Ask me anything May 16, 2012 By Wes Siler Tweet Busy week for us this week, but I’m over on Reddit today answering anything anyone asks me with one of their patented Ask Me Anything threads. Head on over and do just that. Scott-jay Reddit subscription drive? NitroPye Your average reddit user isn’t going to pay for shit. aristurtle There used to be a bunch of redditfriends who would grab the articles during the 12-hour free window and post them there; dunno if that’s still a common thing. http://hellforleathermagazine.com Wes Siler I asked them to stop and they did. http://hellforleathermagazine.com Grant Ray Actually, I had HFL send a “Cease and Desist.” Then they did. http://www.twitter.com/wessilerfanclub Sean MacDonald (the other Sean) Big bad Grant saved the day with his big bad stick! http://greatjoballweek.blogspot.com/ Case Grant is The Hammer. It’s funny because it’s true. protomech They call him Captain Hammer. http://hellforleathermagazine.com Grant Ray Actually Sean, Kerry is the one with the big bad stick. You can keep the plateful of snark. http://www.twitter.com/wessilerfanclub Sean MacDonald (the other Sean) sorry, forgot the comments section was where we looked for validation. Ed Rideitor here – wonder what the overlap is between rideit and the HFL commentariat. ike6116 I’ve been a reedit member for close to 5 years and a HFL member for a lot less than that. I find “Rideit” unbearable. All comments are basically people admonishing others for not subscribing to their particular sect of ATGATT faith, not getting a 250 or monday morning QB’ing a crash captain hindsight style. Ed I wasn’t aware of any ATGATT Great Schism Dani Peral My question is: As a motorcycle journalist, do the brands ask you for favourable reviews in exchange of lending you the test bikes? I mean, do they review what you write, give any guidelines or things that you should mention, or if you say in your publication that their bike is shit, they wont lend you any more bikes… Im intrigued about up to what point are those kind of things a common practice in motorcycle Journalism (Not a single complaint about HFL, btw) http://hellforleathermagazine.com Wes Siler Oh, that’s totally common. The reason we don’t enjoy better access is because all the OEMs fear what they call “real journalists” (their words, not mine) writing objective reviews of their products. BigRooster Is it that they fear objectivity or a bias not to their advantage? For instance, if a food reviewer from “IHATESUSHI.com reviews a Sushi restaurant and proclaims the food shit; it’s probably not objective, regardless of who paid. Do you find it’s a challenge to review something that you have a bias against from the start (like that Victory Judge)? How do you, personally, try to gauge if you are being objective in a review? Is it even possible to do an objective review? Doesn’t your personal bias always play a part and don’t we, as readers, want and expect that? I like knowing someone is reviewing something from a common perspective. If he liked it, I bet I’ll like it. http://hellforleathermagazine.com Wes Siler Yeah, objectivity is a bit of a myth. I’m a Honda fanboy for instance. What I, and other actual journalists try to do is make that bias clear. You guys know I don’t like cruisers, for instance, and I make sure that’s clear, then review them from that perspective. The problem is, literally every other motorcycle outlet views itself and is viewed by the OEMs as an extension of their marketing efforts. A person at Yamaha, who has since left, once told us he couldn’t work with us because he couldn’t guarantee what we’d write ahead of time. He sure was eager to work with all his buddies at the mags though… Draw your own conclusions. HammSammich I would argue your dislike of cruisers doesn’t necessarily represent bias in your reporting. In the Judge review Big Rooster references, for example, all you really did was to implicitly compare the Judge’s performance and handling capabilities with the minimum capabilities we have come to expect of any competent street motorcycle outside of the Cruiser genre (albeit in a humorous manner). If anything this is where HFL’s honesty and lack of bias is the most apparent. For years, Moto Journalists have been falsely reporting about cruisers as if they are a legitimate segment of bikes ie. Adventure, Sport, Touring etc. In all other cases, a segment represents specialization in a particular kind of performance, and therefore doesn’t warrant cross-comparison with other segments. By applying this segmentation logic to cruisers, the motorcycle press has insulated Harley Davidson, Victory, and other cruisers makers from real criticism by insuring that they are seldom compared to anything but other air-cooled V-Twin bikes with forward controls and raked forks. By contrast, HFL has apparently identified the silliness of sequestering cruisers into their own performance segment, since they don’t specialize in anything. Sadly, neither do they offer generalized performance over specialization. By any legitimate measure of motorcycle performance, “cruisers” are objectively terrible motorcycles. I don’t think it’s a bias that HFL isn’t coddling them. Gene I was going to say “not Motorcycle Consumer News, nuh uhhh no way” but then I took another look. What do you say about their “we don’t take ads but still play golf with our mfgr buddies” bit? http://hellforleathermagazine.com Wes Siler They’re very much of the industry. Honestly, I can’t tell the difference between any of the American mags, they’re all repurposed HFL stories, press releases poorly rewritten as reviews and bad photography. Anyone else find that As depressing as I do? Restless Lip Syndrome Yes it is depressing. I haven’t had a MC publication subscription in a number of years. I don’t buy them at the airport anymore either. Too many blowjobs as you like to call them. Rick On a recent layover in Dulles, I bought a copy of Motorcyclist, and a copy of Bike (UK) to read. The Motorcyclist took me about 10 minutes to read, and contained no actual contact. Bike took me the better part of an hour, contained actual information, editorial content, and vaguely objective reviews. It’s just as bad in the world of car mags as well. Gene I used to be a big Performance Bikes fan, back when I could afford $10 magazines. So one day I was reading a test that had the phrase “and we came back to find some clogger had nicked our waterproofs” Later I was reading a test in Motorcyclist and came across a paragraph where they mentioned returning to find that some lowlife had stolen their rain gear. Turned out they were the same article with only the “Britishisms” removed plus a little byline surgery, otherwise it was paragraph-identical. [facepalm] Squid_Squidly Yeah MCN stuff is generally pretty good. Sometimes even $10 good. I’m especially shocked at how often I find Classic Bike worth reading, cuz I truly DGAF about bikes made before I was but there’s something kinda charming about the way it’s all presented that makes it neat. Like it’s a magazine about weirdo eccentrics and the human condition. I mean, it takes a special kind of person to buy a pantah in a series of boxes and go, “this is gonna be fun!” Also it’s nice to not be regaled with ads featuring mom jean clad, goatee wearin’ fat dudes on cruisers or tribal graphic squid stuff on every other page. I guess Baby boomers ride Fireblades over there. That’s the kinda old man I wanna be. Scott-jay “… of the industry..” Glossy CA moto-magazines openly cater to advertisers; still (’60s & ’70s live on). So far, moto-media resources via internet are more bias-transparent (plus more variety & quantity). Can’t help but read HFL with one eyebrow slightly askew since its move from NY; always alert for signs my boys have sold-out. http://hellforleathermagazine.com Wes Siler We sold out ages ago, we’re just really, really good at hiding it. http://www.facebook.com/beastincarnate Ben W I don’t know about their side relationships, but I’ve found Motorcycle Consumer News to offer the most critical reviews of the American mags. They have a particular editorial slant, but they provide a wealth of info with each writeup. Paul Mr. Wes: Is there any better all around, 7-day a week, new street bike for 10k than a street triple R? http://hellforleathermagazine.com Wes Siler No. Paul short and sweet. Mucho gracias. Ax Really? So it’s the best bike for ALL conditions in ALL locations for ALL riders? Better in cold and rainy conditions than something with a full fairing? Better for commuting or single-vehicle ownership than something with integrated storage? Wow. I’d better run out and buy one tomorrow. nymoto I would assume that by Paul asking specifically about the ST-R that he was comparing like minded bikes. Do yourself a favor – have a drink – I prefer bourbon. It helps take the edge off. Ax You’re probably right. The “all around, 7-day a week” part must’ve made me edgy. Cheers. nymoto dude you are so edgy, haha kidding. enjoy the bourbon – try the makers 46 – its awesome. http://worldof2.com/ jpenney Mine is my year round primary vehicle. A Triumph tank bag and a Kriega tail pack let me get anything I’ve need onto the bike so far. I commute nearly every day and ride it for pleasure on the weekends. I’ve been in rain and temperatures that are just above freezing. In some regard my previous bike (G650GS) was adequate at all of the required tasks plus had some wind protection, a luggage rack, and heated grips. The only place the Striple loses out is in gravel. The little GS LOVED gravel, the Triumph would prefer to not see rougher roads. As far as comfort, I find the firmer seat and slightly forward leaning position of the Triumph more comfortable for a longer time than the bolt upright and soft seated BMW. muckluck In your opinion where do you see motorcles going in the US, and how can we get our fellow Gen Y’ers to unplug themselves from facebook long enough to notice there is an outside world? Gene I don’t think we can get our fellow Gen Y’ers to unplug themselves from facebook long enough to f*cking look out the window and DRIVE, judging from Orlando traffic. jp182 I don’t think that’s true; I think it’s more a matter of empowering people who have been made to be scared of everything since a young age. And dude as a fellow rider, GET THE THE HELL OUT OF FLORIDA! This is your life we’re talking about! ;-) Campisi The age group labeled “generation Y” by people outside of it have been essentially under legal and parental lock-and-key their entire lives. Timidity and a predilection for low-to-no-cost social network activities and interests will define these people for much of their lives; aided in no small part by an economy forcing their projected standard of living ever downward, and a legal system that gives all infractions major and long-lasting consequences, however minor the offense. equ Wes, what do you think about the ducati gt1000 as an all-rounder? http://hellforleathermagazine.com Wes Siler Solid bike. It’s had some well publicized quality issues, but those shouldn’t be a huge deal if you do your homework. RSassi Thanks! 10/10ths How reliable are the new Triumphs? Would you choose a Honda CB1000 over a Speed Triple only because of reliability concerns? http://hellforleathermagazine.com Wes Siler Totally reliable. And there’s pretty much no bike I’d choose over a speed triple, fantastic bike. http://www.facebook.com/beastincarnate Ben W Dammit. Don’t make it more appealing to me. I’m really trying to maintain my relationship with the Z1000. Scott Jones I had an 07 1050 that I rode almost everyday for a year. Put 13K on it in that time and loved it, wish I never sold it. dux [87 CBR600, 95 XR600R] Dear Wes: Australian roads suck. Constant irregularities, pot holes, tram tracks (yes, they ACTUALLY use street cars here), and surprise we-forgot-to-compact-this-asphalt sections are plentiful. What are a couple good everyday bikes for tackling these kind of conditions? Ya know, bullet-proof, semi-supple, decent (long travel) suspension? Sincerely, Dux http://hellforleathermagazine.com Wes Siler Dear Dux: Roads suck everywhere. A Kawasaki Versys or V-Strom 650 should steer you right. Dylan A nice big bore factory supermoto could do you well too if you want something a bit more sporty. (Husqvarna sm610/sm630, KTM 690 SMC, KTM 625 ) dux [87 CBR600, 95 XR600R] Dylan: Already got one! (XR600R) Thanks for the advice Wes, I’ll be replacing the ‘Cane sometime soon. Wolfgang Romero How about a Ducati monster 696 as an upgrade from a Kawasaki Ninja 250R (first bike used over a year) for everyday comute?? http://cynic13th.livejournal.com/ cynic If you really want a Ducati go for it. Just know that they cost a bit more to service, and some people find them uncomfortable. Wolfgang Romero Thanks! I realise that they can be somewhat expensive when it comes to maintenance and about the ergo I’ve already sitted on one and it fits me confortably. Thanks again for the reply nymoto 2 friends have Ducs – one is the 696, one is the gt1000 (non sport). I pick the 696 every time when we switch – coming from a supermoto – its light and tight and fun. get one. jp182 As someone who rides a supermoto, what do you like about the 696 and what do you like better about your bike over the 696?? nymoto 696 over a supermoto – anything long distance and stability – because of the weight and the seat – especially on a windy highway and such. 696 weigh about 350 lbs – supermoto’s weigh in the 250-300 range. Supermoto’s are great hooligan city bikes – the 696 is a more refined ride. Supermoto’s are great because I have laid mine down, and been hit on it (2 different occasions) and I literally pick it up, make sure the forks are straight and ride away, they can really take a beating. and if your comfortable on it and you like Duc’s get one – read below for other opinions as well. Hope that helps (mind you I don’t own one – only borrow one from time to time, although I had a monster 900 for a bit until it got wrecked but that is totally different bike). http://hellforleathermagazine.com Wes Siler Sounds totally reasonable. Ross I just traded up from a 696 to a griso SE. The 696 is a lot of fun, abut after 7500 miles on it there were a few niggles I just couldn’t fix. 1) Even with the comfort seat the bike wears after an hour 2) Cold starts shouldn’t be so damn difficult on a fuel injected bike 3) Clutch was either off or on, the friction zone was minute 4) Below ~18 mph expect to ride the clutch and STILL have the engine lug Don’t get me wrong, the 696 is a blast. You won’t see the downsides in the dealership though. If you go with one, get a 14t front sprocket before taking it out of the service bay. It really helps, but does not entirely eliminate the low speed engine/transmission difficulties. Edward Termis, though expensive, cured a lot of the fueling issues for me. Great city bike – light, agile and plenty of power for the speeds that you care about in the city (10-60 mph). I also got ABS, which again is a boon in traffic. Wolfgang Romero Ok people thank you so much for the feedback, I’m taking notes of all you’ve said. jp182 I’ve been a member of the Ducati Monster Forun for a while, I have to confess that what stroke me first Where the looks but after reading the DML everyone agrees that it’s a nice city bike with a forgiving character (for someone with reasonable experience). But I’m still looking so I could change my mind. http://www.brammofan.com Brammofan I was surprised that you were treated so well on reddit yesterday. HFL-haters abound over there (or maybe it’s the same vocal few) and reddit, in general, seems to have gotten meaner in recent months than I recall it being in the four or so years I’ve been on it. BTW, thought you did a good job with the AMA and hope you do another one. jp182 oh there was quite a bit of hate frolicking around if you dug around. Lots of cruiser riders that didn’t take kindly to his comments. http://hellforleathermagazine.com Wes Siler Thanks. Gonna be haters anywhere you go on the internets sadly, I just try and win them over with my charming personality. Campisi Probably too late for a question, but the commentariat is always worth a listen. I’ve spent the last few years on smaller bikes: late Seventies CB125s, a 2011 CBR250, and a succession of crappy Daelims here in Korea. I return to the States next summer (barring an unforeseen circumstance or opportunity), and when I do I’ll be looking for something a touch bigger. I’m unlikely to do a track day anytime soon, but I’m a spirited rider all the same and prefer bikes that at least have a willing personality to them. My 250s have had adequate acceleration and power, but there have been times when I could have used more. Maintenance and “unreliability” (as if any new motorcycle is “unreliable” in the grand scheme of things) don’t scare me, but I ride in all non-snow conditions and need to know that the bike will at least attempt to be a willing dance partner for such a riding schedule. Not a fan of extensive bodywork. Lightness trumps power. Finally, I don’t need the “best” bike in the category if personality is lost in the process; the awful bike you love will always beat the best bike you tolerate. What are people’s (probably all over the place, but that’s the fun) recommendations? … Damn, I’m pickier than I thought. http://hellforleathermagazine.com Wes Siler Vstrom 650 or street triple. Campisi Thanks! Never thought to give either a whirl.