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Roadfly Magazine
Chef Alton Brown: BMWs, Books, Good Eats & Iron Chef America
Issue Fourteen
November 8, 2004
Alton Brown:
Talks Bikes, Books, & Good Eats
Helmet Guide:
What to Look For
2004 BMW X3 2.5i Sport
2005 Chrysler 300C Hemi
iPod FM Transmitter Review
Coming Next Issue
Chip Foose
BMW 760Li
VW Phaeton W12
Prepare for Winter

Alton Brown
Writer, Director, Food Hacker & Gear Head (continued)

Paralever Swingarm is one of the highlights of the R1100RT

The BMW motorcycle Boxer engine is potent and reliable

Chef Alton Brown draws a crowd whenever he speaks

The BMW R1100RT has phenomenal Brembo brakes

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Alton Brown
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Alton Brown has been interested in motorcycles for as long as he can remember. "My mother, like most moms, was deathly afraid of me getting on any motorcycle, so I never bought one," he says. Instead, he studied magazines, books and videos, attended races and motorcycle shows, but always watching from the sidelines. Then about two years ago, his wife DeAnna told him that he needed to get a motorcycle but she placed one stipulation on the purchase - it had to be a new bike... That's right - she insisted that he buy a new motorcycle, and in doing so, nearly upset the space/time continuum. When was the last time anyone's significant other made such a request?

Alton went out and bought a new, Suzuki SV650, a naked sports bike with stunning looks, razor-sharp handling and impressive performance. True to his Zen-like nature, Brown took to trying to master the art of riding a motorcycle.

"One of the great things about riding a motorcycle is that it's a constant exercise in skill management," he says. "When I go for a ride up north, I want to ride. I really like to work on the motorcycle - when I find a challenging section of road, I'll ride it - and then ride it again, and again, and again. I'm always trying to learn something new and I'm always looking to improve my skill level."

He's also a proponent of rider safety, and regularly attends Motorcycle Safety Foundation classes. He says he never hoists a leg over the saddle unless he's in full protective gear, which includes: Shoei full-faced helmet, BMW Motorsports ballistic jacket, pants and boots, and heavy-duty riding gloves. "I can't imagine riding a bike without the gear. I don't feel right if I'm on the bike and not wearing my gear - it just feels -- well, wrong.'"

After about a year with the Suzuki, Alton's love for German engineering got the best of him, and he traded the SV650 for a lightly used BMW R1100RT. "I'm a year-round rider," Brown says. "I don't believe in storing my bike for the winter, and while it doesn't get real cold in Atlanta, riding 70 miles in 20-degree weather on a naked bike can make you question why you're riding."

As he reaches down to wipe at a smudge on the ocean blue fairing, he continues, "The BMW has such great engineering, and it's reliable, and so enjoyable to ride. The center of gravity is low, so it handles great. The throttle is extremely responsive and the ABS-controlled brakes are among the best I've experienced. It stops when you want it to and without any surprises."

When asked about his preference for riding destinations, Brown says, "Because I'm so busy with work, I can't really ride as much as I'd like to. I can get up at six o'clock on a Sunday morning and ride in the mountains, but in reality a lot of my riding time is spent commuting. I've got a 16-mile commute that I can turn into a 50-mile ride, and have been known to do that from time to time." He says that he uses the bike as much as possible, taking it on shoot scouting runs and to speaking engagements.

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