Author: Rob Brooks

Legendary Bikes: 1967 BSA Spitfire Special MKIII

I’ve long harbored a fascination and great affection for the classic British motorbike brands. I grew up on and around my father’s Triumphs, and have owned a series of them myself over the years. Yet the Grand Marshal of the Brit parade to me was always the BSAs. With their polished tank medallions, exquisite paint schemes, compelling names (Gold Star, Rocket, Lightning, Spitfire, Bantam, etc.) and racing pedigree, the BSA brand for years has been, as fellow writer Ted Edwards might quip, my “unicorn.” I’ve longed for and lusted after them, but have never owned one. Yet.

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Struck By A Meteor

An admission up front- as much as I’ve been looking forward to sampling this brand new offering from Royal Enfield, I didn’t have high expectations. Heck, it’s a single thumper 349cc for Pete’s sake, making all of 20 horses to the rear wheel, and would be the smallest street bike I’ve ever ridden. I planned to ride it mildly, and report on it as the small displacement stepping-stone bike to their 650cc Twins that I perceived it would be. Talk about mistaken first impressions!

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The Little Guys

While the large dealerships have so much to offer, not only in bikes, but in apparel, accessories, parts, and great service, I admire and applaud the small shops, the family and individually owned establishments, for their passion, dedication, and personalized attention to detail. The big enterprises get all the attention, but these “Little Men” as Alan Jackson once immortalized in song, are in many respects the backbone of American motorcycling, and certainly of our national economy. My father, before giving up riding in 2019, always carried his ’03 Harley Heritage to a small one-man shop in Sparta, Georgia, owned by Mike, a retired certified H-D mechanic, when he needed service or parts. They’ve become friends, and Pops completely trusted his bike to Mike. “I’ll never take my Harley to anyone but Mike,” Pops once declared.

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Strider & All Kids Bike

As a kid growing up in south Florida and later north Georgia, my bicycle was my life. I’m unsure what my first starter one was, and my parents can’t remember either, but I perfectly recall the bike that defined my childhood. It was a metallic blue Schwinn Stingray with a pearl white banana seat, a high back “sissy bar”, and a serious ape hanger handlebar, at least for a 2nd-3rd grader. I’d clip playing cards (always the Jokers) to the forks and frame, fore and aft, so it would clatter against the wheel spokes and mimic the sound of my dad’s Triumph TR6. No hand brake, but slowed/stopped by reversing the pedal action. I rode that bike all around our small community, through the woods behind our home, and took quite a few spills on it, always getting back up and rolling on. I remember teaching our own girls how to ride, each when they turned about 5. And like their father, they rode those little bikes all over the neighborhoods we raised them in.

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Parting Is Such Sweet Sorrow

I’ve parted company with my beloved “Bertha” after nearly two decades. I feel as though I’ve sold out my best friend. You’ve heard of “buyer’s regret”? I think I’m feeling “seller’s remorse”. And yet, deep down, I know it was time. The older I get, the heavier that bike feels. The more years and miles she accumulates, the more attention she needs- old parts need replacing, more tune-ups are necessary, more tightening and wrenching is required. For someone not very mechanically inclined, this would eventually become a challenge.

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IMS Outdoors- From Convention To Carnival

I remember the very first IMS show I ever attended. It was in North Atlanta, at a large convention venue called the Cobb Galleria. A bunch of guys and gals in my riding group had taken the bikes on a chilly January morning around the north Atlanta perimeter, to attend the show on a Saturday. We arrived well before the doors ever opened, purchased our tickets, and awaited the grand entrance. When IMS flung the doors open, The visual moto-feast I beheld raised the hair on the back of my neck. Expansive displays of current and coming models from all the major national and international brands, chrome, paint and rubber from one end of the convention floor to the other. Marques lofted their logo banners, rock music wafted over the sound system, young women walked around passing out show packets. I was in motorcycle heaven.

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SA1NT Motowear Unbreakable Pants and Gloves

There’s a new motorcycle apparel company in town, from the “Land Down Under”. SA1NT carries a full line of motorcycle riding gear, as in riding pants, jackets, gloves, shirts, even socks. We recently acquainted ourselves with this unique Australian garment company, and were offered the opportunity to test and review a sampling of their MotoWear line.

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A Love Affair With Bonney

I tuned in to view the Triumph Virtual Launch of their 2021 Bonneville models, enthralled by the variety the British brand is offering in the legendary lineup this year. Standards, a cruiser, a bobber, and all the farkles available to make your Bonney your own. These are truly “modern classics”, evoking the rich history of the model and its maker, as well as offering all the modern tech expected by today’s riders.

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