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Those images you see in all the aftershave commercials of hunky types aggressive crocodiles and experiencing adventurousness are not necessarily that far out of your reach. Maybe the crocodiles are, but affairs are, wherever you live, there is wide-open accessible acreage an hour or two’s drive abroad cat-and-mouse to be explored. Why not go out and accept a look? Why not accept an adventure? Why not … buy an chance motorcycle?

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 250  Interesting Motorcycle Photos · Pexels · Free Stock Photos

This is absolutely what I was cerebration aloof the added day, sitting in my veal-fattening pen, staring out the window, cerebration of dirt, crisis and devilry. This is one way you can do it: Almost every motorcycle architect in the apple offers chance bikes, clay bikes or both. They ambit from absolutely off-road machines you chase on a motocross advance to big, abundant off-roaders with the arena approval of the Mackinac Bridge.

“I accept a phone,” I thought. “I apperceive people.” So I fabricated two calls, one of them to my acquaintance and aide Charles Fleming of the LA Times, whose amusing media augment looks like a bartering for Man Monthly, centered mostly but not alone on benumbed motorcycles through wilderness; the added was to Honda, which I asked for an Africa Twin and an XR650L, two street-legal clay bikes as altered from one addition as an Acura RLX and an aftermarket SEMA-project Honda Pilot. Then I went out to the barn and got out all the camping gear.

See? It’s simple. The abstraction was to booty the affluence Africa Twin, which had aggregate but cupholders, air conditioning and accessory radio, and analyze it with the ancient, air-cooled, carbureted XR650L. Or article like that. Who cares? The abstraction was to accept fun, aloof like you can, too, appropriate now!

This was activity to be an adventure, yes, but we weren’t necessarily activity to suffer. Fleming, audacious as he is, and I, somewhat added feeble, aren’t absolutely 22 anymore. We can allow to be accurate in our suffering, allotment it out in bite-size but still-tasty chunks. So aback campaign columnist Tim Sutton, who may accept absolutely coined the phrase, “I’m bottomward for whatever,” said he had a Chevy 4×4, and aback abandonment day came up at able-bodied over 100 degrees in the shade, we autonomous to aloof amount the accursed bikes in Sutton’s barter rather than ride them the 100 afar up to the abundance dirt.

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 Julian Dann Photography: Motorcycle Photography

Further abundance came in bike No. 1: The Africa Twin is like a weekend spa analysis compared to the XR650L. If it wasn’t a Honda, I’d say the Africa Twin was the Cadillac of Chance bikes. It is Honda’s acknowledgment to articulation stalwarts like the boss and all-conquering BMW R1200 GS Adventure, KTM 1290 Super Chance R and Ducati Multistrada 1260 Enduro, to name aloof three of what is a chic of 32 bikes, depending on how you admeasurement classes.

The 32 can go off-road but are all street-legal, all accept headlights and taillights, and they ambit in amount from about $6,000 to 25 admirable for a Ducati Multistrada 1260 Pikes Peak edition. By that measure, the apprehensive Africa Twin is a arrangement starting at $13,879, admitting the analysis bike we had stickered at $16,804 because it had those air-conditioned adamantine cases on the ancillary (“panniers,” they alarm them) and the DCT.


Wait, you say, a DCT? A dual-clutch transmission? An automated … on a motorcycle? Yeah! Ain’t it great? Not alone can you cruise about the hills on this affluence barca-blitzen, you can accept it do all the alive for you. I anticipate the DCT on this and a few added Honda motorcycles is what’s activity to save the accomplished motorcycle industry. Older guys are added acceptable to get aback on bikes afterwards decades spent adopting families and actuality responsible, and new riders aloof dabbling their cossack toe into the angle of benumbed will ascend aboard because an automated manual agency one below affair to anguish about and makes the accomplished action far below intimidating.

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 Harley Davidson at the Caledonian Canal – Robert Taylor Motorcycle ...

Speaking of intimidating, there’s the added bike, the XR650L. Compared to the Africa Twin, the XR feels like a footfall aback in clay biking history, admitting not that far. It has a carburetor, for one, clashing the Africa Twin’s programmed cyberbanking ammunition bang with burke by wire. The XR650L’s cocked single-cylinder agent traces its roots aback to the aboriginal ’80s. The bike itself is abundantly banausic aback the aboriginal ’90s. True, it has a four-stroke agitation aeon and electric start, but you can see the metal application on the ancillary of the case area the kick-starter acclimated to be. It’s tall, with a aerial 37-inch bench acme that would accomplish a basketball brilliant ability on tiptoes at stops, and it has ergonomics that about admonish you that clay bikin’ ain’t for wusses.

But it costs alone $7,279. So there we were, auction the bikes bottomward Fleming’s aluminum bike ramp, bungee-cording camping accessory into the panniers of the Africa Twin—and on any allotment we could acquisition of the XR—and off we went, annoy pressures bargain for clay bottomward to about 22 psi. With that, we were free. The point area the paved Green Valley Road turns into the clay of 2N13 is area you’re anon afraid at aloof how abundant wilderness there is so abutting to a city, or cities, of 24 actor people.

From area the pavement ends in Grass Valley Lake in the San Bernardino Mountains, you couldn’t alike acquaint this was the 21st century. Pine copse coiled their goodbyes to us, summer flowers ambrosial the air, birds chock-full biting us and began to call in support.

This accomplished affair was my idea, so I started off on the XR650L. This bike has chops! So what if you accept no talent? Alike a talentless drudge will acknowledge 11.6 inches of caster biking advanced and rear, which agency you can bellow over any bedrock that gets in the way. Fleming started on the Africa Twin, continuing on the pegs like a motorcycle advertisement. Forest Road 2N13 anguish alternating the aback of Butler Peak, with the all-inclusive Mojave Desert spilling out below us. Giant thunderheads accumulated aerial aloft us, abacus affecting sky to the whole, corrective scene. 

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 Cool Motorcycle Photography

After a while, we swapped bikes, and man oh man accepting on that Africa Twin was like sitting bottomward on your active allowance couch to watch wrestling. It was soooo comfortable, and so powerful, too, with 998cc of liquid-cooled displacement, and it was so simple to ride. At aboriginal I was activity to accuse about the added weight—published abstracts say it’s 485 pounds dry, which agency over 500 pounds with all the fluids you charge to go forward, and I was activity to say that weight feels like it’s aerial up on the frame; or I was cerebration of adage the bike was upshifting too soon, alike admitting you can affairs the automated to authority apparatus a little best or alike about-face the apparatus yourself via the acceptable deride triggers on the larboard handlebar.

But afterwards about 14 anxiety on this dream machine, I wasn’t activity to accuse about a distinct thing. We swapped bikes aback and alternating the blow of the day, and anniversary time it was the same: The XR650L kept reminding me I wasn’t acceptable abundant to accomplishment its accurate capabilities, while the Africa Twin told me to aloof lie back, relax and adore the scenery. If I were to accept a bike to be in Nitro Circus, I’d booty the XR650L. If I were to go about the apple or to the grocery abundance or do annihilation abroad I anytime capital to do, I’d booty the Africa Twin. What a chrism breath dream boat.

Fleming and Sutton had obligations to appear to, so afterwards a auspiciously huge banquet at Hacienda Grill in Big Bear, they loaded up the XR650L and took off. I rode aback up into the hills on the south ancillary of Big Bear Lake, alternating Forest Road 2N10 in the dark, the able aerial beams lighting up the

wilderness like aerial noon. Afterwards a few miles, I begin a atom with a somewhat amazing appearance and formed out my sleeping bag, watching the Milky Way circle aloft my blessed arch and alert to two owls do their best “Who’s On First?” accepted out in the copse somewhere. In the morning, I arranged aggregate aback up and descended the agilely arduous 1N54 bottomward to acculturation and the LA freeway system. On the ride aback home in the 100-degree bang boiler of LA’s Inland Empire, I was very, actual animated that I had the Africa Twin and that there was still wilderness larboard to explore.

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 Motorbike Photography | Action Portraits

This adventure originally appeared in the September 24 affair of Autoweek. Subscribe here.

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