December 2008 Update: After 15 years, The Honda Hoot is offically over. Honda attributes the decision to "the current economic crunch", but look to "take this time to seek out new and innovative ways to engage with our customers so that we can continue to ride together."
The chopper brings out the animal in us. No matter how self-effacing or demure we may claim to be, the presence and defiance of these motorcycles stirs the renegade within. With the bikes elongated crouches, they are like Dobermans ready to pounce, packages of barely controlled violence balanced on the edge of beauty and lethality. Baring their teeth, their engines growl the challenge to us: command them, or live forever in fear of them.
Those in the market for stylish, big-bore baggers will have a good deal of whisker scratching to do in 2008. Just as the touring demographic is expanding, so are its options. Hot on the tailpipes of the Victory Vision's intergalactic funk come a new machine as disparate in their styling as their origins. For the metrically inclined, there is a powerful tourer with classic good looks from a Japanese manufacturing titan.
Unlike the original 757cc V7, the California Vintage is propelled by a current Moto Guzzi powerplant—a 1064cc, air-cooled transverse V-twin with two pushrod-actuated valves per cylinder.
I can't help but wonder how I came to this point. My only experience with motorcycles had been as a passenger, and the idea of actually learning to ride myself had never really occurred to me. I grew up with 10 brothers, so motorcycles had always been a "guy thing"; girls were just expected to ride on the back.
Aloha. Each of us has several key elements that not only define us, but provide a context in which we experience our lives and the things around us. As a photographer, I process with visual metaphors and crave experiences that offer maximum levels of color, saturation, and contrast.
Harley's influential Super Glide began life in 1971 as the result of Willie G. Davidson's Frankensteinian grafting of the Sportster's slinky front end to the muscular frame and powertrain of the Electra Glide. Willie G's chopper-inspired cut-and-paste resulted in the birth of the (seemingly) oxymoronic “factory-custom” genre. For customers looking for a trick ride with a factory warranty and without a hefty aftermarket accessory tab, the Super Glide hammered a persuasive power chord that is still ringing throughout the industry.
Tucked in behind the windscreen of the NCR Millona One Shot, rapidly reeling in blurring pavement on the steep banking of Fontana's California Speedway, my peripheral vision caught the flashing red shift indicator light. Having not counted the shifts and traveling at this speed, I assumed all the available gears had been exhausted. Out of curiosity, I chopped the throttle for a millisecond and tapped the shifter. My inquisitiveness revealed that sixth gear was still virgin territory.
HONDA'S ACCESSORY DEPARTMENT CREATES A BAGGER
When presented with the Honda Genuine Accessories bagger version of the new-for-'07 Shadow Spirit 750 C2, I will admit I wasn't all that excited. Every time I've gotten on a touring bike it seemed too big, too heavy, and a bit unwieldy. At the same time, this mini-bagger didn't seem too big when I sat on it, and I certainly wasn't concerned about it being too powerful, so I wasn't sure what to expect. As it turned out, my rides on the Kawasaki Vulcan 900 Custom reminded me that an open mind is a good thing.
Naked SportBike, All Dressed Up
Does it surprise one for a moment that the champion of streetfighters comes from the country that originated hooliganism? That English heritage dates back to the 19th century, and is both a mark and a badge. While we decidedly pass on the destructive behavior, getting a little rowdy with the throttle inevitably seems to come with the territory when riding this particular high-performance motorcycle.