A Buffet of Bikes: A day at the Triumph Factory Demo Tour

Triumph knows a thing or two about comebacks. The British motorcycle manufacturer is one steeped in history, but not tied to tradition. They are well known for their historic bikes such as the Bonneville. However, after falling on hard times, they were reborn in the early ‘90s as a full-fledged modern manufacturer. Now, they offer a comprehensive line of bikes that both harken back to their past and compete with the best of the present.

Comebacks are more important than ever since the great recession. There’s an even greater effort now to draw new customers and younger riders onto a company’s bikes since the poor economy wiped out many repeat motorcycle customers. The reason for this is because many of those customers heavily financed their bike loans through their houses. I don’t think I need to tell you how that story ends after 2008. To cope, there are a few ways motorcycle companies are attempting to draw attention to their products in a continually shrinking marketplace. Some are offering new bikes at a cheaper price point. Others are making their new and existing products more visible through more aggressive marketing campaigns. However, the few and the brave are actually putting their bikes in the hands of these riders through riding events. One such company is Triumph with their Factory Demo Tour events.

Here’s how it works. First, go to the event’s website. Then, find a dealership using the tool on the site. The website will show you which dealers are holding the event and when. You can also choose which bikes you would like to ride. The best part is that it is all completely free. Don’t feel like registering beforehand? You can show up to the event as well with no prior reservation. However, the event fills up fast, so you may want to register beforehand and get there early to get the bikes you want. This specific event ran from 8a.m.-4p.m., and you can stay or go at any time. However, get there early if you are motivated to ride a specific bike.

There are some requirements to attend, but no more than what is common sense. First, you must have a valid motorcycle license. Second, you must wear the proper gear. Leave the flip-flops and shorts at home, squids. Proper gear means a DOT certified helmet, long pants, long-sleeved shirt, closed-toed shoes and motorcycle gloves. The shirt and long pants do not have to be motorcycle specific gear, but it is highly recommended. Plus, if you call ahead to the dealer you’re going to, you may be able to rent an item or two. Finally, there is no reckless riding. You ride in a group around 10-15 strong while being escorted by staff. If you get separated from the group (cough, like me, cough), there are plenty of escorts to take you through the full route and bring you back to the starting point. But is the event any fun? That’s what I set to find out when I went to Motoworks in Chicago.

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MotoGP 2011: The good old days are here today

All too often you hear people complaining about the state of motorsports. They state that it’s too expensive, there’s no fan community left, the racing is too safe, too boring, etc., wishing for a “simpler time.” They can never nail down the exact “simpler time,” but it existed at some point. Some say it was the ‘20s , or the ‘60s, or ‘80s, and then some just pick one year randomly and stick with that, say 1996. However, if you want to enjoy motorsports at its best from a racing and social angle, there is no better place than the MotoGP at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

MotoGP is the major league of motorcycle racing. Here, a who’s who of manufacturers and riders compete with some of the most technologically advanced motorcycles on the planet. However, unlike F1, NASCAR or Indy racing, the bikes are closely related to what you can buy at a dealership. They may not be identical, or the same models, but there is much more similarity than say a Fusion NASCAR car than a stock Fusion on the showroom floor.

But MotoGP is not only about the bikes, but the riders and the community as well. The race brought in bikers from all across the country to Indianapolis. For two days, the main road was closed down to allow motorcyclists to park and socialize. Here you could see large cruisers next to the fastest of superbikes while their owners traded stories. It got a bit rowdy at times, and there was a healthy amount of obnoxious engine revving, but for the most part it was a big party.

Come race day, everybody suits up (albeit with little to no safety gear for some ridiculous reason), and heads to Indianapolis Motor Speedway. You may be familiar with this the track from its most popular event, the Indy 500, but it has a road course as well. Plus, since MotoGP isn’t incredibly popular, you have more freedom to move around and see the various attractions available. It feels much less constricting than an event like the Indy 500, where you are shoulder to shoulder to someone while breathing in the smell of cheap beer and perspiration.

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Harley Davidson to unveil the new XR1200X tonight

When you think of Harley-Davidson, you probably think of cruisers with custom pipes, black leather and biker bars. Harleys are the classic American bike, and tonight the company will unveil its latest, the XR1200X.

The Harley-Davidson XR1200X breaks from contemporary Harley design and embraces the company’s racing roots. The bike is all black, including a blacked-out powertrain and exhaust and black wheels, leaving nothing to polish after a hard day’s ride. The XR1200X is aggressive enough to attract Bubba Blackwell and Seth Enslow, two extreme riders that both pulled off full flips on an early edition of the new Harley.

The XR1200X is being unveiled tonight at 6:30 PM CT in Harley-Davidson’s hometown, Milwaukee. The bike will be available at dealerships later this summer for $11,799.


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