Thursday, August 17, 2017

DirtQuake 2017 – No Rules Racing



Before jumping in to trying to describe the awesomeness that happened at last weekend’s DirtQuake USA in Castle Rock, Washington… we need to review the history of DirtQuake itself.

Dubbed “the Motorcycle Lifestyle Festival” by the DirtQuake folks themselves, they have the perfect explanation for it’s inception. “Irreverent racing is at the heart of DirtQuake. The action takes place on high-adrenaline, loose-surface oval circuits without the hassle, rules and costs usually associated with motorsport. DirtQuake is inclusive – giving riders, enthusiasts and even pro racers a unique chance to take on all comers.” Beginning in the UK, the event made it’s way to America just three years ago. Hosted by Sideburn Magazine and See See Motorcycles, it’s a big weekend long party surrounding fun races that, for $75, anyone with a safe motorcycle can participate in. Tickets cost $20 for the day/$30 for the weekend, and $20 per vehicle to camp.

Camp grounds were filled with big RVs, stylish vans, adventure trucks, and all different kinds and sizes of motorcycles were blasting around every which way. Dogs riding on the tank, kids driving golf carts, youngins riding side-by-side with their parents. Essentially a motorcycle Shangri-La, fun is being had on two wheels everywhere you look. An estimated three wheelies were popped every second that went by, smiles and laughter everywhere.

On track, riders adorned themselves with fun costumes, raced totally inappropriate motorcycles, and hammed it up for the crowd. Round five of the Superhooligan Series was fast and loud, getting cheers from the crowd as Indians and Harleys battled for podium positions. The racing classes included Dirt Tracker, Inappropriate Road Bike, Chopper, Women’s Class, Kitchen Sink (for everything else), 250 and 450. There was also some Lucha Libre style wrestling thrown in there just because.

The women’s class included our sponsored racer Leticia Cline on her Harley Street 750, and Malary Lee on a Russ Brown Motorcycle Attorneys sponsored Sportster. They battled it out with motocross racer, hooligan racer, and model Stephanie Pietz and gave everyone a show! Leticia banged bars with Tori of See See Motorcycles off the starting line of the final heat–having their own mini battle through the end.

Races ended at almost midnight, and the Chicken & Guns food truck was waiting for the hungry audience with free chicken and potato bowls (which by the way were beyond delicious). The shenanigans continued with a cacophony of engine sounds echoing out of a barn where folks decided they wanted their own taste of getting slideways around (much smaller) corners. And then… fireworks started going off directly overhead. They continued off and on for 15 or so minutes, cheers and engines calling out in every direction.

I’ve been to a ton of different events across America, and this was my first time at DirtQuake. I had goosebumps all day long, even through the fine layer of silty dirt that stuck to my sunscreen. It was sweaty hot for the first few hours of the day, but as the races really got going the temperature dropped to the perfect place. People shared motorcycles, food, booze, camp chairs, and fire pits. It had the closeness of a camping trip with a handful of your close friends, except there were hundreds of strangers all around. To say the least… you want to make it to next year’s DirtQuake.

Friday, July 28, 2017

Interested in PWCs? Here are 5 Sites You Need to be Following

We know that once you have one powersports unit, it’s hard not to have a few. And in the warmer months, getting out on the water seems like the obvious choice.

Over the course of the last few months, we’ve noticed quite a few online resources go viral online when it comes to go-to articles, reviews, and more for personal watercraft enthusiasts, and we realized something. While there may only be one ‘on-the-water’ motorcycle in existence so far (check out that unbelievable thing here), you should definitely check out these five websites if you’re interested in on-the-water powersports, especially personal watercraft riding (aka, jet skiing).

Watercraft Journal

Image: Watercraft Journal

Curated by Kevin Shaw, a family man and lifelong lover of personal watercraft, The Watercraft Journal is often thought of as“America’s most popular PWC magazine.” You will find Shaw’s website filled to the brim with event coverage, helpful articles, and tons of inspiring photos and videos. Ensuring you always have your water fix, this site publishes new content every single weekday, so you can rest assured you’ll always find something new. That’s exactly why Watercraft Journal is one of PWC Trader’s go-to partners, featured frequently on the site’s resource page (click here to check it out).

ProRider Watercraft Magazine

Known for having stories and news updates “from the core” of the PWC world, this online and print magazine prides itself on providing readers with a “pro rider” perspective. They’re all about bringing riders the most honest, detailed information, and it’s a great place for those new to PWC riding to get started. Have a look at their website — you might just uncover a passion you never knew you had.

Sea-Doo OnBoard

We all know how loyal we can be to our favorite brands. Well, PWC riders aren’t much different. One of the most helpful brand blogs we’ve come across is Sea-Doo’s, which is cleverly called “OnBoard.” Bursting at the seams with countless reviews, test rides, and new unit announcements specific to Sea-Doo, this is one website you definitely want to follow if you’re a fan of BRP’s brands. Take a look at their Instagram, and if you like what you see, click on over to their blog and check them out.

Kawasaki JetSki Research Page

While we’re on the topic of brand-specific sites, we’d be amiss if we went without mentioning Kawasaki’s resource page. What most people don’t know about the term “jet ski” is that it actually comes from Kawasaki’s original model unit, JetSki. So, even though there are tons of brands available when it comes to personal watercraft, the original “JetSki” was made by Kawasaki. Because of this, they’ve become known as one of the leading resources for personal watercraft riders, and many find the resource page of their website particularly helpful. Whether you’re looking to estimate payments, read reviews, or are trying to find a tool to compare units, this resource seems to have it all. They even have an entire section dedicated to new riders, which you can check out here. - Personal Watercraft Section

As a motorcyclist, if you’re just interested in getting a feel for the watercraft world but aren’t super familiar with it yet, we highly recommend, especially their PWC section. They produce some of the best reviews, information, and advice that can be found on the web, all in simple enough terms for newbies to understand. All in all, BoatingMag - as well as the previous four resources we mentioned - can provide you with some great tools and tips when it comes to diving into the world of PWCs.

Interested in buying a PWC? We know exactly where you can start. Check out the listings on PWC Trader. A sister site to Cycle Trader, PWC Trader has a similar design. Take a look!

Rider Magazine Releases Review of 2018 Indian Scout Bobber

Rider Magazine’s keen motorcycle feature writer Greg Drevenstedt has done it again. Bringing you an in-depth review of Indian’s newest Bobber version of the Scout, Rider Mag also links a number of reviews for past and similar models, just in case you’re interested in comparing new updates and features.

“Inspired by motorcycles stripped-down and hot-rodded by young veterans after World War II, the Scout Bobber takes a dark, less-is-more approach to styling,” Drevenstedt explains. “To set it apart from the standard Scout and give it an appropriately urban vibe, the Bobber’s exhaust, frame, handlebars, mirrors, cast aluminum wheels, primary and clutch covers, headlight nacelle and single-gauge instrument are all blacked out, the chunky tires have a semi-knobby tread pattern and the rear end has been cleaned up with a pair of LED stop/turn/tail lights and a side-mount license plate.”

Ready to read the entire review? Click on over to Rider Magazine’s 2018 Indian Scout Bobber review to get the full story behind Indian's newest spin on one of their legendary models.

These 5 Female Rider Instagram Accounts Are Blowing Up Instagram

While there are countless inspiring women in the motorcycle world today, these five Instagram profiles show off exactly why women who ride are so awesome. Check out the pics and profiles below to read about and see exactly what we mean. 

This woman’s biggest passions are riding and traveling - plus, she’s got big dreams to fully customize her own one-of-a-kind motorcycle. Originally hailing from St. Louis, Missouri, Laura is the publisher of a sustainable building magazine, but has gone viral online due to her travels through Asia, including Vietnam. Click here to learn more about her incredible story and HILO project.

Founded by three women who just love red lipstick and riding, this Australian coastal trio has gained countless followers over the past year. Touring the coastlines and enjoying being out on the road in the great outdoors, Maria, Nina, and Erica started their journey for one important reason:
“To relish the thrilling symphony of engines and sisterhood.”

Womens Moto Exhibit - @womensmotoexhibit 

This account is actually exactly what it sounds like - a huge compilation of professional photographs of the modern biking woman. An international group, Women’s Moto Exhibit photos are submitted by riders all over the world, and their profile reps a culture of daring, adventurous girls who ride. 

Based out of the Pacific Northwest, this is the Instagram account of a company that runs motorcycle adventure camps and trips. Exclusively for women, the biking group heads out on their ‘dream roll’ once a year. Not only does the feed consist of ladies who ride, they’re also always up for adventure, taking their participants on a number of “live on the edge” activities, including whitewater rafting and skate ramp parks. 

A four time mountain bike world champion and three time BMX world champion, this Australian Olympian is as inspiring as someone can get. Her pics are full of action, adventure, and travel, with some of the most colorful ‘ridescapes’ we’ve ever seen.

The Thirteen Strangest Motorcycles You’ve Probably Ever Seen

When you spend your days looking at the thousands of bikes for sale on Cycle Trader - you can bet we’ve seen just about every bike out there. We’ve come across the good, the bad, the beautiful, and (what some people would call) the ugly… and quite a few seriously weird rides as well. 

But none seem to compare to these strange bikes we found floating around the internet -— you’ve honestly got to see them to believe them, so we’ve rounded up the weirdest ones we’ve ever seen. 

Check ‘em out!

Image: Buzzfeed

World’s longest motorcycle? Uh, possibly, yes.

Image: Roadog on Wikipedia

Wait… just kidding. The Anaconda might have the most “seating,” but this guy (Wild Bill Gelbke) actually did make the longest and heaviest motorcycle in history (it weighs over 3,000 pounds).

Image: Buzzfeed

… We’re honestly not sure what’s going on here.

Image: Reality Pod

This one might honestly rewrite the definition of a “Superbike.”

We’re not positive, but he may need - you know - one or two more headlights.

Image: Ben Gulak

Still trying to understand how this works. In any event, ladies and gentleman, meet the Uno Dycicle.

Image: Sooth Brush

If you’ve seen a bike more American than this, feel free to let us know.

If we’ve got any Red Bull fans out there, here you go.

Sure, Dodge’s Tomahawk might be unbelievably fast...but also kind of looks like you’re riding a radiator with wheels.


Yes, this thing actually runs.

Oh, you’re looking for a Vespa with a huge recoilless rifle on top? Here ya go.

Yup - you’re looking at 48 cylinders. Why? Couldn’t tell you.

Last, but certainly not least… the Jaguar motorcycle. We’ll leave you to decide whether you’re a fan or not.

What’s the strangest motorcycle you’ve ever seen? Comment and let us know, or tag us in your pics on Facebook and Instagram for the chance to get them featured.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Born Free 9: A Russ Brown Guest Feature

By Staci Wilt

If you haven’t been, you’ve probably at the very least heard of the motorcycle mecca that is the Born Free Motorcycle Show, held annually in Southern California’s Santiago Canyon. The event started out as a small chopper gathering in the streets of LA, catering to a few hundred spectators, and has grown into a weekend long event with over 30,000 attendees and counting. With Russ Brown Motorcycle Attorneys as Title Sponsor in BF’s ninth year, it’s clear that the event is no longer a grass-roots-driven chopper-only event, but a bucket list destination for any motorcycle enthusiast who appreciates the DIY idealism behind building a custom motorcycle, but also the community that keeps this custom culture alive.

A weekend at the Born Free show grounds can be described a number of ways. With no cell service and the chic moto fashion abundant, it’s almost like a step back in time to the chopper days of the 70’s. Despite the 100+ degree heat over the weekend, vendors and spectators made sure to make the best of it. Water guns were hidden in most of the vendor booths, choppers made their way into kiddie pools to create temporary exhaust-driven swamp coolers, dozens tried out the dunk tank, and the famous Loser Machine boob kegs poured PBR’s for hours on end. Dumptruck and crew could be found in their speedos, assaulting the eyes of those who braved to stare at their attire for the day. If there’s a simple way to put it: Born Free is a giant motorcycle party with you and thousands of the closest friends you didn’t know you had. This isn’t your typical motorcycle gathering and/or “rally.”

As if people-watching isn’t enough entertainment, the Born Free team organizes plenty of events throughout the day to ensure there’s never a dull moment. Although the Wall of Death wasn’t set up this year, the Vans crew built a two-story half pipe and invited dozens of pro skaters, including legends like Steve Caballero, to entertain the crowds. Between bands playing on two stages, bike giveaways, and the shopping spree that is the wild array of vendor booths, there’s plenty to see and do over the two days at the show.

The ninth year brought in not only a plethora of hand built choppers, but also dozens of modern customized machines, thanks to the San Diego Customs FXR & Dyna Shows over the weekend. Performance built is the new period correct, and the show was proof of that. Blood, sweat, and cases of beers were probably destroyed in the making of these bikes. Whether you approve of the integration of the modern moto-builds or not, there’s one thing everyone can agree on: there wasn’t a shortage in creativity in this year’s showgrounds.

If you haven’t been to the “motorcycle mecca” yet, now’s the time to add it to your calendar for 2018. Get your water guns and speedos/camera ready, because the 10th annual Born Free Show is guaranteed to be one for the books.

Photo’s Provided by: Dean Mason & Russ Brown's BAM Team

Friday, June 30, 2017

How much do you really know about moto safety? The answer may surprise you...

Did you know June is National Safety Month?

Even though riding a motorcycle is thrilling, enjoyable, relaxing and exhilarating  it can also be risky. As with most things in life, being prepared is the key to staying safe and avoiding accidents. With the right information, you ride easy knowing how to react if your safety as a rider is ever put in jeopardy. Check out our Motorcycle Safety Trivia Quiz, made with hand-picked questions from go-to safety resources. How much do you really know about motorcycle safety? Click here to take the quiz and find out!

ATV and Offroad Accounts Everyone Should be Following on Instagram

Who to Follow Series, Episode 2
Right now, there are hundreds of Instagram accounts committed to one thing: bringing the offroad lifestyle and information about the best and newest offroad units to social media. Since there are literally hundreds to thousands of these profiles to sort through, we’ve put together a list of some of the best, most incredible viral profiles we’ve ever seen when it comes to ATVs, UTVs, SxS’s, offroad racing and more. Take a look!


Quad Offroad Life (ATV / SxS) - @Quad_offroad_life

Followers: 196k

Just like their title suggests, this account really is all about the offroad life. The majority of their photos show off new models with insane designs and new set ups.Plus, they have some of the most unbelievable videos of mud escapes we’ve ever seen. - @superatv_com

Followers: 97.9k

The thing about is that they’re not just about offroad vehicles - they’re all about the lifestyle. Whether it’s racing, tricks on crazy terrain, or just great photos of people in action with their ATVs and SxS’s, this account will never leave you bored.

Badass Fourwheelers - @badass_fourwheelers_

Followers: 47.4k

There honestly aren’t many accounts that show quite as many variations, colors and sheer capabilities of units as Badass Fourwheelers. And, to be frank, they’re truly all about simply repping the offroad life for what it’s most well known for: being  ‘badass.’

Quad Lyfe (ATV/SxS Lovers) - @quadlyfe

Followers: 193k

What made Quad Lyfe stand out to us wasn’t necessarily how crazy their pictures were although, trust us, they’re definitely awesome but, the number of different types of offroad vehicles featured on this account is what caught our attention. You’ll see famed units, but you’ll also see certain quads you’ve never seen before, and that’s the kind of stuff we love seeing on our feed.

Cole Richardson - @colerichardson73

Followers: 21.3k

This is definitely one racer no one should ever go without following. Known not only for his jaw-dropping accuracy with his machines and incomparable speeds, this professional ATV racer for Yamaha is only 19 years old, and has already won the ProAm Class (XC2) Championship not once, but twice. His race photos and offroad adventures are documented on his profile, and they’re definitely pics you don’t want to miss. - @sidebysidestuff

Followers: 83.2k

This account? Really pretty straight to-the-point: a bunch of side by side stuff, meant to inspire you to get out there and ride those offroaders. At the same time, if you’re looking to buy a new unit, this is a great place to check out photos, because they always post their pics from a number of angles and perspectives. It’s a win-win, no matter what.

SouthWestRacer Media - @officialdgafdunerz

Followers: 28.1k

As mentioned in their profile bio, you’ll find a little bit of everything on this account, but what makes it truly unique is its countless photos of sand dragsters and sandrails. The types of pictures on this account are honestly unparalleled, and it takes us some effort just to navigate off their profile once we get scrollin’.

ATV Rider - @atvridermagazine

Followers: 55.7k

There are a number of ATV news and lifestyle sources we follow religiously, and ATV Rider Magazine is one of them. They’re not only a great source for breaking news and updates from the offroad world, but they also source out some of the most unbelievable offroad photography and videos, so we couldn’t help but include them in our list.

ATV Trader - @atvtrader2016

Just launched in 2016, we are stoked to announce that ATV Trader now has an official Instagram account, and we couldn’t go without including it in this list. The premier online resource for all your offroad new and used vehicle sales and research needs, ATV Trader is here to provide you with both lifestyle inspiration and the guidance you need when it comes to buying, selling and maintaining your units. Give ‘em a follow - Cycle Trader is proud to have ATV Trader as part of the Trader family, and their Instagram account is an up-and-coming go-to.

In Case You Missed It: June Moto News

We know you live and breathe motorcycles, but did you see these motorcycle-related news stories from June? Check them out and see which story you think was the highlight of this month.

Ducati released a teaser for the ‘end’ edition of the legendary 1299 Panigale, following the model’s formal unveiling at Laguna Seca on July 7th. The attention-grabbing ad reads the phrase “When The End Tells the Whole Story,” hinting that this may indeed represent the very last edition of the renowned model. How would you feel if this were the last ever Panigale model?

New Mexico, Oregon and Oklahoma are the most recent states to reclassify licensing requirements for the Polaris unit. Drivers now only need to carry a valid automotive driver’s license, rather than an additional motorcycle license or endorsement.

Image: Powersports Business

The company released their lineup of 2018 Motocross and Cross-Country units toward the middle of the month, including the new YZ450F motocross bike, TW200 and XT250 dual-sport motorcycles, and the V-Star 250 Cruiser. Yamaha also grew their offroad powersports unit lineup, including new editions of the Kodiak 450, Kodiak 700, and an all-new Grizzly.

Kawasaki presented the newest, updated edition of the Jet Ski SX-R earlier in June, and people are loving it. The stand-up hasn’t been remade with updates since 2011, and reviews of the launch seem to be going extremely well.

Image: RideApart

Harley-Davidson has announced that they will be instructing an entire town in North Dakota on how to ride a motorcycle. The town, appropriately named ‘Ryder,’ only has a little over 80 residents, around 50 of which who are qualified to actually begin riding. The course is associated with a local Harley dealership, and you can follow the story using the link above.

Kawasaki fined $5.2m for neglecting to report defects

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commision (CPSC) has confirmed that Kawasaki will be paying a penalty fine of over $5m to resolve ‘failure to report’ charges. Retailers, manufacturers, and distributors are all required by federal law to file reports of potential defects to units within 24 hours of discovering evidence or receiving related information. More than 30k Teryx models from 2012-2016 were involved, potentially initiating unreasonable risk for riders. Be sure to check and see if your model was included - everyone should know whether or not their vehicle is safe to ride!

At the beginning of the month, thousands of Can-Am Spyder owners came together in Canada to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the revolutionary three-wheeler. Three special edition models were unveiled for the anniversary, all marked by incredible an jet black color with liquid gold accents. Check out more details on both the event and special anniversary models by clicking the link above.

Numerous reports have suggested that Harley is definitely preparing a bid to purchase Italian rival Ducati, and if the purchase were to be made, the joining could be worth up to $1.5b. Only time will tell who the next owners of the Italian producer of unparalleled four-strokes and V-twins.

Which of these news updates is the biggest highlight of the month for you?
What other news caught your attention this month? Comment and let us know!

Rider Magazine Presents: 2017 Bagger Comparison Review

2017 Bagger Comparison Review: 

Harley-Davidson Street Glide Special vs. Indian Chieftain Dark Horse vs. Moto Guzzi MGX-21

By Greg Drevenstedt
June 1st, 2017

This article contains content fully attributed to Rider Magazine and their writers. Click here to read the article on their website, and for more exclusive info from this go-to moto news source.

From left to right are the Indian, the Harley-Davidson and the Moto Guzzi, each looking elegant yet menacing in various shades of black. These baggers are long on style and long between the axles, perfect for cruising down the boulevard or chasing the sunset. (Photos by Kevin Wing)

Harley-Davidson, Indian and Moto Guzzi are three of the most storied brands in motorcycling. 

Each has origins dating to the early part of the 20th century and a rich history filled with racing victories, engineering and styling innovations and iconic motorcycles. Harley and Indian built motorcycles in the 1930s that defined what a cruiser should be, with a big V-twin, a low seat, a wide handlebar and a laidback, feet-forward riding position. Despite being Italy’s oldest motorcycle company, Moto Guzzi is no stranger to American-style cruisers. It’s been making bikes such as the California, Ambassador, Eldorado and Nevada for the U.S. market since the 1970s, and Guzzi’s current lineup includes five cruiser models.

All three baggers have handlebar-mounted hard fairings with short windscreens, but only the Indian’s is electrically adjustable. With no fairing lowers, the rider enjoys wind protection only from the waist to the shoulders.
These three baggers are not run-of-the-mill cruisers. Each offers a different spin on the idea of a factory custom. This particular Harley-Davidson Street Glide Special is bedazzled with a Hard Candy Black Gold Flake paint job that adds a cool $3,000 to the sticker price. By way of contrast, the Indian Chieftain Dark Horse is a stripped-down version of the Chieftain that’s matte black from stem to stern and costs $2,000 less than the standard model. And for something completely different, there’s the Moto Guzzi MGX-21 Flying Fortress, a bagger seemingly designed for Batman with sharply pointed wing tips on its fairing, a big 21-inch front wheel and carbon fiber on the front wheel, front fender, gas tank and saddlebags.

Our test riders take a break to discuss the bikes’ handling characteristics… and more importantly, to decide on where they want to go for lunch!
How these bikes look while leaned over on their sidestands is important, but also a matter of personal preference. We’re more interested in how they perform out on the road, so we packed their saddlebags and headed into the hills for a couple days. We recorded our subjective impressions and applied our usual weights and measures to determine how they stack up as touring machines. You’ll find the nitty-gritty details about each bike in the sidebars, dyno graphs and spec charts. Read on to learn about the bikes’ relative strengths and weaknesses and to find out which one came out on top.

Nothing beats a ride in the country during springtime! As seen on the Moto Guzzi in the foreground, all three bikes have audio systems built into their fairings. We found the small, sharp-edged buttons on the Moto Guzzi’s right and left switchpods difficult to use.
Functional differences between these three became readily apparent before we even left the parking lot. In terms of packing space, saddlebag capacity is similar for the Harley (65 liters) and Indian (69 liters), both of which have top-loading bags that can be opened and closed with one hand and left unlocked; the Indian has the added bonus of remotely activated locks. Although the Moto Guzzi’s saddlebags look big, they hold just 58 liters, their interiors are shallow, their side-opening lids are inconvenient and their locks require two hands to operate (and they can’t be left unlocked). Also, moving these big bikes around the garage or parking lot isn’t easy. Both the Harley and Indian weigh in at 823 pounds, fully gassed. Despite weighing 39 pounds less, the Moto Guzzi feels massive. It requires the most effort to lift off its sidestand and, due to a steering damper mounted below the triple clamp that reduces wheel flop, the handlebar feels very stiff when moving it back and forth. And at a parking lot pace, the Moto Guzzi feels the most top-heavy and ungainly.

To paraphrase John Muir, the road is calling and we must go! Lining up the bikes nose-to-tail clearly shows the relative sizes of their front wheels as well as the different shapes of their saddlebags.

At stoplights, the V-twins that power these baggers rumble authoritatively. Dropping them into first gear is accompanied by a loud clunk, and each pulls away from a stop swiftly thanks to loads of low-end torque. The 107ci Harley and 111ci Indian belt out more than 100 lb-ft of torque between 1,900 and 3,400 rpm, while the 84ci Moto Guzzi churns out about 80 lb-ft of torque from 2,300 to 5,500 rpm. The Harley and Indian prefer to be short-shifted while the Guzzi can be revved out more. Throttle-by-wire is the norm here, with good fuel metering and standard cruise control across the board. These bikes purr at highway speeds and feel tailor-made for wide-open spaces, but they have unique personalities. The Harley feels the most refined, the most responsive and does the best job of managing engine heat. The Indian is the torque king and has the most resonant rumble, but it also puts out a lot of heat and its exhaust can be loud. With its rev-me-up nature, multiple engine maps and muted sound, the Guzzi’s engine seems out of place on a bagger.

The Jett Tuning dyno chart shows the horsepower differences, with the Moto Guzzi only coming out on top much higher in the rev range.
Nimble handling may not top the list of criteria for many bagger buyers, but all else being equal, most of us prefer a motorcycle that feels graceful on a twisty, scenic road. The gyroscopic effect of the Guzzi’s 21-inch and the Harley’s 19-inch front wheels contribute to their overall stability (the Indian rolls on a 16-incher), but also make them more resistant to initial turn-in. All three have fork-mounted fairings packed with headlights, instrument panels and audio systems with speakers, which adds weight to the steering equation. The Moto Guzzi’s handlebar is the widest, giving it plenty of steering leverage, but it’s also the farthest away from the rider, requiring stretched-out arms that put tension in the shoulders. Also, the combination of the MGX-21’s large front wheel and extended rake meant that we constantly had to muscle it through turns and never felt as comfortable or as confident as we did on the other two. Both the Harley and the Indian have handlebars that are closer to the rider for a more relaxed riding position, and both are less taxing when ridden on tight, technical roads. All three have strong triple-disc brakes with standard ABS.

The Indian comes out on top in terms of torque, with a strong pull right off the line.

These bikes’ fairings provide protection for the hands and chest, but with their short windscreens and lack of fairing lowers, windblast hits the rider above the shoulders and below the waist. Although the Moto Guzzi’s windscreen is more of a styling element than a functional one, airflow around the fairing is smooth. The windscreens on the Harley and Indian (the Indian’s is also electrically adjustable) deflect more wind than the Guzzi’s, but noise and turbulence can be issues on both bikes depending on rider height and prevailing conditions. Taller accessory screens are available for all three bikes.

Helmet: Bell Qualifier
Jacket: Joe Rocket Ballistic Adventure
Pants: Aerostich Darien
Boots: TCX Air Tech

Helmet: Arai Quantum-X
Jacket: Fly Butane 4
Pants: Aerostich AD-1
Boots: Joe Rocket Meteor FX

Helmet: Shoei GT-Air
Jacket: iXS Nemesis
Pants: Olympia X-Moto
Boots: Dainese Long Range

The profile photos above show the seating position of each bike, though bear in mind that all three riders are not the same size. The Harley (top) and Indian (center) have long floorboards that allow riders to adjust their foot position (though the Harley’s heel shifter limits space), and their dished seats are low and forward. The Indian’s handlebar is closest to the rider, followed by the Harley. The Moto Guzzi (bottom) has the most stretched out cockpit, with the farthest reach to the handlebar and a long, flat, tall seat. It’s the only bike here with footpegs, and its fairing is the farthest away from the rider and offers the least amount of wind protection.

With their handlebars and fairings positioned closer to the rider and their spacious floorboards, the Harley and Indian have relaxed riding positions, though our tall test riders wished the seats allowed them to sit farther back. The Moto Guzzi feels the most stretched out, with a flat, supportive seat that’s also wide, making it harder to get flat-footed at stops since it’s the tallest at 29.1 inches (compared to 27 inches on the Harley and 26 inches on the Indian). Also, the Guzzi’s footpegs are positioned just aft of the protruding cylinders, which limits legroom.

We answered the road’s call and enjoyed two days of back road exploration, with the hills pleasantly green thanks to steady winter rains. Each of these baggers strikes its own balance between style and functionality.
With generous suspension travel ›front and rear and well-controlled damping, the Indian offers the best ride quality, hands down. Between the Harley and Guzzi, it’s a split decision. The Harley has the superior fork, a beefy Showa unit that offers excellent compliance, but its 2.1 inches of rear suspension travel—less than half that of the others—means that choppy pavement can be jarring. The Guzzi, on the other hand, has a fork that isn’t quite up to the task of dealing with its large front wheel and heavy fairing, while its rear shocks soak up bumps fairly well.

The outcome of the comparison test surprised us. Given our past experiences with Moto Guzzis, we expected to like the MGX-21 more than we do. But its bold styling comes at the expense of handling and comfort, and except for cruising on straight highways, none of us warmed up to it. If you want a bagger with swagger that’s also enjoyable to ride, the choice comes down to the Harley or the Indian. The Indian has the best chassis and suspension among V-twin touring cruisers, but its big, air-cooled engine, as torque-rich and satisfying as it may be, puts out too much heat. With its new Milwaukee-Eight engine and Showa suspension, as well as its timeless style and full complement of touring amenities, the Harley-Davidson proved to be best all-around bagger in this group.

In-Depth: 2017 Harley-Davidson Street Glide Special

2017 Harley-Davidson Street Glide Special.
Like other Touring models in Harley-Davidson’s lineup, the best-selling Street Glide and Street Glide Special have been on a steady path of evolution over the past few years. Project Rushmore brought improvements in power, handling, safety, wind protection, comfort, convenience, infotainment and styling. For 2017, the big leap forward is the new Milwaukee-Eight 107 engine, which runs cooler thanks to precision oil-cooled cylinder heads, pumps out more torque and is smoother, quieter and more fuel-efficient. The air/oil-cooled, 45-degree V-twin displaces 1,746cc (107ci), has belt final drive and, on Jett Tuning’s dyno, made 77 horsepower at 4,900 rpm and 106 lb-ft of torque at 2,000 rpm at the rear wheel. It’s mated to a new assist-and-slipper wet clutch and a 6-speed transmission. Also new for 2017 is Showa suspension, with a non-adjustable Dual Bending Valve fork and a pair of emulsion rear shocks with a remote preload adjuster.

The Street Glide Special is the only bike in this comparison with a touchscreen infotainment/navigation system, though one is available on the standard Indian Chieftain. To the right of the screen is a media compartment with USB port. The white-faced analog gauges are classy and easy to read, and the inset LCD displays trip functions.
The standard Street Glide has a base price of $20,999, and the Street Glide Special tested here, which adds the Boom! Box 6.5GT touchscreen audio/navigation system, Reflex Linked Brakes with ABS and Smart Security System, has a base price of $23,699. If you want something other than Vivid Black, basic colors add $500, custom colors add $1,200 and Hard Candy Custom colors, like the Black Gold Flake on our test bike, add $3,000.

New for 2017 is Showa suspension, with a non-adjustable Dual Bending Valve fork and a pair of emulsion rear shocks with a remote preload adjuster.
2017 Harley-Davidson Street Glide Special Specs
Base Price: $23,699

Price as Tested: $26,699 (Hard Candy Custom Color)

Warranty: 2 yrs., unltd. miles



Type: Air/oil-cooled, transverse 45-degree V-twin

1,746cc (107ci)

Bore x Stroke: 100.0 x 111.1mm

Compression Ratio:

Valve Train:
OHV, 4 valves per cyl.

Valve Insp. Interval:
NA (self-adjusting)

Fuel Delivery:
Electronic Sequential Port Fuel Injection

Lubrication System: Dry sump, 5.2-qt. cap.

Transmission: 6-speed, hydraulically actuated assist-and-slipper clutch

Final Drive:


Ignition: Electronic

Charging Output:
625 watts max.

Battery: 12V 28AH


Frame: Tubular-steel double cradle w/ two-piece backbone, steel swingarm

Wheelbase: 64.0 in.

Rake/Trail: 26 degrees/6.8 in.

Seat Height: 27.0 in.

Suspension, Front: 49mm stanchions, no adj., 4.6-in. travel

Rear: Dual shocks, adj. preload w/ remote knob, 2.1-in. travel

Brakes, Front:
Dual 300mm floating discs w/ opposed 4-piston calipers, fully linked & ABS

Rear: Single 300mm fixed disc w/ opposed 4-piston caliper, fully linked & ABS

Wheels, Front: Cast, 3.50 x 19 in.

Cast, 5.00 x 16 in.

Tires, Front: 130/60-B19


Wet Weight: 823 lbs.

Load Capacity: 537 lbs.

1,360 lbs.


Fuel Capacity: 6.0 gals., last 1.0 gal. warning light on

MPG: 91 PON min. (low/avg/high) 33.7/37.0/39.7

Estimated Range: 222 miles

Indicated RPM at 60 MPH: 2,300

In-Depth: 2017 Indian Chieftain Dark Horse

2017 Indian Chieftain Dark Horse.

When the Chieftain debuted for 2014, it was the first hard fairing-equipped motorcycle to carry an Indian badge. With its Art Deco styling, integrated driving lights and electrically adjustable windscreen, the Chieftain’s handlebar-mounted fairing won’t be confused with that of any other bagger. Backed by Polaris Industries, the reinvigorated Indian expanded its touring lineup, introducing the full-dresser Roadmaster for 2015 and the Chieftain Dark Horse for 2016. All are powered by the air-cooled, 49-degree Thunder Stroke 111 V-twin, which displaces 1,811cc (111ci), has belt final drive and made 75 horsepower at 4,100 rpm and 109 lb-ft torque at 2,400 rpm at the rear wheel. The wet clutch is cable-actuated and the transmission has six gears.

The Dark Horse’s central LCD display is info-rich (it includes tire pressure and much more) but can be difficult to read in bright sunlight. The touchscreen Ride Command infotainment/navigation system is only available on the standard Chieftain and Roadmaster models. Button on the right turns on the driving lights; button on the tank is for keyless ignition.

The Chieftain Dark Horse, which is only available in matte Thunder Black Smoke, has a base price of $21,999, and standard equipment includes ABS, tire-pressure monitoring, remote saddlebag locks, keyless ignition and an AM/FM/Bluetooth/USB audio system. Stepping up to the standard Chieftain ($23,999-$25,199, depending on color) adds a passenger seat and pegs, a taller windscreen, highway bars and the 7-inch, touchscreen Ride Command infotainment/navigation system.

Despite its hefty weight, the Chieftain Dark Horse was a pleasant ride on the twisty mountain roads.

2017 Indian Chieftain Dark Horse Specs

Base Price: $21,999

1 yr., unltd. miles



Type: Air-cooled, transverse 49-degree V-twin

Displacement: 1,811cc (111ci)

Bore x Stroke:
101.0 x 113.0mm

Compression Ratio:

Valve Train: OHV, 2 valves per cyl.

Valve Insp. Interval:
NA (self-adjusting)

Fuel Delivery:
Electronic fuel injection

Lubrication System: Semi-wet sump, 5.5-qt. cap.

6-speed, cable-actuated wet clutch

Final Drive:


Ignition: Electronic

Charging Output:
812 watts max.

12V 18AH


Frame: Modular aluminum backbone w/ cast aluminum swingarm

Wheelbase: 65.7 in.

25 degrees/5.9 in.

Seat Height: 26.0 in.

Suspension, Front: 46mm stanchions, no adj., 4.7-in. travel

Rear: Single shock, air-adj. preload, 4.5-in. travel

Brakes, Front: Dual 300mm discs w/ 4-piston opposed calipers & ABS

Single 300mm disc w/ 2-piston pin-slide caliper & ABS

Wheels, Front:
Cast, 3.50 x 16 in.

Cast, 5.00 x 16 in.

Tires, Front: 130/90-H16

Rear: 180/60-H16

Wet Weight: 823 lbs.

Load Capacity:
562 lbs.

GVWR: 1,385 lbs.


Fuel Capacity: 5.5 gals., last 1.0 gal. warning light on

91 PON min. (low/avg/high) 31.6/35.7/42.9

Estimated Range: 196 miles

Indicated RPM at 60 MPH:

In-Depth: 2017 Moto Guzzi MGX-21 Flying Fortress

2017 Moto Guzzi MGX-21 Flying Fortress.

Moto Guzzi named its big bagger after the Boeing B-17 that dropped more bombs than any other U.S. aircraft during World War II. An odd choice perhaps, but then again, the Italian manufacturer likes to do things its own way. Unlike the more traditional Harley-Davidson and Indian, with their V-twin cylinders arranged fore and aft around a transverse crankshaft, Moto Guzzi’s 90-degree V-twin has cylinder heads thrust out into the air on each side and a longitudinal crankshaft, which causes the MGX-21 to rock to the right side when the throttle is blipped at idle. With the smallest displacement in this comparison at 1,380cc (84ci) and a sportier state of tune, on the dyno the Guzzi posted the highest peak horsepower (87 at 6,400 rpm) but the lowest peak torque (82 lb-ft at 3,900 rpm). Power is sent to the rear wheel through a hydraulically actuated dry, single-plate clutch, a 6-speed transmission and a cardan shaft final drive.

With the small speedo and tach needles hidden behind inset digital displays, they can be hard to see at a glance. The left LCD shows audio functions; the right LCD shows speed, fuel level, gear position and various trip functions. Behind the small door below the gauges is a USB port.

The MGX-21 is a radically styled iteration of Moto Guzzi’s California 1400 cruiser line, which also includes the Custom, Touring, Audace and Eldorado models. Base price for the MGX-21 is $21,990, and standard equipment includes Brembo brakes with ABS, three engine maps (fast, touring and rain), three-level traction control and an AM/FM/Bluetooth/USB audio system.

Yes, Virginia, that’s real carbon fiber.

2017 Moto Guzzi MGX-21 Flying Fortress Specs

Base Price: $21,990

Warranty: 2 yrs., unltd. miles



Type: Air/oil-cooled, longitudinal 90-degree V-twin

Displacement: 1,380cc (84ci)

Bore x Stroke:
104.0 x 81.2mm

Compression Ratio: 10.5:1

Valve Train: SOHC, 4 valves per cyl.

Valve Insp. Interval:
900 miles, then every 6,000 miles

Fuel Delivery: Multipoint sequential EFI w/ 52mm throttle body

Lubrication System:
Wet sump, 4.3-qt. cap.

6-speed, hydraulically actuated dry clutch

Final Drive:
Shaft, 3.6:1


Ignition: Digital electronic

Charging Output: 550 watts max.

Battery: 12V 18AH


Frame: Tubular-steel double cradle frame w/ cast aluminum swingarm

Wheelbase: 66.9 in.

Rake/Trail: 32 degrees/7.4 in.

Seat Height: 29.1 in.

Suspension, Front: 45mm stanchions, no adj., 4.2-in. travel

Rear: Dual shocks, adj. spring preload (remote), 4.6-in. travel

Brakes, Front:
Dual 320mm discs w/ 4-piston opposed radial calipers & ABS

Rear: Single 282mm disc w/ 2-piston pin-slide caliper & ABS

Wheels, Front:
Cast, 3.50 x 21 in.

Rear: Cast, 5.50 x 16 in.

Tires, Front:

Rear: 180/60-R16

Wet Weight: 784 lbs.

Load Capacity: 431 lbs.

GVWR: 1,215 lbs.


Fuel Capacity: 5.4 gals., last 1.3 gals. warning light on

MPG: 91 PON min. (low/avg/high) 32.5/36.2/41.0

Estimated Range:
196 miles