Speed Read: A weekly dose of the latest motorcycle news


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Jan 5, 2006
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The latest motorcycle news, custom bikes and gear

After exactly two hundred editions of Bikes of the Week, we’re retiring the format and switching things up a little. Our new weekend roundup is called Speed Read, and we’ll be featuring news snippets as well as a steady stream of custom bikes.

That doesn’t mean we’ll be featuring 200 hp sportbikes, but we will be showing a few more classics, reporting on interesting new gear, and keeping you abreast of upcoming events and shows. Let us know what you think—and drop us a line if you spot anything interesting that you reckon we should cover.

Triumph Bonneville Build-Off Challenge 2020

Triumph Bonneville Build-Off Challenge 2020 In its homeland, Triumph has set off down the path of the dealer build-off for the second time. Last year, the competition was centered on custom Bobbers; this year, nine dealers have modified the evergreen Bonneville.

Triumph Bonneville Build-Off Challenge 2020

The results are a lot more consistent than most competitions of this ilk, with the dealers showing equal measures of style and restraint. (We’re especially taken with the ‘Speed Racer’ above from Edinburgh Triumph, complete with modified Daytona fairing.) And Triumph has paid for decent photography rather than relying on a random ragbag of images supplied by the entrants.

Winners will be judged by the public, with voting open until 14 October 2020. Head over to the Build-Off microsite to explore the bikes in more detail and have your say.

Skram Moto Threes motorcycle sunglasses review

Skram Moto Three Though a full-face helmet with a visor is the sensible choice, many riders still enjoy riding with a visorless helmet and sunglasses, says senior editor Wes Reyneke. If that’s you, and you tend to ride day and night, transitional eyewear from Skram is worth a glance.

I’ve been testing out Skram’s Moto Threes—a traditional D-frame design, shown below in a ‘Havana’ colorway, with yellow shatterproof and scratch resistant lenses. (They also come in black, with clear lenses, and in three different designs.) Exposure to UV light turns the lenses dark, so the idea is that these are useful in a wide range of light conditions. The yellow tint is ace for night riding, and although the transition is slow at first, once you’ve had them in the sun a few times to ‘break’ them in, it’s a useful feature.

Skram Moto Threes motorcycle sunglasses review

The only catch is that they need direct exposure to UV light to transition—so they won’t go dark in a car or behind a helmet visor, and they might only partially tint under the shade of a helmet peak. So Skram have added a tinted polarized option to the line-up too, if you prefer traditional shades.

Skram Moto Threes motorcycle sunglasses review

Granted, it’s a very niche product—but within that niche, it works well. The frames look killer and feel solid, and with skinny arms they fit well into most helmets. Kudos to Skram for their top-shelf packaging too.

Skram Moto Threes motorcycle sunglasses review

It includes a carry case, a key clip (that can also attach to the case), a cleaning cloth, and a useful mini screwdriver for adjusting the arms as they wear over time.

My only gripe? I have a fat head and struggle to find shades that fit me well. So I’d be stoked if Skram added a fourth, oversized model to the lineup. [Buy]

Honda XR650L restomod by Sea of Rocks

Honda XR650L restomod by Sea of Rocks The global pandemic has had an odd effect on the motorcycle industry. In the States, the UK and many other Western countries, sales are up. And the aftermarket is robust too, according to chats we’ve had with a couple of major parts manufacturers.

Honda XR650L restomod by Sea of Rocks

The other side effect is that people have more time to work on their bikes. This terrific XR comes from London-based Michael Eichler, who runs the very cool boutique ADV gear company Sea Of Rocks.

Honda XR650L restomod by Sea of Rocks

Michael has turned his XR650L into a rally style bike with lots of practical touches for touring—like a 28-liter XL600 LM gas tank and a custom seat to match. He’s also added stainless steel braces to the subframe to support heavy luggage, installed LED lighting, and given the engine a boost with the famous “Dave’s Mod” on the carburetor.

If the end really does come any time soon, this is the kinda bike we’d want for heading into the hills.

BMW’s maintenance-free motorcycle chain

BMW’s maintenance-free motorcycle chain The chain has to be the least interesting part of any motorcycle, but a new design being brought to market by BMW could soon remove the hassles of maintenance.

BMW’s maintenance-free motorcycle chain

It’s a 525-spec X-ring type chain called M Endurance, and initially available for the S1000RR and S1000XR. It doesn’t need retensioning or lube, and the industrial diamond coating reportedly has friction-reducing properties too.

Hopefully BMW (and its supplier) will soon release different variants so we can all forget about our chains without feeling guilty about it …

Cycle World stops print publication

Goodbye Cycle World One of the world’s leading motorcycle magazines is gone. After 58 years of print, Cycle World has been bought by the American financial lending company Octane (no relation to our calendar publisher Octane Press). Cycle World will now be digital-only, like its stable mate Motorcyclist—which ended a 107-year print run last summer. Other titles going out of print are Dirt Rider and Motorcycle Cruiser.

Bonnier Corporation bought Cycle World and its sister mags only nine years ago, but maybe it couldn’t make the brands profitable. That task now falls to Octane, which will use the digital properties to bolster its powersports loan platform and dealer relationships.

It’s sad news for American riders who appreciate the long-form, tactile properties of print—but good news for independent publishers like New Hampshire-based Iron & Air, which is now up to its 40th issue and going strong.

Iron & Air subscription offer

If you love print, an Iron & Air sub will get you “114 pages of high-test motorcycle adventure and storytelling four times a year—for less than a burrito and a beer, and none of the heartburn.”

At the moment, Iron & Air is offering new subscribers a free back issue of their choice. Get yours here.

Iron & Air subscription offer

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