Common Tread

Our favorite articles of 2015

Dec 28, 2015

In 2015, Common Tread writers took us along for rides from Vietnam to nostalgia lane in California, reviewed bikes ranging from a Honda Gold Wing to a KTM 390 Duke, covered shiny new motorcycles unveiled at EICMA and told you about a not-quite-legal and totally home-built Harley in China.

Along with those stories, here are some personal favorites chosen by our writers.

Spurgeon and Lemmy
Spurgeon and Lemmy, hard at work to bring you great content. Photo by Spurgeon Dunbar.

Lemmy's favorites

First up was my take on building a custom bike. (Also see Spurgeon's outsider-looking-in persepctive.) Choppers make me look like an idiot all year long. They break and strand me and they're not comfortable and they cost way too much money and they eat up a ton of my time. Sounds like a story to me. Plus I drank a lot of beer and ate pizza with Spurgie.

Pat and Party Cat
Party Cat turned out to be a sensation on the interwebs. From mainstream U.S. media networks to websites in Holland, the story of the abandoned but lucky kitty was picked up around the world. Photo by Spurgeon Dunbar.
Next? Our recap of the Lowbrow Getdown. I validated my hunch that Blue Oyster Cult isn't that hot, beat the crap out of the new Indian Scout before most people even saw it in a showroom, and billed the whole trip to RevZilla. I also giggled the whole time I was writing the story. (Also see our smash-hit Party Cat story. That made me feel warm and fuzzy. Like Party Cat.) Also, Spurgie and I drank a lot of beer.

Finally, I was fond of the year's food articles. Brap-brap, nom-nom. How can you go wrong with that title? My fave part of that article was the comments. Cookin’ and campin' was also a tasty story, literally. I shot photos at an AMCA swap meet in the name of research, and got to eat all the image subjects. Given that I was chilling out in a field for three days, I drank a lot of beers. I love this job.

BMW R 1200 RS
A lot of effort goes into the motorcycle review videos produced by the RevZilla team, but the pay off is a lot of fun. What's better than riding new motorcycles and telling about them? Photo by Brett Walling.

Spurgeon's favorites

From my point of view, getting to present motorcycle reviews (written and video) was the biggest highlight of 2015. The BMW R 1200 RS was my favorite of this past year as it was the most in-depth review I have tackled yet. I am excited for 2016 as we continue to develop our approach to filming and writing these reviews in an effort to present our audience with as much information as possible. Plus, there are a ton of new bikes I can’t wait to get my hands on.

Handbuilt Show
The Handbuilt Show in Austin begins introducing the next generation of motorcyclists to what's cool. Photo by Spurgeon Dunbar.

Motorcycles are cool. Austin is weird. Revival Cycles combines these two truths with its annual Handbuilt Motorcycle Show during MotoGP weekend. This show was a hell of a good time with a bunch of great folks.

camping in the Catskill Mountains
Sometimes you just need to get on your motorcycle and get away. Photo by Spurgeon Dunbar.

While I was testing the Triumph Tiger 800 XCx, I rode to the Catskill Mountains in New York. Sometimes you need a solo trip to get out of town, clear your head, and stare into a campfire and see what you find once the cell phone reception ends.

motorcyclist saves kitten
The woman who saved a kitten from a busy intersection and posted the video on Youtube turned out to be a RevZilla customer. We aren't surprised. Motorcyclists are great people. Photo from video.

Lance's favorites

Every day I’m reminded that I am lucky, as an editor, to have an audience of smart, thinking riders. I’m reminded not just by the comments you make on our stories, but also by which stories get attention. Sure, it’s the internet, so we all love the videos of a kitten being saved from a busy intersection or a rider doing a triple back-flip, but the stats show that some of the stories you spend the most time with are the ones about riding better and smarter.

So when I had the chance in May to spend most of two days riding with two writers and instructors who have focused their careers on teaching us to rider better, smarter, and with greater awareness, I knew I had to get their advice on how to avoid the common mistakes street riders make.

Stayin' Safe motorcycle training
Chalk talks about street riding strategies are part of the rest breaks on a Stayin' Safe training tour. Photo by Lance Oliver.

I like to have fun along with the seriousness, which brings me to a couple of other favorites. Satire is always risky, especially on the internet, but I did it anyway with a tongue-in-cheek commentary on camaraderie among motorcyclists. Almost everyone got it. Far safer humor was my guide to translating used motorcycle ads.

Of course the three of us can barely scrape the surface of what’s happening in the motorcycle world. Fortunately, we have a small but far-flung group of contributors who are out there doing and covering interesting things and sharing their stories with us.

Honda Cub racing in Japan
Racing Honda Cubs in the Kabu Kappu in Japan. Photo by Justin W. Coffey.

Justin Coffey
Justin W. Coffey was happy to travel from the mountains of Arizona to an improvised race track in Japan to photograph stories for us in 2015, but he drew the line with some of the local cuisine in the Philippines. Photo by Kyra Sacdalan.
The adventurous writer-and-photographer duo of Kyra Sacdalan and Justin W. Coffey introduced us to riding in the Philippines and racing Honda Cubs in Japan. Adventurer at-large Bill Dragoo took us along for Hell Week, riding big adventure-touring bikes through some of Colorado’s toughest terrain. Chris Force took us on a more leisurely ride across country on the new Harley-Davidson Fat Boy S and an Iron 883.

Hell Week in the Colorado mountains
Taking a big BMW adventure bike on these trails? Just a mild interlude during Hell Week. Photo by Bill Dragoo.

Expert photographer Bill Andrews turned in one of his typically huge image galleries with gorgeous shots of antique motorcycles on the road, not hidden away in a museum or garage, at an AMCA run in New England. And Brett Smith told us the story of Danell Lynn, who sold off her possessions and set a Guinness World Record with her year-long ride.

AMCA run
These bikes aren't in a museum. They're on the road, where they belong. Photo by Bill Andrews.

Our goal for 2016 is to do an even better job of bringing you stories that inform and entertain, commentaries that are not just rants but are backed up by solid information, and news, profiles and rides that highlight the best of motorcycling.