Canadian Biker – January / February 2017

The January/February 2017 Canadian Biker, an issue packed with just about everything but the kitchen tire changer, has been sent to subscribers and newsstands. If you can’t find one at the local newsstands, we can send you one in the mail.

The BMW rNineT Scrambler graces the cover as Bertrand Gahel traveled to New York to ride this first extension of the rNineT family – a family that will continue to grow with the addition of a cafe racer and a GS tribute bike. Retro-a-gogo is a powerful niche in the motorcycle market and as Bertrand discovers there is far more to the theme ride than just experiencing the bike. Are the looks for real or are they just a suggestion? How far should you take a bike with knobby tires off the road when the same chassis is also a naked bike and a cafe racer? What is up with that seat? If a hipster bike rides through a coffee shop and nobody tweets, was it really there? These are all questions that pass through an inquisitive mind while at a press launch. We will try and answer most of them.

The Bonneville Salt Flats. The salt, the sun, the speed. It has been a few years since the salt flats have been in racing shape. This pan flat wonder of the world has come under pressure and with the salt being continually depleted but there might only be a few years left of good racing conditions. We follow Red Cup Racing – a team out of Kamloops, BC – that heads down to Speed Week with the objective of setting a few records on a variety of motorcycles. Things look good but there are always a few glitches in every well made plan.

Victory Motorcycles – we hardly knew you. Okay that isn’t exactly the case. We have followed and ridden the Polaris sub-brand since the label appeared on the 92C and 92SC at the turn of the century. The story appears to end with the Octane although the Magnum X-1 should be the more symbolic sign off for “The Other American Motorcycle”. Loud, brash and stylized, the Magnum reflects what Polaris did in creating Victory. It really was an exceptional effort in creating a line of motorcycles that were American but weren’t Harleys. But then came the purchase of the Indian Motorcycle name and that did change everything. As mentioned earlier retro is powerful and Indian Motorcycle came with 100 years of history – even if those 100 years had many sizable gaps. Indian instantly had traction and credibility – even a scrambler would not be out of the question – while Victory had to create its own traction from scratch. Something that never happened like it should have. It’s a shame that the closing of Victory has been announced but it was in some ways inevitable once Indian was purchased. We look back on our years and adventures with Victory Motorcycles.

A Real Scrambler Adventure, the Prairies and a Rebel Yell

We are on the road several times in this issue. Our first trip is more misadventure touring rather than adventure touring. A trip through the beautiful arid hills of south central Washington state turns challenging for one Vancouver rider as get-offs, leaking fluids, nasty hornet stings, forest fires and long walks out lead to …… hmmmm, a better understanding of the adventure of dual sport riding? No that isn’t it.

One trip that does go well is a byways, highways and small towns of Saskatchewan. Beautiful views, parks, pastries and jerky. Isn’t that just the definition of a good tour? And for those of you that may be skeptical. The roads of Saskatchewan are not all straight and flat – although several of them are bumpy.

Rejoice micro-cruiser fans. Honda is bringing back the Rebel. It will eventually be in a showroom near you in two displacement choices – a 300cc and a 500cc. What you are thinking right now is that a long and extended tour on a Rebel is just what the doctor ordered. As we are here to please, we look back on a tour that was just that. Saskatchewan to BC on a Rebel 250 back when Rebels were around the first line looking like a miniature Dyna. Don’t snicker, it was doable.

What else. A 1969 Honda CB175 in Vintage Hall, a rare Crocker up for auction, Canadian racing legend Jordan Szoke and his most recent accolades, BMW’s version – and vision – of the next 100 years of motorcycles (conveniently it includes motorcycles that don’t crash), a hands free, legs free motorcycle, a centre spread picture that you probably didn’t expect to see and a picture that looks like this but not quite.

“The Force Charley, all we have to do is use the Force.”