Sam Bendall Photography - LiveMotoFoto: Blog http://www.livemotofoto.com/blog en-us (C) Sam Bendall Photography - LiveMotoFoto livemotofoto@gmail.com (Sam Bendall Photography - LiveMotoFoto) Fri, 05 Jan 2018 19:01:00 GMT Fri, 05 Jan 2018 19:01:00 GMT http://www.livemotofoto.com/img/s/v-5/u551330685-o357392781-50.jpg Sam Bendall Photography - LiveMotoFoto: Blog http://www.livemotofoto.com/blog 120 80 The Best Motorcycle Travel Gear: Velomacchi 28L Roll-Top Pack and 50L Duffel Bag http://www.livemotofoto.com/blog/2018/1/the-best-motorcycle-travel-gear-velomacchi-28l-roll-top-pack-and-50l-duffel-bag  

I'm an absolute monster to all my motorcycle gear. My fiancée calls me "a little hurricane" because I cannot walk past something without the possibility of it getting utterly destroyed. When I get home my boots get ripped off, my bags are thrown to the corners of the apartment, not gently placed on the ground, and my phone even gets tossed on the table. I'm cautious with only my cameras, helmets, and computers but even they seem to take a fair beating too.  

For the past seven months, I've been battle testing a couple of products from Velomacchi, a small outfit up in Hood River, Oregon. Founded and run by Kevin Murray, Murray holds a degree in Industrial Design and worked as the Global Design Director at The North Face in Italy where it pioneered the Adventure Travel and technical carry gear categories. After leaving The North Face, he went on to create Syren Industrial a full-service product design and strategy house building award-winning product and brand solutions in the Technical Outdoor, Fire/Rescue and Military/Tactical categories.

Velomacchi is a completely made up word which essential means “velocity machine”. Derived from the latin veloci- for velocity and machina for machine. It sounds sexy, fast, and Italian. Kinda like me, except I'm not Italian.

I asked him why venture out on your own to create a line of gear for motorcyclists and those geared toward an adventure lifestyle? 

“Over the last 20 years I watched large brands turn technical products into a commodity,” says Murray. “Fast fashion has driven timeline and price points down and killed innovation in certain categories. As apparel and footwear categories tend to drive more revenue, carry gear and gloves have not received the attention and detail they deserve. I felt that my background would benefit that space and my wife and I chose to put our efforts into making an amazing product.”

Did Velomacchi achieve its goal?  

The Velomacchi 28L Roll-Top Pack

VELOMACCHI

This may just be one of the best backpacks I have ever worn. Not only is the main compartment watertight and holds up to 28 liters,  the patent-pending three-point harness system and magnetic sternum coupler are the design elements that make the Velomacchi 28L Roll-Top bag so versatile and INSANELY comfortable. You might look a bit like a turtle wearing one but when it’s loaded up to the brim exceeding 30-40 pounds, none of that will matter. Especially when you are relegated to your bike for the day. The pack remains immovable, as though it was custom cast to your body. 

DYLAN PATRICK

While weight distribution is such an amazing feature of this bag, fitment plays an important role. Looking at the 28L Roll-Top bag, you’ll immediately notice that there are no dangling straps. Everything is self-contained, adjustable and tucked away for streamlined aerodynamics. A slapping strap on a motorcycle at 65 mph is not only a liability but it's insanely annoying. 

VELOMACCHI

What else about the 28L Roll-Top bag is so great? Its design really catches the eye of almost anyone I talk to.  It's unique enough that invariably I have a discussion about the bag once a week. It has survived and protected my gear in a steady downpour when riding through Thailand and a number of falls when riding dirt in the Mojave desert. 

The addition of a medical emergency pouch in one of the shoulder straps means I can keep all information for EMS teams in the event I get injured out in the field. A tire pressure gauge sleeve doubles as a pen holster on the left shoulder strap and the camera plate allow any wearer to sticky mount a go-pro to the bag itself for an awesome first-person perspective when riding. 

DYLAN PATRICK

What about it could be better?

I would like the main compartment to be bigger. Luckily, Velomacchi just introduced the 40L Roll-Top bag which I am testing now. I’ll have a full review in a couple of months.  

The Velomacchi 50L Hybrid Duffel Pack

VELOMACCHI

Is it a duffel bag or a backpack? Well, it’s both but I have only used it as a duffel bag on regular week-long to weekend travels. 

Billed as a high speed, watertight and versatile convertible duffel/pack. Constructed out of high quality 1000 Denier competition fabric, the Velomacchi 50L Hybrid duffel features a watertight #10YKK zipper and stretch panels that enable closure of an overstuffed pack. Additional features include mounting points for roof racks, motorcycles, and whatever you might want to strap this bag down to along with shoulder straps that can be tucked away and out of sight without compromising volume for packing. 

VELOMACCHI

Since I got the 50L Hybrid Duffel, it has joined me on a number of road trips from Los Angeles to the Bay Area and up to Oregon and back to LA. It has even joined me on-assignment halfway around the world and to a number of states in the U.S.  

50 liters may seem like a small bag but when you pack conservatively and really plan out what you need, it will more than meet your needs for a weekend trip. I always find that I take more than I need but I have learned to pack lighter and leaner. For my seven to 14-day trips, I was able to use the 50L Hybrid Duffel strictly for my clothes, food, and camera kit. Other essential tools and camping gear became relegated to my 38L Dryspec bag. 

SAM BENDALL

A Handy Weekender Bag

Strap it down and go. 

If you are not purely camping off the bike and plan on staying with friends, family, or in a hotel, the 50L Hybrid Duffel Bag makes for a perfect travel companion. The side pockets make storage of small items easy to access. I stuffed them with zip-ties, my CB radio, utility knife, and a couple of Clif bars. The Velomacchi 50L Hybrid Duffel also meets Federal Aviation Administration carry-on requirements and can go with you on any plane. 

What about it could be better?

I would like to see Velomacchi add mollie webbing or rubber loop anchors to the top or sides of the bag which would make it more versatile for motorcycle travel applications. On a number of trips where I did not want to wear my 28L roll-top pack, I strapped the 28L to the 50L with a set of Rox Straps through the carrying straps. It was a bit janky but it worked. I would also like to see a redesign of the mounting straps so that the portion that attaches to the bike need not include a plastic buckle. A reinforced loop would suffice and leave no dangling bits.   

So far, each of these bags has endured almost everything Mother Nature could throw at them outside of fire, lava, and lightning. Some people like to travel with Louis Vuitton but this rugged motorcyclist will happily rock a couple Velomacchi bags when checking in for travel at LAX. 

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livemotofoto@gmail.com (Sam Bendall Photography - LiveMotoFoto) backpack duffle bag gear gear review velomacchi http://www.livemotofoto.com/blog/2018/1/the-best-motorcycle-travel-gear-velomacchi-28l-roll-top-pack-and-50l-duffel-bag Thu, 04 Jan 2018 19:00:00 GMT
I Bought A "New" Adventure Motorcycle and I Could Not Be Any Happier http://www.livemotofoto.com/blog/2017/9/i-bought-a-new-adventure-motorcycle-and-i-could-not-be-any-happier IMG_2830IMG_2830

I have the honor and pleasure of riding a lot of different motorcycles, whether it is through friends or assignments as a journalist. I live a pretty blessed life in that respect but none of those bikes are mine. Like a perpetual playboy, I fall in love with each machine for 2 to 3 weeks at a time. I pick apart every nuanced genius that went into making them and every critical flaw that perturbs me, but these machines never grow with me, I never enjoy a true connection. 

However, the time and opportunity to invest in myself and my continued career as a versatile motorcyclist have finally come. I was faced with a decision to either buy another car or an ultra-capable motorcycle. With the support of my family and fiancee, I am now the proud owner of a new (relatively new if you want to call 2014, "new") Triumph Tiger 800 XC. 

IMG_2489IMG_2489

 

There are few motorcycles that attain the capability to cross genres. It can be argued that the adventure class fits that mold. They are extremely practical machines capable of everyday commuting and long distance touring. They have been referred to as “dirt bikes on steroids” and can handle off-road situations with aplomb with the right set of knobbies. Slap on a solid pair of road tires and you'll be treated with the power and engineering to tackle a twisty canyon or vast interstates without missing a beat. For this reason, I have been drawn to these bikes for the last 6 years since I ventured into the motorcycle industry. 

I was introduced to the Tiger 800XC when I worked at Triumph Motorcycles America. We had the special edition black and red bike in the east coast fleet which was open to all to use if the press was not utilizing it for a story. I quickly laid my hands on it and rode it from Atlanta to Asheville and back in a single day. All to visit my friends from Rawhyde, ride a couple off-road trails, and return home. It was a pretty full day of riding. The Tiger never faltered. For a number of months, The Tiger 800 XC SE was my daily rider until we moved it out of the fleet. 

 

Rally Ready Tiger 800 XCThe folks over at ICON put together this Tiger 800 XC a number of years back to take on the gnarliest terrain. I was fortunate enough to ride it briefly at Barber Vintage Fest and it completely ripped!!! This bike will always serve as inspiration for what my Tiger can become.

The power plant in the Tiger 800 is the same found in the wildly popular Triumph Street Triple but with an increase in piston stroke. The result is 125cc more displacement and lower overall horsepower. What the Tiger lacks in top end speed it makes up for with more torque and mid-range power. It's riding geometry is perfectly balanced for my svelte 6'5" frame and its Street Triple soul pulls on my heartstrings at every twist of the wrist. 

I am utterly in love with this bike and have no regrets. I did spend the last 5 months researching, negotiating and conversing with a couple trusted colleagues on which bike would best suit my lifestyle. My first choice was a KTM 1090R followed by the Honda Africa Twin but neither were anywhere near my price range. The Africa Twin was too new to buy used and the KTM’s have only become reliable in the past few years. I had to contend with real financial decisions and popular to what most people think, being a motorcycle journalist is a tough racket which yields no livable income. It's a wonderfully fun industry but I needed to make a realistic decision. 

I found this Tiger in nearly perfect condition with insanely low miles. It seemed like a match made in heaven. One I could not ignore. One trip out to Santa Clarita for a test ride and I knew instantly that this was destined to be. I have already managed to put on 1300 miles on the Tiger in the past two weeks and it has been blissful. I added a pair of Continental Trail Attack 2's before hitting the road up north, this rubber really makes the Tiger ultra-capable on the tarmac, provides excellent grip and feedback. 

IMG_2599IMG_2599

The next year will be spent molding this machine into a capable and proper ADV machine capable of surmounting anything in my path but for now, it will remain locked to the pavement and maybe the occasional fire road. I'll also be aiming to hone more of my off-road skills because the machine is only as good as its rider. 

I am ready for adventure! Good god am I delighted to have my first---relatively new—adventure motorcycle. 

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livemotofoto@gmail.com (Sam Bendall Photography - LiveMotoFoto) tiger800 xc motorcycle project tiger triumph triumph tiger 800 xc http://www.livemotofoto.com/blog/2017/9/i-bought-a-new-adventure-motorcycle-and-i-could-not-be-any-happier Fri, 29 Sep 2017 03:12:12 GMT
YOSEMITE SCRAM. BMW’s R nineT Scrambler Takes On The Sierra Nevadas http://www.livemotofoto.com/blog/2017/7/yosemite-scram-bmw-s-r-ninet-scrambler-takes-on-the-sierra-nevadas

Written by Sam Bendall.

Originally Published for Pipeburn

The sun is rising, the air is cool and crisp, and the wildlife outside my tent sporadically announces the start of a new day. As my eyes open and begin to adjust, the faint scent of hickory wafts through the air as the covered embers emanate amid a semi-silent dawn. As I emerge from my tent, I see my friend Yoshi in his own shelter rustling about. My other friend Erik is at the picnic table prepping food and getting coffee ready. I turn to look over at the BMW R nineT Scrambler that brought me up here, and realize how cool it looks poised beside Yoshi’s Land Rover. I think to myself, “There’s a lot of manliness going on right here. Every weekend should be this amazing.”

Praying for curves

Twenty-four hours earlier, I awoke early to mount all my gear to a lovely 2017 BMW R nineT Scrambler prior to meeting up with Yoshi at his place in Highland Park. As this was only a three-day trip, I opted to pack as lightly as possible with only a tent, sleeping bag, and whatever I could fit into my 50L Velomacchi Duffle Bag. You might be thinking, “Why would you take an R nineT Scrambler on a trip like this?” My response would be a sassy “Shut the fuck up. I drink overpriced, fair-trade, hipster-roasted coffee out of an Aeropress, and I’m on this bike because I want to look cool. Also, I have a scrambler addiction.”

As far as support vehicles go, that’s a good’un

But semi-seriously, I like many of the modern scramblers OEMs are producing and I had yet to test the R nineT Scrambler. Also, I like to punish myself. I did just ride a 2009 Triumph Scrambler 2000 km over six days through Thailand a couple months earlier, and it was the most fun I’ve had in a long time on a motorcycle.

Though short-lived, this quick trip up north would be a  much-needed camping getaway with two fun and immensely talented photographer friends, Erik Jutras and Michael “Yoshi” Jasionowski.

DAY 1 – The Longest Road

Yoshi and I met up around 9:45 a.m. at Highland Park Cafe for some much-needed caffeine. We agreed to stick together along the Angeles Crest Highway but that didn’t quite go as planned. Immediately my wrist became liberal with the throttle once the roads began to get twisty. I was off into the horizon. Yoshi’s Land Rover became a speck in my rear view, but as the gentleman that I am, I called him to say I’d meet him at the start of highway 14. I needed to get in my moto fix. I was also curious to know how well the BMW R nineT Scrambler could handle the twisties of “The Crest.”

Loaded with 40 extra pounds of gear, the BMW R nineT Scrambler was capable of mashing through the corners at a considerable clip. The 1172cc boxer engine pulls well on corner exits, power delivery is smooth and crisp. According to BMW, the R nineT Scrambler puts out 110 horsepower, and max torque is achieved around 7,500 rpm; however, most of the  power is felt in the lower to mid range. With no tachometer to read engine speed, it would take me a little while to learn the characteristics of each gear, and when to shift to obtain that maximum fun factor. Once found, there is a lot to love about this engine.

The R nineT Scrambler doesn’t dive into the corners with the lightness of a sport bike or the finesse of its predecessor, the original RnineT. Many of my colleagues have attributed this to the slight variation in the front fork rake, as well as the Karoo 3s, and the scrambler-spec suspension. Maybe I’m a simpler and dumber motorcycle journalist, but I had no problem pushing this bike into the corners, holding my line, and scraping the pegs. Could it have been easier? Does it take a little work to get this bike where you want it to go? Is the regular R nineT a more nimble and road-focused machine? The answer is yes to all of those questions. Still, the Scrambler is an incredibly fun bike on the road. In fact, I was surprised in my ability to manhandle this bike given its size and weight. I was even more surprised that the Karoo 3s provided such excellent grip on the tarmac.

We stopped briefly at Jawbone Canyon in Mojave to sip some java and relieve ourselves. We also discovered that the howling and relentless winds of the mighty mojave laid claim to Yoshi’s newly purchased Land Rover’s front-right turn signal.

As we neared Lake Isabella, the winds began to kick up, and I could feel a serious chill in my bones. Once we turned onto CA-155, we were met with a stunning scenic mountainscape being enveloped by clouds and fog. The winds kicked up harder and harder. I pulled off to the side of the road to bundle up. On went my insulated mid-layers and winter gloves. I closed up my jacket vents and cranked the heated handgrips to their highest setting.

“The mountains welcomed us with progressively thicker fog. It felt as if we had been magically transported to Vermont during fall.”

The mountains welcomed us with progressively thicker fog, but before it did, we came upon these beautiful trees and winding roads. It felt almost as if we had been magically transported to Vermont during fall. The color and vibrancy of the trees contrasted with the muted grey of the asphalt and fog which presented a photo opportunity we’d be insane to pass up. After snapping a few shots we continued on. About a quarter-mile down the road I got a call from Yoshi. His Land Rover would not start. I guess it’s not a true adventure until someone breaks down. I turned around and pulled up next to the Land Rover to find Yoshi huddled over the engine with a flashlight.

“The battery is dead. It won’t turn over,” he said.

I asked him if he had any jumper cables. Unfortunately we were without. After standing by the side of the road, I was able to flag down a good samaritan who fortunately was able to lend assistance and jumpstart the Land Rover.

Continuing on, 20-foot visibility relegated us to a snail’s pace. As the wind faded, cocooned inside my helmet was the soothing sound of the Bimmer’s seamless, second-gear purr. My mind went straight to Stephen King’s movie The Mist. I expected a monster to jump out at me. Instead, around a bend we were greeted to three cows standing in the middle of the road. They all began to slowly move out of the way, but the baby of the bunch began sprinting down the highway as though he stole something. I slowed down not knowing which direction he would zig or zag but the calf ran with us for almost a minute before darting off into the valley below.

Just oozing rebellion

Eventually the fog dissipated and we continued our descent toward Delano. The road was devoid of all traffic, featured beautifully paved tarmac, and a combination of sweeping turns and technical esses that begged to be attacked. This particular section of CA-155 between Glenville and Delano became one of my favorite roads of the trip. I once again began to wring out the scrambler through some corners. So much fun.

Just before we hopped on highway 99, we stopped for gas. Yoshi’s Land Rover also decided to stop working, too. The culprit again a dead battery. Luckily, the local auto parts store was across the street and still open.  We slapped in a new battery and prayed it would solve the problem instead of being the tip of the iceberg.

We made a judgment call to stop at the local market and grab a sizable amount of firewood and beer. Really, if there are two things you cannot have too much of at a campsite, it’s firewood and beer.

After nine hours of riding and driving, we arrived at camp. The Sun was beginning to set, so we quickly set up camp, sparked a fire, cracked open some beers, and cued up the tunes. Forty-five minutes later, Erik arrived and we all got settled in for the night. By settled in, I mean we drank beers, laughed excessively, and kept trying whiskey every half-hour to see if we still liked it. Science proved that we, in fact, still enjoyed whiskey.

Day 2 – In the Valley of Heaven

I faintly remember one of the guys saying, “We won’t sleep past 7 a.m. The Sun will rise and it will force us awake.” I looked at my watch and it read 9 a m. Yeah, so much for that theory.  Erik is already up and about, I’m slogging along trying to get out of the tent, and Yoshi, too, is in the process of rising from his sleepy grave. Gathered around the picnic table, we consumed perhaps one of the most satisfying campground breakfasts ever, along with coffee so strong I felt like my heart was going to hop out of my chest. Once we were properly fueled, we ventured on toward Yosemite.

Yosemite is easily one of the most beautiful national parks in the United States. It’s also one of my personal favorites. John Muir, an American naturalist, author, environmental philosopher, and early advocate for the preservation of wilderness in the United States wrote eloquently of the Sierras and the Yosemite region as being a place where, “Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find out that going to the mountains is going home; that wildness is a necessity.”

Where we’re going we don’t need roads…

As I began to ride through the park on this well engineered, modern, and powerful machine, I could not help feeling the energy and witness the glory of the land I traversed. Gone was the need to test the limits of the machine, but rather enjoy it as a vehicle that brought me to this wonderful place. When navigating through the park, the R nineT Scrambler moved along perfectly. The proven boxer engine was delightfully torquey and powerful enough to move me past RVs and minivans with a flick of the wrist. It even looked glorious parked among the trees and by the side of the road overlooking the Yosemite Valley. I cannot imagine anyone being upset or disappointed after purchasing this motorcycle.

We found ourselves at the top of Glacier Point Road, which had just opened for the season a couple of days before our arrival. Prior to the trip, we all agreed it was mandatory for us to visit this spot of the park because of its iconic view of Half Dome and El Capitan. It surely did not disappoint.

Sam beats a hasty retreat from the Half Dome

So the R nineT works well in the city and on back roads, but does it Scramble?

While it retains the scrambler name, we all wondered if it possessed the chops to navigate dirt and gravel roads or any kind of technical routes. We found an OHV park on the outskirts of Yosemite, and I began to put this bike through its paces.

“We found an OHV park on the outskirts of Yosemite, and I began to put this bike through its paces.”

The R nineT Scrambler offers all the power to push itself around off-road. The motor has excellent shove, and just propels the bike forward like a laser beam into outer space. The Karoo 3s provide excellent feedback and grip, especially when you choose to get a little sideways. The ability to disable the ASC /traction control and ABS systems puts the bike fully at your command, and makes for a spirited off-road ride. Standing and shifting one’s weight forward over the front forks can be difficult due to the shape of the tank, but it can be done. The hydraulic clutch provides perfect and easy control at slow speeds and throttle control is beautifully smooth and immediate.

Overall, the R nineT is capable and comfortable on fire roads and moderately uneven terrain, but there are times where you have to keep your speed up to keep all that weight from bogging you down in the softer stuff like mud and sand.

The thing that concerned me most about riding the R nineT Scrambler off-road was its lack of ground clearance. I first learned to ride in the dirt on a BMW R 1200 GS, and this bike is far from that level of off-road pedigree. However, knowing how to ride a big adventure bike translates into riding the R nineT Scrambler quite well. Both are heavy and powerful machines that require a different type of finesse when compared to regular dirt bikes.

Testing the traction control

I found a fun, but small section of rocky trail and gave the Scrambler a chance to prove and challenge itself in something other than a finely groomed dirt path. Though I was careful and took the section slowly, I did manage to bottom out the suspension and sustain a good whack to the header and undercasing. Like its GS sibling, the R nineT Scrambler took the abuse without flinching. It’s not a “dirt bike”, but it is a dirt-capable bike, and by God does that still translates to tons of fun if you choose to venture off the asphalt.

As the Sun began to fall, the light and landscape developed this effervescent glow. Erik, Yoshi, and I were giggling like five-year-old school children.

“Oh man! Look at that path, and look at the light breaking through the trees!”

“Do a burnout, kick up some dirt, and ride through it!”

“Go around that bend and just goose the throttle!”

Goose, but no Maverick

We were having way more fun than adults should be allowed to have. Sit for a moment and enjoy the photos that these two grown men created. They are pretty awesome.

We were all so eager to see the photos from our daily outing, but before the computers came out, the whiskey began to flow and the fire temperately licked the air. Yoshi, being the designated DJ of the trip, put on a spectacular playlist consisting of Johnny Cash, Merle Haggard, Muddy Waters, and many more. As freely as the whiskey flowed, so did the jokes and conversation. The funny thing about our relationship is that Yoshi, Erik, and I had never hung out together prior to this trip. We all bonded over our love for motorcycles, photography, coffee, avocados, the great outdoors, and camping. It served as a great reminder to never underestimate the power of mutual interests and travel to bring good people together.

Hot dogs, anyone?

Day 3 – Death By Interstate

One day is simply not enough time to experience and enjoy Yosemite. Erik, Yoshi, and I conversed and made a strong case over morning coffee to stay an additional week, bucking any adult responsibilities or commitments we had for the upcoming week. But alas, the need to pay rent, keep jobs, appease and take care of significant others, and attend school usurped our innate desires to be mountain men.

Instead of taking the long way back to Los Angeles, Yoshi and I opted for a straight shot back via highway 99. With 231 miles and about 4 hours and 20 minutes of straight — and I mean straight-up boring — highway in front of me, I expected the R nineT Scrambler to be fairly uncomfortable, but it was not. The bike cruised along quite easily in 6th gear as I averaged about 85 mph. My ass began to get a tad sore around the three-hour mark, but for a scrambler, that is downright comfortable and pretty amazing. I have to give BMW kudos for designing such a lovely and comfortable saddle.

“It’s more than capable of taking you on an adventure while allowing you to feel a sense of accomplishment.”

Even at speeds north of 65 mph, I didn’t find wind buffeting to be immensely uncomfortable. Occasionally I would tuck into the wind and hug the tank, but the R nineT Scrambler felt more comfortable than most other bikes I’ve ridden without a windscreen. Though I doubt most people buying the R nineT Scrambler will be taking it on a long-haul trip, you might just do so after reading my take on it. It’s more than capable of taking you on an adventure while allowing you, the rider, to feel a sense of accomplishment.

Understandably, the R nineT Scrambler is not the road-going piece of perfection that is the original R nineT. It does, however, exude a particular level of charm and style that will make you and every passerby fall in love with the machine. It did for me and every fourth person who walked past the bike during our trip. In the city, it made commuting, splitting through traffic, and rocketing past cars a breeze. It took me on an adventure where I could attack canyon corners one moment, tear ass down fire roads the next, and stand at the altar of giants and gaze upon magnificent vistas with two good friends.

As I arrived home, I pulled into my garage, took my helmet off and walked away. Just before closing my garage door, I glanced back at the R nineT Scrambler. It stood poised and dirty like a confident child in overalls, covered in mud, grinning at their parent. I could only smirk and think to myself, “Not bad. Not bad at all.”

 

what_we_liked_01
– The heated handgrips were a lifesaver
– Great low and midrange power
– Great ergonomics and amazingly comfy seat
– Overall a superb, well-balanced machine

what_we_didnt_01
– No tachometer, gear-shift indicator, or fuel gauge
– Suspension is not the best, but certainly not the worst
– Low ground clearance when riding off-road

About the Author

Sam Bendall is Pipeburn’s U.S.-based Editor-at-Large. He is a man of many talents, but what matters most to him is his coffee in the morning and his whiskey at night.

[ Photos by Erik JutrasMicheal Jasionowski and Sam Bendall | Helmet from AGV. Jacket and hoodie from Aether. Pants from Aether. Boots from Alpinestarss ]

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livemotofoto@gmail.com (Sam Bendall Photography - LiveMotoFoto) bmw bmw motorrad r nine t scrambler http://www.livemotofoto.com/blog/2017/7/yosemite-scram-bmw-s-r-ninet-scrambler-takes-on-the-sierra-nevadas Tue, 11 Jul 2017 04:18:04 GMT
Minabear – 1983 Yamaha XS650 http://www.livemotofoto.com/blog/2017/6/minabear-1983-yamaha-xs650

 

By Sam Bendall | 

Originally Published on Throttle Roll 

“Don’t call me Minabear!” screeched the fire-haired young lady at James. She was clearly blessed by some recreational substances – but none the less, with that name James’s ’83 Yamaha XS650 had now been dubbed. This chance encounter with a stranger on the street would be the perfect match for this vagabond machine and it’s adventures.

Growing up in Illinois, James had a ton of space to kick about on as a kid. With his buddy next door owning two Honda Express 50cc mopeds, the opportunity for adventure was ripe. “We’d race those things around our connected yards, jumping into the ditch off the drive way and bashing into each other along the way. We’d break these machines; then scavenge parts off of a donor moped, fix them up, and get back to race bashing.” Bigger bikes would now follow, as nature intended. “Left to my own devices, I scored a sweet deal on a `71 Suzuki 125 Enduro for 25 bucks at a garage sale down the street. It was caked in mud and grease, and had been sitting for nearly 20 years with flat, rotted out tires. Naturally, I forked over some of my lawn mowing money I had made that summer and dragged it home.”

With this truly decrepit new (read: old) bike sitting sullenly in his family garage, new skills were to be learned in order to get it running – if it would ever run again. Fortunately for James, his Dad – like all Dads, was handy and was able to donate some knowledge upon the young wrencher. “My old man showed me how to rebuild the carb. I then put some new tubes and tires on it, a fresh spark plug and oil. Sure enough, she fired right up! I rode that beast for the next seven years or so. I kept up on maintenance and fixed things as I broke them, pushing that old bike harder than it was ever intended. I ended up selling the bike to a friend and moved out west. He still has that bike, and rides it to this day around his farm.”

Since this James has beaten about on just about all styles of bike. Everything from Modern motocross bikes, vintage enduro’s, sports bikes, you name it – he’s fanged it. Then he came across this particular machine in question, his 1983 Yamaha XS650. “This bike has been a group effort between a very close friend of mine and myself. I had wanted to do a full ground-up custom build for a while now, and my best friend Luke had this crusty old 650 he’d been riding around for the last few years that was in need of some TLC. Having just moved to the city, I felt this was the perfect opportunity to put together a custom motorcycle to showcase my work and help my friend get his wheels done up the way he had always wanted at the same time. So we went over everything he wanted, set a budget, and I got to work.”

This bike had originally been picked up stock a few years back, before having some brat style mods applied to it. “He swapped his factory tank straight up with a friend for that cherry XS400 square tank that sits on it now. I keep saying he stole it. He changed out the bars, rims, and some bits here and there and basically rode it. He wanted a dual purpose type of bike that he could commute to work and hop around the city on, but one that would also keep up on the dirt trails and fire roads we often find ourselves tearing down on camp runs. So, staying in line with his needs, I kept the build in the direction of more of an urban scrambler.”

“My main goal with the bikes I work on is to preserve these vintage moto’s that are often either cannibalized for parts, or left to rot somewhere. There’s a great satisfaction I get out of taking rusty old metal that has been forsaken, and putting my blood, sweat and time into it, transforming it into something new again. I’m a big ‘form-follows-function’ guy and don’t put anything on a bike unless it serves a purpose. I feel like that creates an honest, and clean looking motorcycle. I also like to retain as many original parts as possible for sake of not simply buying a bunch of modern parts and bolting them on, but also it preserves the character of these classic machines. So things like progressive springs and heavy racing oil in the forks updates the performance of an otherwise unassuming front end.”

Despite staying true many of this old bike’s sensibilities and style, it would still receive some kick to make sure walked as good as it talked. A complete top to bottom rebuild on the motor would be completed with performance firmly in mind. The engine would be rephased, a big bore kit, port and polish the head, hot ignition, upped the jets – all the things that could be done to squeeze the most out of this road and track basher. “I’ve built exhaust systems for hot rods before, but never one for a motorcycle, so this was a first for me. Many hours of cutting, grinding, and welding later, and the exhaust was able to move from the head out to the rear in a manner I felt was aesthetically pleasing.”

“This bike represents a lot of firsts for me. I’ve been restoring cars with my old man, and maintaining and modifying my bikes in my garage basically my entire life, but always on the side. The last few years or so I’ve been operating under the name L`Moto Designs. It’s a mash up really, the L for my last name (Licari), and my lineage coming from Italian craftsmen. I just moved to LA, while still very much a garage builder, I’ve dedicated full-time to building these custom bikes in my home workshop. With my background in engineering and manufacturing, I decided to apply my skills and experience to reviving vintage bikes with a modern twist for myself, not some corporation. While I’ve built many engines, done plenty of performance and fabrication work, made complete wire looms from scratch, and painted more than I care to recount on one bike or another, I’ve never had a chance to do all aspects at once on a single bike as a major project like this. I will say though, it is far less time consuming than restoring an entire car! This was my first ground-up, frame-off restoration on a motorcycle, and it was my first fully commissioned custom build to suit someone else’s needs. I thoroughly enjoyed building a performance oriented XS650 engine, and will continue building these killer motors in my home based shop here in LA. I’ve already started on the next one, actually. My goal is to turn them out, offering engine building services locally as well as to continue building one off bikes, resurrecting rotting 40 year old motorcycles so that they can once more rip down the streets to cafes and bars.”

“In the end, I’m really happy with the way the bike turned out. It has the aesthetics and design cues both my buddy and I drool over, and it meets the needs originally intended for it, making it a very functional machine that gets ridden daily. I’ve owned XS650s before – have one now, and worked on plenty. However, this was the first XS650 motor I’ve built from scratch, and I’ve never done a rephased crankshaft before. So I was beyond stoked when the engine came together so well and fired right up without issue. It didn’t take much tuning to get her dialled in which was nice, that’s thanks to the fact that I’ve been playing with these Mikuni BS series carbs for a long time. They transform way this bike performs, it’s one of those things where you just have to ride it to understand. Before it was torquey, but it was harsh, and it vibrated so bad it would just shake itself apart, no matter how much thread locker you squirted on. Now, the thing has the smoothest power curve, just roll on the throttle and she rips, “gobs of torque” as the Harley guys say. It idles perfectly; you get that front tire shake at stoplights, but its not jarring your teeth. Then there’s the exhaust note, perfect for in the city. Its quiet and tame at idle, just a subtle lope to it. When you open up the throttle though, the beast roars to life and everyone notices. Its deep and throaty, yet refined, not obnoxious. Hearing that gets me excited every time.”

Photos – Sam Bendall

Words – Pete Cagnacci

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livemotofoto@gmail.com (Sam Bendall Photography - LiveMotoFoto) http://www.livemotofoto.com/blog/2017/6/minabear-1983-yamaha-xs650 Tue, 20 Jun 2017 17:30:34 GMT
Murray’s Triumph Thruxton http://www.livemotofoto.com/blog/2017/6/murray-s-triumph-thruxton

By Sam Bendall | 

A life of travelling the globe planted the seed of adventure in Murray, which only naturally would bud into motorcycling. Using one of the greatest forms of creating adventure, Murray and his Machine have forged a bond through thick and thin – and picked up something special along the way.

In his travels, Murray found himself adventuring on a variety of bikes as he explored over 50 countries. This pure form of transport became the essence of adventure, and as his life became more grounded, a solid machine was on the cards. “I decided to get my full licence and become legal, so I completed my riders test in the UK the day before flying out to Canada. I landed in Vancouver, and in that very day went to a dealership to find the machine that would be for me.”

That dealership happened to be a Triumph dealership. “I wanted a Triumph as it was a brand that was synonymous with exploration and heritage, for me. I was originally looking for a Bonneville but I fell in love with this pre-loved British racing green Thruxton as soon as I walked in. I then had it done up as a classic style café racer as it was intended to be. Adventure called once again, and I was on the road, headed for Mexico.”

“It was on this trip that I met someone very special, and it was actually because of this bike that I had met her – but more about that later. After a lot of riding – and I mean a lot, I decided riding a café racer wasn’t the most comfortable so I started changing the bike into more of a street sled. I removed the air box, put a two into one system on and did a few more engine tweaks. I added some Biltwell tracker bars and stripped everything off I didn’t need, opting for led strip signals and brake lights.”

The next morning, after spending about two weeks in the garage working on his bike, Murray and his machine were ready. “Five minutes into my ride I felt the back of my bike lift up, and heard metal crunching and plastic tearing. I was being pushed into a main road and had no control of my bike.” A young driver with a brand-new 4WD had decided whatever was on his phone use was more interesting than paying attention to the road, and so Murray found his adventure machine half devoured by the large four-wheeled beast. “Her truck was lifted off the ground – they’re tough bikes, but I was gutted. All that work, and all those miles.”

It was in the ambulance to the hospital that the situation really sank in for Murray – the bike was done for, or was it? (plot twist!) “Now, as you may remember, I had met someone very special on my trip, Well, she’s now my wife. I had some met some guys in Mexico and ended up riding to Arizona and back to LA with them – one of the guys was dating a chick down in Orange County. I cruised over with him, and little did I know but they had set up a blind date for me with her best friend. It was super awkward, so to break the ice I asked if she wanted to come and grab a pizza with me, on the bike. We jumped on, and we knew that was it. Fast forward to the ambulance. I realised that this bike was more than just transport, more than just the first bike I owned, more than the bike that had got me through snow, rain and hail driving through the Rockies in January, it was the reason I met my wife.”

Murray knew this bike was not done for, that he could breath life back it – but not without a fight. The bike had been declared totalled by the insurance company. Not taking this as a final answer, Murray took it to Triumph, who inspected it for themselves. “It was only the sub frame that was slightly bent. I got the insurance money, bought the bike back and immediately began planning how to rebuild it. First I replaced and upgraded the brakes, shocks, chain and cogs. I then had to address the sub frame and the fact the seat wouldn’t fit anymore.”

“If necessity is the mother of invention, then this was a necessary move. Personally I loved the look, slightly tracker, slightly bobber, slightly cafe. The big problem now was it was a little waspy in its handling, it was front end heavy. I took all the wiring and hid it under the tank, removed the headlight and gauges and started looking for options. I went down the face plate route with LED lights to keep in with removing everything unnecessary.”

“I love the memories of this bike. Everything I’ve been through in the last four years, this bike has been there with me. It’s forced me to take the hard route and discover unseen lands, meet new people and remind me that the world is a lot smaller than it seems. The bike is a vehicle, but not in the main sense of the word. It is a vehicle for movement, it forces involvement and it drives life.”

Photography by Sam Bendall

Words by Pete Cagnacci

 
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livemotofoto@gmail.com (Sam Bendall Photography - LiveMotoFoto) Thruxton Triumph http://www.livemotofoto.com/blog/2017/6/murray-s-triumph-thruxton Wed, 07 Jun 2017 06:13:32 GMT
Rob’s ’76 Honda CB750 http://www.livemotofoto.com/blog/2017/5/rob-s-76-honda-cb750

By Sam Bendall | 

The need for 2-wheeled hoonery kicked off 24 years ago for Rob, from humble mopeds to more adventurous dirt bikes with mates he ascended the motorcycle hierarchy. It would be classic Hondas that would really drive his passion for riding and customization, with his latest being a classic cafe racer styled machine with that famous CB750 charm.

Fond memories of Rob’s first bike, a 1978 Honda CB400, still illuminate his mind as a much younger version of himself would ride this machine till he could ride no more. “I can remember the first time I ever took that bike out onto the Highway. I rode straight to Connecticut from Long Island NY. I was truly addicted from that moment on.”

This addiction was not simply for motorcycles, but 1970’s Hondas it would seem. This current fix is a 1976 CB750 Supersport, the 6th classic Honda Rob has owned and what will no doubt be among the ranks of many more. “I owned a ’77 CB750 before this one, but it got totalled in a hit and run accident – I was very lucky to have walked away from that. I knew I wanted another ‘70’s CB750, so was on the lookout for just the right one. I always like to buy a bike as stock as possible. This means I can start with a blank slate and change or customise things to really make it my own.”

Hours of trawling through adverts of CB750’s for sale would provide him with a win. An orange Supersport, that was (mostly) stock, just what the doctor ordered. “This would be the first Super Sport I’ve owned. I liked the idea of the longer wheelbase and tank, which I felt would provide a really great basis for a café racer build. The second I saw this machine I knew the design I had in my head would fit it perfectly.”

The work behind getting this orange stock CB750 to a mean green café racer machine would start with a major top to bottom engine rebuild, some exhaust work, tidying up the electrics and switching out the pod filters that had come with the bike. “Most of the work would be aesthetic. I cleaned up the whole front end, removed the gauges, lowered the ignition with a spacer, chucked on some clubman bars and ran the blinkers out of the headlight to keep things tight. I removed the entire seat and rear end to add a single cowl unit. Next would be the knee indents in the tank and a few other fun little tweaks to get it how I wanted, but nothing too crazy. There was no need for rear sets as the position fit me perfectly.”

The end result is a culmination in very British cafe racer aesthetic mixed with Japanese super bike legacy. A massive nod to some iconic ’70’s design and performance. “I think the design of this bike is really simple. That’s what’s so great about these machines. It took a few months to really get it dialled in mechanically, but it looks and rides and exactly how I envisioned it.”

“I love everything about my bike. I feel like it’s an extension of myself in so many ways – I just love riding in general. Riding forces you be present, be in the moment. There’s no better feeling than that.”

Photography by Sam Bendall

Words by Pete Cagnacci

 
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livemotofoto@gmail.com (Sam Bendall Photography - LiveMotoFoto) CB750 Honda http://www.livemotofoto.com/blog/2017/5/rob-s-76-honda-cb750 Thu, 25 May 2017 06:19:00 GMT
WEAR & TEAR. Pando Moto’s ‘Karl Indigo’ Jeans http://www.livemotofoto.com/blog/2017/5/wear-tear-pando-moto-s-karl-indigo-jeans

Written by Sam Bendall.

Originally Published in Pipeburn

My Pando Moto Karl Indigo jeans smell like the inside of a garbage can at this point. That’s because I’ve been wearing them for almost 4 months straight and they’ve never been washed. I wear them to the market, I wear them on the couch, I wear them in the car, I wear them at the cafe and, well, wear them everywhere. Especially on my motorcycle. My fiancé gets especially annoyed when I wear them at home because she cannot believe they are just as comfortable as my super-hero lounge sweats. Maybe they also don’t smell as bad I led you to believe because she has not said anything either.

I’ll be honest, I like to look good. In my profession, I believe that wherever I go, there is an opportunity to do business and my outward appearance and attitude is a reflection of my style. Because I am a motorcyclist in Los Angeles it is imperative, that whatever I am wearing, protects me in the event of an accident.

As the motorcycle industry begins to shift toward understanding the mentalities of young working professionals and cool, hip riders that are growing in number, so are many motorcycle apparel companies. Riders have shouted loud enough that “we want look good off the bike and ride protected in case of an accident.” Some brands heard the call and even newer ones have stepped into the fray with new products.

THE DETAILS

I was intrigued by Pando Moto having never heard of them prior to wearing my current pair. Pando Moto is a Lithuanian company that hand tailors premium Cordura denim with embedded Kevlar panels. They are also one of a few companies making apparel with a fabric known as Dyneema which is 50 times stronger than steel and thus ultra abrasion resistant.

Other features Pando Moto features in their apparel are removable SAS-TEC® CE approved knee protectors that can be inserted or removed from the outside and flex points at the knees to facilitate a motorcyclists’ stance whether on a cruiser or a sport bike.

USE & ABUSE

The stinky and awesome pair I have been wearing for the last 4 months is the Pando Moto Karl Indigo. The first outing with the Karl Indigo came when I was tooling around town on the Rev’it #95 Double Dare. Knowing I would experience a potential fall in the dirt, I opted to toss in the SAS-TEC Knee Protectors. Luckily for me the only time I went down on that bike was at a stop in some very slippery mud. The rest of the time in these jeans were spent on my own bike, and an awesome Vespa commuting and running errands in and around LA.

FIT AND FINISH

The Karl Indigo fits my tall frame well and the sizing runs true to size. In the last year, I’ve gone up to a 36 waist (too much work, and iffy diet and not enough time in the gym) and I have always been a 34 inch inseam. My thighs and posterior have some definition and that has proven difficult in the past to find pants that fit very well. It’s either a battle between waist and hip fit versus leg fit. The latter is naturally compromised leaving me with an ill-fitting pant in the leg.

Regarding the Karl Indigo, the fit in the waist is comfortable and fitted but not too tight to restrict any movement or create serious “swamp-ass” on a warm day. The thigh and leg portions are also nicely fitted with a little room to breathe. “Baggy” or “skin-tight” are not the words I would ever use to describe these pants. They are simply perfect. Having a little room along the waist and thigh also makes for comfortable and roomy pockets. Fitting in my field notes sized leather wallet and iPhone 7 Plus in the front pockets is easily achieved and there is no pressure on them in a seated position. The same can be said for the back pockets as well. On occasion, I have stuffed my riding gloves in my back pocket when dropping in and out of a store.

My favorite feature is the removable SAS-TEC® CE approved knee protectors. I often do not have the knee protectors in but they alway manage to stay in my bag in the event I choose to put them in for some spirited riding. Being able to toss them in without having to remove my pants is very convenient. Once in position, they are secured by a heavy-duty velcro strip and fit snugly over my patella and 4 inches down my tibia. There is very little wiggle room once they are in place.

Nothing is ever perfect but these jeans come close, so what are the pain points regarding the Karl Indigo’s? Because it’s something I have been so use to all my life, the Karl Indigo is missing the ever-present “fifth pocket” just inside the right front pocket. I never realized how much I missed the little stash pocket until it was gone.

12.5 oz Cordura denim has incorporated “CoolMax” technology that allows for breathability but when coupled with Kevlar lining, the jeans do retain body heat. On hotter summer days, like the ones that are coming up and the few that have descended upon Los Angeles in the last couple weeks, I don’t anticipate these jeans being that comfortable off the bike for extended periods of time. However, I believe that is a natural compromise if you demand a durable fabric to protect in a slide.

THE VERDICT

I have never really been down in these jeans, and I hope I never have to experience it. But I have experienced the abrasion resistance of kevlar and cordura in the past. The quality of the fabric in the Pando Moto Karl Indigo is top-tier and I believe will protect you during a prolonged slide. The reinforced chain stitching of each Kevlar panel to the Cordura denim uses Kevlar thread which means it’s not coming apart. From a style perspective, they look utterly fantastic and my friends, family, and students have been oblivious to the fact that they are protective motorcycle jeans.

So, if your body type is like mine (athletic and trim) the Pando Moto Karl might be your best bet for a three season riding pant that’s also suitable for everyday wear off the bike.

At $236 USD (€199, A$320) the Pando Moto Karl is a steal. It comes in at nearly $70 less than other competitors which try to pull off this similar style with none of the aforementioned protective fabrics.

GET THE KARL INDIGIO JEANS HERE

Pando Moto – Facebook – Instagram | Additional Photos by Dylan Patrick and Errol Colandro 

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livemotofoto@gmail.com (Sam Bendall Photography - LiveMotoFoto) Jeans Karl Indigo Motorcycle Gear Pando Moto Pipeburn http://www.livemotofoto.com/blog/2017/5/wear-tear-pando-moto-s-karl-indigo-jeans Sun, 14 May 2017 18:45:00 GMT
George’s 1981 Suzuki GS1100EX http://www.livemotofoto.com/blog/2017/5/george-s-1981-suzuki-gs1100ex

By Sam Bendall | 

When you look at George your first thought might be “total surfer dude”. Contrary to this, he’s a die-hard motorcycle nut who has been racing most of his life. For the past decade, he has been a regular at Willow Springs International Raceway, taking out the title of vintage heavyweight champ in 2006. We got wind that George had a Suzuki GS1100EX with a story behind, so we had to go check it out.

“My father and I rode motorcycles all my life. It’s something we both bonded over and engaged in for years. It all began as an 8 year old kid, my father took me to a race track in Bridgehampton, NY to see the races. I was immediately drawn to them. The sounds and smells, it was like nothing I had ever experienced. I was addicted, it was like a drug. In 1973, my father then bought 2 Kawasaki Z1’s for himself and a Honda QA 50 for me. The day he brought the big bikes home, my sister cried saying that I got everything and she got nothing! From that day forward I never looked back.”

Throughout the years George has owned many bikes but this Suzuki GS1100EX holds a special place in George’s heart. Back in 1980, his father built a turbo charged Honda CBX and it was in need of constant repair.  That same year he bought this 1981 Suzuki GS1100EX while the Honda was in the shop. Like any motorcyclist that owns a bike for a little while, the desire to make it better came to the surface. The GS found it’s way into the shop. His father added a big bore kit, cams, racing carbs, dymag wheels, cal fab swing arm and more. The bike became a rocketship. In college, George became the guardian of the GS when his father became preoccupied with other life issues.

Passed on from father to son, this 1981 Suzuki GS1100EX was bought brand new and has known no other owners for almost 37 years.

To own a motorcycle with such a personal history makes one ultra connected with a machine. As George suits up to ride, he talked about how this bike makes him feel. He remarks that it’s the raw power, the sound, and connection to the analogue creates a unique connection. “It’s not something you really experience with a modern bike, there is so much about this bike that is pure,” George remarks. As far as handling, the GS1100EX is remarkably stable at high speed. It’s a planted machine. George employs a steering dampener which helps but he enjoys the raw feeling of the bike.

 

For a motorcycle that has gone everywhere with George, he jokes, “I’ll likely be buried with it.” When he returned to LA in 2002, the bike had sat idle and needed some professional love so in stepped friend, famed crew chief and engine builder, Carry Andrew, to bring it back to tip-top shape. After she was breathing again, George’s friend and fellow vintage racer, Ed Milich of EPM Engineering helped George modify and mount the modern front end from a 2007 Suzuki GSX-750 and also put on a swingarm from a 1987 GSX-750.  His buddy and fellow racer Rick Carmody did the Wes Cooley paint scheme. “The bike has always been a collaborative effort and I always try to seek out the best guys to help me. To date, there are so many people that have helped make this bike into what it is”  George laughs and says, “Man, so many people have touched this bike in one way or another.”

George’s Suzuki GS1100EX is an amazing machine that harmoniously blends the allure of classic motorcycling with accents of modernity.

On top of his obsession for riding bikes, George runs a boutique motorcycle rental and tourism business out of Santa Monica, CA. His goal is simple: To expose new and continuing riders from all over the world with a bike and access to the most amazing roads in southern California. His fleet is stocked with a handful of sport bikes and a set of adventure bikes being added to the fleet in 2017. You can learn more about his business and the experience at MotoCalifornia.com

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livemotofoto@gmail.com (Sam Bendall Photography - LiveMotoFoto) http://www.livemotofoto.com/blog/2017/5/george-s-1981-suzuki-gs1100ex Tue, 02 May 2017 06:45:00 GMT
Beach Moto’s Ducati GT1000 Sport Classic http://www.livemotofoto.com/blog/2017/3/beach-moto-s-ducati-gt1000-sport-classic

By Sam Bendall | 

On a strangely overcast yet humid morning in Southern California, I am sitting outside the Shack Cafe in Playa Vista sipping on a much needed cup of coffee. In the distance, I hear the unmistakable rumble of a Ducati from down the block. Dennis is stopped at the lights. With a fervent and throaty roar, he approaches, pulls into the lot and parks 4 feet in front of me on this beautifully customised 2009 Ducati GT1000 Sport Classic.

We got to talking as motorcyclist’s do about the machine before us. Dennis acquired the bike originally from a friend out of state after trading a Moto Guzzi V7 for the GT1000. It turns out the owner of the GT1000 had a soft spot for the V7 and it became a win-win for everyone involved.

Ultimately I asked Dennis, “What compelled you to buy this bike and use it as a base for a custom project?” His answer was simple and to the point, “The GT1000 Sport Classic is by itself a beautiful motorcycle which retains a modern classic look. I like the simplicity of the air cooled engine and feel like the engine has loads of character.”

Dennis stressed to me that he himself is not a “bike-builder” however, he is fairly mechanically inclined. “There are always times in building or customizing a motorcycle where some custom fabrication is needed to really pull the bike together. Sometimes parts do not fit, screw threads need to be re-threaded, or a part made. This was case regarding a few design elements on this build.” To make it all work, Dennis sought out the assistance of StradaFab for custom fabrication and design troubleshooting.

Their first and largest contribution was a full custom exhaust system which produces a lovely deep-throated tone at speed. The rear turn signals were elegantly mounted and the rear brake reservoir is completely hidden due to a custom mounting bracket. While it took a ton of research and time to design, the results are undeniably beautiful. The GT1000 has a classic vintage appearance without tasteless mods and unnecessary shiny bolt on parts. Everything on it manages to be functional and practical.  A full list of aftermarket additions on this lovely machine can be found at the end of our article.

What also sets this bike apart is the paint scheme. It retains a level of flash without looking overtly flashy. “To achieve this we sought out our friend, neighbor and tattoo artist, Zach (@themachine13). Zach too builds wicked motorcycles and we really wanted to utilize his amazing artistic and creative talent for our bike.”

While a lot of work can go into designing and creating a custom motorcycle, none of that matters outside of the ride. The visceral feeling of being in the saddle. “This bike was never meant to be a track weapon even though it’s probably really capable. We were able to strike some weight with the removal of some of the stock parts and the addition of a light wheel set and awesome suspension,” Dennis tell me, “It is mostly used for city riding but the the power delivery makes this bike very fun. I mean it’s under 400lbs and has nearly 100bhp on tap, that always manages to put a smile on my face when I twist my wrist.”

FULL PARTS LIST

OZ Racing Piega forged aluminium wheels

Brembo 4 piston front calipers custom painted black

Brembo 2 piston rear caliper custom painted black

Brembo T-drive brake rotors  

Brembo RCS19 brake master cylinder

Brembo RCS16 clutch master cylinder

Rear brake reservoir hidden custom mount

Oberon clutch slave cylinder

Custom brake and clutch lines

Corse Dynamics under swing arm rear brake caliper bracket

Corse Dynamics 7” headlight

Corse Dynamics upper and lower triple clamps

Andreani front forks inserts

Ohlins rear shocks

Ducati Monster 1200 brake and clutch reservoirs with Rizoma custom mounts

Driven clip-ons

Rizoma mirrors

Biltwell grips

Beast-R high inflow intake kit with K&N filters

Custom blacked out valve covers

StradaFab custom belt covers

StradaFab custom exhaust system

StradaFab custom exhaust hangers

Ducati Hypermotard oil cooler

Ducati Hypermotard oil lines

Diopa tail

Custom seat

Custom Woodcraft rearsets

Rizoma turn signals with custom mounts

Biltwell brake light with custom mount

Words & Photography by Sam Bendall @livemotofoto

 
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livemotofoto@gmail.com (Sam Bendall Photography - LiveMotoFoto) Ducati GT1000 Sport Classic http://www.livemotofoto.com/blog/2017/3/beach-moto-s-ducati-gt1000-sport-classic Tue, 14 Mar 2017 06:30:00 GMT
The REV’IT! #95 Double Dare - An All Wheel Drive ADV Monster http://www.livemotofoto.com/blog/2017/3/the-rev-it-95-double-dare---an-all-wheel-drive-adv-monster

By  

Photography by Sam Bendall, Jonathan Klein, Dylan Patrick and Bob Nybe

Originally Published on Ride Apart 

I have worn and tested a lot of different motorcycle gear and the past couple years and I keep coming back to Rev’it as my go-to for adventure and urban gear. From day one it always seemed to fit my massive frame and perform admirably. When I found out REV'IT! had built an adventure bike I had to ask them for a chance to ride it. I ended up spending two rainy and muddy weeks playing around with this machine.

Design and History

There are no dials, no instruments, no fuel gauges – just man, motor, and the world. The REV'IT! #95 does a magnificent job in tapping into those primal feelings sought after by adventure motorcyclists.

The REV'IT! #95 began its life as a KTM 950 Super Enduro Erzberg Edition but evolved to include a massive 12-gallon custom fuel tank, Christini all wheel drive system (more on that in a bit), a wild cafe seat, naked back end, and custom-made exhaust.

The 942cc 75-degree V-twin puts out around 98 hp and the power shows as the REV'IT! team was able to lighten the overall weight of the stock KTM by 15 lbs. This reduction in weight comes from the elimination of the original subframe and replacing it with 7/8-inch chrome-moly tubing with an .049-inch thick wall, and TIG welding it to the stock chassis. This modification also allows for the subframe to remain very strong.

The electronics were relocated and organized under the seat in a custom aluminum electronics tray and a lightweight lithium-ion battery replaces stock. Additionally, many of the stock parts – like plastic cowlings, seat, and exhaust systems – were scrapped and replaced entirely with lighter components.

Standing out visually is the almost-out-of-character brat-style seat. The designers at REV'IT! saw it as a way to pay homage to their urban line of clothing, going so far as to wrap the top layer of the seat in the same leather used in the REV'IT! apparel line.

The Ride Experience

When I went to pick up the bike, I spent 10 minutes trying to find the ignition; it is inconveniently tucked under the handlebars. I felt like an idiot but allowed that feeling to fade. I mounted this franken-bike dressed half like a hipster and half like an adventure motorcyclist with my REV'IT! Sand 2 jacket, selvedge denim and Red Wing Boots. Appropriate in my mind for a custom bike that looks like the result of a ménage à trois between an ADV, enduro, and café racer. Whatever you want to call this bike, I immediately felt at home. The wide handlebars and knee cutouts in the tank are close to perfect for someone of my height; the throaty exhaust is a devilish symphony to the ear; and the narrow seat and aggressive rake instantly made me feel as though I was atop a beastly supermoto.

As I pulled out of the lot, sprinkling rain began to fall more more steadily. But the rumble from the exhaust begged for an open throttle. And open it I did. Torque in first gear lent itself to a nice power wheelie. Second gear, more of the same with a little dumped clutch. Oh man, this bike was feisty. Soon, though, I put the front wheel down – allowing my rational mind to override primal desires. The rain came a little harder and on the oil-soaked streets of Los Angeles, I could feel grip wavering at the higher speeds and in corners. Finesse was required, outright ballsy fun restrained.

But rain, of course, means mud. I found a piece of untouched earth and began to play. Once removed from the pavement, the REV'IT! #95 becomes ultra capable and balanced. A vicious dirt bike on steroids. A pure adventure motorcycle.

Thereafter I could not live without dirt. I was like a heroin addict searching for his next fix. Even in the city, a voice inside me compelled me to look for dirt at every corner even if it was just a patch. I wanted to feel the tires spin, shake the back end loose and hear the engine cry. Once, on my way home I found a Christmas tree lot and began doing donuts and power slides.

I needed to get a full day fix so I fueled up and went out to Rowher Flats OHV to let this dog off its chain. Looking at the massive fuel tank, one might believe the bike to be difficult to manage, but it's entirely the opposite. It remains well balanced at speed and in low-speed maneuvers. The knee cut outs in the tank allow for near perfect knee hugging, whether seated or standing.

Where this bike really shines is when the 1WD / 2WD switch is flipped to the 2WD setting. Utilizing a Christini all-wheel drive system, a secondary chain attached to the motorcycle’s main transmission drives the front wheel at a lower rate than the rear wheel.

According to Christini: "Under optimum traction conditions, the rear wheel is actually driving faster than the front AWD system. One-way clutches within the front hub allow the front wheel to freewheel under these conditions. At this point, the AWD system is effectively passive. Though the front AWD system is turning, it is not actually transferring power to the front wheel. When the rear wheel loses traction, the drive ratio, relative to the forward speed, changes. The AWD system engages, transferring power to the front wheel until traction is reestablished at the rear wheel.”

The result: high-speed power slides are easy. As the rear wheel loses traction and begins to slide, the front wheel pulls the bike forward. Hill climbs are also easy. Approach a hill and pin the throttle; the bike climbs effortlessly. Sand and mud are no longer the worst surfaces to ride through. It had rained the day before I went to Rowher Flats, so most of the trails were super muddy. The AWD system is an awesome aid in difficult and loose terrain.

Back on the highway, the bike is a tad buzzy at higher RPM, even in 6th gear. But you know what? That’s OK. I never cared because this bike’s happy place is in the dirt. I could only imagine what would happen if we slapped some road tires on this machine and ran it up the coast.

I have to give a big thanks to REV'IT! Sport International for loaning me this bike. They've built a hell of a machine.

Rider Stats:
Rider height: 6 foot 5 inches
Build: svelte and athletic
Usually Rides: Anything with two wheels. Sam is a capable rider on pavement or dirt. He is generally relegated to street riding and commuting living in Los Angeles but yearns for dirt or adv riding whenever possible.

Sam's Gear:
Helmet: Schuberth C3 Pro

Jacket: Rev'it Sand 2

Pants: Pando Moto

Shoes: Forma Adventure Boots

Backpack: Velomacchi 28L Roll-Top pack

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livemotofoto@gmail.com (Sam Bendall Photography - LiveMotoFoto) ADV Moto Bike Review Double Dare Rev'it http://www.livemotofoto.com/blog/2017/3/the-rev-it-95-double-dare---an-all-wheel-drive-adv-monster Tue, 07 Mar 2017 18:45:00 GMT
The Best New Motorcycles You Can Buy As A Beginner http://www.livemotofoto.com/blog/2017/2/the-best-new-motorcycles-to-buy-as-your-first-bike

Original Article Published for Thrillist

Best bikes for Beginners

SAM BENDALL/THRILLIST

When beginning the deep dive into the world of motorcycling, most people have one question that overrides all others: "What motorcycle should I buy?" It's a good question, albeit a very loaded one. Like so many other things in life, there is no absolute and correct answer, since there are a number of factors to consider when purchasing a motorcycle.

Let's first take a look at the most important things to consider, then we can break down a number of general types of bike you should consider as a novice rider. There are a lot, and I mean a lot, of motorcycles you can buy, and the recommendations below are just the tip of the iceberg of the excellent selection of machines beginners can safely enjoy.

COURTESY OF DUCATI

There are four main things to consider when buying a bike:

1. How and for what purpose are you going to use the bike?
Are you planning on using it for day-to-day commuting? Do you want to get away for the weekend and tour from state to state? Are you passionate and do you idolize Valentino Rossi or Marc Marquez and want to drop a knee on a racetrack or zoom around your local canyon road? Did you get the travel bug after watching Long Way Round and now want to ride around the globe? These questions should serve as your ultimate barometer because there are many bikes out there designed to suit a particular riding style and function.

2. How much bike can you honestly handle?
While you're still learning to operate a motorcycle well, it's important to not be hindered by a bike that is too big, too heavy, or too powerful. Knowing what you can manage not just physically, but mentally, is very important. Ensuring you can place both feet firmly on the ground and reach the controls is a good start, but also think about how good your hand-eye coordination is. If you buy a bike that is powerful and fast, do you have the discipline to refrain from doing stupid, stupid things with that power?

3. How much money do you really want to spend on your first bike?
"Dropping" a motorcycle when you are new to riding is a reality. Damage to a bike means having to fix it, which costs money, and smaller, less expensive bikes are easier and cheaper to fix compared to their larger counterparts. Also, larger engines typically mean higher insurance payments for the first three years you have your license.

4. Do you love it?
The last, but in many ways, most important factor to consider, is this: When you look at the bike you have chosen, does it speak to you? Does it motivate you to get out and ride and experience the world around you? When you walk up to the bike, or walk away from it after a ride, do you have a hard time looking away? Do you think to yourself, "Damn, that's one beautiful and amazing motorcycle, and whoever gets to ride it is one lucky SOB?"

If so, you've chosen well, my friend.

Scramblers are Great beginner bikes

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What they are: A lot of manufacturers are throwing around the term "scrambler" now, because it's "hip" and "cool." A true scrambler gets its name from relatively small dirt bikes built for racing on off-road courses with low jumps. Scramblers today are more of a throwback to those bikes, identifiable by their high tailpipe, semi-knobby or knobby tires, slightly longer travel suspension than a road bike, and wide-set tracker bars.

You should consider one if: You want to channel your inner Steve McQueen, but only on weekends. Scramblers do a good job at bridging the gap between working well on paved roads and dirt roads, but don't expect to become an off-road god(dess) on one.

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2017 Triumph Street Scrambler

Price: $10,700
The new-for-2017 Street Scrambler is a beautiful both inside and out. It combines the aesthetics of old scrambler-style motorcycles from the '50s-'70s with new modern technologies like traction control, ABS, throttle-by-wire, and efficient fueling. Simply put, it's all of the great looks without the ride-ability and reliability downsides that you have to overcome on an original.

Scramblers are good beginner bikes

COURTESY OF DUCATI

Ducati Desert Sled

Price: $11,395
When Ducati made its Scrambler line a couple years ago, everyone begged for the legendary Italian company to make a truly off-road-capable machine. The new Desert Sled is as beautiful as it is capable, refined, and hungry for dirt. Ducati engineers were sure to include beefed-up components nearly everywhere -- all crucial steps to ensuring off-road durability.

 

Adventure bikes are crazy fun

COURTESY OF BMW

What they are: Adventure motorcycles are essentially your go-anywhere, do-(almost)-anything bikes. They're capable of eating up highway miles, tackling off-road sections, daily commuting, or carrying tons of gear. Most of the best bikes in this category have tall seat heights, so they're not very accommodating to beginner riders who are vertically challenged. The dominant bikes here are the BMW R1200 GS (shown above) and the KTM 1290 Super Adventure, but you can save yourself some cash by springing for an excellent alternative.

You should consider one if: You're relatively tall and want a good all-around bike that you can take to work or school every day.

Adventure bikes are great all-rounders

COURTESY OF HONDA

Honda Africa Twin

Price: $12,999
The Honda Africa Twin is a long-awaited adventure motorcycle that comes with a traditional manual transmission and Honda's automatic dual-clutch transmission. Think about that for a second: It's a motorcycle with an automatic transmission. It is more than capable of going anywhere and doing anything -- and of being ridden by virtually anyone.

Adventure bikes are great all-rounders

​​​COURTESY OF KAWASAKI

Kawasaki Versys-X 300

Price: $5,399
Kawasaki recently jumped into the small adventure bike market with the Versys-X 300. It's a good choice for anyone looking for a fun, nimble bike that's pretty much good at everything. Spring for the optional ABS (think of it as $300 well spent), and the Versys will make for a great everyday commuter and serve to tackle the dirt roads on longer travels once the pavement ends.

 

^ Art Department Error. Sport Bikes are not aslo called Naked Bikes. 

Be careful with sportbikes

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What they are: They're the supercars of the two-wheeled world. The thrill of speed combines with aggressive lean angles to provide an adrenaline rush that can rarely be matched. It's imperative on sport bikes to be ultra-smooth in the application of throttle, clutch, and brakes, so for beginners, powerful sport bikes can often result in expensive medical bills, not to mention a broken bike. Smaller sport bikes, meanwhile, allow for just as much fun and can be ultimately forgiving when riders make mistakes.

You should consider one if: You love the idea of riding fast, can check your ego at the door, and deep down, you know the 1980s peaked with the Top Gun chase scene.

Smaller sport bikes are best for beginners
COURTESY OF YAMAHA

Yamaha YZF-R3

Price: $4,999
The little Yamaha R3 is the perfect beginner sport bike. The twin-cylinder, 321cc engine performs well at highway speeds, and overall, the bike is nimble and powerful enough to raise your heartbeat when the roads get twisty. As with the Kawasaki above, think of the ABS system as a $300 investment in not scratching the beautiful matte (black or white) bodywork.

Smaller sport bikes are best for beginners

COURTESY OF TRIUMPH

Triumph Street Triple

Price: $9,400
If you can handle a bigger bike and you possess the self-discipline to handle extra power, the Triumph Street Triple is one of the best. It won't break a sweat at the track or on canyon roads, and it's docile enough to handle everyday use. The upright riding position is less aggressive than a traditional sport bike, which makes it particularly well suited to longer stints in the saddle.

 
Cafe Racers are immensely popular

SAM BENDALL/THRILLIST

What they are: Born from a bit of a snide comment about sport bike riders in the 1960s who would "race" from one coffee shop to the next, today cafe racers, aka modern classics, are hugely popular because they look great and are highly customizable to match your own personal aesthetic. Naturally, that means they also have a budding hipster community to boot.

You should consider one if: You think of a motorcycle as a fashion accessory as much as a riding machine. Cafe Racers make for excellent everyday commuting motorcycles and are often customized to be a tad sporty. These are some of the prettiest motorcycles on the road today.

Cafe Racers are Immensely popular

COURTESY OF TRIUMPH

Triumph Street Twin

Price: $8,700
Triumph recently revamped its entire modern classic motorcycle lineup, and everyone is raving about the bikes for good reason. Whether you call them modern classic or cafe racer, the new generation of bikes comes with modern tech like traction control, ABS, different ride modes, better fueling, and a bigger engine, all while harmoniously blending in the allure of old style.

 

Cafe Racers are immensely popular

SAM BENDALL/THRILLIST

 

Honda CB1100

Price: $10,999
The Honda CB1100 oozes an undeniable air of svelte retro sexiness. Sporting a large, 1,142cc fuel-injected engine, the ride experience is both smooth and forgiving. The CB1100 also comes with an option for ABS. The bottom line is that this is a perfect, classic motorcycle for those who want to grow with their bike for a number of years.

 
Cruisers are great bikes for some people

COURTESY OF HARLEY-DAVIDSON

What they are: When you think about cruisers, Harley-Davidson instantly comes to mind. The pride of Milwaukee has spent well over a century solidifying itself at the head of this class. That's not to say there aren't amazing alternatives, though. Bear in mind that by most objective measures, cruisers are not fantastic motorcycles: They don't really do anything better than other genres of bike... except for looking good, both while sitting still and cruising down the road. As a result, they remain the most popular motorcycle class in America

You should consider one if: You want to emulate Peter Fonda, Dennis Hopper, and Jack Nicholson on a multi-state journey. Or you need a day-to-day bike.

Cruisers are the Classic Highway bike

COURTESY OF HONDA

 

Honda Rebel 300 or Rebel 500

Price: $4,399 (Rebel 300) and $5,999 (Rebel 500)
Honda redesigned the Rebel for 2017, and it's perfect for riders with a shorter inseam. The 300 has a very manageable engine for those riders who need a more forgiving machine. The 500 is for those seeking something with a bit more power. Regardless of your engine choice, Honda has long been known for making very reliable machines.

Cruisers are the classic highway bike

COURTESY OF YAMAHA

Yamaha Star Bolt R-Spec

Price: $8,399
The R-Spec is a great cruiser with appealing looks, a torque-y engine, and fantastic design. The wide handlebars make steering considerably easier and give it a more stable feel, which in turn inspires surprising levels of performance for a cruiser, but most of all, they result in smiles. The seat is pretty low here (just over 27in off the ground) so you don't need to be particularly tall to ride.

 
Dual Sport bikes are more sport than road

COURTESY OF HONDA

What they are: Dual-sport motorcycles are essentially dirt bikes that have been adapted to ride on the street and come with headlamps, turn signals, and everything in between to make them road legal. They are incredibly fun to ride around town and can handle themselves in dirt on the weekends.

You should consider one if: You're looking for a fun weekend bike to get you started down the two-wheeled path.

Dual sports bikes are great for novice riders

COURTESY OF HONDA

Honda CRF250L

Price: $5,149
The CRF250L's main draw is a roughly 3in lower seat height that makes it ideal for shorter riders. It's just as capable on pavement as it is in the dirt and is a great beginner bike for anyone. Available as a $700 option, the CRF250L Rally sports even more aggressive bodywork, and a windshield to protect against flying rocks, in case you're riding behind anyone.

Dual sport bikes are great for novices

COURTESY OF SUZUKI

Suzuki DRZ400S

Price: $6,599
The DRZ400S has a huge fanbase and can pull double duty on the road or in the dirt... but make no mistake here: The suspension has nearly a full foot of travel, marking this out as a serious off-road performer first and foremost. It's been around for a while, and between its history and an expanse of aftermarket parts available, the DRZ400S can be made to suit basically anyone's needs.

There's always the used option, too

Once you factor in some of your personal criteria and shop around, you will have a better idea as to what bike is best for you. Sometimes a brand-new bike just isn't in the cards financially, but a lot of these bikes have been around long enough to have a solid secondhand market. Aim for one with less than 20,000 miles and you should be good.

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livemotofoto@gmail.com (Sam Bendall Photography - LiveMotoFoto) Africa Twin Beginner motorcycles Bolt Buy a motorcycle Ducati Honda Kawasaki Street Triple Thrillist Triumph Yamaha motorcycles new motorcycle not your typical beginner motorcycles http://www.livemotofoto.com/blog/2017/2/the-best-new-motorcycles-to-buy-as-your-first-bike Sat, 11 Feb 2017 07:06:35 GMT
Why Riding A Motorcycle Will Make You A Better Car Driver http://www.livemotofoto.com/blog/2016/12/why-riding-a-motorcycle-will-make-you-a-better-driver Originally published for Thrillist 

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For many, it's a dream to strap on some gear, hop on a motorcycle, and experience the freedom and rebel spirit of the open road. But it goes without saying that riding a motorcycle is not as easy as driving your Audi. In fact, motorcycles are 38 times more dangerous to operate than cars, and require far more attention and skill.

Which is why when you're learning to ride, you develop both a supreme set of riding skills and an excellent sense of judgment. As a very welcome bonus, honing these skills on a motorcycle makes you a better and safer driver of any type of vehicle. My students (I'm a motorcycle safety instructor in California) regularly tell me how much more aware they are after spending even one day on a bike, because it forces you to be keenly alert and aware of the world and hazards around you. Here's why motorcycle riders are some of the sharpest drivers on the road.

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You train yourself to constantly recognize danger and risk

In a car, it's all too easy to feel safe and untouchable in your comfy leather seat, protected from the elements by metal and glass. On a motorcycle, it's vital to accept that what you're doing is dangerous. Complacency on a motorcycle can result in serious injury or even death, and while many high-end motorcycles include technology packages that contribute to a rider's safety, no amount of technology can effectively replace the human element.

Riding safely out in the world means recognizing and avoiding all the things that are trying to kill you. So on top of having to hone the skills and confidence to control the bike itself, riders must fine-tune their situational awareness to recognize the dangers around them. The biggest offenders are the multitudes of oblivious drivers, but it could just as easily be gravel in the middle of the highway, a pothole, a soccer dad making an oncoming left turn in the intersection you are approaching, wet leaves... the list goes on virtually ad nauseam.

Pretty soon you develop and retain that mindset of actively looking out for potential risks -- a skill that's beneficial no matter how many wheels you have, since operating any vehicle is dangerous. Once you've ridden a motorcycle, chances are you'll take your daily commute far more seriously.

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You have to deal with hazards before they're a problem

Situational awareness means actively training your eyes, ears, and brain to pay attention to the world around you. As an example, while on the 405 recently, I encountered a piece of a 2x4 on the double yellow line between the fast lane and the carpool lane, but because I was looking far ahead, I saw it well in advance, and safely passed it. My instinctual reaction was that the object was a hazard, and I began to run through how I would handle that obstacle if it were in my path. Could I go around it? Over it? Could I stop in time? A decision like this is made in mere hundredths of a second, so every millisecond you gain from identifying a hazard earlier has a huge impact on your ability to effectively manage the situation.

Ask yourself this: When was the last time you turned your head a full 100 degrees to the right to look over your shoulder before changing lanes in your car? How many times do you check your mirrors in four seconds?

Especially if you're commuting or riding in urban areas densely packed with motorists, pedestrians, and bicyclists, knowing when to prepare yourself to brake immediately or slow down to avoid a potential hazard can save your life. You just have to look around and be actively engaged with everything that surrounds you.

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The result? You develop excellent driving skills and habits.

When I'm driving a car, I look over my shoulder when I change lanes. Every. Single. Time. My eyes are constantly scanning the road ahead, my rearview mirror, and my side mirrors every couple of seconds. I can bring my car to an emergency stop from 45mph without relying on the antilock braking system, and can feel when I begin to lose traction. Those habits and instincts get hardwired into your brain with prolonged experience on a bike, which is why motorcyclists are some of the most attentive drivers out there.

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And you learn a ton about the physics of driving

When compared to motorcycles, it's fair to say that cars are rather stable. They have four wheels, they cannot simply fall over, there is less chance of injury, and at slow speeds, they're easier to manage. What that means is that suspension and steering dynamics are very, very different on a motorcycle, and you can feel subtle changes far more than when you're driving a car. Because suspension changes are more noticeable, you're forced to fine-tune your steering and throttle usage.

The end result is that you have a much greater sensitivity to what's going on with your vehicle, and a solid appreciation for how your every action impacts it. At the end of the day, you're a safer driver with greater control when the world around you gets dicey.

 

Words by Sam Bendall

Photos by Sam Bendall & Bruce Steever

 

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livemotofoto@gmail.com (Sam Bendall Photography - LiveMotoFoto) ADV Awareness BMW Ducati Education Honda LiveMotoFoto Moto Camping Motolife Motorcycle Motorcycles Real Riders Revit Safe Riding Sam Bendall Sport Touring Sport" Thrillist samuel Bendall Photography http://www.livemotofoto.com/blog/2016/12/why-riding-a-motorcycle-will-make-you-a-better-driver Wed, 28 Dec 2016 22:40:43 GMT
2016 Honda VFR1200X Ride Review http://www.livemotofoto.com/blog/2016/11/2016-honda-vfr1200x-ride-review Originally published for Ride Apart

VFR1200X-HERO-CC-HILL-(web-High)VFR1200X-HERO-CC-HILL-(web-High)  

The Honda VFR1200X has been available in Europe, where it’s known as the Crosstourer, for the past few years but it only made its way to the United States in 2016. While it looks like a big adventure motorcycle, it is classified as a sport touring machine and we found that it is capable of pounding the pavement on long hauls and eating up the most twisty canyon roads. Between the heft and the street-friendly design, I don’t really see it be a true adventure bike, but I will get more into that later on.

After spending a week and a half logging about 1,500 Miles on the VFR1200X, I came away with a pretty good idea where this bike belongs in the motorcycle universe. My goal was to leave Los Angeles and get lost on the VFR, so I packed my bags, strapped them down on the passenger pillion, and suited up for an adventure.

Where would I go? I was not too sure. I didn’t even pack a map. I know enough about my home state that I can’t actually, you know, get lost. So, I just headed north. My travels took me to Rosamond and past Willow Springs Raceway as I aimed for the coast. Along the Pacific, I rode past Big Sur, Monterey, San Jose, and back down to San Luis Obispo before making my way back to Los Angeles. Ninety percent of the time spent on the VFR1200X was on pavement with about 10 percent spent exploring some fire roads in the Los Padres National Forest.

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Riding the Mean Streets of the Big City

Looking at this behemoth, one would imagine the VFR1200X would be a bit of a beast in and around the city but it is surprisingly manageable. While riding in Los Angeles, I’m keen to focus on a number of factors specific to urban riding. How does the bike hold up when splitting lanes? Does it have the power to get me out of a sticky situation (i.e. stupid drivers)? Is it nimble enough in those situations? How does the suspension fare on both beat up and well-paved roads? How bad is engine heat in stop-and-go traffic?

I split lanes all the time. It’s imperative for city riding in LA because traffic is so horrible. To not split lanes means you are just as miserable as those poor souls sitting in their cars. The VFR1200X, while it is a big bike, manages the day-to-day task of splitting lanes fairly well. The ride height allows for a fantastic view of traffic and puts you well above the roofs of any sedan. Some spots were a bit tight to get through but, overall, I found the VFR1200X well equipped for the urban commute. The low speeds of lane splitting and navigating parking lots are where the VFR shows its heft, all 603 lbs. of it.

The suspension on the VFR is adjustable for compression dampening on the back but I never took the time to adjust it because it felt good right out of the box. The response in handling over potholes felt adequate and comfortable in and around the city. The hydraulic actuated clutch is effortless and is fantastic for dealing with day-to-day squeeze and ease, in and around urban areas. The standard-mount calipers grip onto two 310mm discs up front that is capable of bringing the big VFR1200X to stop in a hurry.

Total Control Festival Willow Springs! - 357Photo by Joe Bonello

Riding on the Highway to Hell

The majority of my time in the saddle of the VFR1200X was spent on the highway. I firmly believe that every OEM makes a crappy stock saddle but the VFR1200X was not too bad. It wasn’t great either. After about an hour, I began to feel a few hot spots, began to squirm and move around a little bit and stood up on the pegs to stretch my long legs. Overall, the ergonomics for long-haul touring make the VFR very comfortable, especially for riders around my lanky stature of 6 feet 5 inches. The handlebars are tall and easy to reach, the 33.5-inch seat height provides a nice standard seating position too. This bike is purpose built to eat up miles.

At Home on the Back Roads

Once off the highways and onto the twisty canyon roads, the VFR1200X handles its own quite well, especially for such a big bike. The suspension is geared more for comfort than performance but I felt comfortable leaning off the saddle and managed to muscle it around corners with confidence. In tighter turns, I even found myself grinding the footpegs. Honestly, I was surprised by this as I didn’t expect to be able to lean it over that much but I did and it handled it well. The 19-inch front end provided good feedback and never felt light or wavering.

I could not help but take the VFR off-road. Now I didn’t do any heavy off-roading but managed some light fire roads and some trails with a bit of gravel and it did pretty well. The 1200X is capable, especially with the big 19-inch front wheel. However, this is not what this bike is designed for despite its ADV styling. In the dirt, the VFR felt heavy and the worry of dropping it became a real concern. At 608 lbs, with another 70 lbs of travel gear, it would be a nightmare to handle alone if the bike went down. Furthermore, the shape of the tank really inhibits the rider's ability to comfortably grip the tank with his or her legs from a standing position.

2012 Honda VFR 1200 X Review

What Everyone Else Says

The one review I agree with almost word for word was done by Bradley Adams over at CycleWorld. He spent some time with a more loaded out version of the VFR1200X in Moab, Utah, and said this: “In fact, in a lot of ways the VFR1200X is exactly what you’d expect from Big Red. It’s polished, refined, and misses very few marks. I think that, for the riders who are honest with themselves and admit they will not be doing any off-road riding, it will be worth a look.”

I’ll also add, that if you are OK with throwing around the weight of the VFR, then, yeah, it’s a drop-dead reliable bike that will make you happy day in and day out.

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The Little Things

Every bike has something that annoys its rider. Some have more issues than others but let me take a moment to address my gripes with the 1200X. My first question is: why doesn't this bike, which claims to be a sport-touring motorcycle, not come with cruise control?

Second gripe: the bulbous tank design could be slimmed down in future iterations. Regardless of off-road ability, I would like to be able to stand up occasionally and not have the tank mashing into my thighs. Third: either the foot pegs are too small or my feet are too damn big.

Fourth: I really like to have options. Of those options, I want to be able to turn off the ABS. I can select a variety of TC settings, why can I not choose my ABS settings? I’m just saying.

Fifth: I have never liked digital tachometers.

Lastly: the 5.68-gallon tank and low fuel economy kind of puts a damper on the idea of putting a ton of miles on this bike. When I was nursing my fuel, I got almost 190 miles out of a tank before the panic-attack feeling of, “OK, it’s time to find gas,” began running around in my brain.

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The Best Things about the VFR1200X

Here we go, what stands out? What about this bike sang to me like an angel from the heavens during my 1,500-mile trek? First, I really like the engine. It’s not remarkable but rather predictable and smooth. The 76-degree V4, 1237cc powerplant has smooth and nice, even power delivery along the low and mid-range. It provides excellent power to punch through any and all traffic and enough zest to be fun in the canyons. Even at higher RPMs the engine maintains a tolerable amount of “buzziness” and cruising at 88 mph in 6th gear for miles after miles of highway proved effortless.

Press the traction control button three times to deactivate traction control and power wheelies are easy after that. The VFR1200X is a heavy beast, so bringing it down gently is a necessity. However, if you are buying this bike you’re not in it for the wheelies.

The adjustable windscreen is a godsend for both the long hauls and short jaunts along the interstate. With the flip of a lever and a push-up or down, the windscreen is adjustable on the fly and can be set at multiple heights. In the down position, there is considerable buffeting and wind noise. Put it up, and you become wrapped in the cone of silence. The windscreen does a good job for someone who is as tall as I am; for those who are shorter, the windscreen is fantastic. I am happy that Honda chose to make the windscreen adjustability analog rather than electronic. There’s something about the basic nature of a lever that gives me confidence that it won’t falter.

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Honda offers a fair amount of luggage options for the VFR1200X but they get a bit pricey. I am a simple man and if there are points where I can fit a cinch strap around something I’ll just strap down some dry bags and go. Which is exactly what I did. The openings where the hard case panniers attach to the bike were wide enough to feed through a couple of tension straps bought at REI for $8 and voila – instant waterproof luggage.

The 12v charging port made it easy to keep my phone and little portable power banks charged while riding, and I enjoyed the readability from the digital speedometer and having a clear display that tells you what gear you are in. This bike actually looks really nice with its ADV styling without being an ADV motorcycle. It is a big bike but you know what? I like big bikes because I am a big dude. Touring- and budget-minded owners will also like the enclosed shaft drive. No chain maintenance to deal with on this baby.

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Would I Buy It?

If it were my hard-earned money would I be dropping my stack of Benjamins at the Honda dealership for this motorcycle? Sadly, no, and here is why:

Let me first remind all of you that this is my own opinion based on my own preferences as a motorcyclist because I can see the potential appeal that the VFR will have for others.

At $15,599 for the manual transmission or $15,999 for the DCT transmission (my press bike was the manual transmission version). I feel like there are a few other motorcycles out there that would prove just as highway worthy, offer better fuel economy, and enable me to sport-tour while also allowing me an option to go off-road. Now, with that being said, I grew to enjoy the VFR1200X in the sense of it being a sport-touring motorcycle. If what you are looking for is a reliable, straightforward big bike that can travel and nothing else, then the VFR 1200 X is worth consideration.

The VFR1200X comes in a little less than its European competitors, like the Aprilia Caponord, BMW R1200 RT, and the rival Japanese, Yamaha Super Ténéré. For this reason, it’s the bargain motorcycle. However, for an extra one or two thousand dollars with the other brands in the same displacement category, you get more features that will add to your adventure sport-touring experience. On the other hand, you could get away with an equally enjoyable motorcycle capable of handling highway, back roads, and city riding by jumping down to the 1000cc sport-touring specific motorcycles and save quite a bit of cash.

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VFR and KTM On HillVFR and KTM On Hill

Rider Stats

Name: Sam Bendall - @livemotofoto
Height: 6 foot 5 inches
Physical build: Rugged and manly. Seriously, though, athletic and slim.
Riding experience: 8 years with an emphasis on street, commuting, and touring. 3 years riding dirt and adventure.

Gear
Helmet: Schuberth C3
Jacket/Pants: Rev’it Lombard Jeans
Riding suit: Revit Sand 2
Gloves: Racer Mickey
Boots: Alpinestars SMX Pro

 

Words and Photography by Sam Bendall

Riding Photos by Joe Bonello 

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livemotofoto@gmail.com (Sam Bendall Photography - LiveMotoFoto) ADV Big Sur Bike Review Honda LiveMotoFoto Los Angeles Motorcycle Motorcycle Review Revit Revit Sport Sam Bendall Schuberth VFR1200X Willow Springs samuel Bendall Photography http://www.livemotofoto.com/blog/2016/11/2016-honda-vfr1200x-ride-review Fri, 18 Nov 2016 03:22:16 GMT
Alpinestars Launches Oscar Collection at ARCH Motorcycles http://www.livemotofoto.com/blog/2016/10/alpinestars-launches-oscar-collection-at-arch-motorcycles AlpineStars Oscar Collection and Brad Pitt's Custom TriumphAlpineStars Oscar Collection and Brad Pitt's Custom Triumph on display at ARCH Motorcycles

When I get off my motorcycle, the last thing I want to look like is a motorcyclist. The only physical object that should inform others that I am riding a bike is the helmet I am carrying. Otherwise, I want to be able to walk into a bar, attend a meeting, or go out on a date, and be perfectly comfortable and looking fresh and fashionable in my threads.

More and more companies are finally understanding this demand from riders who want protective motorcycle attire without having to actually look like a stereotypical motorcyclist. 

Alpinestars, one of the world's largest motorcycle apparel and technical garment manufacturers, launched their Oscar Collection this week. Held at ARCH Motorcycles in Torrance, CA, the Oscar Collection is a heritage inspired line of protective motorcycle gear and lifestyle attire for 2017. It includes an array of jackets, jeans, and boots with CE protection ratings. Effectively mixing a vintage aesthetic with modern technology.   

In 1963, a leather craftsman by the name of Sante Mazzarolo began producing the first products bearing the Alpinestars moniker. At that time, a new sport called motocross was establishing itself and becoming quite popular across Europe. Very much aware of the sport, Sante realized an opportunity to apply his talents and technical acumen to design a new type of footwear that would meet the protective needs and demands of this beautiful yet brutal form of athleticism.

This is where a rich heritage in motorcycle racing was born for Alpinestars. The company then branched out into road racing in the late seventies and spanned into nearly all disciplines of motorsports from motocross to Formula 1. Though Alpinestars has evolved over the years, the timeless rebel-style of motorcycle racing and the refined Italian aesthetic of the early sixties continue to drive the brand. 

The Oscar Collection is an homage to those beginnings. 

Alpinestars is also launching a new Instagram profile that will center on the Oscar Collection while encouraging motorcyclists to engage with the brand in sharing their own stories and their love for motorcycles with the hashtag: #NiceBikeAlpinestars

On top of showcasing the new Oscar Collection, Alpinestars displayed their current Spring 2017 Men's clothing line which they have been growing with the goal of captivating everything from heritage esthetics all the way to the modern racetrack. 

In addition to featuring great products, Alpinestars featured some truly historic and one-of-a-kind motorcycles including, Roger Decoster personal 1975 Championship winning Suzuki MX Bike. Decoster was also present at the event and was one of the first championship riders for Alpinestars. He was discovered by the founder of the company, Santee Mazzarolo.

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Photos by Sam Bendall

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livemotofoto@gmail.com (Sam Bendall Photography - LiveMotoFoto) Alpinestars Brad Pitt Commercial Photography Event Sam Bendall blog motorcycle photography samuel Bendall Photography http://www.livemotofoto.com/blog/2016/10/alpinestars-launches-oscar-collection-at-arch-motorcycles Fri, 28 Oct 2016 20:19:00 GMT
Generations Video for the Distinguished Gentleman's Ride http://www.livemotofoto.com/blog/2016/9/generations-video-and-the-2016-distinguished-gentlemans-ride FFXT2440-2FFXT2440-2

Some of the best things in life are passed down from father to son. For me, one of the greatest gifts I was given from my father was my love for motorcycles. 

However, all that can be taken away if one neglects their health.  For this reason, it's important that men get checked for prostate cancer. Second to heart disease, Prostate cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in men in the United States. 

Ninety-eight percent (98%) are alive after 10 years, and 95% live for at least 15 years. For men diagnosed with prostate cancer that has spread to other parts of the body, the 5-year survival rate drops to 28%. It is beyond imperative to catch this disease before it spreads. 

My dad was one of the lucky ones. He is still here with me today and I 

He is still here with me and the thought of not having him around pains me. I can only imagine what others have gone through. Who they have lost.  

If you wish to give a little please do so at the link below. 

Donate now, support my ride, and give a little to the cause. Thanks! 

Generations

Video Produced by Jason Federici and Errol Colandro 

Editing: My Media Sydney

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livemotofoto@gmail.com (Sam Bendall Photography - LiveMotoFoto) cancer canyon motorcycles dgr distinguished gentleman's ride family father los angeles los angeles motorcycle ride mental health awareness motorcycle movember research ride dapper sam bendall samuel bendall photography triumph http://www.livemotofoto.com/blog/2016/9/generations-video-and-the-2016-distinguished-gentlemans-ride Fri, 30 Sep 2016 18:21:51 GMT
Flat Tracker Done Right - Mike Zehner's Triumph Bonneville by Mule Motorcycles http://www.livemotofoto.com/blog/2016/8/flat-tracker-done-right---mike-zehners-triumph-bonneville-by-mule-motorcycles triumphtriumph

There is no shortage of custom Triumph Bonneville builds out there in the world but Mike Zehner’s flat track inspired bike by Richard Pollack of Mule Motorcycles is simply too good not to showcase. 

In its stock form, the Triumph Bonneville is a bit of a pig. It’s a beautiful bike but it lacks the power and handling of a performance motorcycle. Granted one does not buy a Bonneville for these reasons but it does not mean it cannot achieve these traits after the fact. That is exactly what Mike Zehner sought to do and with the help from renowned motorcycle builder Richard Pollack of Mule Motorcycles. The result is a pavement pounding, dirt chewing, monster of a motorcycle. 

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The build began as a stock 2007 Bonneville T100 and first on the chopping block was weight. Accustomed to riding single track and lightweight dirt bikes, Zehner wanted to ensure his everyday ride would emulate his riding style. With this in mind, Pollack was able to knock off almost 100 pounds from the portly classic by adding a lightweight fuel tank made by Fred Muelenhort and a fiberglass single seat cowling. The most noticeable modifications are beefy but lightweight spoked Sun rims running rubber from Maxxis in the rear and Dunlop up front, inverted front forks from an MV Agusta F4, RaceTech Suspension at the rear, recessed Sportster headlight, 2-1 upswept exhaust, and wide flat track bars for added control off-road. 

Zehner’s Bonneville Tracker also features an upgraded 6 piston brakes up front, Mule oil-cooled kit, air box eliminator kit with K&N air filters, a small LED brake light hidden under the rear fender, a small and discreet Acewell gauge and controls from a 2007 Triumph Scrambler to fit the 7/8 inch bar.  

“This bike came out exactly as I had hoped. It handles the urban commute very well and when I get it in my mind to tackle some dirt, I just go,” said Zehner. “My dad owned Triumph’s when I was young so they were some of the first bikes I fell in love with. Now, I have my own that does everything I could ask it to do. It rocks.”

I happen to agree. This bike looks mighty sweet. 

Photos by Errol Colandero (@EL3_Productions) and Jun Song (@nostalgia_memoir)

 

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livemotofoto@gmail.com (Sam Bendall Photography - LiveMotoFoto) Bonneville Tracker Triumph http://www.livemotofoto.com/blog/2016/8/flat-tracker-done-right---mike-zehners-triumph-bonneville-by-mule-motorcycles Fri, 05 Aug 2016 21:45:00 GMT
The Woodsman Makes Me Want to Get Lost In The Woods http://www.livemotofoto.com/blog/2016/8/the-woodsman-makes-me-want-to-get-lost-in-the-woods MG_8613-640x427MG_8613-640x427

Based out in San Jose, California, Blood Brothers Inc. is a small motorcycle company known for their military ammo box mounts for Triumph modern classics just released their first motorcycle build. A swank looking forest hopping machine called “The Woodsman. “

The motorcycle’s new owner (Marcus) made the bold choice to cash-out from the tech world and focus on life's essentials. He relocated his family to Sweden, bought a 400-year old farm and retired from the rat race.

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“When Marcus asked us to build him a motorcycle, his story supplied all the inspiration we needed. “The Woodsman” is our first custom build,” said Steve Mummolo, co-owner of Blood Brothers Inc.

“The bike is a blend of grit and grace, this custom scrambler is built to handle the rigors of a working farm while preserving the iconic beauty the Bonneville is known for.”

The guys began with a bone stock 2008 T100, stripped away all but the frame and engine and began to build. They seized the opportunity to collaborate with and showcase a favorite bike of theirs with shops and partners from around the world. 

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The Woodsman breaks down like this:

Blood Brothers Inc. Custom Designs:

  • 3 Beam ¼” Aluminum Plate & Headlight Rig
  • Wiring alteration to accommodate headlight, tail light & signal array
  • Quick Release Leather Hatchet mount 
  • Hand Lettered Low Mount Quick release .30 Cal Ammo Can 
  • Hand crafted Aluminum Speedo mount
  • Side Cover Shaping & Screen installation

Partner Contributions:

Photography by Matthew Wardenaar / @omfgitsmateo
Josh Jackson / @calijax
Paulo Lopez / @pauloroid

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livemotofoto@gmail.com (Sam Bendall Photography - LiveMotoFoto) Bonneville Motorcycle T100 Triumph http://www.livemotofoto.com/blog/2016/8/the-woodsman-makes-me-want-to-get-lost-in-the-woods Thu, 04 Aug 2016 21:23:42 GMT
Out Shooting The 2016 Ford Shelby GT350 Mustang for Automobile Magazine http://www.livemotofoto.com/blog/2016/7/the-ford-shelby-gt350-mustang-for-automobile-magazine "Hey, what are you doing on Saturday?" Asked my friend, Jonathon Klein. 

"Nothing of note," was my response. "Probably going for a ride or doing a little writing." 

We're doing a video with a track designed American muscle car and I am going to see if I can make my dad puke for his 6oth birthday. Do you want to come shoot this craziness? 

"Yeah, I'm down but I want whiskey and food. I get bitchy if I can't drink and eat afterwards." I replied. 

"Deal"  

 

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Jonathon Klein happens to be a good friend of mine who I met at a press launch a year or so ago. A kindred spirit of equal nerddom. Our friendship developed over our love for cars, motorcycles, and science fiction. Currently, he is an associate editor at Automobile Magazine so he's always messing around with some cool or mediocre automobile, you know, for work's sake.  He is a talented driver, elegant wordsmith, and an all-around amusing dude who I am happy to call my friend. Friends are also the only people I allow to pay me in food and whiskey. 

I drove up to Santa Clarita with our mutual friend Manuel and was introduced to Jonathon's family. They happened to be in town for the holiday. The agenda for the day: Take Jonathon's Dad out to the canyons and give him a birthday present he would never forget. A bone-crushing run in a 526-horsepower Ford Shelby GT350. Oh yeah, and we would film his reaction the entire time. You all will have to wait to scope out that video at automobilemag.com when it comes out next month. I guarantee you it's going to be fantastic. 

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You see, Jonathon's Dad has never been in a car like this before, and by some transitive property of logic, he has definitely never been in a car like this with his son behind the wheel. This was bound to get interesting.  

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I did what I could to get some cool shots during the day which included: hanging out of a sunroof, climbing a cliff, and having a 2-ton muscle car barrel past me just inches from my lens. 

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After Jonathon ran his dad through the wringer, I was able to hop in the passenger seat as we needed to go farther up the hill to get some beauty shots of the GT350. 

"Seriously dude, don't pussyfoot around now that I am in this car. Give me what you got. Or at least whatever grip is left on those tires." Of course, I would instigate my friend. It's what we do. 

Jonathon unleashed the beast and man, what a ride! The entire time Jonathon whipped through the corners, I tried my hardest to talk a little bit about the car. I think I spent more time laughing than talking. 

asset

 

 

 

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livemotofoto@gmail.com (Sam Bendall Photography - LiveMotoFoto) American Muscle Automobile Magazine Ford Mustang GT350 Muscle Car Pony Sam Bendall XT1 blog livemotofoto mustang photography samuel Bendall Photography travel http://www.livemotofoto.com/blog/2016/7/the-ford-shelby-gt350-mustang-for-automobile-magazine Wed, 27 Jul 2016 07:45:10 GMT
Ducati Globetrotter 90 Project: The Final Seven Riders http://www.livemotofoto.com/blog/2016/6/ducati-globetrotter-90-project-the-final-seven-riders

It’s official! I have been chosen by Ducati as one of their adventure riders in the Globetrotter 90 Project. Myself and six other riders (all of us are below) will rally around the world utilizing one Ducati Multistrada 1200 Enduro in celebration of Ducati’s 90th anniversary.  
 
Not only am I truly honored to have been chosen after proving my abilities in Tuscany but I am also unbelievably stoked to be working with Ducati on this project. It brings me even greater joy to continue doing what I enjoy most in the world.
 
Currently, specifics surrounding the routes are being hashed out but the best advice is to follow us all on our Instagram feeds and our travel journals on the official Ducati Globetrotter 90 Project website. We will all be documenting our journey in our own unique way while visiting points of interest that relate to the history and identity that is Ducati.
 
And yeah, we all are gonna be looking for some fun off-road sections to mash on during our trip. I certainly will be. This is an adventure bike after all.    
Since this project is a social one, you will have the opportunity to meet up and share the road with us along each of our routes if you feel so inclined. 
 
We all hope to see you on the road. 
 
DRE_END_20160614_0171I do this because I truly love motorcycles. There is nothing else quite like it.
DRE_END_20160614_1161Vir Nakal and myself trying to figure out how an iPhone works Jess Leyne face says it all. Happiness is playing in the dirt on motorbikes.
DRE_END_20160614_2522Rather be riding than fixing but it's all part of the job. Timo Shcafer Steve Fraser and Hugo Wilson Eduardo Generali and myself taking selfies.
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livemotofoto@gmail.com (Sam Bendall Photography - LiveMotoFoto) ADV Adventure Motorcycle Adventure Rider Ducati Globetrotter90 Italy Multistrada Enduro 1200 Tuscany motorcycle photography samuel Bendall Photography travel http://www.livemotofoto.com/blog/2016/6/ducati-globetrotter-90-project-the-final-seven-riders Tue, 28 Jun 2016 06:25:08 GMT
The Ducati Globetrotter 90 Boot Camp http://www.livemotofoto.com/blog/2016/6/the-ducati-globetrotter-90-boot-camp

We all have bucket lists. Places we wish to travel or things we want to do in life before we pass on. High on my own list was a trip to italy. I envisioned myself simply enjoying delicious food, drinking wine, and taking in the countryside via motorcycle or scooter. Nothing major. Last week I got that chance---if only for a day---and it nothing short of surreal. I’ll definitely be going back for more. 
 
For, those that know me know my enthusiasm for motorcycling borders on pure obsession. My eyes light up and my smile grows large when motorcycles are around or are being discussed. These machines have fundamentally altered my existence and that has been a great thing. So when I got a call from Ducati to be one of the 14 finalists in their Globetrotter 90 rally, I jumped at the opportunity to prove myself in an arena that I have been practicing my skills in for some time now: adventure motorcycling.  
 
At Ducati’s request, myself and 13 others arrived in Florence, Italy. We all remained focused and ready to show one another no quarter for a chance to become one of the final seven that would relay a Ducati Multistrada 1200 Enduro around the world. Quickly, our bloodthirsty competitiveness had been replaced with camaraderie, teamwork, and new found friendships. Something I have found to be quite common in the adventure motorcycle community. I wonder if Ducati anticipated this because I am sure it’s not going to make their decision process any easier. Especially since we all did quite well in our riding trials. 
 
Regardless of which seven riders are chosen, it has been an honor to have represented the United States in this celebration of Ducati’s 90th anniversary. At the end of the day, I walked away with 13 new friends from all over the world, my first visit to Italy and a taste of Ducati’s ability to produce a truly amazing adventure motorcycle. Me oh my the Multistrada 1200 Enduro is fantastic bike that was simply delicious to ride both on and off-road.
 
Below is a bit more about what Ducati had to say about our crazy day. 
 
The magnificent Castello di Nipozzano, in the Chianti hills, provided a stunning backdrop to the rider selection bootcamp for Globetrotter 90, the round-the-world relay organized by Ducati to celebrate the company's 90 years of success.
 
IMG_7393Our steeds for the day. The Multistrada 1200 Enduro
 
Fourteen finalists from all over the world (India, Australia, United States, Malaysia, Chile, Colombia, Italy, the UK, Germany and many others) took part in off-road riding sessions and tests on the Multistrada 1200 Enduro in a breath-taking natural setting that is also the venue for the Ducati DRE Enduro riding courses.
 
Too many selfies and a whole lot of laughs. Too many selfies and a whole lot of laughs.
 
At the start of this tough day the candidates competed in an (on-foot) orienteering trial in the grounds around the Castello to check out their navigational and problem-solving skills.
 
DRE_END_20160614_0549Legendary Dakar rider and our lead instructor, Beppe Gualini, preparing us for orienteering.
DRE_END_20160614_0627RUN!!!! DRE_END_20160614_0767Beacons were hidden in the most random places. A keen eye is the key to success. DRE_END_20160614_0781Victor might be small but he is mighty and pretty quick. Never underestimate the little guy.
DRE_END_20160614_0044GPS can fail. Maps do not. Any smart adventurer will carry a paper map and compass.
IMG_7360It was a warm day to be running around but hey, we were in Italy at a castle. Not complaining at all.
 
Following this physical test, the group mounted their bikes and, under the guidance of Beppe Gualini, went through a wide range of off-road riding challenges.
 
DRE_END_20160614_1319My buddy Fonzie gave me a cool riding buff / bandana with a world map on it. As a fellow adventure rider, the point is to shade in places you have conquered on the map.
DRE_END_20160614_1943Wheeeeeeee!!!!!! Ducati Multistrada 1200 Enduro
DRE_END_20160614_1440The finalists head into the trails of Tuscany DRE_END_20160614_1474Intrepid Adventurers. The Ducati Globetrotter 90 Finalists
IMG_7394One of our awesome motorcycle guardians and instructors.
DRE_END_20160614_0171Take a moment and hug your motorcycles people. For everything they do for us, they need love too.
IMG_7384Riding in the Tuscan rain was unbelievable!
 
Following this test of their riding capabilities (made all the more difficult by the rain that greeted them as they entered the woods), the candidates enjoyed a brief rest and some great Italian food before getting stuck into the second part of the day.
 
FFXT7375Lunch: Caprese at the Nipozanno Castle FFXT7381Lunch: Rigatoni with Asparagus creme and parmesan
 
In the afternoon the competitors were put through a timed tests of their abilities in wheel-changing, puncture repair, brake pad replacement and handlebar/lever assembly: the tests were tough, but the skills are a must for solo globe-trotting.
 
Together with the mechanical trials, the aspiring Globetrotters also had to show they could be confident in front of the camera by putting together a brief video presentation and posing for a photo shoot.

DRE_END_20160614_2764Changing wheels was the hardest part of technical training. DRE_END_20160614_2751DRE_END_20160614_2751
FFXT7441Learning the ins and outs of the Multistrada's braking system. DRE_END_20160614_2501DRE_END_20160614_2501 FFXT7478Tire spoons FFXT7447Patching tires
 
Only seven candidates will make it through the final selection process, but all of them have already demonstrated passion, tenacity and preparedness, not to mention inspiring team spirit.
 
This is heterogeneous, multi-cultural group immediately succeeded in getting on and having fun together, establishing a great rapport that made the day a rewarding one.
 
DRE_END_20160614_2888New found friends and one group of amazing adventurers.
 
The selected Globetrotters will be announced soon, while the departure of our first round-the-world hero or heroine is set for 4th July, from the Ducati factory in Borgo Panigale, Bologna.
 
Follow the #globetrotter90 trip on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. 
 
Photos by Sam Bendall and Pietro Bianchi
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livemotofoto@gmail.com (Sam Bendall Photography - LiveMotoFoto) Ducati Globetrotter 90 Multistrada 1200 Enduro http://www.livemotofoto.com/blog/2016/6/the-ducati-globetrotter-90-boot-camp Sat, 18 Jun 2016 05:15:22 GMT