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Rider Stories - Best of 2021
Jake T · December 29, 2021
Visiting Places I'd Never Thought I'd Go - Sarah Hickinbotham - Rider Stories
What Do You Currently Ride?
I have the pleasure and privilege of owning a 2019 Triumph Street Scrambler. She's super torquey, has that beautiful air cooled-esque waffles sound, and turns heads everywhere she goes. She's nimble, comfortable (not a single numb bum at any point during the NC500!) and, most of all, so much fun to ride along meandering lanes, up adrenaline-inducing switchbacks, and along dusty dirt tracks. She's a keeper!
What Clothing or Equipment Could You Not Live Without?
I feel the cold really quickly, so my Keis heated gilet is an absolute lifesaver and really easy to use. It gives that instant toast factor on chilly mornings and long rides. I'm also a huge fan of my Oxford Magdalene boots - they're impressively water and windproof, whilst being comfortable enough to stroll around a city or hike up a to a scenic spot on days out.
A Sensory Overload - Georgia Croft - Rider Stories
What Do You Currently Ride?
I’m learning on a Mutt FSR 125 right now. Prior to getting the bike, I came across a review Freddie Dobbs had done of a Mutt Mastiff, and I saw how the bike could be just as nimble ripping through cities as it could be off-road. Mutt also has an amazing range of 125’s and that’s when I came across the FSR. So, I passed my CBT on the 23rd of August this year and a few days later I bought the bike! I seriously can’t recommend it enough as a first bike too. Mutt has nailed the gritty design and built on this model, so much so that If it passed you on the roads you wouldn’t immediately recognise it as being a 125cc. The lowered stance, twin shock frame and the beefy tyres coupled with its good looks make you feel like you’re riding something bigger and better. Knowing that I've also got the Suzuki GN engine on it is a bit of a safety net too. I'm not saying you could chuck everything and the kitchen sink at it, but having something that could probably survive the apocalypse underneath you, gives you a bit of wiggle room as a learner to make those mistakes that will inevitably help you build your skill.
Why Do You Enjoy Riding?
There’s so many reasons! The biking community is awesome and I love how inclusive it is, it doesn't matter what you ride - two wheels is two wheels. The thing I wasn’t expecting to feel the results of so strongly was the mental health benefits. I’ve personally had my struggles with anxiety and panic attacks in recent years, and having my bike has really encouraged a shift in my mindset and is helping me to see that I can do new things when I’ve convinced myself that I can’t. It’s a personal subject I'm slowly learning to be a bit more public about in order to help challenge the stigma. It’s actually a topic that inspired a recent collaboration I was lucky enough to work on with Bell Helmets & VC London where I created a custom helmet design for them.
The way a ride out can clear the brain fog for me is amazing. It’s a brilliantly simple way to rid yourself of worries, anxiety and pressures in order to give yourself that little bit of headspace our minds need but rarely get these days.
Finding Yourself - @unparalleledtwin - Rider Stories
What Do You Currently Ride?
I’ve been riding my “Do It All” machine for over 2 years now, and that’s the Triumph Scrambler 1200 XC. I could easily call it the Swiss Army Knife of motorcycles, I’m absolutely in love with it. I’ve put in over 17,000 miles, across all kinds of terrain, and it excels everywhere I take it. Coming from a Triumph Bobber & Royal Enfield Himalayan, it left me wanting something that could combine the characteristics and qualities of each, the powerband and sheer torque of the 1200, but with the suspension and off-road capability of the Enfield thumper. The Scram nailed all of my requirements and going down to 1 bike again, never felt so good. It’s an adventure mule when all kitted up, next minute you remove the racks and luggage, you’re left with this custom Sled aesthetic that would fit in perfectly at any hipster bike cafe. I couldn’t ask for more.
What's Your Best Advice to New Riders?
Treat everyone else on the road like an idiot. No, seriously. My mum always taught me this, and the deeper meaning is true. Just because someone is indicating, doesn’t mean they’ll turn that way, it’s about setting expectations and being safe. Always keep your distance. Practice slow manoeuvres where you can, as balance and coordination go a long way with riding. You can do this off-road, in a car park for example. Ride in the wet too, it may seem daunting at first, but you can learn a lot about yourself and your bike. If you can do any of the above with a riding tutor, expert or a friend with experience, it can help break any habits you may form, which is often the case when riding solo. I’m a sucker for that! We’ve all been there.
Look after your bike too! Maintenance and the upkeep of your bike when not riding it, is just as important. A lot of guides and tutorials are at your fingertips on the web, it’s good to get to know your bike, understand how it works and why. Other than that, enjoy it, get out there and explore, welcome to the moto community, some of the best relationships are forged here!
My Creative Outlet - nineT.Dave - Rider Stories
What do you currently ride?
That’s a fluid question for me as, at last count, I’d owned 14 bikes in the last 12 years but as it stands I am the proud owner of two BMWs; a 2018 R1200 GS Rallye and a 2018 R nineT.
The R nineT has been my pride and joy and custom project for the last 3 years and has been a much needed creative outlet. The nineT is an incredible platform to use as a base for customisation and with companies like Pier City Customs in West Sussex stocking a large number of accessory parts you can quickly make the bike your own. It’s a modern retro bike with a whopping 1200cc boxer twin engine at its heart providing a huge amount of character.
The R1200GS is quite simply the best bike I’ve ever owned. I’d been fairly resistant to joining the “GS Crew” as I always saw a lot of pristine examples sitting outside many a biker café not being used for their designed purpose, then I rode one! It’s a do it all bike that can be at home on the tightest of twisting roads or loaded up and blasting you around the highways of Europe. I’ve just returned from 3200 miles of riding around France and Spain on it and it never missed a beat, from the twisty roads of the Route Napoleon in southern France to the high mountain passes of the Pyrenees I was very glad to be on the GS for every mile of it.
What’s your go-to outfit?
I recently heard Henry Cole say he’d perfected his riding kit over the last forty years and I can totally understand why. I’m on a constant quest for the perfect gear and the right look for what I’m riding and the conditions I am riding in. Having been in a serious accident in 2017 when a car pulled out in front of me, I know first hand how much the right gear can save your life and that is always at the top of my priorities. A lot of manufacturers will supply their gear with level 1 armour and the first thing I do is upgrade that to Level 2 SAS-TEC armour and add a back protector. It’s relatively inexpensive to do but gives you peace of mind that you’re as protected as you can be if the worst were to happen. I would also say that a good set of waterproofs to go over your normal kit is just as good as spending thousands on touring textiles and is usually way more versatile.