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Himalayan Cliffhanger | Riding India’s Death Road

Himalayan Cliffhanger Riding India's Death Road
A first glimpse at the Cliffhanger, with the majestic pine tree forests of Kishtwar, Jammu, and Kashmir, towering above.

They call it the Cliffhanger. As one of India’s most dangerous and deadly roads, it is a real treat for the experienced motorbike rider. The unpaved route, which is part of National Highway 26, connects two states, joining the towering forests of Kishtwar in the state of Jammu and Kashmir to Killar in the pristine Pangi Valley in Himachal Pradesh. Due to the difficulty and risks involved, this is one of the lesser traveled routes in the Himalayas.

The hazardous, narrow, and spine-chilling road snakes nearly 150 miles around the edge of a steep-walled gorge, much of it hacked out of a stone cliff face, hence its nickname. Through a series of harrowing switchbacks and slopes, the Cliffhanger climbs from 5,374 feet in Kishtwar to 8,091 feet in Killar. A sheer drop on one side could plunge a rider 2,000 feet down into the mighty Chenab River should they make even the smallest of errors. It’s not for the faint of heart.

The gorge carved out by the Chenab River, which churns 2,000 feet below the precarious road.

I had already ventured across uniquely difficult roads in Ladakh, Jammu and Kashmir, and Himachal Pradesh aboard my 2009 Royal Enfield Machismo 350. Purchased secondhand from a small shop in Goa, I named her Ullu, after Goddess Lakshmi’s steed in Indian mythology, a white owl that she rides into battle.

Ullu and I had been on many journeys together around India and experienced our fair share of breakdowns. She boasted a twice-welded frame, a starter with a mind of its own, and a fondness for breaking tappet rods. A lack of motorcycle mechanics in the backcountry meant a bit of risk, but I was undeterred.

Several of the roads Ullu and I had ridden were touted as the highest passes in not just India but in the entire world, so claimed by bikers in immaculate road gear with selfie-sticks attached to their full-face helmets and stickers affixed to their bikes listing the names of their latest conquests. In my waterproof jacket and Wellington boots, open-face helmet and face scarf, torn jeans and strap-on knee pads, I stood in stark contrast to the other bikers.

Himalayan Cliffhanger Riding India's Death Road
Hairpin bends and switchbacks add to the challenge – and the fun!

Riders I passed on these roads wore leather-clad and armored bike gear that makes them look 6 feet tall and 4 feet wide but when removed, revealed either a tiny, skinny Indian or someone who was, in fact, 6 feet tall and 4 feet wide. In a land of plentiful chapati bread, either is possible.

Though I had done minimal research, I had an idea of what I was about to face. Whispered-about routes discussed over a plate of dal in roadside dhabas are not to be sniffed at. If you follow the breadcrumbs, there are rare rewards to reap.

Interesting hazards presented challenges on my previous trips in northern India, such as metal hooks and nails protruding from the road surface, and thin, silky sand which often whipped up into one’s eyes and robbed tires of grip, snaking across the darkening roads like a subtle cobra, making riders wobble and flounder on steep corners. The lipped edges of most Indian roads I had encountered were uneven and hid all manner of surprises, from barbed wire to broken whiskey bottles, even downed electrical wires.

Himalayan Cliffhanger Riding India's Death Road
Sections with fine, powdery sand make the Cliffhanger feel even more loose and uncertain. The margin for error is razor thin!

What unexpected tricks would the Cliffhanger have up its sleeve?

It was the day after my 33rd birthday, and I could think of no better gift to myself than this trip. There is no greater thrill than risking your life on high ledges, of pushing yourself to exhaustion, of handling a heavy machine and guiding her up the dodgiest of inclines, your whole life on your luggage rack, knowing that at any moment a brief loss of focus or a sweaty-gripped mistake could cost you everything.

Given Ullu’s penchant for breakdowns, I promised a bar full of bikers that I would not attempt the Cliffhanger alone. Joining me was my partner, John Gaisford, on his 2012 Royal Enfield Electra, named Pushkarini after the gorgeous stone baths at the edges of many Indian temples.

Himalayan Cliffhanger Riding India's Death Road
The author aboard a heavily laden Ullu, her 2009 Royal Enfield Bullet Machismo. On the left is John Gaisford’s 2013 Bullet Electra, nicknamed Pushkarini.

Having heard so much about this road, I was expecting a little more from the entrance than an idle earthmover and a nondescript road marker. But it turned out that the road, post-monsoon, was under serious construction and cordoned off. Passage was restricted to only one hour, twice a day.

We waited in a dhaba that would, at the end of the road, rob me of two days of riding thanks to some sketchy tap water. We met two other bikers there who fit my earlier description. Their bikes – KTM RC 200 and Yamaha FZ250 sportbikes – were loaded with the latest technology and gear, but it soon became apparent that they had no idea what they were about to attempt.

Himalayan Cliffhanger Riding India's Death Road
The author at the starting line, with the Enfields (Ullu and Pushkarini), a Yamaha FZ250, and a KTM RC 200.

I suspected that the sports nature of their bikes and street-biased tires made for speed on good roads could cost them dearly on those slippery corners should that famous sand appear. I had seen similar bikes stuck in precarious situations on my journeys through India, usually in the mud. The Machismo, heavy and dependable, had seen me across many a difficult road surface. Though, what its new grippy back tire giveth, the heavily loaded luggage rack taketh away.

John and I rode back to the checkpoint to line up behind a fraying rope with the pristine-looking bikers, who must have thought us quite alien with our well-worn bikes covered in road grit and dust. Someone finally let down the rope, and we cheered. I was the first out of the gate, grinning widely. Being a woman in the lead on the oldest bike in the group is about as empowering as it gets, and I believe it sets an example that women belong on motorcycles.

With the other Himalayan high-pass roads I had ridden, it took time to reach sections that filled me with a sense of impending doom, the catch-your-breath sections, the parts for which I wish I had one of those idiotic head cameras after all, to capture those moments in all their glory. But not the Cliffhanger. It was a lump-in-my-throat challenge right away as my front tire rolled over crumbling rock. A video would never do this road justice.

Himalayan Cliffhanger Riding India's Death Road
The author and Ullu teetering on the outer edge.

After five minutes, I was laughing maniacally, calling out to no one that could hear me that I was going to die, my wheels nonsensically guided by shaking hands and a fast-beating heart, which pumped like my Enfield’s engine, loud and roaring. In my mirrors I caught sight of the KTM sliding haphazardly, as predicted, from side to side along the terrain, and I quickly refocused my attention on the broken road.

The drops were something else. You know how when someone tells you that they have been on a high road, and it was steep? When someone says they scaled a sheer cliff face, it is usually exaggerated – or in fact true, but with at least a guardrail or signs around the edges or a lay-by to pull over and take photographs, usually named something romantic like Sunset Point. The Cliffhanger offered no signs, no railings, and no relief.

Himalayan Cliffhanger Riding India's Death Road
The author and Ullu navigate a section of the Cliffhanger covered in slippery sand. The edges are crumbly, ready to fall away.

Whilst trying to get a photo of the cliff, I sat at the edge for a second and knocked a rock with my boot. Seconds later, part of the cliff fell off where my foot had been, and I scrambled back, praying no one had seen me be so foolish. After experiencing this incredible road, falling accidentally off the edge because I could not get the correct angle for a photograph did not seem quite as glorious as plunging to my death atop my Enfield.

The cliff I had been so keen to capture was one of many stunning examples, overhanging, cavernous, and beautifully shaped, with sharp angles and grotesque claw-like edges. Riding through and under these felt like being in a fantasy movie like Labyrinth or Lord of the Rings. Living it was something else entirely.

Himalayan Cliffhanger Riding India's Death Road
Due to the high altitude, some vehicles needed a push after stopping for photos.

There was nowhere to stop for a water break, no chadar tents for food. The track was about the width of one 4×4, with few places where it felt reasonably safe to enjoy the mesmerizing view. The temperature was chilly in the shadows, but the sun when overhead burned down on us. We pressed on, doing our best to enjoy the terrain, sometimes hearing the odd scream of frustration or achievement of the other in front or behind.

It was a long day. Eventually the desert-stone rocky paths of the gorge gave way to the lush green pine trees of the valley. As darkness fell, Ullu’s weak headlight did little to illuminate whatever hazards lay ahead.

Himalayan Cliffhanger Riding India's Death Road
The author squeezes underneath the overhanging cliffs while giving way to a local man and his cow.

As the road smoothed out, I stopped alone to switch off the engine and experience the silence all around me. I felt, as is often the case when in the heart of the Himalayas, that I was completely and utterly alone. In our busy world where we long for tranquility, there is no feeling like it.

The road ended as unremarkably as it had begun. The KTM and Yamaha had made it too, and they finally passed us, speeding off into the blackness, with John and me exchanging knowing smiles. Royal Enfield likes to say its bikes are “built like a gun,” and ours had certainly set the standard. I gave Ullu a once-over. Her cracked fork had held out, but the front mudguard had not; the next morning, it would be wrenched off entirely by a surly bunch of local mechanics.

The Cliffhanger had been a test of both rider and bike. I remembered with a smile all the bikers I had met on the way whose suspensions had given out on roads nowhere near as treacherous, making a mental note to treat Ullu to an oil change when we got home, grateful as I was for her. Together, we had beaten the odds.

The Cliffhanger, taxing in effort and mesmerizing in beauty, was a journey by which I will measure every other motorcycle expedition. It was like a roller coaster with just the right amount of thrill but not so much it makes you nauseous. The Cliffhanger left me wanting to do it all over again.

Himalayan Cliffhanger Riding India's Death Road
The author with her feet up on Ullu after both conquered the Cliffhanger.

Ellie Cooper is passionate about inspiring other women to ride motorcycles. She taught herself to ride in India, and she has explored the country on her secondhand Royal Enfield. Cooper is the author of Waiting for Mango Season, available now, and she writes for various online publications about travel, adventure, and relationships. You can connect with her on Twitter (@Ellydevicooper) or visit her website EllieCooperBooks.com.

The post Himalayan Cliffhanger | Riding India’s Death Road first appeared on Rider Magazine.
Source: RiderMagazine.com

Edelweiss Bike Travel Best of Greece Tour Review

Edelweiss Bike Travel's Best of Greece Tour
One of the many scenic views along the winding coast of Greece’s Peloponnese peninsula. Photos by the author and Carrie Drevenstedt.

Having never been to Greece before, my mental postcards of the country consisted of the crumbling Parthenon in Athens and a cluster of white-washed, blue-roofed houses overlooking a turquoise sea.

The Parthenon, which my wife Carrie and I visited the day before the Edelweiss Bike Travel Best of Greece tour began, looked like I thought it would. Well, except for the scaffolding. The temple at the Acropolis is nearly 2,500 years old and was partially destroyed by the Venetians in 1687, so a little sprucing up is in order.

Edelweiss Bike Travel's Best of Greece Tour
The Parthenon rises high above Athens at the Acropolis.

Those white-washed houses are on Santorini, an island out in the Aegean Sea. We didn’t go there, and that’s a good thing. Places like Santorini are where huge cruise ships disgorge hordes of waddling tourists. The Edelweiss tour avoids crowds and takes the roads less traveled.

Edelweiss Bike Travel's Best of Greece Tour

From Athens to the Oracle

Our tour began with meeting the guides, who gave us a safety briefing and an overview of the tour. Booklets, a hotel list, and a map of Greece were mailed to us in advance, but if I’m honest, I barely looked at them. The experts at Edelweiss have been running motorcycle tours since 1980, and they know what they’re doing. Since they take care of the preparation and planning, I enjoy letting the tour unfold from one day to the next.

Edelweiss Bike Travel Best of Greece Tour
Our tight-knit group of Americans enjoyed the roads, sights, and culture of Greece for two full weeks.

Our group was small, just eight participants, all Americans. Three couples rode two-up – Bob and Ronnie from Virginia, Ken and Evelyn from Georgia, and Carrie and me. Two guys rode solo – Yoram from California and Dave from Virginia. (Check out Dave’s travel tips on European motorcycle travel.) Our guides Paul (from Minnesota) and William (from the U.K.) alternated days riding the lead bike and driving the support van.

Edelweiss Bike Travel's Best of Greece Tour
Smiles for miles. After a full day of riding challenging roads, we enjoyed a well-deserved “boot” beer at our hotel overlooking Lake Plastiras.

The first day of any overseas tour is a little stressful. Some folks are still jet-lagged, others are getting used to an unfamiliar bike on unfamiliar roads, and everyone is adapting to a new routine. Even so, our small group and common language made it easy for us to gel and get along.

Athens is a big capital city that’s home to nearly 4 million people – more than a third of Greece’s population. It’s great for sightseeing before or after the tour, but our objective was to escape the city as quickly as possible. After battling some Monday morning traffic, we did just that, climbing high into mountains on a narrow, winding road, giving us a taste of what was to come.

Edelweiss Bike Travel Best of Greece Tour
One of the curvy roads we rode on the first day of the tour.

Rainer Buck, managing director of Edelweiss, ranks Greece as one of his top three riding destinations because “it’s like a mountain range was dropped into the sea.” Greece is tied with Slovenia as the third most mountainous country in Europe after Norway and Switzerland. Nearly 80% of the country’s land area is covered by sloped terrain that motorcyclists long for.

Listen to our interview with Rainer Buck on Episode 8 of the Rider Magazine Insider Podcast

Edelweiss Bike Travel's Best of Greece Tour
Riding in Greece’s mountains was like being in the Alps but with less traffic.

Located at the southern tip of the Balkans, Greece has a peninsular mainland bordered to the north by Albania, North Macedonia, Bulgaria, and Turkey, and is surrounded on three sides by the Aegean, Myrtoan, and Ionian seas. The Peloponnese region is a large peninsula that resembles a fat, four-fingered hand, separated from the mainland by a narrow canal through the Isthmus of Corinth. Scattered around these land masses are thousands of islands. Our 1,500-mile tour followed a counterclockwise route around part of the mainland and much of the Peloponnese.

Edelweiss Bike Travel's Best of Greece Tour
The Kipina monastery is built into the side of a cliff.

Not only is Greece a great place to ride, its significance in terms of human culture runs deep. Located at the crossroads of Europe, Asia, and Africa, it has been inhabited since at least 270,000 B.C. Pick your historical era – Stone Age, Bronze Age, Dark Ages, Middle Ages – and Greece was the place to be. It’s the birthplace of democracy, Western philosophy and literature, theater, the Olympic Games, and a lot of the math and science we learned in high school. Heavy hitters like Aristotle, Plato, Socrates, Hippocrates, Homer, and Euclid were all Greek.

Built in the 10th century, the Monastery of Hosios Loukas is one of fives sites on the UNESCO World Heritage List we visited on the tour.

Greece is lousy with brown signs pointing down empty roads toward historic sites. Temples, monasteries, necropolises, theaters, you name it – there are more than can be visited in a lifetime. This tour visits major or unique sites, including five UNESCO World Heritage Sites. We visited two – the 10th century Monastery of Hosios Loukas and Delphi – on our first day. Established in the 8th century B.C., Delphi was where one would go to receive an oracle from the priestess of Apollo. It was also considered the center of the world, being the place where two eagles released by Zeus, one to the east and one to the west, came back together.

Edelweiss Bike Travel's Best of Greece Tour
Delphi, one of several sites on the UNESCO World Heritage List we visited, was built in the 8th century B.C. It sits between two towers of rock in the Parnassus Mountains.

Bagging two UNESCO sites and getting our fill of switchbacks up and down steep coastal mountains, expansive views of the Gulf of Corinth, narrow roads winding through endless olive groves, and a high pass through a vibrant evergreen forest made for a full first day. The day’s heat was cooled by an afternoon thunderstorm and a post-ride “boot” beer – enjoyed while still wearing our riding boots.

For Your Eyes Only

By Day 2, we were finding our groove. Up early for breakfast, bring luggage down at 8:15, ride briefing at 8:30, and kickstands up at 9. From our mountainside hotel in Arachova, we summited a pass, cruised through a lush alpine valley full of ski chalets, wound our way up through evergreens to a ski slope, and then plunged down an endless series of hairpins to a hot, dry valley.

Edelweiss Bike Travel Best of Greece Tour
“It’s all Greek to me!” Reading road signs in Greece can be challenging. In the background is one of the ubiquitous kandylakia, small roadside shrines.

Early on, this tour taught us to expect the unexpected and be ready for anything. Like listening to enormous storks clacking their beaks in a nest above us while we ate lunch at a small outdoor cafe. Or passing by countless kandylakia, which are small roadside shrines erected to honor lost loved ones or saints for good fortune. We visited a monastery built into the side of a cliff, another built inside a tree, and others perched atop towers of stone.

Edelweiss Bike Travel's Best of Greece Tour
The Panagia Plataniotissa church occupies the hollow of a tree.

On Day 3, after a picnic lunch overlooking a broad agricultural plain, we visited Meteora, a sprawling rock formation where dozens of monasteries were built atop sandstone pillars in the 14th century. Access to the monasteries was intentionally difficult, not only as protection from invaders but to test the faith of pilgrims, who had to ascend hundreds of feet by climbing ladders or being hoisted up in nets. Only six of the monasteries remain, hardy structures that have survived attacks by the Turks, bombing raids during WWII, a magnitude-7 earthquake in 1954, and the filming of a James Bond movie in 1981.

Edelweiss Bike Travel's Best of Greece Tour
Meteora, which means “lofty,” is a complex of monasteries perched atop sandstone pillars more than 1,000 feet high. Built hundreds of years ago, they were once accessible only by ladders and ropes.
Edelweiss Bike Travel Best of Greece Tour
One of the monasteries at Meteora.

Day after day, we were surprised by the ruggedness of the scenery and tested by the trickiness of the roads. Edelweiss stitched together a challenging, convoluted route, so much so that it occasionally gave the tour guides’ GPS units fits. The width, pitch, and condition of the roads changed constantly, from smooth, wide highways to steep, narrow paths riddled with potholes, cracks, and dips. Although the route was almost entirely paved, we were kept on our toes by sand, gravel, mud, cow manure, fallen rocks, rain, fog, and even patches of snow.

Edelweiss Bike Travel's Best of Greece Tour
Dodging snowbanks on Baros Pass.

Above all, we had to be on the lookout for animals. Traveling off the beaten path, we shared the road with cows, horses, goats (often in large, road-blocking herds), sheep (ditto), dogs (often lying on the road), cats, snakes, and turtles. What we rarely dealt with, however, were other vehicles. Outside of the few cities we visited, there were hardly any cars, trucks, or buses on the road. It was like having Greece to ourselves.

Edelweiss Bike Travel's Best of Greece Tour
Rush-hour traffic.

From the Mountains to the Sea

Our first few days were spent riding through mountains that seemed like they could have been in the Alps. On the fourth day, we rested. Some took advantage of the downtime to explore the mountain town of Metsovo, while others rode north into the Pindus Mountains near the Albanian border to visit Vikos Gorge, a cleft in the earth up to 4,400 feet deep and the world’s deepest gorge relative to its width.

Edelweiss Bike Travel Best of Greece Tour
Vikos Gorge

From Metsovo we turned south, climbing up and over mountain pass after mountain pass, including one that was mostly covered by a snowbank and had opened just days before. After a full day of challenging roads, we crossed a small floating bridge to the island of Lefkada. As happened at the end of most riding days, we enjoyed a celebratory boot beer and then gathered for a group dinner. We sat outdoors at the Crystal Waters resort, savoring the salty breeze and local fare as we recapped the day’s adventures, topping it all with glasses of ouzo.

Edelweiss Bike Travel's Best of Greece Tour
Coffee stop in the village of Kalarites, near Baros Pass.

On Day 6, we rode along the southern coast of the mainland, the sea’s color ranging from topaz in the shallows to dark cobalt in the depths. We stopped for a morning coffee at a cafe on the edge of a small harbor, where a fishing boat pulled up and sold its catch directly to locals.

Edelweiss Bike Travel's Best of Greece Tour
We enjoyed a morning coffee stop in Mytikas, a small fishing village where the day’s catch was sold to locals right from the boat.

We left the mainland by way of the Rion-Antiron Bridge, crossing a narrow section of the Gulf of Corinth to the Peloponnese peninsula. We wasted no time climbing back up into the mountains on roads full of twist and shout. Late in the afternoon on the way to Vytina, we hit rush-hour traffic – herd after herd of goats and sheep being led down the road by shepherds and dogs.

Edelweiss Bike Travel's Best of Greece Tour
The Rion-Antiron Bridge, the world’s longest fully suspended multi-span cable-stayed bridge, connects the mainland to the Peloponnese peninsula.

On the second rest day, our entire group rode to the ruins of Olympia, the ancient center of worship of Zeus and the site of the Olympic Games from 776 B.C. to 394 A.D. The temples and sports structures were mostly destroyed in 426 A.D. by an angry emperor and further damaged over the years by earthquakes and floods. Since the Olympic Games resumed in 1894, the Olympic flame has been lit at what remains of the Temple of Hera and transported by a torch to the host cities.

Edelweiss Bike Travel's Best of Greece Tour
Built in 590 B.C., the Temple of Hera is the oldest sanctuary in Olympia. The Olympic flame is lit here and then transported to the sites of the Olympic Games.

Prepare for Glory, and Olives

On Day 8, we sliced south through the heart of the Peloponnese, from Vytina in the mountains to Megalopolis in the valley. We made time on the motorway to reach Sparta, which, despite its legendary reputation as the home of courageous, self-disciplined warriors, is now just an ordinary city that’s well past its prime. A statue of mighty King Leonidas, who had the brass to take on the entire Persian army with 300 brave soldiers, overlooks an abandoned building.

Edelweiss Bike Travel's Best of Greece Tour
Riding through the Langada Gorge near Sparta.

Rising out of Sparta is a winding road that burrows its way into the Taygetos Mountains via the Langada Gorge. After ascending a few switchbacks, the road cuts into the side of the gorge through a series of tunnels and overhangs on its way up to a 5,000-foot pass. We wound our way down to the coastal city of Kalamata, known for its namesake black olives, and had lunch on the beach. It was a hot afternoon of riding along the coast, and after a boot beer in Areopoli, several of us cooled off with a swim in the Ionian Sea.

Edelweiss Bike Travel's Best of Greece Tour
The village of Limeni, where we swam in the Ionian Sea.

Our final rest day was in Monemvasia. We stayed in a beautiful resort hotel with two infinity pools, a gourmet restaurant, and views of vineyards and the sea – the perfect reward after logging so many challenging miles. It was also where Carrie and I celebrated our eighth wedding anniversary. Paul and William had a special treat sent to our room, and the next morning we found our GS decorated with tissue paper, empty beer cans strung together with duct tape, and a “just married” sign.

Edelweiss Bike Travel Best of Greece Tour
Our hotel near Monemvasia, where we enjoyed a rest day.

Over our final two days, we made our way back to Athens, riding north along the Peloponnese coast, where we enjoyed coffee and lunch stops overlooking the sea and visited the theater at Epidaurus, built in the 4th century B.C. and renowned for its exceptional acoustics.

Edelweiss Bike Travel's Best of Greece Tour
The 2,500-year-old theater at Epidaurus can hold 14,000 spectators.

Our Bucket Overfloweth

Greece seems to be on everyone’s bucket list. If they’ve never been, they want to go; if they’ve visited before, they want to go back. It’s a magical, mysterious, romantic place that looms large in our imaginations and is rich in history, culture, cuisine, scenery, and so much more.

Edelweiss Bike Travel's Best of Greece Tour
We ate well in Greece and ordered Greek salad with fresh tomatoes and local feta every day.

It is difficult to fathom the depth of history in Greece’s mountains and along its shorelines. Living in a nation barely two and a half centuries old on a continent “discovered” five centuries ago, seeing the remnants of kingdoms and empires that stretch back several millennia boggles the mind, like trying to comprehend the far reaches of outer space. Is this real? Did actual humans carve this stone and erect these temples, till this soil and fish these waters, worship gods and contemplate ideas of self-determination?

Edelweiss Bike Travel Best of Greece Tour
Riding along the Peloponnese coast.

Spending two weeks in Greece engaged our senses, dispelled our preconceived notions, and tested our mettle. This tour is not a walk in the park. It is challenging and at times quite intense, with long riding days on technical roads with variable weather and conditions. Every night we collapsed into bed, dead tired but deeply satisfied.

Edelweiss Bike Travel Best of Greece Tour
Riding in the mountains on Greece’s mainland.

Edelweiss Bike Travel’s next Best of Greece tour is scheduled for October 8-21, 2022. The tour will run twice in 2023: May 1-15 and September 29-October 12. For pricing, details, and information about Edelweiss’ full schedule of tours, visit EdelweissBike.com.

The post Edelweiss Bike Travel Best of Greece Tour Review first appeared on Rider Magazine.
Source: RiderMagazine.com

2022 Indian Challenger Elite and Chieftain Elite | First Look Review

2022 Indian Challenger Elite
2022 Indian Challenger Elite

Since its debut in 2017, Indian’s Elite program has offered the most premium and feature-packed versions of its bagger and touring models, such as the Chieftain and Roadmaster. For 2022, Indian has unveiled two models: the Challenger Elite and Chieftain Elite.

“From factory-custom details to premium amenities, and advanced ride-enhancing technology, we left no stone unturned when designing our new Elite baggers,” said Aaron Jax, Vice President of Indian Motorcycle. “Whether you prefer the liquid-cooled power and performance of the Indian Challenger, or the more organic growl and unmatched air-cooled power of the Chieftain, these two Elites elevate both platforms with gorgeous custom-inspired design elements straight from the factory.”

RELATED: 2022 Indian Pursuit Limited | Road Test Review

2022 Indian Challenger Elite

2022 Indian Challenger Elite

Limited to 200 units worldwide, 2022 marks the debut for the Indian Challenger Elite. It offers muscle car-inspired styling and class-leading performance from its liquid-cooled PowerPlus 108 V-Twin, delivering 122 hp and 128 lb-ft of torque. Pricing starts at $34,999.

The Challenger Elite’s attention-getting Stealth Gray and Black Metallic paint with Indy Red accents screams American muscle. A red-stitched seat and color-matched Elite badging complete the bike’s performance-inspired design. 

2022 Indian Challenger Elite

With three ride modes, riders can customize the bike’s throttle mapping by selecting Sport, Standard, or Rain. Each ride mode has been engineered with its own distinct traction-control setting to deliver three unique riding experiences.

The Challenger Elite is loaded with premium amenities like Fox rear shocks with electronically adjustable preload, Smart Lean Technology with lean-angle-adaptive ABS and TC, back-lit switches, an Adaptive Pathfinder LED headlight, and LED driving lights. It’s also equipped with an adjustable flare windscreen, select floorboards, and heated grips.

2022 Indian Challenger Elite

Ride loud and proud with an upgraded, fully integrated 400-watt PowerBand audio system with speakers in the fairing and saddlebag lids. The 7-inch color touchscreen display features the Ride Command infotainment system, which includes detailed vehicle info, Apple CarPlay, GPS with turn-by-turn navigation, a complimentary year of Ride Command+ connected features (live traffic and weather overlays, plus a vehicle locator feature).

The Indian Challenger Elite also includes standard features on the Challenger such as ABS, keyless ignition, tire-pressure monitoring, and remote-locking saddlebags with more than 18 gallons (68.1 liters) of storage.


2022 Indian Chieftain Elite

2022 Indian Chieftain Elite
2022 Indian Chieftain Elite

The Chieftain Elite was the first Elite model offered by Indian back in 2017, and an all-new take for 2022 will be limited to 150 units globally. It’s powered by the air-cooled Thunderstroke 116, which delivers 126 lb-ft of torque. Pricing starts at $32,999.

The factory custom features Heavy Metal Smoke paint complemented by premium bronze finishes, including the tank’s Indian Motorcycle headdress, saddlebag latches, center console, primary cover, and airbox. Oil-rubbed bronze finishes across the engine’s push rod tubes, horn cover, and cam cover take the Chieftain Elite’s style to an entirely new level straight from the factory.

2022 Indian Chieftain Elite

The Chieftain Elite’s streamlined fairing and slammed saddlebags contribute to the bike’s aggressive stance. In addition, LED saddlebag lights, a two-up comfort seat, low suspension, precision-machined wheels, and premium blacked-out finishes round out its head-turning style.

The Chieftain Elite’s Thunderstroke 116 features three ride modes (Sport, Tour, and Standard) that adjust throttle response and rear cylinder deactivation to mitigate engine heat when idling at a stop.

2022 Indian Chieftain Elite

Like its Challenger Elite stablemate, the Chieftain Elite is packed with premium features, including an Adaptive Pathfinder LED headlight, an adjustable and tinted flare windscreen, select floorboards, rear saddlebag LED lights, backlit switch cubes, and an integrated 400-watt PowerBand audio system.

It’s also equipped with a 7-inch color touchscreen display with Ride Command, a year of Rider Command+ connected features, ABS, keyless ignition, tire-pressure monitoring, and remote-locking saddlebags.

2022 Indian Chieftain Elite

For riders who want to further customize their Challenger Elite or Chieftain Elite, Indian offers a range of style, comfort, and touring accessory upgrades. Indian Challenger Elite riders can add Pathfinder LED Saddlebag Lights, while Chieftain Elite riders can add Pathfinder S LED Driving Lights. Elite riders can also add the ClimaCommand Heated and Cooled two-up seat, color-matched Hard Lower Fairings, a color-matched Trunk, up to 800 watts of PowerBand audio, and items from the versatile Spirit Lake Luggage Collection,

For more information or to find an Indian Motorcycle dealer near you, visit IndianMotorcycle.com.

2022 Indian Challenger Elite Detail Gallery:

2022 Indian Chieftain Elite Detail Gallery:

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Source: RiderMagazine.com

Join Rider on the IMTBike Southern Spain Andalusia Tour, October 15-23

IMTBike Southern Spain Andalusia Tour
Join us on the IMTBike Southern Spain Andalusia Tour, October 15-23, 2022, for fantastic riding, delicious food and wine, and luxurious accommodations.

Scott Moreno, the American-born owner of IMTBike, the motorcycle tour and rental company based in Spain, has one of the most infectious personalities of the many people I’ve met over the years in the motorcycle industry.

Born in New York City and raised in northern New Jersey, Moreno studied abroad in Spain. After getting his MBA, he made a good living as a currency trader, but he was miserable. When a friend asked him what he loved to do, he said “ride motorcycles and have adventures.” So, in 1997, Scott bought eight BMW motorcycles and started Iberian Moto Tours (IMTBike’s former name) from his apartment in Madrid.

IMTBike Southern Spain Andalusia Tour
All smiles on the IMTBike Southern Spain Andalusia Tour. Scott Moreno is second from left in the front row.

Click here to listen to our podcast interview with Scott Moreno

This year, IMTBike is celebrating its 25th anniversary. Through the hard work of Moreno and his team, the company has grown to include more than two dozen staff members, office locations in Madrid, Barcelona, Bilbao, Málaga, and Lisbon, and the world’s largest fleet of BMW motorcycles – 200 at last count (IMTBike is an Official Partner of BMW Motorrad). In 2021, IMTBike earned a coveted TripAdvisor Travelers’ Choice “Best of the Best” award.

IMTBike specializes in tours of the Iberian Peninsula (Spain and Portugal), but it also offers tours in France, Italy, the Alps, and Morocco, as well as MotoGP tours (Catalunya, Jerez, and Valencia) and tours in Turkey, Thailand, Japan, and New Zealand.

To help IMTBike celebrate its “25 Years of Magic,” Rider’s Editor-in-Chief Greg Drevenstedt and his wife Carrie will be joining Moreno on the Southern Spain Andalusia Tour this fall, October 15-23. The tour starts and ends in Málaga, on Spain’s famous Costa del Sol (“Sun Coast”) on the Mediterranean Sea.

IMTBike Southern Spain Andalusia Tour
Route for the IMTBike Southern Spain Andalusia Tour

The 9-day tour includes seven riding days, one rest day (in Seville), and travel days on either end. Here’s the itinerary:

  • Day 1: Arrival in Málaga
  • Day 2: Málaga – Costa del Sol – Sierra Nevada – Granada
  • Day 3: Granada – Córdoba
  • Day 4: Córdoba – Seville
  • Day 5: Seville – rest day
  • Day 6: Seville – White Towns
  • Day 7: White Towns – Ronda
  • Day 8: Ronda – Serranía de Ronda – Málaga
  • Day 9: Flight home

We recommend arriving a couple of days early to get acclimated to the time zone and explore Málaga, one of the oldest cities in Europe, which is full of history, culture, and vitality. Walk the city streets and tour the Alcazaba, a Moorish palatial fortress built in the 11th century.

IMTBike Southern Spain Andalusia Tour
The tour route includes some of Spain’s best motorcycling roads in the Grazalema and Sierra Nevada mountain ranges.

The region of Andalusia is home to some of Spain’s most famous cities, including Seville, Córdoba, and Granada, all three of which contain UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Stay in Spain’s famous Paradors – castles, monasteries, fortresses, and other historic buildings converted into luxury hotels. The Parador in Ronda stands on the edge of a cliff and is next to the Plaza de Toros (bullfighting ring), and the town is surrounded by the Sierra de las Nieves National Park.

On this tour you’ll visit Spain’s iconic “White Towns,” villages full of white-washed houses, and you’ll enjoy Andalusian cuisine, famous for its jamón Ibérico pata negra (black-footed Iberian ham) and delicious tapas. You’ll also get your fill of curves and twisties in the Grazalema and Sierra Nevada mountain ranges.

IMTBike Southern Spain Andalusia Tour
Andalusia’s “White Towns”
IMTBike Southern Spain Andalusia Tour
Jamón Ibérico pata negra (black-footed Iberian ham)

You don’t want to miss this tour. Pricing starts at just 3,225 euros (about $3,450), and includes transfer to/from the airport, motorcycle rental (BMW G 310 R), lodging, eight breakfasts, and seven dinners. Choosing a larger motorcycle, adding a passenger, and a single-occupancy room adds to the price.

Click HERE for more details and to book the tour. Sign up soon because this tour will fill up fast!

The post Join Rider on the IMTBike Southern Spain Andalusia Tour, October 15-23 first appeared on Rider Magazine.
Source: RiderMagazine.com

The Quail Motorcycle Gathering Returns

The Quail Motorcycle Gathering
The Quail Motorcycle Gathering will be held at Quail Lodge & Golf Club in Carmel Valley, California, on May 14, 2022. Photo by Paulo Rosas.

After a two-year hiatus due to the pandemic, The Quail Motorcycle Gathering returns to the lush, award-winning golf course grasses of Quail Lodge & Golf Club, in Carmel, California, on Saturday, May 14, 2022.

The Quail Motorcycle Gathering celebrates the evolution of two-wheeled beauties with more than 350 vintage and modern motorcycles, scooters, and bicycles on display. The event features leading manufacturers showcasing their newest and most popular bikes, lifestyle and retail exhibitors, gourmet lunch options, local wines and brews, and a family-friendly kid’s area provided by local non-profit, the Monterey Youth Museum (My Museum).

The Quail Motorcycle Gathering was last held in 2019. Read Clement Salvadori’s report from the event here.

Saturday, May 14, 2022
10:00 am – 4:00 pm

Quail Lodge and Golf Course
8205 Valley Greens Dr.
Carmel-By-The-Sea, CA 93923

The Quail Motorcycle Gathering celebrates the past, present, and future of motorcycling every year with these traditional classes:

  • American
  • British
  • Italian
  • Other European
  • Japanese
  • Competition On Road
  • Competition Off Road
  • Antique
  • Custom/Modified
  • Choppers
  • Extraordinary Bicycles and Scooters Class

Featured Classes for 2022:

  • Harley-Davidson XR750
  • BMW /5 Series
  • Two-Stroke “Braaaps”
  • mini bikes | BIG FUN
  • Hot Rods & Classic Cars – Display Only

Legend of the Sport Series Guest:

  • Roland Sands

For tickets and other information about 2022 The Quail Motorcycle Gathering, visit peninsula.com/en/signature-events/events/motorcycle.

The post The Quail Motorcycle Gathering Returns first appeared on Rider Magazine.
Source: RiderMagazine.com

2022 Harley-Davidson Road Glide ST and Street Glide ST | Review

2022 Harley-Davidson Road Glide ST and Street Glide ST
King Of The Baggers champion Kyle Wyman (left) riding the street version of his Road Glide racebike next to racer and brother Travis Wyman on a Street Glide ST. Photos by Brian J. Nelson & Kevin Wing.

V-Twin baggers are regularly at the top of streetbike sales charts, and a perennial leader has been the Harley-Davidson Street Glide, with H-D’s Road Glide running close behind. The Glides are revered for the effortless way they trot along American roads accompanied by the loping cadence of their narrow-angle V-Twin motors.

Check out Rider‘s 2022 Motorcycle Buyers Guide

However, there are many Glide owners who put a greater emphasis on performance than on touring ability. The performance-bagger market continues to gain momentum, a trend Harley says is “a new breed of speed.” The incredibly popular King Of The Baggers (KOTB) roadracing series has added more fuel to the performance fire.

2022 Harley-Davidson Road Glide ST and Street Glide ST
The surging performance-bagger market is served by H-D’s new Road Glide ST and Street Glide ST.

To meet this market demand and to capitalize on its KOTB championship title, H-D proffers the new Glide ST brothers, available in Street and Road versions. Touring bikes for a new breed of riders, says the MoCo.


If you’re gonna build a hot-rod bagger, there’s no better place to start than the engine, and so Harley plugs in the biggest gun in its arsenal. The Road and Street Glide STs are fitted with H-D’s biggest production motor, the 117ci Milwaukee-Eight, an upgrade over the 114ci V-Twin found in lesser models. This is the 117’s first appearance in a non-CVO Harley, firing out a tire-shredding 127 lb-ft of torque from its 1,923cc displacement. Harley says the 117 is a value proposition for riders who might otherwise invest in engine upgrades.

2022 Harley-Davidson Road Glide ST and Street Glide ST
The Road Glide ST and Street Glide ST are powered by the Milwaukee-Eight 117 V-Twin.

Black is the dominant theme, as brightwork is limited to the chrome pushrod tubes, tappet covers, and machined cylinder fins. Matte Dark Bronze finishes on the lower rocker box, timer cover medallion, and the medallion on the Heavy Breather intake provide subtle highlights.


The FLHX Street Glide is perhaps the most ubiquitous motorcycle on American roads. Introduced in 2006 as an offshoot of the popular Electra Glide, they are both led by their iconic batwing fairings mounted to the handlebar.

2022 Harley-Davidson Road Glide ST and Street Glide ST
The Road Glide ST and its Street Glide brother are helping usher in the performance bagger trend in production bikes.

Harley’s FLTR Road Glide was introduced in 1998 as an evolution of the FLT Tour Glide from the 1980s, both using distinctive shark-nosed fairings mounted to the chassis. Other than their fairings, the Road Glide is essentially the same bike as the Street Glide.

The Glide STs are part of Harley’s Grand American Touring lineup, so they naturally include luxury items like a Boom! Box GTS infotainment system with a color touchscreen and navigation, fairing-mounted speakers, a hidden radio antenna, cruise control, and Daymaker LED headlamps. Both Glide STs are equipped with linked Brembo brakes with ABS.

2022 Harley-Davidson Road Glide ST and Street Glide ST
Prodigy cast-aluminum wheels finished in Matte Dark Bronze look sharp and match finishes elsewhere on the bike. Brakes are by Brembo, and Harley’s optional Cornering Rider Safety Enhancements package adds cornering ABS and other electronic aids.

For a sportier, lighter appearance, the STs receive a low-profile tank console and a trimmed front fender, plus a new solo seat that exposes the rear fender but leaves passengers at home. Standard-length saddlebags replace the extended bags used on Special models for additional cornering clearance and to expand aftermarket exhaust options.

Prodigy cast-aluminum wheels feature a Matte Dark Bronze finish to match the bronze engine highlights, while nearly everything else aside from the tins (front end, controls, powertrain, and exhaust) feature blacked-out finishes. For a dash of retro, the Harley-Davidson logo on the 6-gallon fuel tanks is modeled from Harley’s 1912 racebikes, and on black STs, it’s outlined in a gold color that matches the bikes’ bronze finishes.

2022 Harley-Davidson Road Glide ST and Street Glide ST
The Road Glide ST is distinguished by its shark-nosed fairing that offers more expansive coverage and smoother airflow than its Street Glide ST brother.

Helmet: Arai Regent X
Jacket: Alpinestars Hoxton V2
Gloves: Alpinestars Celer V2
Pants: Alpinestars Copper V2
Boots: Harley-Davidson Hagerman

Both Glides retail for $29,999 in Vivid Black. The Gunship Gray versions are priced at $30,574. Supply shortages due to Covid have forced H-D to exact a $1,000 surcharge.

Optional on Grand American tourers is Harley’s Cornering Rider Safety Enhancements package, formerly called Reflex Defensive Rider System (RDRS). It employs a 6-axis IMU to manage cornering traction control with ride modes, cornering ABS with linked braking, drag-torque slip control, hill-hold control, and tire-pressure monitoring. It’s a $1,025 upcharge.

2022 Harley-Davidson Road Glide ST and Street Glide ST
The iconic batwing fairing on the Street Glide ST is the key difference from the Road Glide. As it mounts to the handlebar rather than the frame, the SG is more susceptible to crosswind inputs than the RG.


The Street Glide is the lighter ST, scaling in at 814 lbs in ready-to-ride form, and its less-expansive batwing fairing adds to the perception. The cockpit is roomy and accommodating, with a handlebar that rises up and sits at an angle. Four analog gauges reside just under the tinted low-profile windscreen, and they’re flanked by a pair of speakers and mirrors integrated at the fairing edges. The touchscreen TFT info/navigation panel sits just above the upper triple-clamp.

The larger fairing on the Road Glide adds visual heft to a rider’s perception, backed up by the bike’s 842-lb curb weight. Here, the vivid TFT touchscreen panel sits front and center just under the low-profile, darkly tinted windshield. The info screen is flanked by a fuel gauge and voltmeter, with a pair of speakers further outboard. A traditional analog speedometer and tachometer pairing reside just ahead of the handlebar mounts. Switchgear on both Glides is the familiar H-D array, including the dual turnsignal buttons.

2022 Harley-Davidson Road Glide ST and Street Glide ST
Both Glide STs feature longer shocks that deliver a bit of extra wheel travel.

The 117 fires up with a rumble and the familiar potato-potato thumping from below. The clutch engagement point is easy to ascertain, and, helped by the engine’s immense low-end grunt, you’d need to be a fool to stall the Glides when pulling away from a stop.

Pushrod valve actuation and air cooling suggest a lack of modern technology, but Harley’s M-8 functions extraordinarily well. As its name implies, the V-Twin breathes through four valves per cylinder, and they never need adjusting thanks to H-D’s hydraulic overhead valves. Power from the V-Twin is omnipresent, delivering a satisfying oomph at nearly any engine speed, eventually running out of breath near its 5,500-rpm redline. Rubber engine mounts eliminate harsh vibration from reaching a rider, and there aren’t many other powertrains that roll down the open road as smoothly and effortlessly as this one.

“A pushrod air-cooled V-Twin is our secret sauce,” said Brad Richards, H-D’s VP of design, who rode with us at the launch. “There’s something special about how it goes down the road.” And he’s right.

2022 Harley-Davidson Road Glide ST and Street Glide ST
The solo seats of the STs aren’t as nicely padded as the saddles on H-D’s more luxurious touring bikes. Passengers will be even less comfortable.

Suspension consists of a dual-bending-valve 49mm Showa fork paired with emulsion-technology rear shocks and single-knob hydraulic preload adjustment. Harley pursues low seat heights more fervently than any other manufacturer, but the STs buck that trend somewhat by fitting shocks from the Road King to deliver 3 inches of rear wheel travel, up from the Road Glide Special’s 2 inches. Seat height shimmies upward to a still-low 28 inches.

Both STs feel similar when bending into corners, despite the drastically different fairings, banking over easier than you might imagine for an 800-lb bagger. It’s a willing and stable platform while unwinding a twisty road, but let’s not confuse it with a sportbike. Floorboards begin to drag when leaned over to 32 degrees – enough to have fun, but nowhere near the 55-degree leans that KOTB champ Kyle Wyman can achieve on his Road Glide racebike.

Solid braking performance is provided by Brembo 4-piston calipers operating via braided lines and clamping on 11.8-inch (300mm) discs. The single rear brake has the same specs. The front tire is a 130/60-19 bias-ply, while a 180/55-18 resides out back.

2022 Harley-Davidson Road Glide ST and Street Glide ST
The Street Glide ST’s cockpit features a quartet of chrome-rimmed analog instruments augmented by a color TFT touchscreen.

There wasn’t an opportunity to fully delve into the Boom! Box GTS infotainment system, but it seems to be well sorted and includes Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility. Audio quality via the radio is closer to adequate than exceptional.

Ergonomics are very good, but not beyond reproach. The rear brake pedal is mounted rather high, and the Heavy Breather intake intrudes on knee space when raising a boot to apply rear braking. Also, shift action of the 6-speed gearbox is rather clunky. The seat feels supportive for an hour, but it’s not up to the cushy standards of Harley’s other touring models. And while we’re nitpicking, I’d like to see a larger gear-position indicator and adjustable levers on my $30k bagger.


This has been a hotly debated topic among H-D aficionados, with no clear winner aside from subjective judgments on style. In windy conditions, I much preferred the greater stability of the Road Glide, as stubborn crosswinds on the Street Glide’s bar-mounted fairing applied marginal unwanted inputs to the steering. The Road Glide’s triple splitstream vented fairing also delivers smoother airflow around a rider.

2022 Harley-Davidson Road Glide ST and Street Glide ST
The Street Glide ST is lighter than the Road Glide ST, but its handlebar-mounted batwing fairing requires more steering effort.

That said, the Street Glide is slightly lighter, and its fairing attached directly to the handlebar allows a rider to wriggle his/her way through dense traffic more adeptly. And for some, its batwing fairing is irresistible.


It’s not a surprise to have enjoyed seat time on these new Glide STs. They’re basically the same bikes that we’ve grown to appreciate for their over-the-road prowess and surprising agility but are now blessed with more power and tasteful high-end finishes. Perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised when a $30,000 motorcycle delivers the goods. And the Road/Street Glide STs include a pair of hardshell saddlebags in which to carry those goods more than 220 miles between fill-ups.

2022 Harley-Davidson Road Glide ST and Street Glide ST
The Road Glide ST in Gunship Gray and the Street Glide ST in Vivid Black, the only two color options for both bikes.

2022 Harley-Davidson Road Glide ST/Street Glide ST Specs

Base Price: $29,999 (Vivid Black)
Price as Tested: $31,599 (Gunship Gray, Cornering Rider Safety Enhancements)
Website: harley-davidson.com
Engine Type: Air-cooled, transverse 45-degree V-Twin, OHV w/ 4 valves per cyl.
Displacement: 1,923cc (117ci)
Bore x Stroke: 103.5 x 114.3mm
Horsepower: 106 hp @ 4,750 rpm (at the crank)
Torque: 127 lb-ft @ 3,750 rpm (at the crank)
Transmission: 6-speed, hydraulically actuated slip/assist wet clutch
Final Drive: Belt
Wheelbase: 64 in.
Rake/Trail: 26 degrees/6.7 in.
Seat Height: 28.1/28.0 in.
Wet Weight: 842/814 lbs.
Fuel Capacity: 6 gal.

The post 2022 Harley-Davidson Road Glide ST and Street Glide ST | Review first appeared on Rider Magazine.
Source: RiderMagazine.com

You Meet the Healthiest People on a Honda

You Meet the Healthiest People on a Honda
Overlooking Rondout Creek in upstate New York on the 2021 Honda Trail 125, and feeling better with each passing mile. Photos by the author.

After almost 25 years of riding, I came to regard my enthusiasm for all things motorcycle as an infinite source of pleasure, but little did I know just how crucial one specific bike – a Honda Trail 125 – would be in helping me recover from the sickest point in my life.

The story begins on the morning of my scheduled Covid-19 vax in February 2021, when, as luck would have it, I awoke with flu-like symptoms. Testing revealed I was positive, so I began my mandatory two-week quarantine at home. It felt just like the flu – no big deal. But 17 days after that positive test – well after the flu symptoms had disappeared – a new wave of symptoms emerged which would change my life indefinitely.

You Meet the Healthiest People on a Honda
The author and his bikes.

GOOD READ: “The Long Ride,” by Jamie Elvidge,
about a cleansing solo ride from NYC to Key West

The worst of them was extreme vertigo, an intense feeling of rapid dizziness, confusing disorientation, and a total loss of balance. Sometimes, moving half an inch in any direction would feel like falling off a tall building – my body would tense up, break out in a cold sweat, and then shake uncontrollably, which further exacerbated the vertigo. I was completely incapacitated, unable to perform even the simplest tasks autonomously.

Thus began the arduous journey back to normalcy, starting with learning how to walk again. It sounds farcical now, but walking speed was initially a challenge that took a solid week of practice to overcome. Stumbling forward at 2 mph felt more like warp speed, as my addled mind struggled to process motion like an old bogged down 386 computer. I had to stop every few feet to sustain my balance and reassure myself that, indeed, I was only walking! All the while, a persistent feeling of dizziness dominated every waking hour, punctuated by roiling headaches that could not be appeased.

You Meet the Healthiest People on a Honda
Outfitted with a comfy aftermarket seat and a big top box, 12-to 14-hour days on the Trail are not uncommon for me.

These migraines were always aggravated by barometric pressure in the atmosphere, so if it rained, I was completely out of commission. The only escape was sleep. When I closed my eyes, bright bursts of a hot white color would interrupt my rest, like lightning strikes but with more pronounced durations. Any sound, no matter how faint, would immediately wake me. A strange new sensitivity to light compounded the symptoms, making any surroundings other than a soundproof, pitch-black room unbearable. It was a depressing period, to say the least.

During this early stage of the disease, I’d often stagger down to the garage to gaze at my collection of motorcycles. Each one of them triggered an avalanche of memories, beckoning me to recall better times. “Remember all the states we’ve visited together?” queried my BMW R 1200 RT. “Don’t you miss the saucy growl of my small block V-Twin?” purred my Moto Guzzi V7 Racer. “Don’t forget the winter you took me all apart and got me running again!” commanded my Yamaha YSR50.

You Meet the Healthiest People on a Honda
My favorite local loops on the Trail always revolve around the Hudson River, seen here from the peaks of Bear Mountain State Park’s Perkins Memorial Drive.

In those early post-infection days, the daydreaming in the garage vacillated between a resolute desire to get back in the saddle and a bleak hopelessness that I would never recover.

Over the course of the next few months, I graduated past walking and onto running, but only in spurts. I could drive my car again, albeit slowly. Eventually I dared to ride my motorcycles for short distances, if only to get the old juices flowing once more. But riding with “long Covid” symptoms was a profound handicap. The headaches and dizziness could burst like a thunderclap in my head, ferocious and debilitating.

You Meet the Healthiest People on a Honda
Close to the shore on Henry Hudson Drive. A New York state of mind!

Most worrisome was the “brain fog,” which would appear suddenly, obliterating my ability to focus on anything for more than few seconds. It happened to me once while hustling my 600-plus-pound BMW RT through a mountain sweeper, where I wound up in the opposite lane facing oncoming traffic, unsure of how I got there. Other times, I would suddenly forget the basics, like which side of the handlebars the clutch lever was on. My brain was frustratingly dysfunctional.

Adding to these mental challenges were the physical trials. I’ve been riding successive generations of BMW’s venerable RT Series for over 15 years, but I suddenly felt intimidated by the size, weight, and speed of my 2015 R 1200 RT. Low-speed maneuvering was unsteady at best, and anything quick or technical scrambled my mental processing to the point of paralysis. It was a watershed period in my life.

You Meet the Healthiest People on a Honda
Venturing off-road is an entirely new experience for me, but the Trail’s light weight and forgiving nature always encourage further exploration.

It took me many years of dedicated practice to achieve some modicum of riding proficiency, and it was exceedingly difficult for me to accept that many of my abilities had vanished. Riding my full-size motorcycles – once almost the most delightful activity I could imagine – had morphed into something nerve-wracking and dangerous. I knew I wanted to keep riding, but I had to slow down until my symptoms and skills both improved.

Since taming the twisties on my large-displacement bikes was out of the question, I had to find a way to pair what little was left of my riding skills with a suitable machine that was still a motorcycle. (In my mind, riding an automatic twist-and-go scooter would have been acquiescing to defeat.) Enter Honda’s Trail 125, Big Red’s rough-and-ready retro miniMOTO. Simple, lightweight, and slower than a tranquilized sloth, it was the perfect choice for my circumstance.

You Meet the Healthiest People on a Honda
Purposefully riding away from the incessant traffic and distractions of modern society, one can find peaceful bliss off the beaten path.

Through persistent searching, I nabbed one and headed off in search of slow lanes through local hamlets and forests. It was here, on these solitary explorations, that the Trail began to nurse me back to health.

Regardless of our diverse backgrounds and brand preferences, we all recognize the therapeutic value that motorcycles provide. Some refer to what the late psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi famously termed “flow,” or the mental state in which a person is fully immersed in the moment, completely focused and free from all discursive thoughts. The late Rush drummer Neil Peart described the feeling of moto-motion as a subconscious reminder of a mother gently rocking her baby. Every one of us who has swung a leg over the saddle has our own individual reasons why two-wheeled moving mediation therapy just plain works.

You Meet the Healthiest People on a Honda
My maiden voyage on the Trail in August 2021, which also marks the first time I ever embarked on a mostly off-road route.

So it was for me on the Trail, ambling down rutted paths in the woods, scooting along serpentine bicycle paths, and focusing only on the basic rudiments of discovering how to ride again. Like relearning to walk, it was initially frustrating, but the diminutive Honda’s mellow personality encouraged me to just keep trying anyway. Wherever we were, it beckoned me to keep pushing: “Let’s go! Just a little further!”

It’s difficult to describe the character of an inanimate object, but the Trail never judged me for my mistakes the way my big bikes seem to do. We started out on local 40- to 50-mile loops, but before long, we were ripping through nearby states for 300- to 400-mile weekends. I felt like a real rider again, enthusiastically kicking the semi-automatic transmission through its four gears and unleashing all eight of the miniscule thumper’s stampeding horses as we bombed down the backroads.

You Meet the Healthiest People on a Honda
Accessorizing the Trail to spruce up the appearance and add healthy doses of functionality, comfort, and storage cemented the bond between man and machine.

Granted, all this action was despairingly slow by objective standards – but it was engaging in the way that only a real motorcycle can be. This continuous engagement is what rebuilt my ability to focus on a singular task for prolonged periods of time – the very foundation of riding well. Thanks to the eager Trail, I was still in the game, still moving forward, and gradually building my confidence back up. According to the GPS, I never exceeded 59 mph on the modest Honda, but in terms of fun, I might as well have been leading the pack around the Isle of Man TT!

Encouraged by the progress, I outfitted my Trail with accoutrements to increase functionality and add some flair to its spartan workhorse aesthetic. A cavernous Givi 58-liter top case provides ample storage, while a cushy aftermarket seat, a wireless phone charger, auxiliary LED lighting, an Opmid gauge cluster, and toasty Koso Apollo heated grips make for a more comfortable traveling experience.

You Meet the Healthiest People on a Honda

Molding this Trail as uniquely my own cemented the bond between man and machine almost as much as our rides themselves did. Ultimately, I’m certain I wouldn’t have recovered so far, so fast, without this bright red miniMOTO as a willing partner.

Today, I accept that Covid-19 has impaired me, perhaps permanently. My innate senses, mental processing, and physical reaction times still aren’t what they used to be, but I’m confident that over time they can be restored. Indeed, these days I find myself mixing in more rides on my full-sized motorcycles as I relearn how to pilot them competently again.

In the meantime, I want to sincerely thank Honda for imbuing this spunky little Trail with character – one that brings all the essential healing joys of wind therapy to the beginner and expert alike, even if it is in the slow lane.

The post You Meet the Healthiest People on a Honda first appeared on Rider Magazine.
Source: RiderMagazine.com

2022 Kawasaki Z650RS | First Ride Review

2022 Kawasaki Z650RS review
The all-new 2022 Kawasaki Z650RS brings retro style to Team Green’s middleweight Z lineup. Photos by Kevin Wing.

The last bike I rode before swinging a leg over the 2022 Kawasaki Z650RS was a 1975 Honda CB400F SuperSport. I’ve owned this Honda for more than 30 years and, having just come back from Moto41 motorcycle restorations in Santa Ana, California, it’s as new as a 47-year-old bike can be. While not a Kawasaki, there’s an interesting juxtaposition comparing a modern retro throwback to an OG member of the era.

Check out Rider’s 2022 Motorcycle Buyers Guide

2022 Kawasaki Z650RS review
The 2022 Kawasaki Z650RS is available in Candy Emerald Green or Metallic Moondust Gray/Ebony for $8,999. The 50th anniversary edition in Candy Diamond Brown (not shown) is $9,249.

Joining the Z900RS in Kawasaki’s lineup, the Z650RS in Candy Emerald Green or Metallic Moondust Gray/Ebony retails for $8,999, while the 50th anniversary edition in Candy Diamond Brown is $9,249. When the CB400F was new in 1975, it retailed for $1,433, or $7,818 in 2022 dollars. The Z costs more but, considering its performance and technological advancements over the CB, it’s a bargain.

The price of the Z650RS becomes a little harder to justify when compared to its half-brother stablemate, the non-RS Z650 ABS model, retails for $8,049. Considering the Z650RS and Z650 share the same engine and chassis, the retro styling of the RS comes at a $950 premium.

2022 Kawasaki Z650RS review
The retro-styled Kawasaki Z650RS is built on the same solid, reliable platform as the Z650, Ninja 650, and Versys 650.

Producing an extra 21 hp while weighing just 5 lbs more than the AARP-eligible Honda, the Ninja-derived 649cc parallel-Twin scuttles the Z650RS through a tight set of twisties with fervor. The motorcycle’s chassis is solid and up to the task, but depending on rider weight and aggression level, the non-adjustable fork and preload-only adjustable shock can get overwhelmed. Nothing a skilled rider can’t compensate for, but it’s clear the RS is suspended to meet a price point as well as the needs of a variety of riders in a variety of situations, which has baked-in limitations.

2022 Kawasaki Z650RS review
The 659cc parallel-Twin in the Z650RS makes 67 hp at 8,000 rpm and 48.5 lb-ft of torque at 6,500 rpm.

The fuel system of the Z650RS features a dual throttle valve configuration, with the main valves directly attached to the cable extending back from the twistgrip and the secondary valves controlled by the bike’s ECU. The two-step process, according to Kawasaki, endeavors to “precisely regulate intake airflow to ensure a natural, linear response.” However, in lower gears at around-town speeds, throttle application felt abrupt. No matter how smoothly I attempted to modulate a steady throttle, the Z650RS responded by light-switching between acceleration and deceleration. At higher speeds in higher gears, however, there was a more rheostatic throttle response. Given such inconsistent behavior, I wouldn’t swap the Kawi’s EFI for the Honda’s carburetors. But ask me again when it comes time to clean those four carbs.

2022 Kawasaki Z650RS review
Classic round headlight is powered by a modern LED. Bullet-shaped gauges add to throwback style.

Sometimes you just don’t realize how good you have it until you’re physically reminded. Clutch pull on the Honda is hastening arthritis in my left hand. Working the clutch lever in stop-and-go city traffic has the muscles and tendons in my hand and forearm pleading for respite after an hour of riding. The Z, in contrast, features a slip/assist clutch that offers a feather-light pull. Not only does it lessen the amount of strength required to operate the clutch, it also reduces the amount of engine braking at the rear wheel during downshifts – a modern luxury that has spoiled us.

With no other motorcycling option, I drove a cage from my home in Long Beach, California, to attend the Z650RS press launch that began in downtown Hollywood. The notion of navigating the Honda through LA’s rush-hour traffic was outweighed by my desire to survive. The CB400F’s ancient brakes seem to be carved from balsa wood.

2022 Kawasaki Z650RS review
Cast wheels are designed to mimic spoked rims. They’re shod with Dunlop Sportmax Roadsport 2 tires.

The retro-styled Kawi employs fully modern dual 300mm front discs squeezed by two-piston Nissin calipers, which providing all the braking performance I needed. There was good feel at the lever, allowing me to increase or decrease pressure as warranted. The single rear disc was equally praiseworthy, and the whole package gets an added level of safety with standard ABS.

The seating position and rider-machine interface of the Z650RS is everything you’d expect of a sport standard – comfy and user-friendly. From the reach to the handlebars, bend in the knees, positioning of the footrests, and width of the seat, the RS just feels right. Whether around town, in the canyons, or on the freeway, I struggled to find something ergonomic to complain about.

2022 Kawasaki Z650RS review
The 2022 Kawasaki Z650RS has the agreeable ergonomics of a sport standard, with a modest seat height and a user-friendly riding position.

Just over a yard (31.5 inches) separates the top of the seat from the pavement, keeping the Z650RS manageable for the inseams of most riders. Combined with the bike’s low curb weight of 412 pounds, the Z650RS is lightweight and feels even lighter once in motion. A rubber-mounted handlebar helps nullify the already minimal amount of engine buzz, while 5-way adjustable clutch and brake levers allow for customization of settings between hands big and small.

There’s no reason why I should fixate on the fact that the Z650RS has a helmet lock, other than it being one of those useful and inexpensive conveniences that many modern motorcycles now lack. Don’t get me started on what passes for toolkits these days.

2022 Kawasaki Z650RS review
The round analog gauges are handsome, and the LCD screen in the center is useful and discreet.

Instrumentation is a matter of old-school clocks meeting new-school multi-functionality. The analog speedo and tach are era-appropriate and nicely outfitted with chrome bezels, while the LCD screen features easy-to-read white letters on a black background and includes a gear-position indicator, clock, and fuel gauge. Eat your heart out, 1975!

Styling of the Z650RS is a mash-up of new meets old, which will most likely spark unresolved arguments of a subjective nature. While not an inherently smooth inline-Four like my CB, the Kawi’s parallel-Twin is a better engine choice for reducing cost, complexity, maintenance, and weight. It’s bulletproof, too, getting its neck wrung out on bikes ranging from the Versys 650 to flat-track racebikes. The cast wheels resemble the spoked wheels of distant-past KZ650 models, though later KZs were outfitted with cast wheels.

2022 Kawasaki Z650RS review
Reminiscent of the old-school UJMs, the Z650RS brings modern performance and technology to the table while delivering solid value.

Then there’s the exhaust. What first attracted me to the 400 Four was its unmistakably beautiful exhaust system. While the Z900RS holds true to its ’70s era roots with a long-swept pipe ending in a chrome muffler, Kawasaki chose to equip the Z650RS with the same stubby Versys-esque muffler found on the Z650. Another visual eyesore is the parts-bin radiator made obvious by its unused mounting tabs and too-wide width forcing the ugly routing of the return and overflow tubes. When you’re paying a premium for style, details matter.

Available color schemes are spot-on for the era, especially for the Candy Emerald Green version with its use of pinstripes and raised Kawasaki tank emblem. Blinkers on all the RS models are modern with transparent lenses encasing colored LED lights, not the saucer-shaped disco-age variety. A must-have upgrade is the chrome grab bar available as an accessory from the Kawasaki parts catalog.

2022 Kawasaki Z650RS review
Fuel capacity of the Z650RS is just 3.2 gallons.

For now, I’ll keep my Honda. I’ve owned it for so long, it’d be like an itchy phantom limb if it weren’t in my garage. But, given the choice between buying one today (clean examples will set you back anywhere from $5,000 to $7,000) and buying a brand-new Z650RS, the decision would hinge on riding intentions and wrenching ability.

The Honda holds the upper hand in the coolness factor by way of its authenticity, but it is seriously compromised in the harsh light of modern transportation and pales in comparison to the performance and ability of the Z650RS. A daily commuter in La La Land the Honda is not. There are also mechanical concerns such as adjusting points, syncing carburetors, and a host of other woes old bike ownership demands.

2022 Kawasaki Z650RS review
2022 Kawasaki Z650RS in Metallic Moondust Gray/Ebony

The Kawasaki has the ability to be whatever a rider wants it to be: commuter, sportbike, sport-tourer, or weekend runabout. The Z650RS, like many of the old standards, is built to conquer it all. Throw in all its wonderful modern conveniences and reliability, there’s little to worry about. Lube and adjust the chain, change the oil regularly, keep the battery charged, and just ride. If you’re attracted to old-school cool styling but want to avoid old-school bike ownership, you can get the best of both worlds with the Z650RS.

2022 Kawasaki Z650RS Specs

Base Price: $8,999
Website: kawasaki.com
Engine Type: Liquid-cooled, transverse parallel-Twin, DOHC w/ 4 valves per cyl.
Displacement: 649cc
Bore x Stroke: 83.0 x 60.0mm
Horsepower: 67 hp @ 8,000 rpm
Torque: 48.5 lb-ft @ 6,500 rpm
Transmission: 6-speed, cable-actuated slip/assist wet clutch
Final Drive: O-ring chain
Wheelbase: 55.3 in.
Rake/Trail: 24.0 degrees/3.9 in.
Seat Height: 31.5 in.
Wet Weight: 419 lbs
Fuel Capacity: 3.2 gals.

The post 2022 Kawasaki Z650RS | First Ride Review first appeared on Rider Magazine.
Source: RiderMagazine.com

Honda Announces 2022-2023 Returning Models

2022 Honda CBR1000RR-R Fireblade SP 30th Anniversary
The 2022 Honda CBR1000RR-R Fireblade SP celebrates the 30th anniversary of the Fireblade. It’s one of 10 returning models Honda has announced for 2022-2023.

Earlier this year, Honda announced some of its returning models for the 2022 model year, including the Africa Twin, Super Cub, Gold Wing, NC750X, Rebels (300, 500, 1100), Fury, CB/R500s (CB500X, CB500F, CBR500R), CBR600RR, and CBR1000RR.

Another crop of returning 2022 models, as well as a couple for 2023, has been announced. Joining those listed above are 10 additional models in four categories, including sport, miniMOTO, dual-sport, and scooter.

Headlining the announcement is the legendary CBR1000RR-R Fireblade SP, which in 2022 adopts important new performance upgrades to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Fireblade’s original introduction in Europe (followed a year later in the U.S.).

2022 Honda CBR1000RR-R Fireblade SP 30th Anniversary
2022 Honda CBR1000RR-R Fireblade SP and 1992 Honda CBR900RR Fireblade

Also returning for 2022 are the CBR650R sportbike and CB650R naked bike, both of which come standard with ABS. On the miniMOTO front, the 2023 edition of the popular Grom is back, as is the 2022 edition of the retro Trail 125. The PCX also returns for 2022, continuing as the benchmark model among scooters, and joined by the 2023 Ruckus.

Three dual-sport machines were also announced – the popular CRF300L; its adventure-focused sibling, the CRF300L Rally; and the classic XR650L, the latter in a new color.

“We recognize that motorcycling comes in many forms, a fact that is reflected in today’s announcement,” said Brandon Wilson, American Honda Manager of Sports & Experiential. “The models included are each unique, but they share a commitment to delivering the enjoyment of two-wheel recreation. We’re proud of the disparate nature of the motorcycling community, and we’re happy to serve all of its members in 2022 and beyond.”

2022 Honda CBR1000RR-R Fireblade SP

2022 Honda CBR1000RR-R Fireblade SP 30th Anniversary
2022 Honda CBR1000RR-R Fireblade SP 30th Anniversary

Read our 2021 Honda CBR1000RR-R Fireblade SP review

To celebrate the original, groundbreaking CBR900RR and a record of continuous challenges since the introduction of that game-changer, Honda offers a stunning 30th Anniversary version of the CBR1000RR-R Fireblade SP. For 2022, development of this model’s inline four-cylinder engine centers on mid-corner acceleration: the intake ports, airbox, airbox funnels and exhaust mid-section are all revised to deliver extra midrange power. The final-drive sprocket has gone up three teeth for stronger acceleration through each ratio, and quick-shifter performance has been upgraded. Honda Selectable Torque Control (HSTC) has also been optimized, with feedback from HRC’s riders, for refined rear-tire traction management, and throttle feel has improved even further.

The 2022 Honda CBR1000RR-R Fireblade SP will be available in Pearl White with an MSRP of $28,900, and it will be in dealerships in July 2022.

2022 Honda CBR650R

2022 Honda CBR650R
2022 Honda CBR650R

Designed to be appreciated on the street, but drawing inspiration from the supersport realm, the CBR650R excites riders with its sharp lines, complete bodywork, and corner-carving abilities, but it also delivers comfort, practicality, and value. A full-fairing sport variant of the standard CB650R, this model has a high-quality Showa Separate Function Big Piston fork, stylish aesthetics and excellent emissions performance. With a finely tuned chassis delivering light, responsive handling, and a high-revving inline 4-cylinder engine that offers enjoyable power, the CBR650R is exciting to ride and a pleasure to own, a gratifying intersection of values for the modern sportbike rider.

The 2022 Honda CBR650R will be available in Matte Black Metallic with an MSRP of $9,799, and it will be in dealerships in August 2022.

2022 Honda CB650R

2022 Honda CB650R
2022 Honda CB650R

Honda’s iconic CB moniker evokes a proud legacy of middleweight machines that boast user-friendly four-cylinder engines mated to nimble, confidence-inspiring chassis. That’s also an accurate description of the CB650R, which features a Showa Separate Function Big Piston fork, excellent emissions performance, striking aesthetics, and comfortable ergonomics. Showcasing Honda’s Neo Sports Café design theme through its smooth lines and compact packaging, the CB650R is a popular and enjoyable naked bike that builds on the CB history of catering to diverse riding experiences, from daily commutes to exhilarating outings on tight, twisting backroads.

The 2022 Honda CB650R will be available in Matte Black Metallic with an MSRP of $9,299, and it will be in dealerships in September 2022.

2023 Honda Grom

2023 Honda Grom
2023 Honda Grom

Read our 2022 Honda Grom review

The undisputed emperor of the miniMOTO world and the spawner of a vibrant subculture of fun-seekers, Honda’s Grom inspires a cross-demographic army of enthusiasts who embrace the diminutive model with remarkable passion. Its low seat height and approachability make it an unintimidating option for new riders to learn with, while its modular styling and peppy performance make it an entertaining plaything for experienced riders and a customization platform for those looking for an amusing project. It’s no wonder that the Grom continues to be one of the powersports industry’s most popular motorcycle models.

The 2023 Honda Grom will be available in Matte Black Metallic, Cherry Red, and Force Silver Metallic for the non-ABS model (MSRP is $3,499) and Pearl White for the ABS model (MSRP is $3,799). It will be in dealerships in April 2022.

2022 Honda Trail 125

2022 Honda Trail 125
2022 Honda Trail 125

Read our 2021 Honda Trail 125 review

When it comes to fun, approachable, popular miniMOTO models, no manufacturer even comes close to Honda, and the Trail 125 is a prime example of one such machine that also pays tribute to the past. The model harkens back to a golden era of motorcycling when there was seemingly a CT model on the bumper rack of every motor home but, like Honda’s nostalgic Monkey and Super Cub, it also incorporates the modern joys of practical design and hassle-free technology. Compared to the urban-focused Super Cub on which it is based, the Trail 125 has a number of rugged upgrades, making it ideal for casual trekking on- and off-road.

The 2022 Honda Trail 125 will be available in Glowing Red with an MSRP of $3,999, and it will be in dealerships in April 2022.

2022 Honda CRF300L

2022 Honda CRF300L
2022 Honda CRF300L

Read our 2021 Honda CRF300L / CRF300L Rally review

The motorcycle industry’s top-selling dual-sport model, the CRF300L boasts strong power, low weight and excellent on- and off-road performance, while also delivering unparalleled value, reliability, and styling. The model has a broad powerband, predictable handling, and aesthetic cues that are carried over from Honda’s CRF Performance line, and it’s available in standard and ABS versions, both of which are ready to provide low-cost transportation and true dual-sport adventure.

The 2022 Honda CRF300L will be available in Red with an MSRP of $5,349 without ABS and $5,649 with ABS. It will be in dealerships in April 2022.

2022 Honda CRF300L Rally

2022 Honda CRF300L Rally
2022 Honda CRF300L Rally

Read our 2021 Honda CRF300L / CRF300L Rally review

Based on the standard CRF300L, but with comfort-focused upgrades including handguards, more fuel capacity, and a frame-mounted windscreen, the CRF300L Rally evokes images of the Dakar Rally while delivering practicality and value. More suitable for long-distance adventuring than its standard sibling, the Rally version is also a stellar commuter.

The 2022 Honda CRF300L Rally will be available in Red with an MSRP of $6,099 without ABS and $6,399 with ABS. It will be in dealerships in April 2022.

2022 Honda XR650L

2022 Honda XR650L
2022 Honda XR650L

Yes, the XR650L has been a familiar part of Honda’s lineup for many years, but there’s a reason the tried-and-true dual-sport model continues to be popular with customers. It’s highly adaptable, opening the door to adventure on single-track trails, dirt roads, and backroads, while also delivering capable transportation in the city. The natural result of those characteristics – plus a proud Baja heritage – is a diehard following of riders, who will be pleased to know that the model has received a styling facelift for 2022.

The 2022 Honda XR650L will be available in White with an MSRP of $6,999, and it will be in dealerships in April 2022.

2022 Honda PCX

2022 Honda PCX
2022 Honda PCX

Honda’s PCX is the ultimate tool for tackling urban environments in style, continuing to set the standard for scooter design and technology. Equipped with a freeway-capable engine, the PCX is equally suitable for new riders and more experienced customers, delivering performance, fuel economy, great handling, a comfortable ride, and simple operation – all attributes that are vital in the scooter category.

The 2022 Honda PCX will be available in Pearl White with an MSRP of $3,899 without ABS and $4,099 with ABS. It will be in dealerships in April 2022.

2023 Honda Ruckus

2023 Honda Ruckus
2023 Honda Ruckus

When it comes to little two-wheelers that ooze personality and attitude, it’s tough to top Honda’s unique Ruckus, the model that launched an entire scooter-customization subculture. With an exposed frame and dual round headlights contributing to an industrial-looking design, plus practical features like reliability, fuel efficiency, and nimble handling, the Ruckus a great choice as a platform for personalization or affordable, around-town transportation.

The 2023 Honda Ruckus will be available in Gray, White/Metallic Blue, and Metallic Blue/Tan with an MSRP of $2,899, and it will be in dealerships in April 2022.

For more information or to find a Honda dealer near you, visit powersports.honda.com.

The post Honda Announces 2022-2023 Returning Models first appeared on Rider Magazine.
Source: RiderMagazine.com

Retrospective: 1990-2002 Honda ST1100

1990-2002 Honda ST1100

YEAR/MODEL: 2002 Honda ST1100

OWNER: Clement Salvadori

HOMETOWN: Atascadero, California

Back in the late 1980s, the European market was as important to Honda as the American one. And motorcycles were popular, as cars and car insurance were more expensive than they were here. The demand was quite different, with Yanks liking big cruisers and narrowly focused sporting machines, while those east of the Atlantic had more of a practical approach, favoring motorcycles that could be used to commute on workdays, and then go two-up on a vacation.

Each motorcycle company is constantly looking around to see what the competition is doing. The Japanese Big Four undoubtedly have their own domestic spying networks, trying to keep track of each other’s doings, but there are also the local manufacturers. In the U.S., the only indigenous competition was from Harley-Davidson, but in Europe numerous homegrown marques were taking their share of the market.

1990-2002 Honda ST1100

In the late 1980s, BMW, with its new four-cylinder K-bikes, was doing quite well in the touring market. The head of Honda Germany decided he wanted a piece of that action and got permission from Japan to design his own bike, a sport-touring model, with emphasis on touring but still agile.

Hence the ST1100, introduced in Europe in 1990 as the Pan-European, with a wind-protecting fairing, removable saddlebags, and shaft drive. Ride to work in the rain, load the bags for a trip, and never have to worry about cleaning and adjusting a chain. This was an all-new machine, with a transverse-mounted (meaning the crankshaft was at a right angle to the axles) V-4 engine, putting out close to 100 rear-wheel horses.

1990-2002 Honda ST1100

This was no lightweight, as the ST weighed about 700 pounds with the huge 7.4-gallon gas tank filled. But the blessing was that the tank was beneath the seat, keeping the weight down low, which is where many sensible touring riders like to have it. That required a fuel pump pushing the gas up to the four 34.5mm Keihins – carburetors in the coming age of fuel injection. No matter, as the carbs did an excellent and trouble-free job of keeping the engine spinning. A choke lever on the handlebar was a reminder of the carburetors.

The liquid-cooled V-4, with a bore of 73mm and a stroke of 64.8mm, had a total capacity of 1,084cc. It used double overhead camshafts, with a single timing belt running all four camshafts and four valves per cylinder. Valve adjustment was by shims, not always appreciated by home mechanics, but service intervals were set at a fairly lengthy 16,000 miles. Ignition was transistorized, with electronic advance. And the oversquare engine pulled strong all the way from 2,000 to the 8,000-rpm redline.

1990-2002 Honda ST1100

Down in the bowels of the wet-sump engine, everything was built to last, with almost four quarts of oil capacity and a cooler up front. It sat in a full-cradle steel frame (contributing to the bike’s hefty weight), which gave confidence to the rider when leaning hard into the curves at considerable speeds. Up front was a 41mm Showa cartridge fork, with Honda’s TRAC anti-dive mechanism and allowing nearly 6 inches of travel. No adjustments here. At the back, a single Showa shock, with adjustability for rebound damping and spring preload, offered nearly 5 inches of travel.

The longitudinal power ran back through a wet clutch and a cassette-style 5-speed transmission to the driveshaft. Aluminum three-spoke wheels used an 18-inch 110/80 tire on the front, a 160/70 17-incher on the back, with a shade over 61 inches between the axle centers.

The Europeans loved it – perhaps for no better reason than it was a good alternative to the BMWs, along with a bit more power. The American market got to see this bike a year or so after it was released east of the Atlantic. Several improvements were made after that first version, including raising the alternator output from 28 to 40 amps and offering a combined ABS and traction control system. The initial ABS, running from 1992 to ’95, had separate systems on the front and rear wheels, but an upgrade for ’96 used linked brakes. A mild upgrade of the windscreen arrived for the 1995 model year.

Most important for a motorcycle of this design is comfort. On this ’02 model, which belongs to yours truly, a Laminar Lip was added to the top of the windscreen to smooth airflow around my helmet, since I’m taller than average. A nice addition is over to the left of the instruments, where a hand-turned knob can alter the angle of the dual halogen lights; very simple, very useful. Fitting a tankbag on the plastic cover over the engine was simplified by a company called Bagster that makes Naugahyde covers for over 200 motorcycle models, to which a bag can be neatly clipped. That bag has logged a lot of miles, as I had it on my ’92 model, which was sold after 93,000 miles, and then on my then-new ’02 ST1100, which has 103,000 miles and counting.

The flattish saddle is comfortable for long two-up days, or even longer solo days, allowing the rider to move back and forth. The saddlebags are locked onto the bike, but they can be removed with only minor fuss. However, it is far more useful to have liners in the bags; just open the bags, take out the liners, and you are on your way.

1990-2002 Honda ST1100

A convenient frill on the ST is the handle under the left side of the saddle, which folds against the bike until pulled out 90 degrees to be very useful when lifting the bike onto the centerstand. Another much appreciated addition is the concealed crash bars on the fairing, allowing for a slow fall without doing any damage.

Big smiles could be seen at Honda Germany after the ST1100 appeared. They had given the competition a good kick in the old wazoo, with the ST soon winning all sorts of awards. And it was pretty much left unchanged for the next dozen years until the ST1300 debuted in 2003.

Throw a leg over that saddle, turn the key, push the button, clutch in, click into first, and the sheer, silent rush of power is exhilarating. And 500 miles with one fuel stop in between is always a temptation.

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Source: RiderMagazine.com