worth the effort

With one eye on the clock, we reluctantly turned off Skyline, riding down into the valley, where we found our route blocked by a herd of belligerent bovine. Stores are scarce in this remote part of Utah, and we were forced to ride 20 miles past our exit to buy supplies, starting the last leg as the sun began to set — a steep, 18-mile dirt track that provided plenty of butt-clenching moments in the dusk. We pitched our tents on patches of sand among boulders and stunted juniper. There was no moon, and when the last of the firewood burnt out, we could see the Milky Way painted across the night sky, with shades of purple, blue and red in an ocean of stars.

We Max Out the V85 TTs and Reluctantly Ride to Vegas

The morning sun blazed across the desert as we tore off down the rocky trail and into Cathedral Valley, where a group of distinctive striped mesas rise up from the plain like a village hewn from rock. Capitol Reef National Park is amazingly varied. Terracotta cliffs are the backdrop to white and yellow hoodoos, vivid green yuccas and gnarly juniper, as well as a formidable mix of sand-and-rubble tracks. Our pace had increased, and at times we asked more from the Guzzis than they were designed for, but what a ride! Inevitably, a deep sandy section proved too much of an ask, and I dumped my Adventure — scuza amore.

Two Buddies, Two Bikes, One Big Adventure
The Milky Way, spanning the sky on a moonless night at our camp in Capitol Reef National Park’s Cathedral Valley

As we neared its end, the trail entered a dense line of trees and abruptly ended at the Fremont River. The fast running water was muddy, and Kit was the first to ford with little notion of depth and no idea what lay below. A breathtaking narrow road perched atop a meandering ridge separated by two yawning canyons delivered us to Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. Completely exhausted, we began looking for a campsite along Cottonwood Canyon Road. I found a ledge with a panoramic view across the valley. A series of sheer, striped ridges ran across the horizon, and towering above these, the giant mesa we had traversed all afternoon. We toasted our last night as the last of the sun’s rays set alight Escalante’s vivid strata. It had all gone so fast, and yet Seattle seemed like a lifetime ago. The view from my tent the following morning was worthy of its own trip.

Two Buddies, Two Bikes, One Big Adventure
Our last campsite, overlooking a majestic valley in Utah’s Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, was in itself worthy of riding 2,600 miles

On our final day, we thundered down a deserted, undulating track running along the floor of Cottonwood Canyon, a dust cloud in our wake and rocks pinging off the sump guards. With the road through Zion National Park closed, we had to take a southern loop through Arizona before starting the last, searing leg down to Las Vegas.

The Moto Guzzi V85 TT, È Tutto Terreno?

After riding hundreds of miles on dirt tracks, some seriously challenging, the V85 TT has convinced this skeptic that it will handle anything you can reasonably expect to throw at it. Overall build quality is excellent. Even with its handsomely sculpted 5.6-gallon tank full of gas, the V85’s center of gravity feels surprisingly low, and coupled with the Michelin Anakee Wild tires, inspired the kind of off-road confidence usually associated with lighter bikes. On the road, more midrange power would make fast overtaking maneuvers less of an exercise in physics, but otherwise, the V85 TT was a superb ride.

Two Buddies, Two Bikes, One Big Adventure
A new day in Cathedral Valley, and the most challenging terrain yet

Both Kit and I are over six feet tall, and I’d figured we’d be folded up like a couple of deckchairs, but with some huge miles undertaken, we appreciated the excellent ergonomics and supremely comfortable seat. In terms of range, comfort, durability and handling on- and off-road, the V85 TT is a credible contender at a competitive price, and the folks in Mandello del Lario deserve credit for also making it so very beautiful. We were reluctant to hand back the keys. Arrivederci bellissima! Thanks for the good times!

Two Buddies, Two Bikes, One Big Adventure
Thundering down the deserted Cottonwood Canyon Road in Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument

The post Two Buddies Tour the Rocky Mountains first appeared on Rider Magazine.
Source: RiderMagazine.com

Rim of the World Scenic Byway

Rim of the World Scenic Byway
California Route 38 follows Mill Creek Canyon as it climbs into the San Bernardino Mountains.

There are rides we’ve ridden only once and they became favorites, and then there are favorite rides we’ve ridden over and over again. This ride falls into the latter category. I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve ridden Rim of the World Scenic Byway, but I’ve done it on pleasure rides, solo tests, comparison tests and press launches, on cruisers, sport-tourers and adventure bikes.

RELATED: 2021 KTM 890 Adventure R | (Off) Road Test Review

Rim of the World Scenic Byway

Click here for the REVER route shown above

This route is entirely paved, but it goes through California’s San Bernardino National Forest and provides easy access to many unpaved forest roads and OHV routes. And although I describe the route from its eastern end in Redlands to its western end at Mormon Rocks, it’s just as enjoyable when ridden the other direction. The route is about 100 miles and can be ridden in just a few hours, or it can serve as the main artery for a weekend of adventure, from camping and hiking to boating, fishing or relaxing in mountain communities like Big Bear and Lake Arrowhead.

Rim of the World Scenic Byway
Most of Rim of the World Scenic Byway is above 5,000 feet, so snow and ice are common in winter and early spring. The road is plowed regularly, but shaded sections can be dicey.

Redlands is part of the Inland Empire, a vast metropolitan area east of Los Angeles that covers parts of Riverside and San Bernardino counties. State Route 38 begins in Redlands, at the junction with Interstate 10. Rim of the World Scenic Byway begins as Route 38 starts to climb into the foothills of the San Bernardino Mountains. The escape from civilization happens quickly as the road starts to gently curve its way up Mill Creek Canyon, with slopes rising steeply on both sides of the road.

Rim of the World Scenic Byway
Rim of the World Scenic Byway offers panoramic views of the valley below

Following a 180-degree, constant-radius sweeper, the road begins a much steeper climb into the mountains. Now we’re talking! Route 38 winds its way through beautiful mountain scenery on its way to 8,443-foot Onyx Summit. Due to the high elevation, snow and ice are common during the winter and early spring, so proceed with caution. On the flip side, the thinner air makes this route a wonderful escape from broiling heat down in the valley during summer and early fall.

The Pacific Crest Trail passes just east of Onyx Summit, and beyond that high point, Route 38 begins a gradual descent with sweeping views of the desert valley to the northeast. As you begin to see residential areas, be mindful of posted speed limits. Route 38 takes an abrupt left as it becomes Big Bear Boulevard and heads west. After the intersection with Greenway Drive you’ll be on Route 18 (Route 38 turns off to the north) and travel through a heavily trafficked area. Some folks who work down in the valley live up in Big Bear, and it’s a popular weekend destination with many rustic cabins available to rent. There are plenty of options for gas, food, supplies and lodging.

Rim of the World Scenic Byway
Bear Valley Dam was originally built in 1884

Route 18 roughly follows the southern shore of Big Bear Lake, an expansive blue reservoir. (Route 38 runs along the northern shore and typically has less traffic.) After navigating your way through town and a tight, winding section of road through trees and big lakeside houses, you’ll see Bear Valley Dam. There’s a parking area where you can stop to check out the dam and snap photos of the lake.

From Bear Valley Dam to Lakeview Point, Route 18 hugs rugged cliffs and offers up a delightful — and at times challenging — series of curves. Beware of rockslide debris and fine gravel used for traction in the winter, and commuter and tourist traffic can add their own hazards. Lakeview Point (7,100 feet) is a scenic overlook with great views of the mountains and a peekaboo view of Big Bear Lake off in the distance.

Rim of the World Scenic Byway
A view of Silverwood Lake from an overlook on Route 138

What follows is a tight, technical section that will put your riding skills — and the limits of your cornering clearance — to the test. After passing through the community of Arrowbear Lake, you’ll come to the town of Running Springs. Pay attention to the road signs and stay on Route 18, which follows an off-ramp to the right. It’s easy to end up on Route 330, an absolute blast of a road that winds its way back down to the valley; it’s a fun down-and-back-up spur if you want to extend your ride.

West of Running Springs the route offers up some of the most scenic views on the entire byway, as Route 18 follows the spine of the mountains. There are many turnouts where you can enjoy the view, particularly Red Rock Scenic Overlook, but from the westbound lane be careful crossing the eastbound (valley side) of the road on blind corners.

Rim of the World Scenic Byway
A majestic juniper stands sentry near Onyx Summit. The Pacific Crest Trail passes nearby.

As Route 18 starts to make its way down to the valley (another fun one), at Mount Anderson Junction you’ll turn onto Route 138 (another off-ramp to the right) toward Crestline. Roads are well marked, so if you’re paying attention or following the route on REVER, you’ll be fine. After winding your way through tall trees and densely clustered cabins, Route 138 becomes a rollercoaster of tight turns, hairpins, dips and rises. This is my favorite section of the entire route, but it’s also the most challenging.

As you come out of the forest, the road opens up as it approaches and rounds Silverwood Lake. No more hairpins, just big sweepers, a few rollers and some straights through sandy desert landscape. After crossing over I-15 and railroad tracks at Cajon Junction, you’ll see Mormon Rocks, a dramatic wind-eroded sandstone formation, rising up in the distance.

That’s the end of the scenic byway, but it doesn’t have to be the end of your fun. Right across from Mormon Rocks is Lone Pine Canyon Road, a lightly trafficked back road that goes to Wrightwood and Route 2, better known as Angeles Crest Highway, a legendary favorite ride.

Rim of the World Scenic Byway
The Red Rock Scenic Overlook was built during the Great Depression, with masonry work by Donald S. Wiesman

RELATED: Nelson-Rigg Sahara Dry Duffle Bag | Gear Review (shown in photo above)

The post Rim of the World Scenic Byway first appeared on Rider Magazine.
Source: RiderMagazine.com

Romania to Istanbul Adventure

Romania to Istanbul Adventure with Adriatic Moto Tours
Riding the Transalpina Road in the Carpathian Mountains. There were many roads like this on the Romania to Istanbul Adventure with Adriatic Moto Tours. (Photos courtesy of Adriatic Moto Tours)

Trying to summarize a 14-day motorcycle tour through Romania, Bulgaria, Greece and Turkey, with all of the roads and meals and people and historic sites that it entailed, in about 1,000 words is like trying to stuff 10 pounds of rice into a 5-pound sack. Adriatic Moto Tours’ Romania to Istanbul Adventure tour lived up to its name, providing a dozen of us — four Australians and eight Americans — with a rich experience in a very interesting and beautiful part of the world.

Our tour began in Bucharest, Romania, and followed a counterclockwise loop with overnight stops in charming towns and rest days in Sibiu, Romania, and Istanbul, Turkey.

Romania to Istanbul Adventure with Adriatic Moto Tours
Our tour route started and ended in Bucharest. You meet the nicest people in Transylvania. And ride some of the best roads. Enjoying a late afternoon ride along the Danube River.

Before our trip, Adriatic Moto Tours (AMT) sent us a detailed tour guide book and a map, and they made our hotel arrangements in Bucharest and picked us up at the airport. All my wife Becky and I had to do was pack our gear and make sure we made our flight. Orientation, bike assignments and everything was stress-free, and after our first dinner together our group was acquainted, bonded and ready to ride.

RELATED: Adriatic Moto Tours’ Intriguing Southeast Europe Tour

Rok was our motorcycle guide and Primož was our support van driver and evening host. From Burcharest we made our way to Târgovişte, where we enjoyed coffee and fresh pastries at a café adjacent to an imposing 15th century fortress. Vlad Dracula, also known as Vlad the Impaler and the inspiration for the vampire Dracula, fought bloody battles here. Primož told us that Vlad once invited hundreds of guests to a banquet, then had them all killed and impaled.

Romania to Istanbul Adventure with Adriatic Moto Tours
Meeting Count Dracula in Târgovişte, Romania

On that cheery note, we rode north toward Câmpulung into delightful mountains, with rocky peaks in the background and gorgeous green pastoral scenery below. This stretch was winding and curvy but smooth and pleasant. There are many beautiful places in the world, all different, but there aren’t many that are more beautiful than this section of Romania’s Carpathian Mountains. We visited Bran Castle, which was built in the 13th century and inspired Bram Stoker’s description of the vampire’s castle in “Dracula.” On the way to dinner that night, Primož led us on a walking tour of the old city in Braşov. Each night we walked to a wonderful restaurant, and the guides shared their wealth of knowledge about the culture and history of the area. Dinners were family-style, with Rok and Primož ordering a variety of platters so we could sample a little bit of everything.

Romania to Istanbul Adventure with Adriatic Moto Tours
Enjoying a late afternoon ride along the Danube River.

Our route continued through Transylvania on smooth roads through rolling hills, the terrain and scenery constantly changing. We had lunch in Sighişoara, a walled 12th century town that’s a UNESCO World Heritage site. For our “rest” day in Sibiu, we did what riders do — we got up early and headed out on a ride, in this case to the renowned Transfăgărăşan road over the Făgărăş range. At the base of the mountain, Rok gave the signal and the group broke apart with everyone riding their own pace up the steep twisty switchbacks to the pass at 6,699 feet. The next day, after finding out that a rockslide had closed the highly anticipated Transalpina Road, we assuaged our disappointment with another run on the Transfăgărăşan.

Romania to Istanbul Adventure with Adriatic Moto Tours
The legendary Transfăgărăşan road in Romania is so good, we rode it twice.

We crossed the Friendship Bridge into Bulgaria and made our way to Veliko Tarnovo, where we spent the night in the Tsarevets Fortress. We visited the Shipka Monument at a 3,900-foot mountain pass that was the site of battles during the Russo-Turkish War in the late 1800s. And we descended into Rose Valley, where much of the world’s rose oil for perfumes comes from, and passed sunflower fields that stretched as far as the eye could see.

After a night in Plovdiv, which has Roman ruins in the center of town, we rode through the Rhodope Mountains into Greece. Most of the road had excellent pavement, smooth curves and gorgeous mountain terrain that gave way to Mediterranean seaside scenery at Alexandroupoli. The next day we crossed into Turkey, and a perfect arc of roadway around the Gulf of Saros took us to tip of the Gallipoli Peninsula, where we visited WWI memorials.

Romania to Istanbul Adventure with Adriatic Moto Tours
Balea Lac at the top of the pass on the Transfăgărăşan road through the Făgărăş Mountains.

Istanbul is beyond words. As the crossroads of the East and West, it has a rich, varied history and a unique mix of cultures. Three nights and two rest days in Istanbul allowed plenty of time to explore and see famous sites like the Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia and the Hippodrome of Constantinople. People on the streets and in shops were warm and friendly, and the variety of foods was endless and always delicious. Our hotel provided easy access to historic areas, and its rooftop restaurant and bar overlooked the Bosphorus Strait, which is the boundary between Europe and Asia. Just indescribable — you really should experience it for yourself.

After the sensory overload of Istanbul, we followed Rok northwest to our lunch stop at Saray. The roads zigged and zagged, and the surface was somewhat rough due to years of being patched. We crossed the border back into Bulgaria, and at the checkpoint there were several luxury vehicles shot full of hundreds of holes. If that was meant as a warning, it worked. Nessebar, situated on a rocky peninsula jutting into the Black Sea, was our stop for the night. It’s one of the oldest towns in Europe, and as we walked to dinner we saw monuments and ruins dating back to the 5th century. The atmosphere in the twilight was breathtaking, another step back in time.

Romania to Istanbul Adventure with Adriatic Moto Tours
One of the endless fields of sunflowers in Bulgaria.

The terrain and scenery changed yet again as we rode north along the Bulgarian coast, which is a popular vacation destination with dramatic cliffs, pristine beaches and resort hotels. After a night in Kavarna, where we stayed in a modern condo overlooking the Black Sea, we rode through fertile grain-producing agricultural areas. We crossed back into Romania on a ferry over the mighty Danube River and made our way back to Bucharest, where Primož greeted us with champagne at the hotel. After celebrating, we emptied the bikes and got cleaned up for the farewell dinner. I don’t remember much about that final night. Our heads were spinning with memories, laughter and a few adult beverages.

This tour was everything we could have imagined, multiplied by a factor of 10. Both guides worked tirelessly to accommodate us every day for 14 long days. The riding was great, the scenery ever-changing, the history and culture beyond what we could absorb in a lifetime, and Adriatic Moto Tours earned our highest regards for everything from the booking to the final hoorah. Maybe we can go again someday?

Romania to Istanbul Adventure with Adriatic Moto Tours
Our group of intrepid adventurers.

AMT’s Istanbul to Romania Adventure tour runs several times a year from August to October. For dates, pricing and details, visit adriaticmototours.com.

The post Romania to Istanbul Adventure first appeared on Rider Magazine.
Source: RiderMagazine.com

Who can topple the King of the Ring in Germany?

Marc Marquez is chasing 11 in a row at the Sachsenring, and despite injury, his rivals expect to see him at the front on Sunday

He may not have been present, but it’s no surprise that Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) was at the tip of everybody’s tongue at the pre-event Press Conference ahead of the Liqui Moly Motorrad Grand Prix of Germany, with the HRC man chasing 11 straight victories at the Sachsenring.

Those that were in attendance were Fabio Quartararo, Maverick Viñales (both Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP), Johann Zarco (Pramac Racing), Jack Miller (Ducati Lenovo Team), Joan Mir (Team Suzuki Ecstar), Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) and the premier class’ newest recruit, Fabio Di Giannantonio (Federal Oil Gresini Moto2).

Who can stop the King of the Ring?

The eight-time World Champion continues on his well-documented road to recovery, however, with the Sachsenring next up on the 2021 MotoGP™ calendar, it’s little wonder he dominates the headlines. He has dominated proceedings on the previous 10 visits to Germany, with 10 victories and 10 poles to his name. His rivals are acutely aware of his record here, and despite having yet to reach his pre-injury form in 2021, they fully expect to see him fighting from the front.

Quartararo: “It is a track he has got the last 10 wins and pole positions. He will be there. It will be an important moment for him. At the moment I’m not really looking at him, but yeah, he will be fast. In the end, I’m focusing on myself, but it is a great moment for him to come back and to take a podium or victory that will be a big boost to his confidence I think everyone will try make him not win or get a podium so he doesn’t take too much confidence!”

Mir: “He will be there, he will be strong. Even if he isn’t 100%, I expect him to be strong. I would not be surprised if he is one of the contenders for the win on Sunday.

Zarco: “If there is a bet to do, I think someone could put some money on him. He might not be in the Championship fight right now, but we need to do some other calculations, he is, not aggressive, but he does not hesitate when he overtakes, we have to take him into consideration for the podium fight.”

Can the Sachsenring become a Ducati favourite?

It is no secret that in the past, there were certain tracks that the Ducati favoured over others. However, 2021 has seen the Bologna bullets dispel the notion that they wouldn’t be able to keep pace with their rivals, particularly in places like Jerez and Catalunya, but that has proven a fallacy to date as we have seen the scarlet red of the Desmosedicis well represented among the podium places at those circuits. The Sachsenring is another in which some tip them to struggle, but the Ducati camp appear to be in a confident mood ahead of the weekend.

Miller: “I’m definitely excited to take the GP21 around here, it is definitely a better package and I think we can be quite surprised with how well it works here. For sure, there’s always tracks that suit your bike more than others but it is about how you adapt your bike to the track. Here it isn’t too bad, the corners aren’t like other tracks where you rely on turning to a massive degree, you’re not changing directions too much.”

“I’m super excited to see how the GP21 works in those conditions because, it’s definitely been an improvement from what we rode here in 2019, and yeah, we need to keep working on that and hopefully we can turn some of the non-Ducati tracks, like we’ve done to a few so far, into ones that aren’t too bad for a Ducati.”

Zarco: “As usual I try to be neutral and positive. We know…we hear from all the media that is not the best track for the Ducati, but I don’t fully agree with it because we can have some good surprise and really with the experience and getting on now with the time and on this bike, I’m curious to see which feeling I will have on this track that it’s a real particular one compared to all the others.”

A day to remember

Elsewhere, Moto2™ rider Fabio Di Giannantonio (Federal Oil Gresini Moto2) won’t forget June 17th, 2021 in a hurry, after it was confirmed he would be making the step up the premier class with new Gresini Racing Team in 2022. The Italian rider could barely contain his excitement when speaking about the move, which will see him ride a Desmosedici, a match made in heaven according to the 22-year-old. However, as he moves up a grade, Di Giannantonio was keen to remember the man who made set him on this path.

Di Giannantonio: “I will ride in MotoGP with the best riders in the world and also with the bike of my dreams, you know, the Ducati is for an Italian guy is something amazing, so yeah really excited honestly.”

“Fausto’s dream and our dream is to be at the top level in Moto2 and then to be at the top level in MotoGP so I think we’re just doing what he can be proud of, you know? So, we’re just trying to pursue our dream and working on it.”

The wait is nearly over, with MotoGP™ seeing wheels on the ground for FP1 on Friday at 09:55 (CET). Make sure you tune in then. 

Every practice session, qualifying battle and race, exclusive interviews, historic races and so much more fantastic content: this is VideoPass!

Source: MotoGP.comRead Full Article Here

2021 Harley-Davidson Pan America 1250 Special | First Ride Review

2021 Harley-Davidson Pan America 1250 Special review
Whether picking your way along a technical off-road trail or wearing down your chicken strips on a twisty paved road, the Pan America 1250 is well-balanced and highly capable. (Photos by Kevin Wing & Brian J. Nelson)

When you step up to the plate, when you’re facing fierce competitors and all eyes are on you, sometimes you have to swing for the fences. That’s what Harley-Davidson — a 118-year-old American motorcycle manufacturer known primarily for cruisers and baggers — has done with its new Pan America 1250 and Pan America 1250 Special adventure tourers.

Harley is a new player in the adventure touring segment, which has grown in breadth and depth over the past several decades. BMW recently introduced a 40th anniversary edition of its highly popular — and very capable — R 1250 GS. And there are big-league adventure bikes made by Ducati, Honda, KTM, Moto Guzzi, Suzuki, Triumph, and Yamaha, many of which are best-selling models with years of development and evolution under their belts.

2021 Harley-Davidson Pan America 1250 Special review
Styling has tie-ins to the Fat Bob and Road Glide; side-laced wheels are optional.

During more than a decade of largely stagnant motorcycle sales since the Great Recession, large-displacement adventure and dual-sport models have been a rare source of growth. Harley wants a cut of that action. As it demonstrated with the release of the LiveWire electric motorcycle, Harley wants to expand its customer base. Two ways it can do that are to sell new models to its existing customers, and sell new models to new customers. Some existing customers own a variety of motorcycles, like Rider contributor Bruce Gillies, who owns a Road Glide Ultra, a Triumph Tiger 800XC and a KTM 690 Enduro R. Bruce is retired from the U.S. Navy and buys American-made products whenever he can. He’s also a highly skilled rider who demands a lot from his motorcycles. He’d consider buying a Pan America, but only if it meets his high expectations.

Rest assured, Bruce. The Motor Company knocked this one out of the park.

[Editor’s Note: After this story was published, Bruce traded in his Triumph for a Pan America 1250 Special with ARH, and he loves it.]

Harley designed and built an exciting, capable and innovative adventure bike in its first attempt. Given the high profile of the Pan America and the eagerness of naysayers to pounce on any weakness, Harley knew it couldn’t release an odd-duck motorcycle. It learned that lesson with the Buell Ulysses. Belt drive is out, chain drive is in, not only because a chain is light, durable in off-road situations and can be repaired in the field, but also because that’s what many adventure riders demand. A V-twin engine stays true to the brand, but it has to be liquid-cooled and offer the power and sophistication necessary to compete in this segment. The new Revolution Max 1250 V-twin makes a claimed 150 horsepower and 94 lb-ft of torque, and ride modes change output and throttle response at the touch of a button.

2021 Harley-Davidson Pan America 1250 Special review
Commanding cockpit has an adjustable windscreen and hand guards. Touchscreen display is bright and easy to use.

Harley also knew it needed a hook — a killer app, if you will. And that’s Adaptive Ride Height (ARH), a $1,000 factory-installed option on the Pan America 1250 Special that automatically lowers ride height, and therefore the pilot’s seat, by 1 to 2 inches as the bike comes to a stop. The Special’s semi-active suspension automatically adjusts preload to 30% sag regardless of load, which is what accounts for the range of height adjustment. The system works seamlessly and virtually undetectably, and makes a huge difference in effective seat height. ARH is a real game-changer because seat height is one of the biggest obstacles for some riders to overcome when considering an adventure bike. Furthermore, it brings seat height within reach of more riders without compromising suspension travel or cornering clearance. (Click here to read our technical deep dive into the Pan America 1250’s Revolution Max engine and ARH.)

After years of development and benchmarking, not to mention teasing at shows and speculation by the media, the first public test of the Pan America was at its press launch. I have to hand it to the folks who planned the event — this was no bunny slope test ride. Hosted at RawHyde Adventures’ Zakar training facility a couple hours north of Los Angeles, we spent two full days flogging Pan America 1250 Specials on- and off-road in the Sierra Nevada mountains and Mojave Desert. We rode nearly 400 miles on highways, twisting mountain roads and off-road trails that included gravel, sand, rocks, tricky climbs and descents — even a few jumps.

2021 Harley-Davidson 
Pan America 1250 Special review
Top-shelf semi-active Showa suspension made for a plush landing. Damping rates can be set to Sport, Balanced, Comfort, Off-Road Soft and Off-Road Firm.

Greg’s Gear
Helmet: Fly Racing Odyssey Adventure Modular
Jacket: Fly Racing Terra Trek
Gloves: Fly Racing Coolpro Force
Pants: Fly Racing Terra Trek
Boots: Fly Racing FR5

As the saying goes, you never get a second chance to make a first impression. After tip-toeing down the sand-and-gravel access road from Zakar to the pavement and falling into formation on Route 58 with the dozen riders in our group, I began taking mental notes. As with many full-sized adventure bikes, the Pan America was comfortable and accommodating, with plenty of legroom, an upright seating position and a relaxed reach to a wide handlebar. Before the ride began, Harley’s tech staff helped us adjust the dual-height stock seat (33.4/34.4 inches), install either the accessory low or high seat (which reduce or increase the dual heights by 1 inch, respectively) or install accessory 2-inch handlebar risers.

The whole business of seat heights becomes a little fuzzy because we were on Pan America 1250 Specials with ARH installed. At a stop, the unladen height of the stock seat in the low position is 32.7 inches rather than 33.4 inches without ARH. In its specs Harley also provides laden seat height with a 180-pound rider, which is 31.1 inches on the Special without ARH and 30.4 inches with ARH. Install the $249.95 Reach Solo Seat on an ARH-equipped Special and laden seat height can be as low as 29.4 inches. In other words, Harley went to great lengths to make sure seat height is not a barrier to owning a Pan America, though getting exactly what you want may require an investment.

2021 Harley-Davidson 
Pan America 1250 Special review
Thanks to its powerful Revolution Max 1250 V-twin and excellent chassis, the Pan America is one of the sportiest motorcycles ever to come out of Milwaukee.

After humming along the freeway for a half hour with the cruise control on and the on-the-fly adjustable windscreen parting the air smoothly, we turned onto Caliente-Bodfish Road, one of the gnarliest paved roads in the Sierra foothills, and began to wick it up. The Pan America offers eight ride modes — Sport, Road, Rain, Off-Road, Off-Road Plus and three custom modes — which adjust power output, throttle response, engine braking, traction control, ABS and suspension damping. The Revolution Max 1250 is ripper, with a sportbike-like sound, feel and responsiveness, and, thanks to variable valve timing, it delivers generous low-end torque as well as a screaming top end.

As has become increasingly common, rather than bolting the engine to the frame, the engine serves as the main structural element of the chassis. Attached directly to the engine are a front frame that incorporates the steering head, a forged aluminum mid frame that’s the attachment point for the cast aluminum swingarm and a tubular-steel trellis subframe. Overall the chassis is stiff and robust, contributing to the Pan America 1250 Special’s neutral, stable handling. And Harley used tried-and-trusted component suppliers, with a steering damper made by Öhlins, radial-mount monoblock 4-piston front calipers made by Brembo and suspension made by Showa — a 47mm USD Balance Free Fork and a Balanced Free Rear Cushion-lite shock, both with 7.5 inches of travel. Everything performed to a high level in a wide range of conditions.

2021 Harley-Davidson 
Pan America 1250 Special review
The 
Pan America 1250 Special is available in four color options: Deadwood Green (shown here), Baja Orange/Stone Washed White Pearl, Gauntlet Gray Metallic, and Vivid Black.

Standard on the Pan America are cast aluminum wheels (19-inch front, 17-inch rear) shod with specially designed Michelin Scorcher Adventure 90/10 tires, which offered good grip and handling on pavement and during light off-roading. Bikes we tested were equipped with the optional side-laced tubeless wheels (which cost $500 and weigh 14 pounds more than the cast wheels). On the second day, our bikes were fitted with accessory Michelin Anakee Wild 50/50 tires ($449.90), which give up some confidence and grip on pavement but are excellent off-road tires, even at the higher street temperatures we were running. Harley’s RDRS Safety Enhancements package includes IMU-enabled “cornering enhanced” linked ABS and traction control, with settings determined by ride mode (the cornering function and rear ABS are disabled in certain off-road modes). Drag-Torque Slip Control, which is like traction control for the engine to manage rear-wheel traction during aggressive riding, as well as cruise control and hill hold control are also part of the package.

Reactions to the Pan America’s styling have been mixed. Lacking the prominent beak or high front fender that is popular on many ADV bikes, it stands apart from the crowd, with a headlight design influenced by the Fat Bob and front bodywork inspired by the Road Glide’s sharknose fairing. Above the Daymaker Signature LED headlight, which uses 30 LED elements behind a diffuser lens, the Special has a Daymaker Adaptive LED headlight that illuminates a series of three lights as lean angle reaches 8, 15 and 23 degrees.

2021 Harley-Davidson 
Pan America 1250 Special review
Trona Pinnacles, which served as a backdrop in “Star Trek V” and “Planet of the Apes” among other films, was an ideal off-road test site. Michelin Anakee Wild tires added grip.

Harley offers a standard version of the Pan America 1250 that starts at $17,319, but many buyers will probably opt for the Pan America 1250 Special we tested. Starting at $19,999, the Special adds semi-active suspension with automatic preload adjustment (and the availability of ARH as a factory option), the adaptive headlight, the steering damper, a tire-pressure monitoring system, a centerstand, an aluminum skid plate, engine protection bars, hand guards, heated grips and a dual-height rear brake pedal.

In one shot, Harley-Davidson not only built its first adventure bike, it also built its first sportbike and sport-touring bike. We hammered the Pan Americas for two days, and they never gave up or reacted in an unexpected way or felt out of their depth. Whatever the metric — power, performance, handling, durability, technology, weight, price — the Pan America 1250 Special can compete head-to-head with well-established players in the ADV segment. Is it the best overall, or in any particular category? Well, that remains to be seen — two days and 400 miles, none of which were ridden back-to-back with competitors in the class, is not enough to draw firm conclusions. But this is one rookie that shows great promise.

2021 Harley-Davidson Pan America 1250 Special review
Adventure touring, sport touring, on-road, off-road, tall or short rider, solo or with a passenger, with options, luggage and accessories or bone stock — whatever you’re into, the Pan America can be spec’d to satisfy your needs.

2021 Harley-Davidson Pan America 1250 Special Specs

Base Price: $19,999
Price as Tested: $22,299 (ARH, side-laced wheels, Anakee Wild tires, skid plate)
Website: harley-davidson.com
Engine Type: Liquid-cooled, transverse 60-degree V-twin, DOHC w/ 4 valves per cyl.
Displacement: 1,252cc
Bore x Stroke: 105 x 72mm
Horsepower: 150 @ 9,000 rpm (claimed, at the crank)
Torque: 94 lb-ft @ 6,750 rpm (claimed, at the crank)
Transmission: 6-speed, cable-actuated assist-and-slipper wet clutch
Final Drive: Chain
Wheelbase: 62.2 in.
Rake/Trail: 25 degrees/4.3 in.
Seat Height: 32.7/33.7 in. (unladen w/ ARH)
Wet Weight: 559 lbs. (claimed, stock)
Fuel Capacity: 5.6 gals.

The post 2021 Harley-Davidson Pan America 1250 Special | First Ride Review first appeared on Rider Magazine.
Source: RiderMagazine.com

Ride to Work Day: Monday, June 21, 2021

Ride to Work Day 30th anniversary

Monday, June 21, 2021, is the 30th Annual International Motorcycle and Scooter Ride to Work Day.

Ride to Work is a 501(c)4 non-profit organization that advocates and supports the use of motorcycles and scooters for transportation, and that provides information about everyday utility riding to the public. Every year, it sponsors an official “Ride to Work Day” that aims to bring awareness to the benefits of using a motorcycle or scooter for commuting/general transportation.

Ride your motorcycle or scooter on this day to demonstrate:

  • The number of motorcyclists to the general public and to politicians.
  • That motorcyclists are from all occupations and all walks of life.
  • That motorcyclists can reduce traffic and parking congestion in large cities.
  • That motorcycles are for transportation as well as recreation.
  • That motorcycling is a social good.

We fully support Ride to Work’s mission to get more people riding, make our roads safer for riders, and push local governments to add motorcycle parking and other moto-friendly ordinances.

Top 10 Tips for Motorcycle Commuting Like a Pro

Ride to Work Day logo

Ride To Work Day History

Ride to Work Day was inspired by “Work to Ride, Ride to Work” marketing materials created between 1989 and 1991 by the Aero Design and Manufacturing Company, a Minnesota-based manufacturer of motorcycle riders clothing. In 1992 these items inspired motorcycle magazine editor Fred Rau to write an editorial calling for a national ride to work day.

The first annual Ride to Work Day event was proposed in Road Rider magazine in the May 1992 issue. This is an excerpt from that “Ride to Work” editorial: “You may remember several months ago when Bob Carpenter, commenting in his ‘Two Up’ column, mentioned how neat he thought it would be if there was one day a year when everyone who owned a motorcycle used it to ride to work. That comment was prompted by a T-shirt produced by Aerostich RiderWear that simply said, ‘Work To Ride, Ride To Work.’ Everyone seemed to think that a national ‘Ride To Work’ day was one heck of a good idea.”

The first Ride to Work Day event date was July 22, 1992. For several years various motorcycle businesses informally promoted every third Wednesday in July as Ride To Work Day. These early advocates included Road Rider Magazine, Dunlop Tires, and Aerostich/Riderwearhouse. The event continued to grow as an informal grassroots demonstration every year until 2000. That year a non-profit organization, Ride to Work, was formed to help organize and promote Ride to Work Day.

The first Ride to Work Day event led by this group was the third Wednesday in July of 2001. This day was the annual day until 2008, when it was changed to the Third Monday In June. This change was made to climatically better accommodate riders world-wide, and to give more riders an opportunity to participate.

Ride to Work is a 501(c04 nonprofit, all-volunteer effort. Organizers include Andy Goldfine, Lynn Wisneski, and Christine Holt.

The post Ride to Work Day: Monday, June 21, 2021 first appeared on Rider Magazine.
Source: RiderMagazine.com

Marc Marquez to don a retro new-look helmet at the German GP

MotoGP™ is ready to step back in time this weekend as Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) will debut a new-look helmet at the Sachsenring. The fresh lid was inspired by motorcycle racing’s early days as he looks to pay tribute to the sport’s earliest stars. The number 93 will sport the helmet as he looks to defend his title as King of the Ring in Germany, as he chases 11 straight victories across all classes in Germany.

Source: MotoGP.comRead Full Article Here

Gresini Racing confirm two-year deal with Ducati

“It’s a very emotional moment for each of us. In previous months, our efforts merged with a strong emotional push to shape the future of Gresini Racing, and now are immensely proud and happy to make the official announcement. It is a project born out of continuity and based on values upon which Fausto built this amazing institution. My thank you goes first and foremost to Carmelo Ezpeleta for making sure we never felt alone during these months, to Ducati for trusting our projects, to Flex-Box who joined us in this new challenge as title sponsor and obviously to Fabio and Enea: I’m sure they will give their best to wave the Gresini Racing banner high.”

Source: MotoGP.comRead Full Article Here

MV Agusta To Attempt World Record Of Most Countries In 24 Hours

If successful, it will be 11 countries traversed within a single day.

Begin press release:


On the longest day of the year, the summer solstice of June 21st, MV Agusta, together with journalist Valerio Boni, will attempt to beat the record of the most countries visited in 24 hours on a motorcycle.

Boni will set off on a 2000 km ride across Europe, respecting all the traffic and speed regulations, starting from Malmö in Sweden and ending at the MV Agusta headquarters in Schiranna, Italy, setting the mark of the most countries visited at 11:  Sweden, Denmark, Germany, The Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, France, Switzerland, Austria, Liechtenstein and of course, Italy. A real endurance test for Boni and his 2021 edition Turismo Veloce Lusso SCS.

Valerio Boni, 62, is an Italian motorcycling journalist. A true motorsport enthusiast, he’d ride anything with wheels and an engine and has a particular predilection for endurance raids. He was among the first Italian riders taking part in African rallies, and rode 125 cc Cagivas to victory in Morocco and Egypt. He also has a passion for long distance, round-the-clock challenges. Last month he set the Guinness World Record for the longest distance on a minibike in 24 hours.

MV Agusta named the enterprise “TVEE”, Turismo Veloce Europe Endurance, inspired by the TEE, Trans Europe Express, the legendary train service that operated in Europe from 1957 to 1991, and which represented, at the time, the fastest and most stylish way to travel across the continent before the advent of high-speed.

But Boni’s quest won’t be stopping at the world record, since he will also attempt to gain SaddleSore 1600K and SaddleSore 2000K certifications from the Iron Butt Association, the “World’s toughest Motorcycle Riders”. The challenges consist in riding respectively 1.600 km and 2.000 km in less than 24 hours.

Valerio Boni commented: “This long, epic ride across Europe will certainly be challenging for both rider and bike, but the 2021 edition of the Turismo Veloce, in its production version, has everything it takes to achieve the objective in the best conditions. Thanks to the Turismo Veloce’s onboard technology we will be able to share the adventure in real time on the official website www.mvagusta.com

For the Model Year 2021, MV Agusta engineers have been working hard at improving comfort and aerodynamics protection. They also optimised torque and fuel consumption, making the renewed MV Agusta, which also features the new MV Ride App, possibly the most exclusive touring bike of all times. It certainly will be the most reliable, comfortable and stylish for Boni’s 2.000 km ramble across the old continent.



The post MV Agusta To Attempt World Record Of Most Countries In 24 Hours appeared first on Motorcycle.com News.

Book review: The Best of Drives 1

I’ve literally been around the world with Barry Green on a mixture of two and four wheels.

Barry is the author of several motorsport books and now a travelogue of great drives and cars around the world called “The Best of Drives 1”.

It should be of interest to MotorbikeWriter readers whether you are also into cars or not as it is prefaced with Barry’s early career as an amateur motorcycle racer and peppered with references to two wheels.

And, of course, the greatest “drives” are also the greatest roads to ride.

The satin-paged 174-page book costs $55 including postage and packaging anywhere in Australia and is available online at: Barry Green — Author.

It’s an motivational read laced with inspiring images that will make you want to get behind the wheel or handlebars of your favourite steed and go exploring.

Barry has worked for many years in newspapers and motoring magazines and retired last year as the RACQ’s motoring editor on the day the lockdowns started.

After a career of driving exotic and expensive cars, Barry went straight out and bought a rare 2010 Triumph Thruxton in white with a red frame that reminded him of his old 1959 Triumph Thunderbird 650. You simply can’t get two wheels out of the blood!

Motoring editor retires to two wheels
Barry on his Thruxton

His retirement also gave him plenty of time to come riding the hills around South East Queensland with me; that is, when he was not penning this great read.

As motoring editor at The Courier-Mail for a dozen years I partnered with Barry on many local, national and overseas motoring events and launches.

I’m in awe of his driving and riding abilities and I enjoy his good humour and reminiscences of a similar “wild-child” youth.

This book now has me in awe of his poetic and descriptive writing talents that figuratively put you in the saddle as he takes you to some of the greatest roads in the world in some of the most iconic and often relevant cars such as a Mini around the streets of London, a Citroen 2CV in Provence, or Italian supercar drifting twins from Tokyo to Kyoto.

Of course, there is a big section on Australian roads including several of our local SEQ riding routes. 

Even though I know these roads like the proverbial back of my glove, it is refreshing to read Barry’s perspective. 

ROHITESH UPADHYAY breaking the record for world's longest no-hands wheelie October 2019

And I now know why he lingers a little longer on the McAfee’s Lookout bend of the Mt Glorious Road … that’s where he was married to his life-long partner.

The book starts in the 1970s when Barry was inspired by the cult film Easy Rider to become a self-confessed wild child, drag-racing a Kawasaki triple before a succession of road and dirt bikes passed through the garage of his rental where there was always a tallie in the rattly fridge to welcome his like-minded mates.

I don’t think I would be alone among MotorbikeWriter readers in relating to much of that scenario.

And like Barry, starting off on motorcycles instilled the most basic motoring skills and mechanical sympathy that breeds a talented motorist.

He finishes his book with an eclectic selection of vehicles he has driven over the years that range from a 1965 Austin-Healey 2000 Mk IIIA to a 2008 HSV Maloo R8 and on to a 2015 Ferrari F12 Berlinetta.

Thankfully he includes one of my favourite well-balanced raw Italian sports machines, the 1976 Lancia Beta Coupe. 

Hopefully my all-time fave — the Fiat 124CC — will feature in The Best of Drives 2, coming soon!

Source: MotorbikeWriter.com