Off road motorcycles

By Paul Berglund

Welcome to 2017. Winter is upon us and the fresh fallen snow has hushed the sounds from the outside world. Buell has gone quietly and gently into that good night and Victory will soon follow. Sadly, Buell may be down for the last time. On the bright side, Victory went away so Polaris can direct those resources into it’s Indian line of Motorcycles. Hopefully one of the future new Indian motorcycles will be a 450 pound street bike. That’s all I’m asking for Polaris. But as long as I have your attention, what do you think about naming some of these new Indian brand models after other antique bikes. How fun would it be to zip down a twisty road on a shiny new Thor or Flying Merkel?

I’m quite happy with the bikes I do own. Right now I have a 2008 Triumph Speed Triple and a 2015 KTM 500 EXC-F. Both bikes are orange and both are the top of the line bikes in their category. They are more capable performers than I am at riding them, so I have some room to grow. If you read our last issue, you saw me attempt to ride the Triumph where the KTM was meant to go. Tin Cup Pass in Colorado was not kind to the big Speed Triple, or me for that matter, but much fun was had. I’ve got the bike back in stock shape and its ready to ride the twisty roads again.

I still have all the parts I bought to make it more off road worthy. So if any of you have a 2005 to 2010 Triumph Speed Triple that you would sell me cheap, drop me a line here at MMM. You can reach me at I still have some ideas on how to make a Speed Triple into a scrambler, but I would rather not experiment on my only road bike. If I can find a stunt double to stand in for the pretty orange bike, I can let my imagination run wild. I’m not sure just what will happen if I build a 1050cc scrambler, but I’m guessing you’re as curious as me to find out. So keep your eyes open for a scruffy Speed Triple. Heck, I think the smaller (675cc) first generation (2007 to 2012) Street Triple might work too.

Mini-bikesThe next order of business is Vintage Torque Fest in Iowa. For 2017 it’s May 5th and 6th. Last year some of the MMM gang went down and we had a blast. I was on a loaner mini bike. The kind with a pull start lawnmower motor and no suspension. Bruce, the editor of MMM was riding a vintage Honda Trail CT70 and our friend Rick was on another of those horrible no suspension kind of mini bikes. No one is talking, but I have it from good sources that Rick will be riding a Honda Trail CT 90 and Bruce found a knock off Chinese bike and did a motor swap with his CT70. He will be packing 110cc. I still don’t have a vintage little bike to compete with these treacherous old men.

So I’m turning to you the reader once again to help me find a suitable bike to go against my fellow riders down at Torque Fest. It too has to be cheap. I’m not sentimental in the least when it comes to bikes from my younger days. I don’t lust after a mint condition Honda Trail or any of the countless little enduros. I just want to ride around a race track in Iowa with my friends. Of course it wouldn’t hurt if my bike was faster than theirs. Thats just the nature of guys and bikes. I’m seeing little vintage enduros on Craig’s List, but my computer is covered in coffee from all the spit takes I do when I see the price! So again, if you have an appropriate bike gathering dust in your garage, please let me know.

Just to be clear, I’m not planing on doing stupid things with these bikes. However, the best stories come from doing stupid things with bikes. If you have the appropriate bike to sell and you’d faint if it gets dusty, that’s not the bike I’m looking for. Nor am I looking for a “ran when parked” “project” bike that looks like it was stored under a shed for decade. I just need a bike I can do zany antics with to fill the pages of MMM. I’m doing this for the readers. It takes a village to bring you a motorcycle magazine. So this may be your opportunity to contribute to the motorcycling community and the delinquency of a middle aged man.

I’m not trying to build a motorcycle collection. There is no room in my garage for a museum. To me, the value of a motorcycle isn’t in the price you pay for it, it’s in the experience you have when you ride it. That’s what I’m spending my money on. It’s the things I’ve done and the places I’ve seen that give me happy thoughts. Not polishing chrome or seeing my reflection in store windows as I ride past. Looking back, I remember some of the bikes I’ve owned with fondness, some of them I’m glad that they are gone. When I’ve done what I wanted to do with a bike, it’s time to pass it on to the next rider and start the next adventure. They are not toys to play with, but tools to build happiness.

Of course I think we can all agree not to mention any of this to my wife. She has enough to deal with and needn’t be burdened with extraneous knowledge about unholy motorcycle creations, out of state mini bike racing, broken ribs or just what came in those empty boxes out by the recycling bin. I feel a garage should be a safe zone. Free of blame, recrimination or accurate depictions of intended outcomes. Motorcycles are all about freedom. We can leave it at that.


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