Best bike ridden
Purely down to its value, the amount of dedicated technology and how unique the experience was, then it has to be Taylor Mackenzie’s Bennetts Suzuki British Superbike – oh yes, I spent just 20 minutes trying to do it an element of justice without stacking it. In terms of its electronics and fierce racing attitude it’s simple the most outrageous bike I’ve ever ridden. I felt like a cartoon character leaving my eyes behind when I finally found the balls to open the throttle wide. Have a read and watch the video here.
On the roads though, there’s a fine line between the awesomeness of Honda’s Fireblade SP (once kitted with a pair of decent tyres), Aprilia’s Tuono V4 1100 Factory and Ducati’s Final Edition Panigale. All exceptional motorcycles. That said, the Zero SR was interesting in terms of a glimpse into the future.
Easy. The Isle of Man TT circuit of course with John McGuinness. Oh yes, really. Back in April following the TT press day, the 23-times a winner and I were handed a pair of 2017 Fireblades, the first two on the IoM and headed off for a 37.73 mile lap stopping at his top five key points that make up a fast lap.
Getting to ride a couple of brand new ‘blades with the great man was one of the best ever, pinch-yourself moments. Check the video here . What a shame we didn’t get to see him on the race version.
Best BikeSocial moment
I had the honour of piloting Joey Dunlop’s 1994 Honda RS250 up the Goodwood Hill at the Festival of Speed – a real privilege. Representing BikeSocial at one of the finest UK motoring events on one of the most iconic race bikes among some very familiar faces was something special. Following Giacomo Agostini on his frighteningly loud MV down the hill on the way back to the paddock was a moment I, and my ears, won’t forget.
Read all about it here.
Best sporting moment
Tough to decide between the superb Marquez vs Dovizioso MotoGP championship battle and the multitude of winners and strong competition throughout the field in British Superbikes. I think we should feel fortunate to be witnessing Marc Marquez in his prime, man-handling the Honda like nobody else can – the young Spaniard will be the greatest of all time. Fact.
Hoping and praying not to drop the £31,000 Harley-Davidson CVO Street Glide bling machine as I manoeuvred it from side-stand and pointing in the wrong direction having reached the end of ‘Route (A)66’ in Cockermouth, Cumbria. The spec sheet says it weighs 398kg (wet) but at that moment it felt more titanic-esque. Thankfully it stayed rubber-side down… so I celebrated, by checking its burn-out potential!
Read the review here.
Most embarrassing moment
This is shameful and you are welcome to laugh at my expense but I lost my balance on a brand new Fireblade SP bike that I’d ridden for approximately 10 miles on the Isle of Man (see Best Ride, above). The bikes weren’t available in dealerships and John McGuinness and I had the first couple on the IoM for a video feature.
Having passed by our videographer and photographer at Glen Helen we turned around in a layby up toward Sarah’s Cottage, I got a bit scared because it’s off-camber with a spread of gravel on the outside…oh, and I was on a brand new £20k bike following some bloke who is rather rapid in these parts.
I looked down, didn’t release the clutch enough and down I went at 2mph – scratching the fairing, engine case and snapping half the front brake lever off. I felt awful afterwards, trust me. If you look close enough in the photos from further around the circuit, McGuinness is riding the bike and you can spot the missing half a lever.
And to top it off, Honda UK’s Head of Motorcycles and PR Manager were both their too!
AGV Sport Modular helmet. A little pricey at £600 but a full carbon, flip-front helmet with a 120 Pinlock and it weighs as light as most carbon full-face lids. It’s very comfortable, warm, weather resistant with easy-to-operate vents and sun visor. And it looks like a Pista-GP too.
Runner-up has to be a pair of Dainese Charger jeans – again lightweight, flexible and comfortable with reinforced denim and removable, adjustable knee and hip protection. Stylish too.
Most looking forward to in 2018
Big miles on lots of bikes beacause we have a plan to ride 100 bikes in 2018. There’s a load of adventure bikes seeping into every manufacturer’s range but as a sportsbike fan, I’m looking forward to how the Ducati V4 turns out. Much vaunted and equipped with some big, boastful figures, the proof of the booming Italian pudding will be in the eating – I’ll be riding it at the press launch towards the end of January at the Valencia MotoGP circuit. And then there’s the head-scratching Ninja H2 SX (not sure why a supercharger is required on a tourer) and the peculiar-yet-intriguing, from an engineering perspective, NIKEN.
The motorcycle world is moving forward so quickly in terms of technical development, and with alternative fuel becoming closer and closer to reality, 2018 looks like it could be a very interesting 12 months.
Ambition for 2018
To offer you a bigger, better, more comprehensive and easier-to-digest version of BikeSocial. I’m keen to meet as many of you too. We all are. And to get as many of you involved with contributing to the site with product tests, event reports, stories of your bikes and adventures. The clue is in the title of the site after all!
Happy New Year!