As technology advances motorcycle design is suffering. The challenges of working with limited space creates unique problems that result in bulky and cluttered aesthetics. Occasionally innovation in motorcycle design comes from individuals who aren't affected by the bureaucracy and red tape of global companies, today's featured build is the perfect example. This is the Digimoto BMW R1200R, a concept bike created to show manufacturers that a different approach can return dramatic results.
A knock at my front door this morning announced the arrival of my latest bit of riding gear to review. This is the Bell Helmets Moto 3 'Malibu', a design created in collaboration with Roland Sands Designs and the newest addition to the Moto 3 lineup.
When the Moto 3 was re-released last year there was so much hype surrounding it that I decided to let the dust settle a bit before I got my hands on one. There had been plenty of rumours being passed around that Roland Sands would be doing his own design and when images started surfacing online I arranged with Bell to get one of the first examples of the RSD 'Malibu' to reach Australian shores.
As gaudy as the eighties were they certainly produced some cool motorcycles. Sharp angular styling, bold colour schemes and groundbreaking engineering resulted in a decade of motorcycle releases that reshaped the industry. Suzuki's Katana was, without a doubt, one of the decade's most iconic motorcycles in terms of styling and performance and after its release the other Japanese manufacturers quickly followed suit. Two years after the unveiling of the Katana concept Kawasaki released their GPZ750. An air-cooled, 4 cylinder 'Sports Bike' with styling akin to the Suzuki. While the GPZ750 never achieved the same cult status as the Katana it was a great all round package boasting respectable performance and vogue 80s styling.
As some of our regular readers might have already ascertained our editor, Geoff, is a busy man. I’m somewhat of a nice guy so I asked Geoff if there was anything I could do to help. Soon afterwards a Hedon Epicurist in glossy ‘Shortlist’ teal green arrived in a very pretty package at my door and I could scarcely contain my joy. I get so excited about gear because when during my university years I worked at a motorcycle apparel store. This also means that I tend to be pretty picky and perhaps even overly critical when it comes to my gear.
For this review, I’m going to break things down into first impressions and ride impressions because there’s nothing worse than spending your hard earned on a piece of gear you've fallen in love with at first sight, only to realise it’s shortcomings after a bit of use. Like finally getting together with your childhood crush only to discover she smells like onions and hates motorcycles.
Back in 2011 four Portuguese friends combined their skills and passion to form 'Maria Riding Company'. Their dream was to "Deliver extraordinary rides for unconventional people and having fun while doing it," and 6 years on that dream has become a reality. Along with amassing an impressive portfolio of custom motorcycles MRC now produces a range of men's and women's fashion, bespoke surfboards and skateboards, and have teamed up with helmet manufacturer Nexx to create a cobranded range of retro styled helmets. This custom '99 Yamaha XJR1300 is the most recent of their custom motorcycle builds and it started out as the personal ride of Luis, their head mechanic. One day as a customer was making his way around the shop he spotted the lightly modified, inline four and soon it was agreed that Luis would part with the bike, but first, it would have to be customised to properly represent the Maria Riding Company marque.
Is it possible to improve on perfection? After spending some time in the saddle of a Thruxton R you could easily argue no. The Brits did a stellar job with their top of the range Modern Classic. From the bike's external appearance to its impressive performance the Thruxton ticks all the boxes and even the grumpiest of burnt out, old motorcycle journalists will agree.
Frenchman Serge Heitz and his team of automotive craftsmen will, however, argue the opposing view. At their 'Hedonic' workshop, about an hours drive west of Bordeaux, they're creating unique, made-to-order motorcycles and to demonstrate their ability they've gone and built a better Thruxton.