Favorite Assignments of 2010
Monday, January 3, 2011
Another year at Motorcycle USA has flown by covering the ins and outs of the motorcycle industry. I feel lucky to be tasked with such interesting work, so in the New Year’s tradition of reflection on the year that was, here are my five favorite assignments of 2010.
Erik Buell Interview
Erik Buell Interview was a high-
light of our 2010 assignments.
Our interview with Erik Buell occurred three months after Harley-Davidson announced the demise of Buell Motorcycles. At the time, the sound of disappointment and shock still resonated in the company founder’s voice. Answering our questions as candidly as possible, legal agreements kept Buell from commenting on the finer details of his employment future and the terms of his split with H-D. Our hour-long phone conversation revealed one thing for certain: Buell’s vision of an American-made sportbike is far from dead.
Cactus League VFR Tour
Snow in Arizona? We found
plenty during our Spring Training
excursion aboard the new VFR.
We pitted the new Honda VFR1200F against a Kawasaki Concours 14 and Suzuki Hayabusa in an unusual comparison test, but the true highlight for me was our touring route. MCUSA Road Test Editor Adam Waheed and Video Editor Ray Gauger were my accomplices as we rode from Southern California to Arizona’s Cactus League. Our route included an unplanned 30-mile unpaved stretch, during which Adam masterfully dirt tracked a Hayabusa. We also jolted from Tucson up to Mount Lemmon - pure motorcycling bliss. Afterward caught a Spring Training game, then loaded up and headed home. Stay tuned for the full travel feature, getting queued up this winter as inspiration for that first ride of 2011.
German Iron Curtain Tour
Skirting the Iron Curtain in
Germany (above). Dancing
rockabilly motorcycle gangs of
Our brief day-long trek from Magdeburg, Germany to the southward Harz region was one of the most unusual in our riding/writing career. There to sample Schuberth Helmet’s new C3 flip-up touring lid, our route included a pair of stops on the former East German border. The Helmstedt-Marienborn checkpoint and another intact section of the inner border reminded us about the perils of the former Iron Curtain. It also made us more appreciative of the inherent freedom of the open road.
Our first trip to Japan saw us testing the new Bridgestone BT-023 tire. Turning test laps at the company’s exclusive proving grounds was an honor, but the off-bike memories of Japan are the most vibrant. The bullet trains, frantic bus stations and bright city lights had us in sensory overload. Meanwhile the Buddhist temples, Imperial gardens and cherry-blossomed backroads had us in zen-like repose. The strange food was delicious. The strange bathrooms surprising. The strange rockabilly dancing motorcycle gangs… strange, but entertaining!
2010 North West 200
We assumed our North West 200 invite from the Ireland Tourism Board was a practical joke from a friend or co-worker. But the airline tickets were legit and we woke up Transatlantic. The visit to the Emerald Isle would be our most memorable quest of the year. Much of this had to do with the hospitality of the country itself, the warmest international welcome we’ve ever had as American travelers.
The street mayhem that is the North West 200. This writer's favorite assignment of 2010.
Then there’s the race itself, with the North West 200 an event which could never exist in the litigious morass of America. Speeds of 200 mph on public roads, with almost yearly fatalities and a paddock stocked with plenty of personality – Irish road racing made quite an impression. Then to make sure our trip would be truly unforgettable, that pesky Icelandic volcano grounded air traffic and foiled our return plans. So we were forced to endure some extra days of quaffing Guinness in Belfast pubs… There are far worse fates in this life.
Follow Bart Madson on Google+