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2023 CFMOTO 800 ADVentura | First Ride Review

2023 CFMOTO 800 ADVentura T
This winter, the 2023 CFMOTO 800 ADVentura joins the company’s seven-model 2022 motorcycle lineup. Photos by Gary Walton and Leviathan.

We recently posted our first-ride review of the seven-model 2022 motorcycle lineup from CFMOTO, which ranges from the 126cc Papio to the 700CL-X Sport. I had a chance to sample each model on a private test track, and then I got a more extensive 350-mile ride on the 650 ADVentura.

Check out Rider‘s 2022 Motorcycle Buyers Guide

2023 CFMOTO 800 ADVentura T
The 2023 800 ADVentura comes in two versions: the up-spec “T” (Terrain) with spoked wheels shown above and the base-model “S” (Street) with cast wheels.

During the press event, held in late June, I also got a first ride on an eighth model, which was under embargo until August 1 and will be available in “late winter” as a 2023 model. The embargo has come and gone, so I can now talk about the 800 ADVentura. (When I asked one of CFMOTO USA’s reps how to pronounce the name, he said “add-ventura” rather than “A-D-V-entura,” which is a mouthful.)

2023 CFMOTO 800 ADVentura T
During our full day of testing eight different CFMOTO models, we played games like Avoid the Tar Snake and Tag the Flag.

GEAR UP
Helmet: Nolan N80-8
Jacket: Fly Racing Coolpro Mesh
Gloves: Fly Racing Brawler
Pants: Fly Racing Resistance Jeans
Boots: Fly Racing M16 Leather Shoes

2023 CFMOTO 800 ADVentura T
Having moved on to the 889cc version of its LC8c parallel-Twin in the 890 Adventure, KTM was happy to allow CFMOTO to use the 799cc version from the 790 Adventure. Note the 800MT on the bodywork – that’s the model name used in other markets.

Given American tastes for large motorcycles and the popularity of adventure bikes, the 800 ADVentura is the CFMOTO model that’s most likely to resonate with U.S. buyers. As described in my 2022 lineup review, CFMOTO established a partnership with KTM back in 2014, and soon after began producing KTM 200/390 Dukes for the Chinese market. In 2018, CFMOTO and KTM broke ground on a joint venture production facility in China.

2023 CFMOTO 800 ADVentura T

Given the cozy relationship between CFMOTO and KTM, it’s no surprise that CFMOTO’s top-of-the-line model is powered by a liquid-cooled, DOHC, 8-valve 799cc parallel-Twin borrowed from the previous-generation KTM 790 Adventure, which makes a claimed 95 hp and 57 lb-ft of torque. Equipped with throttle-by-wire, it has two ride modes (Sport and Rain) and cruise control.

The 800 ADVentura has a chromoly-steel frame, fully adjustable KYB suspension (front/rear travel is 6.3/5.9 inches), 19-inch front and 17-inch rear wheels, and J. Juan triple-disc brakes with cornering ABS. It has a 5-gallon fuel tank, full LED lighting, and a 7-inch TFT display.

2023 CFMOTO 800 ADVentura T

Two versions of the 800 ADVentura will be offered, an “S” (Street) model with cast wheels and a “T” (Terrain or Touring, you decide) model with spoked wheels. The T is also equipped with a quickshifter, a tire-pressure monitoring system, a steering damper, a skid plate, crash bars, handguards, and a centerstand. Claimed curb weight is 496 lb for the S and 509 lb for the T.

There was only one bike at the launch, an 800 ADVentura T, and it was hogged by everyone. I managed to get in a few laps, just enough to realize its potential. The 800 ADVentura has the wide, flat seat and comfortably upright seating position with generous legroom that we’ve come to expect from adventure bikes, and is part of what makes them so popular (unless you are short of inseam, of course).

2023 CFMOTO 800 ADVentura T

When you’re on a closed circuit, as we were on the Minnesota Highway Safety & Research Center’s 1.2-mile, 6-turn paved road course with a one-third-mile front straight, it’s only natural to give the whip to whatever you’re riding. With the 800 ADV-T in Sport mode, I pinned the throttle and felt it surge forward with gusto.

I was the 509-lb gorilla on a track shared with wee Papios and playful 300s, so I used the 800’s wide handlebar to give a wide berth to other bikes and slice my way through the two chicanes made of traffic cones. Cornering ABS gave me the confident to dive deep into turns and trail brake to scrub off speed, and the J. Juan binders did my bidding without complaint. The 800 ADV-T handled with confidence and poise, and I was sorely tempted to exit the track and hit the road.

2023 CFMOTO 800 ADVentura T

At the end of the day, after indulging in the gluttonous BBQ buffet laid out by Big Mo Cason (who drove all the way from Des Moines, Iowa, to cater the event) and a midafternoon downpour that drenched the track, I spent my last dozen or so laps of the day staring at the back of the 800 ADVentura. John Burns, who writes for Motorcycle.com and looks like Willie Nelson in high-viz gear, had grabbed the 800’s key and I did my best to chase him down on a 700CL-X.

I outweigh JB by 50 lb, probably 55 after hoovering two plates of brisket, mac-n-cheese, slaw, and cornbread at lunch, so my meat sack in the saddle knocked a big dent in the 700CL-X’s 83-lb weight advantage. Factor in the 800’s 21-hp upper hand over the 700 (95 hp vs. 74), however, and you’ve looking a pretty even odds. Lap after lap I’d close in on John, but I could never quite catch him. Burns got in way more laps on the 800 ADV-T than I did, and he can write – and ride – circles around me, so check out his review over at MO if you desire more depth and entertainment.

2023 CFMOTO 800 ADVentura T

Overall, the 800 ADVentura felt solid, responsive, and – not surprisingly given the origin of its engine – on par with similar offerings from Europe. We look forward to getting more seat time for a more in-depth evaluation.

2023 CFMOTO 800 ADVentura Specs

Base Price: $9,499 (S model)
Price as Tested: $10,499 (T model)
Website: CFMOTOusa.com
Warranty: 2 yrs., unltd. miles
Engine Type: Liquid-cooled, transverse parallel-Twin, DOHC w/ 4 valve per cyl.
Displacement: 799cc
Bore x Stroke: 88.0 x 65.7mm
Horsepower: 95 hp @ 9,250 rpm (claimed, at the crank)
Torque: 57 lb-ft @ 8,000 rpm (claimed, at the crank)
Transmission: 6-speed, cable-actuated slip/assist wet clutch
Final Drive: Chain
Wheelbase: 60.3 in.
Seat Height: 32.5 in.
Wet Weight: 509 lb
Fuel Capacity: 5.0 gals.

The post 2023 CFMOTO 800 ADVentura | First Ride Review first appeared on Rider Magazine.
Source: RiderMagazine.com

Beartooth and Beyond | Favorite Ride

Beartooth and Beyond Favorite Ride
Heading into the clouds of the Beartooth Pass south of Red Lodge, Montana. Photos by Marilyn Rich.

Hell yes! That is the only plausible answer when friends invite you to join them on an eight-day motorcycle ride through the mountains of Montana (including the legendary Beartooth Pass), Wyoming, Idaho, and Alberta, Canada.

We start our ride in Billings, Montana, on a pair of Harley-Davidson Electra Glide Classics rented from EagleRider, and head south to Laurel, where we pick up U.S. Route 212. We continue south to Red Lodge, where the road becomes Beartooth Highway and crosses into Wyoming on its way up to Beartooth Pass (10,947 ft). This is one of the best motorcycling roads in America, and it is easy to see why, even in the rain.

Beartooth and Beyond Favorite Ride

Scan QR code above or click here to view the route on REVER

West of the pass, we turn south on Wyoming Route 296, which is also known as the Chief Joseph Scenic Byway. The byway has great sweepers as well as picturesque views of the Absaroka Mountains as it climbs up and over Dead Indian Pass (8,071 ft).

Beartooth and Beyond Favorite Ride
Looking down on the Chief Joseph Scenic Byway.

We arrive in Cody in time to tour the Buffalo Bill Center of the West, a superb display of life in the Old West. The center has five museums: the Buffalo Bill Museum, which is about his life and times; the Plains Indian Museum, which showcases art and heritage; the Draper Natural History Museum, highlighting the ecosystems of Yellowstone; the Whitney Western Art Museum; and the Cody Firearms Museum.

Beartooth and Beyond Favorite Ride
The Buffalo Bill Center of the West in Cody, Wyoming.

We awake to a light rain that lingers until we head into the mountains west of Cody, and then the heavens open up with what my granddad used to refer to as “a real frog-strangler.” Looking over and around the windshield, I am barely able to make out the taillight of the bike in front of me, and I have no idea how he manages to follow the road on our way back to Beartooth Highway. The clouds part as we ride into Cooke City, Montana, a Wild West town where motorcycles have replaced horses at the hitching posts.

Beartooth and Beyond Favorite Ride
Crossing into Wyoming on the way to Beartooth Pass.

Our adventurous ride through Yellowstone National Park and Grand Teton National Park includes a wide variety of wildlife; a large RV that decides to stop, unannounced, in the middle of the road to take some pictures; and a herd of bison that crosses the highway one or two at a time, backing up traffic for a mile. When our turn comes to run the bison gauntlet, an exceptionally large bull gets ready to cross the road. We are directly behind a pickup truck, so I suggest to our riding partners that when the truck starts to move, we should stay close to its rear bumper so it looks like we’re being towed.

Beartooth and Beyond Favorite Ride
Buffalo looking for water in the parched Yellowstone River.

After spending the night in Jackson, Wyoming, we ride west on State Route 22 over Teton Pass (8,432 ft) and into Idaho. The winding roads, the views of the Tetons to the east, and crossing rivers with trout fisherman in waders fly casting made for a fun, scenic ride. We continue north on a stretch of U.S. Route 20 known as Mesa Falls Scenic Byway.

We cross back into Montana and end our day in Butte, once a wealthy copper mining town and more recently home to the late Evel Knievel, the legendary motorcycle daredevil. In the morning, we ride through downtown to view the mansions that signify a bygone era, and then head west through mining country. It’s Saturday morning and we are getting low on gas, so we stop in the tiny town of Phillipsburg to fill up. The gas station also serves as a general store, a casino, and a bar, all of which have numerous customers.

Beartooth and Beyond Favorite Ride
The Hidden Moose Lodge in Whitefish, Montana.

We turn north from Missoula in 100-degree temperatures, finally gaining some relief along the shady roads on the eastern shores of Flathead Lake. Heading back west across the top of the lake, we encounter the largest flock of eagles we have ever seen.

Beartooth and Beyond Favorite Ride
Going-to-the-Sun Mountain in Glacier National Park.

We spend the night at the Hidden Moose Lodge in Whitefish, an exquisite place that serves a gourmet breakfast every morning. With full bellies, the bike feels noticeably heavier as we climb Going-to-the-Sun Road through Glacier National Park, one of the few roads that can give Beartooth Highway a run for its money. We venture across into Alberta, Canada, and visit Waterton Lakes National Park, which is the northern part of the Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park.

Beartooth and Beyond Favorite Ride
Entering Alberta, Canada, at Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park.

Being from the flatlands of Florida, we’re overwhelmed by the endless peaks and scenery of the Rocky Mountains. We stay at the quaint Kilmorey Lodge, overlooking the Emerald Bay of Waterton Lakes. Relaxing by the gazebo with a refreshing beverage, we’re joined by countless white-tailed deer that consume any vegetation not covered in chicken wire.

Heading south the next morning takes us back across the border through the towns of St. Mary and Browning in northern Montana. A sign on the outskirts of Browning warns of strong crosswinds, but there’s nothing more than a gentle breeze. Ten miles farther south on U.S. Route 89, the breeze becomes a 60-mph crosswind that we battle with for the better part of 40 miles.

Beartooth and Beyond Favorite Ride
At Pine Creek Pass in Idaho.

The town of Dupuyer, Montana, has a population of 93 and no general store or gas station, but it does have two bars. We opt for the Ranch House of Dupuyer for lunch and are pleasantly surprised when the owner/bartender/chef cooks up a superb pulled pork dish. It’s served by his children, ages four and seven, who provide better service than waiters at many fancy restaurants.

After riding through the haze of wildfire smoke, we stay overnight in Great Falls. The final leg of our journey takes us across the flatlands to the small town of Ryegate, where we are disappointed to discover we’ve missed the annual Testicle Festival.

Beartooth and Beyond Favorite Ride
Lunch stop at the Ryegate Bar & Cafe in Ryegate, Montana.

We arrive back in Billings and return the Harleys to EagleRider. Over eight days and 1,500+ miles, I can say that there was not a single road that I would not ride again in a heartbeat. Great roads, beautiful country.

The post Beartooth and Beyond | Favorite Ride first appeared on Rider Magazine.
Source: RiderMagazine.com

Chasing Quail | The 2022 Quail Motorcycle Gathering

The 2022 Quail Motorcycle Gathering
The 12th edition of The Quail Motorcycle Gathering drew a crowd of nearly 3,200 to enjoy 270 vintage, classic, and custom bikes as well as a wide variety of vendors and food purveyors on a beautiful day in May. Photos by the author and courtesy Kahn Media.

From my home in Southern California, it’s just a day’s ride to the scenic Monterey Peninsula on some of the state’s most sublime motorcycling roads, including Highway 1 on the majestic Big Sur coast. Good food and nightlife on a Friday night in Monterey are steps away from dozens of hotels ranging from reasonable to posh, so an overnight run is both easy and fun. Add the prospect of attending a large vintage and custom motorcycle concours on the green grass of the nearby upscale golf course, and you can see why The Quail Motorcycle Gathering has been a great success since the first one in 2008.

The 2022 Quail Motorcycle Gathering
Catching up after a two-year break, the 2022 Quail Motorcycle Gathering celebrated the 50th anniversary of Harley-Davidson’s iconic XR-750, which was actually in 2020, with a featured class.

Plenty of enthusiasts flock to The Quail just for the day, so the parking area along Valley Greens Drive becomes quite a motorcycle show in its own right. This year, 3,200 spectators enjoyed 270 notable and highly polished motorcycles arranged just so on the grass of the Quail Lodge & Golf Club in Carmel Valley, ringed by vendors of every sort. The one-day event cost $55 and ran from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., so attendees had to keep moving to see and do it all.

Led by Gordon McCall, Director of Motorsports for Peninsula Signature Events, The Quail Ride kicks off the event on Friday (not to be confused with Why We Ride to the Quail, a two-day charity ride for the Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation that starts on Thursday in SoCal – for more information, visit Motovational.org). The Quail Ride is a 100-mile loop around this gorgeous area limited to 100 riders that includes two laps of Laguna Seca Raceway with its famous Corkscrew, an experience that’s worth the price of admission alone.

Listen to our interview with Gordon McCall on the Rider Magazine Insider Podcast

The Quail has hosted as many as 400 machines in past years, but as McCall said this year, “It’s too many bikes.”

“You can’t see them all in a day, and we’re a one-day event,” he said. “So we pared that back. This to me is the heart and soul of the motorcycle community. We’ve got a lot of smaller companies, smaller vendors, and they help make this possible. Just look at this – people are in a good mood. We’re ready – enough with hiding under a rock for two years.”

The 2022 Quail Motorcycle Gathering
The Best of Show award went to this 1951 Vincent Rapide owned and customized by Max Hazan.

Indeed, after a two-year break due to the pandemic, the 2022 Gathering may have been a bit smaller, but I still had trouble taking everything in. In addition to traditional classes like British, Italian, Japanese, Competition, and Antique, the event showcased five featured classes. Two-Stroke “Braaaps” comprised on- and off-road ring-ding superstars, like the 1986 Suzuki RG500 Gamma from Matt Torrens of California. Other classes highlighted minibikes, BMW /5 Series motorcycles, and the Harley-Davidson XR-750, a crowd favorite and one of the most successful racebikes of all time.

While this is a very social event, it’s the bikes that are the primary draw, and there was no shortage of interesting, amazing, and historical hardware to ogle. Vintage machines wearing a time-earned patina or lovingly restored to original or better condition by the best in their field are most prevalent, but the show also includes bikes from some of the icons of the custom motorcycle world, like Max Hazan from Hazan Motorworks in Los Angeles. Hazan’s wildly custom and beautiful 1951 Vincent Rapide won Best of Show, a controversial choice to some given the irreverent nature of customs based on famous vintage bikes.

The 2022 Quail Motorcycle Gathering
Chris Carter of Motion Pro accepts the Spirit of the Quail award for his multiple championship-winning 1984 Honda RS750.

But the 40-plus judges on the committee, led by veteran Chief Judge Somer Hooker, also gave top awards in many other classes to near-perfect history-making motorcycles. An incredible 1984 Honda RS750, for example, ridden to three Grand National Championships by Bubba Shobert (and owned by Chris Carter of Motion Pro) was given the Spirit of the Quail award.

The 2022 Quail Motorcycle Gathering
The “mini bikes | BIG FUN” class was highlighted by this 1968 Honda Z50, which Steve McQueen had customized by Von Dutch.

Yamaha brought a fleet of famous flat-trackers from its racing past, like the 1977-78 Kenny Roberts Racing Specialties-designed, monoshock-framed MX250, one of two bikes champion racer Jeff Haney rode to multiple lap records during his undefeated 1978 season at Ascot Park. Arch Motorcycles, the company started by actor Keanu Reeves, was there with its pricey, out-of-this-world production bikes.

The Gathering was also a rare opportunity to try out apparel like airbag vests from Helite or cool jackets from Walter Leather Company, and a silent auction supporting the Monterey County Youth Museum offered everything from golf at the Quail Lodge & Golf Club to stays at The Peninsula Chicago and New York hotels.

“The success of this year’s The Quail Motorcycle Gathering was truly overwhelming,” said McCall. “From the immense support of our incredible sponsors to the amazing spectators and the diverse demonstration of remarkable motorcycles and classic cars, we are so proud to have come back stronger than ever and are excited to see what 2023 will bring.”

The 2022 Quail Motorcycle Gathering
Former AMA pro racer and industry legend Thad Wolff (left) with his arm around Rider’s longtime Editor, Mark Tuttle. Wolff competes in ARHMA trials on his restored 1964 Triumph Tiger Cub, which he entered in the Competition Off Road class.

Me too! Next year, The Quail Motorcycle Gathering is scheduled for Saturday, May 6, 2023. Tickets will go on sale this fall, and it’s likely the all-inclusive passes will be limited in number and sell out again, so be sure to put it on the calendar.

For more info, visit Peninsula.com/en/signature-events/events/motorcycle.

The post Chasing Quail | The 2022 Quail Motorcycle Gathering first appeared on Rider Magazine.
Source: RiderMagazine.com

Dead Reckoning | Touring Western Massachusetts

On the Road Dead Reckoning
In early New England graveyards, such as Adams Cemetery in Wilbraham, Massachusetts, grave markers are irreplaceable historical documents that tell stories carved in stone. (Photos by the author)

“You’re riding your motorcycle to find graveyards – on purpose?” The conversation with a young police officer on a road construction detail in western Massachusetts was brief, but it motivated me to share why old graveyards are fascinating places to explore.

Rewind to the 1970s. My dad was a college professor whose academic interests included early New England graveyards. On weekends and summer vacations, he dragged my sisters and me along to find them. Long before GPS, such trips often became a quest since Dad’s approach to navigating involved dead reckoning. “I wonder where that road goes?” he’d say. “One way to find out.” It’s fair to say that Dad informed my interest in exploring on motorcycles.

On the Road Dead Reckoning

Scan QR code above to view route on REVER, or click here

Since Massachusetts has some of America’s oldest communities settled by Europeans, it has some of the country’s oldest graveyards. Three of Dad’s favorites were in the towns of Longmeadow, Deerfield, and Wilbraham, all in the Connecticut River Valley of western Mass. I decide to revisit these graveyards with the benefit of an adult perspective. Since they’re not even 40 miles apart, I extend the ride a couple hundred miles using Dad’s “I wonder where that road goes” approach, and along the way I find other old graveyards to explore.

On the Road Dead Reckoning
A cut flower signifies death, an hourglass shows time has run out, but a rooster suggests a new dawn.
On the Road Dead Reckoning
With eyes looking up and wings, this effigy implies the soul’s flight to heaven.

The ride begins in Longmeadow. Along Williams Street, behind historic First Church, is the Olde Burying Ground, c. 1718, a small section within Longmeadow Cemetery. In old graveyards like this, carvings in stone offer insights into family life, social status, occupations, religious beliefs, sickness, tragedy, and the ways people conceived of death.

On the Road Dead Reckoning
The Olde Burying Ground, c. 1718, a section of Longmeadow Cemetery, is the town’s oldest burial ground.

The stone of Ebenezer Bliss concludes with this stark epitaph: “Death is a Debt To Nature Due Which I have Pay’d And so must You.” The nature of one’s death is often explained, such as from smallpox, childbirth, or drowning, although Adjt. Jonathan Burt’s stone leaves us wondering, because he “departed this life in a sudden and surprising manner.”

From Longmeadow, I point my BMW F 750 GS north on U.S. Route 5 across the Connecticut River, then west on State Route 57. To avoid built-up sections of Agawam, I cut through Rising Corner and rejoin 57 past the Southwick fire station. The curves beyond Granville Gorge entice me to quicken the pace, though as I enter the village of Granville a flashing speed limit sign convinces me to roll off.

On the Road Dead Reckoning
Center Cemetery, c. 1753, in Granville was located away from the church, a widespread practice at the time.

Up the hill beyond the town hall, I come upon Center Cemetery, c. 1753. As with many old graveyards that are no longer “active” (accepting new burials), one cannot drive into this graveyard, so I park just off the road. Also like many old graveyards, it isn’t next to a church. Some early settlers of New England, notably Puritans, located their dead away from the everyday lives of the living.

The headstone of Lt. Samuel Bancraft, Granville’s first settler, includes a slight variation of the epitaph I saw earlier in Longmeadow: “Death is a debt, to nature due. I have paid it, and so must you.”

On the Road Dead Reckoning
This headstone in Center Cemetery includes a variation of an epitaph popular in the era.
On the Road Dead Reckoning
“…on her left Arm lieth the infant Wich was still Born.”

Continuing west, I enjoy several miles of new tar, but on the steep downhill curves to New Boston I am cursing the inventor of tar snakes. Beyond the village, I notice unpaved Beech Plain Road, and a right turn takes me along stands of trees dressed in vibrant yellow fall foliage. There’s not a tar snake in sight.

In Otis, I merge onto State Route 8 north and then lean west onto State Route 23, an entertaining two-lane that hugs the contours of the Berkshire Hills. Past the village of Monterey, I see a sign for River Road. Dad explained that roads of that name are usually curvy and rarely dead end. Right on both counts!

On the Road Dead Reckoning
Any dog-loving rider needs to find out where this road goes!

Following a bridge-out detour, I arrive in Sheffield. On the other side of U.S. Route 7 there’s a sign for Bow Wow Road, and being a dog lover, I need to see where it goes. A ways after it turns to dirt, I find Pine Grove Cemetery, c. 1758. I see family plots for Olds and Curtiss and wonder if these graves include ancestors of the automobile and aviation pioneers of those names.

I continue on North Undermountain Road and Pumpkin Hollow Road. At the village of Alford, Center Cemetery, c. 1780, warrants investigation. Among the finds is this pithy epitaph: “Gone not lost.”

On the Road Dead Reckoning
Down the road a piece, Bow Wow Road turns to dirt and delivers your humble scribe to Pine Grove Cemetery in Sheffield.

Leaving the town center, West Road gets the nod over East Road, and after a couple turns I’m on State Route 41 riding north through Richmond to Hancock. History buffs can visit Hancock Shaker Village. Shakers were a religious community known for their elegantly functional barns and furniture, and for their devotion to celibacy. (The latter may account for their current lack of numbers.)

Heading west on U.S. Route 20 takes me over the New York border to State Route 22 north and Stephentown. A right on State Route 43 returns me to Massachusetts, having sidestepped Pittsfield’s population center. Another right on Brodie Mountain Road leads to U.S. 7 north. At the five-corners intersection, I turn right onto State Route 43 and follow the Green River to Williamstown, a quintessential New England college town. At the junction of State Route 2, a left leads to lively Spring Street and multiple options for eats and coffee.

On the Road Dead Reckoning
In the 18th century, death’s heads began to soften with angel wings and carvings suggesting life everlasting.

Refreshed and re-caffeinated, I head west toward North Adams and know exactly where to go: up the Mount Greylock Scenic Byway. This technical twist-fest leads to the highest point in Massachusetts (3,491 ft). Rockwell Road winds me down the other side of the mountain, and at the Mount Greylock Visitor’s Center, I turn around to ride the route in reverse. This 30-mile round trip is too much fun to pass by.

East of North Adams, the scenic Mohawk Trail (Route 2) rises through the famous Hairpin Turn, on to the town of Florida, then back down through Mohawk Trail State Forest. Exciting curves and elevation changes are enhanced by the clear autumn day. At Charlemont, I go north on State Route 8A, another twisting gem, to Branch Road, which tracks the west branch of North River east to State Route 112. This two-lane path curves quick and easy south to Ashfield where a left on State Route 116 puts me on a favorite twisty two-lane. But first, I stop at Elmer’s, an eatery popular with locals as well as motorcyclists passing through.

On the Road Dead Reckoning
A monument for the War of Nationality, 1861-1865.

While jawing with some old-timers, I learn there’s a “really old” graveyard I should see on Norton Hill Road. As I pull up to Hill Cemetery, I can tell from the styles of gravestones that it’s no older than mid-19th century, but a war memorial right next to the road rewards the stop. Erected in 1867, it includes this wording: “TO THE EVER LIVING MEMORY OF THE SONS OF ASHFIELD WHO DIED FOR THEIR COUNTRY IN THE WAR OF NATIONALITY 1861-1865.” It’s the only place I have seen the U.S. Civil War described using this term.

At Creamery Road, I turn left toward South Ashfield then savor those curves on 116 to South Deerfield. It’s easy to bypass busy U.S. 5 via Lee Road and Mill Village Road to reach the Old Deerfield historic district. There, at the end of Albany Road, is another of Dad’s favorite graveyards, the Old Deerfield Burying Ground, c. 1690s (aka Old Albany Cemetery).

On the Road Dead Reckoning
Some old graves, including these at Adams Cemetery in Wilbraham, are marked by both headstones and footstones, carved with complementary designs.

More than a dozen stones date back to the 1600s, the oldest one for Mary Blanchard, who had 10 children with her first husband, John Waite, and nine more with her second husband, John Blanchard. Notably, this graveyard includes a monument to 47 settlers killed during a raid on the town by native residents and their French military allies on February 29, 1704.

Walking the rows of stones, it’s intriguing to note how the styles have evolved over time. Early carvings with skulls gave way to skulls with wings, then winged angels, and then urns with weeping willows. Few parents still give their newborns names like these: Eleazer, Flavia, Zenas, Temperence, Dorcas, Ithamser, Arrethusa, and Thankfull Experience. Also here is a gravestone for a young woman whose name is hard to read without chuckling: Fanny Forward.

Leaving Deerfield, a short stretch north on U.S. 5 connects to another River Road, this one following the Connecticut River south to Mount Sugarloaf. Beyond the bridge, a right onto State Route 47 south follows the river’s other bank where harvested tobacco fields and the Mount Holyoke Range provide scenery.

On the Road Dead Reckoning
It’s fitting that Dad is buried in one of the graveyards that so intrigued him.

Keeping to roads less traveled, I make my way through South Hadley, Belchertown, Ludlow, and Wilbraham, to Adams Cemetery, c. 1740. Gravestones here include dozens with epitaphs that speak to the difficulty of life and inevitability of death. Consider two:

  • “Friends and Physicians could not save, My mortal body from the grave.”
  • “Youth blooming learn your mortal state, How frail your life, how short the date.”

It’s fitting that Dad is buried here in one of the graveyards that so intrigued him – particularly one that is actively preserved and celebrated as a historical resource. Even if the graveyards in your neck of the woods aren’t as old, it’s likely they’re peaceful, beautiful, and interesting places to explore. When you’re enjoying a ride, take the opportunity to experience history in outdoor museums along the way. Explore old graveyards – on purpose.

The post Dead Reckoning | Touring Western Massachusetts first appeared on Rider Magazine.
Source: RiderMagazine.com

CFMoto Returns to U.S. with 7 Models for 2022

2022 CFMoto 650 ADVentura
2022 CFMoto 650 ADVentura

After a short hiatus, CFMoto is again importing its motorcycles to the U.S. It is offering seven bikes as part of its 2022 lineup. With a range of small and middleweight motorcycles, CFMoto continues its reputation for reasonable price points for both novice and advanced riders.

The 2022 models include the Papio minibike ($2,999), the 300NK naked bike ($3,999) and 300SS sportbike ($4,299), the naked 650NK ($6,499) and 650 ADVentura adventure bike ($6,799), and the classic series 700CL-X ($6,499) and 700CL-X Sport ($6,999).

2022 CFMoto 300NK
2022 CFMoto 300NK

CFMoto Comes of Age

Following the creation of a trademarked liquid-cooled 4-stroke engine in Hangzhou, China, CFMoto was founded in 1989. It has been a supplier of engines, parts, and components for some of the biggest brands in powersports. In 2002, the company entered the U.S. market. In 2005, it built the company’s U.S. headquarters in Plymouth, Minnesota.

In the early years, the company produced mostly small-displacement models. In 2012, CFMoto introduced the parallel-Twin 650NK, followed shortly after by the 650TK tourer. While there were a few superficial details that raised an eyebrow, overall the bike performed very well considering its $6,999 price point.

2022 CFMoto 300SS
2022 CFMoto 300SS

After the 2016 model year, CFMoto stopped importing bikes to the U.S. The company continued to make motorcycles, and in 2017 CFMoto signed a joint venture agreement with KTM, according to the CFMoto website.

“The joint venture will bring CFMOTO’s R&D and manufacturing capability to a whole new level,” Minjie Lai, CFMoto general manager, said at the groundbreaking ceremony for the joint venture production facility in March 2018. “CFMOTO will benefit from KTM’s advanced technology and profound experience from years of being a leader in the power sports industry. KTM recognized how our manufacturing capacity, supply chain management, and channel development could help implement their global strategy.”

2022 CFMoto 700CL-X Sport
2022 CFMoto 700CL-X Sport

As of 2022, the company states it has more than 500 dealers in the U.S. Read on to learn more about the new models for 2022.

2022 CFMoto Papio

2022 CFMoto Papio
2022 CFMoto Papio

The CFMoto Papio features a 126cc air-cooled 4-stroke Single with a 6-speed gearbox that kicks out 9.3 hp at 8,500 rpm and 6.1 lb-ft of torque at 6,500 rpm. The telescopic fork provides approximately 4.3 inches of travel, and the rear monoshock has five-click preload adjustability. Both ends employ lightweight 12-inch alloy wheels paired to 130/70 rear and 120/70 front street tires. Stopping power comes from a 2-piston caliper and 210mm disc up front and a 1-piston caliper grabbing a 190mm disc in the rear.

2022 CFMoto Papio
2022 CFMoto Papio

The Papio has a 30.5-inch seat height, a 1.9-gallon fuel capacity, and a 251-lb curb weight. It has LED lighting all around and a multifunction LCD instrument panel. It comes in Yellow or  Gray/Red Dragon for $2,999.

2022 CFMoto 300NK and 300SS

2022 CFMoto 300NK
2022 CFMoto 300NK

Both the 300NK naked bike and 300SS sportbike come with a liquid-cooled 292cc DOHC 4-valve Single that makes a claimed 29 hp at 8,750 rpm and 18.7 lb-ft of torque at 7,250 rpm. Both bikes have Bosch EFI, dual-channel ABS, and a 6-speed gearbox with a slip/assist clutch.

Braking is handled by a radially mounted 4-piston front caliper with a 300mm disc and a 1-piston rear caliper with a 245mm disc. The 300NK and 300SS also both have an inverted fork and internal-floating-piston monoshock in back with five clicks of preload adjustability.

2022 CFMoto 300SS
2022 CFMoto 300SS

The differences between the two are primarily curb weight and dimensions. The naked 300NK weighs 333 lb, has a 31.2-inch seat height, and a 3.3-gallon tank. The fully faired 300SS weighs 364 lbs, has a 30.7-inch seat height, and a 3.3-gallon tank.

The 300NK comes in Athens Blue and Nebula Black for $3,999, and the 300SS is offered in Nebula White and Nebula Black for $4,299.

2022 CFMoto 650NK and 650 ADVentura

2022 CFMoto 650NK
2022 CFMoto 650NK

Moving up to the middleweight class, CFMoto offers the naked 650NK and 650 ADVentura adventure bike. Both bikes feature a 649cc DOHC liquid-cooled parallel-Twin that makes 60 hp at 8,750 rpm and 41.3 lb-ft of torque at 7,000 rpm.

Both bikes have dual-channel ABS, a 6-speed gearbox with a CF-SC slip/assist clutch, and a 2-into-1 tuned exhaust. Brakes are by J.Juan, with dual 300mm discs in front with 2-piston calipers and a single 245mm rear disc with a 1-piston caliper.

The naked 650NK weighs 454 lb, and the 650 ADVentura weighs 480 lb. But the bigger difference in the bikes comes from their intent. As an adventure bike, the 650 ADVentura comes factory-equipped with progressive-rate inverted fork with 12-click rebound adjustability, and the rear cantilever swingarm utilizes an internal-floating-piston monoshock with stepless preload and eight-click rebound adjustment.

2022 CFMoto 650 ADVentura
2022 CFMoto 650 ADVentura

The ADVentura has LED lighting all around, a 5-inch color TFT display, and 4.75-gallon tank. It is also equipped with removable hard-sided panniers, handguards, and an adjustable windscreen.

The sporty 650NK has a KYB telescopic fork with 4.7 inches of travel and a preload-adjustable KYB rear monoshock with 1.8 inches of travel. It has LED lighting all around, a 5-inch color TFT display, and rolls on Pirelli Angel GT sport-touring tires. Seat height is 30.7 inches and fuel capacity is 4.5 gallons.

The 650NK is offered in Nebula White and Nebula Black for $6,499, and the 650 ADVentura comes in Nebula White and Athens Blue for $6,799.

2022 CFMoto 700CL-X and 700CL-X Sport

2022 CFMoto 700CL-X
2022 CFMoto 700CL-X

Taking it up a notch, the 700CL-X and 700CL-X Sport motorcycles both feature a 693cc DOHC liquid-cooled parallel-Twin that makes 74 hp at 8,500 rpm and 47.9 lb-ft of torque at 6,500 rpm. Both bikes have throttle-by-wire, dual-channel ABS, a 6-speed gearbox with a CF-SC slip/assist clutch, 2-into-1 tuned exhaust, a fully adjustable KYB 41mm inverted fork, and a linkage-mounted, progressive-rate KYB rear shock with rebound adjustability.

The 700CL-X and 700CL-X Sport also offer Economy and Sport riding modes and one-touch cruise control. For braking power, the 700CL-X has a J.Juan 320mm single disc and radially mounted 4-piston caliper in the front, while the 700CL-X Sport has a Brembo Stylema 4-piston front calipers with dual 320mm discs. In the rear, both bikes have a 2-piston caliper with a 260mm disc. The 700CL-X rolls on Pirelli MT60 tires, while the Sport is fitted with Maxxis SuperMaxx ST tires.

2022 CFMoto 700CL-X Sport
2022 CFMoto 700CL-X Sport

As premium models, the 700CL-X and 700CL-X Sport feature LED lighting all around, daytime running lights, self-canceling turnsignals, and a 3.5-gallon tank. The 700CL-X has a single upright handlebar with dual mirrors on top, while the Sport features clip-on handlebars with bar-end mirrors.

Both models have a 31.5-inch seat height. Curb weight is 432 lb for the 700CL-X and 451 lb for the 700CL-X Sport.The 700CL-X comes in Twilight Blue and Coal Gray for $6,499, and the 700CL-X Sport comes in Nebula White and Velocity Gray for $6,999.

For more information or to find a CFMoto dealer near you, visit CFMotoUSA.com.


Rider Motorcycle Buying Program. Get up front prices on local inventory. View Inventory 

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Scorpion EXO-GT930 Transformer Helmet | Gear Review

Scorpion EXO-GT930 Transformer Helmet

I don’t know anybody who loves wearing a helmet, but most of us who do wear them appreciate their – shall we say – utility. And a motorcycle helmet is a lot more comfortable than the helmets the U.S. Army issues, though the purpose is the same – to save your life.

There are five basic types of motorcycle helmets: full-face, off-road, modular, three-quarter open-face, and half helmets, also called shorties. In 1956, I bought my first bike, and my mother bought me a shorty helmet – that was all there was. Then around 1959 Bell introduced the 500TX, which may have been the first three-quarter open-face. I immediately sprung for one and wore open-faces for the next 20 years or so. Until I got a job in the industry and was told photos would be done with a full-face. I am mildly claustrophobic, but I adjusted to the enclosed feeling, more or less. Then modulars came along, and I’ve been a fan of those for many years, being able to lift up the chinbar when idling through town or going slow on a wooded lane.

Scorpion EXO-GT930 Transformer Helmet

Scorpion’s EXO-GT930 is called the Transformer because it serves both as a modular, with the chinbar and visor opening up, and as an open-face. You can easily detach the chinbar and faceshield and put on the peak visor. I like using the open-face configuration while riding along paved roads on a warm day through the little-trafficked countryside with vineyards and cattle.

Check out more of Rider’s helmet reviews

Modular crash-hats tend to be heavier than full-face ones because of the hinges and locking systems. Scorpion uses three different shells for the seven sizes, from XS to 3XL, and I figure my XL uses the largest. The modular configuration weighs 4.1 pounds; the open-face with peak visor weighs 3.4 pounds. The outer shell is polycarbonate, and the life-saving crushable middle portion is multi-density expanded polystyrene (or EPS), which absorbs impacts should you have the misfortune to use the helmet for its intended purpose. Inside is a removeable, washable KwikWick comfort liner, and the helmet stays put with a traditional double D-ring chinstrap.

The mechanism for flipping up the chinbar works just fine, and when opened it can be locked in place. Removing the chinbar and attached anti-fog faceshield is merely a matter of holding down the spring-loaded levers just below the pivot point, one at a time, and then pulling the chinbar forward. Easily done after a little practice, as is installing the peak visor. A drop-down tinted sun shield can be used in either configuration.

Ventilation, comfort, and build quality are good. Solid colors retail for $249.95-$254.95, and the Modulus graphic (shown) in three colorways retails for $269.95. A matte black version with an EXO-Com Bluetooth communication system retails for $424.95.

For more information, visit scorpionusa.com.

The post Scorpion EXO-GT930 Transformer Helmet | Gear Review first appeared on Rider Magazine.
Source: RiderMagazine.com

IMS Outdoors Cancels 2022 Tour

IMS Outdoors canceled

IMS Outdoors has announced that its 2022 tour has been canceled. Last year, the International Motorcycle Shows changed format and rebranded itself as IMS Outdoors, moving from a series of indoor shows held during the winter months to an outdoor powersports festival format during the summer and fall. There were eight shows held at cities around the U.S. between June and November 2021.

Read our 2021 IMS Outdoors show report

The following announcement was sent out by IMS Outdoors on Monday, May 9, 2022:

Dear IMS Fans,

We have some news to share today with our IMS Family. After 40 years of producing The International Motorcycle Shows and IMS Outdoors, we have made the difficult decision to suspend the IMS Tour in 2022.

The powersports industry is at a crossroads with where and how brands promote their products amidst the continued manufacturing and sourcing delays associated with the pandemic. These current hurdles that our brand partners are facing would have made it difficult for us to produce an IMS that would meet your, and our, expectations. Therefore, we will not be moving forward with the planned 2022 events, including the Ultimate Builder Custom Bike Show.

Any tickets purchased or Ultimate Builder Custom Bike Show registrations paid for 2022 events will be refunded to the credit card used for purchase within 7 business days. If you have not received your refund within 7 business days, please contact [email protected].

We greatly appreciate your attendance and loyalty over the years and will miss sharing your love for motorcycling with you.

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Source: RiderMagazine.com

American Rider Revs Up

American Rider Powered by Thunder Press logo

Our sister magazine, Thunder Press, has a 30-year history covering the American V-Twin community. In a strategic move, its May issue rebranded the title as American Rider, joining Rider and WomanRider.com to form a cohesive group of motorcycle publications.

American Rider will continue its focus on the bikers, builders, events, and motorcycles that comprise the V-Twin scene, publishing feature stories, event coverage, and historical retrospectives about the people, products, and machines that make up the American motorcycle industry.

“It’s been inspirational and educational pulling together high-quality, high-impact stories about American bikes and their riders and builders,” Editor-in-Chief Kevin Duke reports. “I’ve had fun attending cool events and seeing how bike building is evolving, and I love sharing historical stories about the movers and the shakers of the industry that have brought us to the point we’re at today.”

American Rider and Rider are among the few national motorcycle publications still producing magazines, and both publish issues 12 times a year.

“It’s an exciting and interesting time in publishing and also in the V-Twin world these days,” Duke continues. “Harley-Davidson and Indian are battling on racetracks and on showroom floors, and the launch of Harley’s Revolution Max engine platform is bringing new heat to the game.”

Like Rider, American Rider publishes full-color, glossy issues each month, available in both print and digital editions. If you love V-Twins, check out the new AmericanRider.com website, where you can subscribe, sign up for a free newsletter, and more.

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Source: RiderMagazine.com

2023 Triumph Tiger 1200 | Video Review

2023 Triumph Tiger 1200
Riding the 2023 Triumph Tiger 1200 Rally Pro in Portugal. Photo by Kingdom Creative.

We test the all-new 2023 Triumph Tiger 1200, which is available in five variants: GT, GT Pro, GT Explorer, Rally Pro, and Rally Explorer. The GT models are geared toward street adventures, while the Rally models are designed to get dirty. We rode all but the base-model GT at the Tiger 1200 world press launch in Portugal.

The updated Tiger 1200 adventure bike is both slimmer and stronger. It lost 55 lbs and gained serious grunt with the 1,160cc inline-Triple adapted from the Speed Triple 1200 RS, which makes 148 hp at 9,000 rpm and 96 lb-ft of torque at 7,000 rpm. Reworked from nose to tail and crown to sole, the new Tiger 1200 platform also has a new lightweight trellis frame, a cast-aluminum Tri-Link swingarm with shaft final drive, Showa semi-active suspension, a full electronics suite and much more.

You can read our full review here, and you can see it in action in our video review:

2023 Triumph Tiger 1200 GT Pro / GT Explorer / Rally Pro / Rally Explorer Specs

Base Price: $21,400 / $23,100 / $22,500 / $24,200
Website: triumphmotorcycles.com
Engine Type: Liquid-cooled, transverse inline-Triple, DOHC w/ 4 valves per cyl.
Displacement: 1,160cc
Bore x Stroke: 90.0 x 60.8mm
Horsepower: 148 hp @ 9,000 rpm (claimed)
Torque: 96 lb-ft @ 7,000 rpm (claimed)
Transmission: 6-speed, hydraulically actuated slip/assist wet clutch w/ quickshifter
Final Drive: Shaft
Wheelbase: 61.4 in.
Rake/Trail: 24.1 degrees/4.7 in. (GT models) / 23.7 degrees/4.4 in. (Rally models)
Seat Height: 33.5/34.3 in. (GT models) / 34.4/35.2 in. (Rally models)
Wet Weight: 540 lbs. / 562 lbs. / 549 lbs. / 575 lbs. (claimed)
Fuel Capacity: 5.3 gals. (Pro models) / 7.9 gals. (Explorer models)

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Source: RiderMagazine.com

The Long Ride

The Long Ride
Though rarely on my bike these days, Hannah’s always along for the ride. Photo by Tristan Willey; other photos by the author.

The room is dirt cheap and smells it. I’ve been on the road for five weeks now, mostly camping to save money, and as I lay on the squeaky bed counting flies on the ceiling, I’m suddenly sick for fresh air. But nothing feels fresh in this part of Philly. The only thing I can think to do is pack up the bike and ride.

Though it’s not even 4 a.m., I find a young guy in work clothes sitting on the curb between our rooms, undoubtedly waiting to be picked up for some ass-kicking shift. He watches as I load up my BMW R 1200 RT test bike. Beyond “Hi” we don’t share a language, and it’s clear he’s baffled by the middle-aged lady with the big motorcycle, but I get a double thumbs up as I throttle away.

The Long Ride
The Gold Wing Tour DCT devours backroads as eagerly as it does interstates.

My first task of the day is riding 200 miles north to swap the RT for a Honda Gold Wing Tour DCT. I’ve been testing bikes as I slowly crawl around America searching for its best roads. I tell people that when I return to the West Coast, I’ll write a book about what I’ve found, but really, it’s all an excuse to run. And yeah, we all know it’s not always the answer, but if you’re on the right bike, it sure can put some distance between you and dissatisfaction.

I’ve just returned from New Hampshire, Vermont, and Maine on the RT, and am not quite sure where to point the Gold Wing. The one thing I know for certain is I want to be somewhere memorable on my birthday, and I have just one day to get there.

THE KEYS TO A PLAN

Pancakes embody my love of the road. I never eat them at home, but boy how I love to tuck into a full stack with a side of bacon when I’m traveling by bike.

The Long Ride
Does anything say road trip better than a hot breakfast in an old-school diner?
The Long Ride

As I wait in a kitschy diner in upstate New York for a Honda rep and the fob to my fresh ride, I surf my notes, woven like a fragile net intended to encase what’s been meaningful about my trip so far. Everything is about the roads: their surface quality, the number of twists and undulations, surrounding scenery, traffic density, the character of the towns on either end. I feel taxed. Like rating so many roads has taken the fun out of riding.

I zoom in and out on my map, frustrated. Where to splurge on a birthday layover? And then I feel that familiar tickle. A wild hair. This time in the shape of the Florida Keys, with Key West a formidable 1,502 miles from my current location, and the start of my birthday just 36 hours away.

The Long Ride
The Honda Gold Wing is brilliant on long, straight roads and tight, twisty ones.

Just before noon, I’m shooting onto I-95 South aboard a candy red Gold Wing Tour. The bike, one of my perennial favorites, feels familiar, even in its modern, more lean and athletic form. The first time I tested a Gold Wing, it was a 1987 GL1500SE for Rider. I remember being transfixed by the way its enormity disappeared once it was moving. That sleight of hand has only become more pronounced over the years as Honda oh-so-slowly refined its Wing, especially in this sporty sixth-generation version, with its state-of-the-art rider aids and electronics.

CAT’S IN THE CRADLE

As the afternoon air thickens, I remember the poison ivy. Both of my ankles and shins are covered in an angry rash, punishment for getting a peek through the window of an overgrown church near Chesterhill, Ohio, a couple weeks back while I was checking out the famous Triple Nickel, Highway 555.

The Long Ride
The price for a quick peek inside this abandoned church was a raging case of poison ivy that lasted for weeks. Luckily, my Facebook friends have lots of advice on curatives. The most popular suggestion is ocean water. The one that actually works is a steroid injection.

While trying to curb thoughts of ramming a hairbrush down my Sidi boots, I notice I’m buzzing New York City for the second time today. So close to the most important person in my life, my adult daughter, Hannah, who’s living in Brooklyn. You’d think I’d spend my birthday there, but the hard truth is, my kid just moved into a one-bedroom with a guy she’s super serious about, and I’ve already popped in and out too many times over the last couple weeks. It makes me feel all “Cat’s in the Cradle,” but I get it, and it feels right to give her space.

As a huge thunderhead slowly walks its way across the horizon, I shuffle through memories of rides a younger Hannah had taken behind me. Countless trips in the U.S., but also adventures to places like Namibia, Greece, Scotland, and South Africa. A couple days ago, I did manage to get her on the back of the RT for a little run up into the Catskills. Once away from the city, I felt her relax against the top case and sink into her love of being on the bike.

The Long Ride

How satisfying it is to have someone in your life who understands the deeper value of motorcycles, who gets what it means to be called to the road. Because it’s not just about machines and transportation. A motorcycle is an open window, a free ticket to a fully immersive experience. Not a lifestyle. A way of living.

GOOD NIGHT

It’s pouring rain all the way from D.C. to Richmond, and I’m happy for the stability of the big Wing. I’ve signaled to the Tour model’s electronic suspension that I’m one-up with luggage and toggled to Rain mode in case there’s a slow down or emergency, but generally, the gyroscopic effect is the science I trust, and despite occasional hydroplaning and people in cars staring like I’m a wack job, I’m finding this part of the ride weirdly relaxing. Concentration and meditation are the same thing, after all, and as the day fades into a long, dark night, I realize I’m no longer ruminating over negative crap. Not even the itch of poison ivy is breaking through.

Once traffic lightens, it’s time to hit up a playlist via the Honda’s Apple CarPlay app. The intuitive infotainment system on the Gen 6 GL is easy to navigate, and smart features like LED lighting, multiple ride modes, traction control, walking reverse, and hill-start assist prove worthy accoutrements. It’s not my first tour with Honda’s automatic Dual Clutch Transmission, however, and it has yet to grow on me. Even in manual mode, I just don’t find it as satisfying as letting my highly trained left hand work its muscle memory magic.

The Long Ride
My ride from Upstate New York to Key West takes exactly 36 hours, an accidental Iron Butt Bun Burner, complete with gas station junk food (thanks Honda, for the built-in cup holders) and emergency roadside pit stops.

My buzz flickers around 1 a.m. and I duck into a brightly lit Best Western in Florence, South Carolina. I don’t bother to unpack the bike. So far, I’ve knocked only 700 miles off my quest for Key West, but that’s on top of 200 pre-dawn miles to get the Wing and that sad, sleepless night in the dirty motel. I hit the pillow hard, my head empty for the first time in weeks. No route to choose for tomorrow, just jump back on the asphalt river and row south until the road ends.

THE ONLY ROAD THAT MATTERS

In the morning, I’m greeted by an unusual cotton-ball-strewn sky of mammatus clouds that warn me to get a move on. Georgia flies by, and with it goes any chance of riding twisty roads today. I take solace in knowing I have two weeks to ride and rank the mountain roads of Georgia, both Carolinas, and Virginia on my way to return the GL in New York.

The Long Ride
In South Carolina, soft mammatus clouds hint at more unsettled weather, not a huge concern thanks to the Gold Wing’s inherent stability and available electronic interventions.

And besides, it’s all too apparent this is exactly what I need right now. Tedium. Just a straight road, an empty head, and a comfortable motorcycle.

It’s just past 9 p.m. when I finally touch down on the famous Overseas Highway with 122 miles to go. It’s dark, but I’ve ridden this unique road and its 42 bridges so many times I can sense the bright color gradations of the surrounding waters. There is a familiar smell, too, a penetrating humidity that lingers in these islands like a briny musk.

The Long Ride
While the straight, miles-long bridges of Florida’s Overseas Highway provide a unique and pleasurable experience, two days later I’m jonesing for the tight corners and less crowded spaces to the north.

Instead of feeling wrung out from the long ride, I’m wide awake. The miles from Big Pine Key to Key West are quiet and slow: dreamlike. Forgotten are complaints about the flies in my room in Philly, the rash on my ankles, my disillusionments back home, the baby girl who grew up.

The Long Ride
Finally, at midnight, I arrive at The Paradise Inn feeling deeply tired yet completely cleansed by the long hours in the saddle.

In fact, I get a text from Hannah at 11:47 p.m., just as I’m crunching into the gravel parking lot of the historic inn I booked from a rest stop in Virginia. “Is this where you’re staying?” she asks. I’m moved that she’s followed my ride online, and I’ll cry tomorrow when balloons and a bouquet of birthday flowers arrive at my room.

It’s an awesome day of celebration. I ride a bicycle to a swimming beach, see my first six-toed Hemingway cat, eat seafood stew, and take in the sunset from Mallory Square. There’s a burlesque show, and finally, cake from a dimly lit dessert shop called Better Than Sex.

The Long Ride
I laugh every time I see this photo of me posing at the Southernmost Point marker. We’ve all been there: intangibly compelled to secure “must-have” touristy keepsakes, often at great cost. For this one, it is a 45-minute queue in sweltering humidity in a black Aerostich while surrounded by inquisitive tourists in beachwear. Who can relate?
The Long Ride

But the real gift of being in Key West is feeling cleansed by the long miles that brought me here. A reminder that an awesome ride isn’t always about a curvy road, scenery, or even the people with whom you share the ride.

Sometimes the best ride is as close as the seat of your motorcycle. And as far as a fast road will take you.

The Long Ride
Key West is a treasure that must be experienced to be understood. Sure, it’s blessed to be surrounded by inviting Gulf waters and typically pleasant weather, but the island is so much more about a vibe – about history and food and music and doing whatever feels right, at whatever time of day.
The Long Ride
In my favor, I do not spend money on fancy tropical drinks or conch shells.
The Long Ride
The Long Ride

The post The Long Ride first appeared on Rider Magazine.
Source: RiderMagazine.com