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Triumph’s Fogarty vs Johnson Speed Triple stunt is selling the same story to the same people. Again.



Triumph ramp up the sales pitch for the new Speed Triple by catering to the established racer crowd.

The Triumph Speed Triple has been called many things since its launch in 1994. With its adoption of the then relatively novel Streetfighter style, it soon gained legendary, ‘hooligan’ status and has been a staple of the naked bike scene ever since. MCN called it a ‘Rottweiler’ and Motorcyclist Online said that it would ‘ grab American riders’ monkey nerves’.

And now it’s on its way back.

The teaser video dropped earlier this month and it was everything you would expect with silhouetted images of the new bike, smoking tyres and lots of aggression. And it had us all excited.

But then Triumph released another video and that excitement has turned into jaded cynicism.

Carl Fogarty is a living legend (we’ve had the pleasure to meet him on several occasions and he’s a thoroughly nice chap), he’s also been the King of the Jungle. And Gary Johnson is one of the most consistent and hard working road racers on the circuit, with a gregarious personality that leaves an impression on everybody that he meets. They’re also both, quite capable of riding the rear tyre off of any motorcycle that Triumph would care to throw their way.

But with the Bonneville Bobber launch already pulling the ‘celebrity’ rider and race schtick this time last year for Triumph, surely the birth and hopeful rejuvenation of what should be the youngest, wildest and most hooligan of all machines in their catalogue deserves something a little bit less… establishment?

In these times of ever-dwindling sales and when the average age of a motorcycle rider is rising rapidly year-on-year, isn’t it time that somebody stopped ‘preaching to the choir’ and started pitching and selling these mad machines to the likes of those who still have the energy and youthful attitude to life (and potential death) to make the best out of them?

When KTM first launched their Super Duke line, the videos they released were loud, brash, angry and showed riders doing ‘very naughty’ things. It’s true to say  – a decade on – that the world has moved on a bit and that it probably wouldn’t be allowed in our modern world (it was already slightly dated with it’s post-grunge soundtrack even upon launch), but it had enthusiasm and excitement that no other commercial for motorcycles has ever seemed to be able to convey since.

Surely that’s precisely the kind of thing that would translate from a poster on a bedroom wall into a wildly miscalculated decision to enter a world of financial pain and into a PCP agreement at the local dealer?

The launch of the renewed Triumph Speed Triple will be a success. Of that we have no doubt.

It’ll be live-streamed on Facebook and there will be all of the usual faces doing the usual things; tweeting out to their peers and echoing the noise within the same channels as they always do. Us probably included; although we’re not expected to be invited to the actual show and will probably be doing it from the comfort of our living rooms via a stuttering live stream and iPhone.

And whilst Triumph are continuing to buck the trend and post solid sales figures, who are we to counter the decisions of the highly-paid marketing managers responsible?

We’re very conscious that we here at MFHQ are starting to sound like a corrupt MP3 files missing vital information from its header file (that’s a bad ‘old scratched record’ simile), but if we can’t start getting ‘the youth’ into these two-wheeled deliverers of happiness by showing them the raw excitement of a naked hooligan bike then what chance do we as an industry have?

That’s nothing against Fogarty or Johnson – in fact at least one of them is younger than the majority of the office here – but with motorcycles starting to actually filter into the social consciousness once more through both the new wave custom scene and more recently the world of Haute Couture, is using motorcyclists to sell motorcycles to motorcyclists the best approach every time?




Oh and for the record – and with the greatest of respect to TT winner Gary Johnson – the answer to Triumph’s ‘Who’s the greatest?’ question is very obviously Carl Fogarty.

(Assuming that Surtees, Rossi or Agostini aren’t in contention).

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One Year On: Remembering Nicky Hayden




The news that Nicky Hayden passed away was devastating to the whole of the motorsport family.

This article first appeared on Motofire on May 22nd 2017. We’ve republished it here today to commemorate the anniversary of Nicky Hayden’s passing.

Nicky was a champion to his core; from the way he raced to his fierce devotion to his family and the way he made time for everyone. He fought for every single position on every lap of every race and never once gave up. He was firm, leaving no room for doubt on track, but he was always fair and he was one of the hardest workers you’ll ever know, even in a world that includes nothing but riders who push themselves to the limit constantly.

In every way, Nicky was a shining star; images of his tear-stained face when he won his championship in 2006 will forever be ingrained in the collective MotoGP memory, his joy was so tangible that you could have wrapped yourself up in it. And that was Nicky, always inclusive. Whether it was a quick-witted remark in that wonderful Kentucky drawl that we’ll miss so much, his easy manner that made him a friend of everyone who knew him or the way he never turned someone away when they wanted a photo or an autograph. Nicky came from a racing family and he became an integral part of an even larger one.

Losing anyone is always heartbreaking but the loss of a rider when they were out training, doing something as everyday as cycling, makes Nicky’s death at just 35 years old even harder to comprehend.

Nicky holds a place in the MotoGP Hall of Fame, his status as a Legend firmly cemented long before he left for World Superbikes. But he holds something even more valuable; a spot in the collective heart of the entire motorcycle racing family.

His accent will forever raise a smile, at least for me, and his own superstar grin will now bring with it an indescribable sadness. But remember Nicky as he would’ve wanted; that fierce big-hearted champion who pushed himself and everyone around him to be their very best and as that young man who brought so much joy and who left us far too soon.

My thoughts are, of course, with all of the Hayden family, Nicky’s fiancee Jackie, his friends and his teams both past and present.

Now, I’m going to wipe away the tears and watch Valencia 2006 again. I hope you join me to remember Nicky Hayden; a champion, a gentleman and a star that can never truly be extinguished.

This article first appeared on Motofire on May 22nd 2017. We’ve republished it here today to commemorate the anniversary of Nicky Hayden’s passing.

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Custom of the week: ‘V09’ BMW R80 by Vagabund Moto




BMW AIRHEAD CUSTOMS are like AC/DC songs: after a while, it’s hard to tell them all apart. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing, because the style is usually pleasing to the eye.

But no one could ever accuse Vagabund Moto of following a conventional formula. Their approach is unique and their bikes buck the mainstream trend. So it’s ironic to learn that the owner of this razor-sharp R80 asked Vagabund to replicate the style of a custom R80 they finished two years ago.

Not surprisingly, builders Paul Brauchart and Philipp Rabl weren’t keen on the idea. “We don’t like to remake bikes we’ve done before,” Paul tells us. “So we suggested sketching out a concept that related to the V05—while adding some special parts.”

Paul and Philipp do their wrenching in a workshop in Graz, Austria, and do as much work as possible themselves. “We’re trying to stay a two-man operation for as long as possible,” says Paul. “We’re good friends and perfectionists. It’s hard to think about trusting someone else, or giving up our awesome workshop relationship.”

The pair started out with a relatively fresh classic tourer: a 1992 R80 RT with only 25,000 km on the dial. And thanks to BMW’s historically good build quality, there wasn’t much engine work needed.

“We took apart the engine and carbs, checked everything, and replaced the not so good parts. And then blasted and painted it.”

Getting the striking Vagabund ‘look’ meant ditching the bodywork though, apart from the fuel tank—but even that’s not quite original. The back end of the tunnel has been closed off, where the gap would normally be blocked by the bulky OEM seat.

Just behind it is a svelte new perch. Vagabund designed the tail hump digitally, then got it 3D printed. It means they could pack a ton of detail into a small space—from the multi-faceted upholstery by Christian Wahl, to the sculpted recess under the tail that hides an LED back light.

Everything sits on top of a custom-made subframe, and the main frame’s been liberated of any unneeded mounts. The rear’s now propped up by a new YSS shock. The wheels are stock, but the rear’s clad in a pair of glass fiber-reinforced plastic covers.

Up front, Vagabund shortened the forks by 60 mm, milled and powder coated the lower legs, and added a pair of fork boots. There’s a custom-made top triple clamp too, playing host to an integrated Motogadget speedo.

The handlebars are from LSL, and have been trimmed down. They wear a Grimeca master brake cylinder, a Domino clutch lever, and custom switches in a 3D-printed housing. There’s a small headlight out front, and a pair of Motogadget bar-end turn signals.

The rest of the bike’s been treated with equal consideration. It’s sporting a set of Continental ContiRoadAttack tires, K&N filters, and a Supertrapp muffler attached to the modified stock headers. And then there’s that striking livery, quite unlike any other we’ve seen, and expertly applied by Graz neighbors i-flow.

But it’s what’s missing that’s just as important: there’s no mess of wires vying for your eye’s attention. The bike’s been totally rewired, with a new diode board and two tiny Ultrabatt lithium-ion batteries, hiding under the tank.

“It’s very important to take care of every cable and braking line, and so on,” says Paul. “Even the handlebars are as clean as possible. It’s one of our biggest jobs to do a totally minimalist wiring setup, and we put a lot of work into parts that nobody ever sees.”

Despite the sano approach, this BMW is completely street legal in Austria. On top of the usual lighting, there’s a license plate bracket at the back that holds a pair of tiny Motogadget turn signals—with just the right amount of visibility to check legal boxes.

“It’s really difficult,” says Paul. “Every light has to be ECE-approved, and has to be mounted at the right angle and position. We have to examine all our builds and every point of customization with a civil engineer before we‘re able to (hopefully) pass the vehicle license authority.”

Titled ‘V09,’ this BMW leaves us thunderstuck. It hits the mark with its stance, proportions and finishes—so we’re counting it as another win for the Austrian duo.

This article first appeared on Bike Exif; It’s republished here with permission.

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