Okay, here we go again with my summary of “the best and worst” – the bikes that impressed me most and least during this past year. Of course when I make these picks they’re based on bikes I’ve ridden during that year, not on what is generally available in the market-place. So it’s a very narrow selection criteria. And, for one reason or another, I didn’t actually do a lot of test-rides this year. However I have looked back over those I did ride and have made appropriate comments below.
As usual, there are a couple of other sections, too. The “Thumbs Up” and “Thumbs Down”sections are comments on what has impressed me and not impressed me in the world of motorcycling over the past year. Then, following a tradition I began a few years ago, I’ve included a more personal item on  my “Most Memorable Ride” during the year.

It came down to a choice of two really. I had previously described the Triumph Tiger as “My favourite Triumph” (a title that before then had been firmly held by the Sprint ST; so much so that I almost bought one!), and then for 2013 Triumph improved it. It’s a great bike that would be fun on short casual rides, but would easily cruise interstate if you wanted it to.
The other bike that really impressed me was the new Honda CB500 – especially the R model, which was the one I test-rode.
It looks great, and does everything well on the road.
Performance, especially considering it’s engine size, was impressive. It’s billed as a “Super-sport” by Honda, but it isn’t really: its appeal is broader than that. And unlike most full-on super-sports, it performs well in the low and mid-range as well.
It would be especially suitable for a rider stepping up from a smaller bike, but equally suitable for someone stepping down from a bigger bike. But apart from that, it’s just a good bike anyway! And the bargain price just seals the deal! So the Honda gets my pick for this year.
It has impressed the buying public too. Despite only being released during the year it is already the top-selling super-sport, and third in over-all road-bikes.
If there was a category for “The Bike I Would Most Like To Sit And Look At”, then among the bikes I rode this year there would be one winner, hands-down: the Harley Davidson 72.
With that deep lustrous metallic paint and glistening chrome, I reckon it looks fabulous! And what makes it even more impressive is that when you look closely, it’s all quality stuff! The paint, the chrome, it’s all top-notch. Harley knows its bikes are all about lifestyle and image, and it does both of those incredibly well! When it comes to riding them though, well, some are better than others! Some of the bigger models are, I believe, quite good to ride (in that big cruiser way), but others, like this one, are not so good. Taking a Sportster and chopping the suspension down so that it’s next to non-existent is not a move that is going to make for pleasant riding. Neither is giving it an engine that shakes like a wet dog.
“Dreadful riding-position, awful seat, horrendous vibration at idle, ridiculous gearing, bone-breaking ride”. That’s how I described this thing; but then added. “But gee, it looks great!” So on looks it would make the “Most Impressive”, but on riding it, it’s a clear winner – by a country mile! – for The Least Impressive!
Okay, well I might have been a bit hard on Harley Davidson just then, but I’ll redeem myself (in their eyes at least!) by giving it a thumbs-up for technical innovation with the new Rushmore bikes. Now, “technical innovation” and “Harley Davidson” are terms you wouldn’t often see in the same sentence, but with Rushmore they’ve gone all (relatively!) high-tech. Good to see! Even the 72 had some new-tech things, like the remote key-pad gadget.
A big thumbs-up to the organisers of motorcycle charity events. And there are a lot of them! From the annual Christmas toy-runs, to major events like The Snowy Ride and Black Dog Ride. And many more as well. These events are almost all run predominantly by volunteers, who give their time and efforts for the benefit of those less fortunate in our community, and for the promotion of a positive image of motorcycling. Well done, all of you!
A thumbs up to friendly staff in pubs, clubs, cafes, servos etc. Yes, there are some miserable people in these places too, but especially in eateries (clubs, cafes etc) I mostly encounter friendly people who just add that extra pleasantness to the day. Maybe it’s just the places I go. Sure, I make an effort to be cheery and smiling towards them, so sometimes it is that attitude being reciprocated, but often their first approach is one of friendliness. To me, it just makes the ride more enjoyable. So good on you!

Top of the list, and the biggest thumbs-down, has to go to the Queensland government for its introduction of the so-called “anti-bikie” legislation. Purely and simply a legislation that wasn’t needed, because adequate laws were already in place. It was a political stunt! And it was anti-motorcyclist, not just anti-outlaw-gang. Sadly the police (who normally gain a lot of respect from me) seem to be making the most of this legislation, harrassing innocent motorcyclists, all for no apparent sensible reason. It’s making innocent motorcyclists look like criminals! These draconian laws have the potential to set-back the image of motorcycling by 50 years!
A thumbs down to idiot car drivers who are too stupid – or blind – to see motorcycles on the road. Yes, I know this is a continual problem out there on the roads, but it was highlighted to me by having recently witnessed two incidents (I was involved in one) where the driver was either stupid, or didn’t see the bike.
In the first incident I was in the car and following an old custom Harley. The bike was as loud as any Harley I’ve ever heard: even with the windows closed and the radio on I was still able to hear him over everything else, so he’d be hard not to notice! As we approached a roundabout, a car came in on our left. It hesitated and then shot across the roundabout, narrowly missing the front of the bike and forcing the rider to brake hard. The rider continued on, waving a big tattooed arm at the car. Either the driver was stupid and thought he had plenty of room to get through (he didn’t!), or he was blind to the bike and was looking at me, thinking he’d jump through the roundabout before I got there.
In the second incident I was riding along a 4-lane back-street through a town. I was in the centre lane. As I approached an intersection with a side-street on my left, a truck and trailer came up the side-street and stopped at the intersection. As there was no stop-sign there, I assumed (I couldn’t make eye-contact at that point) that he’d seen me. But then he just pulled out. Okay, I thought, he’s pulling out into the left lane, so I continued on, cautiously. But no, he just pulled straight out in front of me across both lanes! I’d already slowed, so just had to brake fairly gently to avoid hitting him, and pull in behind. It wasn’t a “near-miss” exactly, but it was still a case of blindness, stupidity, or sheer not caring about the motorcyclist! He got a wave of the arm too!
And just today, (December 30), I had another incident where I was almost rear-ended by a young girl on P-Plates! I put that one down not to stupidity or blindness, as such, but more to inattention and inexperience. As you will read, the incident did result in a crash though – when a following P-Plater rear-ended her!
Another thumbs-down goes to idiot motorcyclists. Yes, there are some! Recently there have been several fatalities involving motorcycles that were on the wrong side of the road. Okay, so we are all capable of making mistakes, but in at least the majority of these cases (if not all of them), excessive speed and loss of control were factors. We’ve all seen them – idiots who treat the road like a race-track. A slight miscalculation and they over-shoot the corner, coming to grief against part of the scenery or the front of a car or truck coming the other way. It’s sad – for them (we all hate to see another motorcyclist lose their life!), and also for their family and friends, who have to bear the loss of a loved-one.

Look, you can skip this section, really. There’s been nothing too outstanding during the year. But, as I always put this section in I suppose I better carry on with it this year.
As I look back through my Blog, and remember the rides I did, there were quite a few rides that were very pleasant: and maybe a couple that weren’t quite so good. I’ll mention a couple, and include the date, so if you want to check out more detail, just go to that date in my Blog section.
On January 4, I was reminded that you can suffer some degree of heat-exhaustion, or dehydration, without actually sweating. It wasn’t the hottest ride I’ve been on, but the day was hot enough that I considered not going with my (more hardy) mates; but I did. About an hour later, when we pulled in for a rest under the shade of a big tree, I was feeling pretty oridinary. I hadn’t been sweating (a good air-flow summer jacket saw to that I guess), but I was effected by the heat. A bottle of cool water had me feeling much better. 
On April 1, there was an afternoon group ride that was cancelled due to rain then back on again when it fined up a bit later on. This turned out to be another good reminder for me. Having left late, the decision was made to make it just a short ride: we did about 80km in total, with a stop for a coffee and a long chat along the way.
It reminded me that, especially if you’ve got pleasant company, you don’t have to ride far to have an enjoyable time out on the bike.
I always enjoy mixing my love of motorcycling with doing a bit of good in the community, so the display we held on March 23 at a dementia-care facility was good to do. You leave with a good feeling of “having done your bit” for the community.
On September 15 I rode to a gathering at a church on the south coast. This was a disappointment in a way, because it was originally to be a weekend away on the bike, but due to inclement weather (very inclement!), I ended up just making it a day-ride. That was enjoyable though, because I got to meet a few people who I’d previously only met on-line. So that was good one!  

Well, there it is; my thoughts on what impressed me most and least during the year. And now it's on and upwards for 2014!
Click here to see what impressed me and didn't impress me last year
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