Blinded by Choice

Culture
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With so many bikes out there to choose from, nailing down just one is a difficulty in itself.
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For the last two years, I found myself in the rather enviable position of somehow being a brand ambassador for Harley-Davidson. Now, this is a grandiose term for what in all intents and purposes meant that they gave me motorcycles to ride and write about.

Trust me, it is not something to be knocked. In fact, it was bloody great. However, they decided that this year they didn’t want me, and I’ve been left out to pasture like one of Donald Trump’s MAGA hats at a Jeremy Corbyn rally.

Which is somewhat stressful.

 

 

They say that moving house is right up there with the most stressful things one can do. And they’d be right – I’ve just done it, with a family of five, and I can indeed confirm that it sucked the most of anything I’ve ever done that sucked.

Having that many enormous moving parts completely out of my control was more than I could handle, to the point that I got ill from the stress and driven to uncomfortable bed for six days afterwards with myriad illnesses.

Suffice to say, I shan’t be doing it again anytime soon.

However, what I have got to now do is face up to that thorny, other most stressful thing, and choose my next motorcycle… Now what you may be asking yourself is how come I’ve left that decision so late, when we’re this close to spring an’ all?

Well, one of the reasons is that blasted house move – its fund-sucking nature shows no sign of abating any time soon – and the other one is that: man’s never hot.

 

 

Allow me to explain…

 

I’m a cold human. It’s dogged me for my whole life. I got in trouble at high school once upon discovering they expected that I should dive onto a frozen solid pitch in the middle of winter with bare legs for something called ‘rugby practice’: ‘You, sir, are having a laugh.’ I decided that I would only do such a thing if I were wearing a pair of joggers.

I got sent back to change. Then I got a detention.

Now as an adult, I still suffer that indignity of coldness in ‘man situations’ on a regular basis. One’s judged on levels of strength and toughness by one’s ability to stay warm in cold conditions, so I never stack up well.

I even let myself down in mundane situations such as getting off a train. Once, I put my arm out the window to open the door at a station, only to watch as my wedding ring slipped from my cold-shrunken finger, bounced off the platform edge and disappeared onto the tracks. I had to get someone with an embarrassingly long grabber hand to retrieve it for me when the train had gone.

I look to be a perpetual weakling.

I should live in California, but I don’t, I live in South Wales, and as we’ve already established that I’m not about to move from there anytime soon, this particular geo-location poses some debilitating problems for me during winter: it leaves me a keen fan of vests, I never leave the house without a coat, and I’m no good at riding motorcycles.

Now don’t get me wrong, family members aside, there’s nothing more I love than riding a motorcycle. But come to the end of October I just have to get off. I can’t handle it. I rode to the end of November in 2016 and frankly, it was a joke – I ended up riding in full thermals, jeans, over-trousers, a hoodie, two jackets and a poncho. And still, I was too cold.

I’m hugely envious of people who can ride whatever the weather – you’ve seen them on Instagram in their jeans and sweatshirt in frikkin’ December – but sadly I’m not that guy. I have never and I will never be that guy.

So, all winter, all I have is an endless social scroll at other people on bikes as they take in a sunny PCH, or the Baffle Boys down under, or just more California generally (there’s always more California).

 

 

I know it’s not tough to say it, but that’s where I’m at, and I’m cold. Anyway, point being, my mind doesn’t start to think about actually riding my own motorcycle until a glimmer of hope is provided by that fiery sky ball making a strained appearance.

Which happened just the other day. And I panicked: which bike?

Let’s start at the end. All last year I rode a Harley-Davidson Roadster, which I absolutely adored. Bar a couple of stylistic choices – the air filter was too big, the pipes were too quiet – it was pretty much perfect straight out of the box, so as soon as I handed back the keys I thought I’d buy another one.

There’s a good looking ex-demo one at Swansea H-D and a really neat one in Reading H-D. So, there’s that.

But then there’s also this: the new Iron 1200. I love a 1200 – as on the Roadster – so having one swinging from the smaller, lighter Iron promises to be bags of twisty fun. It looks great, even with those mini-apes on, and the tank paint is to die for. So, now there’s that too.

 

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2018 Harley Davidson Iron 1200

 

There’s also the Husqvarna Vitpilen 701. This bike is unlike anything I’ve ever ridden I imagine (I’ve never ridden one) but visually it grabs me every time on account of it looking so utterly modern, a piece that wouldn’t be out of place in the cyberpunk worlds of my fantasy. So, on the fringe, there’s also now that.

 

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Husqvarna Vitpilen 701 (Design Boom)

 

If money was less of an object, there would also be the Krazy Horse Street Hooligan, where they’ve taken the wonderful step of creating a kit to pimp an Indian Scout or Scout 60 into a bona fide Street Hooligan tracker. But sadly, because of the price tag, there isn’t that.

There also isn’t a Norton Dominator, perhaps the one bike that all of us at Baffle can agree on wanting to have in our garage. I’ve not got the £20k+, but one day I definitely will, so there isn’t that – yet.

And there isn’t a Triumph either. I don’t know why. They just don’t click with me. Have you got to be either #TeamHarley or #TeamTriumph? I get them, but honestly, I think that ghastly bobber abomination has done a number on me and turned my back on the brand. I can’t even talk about it (sorry HRH Prince William).

And what of the custom shops I love? Charlie at Warrs is on my ‘must-buy’ list of the future, as is Rough Crafts’ Winston, and the Blitz boys, and El Solitario, and I need an Arch, and something from Roland Sands, and is Deus still cool?

Ok, calm down.

 

Did I say I just moved house? I really haven’t recovered.
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Jamie

Baffle Culture

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