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Lone Rider; How A Broken Heart Inspired The First Woman To Motorcycle The Globe

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A broken heart can lead you to do terrible things, or it can inspire you to do terribly good things. In the case of Elspeth Beard, it was heartache that pushed her to do the latter.

Back in 1982, there were far fewer female riders on the streets of London; it was still a very male dominated world. Elspeth was studying an Architecture course in London and soon met, fell in love and shared her passion with fellow student Alex.

Unfortunately, Alex turned out to be a little bit of a rotter and two years after they met, he left a letter on her kitchen table saying it was over. This is the 80’s version of being dumped via text message. Take note, anyone, thinking of ending a relationship, this is not break-up etiquette.

Devastated Elspeth kept her dignity and continued with her studies, however nursing her broken heart left her scraping through her education with average grades. When she reached the end of that year, she knew she had to do something. So, she did what all strong people do. She gathered up the pieces of her heart and went full on bad ass. Heading out to New York at the tender age of 23, Elspeth decided to take a year out with the other love of her life, a BMW R60/6 Motorcycle.

When she set off on her epic adventure, she had no idea she would become the first woman in the world to motorcycle around the globe. However, after 35,000 miles of solo riding, that is exactly what she became. She says that she found herself on the trip. It made her who she is today.

Riding from New York to Canada, south to Mexico and then back to Los Angeles she points out that traveling back then was completely different to now.

“There was no internet and no satellite navigation. It was a real adventure. I didn’t know where I would be staying that night or where I could eat or buy petrol. It was a real adventure. I would plan my route two or three days ahead and hope for the best. It was thrilling, and I finally felt free.”

She says people would see her arrive on her bike and be suspicious of her, but when she removed her helmet and revealed her identity, people from all over the world warmed to her.

Once she had traveled America, she shipped her bike to Australia and went to explore the outback. However, she soon discovered how dangerous this adventure was. Hitting a pothole, she was cartwheeled from the bike and landed straight on her head. Had it not been for two companions she had met on the way, Elspeth is certain she would be dead.

“I have no memory of the accident at all. I woke up in a hospital and still to this day I couldn’t tell you what happened to me. Accidents are part of adventure though. I was prepared for something like this happening.”

From Australia, she traveled to Singapore then Bali, Java and Sumatra, Malaysia and Thailand and then on to India, Pakistan and Iran, then through Turkey and back into mainland Europe before arriving back in London in November 1984.

Now, 30 years later, Elspeth has written a book about her adventure. She says “The trip completely changed my life and made me the person I am now. It taught me there was nothing I couldn’t cope with and there wasn’t a problem I couldn’t solve. Now I would never take no for an answer.

It has given me an inner strength and confidence to tackle anything.”

After nearly two years of traveling, Elspeth returned home and finished her architecture qualification. She now has her own firm in Surrey. Of course, she still rides and heads out as often as she can.

 

This story makes us think of all the bikers across the world who gave up their passion of biking for their partner and if there is anyone out there being given a choice “It’s the bike or me” perhaps you should remember Elspeth’s story and her beautiful last line.

“I still have my trusty BMW; it’s like an old friend,” she says, which is more than can be said of Alex and his little wimpy note.

You can head to Waterstones to buy Elspeth’s fantastic book, Lone Rider.

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Harley-Davidson release two new, old Sportsters

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New Harley Iron 1200 and Forty-Eight Special come with new graphics, chrome and high bars.

There are a lot of new motorcycles coming out of the Harley-Davidson stable – at least one hundred by 2027 in fact, so we can expect a frequent flow of model revisions and changes to be revealed over the coming months and years.

The two new bikes announced today by Harley aren’t hugely new or exciting – but the new graphics are pretty sweet and ape-hanger bars are always worth clinging onto.

‘Since its inception, the Sportster has offered the perfect combination of size, power and character that makes it appealing to so many different riders’ -Brad Richards, Harley-Davidson V.P. of Styling & Design.

The Harley Sportster was introduced in 1957 and has now hit somewhere in the region of 30 varying production models. Along that time owners have got pretty used to stripping their bikes down and customising/re-inventing them. It’s this fact that Harley say they’ve used as inspiration for their two, new machines.

The Forty-Eight Special comes with a tiny 10 litre tank, new, steamroller front-end and 8 inch high Tallboy handlebars. Compared to the regular Forty-Eight, there’s also a lot more chrome.

The Iron 1200 features a ‘fast-back’ café seat, mini-ape black handlebars and a glossy black fly screen. It’s also got more range with a 15 litre tank and fancy colour paint/graphics. There’s also a lot less chrome and a lot more black.

So that’s two more of the 100 bikes out of the way.  And a new electric just around the corner

 

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Harley-Davidson’s electric motorcycle will be a ‘Revelation’ (according to trademark filings)

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Harley-Davidson trademark casts revelatory eye into future of their electric motorcycle plans.

If you were to have said a year or so ago that arguably the world’s most famous motorcycle brand would be frequently linked with falling sales and financial woe then most people would have said that you were barking mad.

However, with recent stories of millennial woe and mounting board concern the immediate future of the famours Bar and Shield brand is far from certain.

With a commitment to releasing 100 new motorcycles over the next ten years however, the folks at Harley-Davidson motorcycles do at least seem to have a plan to tackle their problem, and – along with Indian Motorcycle – they are preparing to take that battle to uncharted territory.

Last month the news broke that Harley were looking to get their electric motorcycle out and onto the streets by the end of 2019 and now it would seem that we know a little more about what form that new electric technology might take. Or the name of it at least.

According to a recent trademark application filed with the United States Patent & Trademark Office then name that Harley Davidson will use to refer to their new electric drive-train technology will be ‘Revelation’.

The interpretation by our (genuine) friends over at Asphalt & Rubber is that this will not be the name of the final motorcycle however, but rather the name used to refer to the technology/motor itself.

We’re not sure if the final name of the electrified Harley will be that of the Livewire moniker attributed to its pre-production/concept that was produced as a test vehicle back in 2014, but the choice of ‘Revelation’ for the motor technology is an interesting one to say the least.

The company already uses similar sounding names for it’s Evolution’ and ‘Revolution X’ V-Twin engines, so ‘Revelation’ isn’t too far of a stretch for the imagination, but it’s certainly an interesting one…

The Book of Revelation in Christian faith is effectively an apocalyptic prophecy.

The notion that it will be the old, warhorse Harley-Davidson to be the first major manufacturer on course to release a production electric motorcycle could well be considered an event of almost biblical proportions.

Source: USPTO via Asphalt & Rubber

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