Saturday, 11 August 2018

Changing Lanes

Hi folks,
Well, i've been writing this blog for over a year now and I think it's time to move on.

Virtually anyway!

You can now find me at

Same great content, just on a bigger, better website. For the moment you can find the same posts that were here but all future, two wheel adventures will be posted there.

So come and take a look and let me know what you think.

Also come follow all the social media places too!

Monday, 14 May 2018

What it's Raleigh All About

If I asked you to name a motorcycle brand and a bicycle brand, it seems unlikely that anyone would give the same answer.

Today, I don't think there is a single company that makes both bicycles and motorcycles, but if I'd have asked the question 100 years ago, this would've been more common than you think.

I'm sure, many of you are aware, that back at the beginning of the 20th century, many bicycle manufactures dipped their toes into the world of motorcycle manufacturing. Ariel and BSA being two companies that spring to mind.

But perhaps the most surprising is Raleigh.

I've visited a few places since I started this blog last year, such as the Morris Museum in Oxfordshire (read here) and the National Motorcycle Museum in Birmingham. There was one bike brand that just keeps cropping up. Raleigh.

Obviously Raleigh is a brand known for bicycles and the ups and downs of the company are well documented. The company was first founded in 1885 and is one of the oldest bicycle companies in the world. But in 1899 they had a go making motorcycles but unfortunately this first attempt didn't last that long and in 1908 they stopped production to focus primarily on bicycles.

Until 1919 when they tried again. It went a little better this time but sadly, production ended in 1933 and was never picked up again.

However, during this time was when they built, one of my favourites, the 1924 V-twin.

This one is on display at the National Motorcycle Museum in Birmingham.

I really like Raleigh. I've ridden them ever since I can remember. Its a brand that brings back fond memories for me. My first mountain bike was a Raleigh Bolder. I also remember a time, during my rebellious teen years, finding a mangled, old Raleigh Grifter, fixing it just enough so me and my friends could ride it until it was mangled all over again! Even now, I have a Raleigh as my daily steed and a vintage resto project in the shed.

It would be an absolute dream to own one of their vintage motorcycles, but a brief interweb search will tell you prices start around £16k. It might stay on the wish list for a while!

As I said, when I first stared this blog, Bicycles and Motorcycle seem worlds apart today. But looking back to a time when they weren't is something I love to learn about.

And who knows, with electric bicycles and electric motorcycles both on the rise, maybe there will come a time when asked to name a motorcycle brand and a bicycle brand, the answer might just be the same.

Words & Photos By Craig Willis

Thanks for reading.

This blog post marks the one year anniversary of the Two Wheeled Ronin and I just wanted to say a big thank you for all of the support over the last year. 

I've got even more content to come over the next 12 months. But if there is anything you would like me to cover please drop me a line -

And please give us a like/follow on social media -

Saturday, 28 April 2018

Book Review: It's All About The Bike

It's All About The Bike: The Pursuit of Happiness On Two Wheels
Author: Robert Penn

In this day and age, it's easy to forget that there once was a time when cars were not the dominant vehicle on our highways, and bicycles were in fact king of the road. In Robert Penn's book, It's all about the bike, he goes a long way in explaining how that used to be the case and just how far the bicycle has come.

I find Robert Penn's writing to be fantastic. His style is complex and detailed but somehow accessible to all. He's a man who is clearly passionate about his subjects. I first picked up his book on woodworking, The Man Who Made Things Out of Trees and I couldn't put it down.

In that book he includes a chapter on a company that manufactures wooden bicycle frames. He mentions that the story of going to visit this particular company was omitted from his first book “It's all about the bike”.

“He's also written a book about bikes?!” I thought.

I think it took me all of 30 seconds to order it.

But what about this book?

Well, it really is all about the bike. Robert's dream bike to be exact. It is a chronicling of Robert, putting together all of the elements of a bicycles. Each chapter is broken down into each component part.

The Frame, the Steering system, the drivetrain, the wheels and the saddle

Each chapter tells the story of Robert getting these parts for his own dream machine but also delves deep into the history of each of these areas. The reason I liked this book, is the same reason I liked the book in my previous review, Shop class as soulcraft (Read here). It combines personal story and grounds it with historical, factual information. If fact they are pretty similar in terms of style, so if you liked that one, give this one a try too.

If there has to be a negative, for me, it's that there is a lot of information and detail covered over very few chapters. It can be a little jarring to go from a historical story about the penny farthing straight into a story about visiting a wheel factory in America today.

But in the end, they are connected. And I think that's the point of the book.

Bicycles connect us all, in so many ways and have shaped a lot of our automotive lives today. Roads, for one thing-The bicycle literally paved the way for all road users today. Tarmac roads where used to aid cyclists, years before the car was even invented (A useful piece of info in the never-ending car vs bike debate).
Just one of the many interesting facts I have learnt from reading this book.

Thanks for reading folks.

Are you reading anything about two wheels at the moment? Let me know your recommendations on the old social media places!

Monday, 26 March 2018

Game Review: TT Isle Of Man – Ride On The Edge

Available on: PS4, Xbox360 and PC

Surely, motorcycle racing games hit their peak with 1991's Road Rash for the Saga Megadrive. If you don't remember it, it was essentially a racing game in which you had to hit your fellow bikers with a chain or iron bar in order to win the race. Since then motorbike games have been few and far between and like many others I've been worried that there might never be a game as good as Road Rash ever again.

But fear not, as this month sees the release of a brand new motorcycle racing game, TT Isle of Man - Ride On The Edge.

For those not familiar, The Isle of Man TT is perhaps the biggest and most dangerous motorcycle races in the world. Dating back to 1907 its probably one of the oldest too. The TT (Tourist Trophy) is raced on closed public roads around the Isle of Man – known as the Snaefell Mountain TT course.

TT Isle of Man - Ride On The Edge gives you the chance to race the entire Isle of Man TT circuit from the comfort of your own home. All 37.73 miles of the track have been lovingly recreated in game and you can ride all of it. I have to say, even a novice like me recognised some of the more iconic landmarks.

I'd see a demo of the game at Motorcycle Live last year and was very impressed at the graphics side of things. It's really good, not quite photo-realistic, but still amazing to look at. For any gamers reading this, the rural locations of the Isle of Man are very reminiscence of “Everyone's gone to the rapture”.

I've been playing this game for about two weeks now and I have to say, either it's a really difficult game or I'm just not good at it. I get the impression it's a bit of both. There are lots of different setting for you to get your head around. It has the standard “easy” to “difficult” settings, but then various options for the motorcycle too. Automatic or manual gear change, stoppie and wheelie assists. So you can really customize the experience.

My first trophy in the game - It means I fell off 10 times.
What I liked most about this game is just how much fun it is. At time of writing, I've fallen off more times than I can remember and have not won a race. But I'm still having a great time playing it. I particularly like the career mode. You design your own character and work your way up to becoming a professional rider in the TT itself. Of course, if you don't want to do that, you can jump straight to the action with the solo races or time trials.

One thing that was a little disappointing was the amount of bikes to choose from. OK, there are actually 40 unlockable bikes, but unless you know your stuff, a lot of the models look very similar. If you're a fan of the newer super-bikes and the machines that are ridden today, then your favourite is probably here. I was hoping for a few of the classic bikes to be available.(Although I do like the Norton V4 SS).

However, I understand that some side-car DLC is being released at some point, so perhaps some classics will be along in the future.

All in all, the game is a lot of fun, looks gorgeous and will keep me entertained until the next motorcycle game comes out.

Thanks for reading.
Until next time.

Saturday, 24 February 2018

MCN Motorcycle show 2018: Highlights

16-18 Feb 2018

My report from the first event of the year.

Last Saturday I was at the Excel Centre in London, visiting the MCN Motorcycle show.

For regular readers, you will remember I visited the Motorcycle Live show in Birmingham back in November.
(Read here in case you missed it)

I was expecting the same kind of thing and for the most part, it was. Which is no bad thing. The centre was bursting with a variety of people all with, at least a passing interest in two wheels. It's so great to see this sort of event bringing so many people together. Men, women and children of all ages, coming together to appreciate motorcycles.

This show may not have been as big as Motorcycle live but all the big names were there with their latest models on display. Harley-Davidson, Triumph, Kawasaki to name just a few. I particularly enjoyed visiting Herald Motorcycles again.

This is me on their Classic model. I look grumpy because I couldn't take this one home.

The whole event had more of a motor-sport vibe to it. The main arena, the Michelin Thunderdome! A small track featuring famous riders from the world of motor-sports, entertaining the crowds throughout the day.

Unfortunately, that sort of thing just isn't really my bag. Obviously I prefer the older stuff, so I was very pleased to discover the “Classic Zone”. Classic bike magazine (of which I am a regular reader) was there, with their barn finds of the year. I particularly liked this Triumph with the birds nest in the headlight!

It was also great to see the National Motorcycle Museum there too. They brought along this 1906 Imperial which was one of the first bikes to use a disc brake. The sad thing is, Imperial shut up shop in 1910. Who knows what other inventive thing they would've come up with.

Anyway, since the event I have discovered that I actually missed a few things that would've been get to see. Another demo of the new TT game out next month (review coming soon) and the Coy's motorcycle auction, but that's probably for the best! So at least I've learnt a lesson, which is plan your events.

So there you have it folks, just a few highlights from a nice event. As always thanks for reading.
Don't forget to check out all the latest two wheeled action over on the facebook page and all the other social media type things.

Tuesday, 19 December 2017

Christmas Blog - Feels like the first time.

Seasons greetings all, welcome to the Two Wheeled Ronin Christmas Special. It's not that Christmassy and pretty much only special to me but I hope you enjoy it none the less. 

They say everyone remembers their first time. She was tall, blonde and pretty comfortable to ride. I am, of course, talking about my first time on a motorcycle. (I say blonde, it was more of a yellow colour). As regular readers will know, I’m a bit of a novice when it comes to actually riding a motorbike but like every biker, I had to start somewhere. My journey begins at the NEC in Birmingham. I was there for Motorcycle Live (Read my highlights here).

As I said in that post, I visited the guys at “Get On”, who give the opportunity for non-riders to have go at riding a motorcycle for the very first time. So I thought I’d tell you a bit more about my experience. I arrived at my agreed time slot and get kitted out with a jacket that was slightly too small, a helmet that was slightly too big and gloves, that fit…the way gloves are supposed to fit.
I joined one of the instructors there and five other non-riders. I was clearly the oldest person there, but I try not to let this bother me. The instructor asked if anyone had ridden a motorbike before. We all shook our heads.

“Has anyone ridden a push bike?” A question I was surprised by. I happily said yes. I guess the basic foundations between bicycles and motorbikes are still there after all. He then asked if there was a particular model we would like to try. I had my eye on a bike from the new company, Herald. The Herald Motor Company are a relatively new company and I really like their bikes (check their site here). They have a vintage style with all the modern elements that you need. Unfortunately, the model I wanted to ride, Classic 125, was already taken. But they very kindly brought out another model for me to try, The Maverick 125. As I said, she was pretty tall, probably too tall for me, to be honest but a beauty none the less.

First lesson, if you wear glasses (like me), take them off before you put your helmet on. Perhaps the most important lesson I will take away from today!
As for the actual lesson, I really enjoyed it. The instructor went through a few of the basics, starting the engine, controlling the clutch and using the brakes. As it was the first lesson we only used the first gear. To begin with I just rode a few feet, without lifting my feet up (as instructed). But soon enough I was actually riding. Granted, it was only about 30ft, a couple of times up and down the hall and all in first gear, but it felt amazing.

I would certainly recommend “Get On” to anyone who is curious about riding a motorcycle for the first time or even for people who have ridden before and are looking to get back into it.
So where do I go from here? I honestly don’t know. Maybe a DSA next year…maybe. But one thing I do know is that this year I rode a motorcycle for the first time and I loved it.

Thanks for reading.

You know what I'd really like for Christmas? I few more Facebook followers!
Give us a "Like" here.

I’d like to wish all my readers a great

Christmas and a wonderful 2018

Saturday, 2 December 2017

Motorcycle Live 2017 (18th – 26th November)

Last Saturday (25th of November) I visited the Motorcycle Live show at the NEC in Birmingham. It was my first time visiting the show so I wasn’t sure what to expect but I was pleasantly surprised at what a great time I had.

For those of you who read my first blog post, you will both remember I mentioned I was a bit of a novice when it comes to motorcycles and that is mostly still the case. So I saw this as an opportunity for a bit of education and boy did I learn a lot.
So if you’re here for technical information and an in-depth look at the latest models, I’m afraid you’re in the wrong place. But what I can offer you is a few highlights of a wonderful event.
The first booth I visited was a company called “Get On”. Link to their website here. They are a fantastic bunch, who give non-riders (or returning riders) an opportunity to ride a motorcycle for the first time. This was exactly what I did. Yes, ladies and gents I have officially now ridden a motorbike! It was an amazing way to kick off the event and I am going to write up this experience in a separate blog post, later this month. Let’s call it my Christmas special, so keep an eye out for that.

Earlier this year I was at the NEC for “The Cycle Show”. Whilst that event wasn’t all that great, on the way back I visited the National Motorcycle Museum. And I was pleased to see they had a presence at Motorcycle Live. Obviously this was a particular highlight for me as I prefer the vintage stuff, especially this green 1950 Royal Enfield in the centre.

And speaking of Royal Enfield, I also got to sit on this amazing silver “classic”. No chance to ride this one unfortunately.

There was a rather large Isle of Man TT stand, with talks throughout the event from famous riders. But what really interested me was the new Isle of Man TT game, that is being released on consoles next year. Being an avid gamer this was pretty exciting. The graphics look incredible, and I’m sure will stand shoulder to shoulder with other big name racing games like Forza or Gran Turismo. Unfortunately, the booth was so busy I didn’t get a chance to actually play it, guess I’ll have to wait until March 2018 when it’s finally released.

One person who has really inspired me when it comes to motorcycles is Henry Cole. It started with watching “Shed and Buried” repeats on the Travel channel, then the discovery of “The Motorbike Show” and “World’s Greatest Motorcycle Rides”. These aren’t just programmes for me, they are lessons and Henry is my new favourite teacher. So when I found out he was going to be there, I was pretty much first in line to meet him. We had a quick chat and he very kindly took a picture with me and signed my programme, it was great to meet one of my heroes.

And I finished off the day with a ride on a Harley Davidson. Their “Jumpstart” rolling road is a great opportunity to non-riders to have a go on a bike from this legendary company. It was loads of fun, but apparently I was a bit throttle happy. I was told “if you did that on a real road, your front wheel would be in the air!”
I’m still not sure if it was praise or criticism.

All in all, it was a brilliant event and I am definitely going back next year!

Thanks again for reading folks.
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