This past year has been a whirlwind of news, events and great rides. We asked the RideApart staff to collect their favorite stories and moments from 2014, whether it was a long-awaited ride around a Great Lake or news of a 300hp Kawasaki. Here's the staff's highlights from 2014. What are some of yours?
Great Lakes and Even Better Rides
This has been my best year for riding, starting with a few solid weeks of ice riding, followed by prep for the street riding season.
My boyfriend and I took two epic road trips over the summer: first was Chicago to Salisbury, North Carolin, on a Ninja 250 and a Bonneville T100 to attend Cornerspin dirt riding school with a few friends. The school was easily the most fun I've had on two wheels, and when the school was over we rode the Blue Ridge Parkway and the Tail of the Dragon. Spectacular views, crazy fun roads, and delicious BBQ made the trip seem hard to top.
A few weeks later, we spent 10 days riding around Lake Superior. It was laid-back, easy riding, but that's not a bad thing. The views were also spectacular and completely different from what we saw down South. It's quite striking how different the Canadian side is from the American. Canada has so much untouched beautiful nature just begging to be explored, and I have developed quite the fascination.
I also have an affinity for the Great Lakes, and Superior was not the only one I rode around this summer. I rode around Lake Ontario and Lake Erie on my Ninja 250 for an Iron Butt certification, which is 1,000 miles in 24 hours.
After Lake Huron on the lone good weekend in September, I had completed all 5 lakes in 2 years on a Ninja 250. I am evenly divided between Lake Superior and Lake Huron for my favorite lake.
If that wasn't enough, I've had the opportunity to share many of these adventures with RideApart. Talking with so many instructors and racers has been my favorite to do for this site, and I look forward to some of the other articles I'll be publishing on these interviews. It's been a great year, but I have a feeling next year's adventures will be even better. - Jen Tekawitha
For me, there's nowhere to go but up in 2015. I'm an accidental biker - I stumbled into motorcycling after taking a job in 2013 working as a content writer for a large American manufacturer of cruiser bikes. (Two guesses which one, and if you guessed Harley, you're wrong.) That led to me taking the MSF Basic Rider course, which in turn set the hook and set it good.
Over the past year I've learned more than I ever expected to about bikes, but the one lesson I relearn every day is that you can never, ever know too much about motorcycles and how they should be ridden. And while it sounds cliche, the biggest draw for me as a writer in 2014 wasn't the bikes, but getting to know the people who build and ride them. - Jason Avant
H2 Was a Let Down, R1 Even More So
Meeting new friends at media events, interviewing industry professionals, custom builders, and delving into many different subjects. I think my best article was on suspension tuning that I partnered with Traxxion Dynamics (Read How To: Suspension Setup Rebound and Compression | RideApart). It was in depth and I really worked hard on that research, and I hope you readers out there enjoyed the results.
Motorcycle news I thought that was over hyped: the H2 was a let down, the R1 even more so. I think the best announcement is the MSC from KTM and others. ABS that works when leaned over is a wonderful addition to motorcycle safety. The Ducati Scrambler is a good omen for the motorcycling world. Kawasaki revamping the Versys line and bringing back the 1000 is good for the American market as well. Frankly, overall Kawasaki had a stellar year. BMW and KTM both set sales records and Ducati continued its positive growth. All awesome signs for things to come.
Most disappointing brand for 2014: Suzuki. With the opportunity to re-brand and reinvent themselves after bankruptcy they did…nothing. A bunch of rehashed motorcycles, no innovation, and no excitement. Let's hope a return to MotoGP helps them change this around. - William Connor
photo by Adam Owens
Business and Camping
I added two new countries to my travel list. I went to the Dominican Republic and China and even spent a weekend in Hong Kong. In fact, the protests started the day after I flew out!
I started writing for RideApart and in March of 2014, I partnered with a guy in New Mexico and started a new motorcycle luggage company called Green Chile Adventure Gear. To this day, we have never met in person!
I discovered the fun of motocamping this year and went on several trips. I even got to do a four-day camping trip in the fall. When the tent is frosty in the morning it is very hard to climb out of the sleeping bag. - Adam Owens
In June of this year, I covered Pikes Peak International Hill Climb and got to hang out with Guy Martin, Paul Livingston and the Ducati team. In July, I rode a brand new BMW R1200 through miles of Washington State forest with my best buddies into British Columbia and returned home on a Yamaha Super Tenere.
Yet, just a few years ago, I’d all but stopped riding. I’d become more of a fixer-flipper kind of guy, specializing in old Moto Guzzi’s and modern Triumph’s.
It wasn't until I’d returned from the North Rim, safe and sound after nearly 3000 miles with friends, that I realized who I’d become. I was no longer the young adventurer who without hesitation, rode a solo seat Harley alone from Savannah non-stop to Northeast Pennsylvania for his best friend’s wedding. I was just living life, playing it safe. Motorcycles had become more of a hobby and something from my past.
I’ve had well over thirty bikes come through my garage these past four years, not counting the loaners that were left here in Colorado for a short while. We’ve done Keith Code Superbike schools together, ridden track days and SOCAL Supermoto, taken KTM’s through the Colorado wilderness. I’ve even done Tail of the Dragon in December on a loaner Ducati Monster wearing borrowed, heated gear. We have over twenty bikes between us and any one ofthem is available to anyone of us, almost any time.
I was a moto-crosser as a kid, a road racer in my twenties, a commuter in my thirties a bench racer in my forties and now, a mere tinkerer in my fifties. Pathetic.
That trip awakened something in me that made me a better man. First, it bonded me with a group of guys who were dedicated to improving their riding, improving themselves and one another.
Second, it reminded that there are actually worse things that can happen besides breaking down on the side of the road and having to figure out how to fix your machine and get it home or to a shop. - Ray Roske
F1 Racing and Motorcycles
The highlight of 2014, for myself, was going to Austin and getting to meet the Daniel Ricciardo and Sebastien Vettel. A priceless experience for an F1 fan. It was a joy to hear the passion in Daniel's voice about bikes.
Indian Motorcycles Returns from the Dead
The highlight of the year’s motorcycling for me was the rebirth of Indian Motorcycle Company. Up until now, it’s been all plans and schemes. I lived through the disappointment of the Gilroy Indian, and I was fully prepared for another letdown with Polaris. Despite the powersport giant’s big talk, I was skeptical that they would be able to walk the walk with the brand.
After riding the Chief Classic and Chief Vintage and reviewing the Chieftain, my skepticism began to melt. Reviewing the Roadmaster further convinced me that Indian was a force to be reckoned with. When I got my hands on a 2015 Indian Scout, I realized that Polaris was for real, and that the resurrection of Indian has occurred. Now, I’m excited to see where Indian goes from here, and how this Lazarus of a brand will push Harley-Davidson to further innovation and evolution. - Jason Fogelson
Photo by Ryan Skut
In the RideApart sportbike department, we have had the chance to cover awesome events such as World Superbike racing at Laguna Seca, review some crazy bikes like the 2014 Kawasaki ZX-14R and answer readers’ questions fueling heated debates such as “what sportbike is best for long rides?" However, our favorite assignment of the year has definitely been our long-term project with the 2014 Suzuki GSX-R600.
When planning this project, our goal was to put together a multi-purpose sportbike package that could handle the duties of commuting during the week and racing on the weekends, all without breaking the bank to maximize relevance to our readers. We settled on the 2014 Suzuki GSX-R600 as the platform from our experience with the bike’s excellent handling, well-distributed power curve, universal rideability and vast aftermarket. Over the course of the summer and fall, we road tested the bike, track tested, raced the bike bone-stock and installed a few basic modifications.
Though finishing on the podium in our final race of the year was a great accomplishment and testament to the project (race report coming soon), proving that riders do not necessarily need a separate bike for commuting on the street and another dedicated to track riding / racing was our most satisfying achievement.
On Fridays before a race weekend, we would prepare the bike for racing that night, race Saturday and Sunday then strip all of the racing bodywork and install the street parts in one hour on Sunday night, having the bike ready for commuting again on Monday morning. We have MUCH more work to do on this project and details to report in the future (plus, Suzuki is even supplying us with a 2015 model) so stay tuned for updates! - Bruce Speedman
Lead photo by Jen Tekawitha
What was your favorite moment in motorcycling this year? Comment below or email us at Media@RideApart.com to share your story. We may select it for an upcoming post. Please make sure to include a photo at least 770 pixels wide. Also, click the link above to read the original post with links, to see the stories referenced from earlier this year.