All posts in “Motoring Desk”

Ford’s New Vehicle Could Completely Change the Camper Van World

<!–Ford’s Electric Transit Could Change the Camper Van World • Gear Patrol<!– –>

carbon-free vanlife

Ford has received a lot of attention for the Mustang Mach-E, its forthcoming muscle car-inspired electric crossover. The electric F-150 pickup truck should be kind of a big deal, too. Ford’s new electric Transit van, which the brand just announced will arrive for the 2022 model year, is liable to be much less widely heralded — but it should be equally important for the world.

An electric cargo van, after all, will reduce overall fleet emissions around the world, as companies like Amazon and UPS switch over from gas-powered vehicles to EVs. It will be great for Ford’s bottom line for deliveries. And perhaps most interestingly, it’ll also offer environmentally-conscious camper van enthusiasts a compelling and versatile zero-emissions option.

Camper van outfitters will have a ton of flexibility with this new EV van. Ford will sell the electric Transit with three different roof heights and three different body lengths. There will also be a bare cutaway cab version for manufacturers that want to customize it. It’ll come with Ford’s suite of driver assistant technologies and an integrated Wi-Fi hotspot, and have access to the massive continent-wide charging network Ford is building.

Ford was scant on the initial details; we don’t know what sort of range the electric Transit will offer, or how much it will cost, and the 2022 model year is a broad timeframe for a launch, meaning we could see it as soon as next January or as late as September 2022. But this should be a major step forward. And, unlike many great things camper-related, the electric Transit will be sold in the United States.

Note: Purchasing products through our links may earn us a portion of the sale, which supports our editorial team’s mission. Learn more here.
Tyler Duffy

Tyler Duffy is Gear Patrol’s Motoring Staff Writer. He used to write about sports for The Big Lead and The Athletic. He has a black belt in toddler wrangling. He’s based outside Detroit.

More by Tyler Duffy | Follow on Facebook · Instagram · Twitter · Contact via Email



<!– –><!–


The 6 Best Off-Road Trailers of 2020

Off-road trailers are great. They offer you the mobile campsite you want, whether that’s minimalist gear storage and a mount for your tent or an ergonomically-laid-out luxury apartment on wheels. Fitted with all-terrain suspensions and all-terrain tires, they are equipped to follow your Jeep Gladiator or other overlanding vehicle anywhere you want to go.

Below are six of the best off road camping trailers we’ve found on the market for 2020.

Patriot Campers X1-N


Patriot Campers’ X1 model has been a perennial favorite for its off-road capability, its utility, and its compact, lightweight design. The X1-N integrates the Patriot X-Rack, a custom mounting solution that can carry all sorts of gear and work with a wide range of third-party tents. It comes in a variety of colors, including this retro limited-run Desert Ops model.


Australian Off-Road Sierra


Australian Off-Road produces the Sierra, a secure bunker that is 100 percent dust-proof, fully lockable, and allows access to all three storage compartments from the inside. With off-road shocks and a 40.7-degree departure angle, the Sierra can follow your overlander wherever you want to take it. It’s the ideal trailer to have if your weekend trip suddenly turns all Mad Max on you.


The Polydrop


The Polydrop is tiny, efficient, affordable — and looks like a freaking space capsule. It can be towed by just about any vehicle, thanks to its light weight. Insulation gives it four-season functionality. It’s also affordable, with a fully-loaded KJ20 model starting just under $20,000. You can upgrade the suspension for off-road use, and a lift kit can give the Polydrop 15 inches of ground clearance.


Opus OP-15


Sacrifice does not have to be part of the off-road trailering experience. The Opus OP-15 sleeps four and cleverly fits all the comforts of home, including a hot shower and air conditioning, into a footprint that’s smaller than an Airstream Bambi. With a galvanized and welded stainless steel chassis and a trailing arm suspension with dual shock absorbers, the OP15 can withstand pretty much anything Mother Nature can throw at you.


Taxa Outdoors Woolly Bear


The Taxa Outdoors Woolly Bear trailer would make this list based on the name alone. It has a lightweight, off-road-ready construction and can be towed by a base-engine Subaru Outback. It’s versatile, accommodating a full camping kitchen, ample gear storage, and a rooftop tent. The best part may be the price: it starts at just $9,200.


Lotus Caravans Off Grid

Lotus Caravans’ Off Grid trailer is a luxury apartment on wheels, with 10 different ergonomic floorplan options. It’s ready for anything with BF Goodrich all-terrain tires and a heavy-duty Control Rider twin shock suspension. And it’s built to go, you guessed it, off the grid, with three 170-watt solar panels, two 120Ah deep-cycle batteries and a pair of 95-liter water tanks.

Note: Purchasing products through our links may earn us a portion of the sale, which supports our editorial team’s mission. Learn more here.
Tyler Duffy

Tyler Duffy is Gear Patrol’s Motoring Staff Writer. He used to write about sports for The Big Lead and The Athletic. He has a black belt in toddler wrangling. He’s based outside Detroit.

More by Tyler Duffy | Follow on Facebook · Instagram · Twitter · Contact via Email

Believe the Hype: The Porsche Macan S Is Every Bit a True Porsche

When Porsche introduced its first SUV, the Cayenne, in 2002, enthusiasts lost their mind over the idea of the archetypal sports car company betraying its heritage by serving up a jacked-up soft-roader. (Not helping matters: the fact that it looked like a bloated fish carcass.) But the crossover proved a gold mine for the company, providing the funds that helped enable the continued excellence of the 911 and Cayman / Boxster, as well as projects like the 918 Spyder and the company’s return to the top tier of endurance motor racing.

It’s been the smaller Macan, however, that’s turned out to be the company’s true cash cow. The compact crossover has perched high on Porsche’s sales charts ever since it arrived six years ago, in spite of the fact that it shares some of its bones with the lesser Audi Q5. Still, its comparatively proletarian roots apparently haven’t caused it harm: enthusiasts and journalists alike have been singing its praises ever since it arrived.

But as the old saw goes, the proof of the pudding is in the eating, and the proof of the car is in the driving. So we nabbed a Macan S for a few days of highway and byway driving around the greater Detroit area to see how it really feels to drive Porsche’s pocket crossover.

It feels every bit like a Porsche from behind the wheel

Porsche has long been a master of giving vehicles off shared VW Group platforms a unique brand feel, and the Macan is no exception. From the moment you twist the key (mounted, of course, to the left of the wheel), every control serves up the distinctive connectedness and directness that every car designed in Zuffenhausen these days serves up.

The steering is far sharper and more involving than any crossover’s rack has a right to be; the brakes grab decisively; the suspension keeps the SUV level and balanced even while dissecting tight turns. The 3.0-liter turbocharged V6 may be the base engine in the larger Cayenne and Panamera, but it doesn’t feel one iota like a cheapo choice; its 348 horsepower and 354 pound-feet of torque are more than enough to let this cute ‘ute rip around like a hooligan.

If you snap the Macan S into Sport or Sport Plus modes, the gearbox holds the revs closer and closer to the meat of the power band; left in Comfort, it promptly shuffles up to the highest cog for better fuel economy, although slamming the gas pedal to the firewall will, as in most VW Group cars, spur the engine into the lowest possible gear. (You can also always switch to manual mode and shift with the paddles, too.)

It’s the looker of the carmaker’s SUV lineup

The Cayenne may be newer and more expensive, but the Macan has it beat when it comes to visual appeal. Unlike the taller, chunkier Cayenne, the Macan is lean, low and muscular, with curves that channel the company’s famous sports cars.

The corporate face works better here, too; it has less sheet metal to be stretched across, and the matte black trim pieces make it look more ferocious, evoking bared fangs. It all adds up to one of the most attractive SUVs on the market — at least, if you prefer them more svelte and car-like, rather than boxy and brutalist.

An old interior isn’t always a worse interior

The Macan also whups the Cayenne (and the new Panamera) when it comes to interior usability. Unlike those newer Porsches, it has yet to move over to an almost-all-glass touchpad control, instead sticking with a combination of a 10.9-inch touchscreen display and a series of hard buttons and dials below it and around the shift lever. The resulting combination of physical controls and crisp, clear touchscreen may be one of the best infotainment and car control setups to be found today, bringing the best of the iPhone/Android world and merging it with the muscle memory-optimized realm of tactile controls.

Sadly, other new Porsches like the 992-generation 911 and the all-electric Taycan suggest the carmaker is pretty much all-in on glassy touchscreen interiors for the foreseeable future. But with the current Macan expected to stick around for at least another few years — likely being sold alongside its electric replacement for a while — there’s still time for Porsche to change its mind before it ditches this delightful control system for good.

Will Sabel Courtney

Will Sabel Courtney is Gear Patrol’s Motoring Editor, formerly of The Drive and RIDES Magazine. You can often find him test-driving new cars in New York City, cursing the slow-moving traffic surrounding him.

More by Will Sabel Courtney | Follow on Instagram · Twitter · Contact via Email

Before Winter Hits, Make Sure Your Car Has These Essential Items

As they used to say on some old TV show: winter is coming. That means it’s time to prepare your vehicle for the onslaught of cold air and frozen water that’s fast approaching. That could mean buying some high-end snow tires (indeed, it should mean that if you don’t have them already). But you should also pick up these portable, reasonably-priced pieces of gear and keep them in your car ahead of winter’s arrival, just in case. These items will let you be prepared for most cold-weather eventualities — without commandeering too much trunk space.

Grand Trunk Throw Travel Blanket

Grand Trunk’s throw travel blanket is lightweight and portable, and comes with an attached carrier bag. It features a particularly cozy foot pocket. It’s machine washable. And it may not match whatever motif your significant other has going on in the bedroom or living room, so your car is an excellent place for it.

Birdrock Home Snow Moover Small Car Brush and Ice Scraper

You can go cheap with your ice scraper and brush. You can go expensive and complicated, too. Birdrock Home offers the simple, compact, lightweight Goldilocks option: an ice scraper and brush with a foam grip and non-scratch jaws, for a little less than $20.

Streamlight ProTac 2L-X Flashlight

It’s dark a lot of the time during winter. Make yourself — and what you’re working on — more visible with the Streamlight ProTac 2L-X. It’s waterproof, made from durable anodized machined aircraft aluminum and has three different operating modes, including a strobe light for signaling for help.

Lifeline Aluminum Sport Utility Shovel

This bit of gear makes it easy to forget you’re lugging a shovel around — until that day you need it. This aluminum shovel from Lifeline weighs just 1.6 pounds. It separates into three pieces for easy storage. You can also adjust the length for better leverage.

Jackery Bolt 6000 Portable Charger

Your smartphone is your connection to the outside world in an emergency, and how you’ll keep your children entertained during better times. The pocket-sized Jackery Bolt 6000 can charge up to three devices at once, and charge an iPhone to full multiple times over. It also has a helpful built-in flashlight.

Carhartt Men’s W.B. Waterproof Breathable Insulated Glove

There are better gloves for sports and specified tasks, and there are fancy deerskin gloves for a night on the town. Carhatt’s W.B. glove is a reasonably-priced all-arounder that’s insulated and waterproof. You won’t mind keeping them in your car.

SlimK LED Emergency Road Flares

A flare gun may be overkill: you probably won’t need to signal the Coast Guard from your car. These LED road flares from SlimK are an excellent alternative. They have nine different flashing modes, up to 36 hours of battery of life, and can be viewed from up to a mile away at night.

HotHands Hand Warmer Value Pack

You need to keep your extremities warm during an emergency — or pretty much any winter event. So pick up a value pack of HotHands hand warmers and keep them in your glove box. They air activate in 15-30 minutes.

Note: Purchasing products through our links may earn us a portion of the sale, which supports our editorial team’s mission. Learn more here.

No Car Sparks Joy Like the Lamborghini Aventador SVJ

One of the principal tenants of Gear Patrol is that the right product can serve and enrich people’s lives. But to do that, you have to find the right product for the task — or the right task for the product.

I bring this up because the Lamborghini Aventador SVJ is, admittedly, very rarely going to be the ideal product for whatever the task at hand. It’s a car that costs as much as a mansion. It’s so wide that parking feels dangerous — those scissor doors aren’t for show, they’re so you don’t ding adjacent vehicles half a block away — yet the interior is as cramped as the cockpit of the fighter jets it looks like it wants to be. It rides low enough that it’ll scrape over rocks the size of squirrel boogers. Its mighty V12 vents heat as prolifically and consistently as Old Faithful, blurring what little backwards visibility you have in a haze.

The list of tasks and people for whom the Aventador SVJ is the perfect product for the job is, as a result, fairly short. If you’re looking to lap the famous 12.9-mile German racetrack called the Nurburgring Nordschleife faster than any other production car, it’s the right machine for the task. If you’re a billionaire Gotham City crimefighter looking for a car to bridge the gap between his diurnal and nocturnal rides, you couldn’t do better.

And, as it turns, it’s the perfect car to surprise someone with a birthday ride.

My mother, who lives in Vermont, insists upon but one gift for her birthday every year: for me to visit and take her out to dinner at her favorite restaurant in a surprise cool car. With each passing year, however, she’s insisted upon something more exciting than the year before; given that 2016’s visit involved a BMW Z4, 2017’s pop-in came in a Chevy Corvette Grand Sport and 2018’s birthday revolved around a Mercedes-AMG GT C, this year requires something in the supercar category in order to raise the bar yet again. Hence: this half-million-dollar-plus Lamborghini.

The fact that this gives me an opportunity to cane a 759-horsepower supercar on some of New York and Vermont’s most bucolic roads? Totally a coincidence.

Getting to those roads, however, involves bobbing, weaving, and crawling along the worst of New York City’s streets. The Lambo isn’t happy in the city; driving it along the avenues and side streets feels like walking a tiger on a leash. Every pothole sends a crash through the carbon-fiber body, in spite of the best efforts of the magnetorheological dampers. Those brass-colored rims wear just enough tire to grip the road; any additional sidewall would hurt the handling, which means there’s almost none to soak up any imperfections in the city’s very imperfect pavement. Traffic, thankfully, gives it a wide berth, no doubt scared off by the feral face, Grigio Telesto paint job and the spoiler large enough to be pulled off a Boeing.

Once out of the city, the Raging Bull starts to come into its own. The Taconic Parkway that winds north from the Bronx to the edge of Albany is so narrow, the Lamborghini’s 83 inches of width seems to suck up every micron of the lane — which is particularly jarring when there’s a rock wall on one side of you and a Chevy Suburban on the other. Still, if you can’t move from side to side, you can always move forwards or back. The brakes take a little getting used to, thanks to a dash of softness at the top of the travel, but once they bite, they do it like a great white shark; this Lamborghini will stop from 60 miles per hour in less than 100 feet, which means bopping back to find a gap is breathtakingly easy.

Or, of course, you could try and pass that annoying car alongside you. Well, not try; you can pass that car alongside you, pretty much no matter what it is or how fast it’s going. Snap the long paddle protruding to the left of the steering wheel once or twice to drop the seven-speed gearbox down a cog or two to put the 6.5-liter engine into the sweet spot of its power band, and the gas pedal becomes the trigger on a catapult, launching you forward with what feels like the sort of force usually reserved for NASA employees and Navy pilots. But while you come for the thrust, you stay for the sound: the scream flowing from those 12 cylinders as they pump faster and faster qualifies as a religious experience for gearheads.

As the miles go on, the Lambo’s secrets start to reveal themselves. The drive mode selector is best toggled to the ever-so-appropriate Ego mode, which lets you personalize the suspension, engine and steering setting: Corsa (the raciest) is best for the steering, as it locks the rack’s ratio (it’s variable in the other modes); Strada (the most relaxed) is ideal for the suspension, as you’ll want every dram of compliance you can steal here; and Sport (the intermediate) is best for the throttle, because it frees up the throttle and exhaust without being quite as grating as angry Corsa. The cabin — which seemed surprisingly accommodating for my six-foot-four-inch frame at first — proves too cramped for more than a couple hours of seat time without stopping to stretch; I climb out limping more than once, my legs cramping up from the seat bolsters pushing incessantly into my thighs.

Above all else, though, every quiet country bend and empty rural route reveals how stunningly, stupefyingly delightful this Lambo is to drive. The SVJ is the second car to benefit from Lamborghini’s miraculous air-vectoring “Aerodinamica Lamborghini Attiva” system, which shunts the air rushing past about to adjust the car’s aerodynamics. It even helps the car turn faster, blocking airflow on one side or another in a manner not unlike dragging a kayak’s paddle in the water helps it turn. A display on the instrument panel lets you see when it’s working…though at the speeds where it works, you probably ought to be staring at the road.

What matters is that it gives this massive car the sort of agility you wouldn’t normally associate with something of its size. Combined with the razor-sharp steering rack and the rear-wheel steering, the SVJ feels nimble as a new Supra when you push it.

And while the car’s speed is apparent even on fast-moving highways, it’s only once you find a clear stretch of road that you can really experience it. The naturally-aspirated V12 pulls hard no matter what speed it’s turning at, with the power rising and rising all the way to its 8,500 rpm peak — just 200 rpm shy of redline. You barely touch those last thousand rpm in the real world; partly because the engine spins up so fast that you don’t want to slap against the rev limiter, but more because, well, you never need that last burst. It’s just so damn fast.

The end result is a car that feels like it could beat anything on a winding road. An old ad for the Ford GT comes to mind: In what gear do you know that nothing can catch you? It’s not hard to see how this Lambo could beat all production car comers at the Nurburgring; that track is effectively the ultimate winding road, one that just happens to be behind some tall fencing.

Would I buy it, if I had the $518K-plus needed to park this wild machine in my garage? I never would have thought so before this, but yeah. In part, because it is as capable as those looks lead you to believe; it can cash the checks its design writes. But more because, well…it’s just plain fun.

Not just in the traditional sense espoused by the likes of your Miatas and M3s, although there’s more of that than you’d expect. Not just because you drive it knowing it may well be the last of the cruel old Lamborghinis, the final installment in a raw, guttural line stretching back to that first obscene Countach of nearly 50 years ago. The Aventador’s replacement, should there be one — hardly a given — will, at the very least, presumably have its V12 fury tempered by hybrid technology and a dual-clutch transmission, if not see that 12-cylinder engine swapped for one with eight or 10 pistons like the sorts found in the Urus and Huracan.

But the most entertaining part of the Aventador SVJ isn’t how much fun it is to manhandle down a winding road or crack through traffic. It’s the reactions you get from everyone else around you. To borrow a pop culture reference from a little while back, it Marie Kondo-es the road: the Aventador SVJ sparks joy wherever it goes. Nothing makes people stop and stare like a Lamborghini. That’s doubly true for a scissor-winged V12 bull like the Aventador, and triply true for this bewinged badass. It’s like the SVJ taps into some primal genetic memory of what a sports car is. Stop for gas (a frequent occurrence), and people wander over to ask questions. Passengers (and occasionally drivers) of other cars whip out phones to take pictures as you flash by. Crowds spontaneously form around it wherever it’s parked. I chase a motorcyclist down a back road for a few miles; when he turns off ahead of me at the end of it, he throws his fist in the air like Judd Nelson at the end of The Breakfast Club. 

At the end of the journey, I pull up in front of my mother, and she starts laughing uncontrollably, as though she’s doing an impromptu Joker impression.

“Okay, this is pretty cool,” she says as she drops into the passenger’s seat. She drops an expletive or two in there, as well.

So how am I going to top this with an even faster, wilder car? Thankfully, I don’t need to. Mom says she wants to go off-roading in a Jeep Gladiator next year.

2019 Lamborghini Aventador SVJ: Key Specs

Base Price (Price as Tested): $517,770 ($583,470)
Powertrain: 6.5-liter V12; seven-speed sequential manual gearbox; all-wheel-drive
Horsepower: 759
Torque: 531 lb-ft
0-60 MPH: 2.5 seconds (Motor Trend testing)
Top Speed: The scary side of 217 mph

Lamborghini provided this product for review.

Read More Gear Patrol Reviews

Hot takes and in-depth reviews on noteworthy, relevant and interesting products. Read the Story
Note: Purchasing products through our links may earn us a portion of the sale, which supports our editorial team’s mission. Learn more here.

There’s a Massive Sale on One of Our Favorite Helmet Brands Right Now

Fall may be here and winter closing in quickly, but you’d be hard-pressed to know it based on the climate across much of America these days. Skiiers may not be stoked about that, but motorcycle riders sure are. And if this added burst of nice riding weather has you stoked to hit the road every chance you can before the snow flies, then why not take this chance to grab a new Arai helmet for up to 60 percent off at RevZilla’s closeout sale?

The sale covers a wide spectrum of Arai’s high-quality lids, with numerous colorways, liveries and styles to choose from. Helmets for both off-road and on-road riders are up for grabs, with several versions of Arai’s VX Pro for the former and plenty of variants of the DT-X (as well as examples of the Signet-X and Quantum-X) for the latter, all for hundreds of dollars less than you’d pay at the store.

We’ve culled a few of our favorites below, but if you don’t see anything you like here, hit up RevZilla’s site directly to peruse all the options up for grabs.

VX Pro 4 Bogle Helmet by Arai $750 $390

DT-X Helmet by Arai $600 $400

Quantum-X Sting Helmet by Arai $830 $450

DT-X Edwards Legend Helmet by Arai $740 $400

VX Pro 4 Dazzle Helmet by Arai $750 $300

DT-X Pace Helmet by Arai $730 $400
Gear Patrol also recommends:
Bell Eliminator Helmet ($400)
Shoei RF-1200 Helmet ($486)
Bell Bullitt Helmet ($400)
Note: Purchasing products through our links may earn us a portion of the sale, which supports our editorial team’s mission. Learn more here.

2019 Airstream Bambi Review: The Stylish, Easy Way into Camping Trailer Life

By this point, the only way you don’t know what an Airstream is if you’re a vampire who’s been asleep in a cave for the last century. The aluminum-sided travel trailers have been rolling along America’s roads since the ’30s, their iconic design capturing eyes with the same ease they reflect sunlight. They’ve been featured in countless films and TV shows, and transformed into homes, AirBnBs and works of art.

For 2019, the eight-decade-old company has added a new model to its lineup: the diminutive, adorably-named Bambi. Ask Airstream where the name “Bambi” came from, and they’ll say founder Wally Byam named it after a type of agile deer he saw while overlanding across Africa in the ‘60s. (Dollars to donuts he actually named it after a certain Disney movie, but that’s neither here nor there.) It’s been a common nickname for the company’s small, single-axle trailers for more than half a century — but now, the name has finally been given the honor of formally becoming part of the team, signifying the two-wheeled rigs that are the most affordable way to hop aboard one of the company’s classic aluminum trailers.

The Good: It may be compact, but the Bambi crams more usable space and features into its limited length than most studio apartments. My Bambi 19CB tester was the second-smallest variant, yet in spite of being a mere 18 feet 11 inches long — shorter than a Rolls-Royce Phantom — it had space for a two-burner gas stove, a stainless steel sink, a refrigerator and freezer, an LED television (with integrated antenna), a built-in stereo, a memory foam mattress (sized somewhere between a twin and a double), even a shower and a flushing toilet.

Even with all that gear inside, the interior has a fair amount of space to spread out. During an impromptu Brooklyn tailgate party, I managed to fit seven or eight adults (and one large dog) inside comfortably, with room to spare for snacks and a soft Yeti cooler backpack. A family with kids might find it cramped, but it’s more than spacious enough to serve as a good base of operations for a single adult or a couple.

Who It’s For: First-time Airstreamers looking to dip their toe into the world of trailering adventure; empty-nesters who want to roam freely in retirement but don’t want to wrangle giant trailers and full-size pickup trucks.

Watch Out For: Backing up. As the model that seems most likely to be adopted by trailering novices, you might think the Bambi would pack some sort of technological magic to help maneuver it in reverse more easily.


Spinning my trailer 180 degrees required a good 30 minutes of Austin Powers-style shuffling back and forth, and that was with the help of the kind owner of the Hipcamp camp site we were staying at — a man whose own history included training people how to drive heavy equipment in the army. A backup camera is standard, though it wasn’t hooked up on mine; regardless, it wouldn’t have done much beyond tell me where I would have gone were I able to keep the thing moving in a straight line for more than three seconds. The first company to sort out some sort of idiot-proof trailer-reversing technology — brake-based torque vectoring? Computer-controlled active steering? SpaceX-inspired compressed air thrusters? — deserves to make a mint.

Alternatives: Safari Condo Alto R-Series ($29,500+); Homegrown Trailers Woodland ($39,495+); Forest River Alpha Wolf ($25,995+); Airstream Nest ($45,900)

Review: Full disclosure: In spite of more than a decade of driving and writing about automobiles, I can count the number of times I’ve towed a trailer on one hand. Actually, I can count the number of times I’ve towed that weren’t under the well-supervised confines of a media junket on one finger; that sole instance involved towing a U-Haul U-Box through a couple dozen miles of country roads, then winding up stuck at a closed bridge on a one-lane road because I couldn’t reverse to a turnaround spot.

So it was with a bit of trepidation that I hitched the Bambi up to the Ford Ranger XLT I’d borrowed as a tow vehicle for a weekend of criss-crossing New Jersey and the lower boroughs of New York City. Yet the Bambi-and-Ranger duo proved blissfully easy to handle, even when winding them through the tight streets of Brooklyn or on the open highways of the Dirty Jerz. The tidy proportions meant turns never proved a problem (at least, when going forwards); the trailer’s brakes were reassuringly dependable and solid, always snapping on in sync with the Ford’s discs; and the Ranger’s EcoBoost engine made easy work of the trailer’s weight, hauling it up to mile-per-minute velocity without issue. Going much beyond that felt a mite worrisome, however; by 70 mph, every imperfection in the road seemed to be magnified into a shimmy in the Bambi that prompted unwanted visions of tank-slapper flips or pileup-causing detachments.

Still, Airstream life isn’t about speed; it’s about taking things slow and easy, leaving troubles and stresses behind in favor of the freedom of the open road. (There’s a reason the Indiana-based company offers a Tommy Bahama trim level on some models.)

Once the driving and parking (and reversing, and re-parking) was done and I’d settled truck and trailer in the tree-lined camping spot within spitting distance of the Delaware River, the Bambi came into its own. The starboard-side awning’s coverage area is on the smaller side, but it’s enough to keep the sun off one or two chairs — or to give you a place to dry before coming aboard in a squall. The nice weather meant I parked my butt in a nearby camping chair instead, but it was nice to know it was there if needed.

My hosts provided fresh water and a power hookup, but I wound up needing neither; the on-board battery never came close to losing all its power, thanks to the solar panel mounted atop the roof. (Pre-wiring for a solar panel is standard, but the panel itself is an option; considering how well it worked, I’d suggest making it the first box you check.) Running the air conditioner built into the roof would probably guzzle the electrons faster than the solar panel could replenish them, but I never needed it, in spite of summertime temps; between the shady interior, the twin roof-mounted ventilation fans and the plentiful screened-in windows (and the screen door), the Bambi’s interior stayed breezy and cool all day long, in country and city alike.

The toilet situation, should you be curious, is best described as “acceptable.” The 19CB variant’s loo occupies an odd middle ground amongst Airstream lavatories; while smaller trailers and touring coaches place the toilet in the shower and larger ones have a miniature bathroom with an actual door, the 19-footer uses an odd W-folding wall that’s designed to offer some semblance of privacy for the tight corner. In practice, it’s less than ideal; let’s just say you should ask anyone else in the trailer to vacate the premises before using the restroom. Functionally, however, it works just fine.

Admittedly, I didn’t have a chance to use the shower — folding my frame inside that tiny space seemed like a violation of the Geneva Convention — so I can’t vouch for the efficacy of its handheld nozzle. (Exhibitionists might have better luck with the outdoor “shower,” a similar handheld nozzle with hot and cold knobs tucked away in one of the exterior ports.) That said, I never had any issues with the flow or temperature of the water blasting from either the kitchen or bathroom sink — which, like the keyholes in a nuclear missile silo, are exactly far apart enough that one person can’t use them both simultaneously — so I have no reason to assume the shower would be anything less than effective.

Another reason to assume the best from the hot water supply: the two-burner gas stove proved as adept as any found in a modern house, if a mite smaller. Same could be said for the kitchen table, which has room for four provided everyone’s comfortable rubbing flanks and knees; same goes for the fridge and freezer combo, too. (The latter can reportedly be quite the power suck; should you rather save the electrons, a good Yeti cooler and a couple bags of ice will likely be every bit as effective for 24-48 hours.)

Indeed, all told, the Bambi does an exceedingly good impression of a tiny, efficient apartment — good enough to tempt this New Yorker away from his hard-won one-bedroom. The night before I had to return the trailer, after my friends had left, I wound up laying in bed watching football on the television, eating a s’more made over the gas stove’s burner. The TV reception was better than in my apartment; the memory foam mattress was comfy than my couch; the sounds of the park beside me more relaxing than the rumble of cable trucks making their way home to their garage near my place. In that moment, it wasn’t hard to see the appeal in tossing that Great American Dream of Homeownership out in favor of living out my days in an elegant rolling apartment.

Verdict: By striking a perfect balance between size, style and comfort, the Airstream Bambi delivers the right combination of features to endear it to anyone who’s long harbored dreams of rolling across the land with a shiny trailer behind them, following the whims of the road. Sure, you can snag a new travel trailer for far less money — but doing so would mean swapping those timeless looks for the blocky looks and garish pseudo-airbrushed designs of most travel trailers and RVs, which are utterly lacking in both elegance and Instagram-ability. (Let’s not pretend the latter is unimportant.)

Indeed, the Bambi pulled off something I never would have expected: It made me into a camping trailer person. I spend my time stuck in traffic fantasizing about car camping trips out West; now I fantasize about doing it with an Airstream.

2019 Airstream Bambi 19CB: Key Specs

Length: 18 feet, 11 inches
Weight: 3,650 pounds
Windows: 11
Refrigerator Size: 4.3 cubic feet
Sleeping Capacity: Up to four people, but two of them better be tiny

Airstream provided this product for review.

Read More Gear Patrol Reviews

Hot takes and in-depth reviews on noteworthy, relevant and interesting products. Read the Story
Note: Purchasing products through our links may earn us a portion of the sale, which supports our editorial team’s mission. Learn more here.

10 Cool Cars From the 2000s Sure to Become Future Classics

Automotive nostalgia for the Nineties is having a moment. (Call it the Radwood effect.) After all, fawning over rad Japanese tuner cars from those days is more fun than reconciling ourselves with the fact that it’s been 25 years since Weezer’s self-titled blue album came out.

But all this enthusiasm for the 1990s had us wondering: Could the 2000s be next? Prices for cars from that era are still reasonable. And the defining features of many fun cars of the era — manual transmissions, naturally aspirated engines, not being crossovers — should age well moving forward.

Here, then, are 10 future classics for your consideration (and potential investment in).

BMW M3 (2000-2006)

There are the uber-purists who believe BMW lost its way in the early 1990s. For everyone else, the early 2000s were the halcyon days for BMW, with that era’s cars being a perfect fusion of modern engineering, classic BMW driving dynamics, and somewhat-conservative styling.

The E46-generation M3 may be, simply, the best car BMW has ever built. It packed the S54 3.2-liter naturally aspirated inline-six engine, with 338 horsepower and an 8,000 rpm redline. Whether it would come with a six-speed manual was a question one need not bother asking.

Honda S2000 (1999-2009)

The Honda S2000 may be the ultimate purists’ roadster. The original version had a naturally aspirated 2.0-liter VTEC putting out 247 hp — an impressive 123 hp per liter. It (only) had a six-speed manual, 50/50 weight distribution, and rear-wheel drive. With a 9,000 rpm redline and a power curve that topped out right near that limit, it was built to be driven hard. It’s also not bad to look at, whether it’s from before or after the 2004 facelift.

Audi TT (1998-2006)

The Audi TT was one of the most stunning, innovative concept cars ever — and it made it to production with its sleek Bauhaus look intact. The TT Mk1 was far more of a cruiser than a track car; the first models had to be recalled for dangerous handling at high speed. But a 225-hp engine, a smooth Audi six-speed stick, and baseball-stitched leather made it a fun car for most drivers. The best testament to the TT may be how many owners have pushed them past 150,000 miles.

Dodge Viper (1996-2002)

The Dodge Viper was the proud antithesis of the modern sports car. It had a stupidly large engine, a manual transmission, and no driving aids whatsoever. (Look out for trees.) The second-generation SR II had an 8.0-liter V10 putting out 450 hp and a six-speed manual. It kept the distinctive styling and stripped-down feel of the original, but in addition to a power upgrade, the later model added features like airbags, standard AC, and anti-lock brakes — things any sane driver would want.

Ford Mustang (2005-2014)

With the S197 — better known as the fifth-generation model — Ford decided the Mustang should look like the Mustang again. The company emulated the boxier style of the first generation and produced its best-looking Mustang since the original. It was not a mind-blowing performance upgrade over the fourth-gen, but it held true to Ford’s initial vision for a car that looked awesome, made a lot of noise and came at a price nearly everyone could afford. Indeed, it may have been too affordable: Ford opted to axe an independent rear suspension that would have improved the ride significantly but made it much more expensive.

Jaguar XK (2007-2014)

The Jaguar XK was Jaguar’s 2+2 grand tourer. Famed designer Ian Callum penned the second generation, and it was one of the cars that helped reestablish Jaguar as a sporty, sexy car manufacturer. There was no manual option, only a six-speed ZF automatic, but the XK makes up for it by offering three variants: naturally aspirated V8, supercharged V8, and even beefier supercharged V8. This wasn’t a Bond car, but it’s a car that can make you feel like James Bond on a budget: Even well-kept performance XKR versions with low mileage gavel for less than $30,000 on Bring a Trailer.

Volkswagen Golf R32 (2004)

The R32 is among the standouts from the Volkswagen Golf line. It was VW’s halo Golf for the Mk4 generation, and only sold in the U.S. for the 2004 model year. The R32 had every option and a massive (for a hot hatch) 3.2-liter VR6 engine putting out 238 hp and 236 lb-ft of torque. It also came with two excellent transmission options, a six-speed manual or a six-speed dual clutch transmission — the first to appear in a production car.

Saab 9-5 Aero (2000-2009)

Saabs were quirky, comfortable and Swedish — before the fallout of the GM bankruptcy made the brand all but defunct in the early 2010s. The 9-5 Aero was a performance version of the 9-5 executive sedan. It was a Saab that could haul ass — to a degree. The torque-heavy 2.3-liter turbo four’s output figures of 250 hp and 258 lb-ft were reportedly significantly understated. It could also be fitted with a five-speed manual.

Mercedes-Benz E55 AMG (2003-2006)

The second-generation Mercedes-Benz E55 AMG was the precursor to the E63 AMG. It came as both a sedan and a wagon, and its supercharged 5.4-liter V8 produced 469 hp and 516 lb-ft. When new, it was the fastest four-door vehicle in the world: It accelerated from 0-100 mph in less than 10 seconds, more than a second quicker than the Audi RS6 and faster than a Corvette Z06. It only offered a five-speed automatic, because Mercedes’ seven-speed at that time could not handle the torque.

Pontiac Solstice GXP (2007-2009)

GM gave the Pontiac brand the boot during its restructuring — sadly, just as it was producing fun, intriguing cars. The Solstice was a classic two-seater, available as a coupe or a convertible. The GXP version had a 2.0-liter turbocharged inline-four putting out 260 hp and 260 lb-ft (though it could be tuned beyond that at the dealer) and an available five-speed manual. It weighed less than 3,000 pounds, and accelerated from 0-60 mph in 5.5 seconds. The car’s production also included some period-perfect GM cost-cutting measures, but we won’t hold that against it.

Note: Purchasing products through our links may earn us a portion of the sale, which supports our editorial team’s mission. Learn more here.

10 Amazing New Cars We Wish We Could Buy in America

The car market in the United States isn’t quite like anywhere else. Automakers must meet a separate set of emissions standards; roads in suburban and rural areas tend to be broader and straighter than their counterparts elsewhere; gasoline is much cheaper. And, of course, American buyers have a particular taste for giant SUVs and full-sized pickups that people in other countries lack. 

All those distinctions mean Americans tend to get different cars from other markets — which, among other things, means many finely-tuned driver’s cars made for Europe and elsewhere never float over to the United States while they’re in production. Here, then, are 10 of the best examples of the “forbidden fruit” new cars American buyers can’t have…at least, not for another 25 years or so, when they can import them one by one

Alpine A110

The Alpine A110 is a mid-engined, rear-wheel-drive coupe from Renault, a modern reimagining of the original Alpine A110. The specs don’t leap out at you — it uses a 1.8-liter inline four producing 249 horsepower and 236 pound-feet of torque — but look closer, and you’ll see the appeal. At just 2,432 pounds, the A110 is insanely light — 30 pounds lighter than an Alfa Romeo 4C. It hits 60 miles per hour in 4.5 seconds and has a top speed of 155 mph. And yet it’s not a gutted track car; it’s built to be comfortable, too.

Why Americans Don’t Get It: Renault left the U.S. market nigh-on 30 years ago. And even if they were coming back, a limited-edition sports coupe meant to rival the Toyota Supra would not be the ideal vehicle to re-launch the brand here.

Audi RS 4 Avant

The RS 4 is Audi’s all-wheel-drive retort to the BMW M3. The European RS 4 pulls 450 hp and 44 lb-ft of torque from its twin-turbocharged 2.9-liter V-6. It’s an absolute rocket, accelerating from 0-60 mph in just 4.1 seconds with a top speed that can reach 174 mph. America has the equivalently-powerful RS 5 coupe, but the sedan range tops out at the less-potent S4 — and the only wagon we get here is the 248-hp A4 Allroad.

Why Americans Don’t Get It: Americans tend to be anti-wagon, though Audi fans less so. Audi has teased that RS Avant models might come back; given how successful AMG and M cars have been for Mercedes-Benz and BMW here, bulking up the RS portfolio just seems like good sense. But for now, we go without.

Ford Focus ST Wagon

Ford recently unveiled the wagon version of the Focus ST hatchback. The longroof is sporty and swell to look at, with the gasoline version using Ford’s 2.3-liter inline-four to generate 276 hp and 310 lb-ft. Want that knife twisted a bit more? You can get Ford’s hot wagon with a six-speed manual. Enjoy your Edge ST, American bros.

Why Americans Don’t Get It: Ford needs profits for Wall Street. Cars need to sell in volume to be profitable. Trucks and SUVs are profitable. Americans don’t buy wagons in volume, so they’re not.

Mercedes-AMG A45 Hatchback

Yes, Mercedes makes a hot hatchback. In fact, Mercedes makes the hottest of hot hatchbacks: The new Mercedes-AMG A45, incredibly, will squeeze 420 hp from a 2.0-liter engine. That’s more power per liter than just about anything else on the road. It will also have a drift mode, which Mercedes has been hyping in YouTube videos.

Why Americans Don’t Get It: Americans don’t think hatchbacks are luxury vehicles, so one north of $50,000 would be a tough sell. Raise it a little, add some body cladding and call it a GLA45, though, and Americans will love it.

Renault Megane RS

The RS (Renault Sport) is the hottest version of Renault’s Megane hatchback, and is the carmaker’s answer to the Golf R. The 300 Trophy trim tunes the inline-four to 292 hp and 310 lb-ft, delivering a 0-60 mph time of 5.7 seconds. It’s front-wheel drive, has four-wheel steering, and can still be ordered with a six-speed manual. It also has a fancy new turbocharger the company claims was “taken directly from Formula 1,” which was probably a better selling point before the 2019 season.

Why Americans Don’t Get It: Renault doesn’t sell anything here.

Subaru Levorg STI Sport

A Subaru enthusiast’s dream car might merge the Outback’s wagon body with the WRX’s manic persona. The not-for-America Levorg wagon isn’t that exactly, but it’s the closest Subaru comes to that idea today. The 2.0-liter boxer engine produces 264 hp and 258 lb-ft. The top-of-the-line STI Sport adds some sport tuning and appearance features. It only comes with a CVT, sadly.

Why Americans Don’t Get It: Subaru has been too successful here, almost selling more cars in the US than they can produce. Why add to the workload?

Suzuki Jimny

Suzuki just released its updated version of the Jimny, which was named a 2019 World Car of the Year. It’s a small, boxy and bulletproof SUV that resembles the child of a Land Rover Defender and a G-Wagen. It’s also a rugged, supremely capable off-roader. It can go pretty much anywhere a Land Rover can go — and some places a Land Rover can’t, since it’s smaller and narrower.

Why American Don’t Get It: Suzuki left the US market in 2012. The Jimny may have a niche, but being useless for families and ill-suited to American highway driving (it only makes 100 horses) would make it hard to find mainstream appeal.

Toyota Century

The Century is Toyota’s super-lux flagship, a Japanese market-only four-door sedan. Production is limited and units available by invitation only, reserved for royalty and VIPs. It’s kept its classic aesthetic intact over the years — in part because it has been relaunched just twice since it debuted in 1967, and in part because it caters to such a small audience. Toyota’s GRMN racing division did make a special edition one that may be produced, though.

Why Americans Don’t Get It: Some things should be kept special. Also, Americans don’t view Toyota as a luxury brand — hence the existence of Lexus. And even a $200,000 Lexus sedan would be a tough sell.

TVR Griffith

The TVR nameplate has been revived in the form of what may be the perfect driver’s car. The new Griffith will be a two-door coupe designed by Gordon Murray, the man who designed the McLaren F1. As is TVR tradition, it will have a huge engine — a Ford Cosworth 5.0-liter V-8 — and a super-light, all carbon fiber chassis, paired with a six-speed manual gearbox and rear-wheel-drive. It will accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in about four seconds, and reached a top speed north of 200 mph. It will also have ABS, power steering, and traction control, because they aren’t sadists.

Why The U.S. Isn’t Getting It: It’s not worth building a US-spec Griffith for a 500-vehicle limited production run, considering how difficult the development process has been for TVR in general.

Volkswagen up! GTI

The oddly-named up! is Volkswagen’s pint-sized hatchback, which also comes in GTI version. The 1.0-liter three-cylinder is horsepower-light, but torque-heavy, making 113 hp and 170 lb-ft. Its size, power, and handling capability place it quite close to the original GTI. It also costs less than $20,000. There may not be a better city car on sale on any continent.

Why The U.S. Doesn’t Get It: Americans consider the Golf a small car, and sales have plummeted in recent years. Volkswagen has countered by going hard into crossovers with the Tiguan and Atlas, which doesn’t leave much room for introducing a tiny city car. And highway-centric American driving would minimize the up! GTI’s strengths and fully display its weaknesses.

A Cool Car We Can Have

Popping the top changes the experience dramatically, and suddenly, we’re debating whether the ideal GT is the one that doesn’t get in between you and road trip wonderment. Read the Story

Note: Purchasing products through our links may earn us a portion of the sale, which supports our editorial team’s mission. Learn more here.

The Most Beautiful Details Hidden Throughout the New York Auto Show

Walking through the 2019 New York International Auto Show can be overwhelming. With all the shiny sheet metal on display—some of it for the first time—it’s easy to lose yourself in all of the big news and announcements. But, if you take some time and keep your eyes peeled, you’ll see there are a lot of beautiful design details peppered throughout the show’s attractions that you might have missed otherwise. Yes, concept cars will have bucket loads of futuristic moldings and supercars are packed with aerodynamic facets, but even something as mundane as a family sedan can hide an interesting quirk or two.

So, in case you missed them, these are the most beautiful details hidden throughout the cars at NYIAS 2019.

Acura TLX Taillights


Acura deserves a huge amount of credit for the bold design choices it’s made over the past few years. Acura’s design language is polarizing, to say the least, but if you look closely, you’ll spot intricacies that deserve appreciation. The taillights on the TLX are one of them: They mirror the car’s headlights, making what could’ve been a run-of-the-mill tail lamp into a delightfully complex display.

Audi E-Tron Dashboard


Open-pore wood isn’t anything new as far as car interiors go, but the Audi E-Tron pulls it off brilliantly. The all-electric SUV is a vision of the future for Audi, and the designers could have gone the usual clinical design route for such things, but it’s nice to see organic material in there instead; it nicely complements the future-forward E-Tron.

Genesis Mint Concept Seats

There are a lot of details to fawn over on the Genesis Mint concept car, but if one stands out above the rest, it’s the seats. If they look askew in the photo, that’s because when you open the door, they automatically slide back and rotate for easier ingress and egress. And it might only be a concept car for now, but Genesis brand boss Manfred Fitzgerald says he wants to see something like the Mint on the road in the near future.

The Whole Kia HabaNiro

When autonomous driving takes operational responsibility away from the passengers, the experience of driving as a whole will shift; there will more time to appreciate and interact with the interior, for one thing. Designers are starting to cater to that in concept cars like this funky Kia, by pouring more energy into details like seats and dashboard design. The Kia HabaNiro might look like the crossover of tomorrow on the outside, but the not-so-subtle crimson flair on the inside would be a welcome addition to the Korean automaker’s lineup.

Koenigsegg Jesko Rear Wing

The Koenigsegg Jesko’s rear wing isn’t exactly a “hidden detail,” seeing as how it’s one of the largest objects on the show floor. It helps the Jesko achieve 2,200 pounds of downforce when deployed, but can level out to reduce drag and let the Swedish supercar hit its supposed 300-mph top speed.

Lincoln Corsair Taillights

Lincoln is quickly becoming a powerhouse in the American luxury car market. It’s very rare an automaker adopts a design language which works on all of its cars, no matter the body style. The Corsair can easily be described as a mini-Navigator, but it also has its own unique details worth a mention. The taillights, for instance, look like the full-width setup Lincoln has applied elsewhere; move in closer and the design begins to resemble a stylized eagle’s wing.

Nissan GT-R50 Taillights


You’ve probably seen the Nissan GT-R50 by now, and drooled over as much as everybody else has. (Just ignore the $1.1 million price tag.) The car was a chance for Italdesign to flex its creative muscles, so it’s packed with design touches. Walk around the back, and you’ll see the semi-floating tail lights that look like jet engines; they compliment the moveable rear wing with its aircraft-like actuators.

Range Rover Velar SVAutobiography Dynamic Center Console

Range Rover has been moving towards minimalism for a while, but the new Velar SVAutobiography Dynamic highlights how far the company’s interiors have come—and how well they’re executed.

Note: Purchasing products through our links may earn us a portion of the sale, which supports our editorial team’s mission. Learn more here.

Watch Now: An Oven for Pizza Idiots, the 2019 BMW X7 & More

In this episode of This Week In Gear: Eric Yang and Will Price test Breville’s countertop pizza oven, Henry Phillips discusses the $5K Leica Q2 and Nick Caruso raves about the all-new BMW X7. Also in this episode, a Bryan Campbell reviews the Honda Talon side-by-side – in 30 seconds – and AJ Powell explains why the Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless earbuds are the last thing he bought.

This episode of This Week In Gear is presented by Crown & Caliber: the convenient online marketplace for pre-owned luxury watches. Visit to get $175 towards any watch purchase until May 31st.

Featured Products

Breville the Smart Oven® Pizzaiolo

“This thing is fuckin’ awesome at what it does. It works for the pizza idiot to the pizza savant.”


Leica Q2

“All the improvements feel iterative, deliberate and genuinely helpful to the end user. The Q was my general price-no-object recommendation for a great camera for basically everyone. The Q2 takes that place no problem.”


2019 BMW X7

The X7 very well may be everything great about BMW, fully realized.


Honda Talon SxS

“Add an exciting application of DCT technology and it’s fair to say that while the Talon 1000R and 1000X aren’t necessarily game changers, they’ve sure as hell raised the bar.”


Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless Earbuds

“I believe the Momentum earbuds could replace each headphone in my current rotation — including my Bowers & Wilkins P5 on-ear headphones.”


Note: Purchasing products through our links may earn us a portion of the sale, which supports our editorial team’s mission. Learn more here.

Watch This Week In Gear, Episode One: We Review the All-New Porsche 911, Apple Airpods & More

Welcome to the premiere episode of Gear Patrol’s first video series: This Week In Gear, the ultimate news show for gear enthusiasts.

As the definitive executive briefing on what’s new in product culture, every week we’ll be talking shop about the latest and best gear, from outdoor & fitness, automotive and tech to home, style, grooming and watches. Hosted by Editor-in-Chief Eric Yang, every episode will feature insights from Gear Patrol staff experts as well as field tests, interviews, buying advice and beyond.

In this episode of This Week In Gear: Nick Caruso gives a rundown of the all-new 2020 Porsche 911 Carrera S; Tanner Bowden introduces The James Brand Ellis multitool; Jacob Sotak explains just how hugely advanced the Orvis H3 fly rod is; and Tucker Bowe describes what’s new in Apple’s second-generation AirPods. Also in this episode, a lightning-round Q&A with Staff Writer Meg Lappe.

This episode of This Week In Gear is presented by Crown & Caliber: the convenient online marketplace for pre-owned luxury watches. Visit to get $175 towards any watch purchase until May 31st.

Featured Products

2020 Porsche 911 Carrera S

Porsche’s all-new 911 is, as expected, a tremendous performer.


The James Brand ‘The Ellis’

The brand’s first multi-tool is a gorgeous shot across the Swiss Army Knife’s bow.


Orvis Helios 3D 8-Weight 9′ Fly Rod

“Without a doubt, the most scientifically accurate rod ever produced.”


Apple AirPods with Wireless Charging Case

The second-generation earbuds feature incremental tweaks, which means they’re still great.



Note: Purchasing products through our links may earn us a portion of the sale, which supports our editorial team’s mission. Learn more here.

This Motorcycle Magazine Sets a New Industry Standard

“Print is dead” gets said often enough you’d think the industry is actually six feet under an unmarked grave. But every time someone says it, another well-designed magazine finds its way. Five years ago, that was Meta — a triannual publication founded by motorcycle-industry veterans Andrew Campo and Ben Giese, who just opened a retail shop that doubles as a creative coworking space in Denver, Colorado.

Campo is the founder of Vurbmoto, a highly influential platform in the motocross space, and Giese was the lead graphic designer at DC Shoes. The pair created Meta out of a shared passion for two-wheeled culture. As Giese puts it, they “saw a void in the print world,” one that was ripe for smart, elevated motorcycle coverage. “I was very immersed in skateboarding and surfing, and I saw publications coming out those cultures focused on quality, design, and photography,” he says. “At the time that’s something the motorcycle industry was lacking.”

[embedded content]

In addition to narrative stories, the Meta website houses awe-inspiring short films and videos, like Little Monster, a story about eight-year-old Kelana Humphrey and his journey from growing up around mechanics and motorcycle riders in Indonesia to racing dirtbikes in California. Sure, the stories are motorcycle-centric, but you don’t have to ride dirtbikes or know anything about motorcycles to appreciate the content.

Telling stories isn’t the only objective of Meta. “Our goal with Meta is to blur the lines between all genres of motorcycling and celebrate what we call ‘a life well ridden,’” Campo says. Hence the new HQ in Denver — a red brick walled half-motorcycle garage, half-cafe in the middle of the River North Arts District of Denver, where Meta plans to bring the two-wheeled community together.

The Denver flagship isn’t just a place where Campo and Giese can ride their bikes, write stories and cut video footage. They plan to open up the shop for events, gatherings, community rides and anything else to increase the culture’s inclusiveness. “It’s meant to be an extension of the book,” Giese says. “It’s a place where you can just hang out. You don’t even have to ride motorcycles.”

Note: Purchasing products through our links may earn us a portion of the sale, which supports our editorial team’s mission. Learn more here.

Lexus Is the Most Dependable Luxury Brand of 2019

J.D Power just released its 2019 U.S. Vehicle Dependability Study findings, and Lexus tops the list. Toyota’s luxury brand ranking the highest in dependability shouldn’t come as a surprise — this is the eighth year in a row Lexus earned top honors. What should raise a few red flags are a few industry firsts the study uncovered.

Now, 30-years running, J.D power’s study tallies up the number of problems experienced per 100 cars over the last 12 months by original owners of three-year-old vehicles. So 2019’s study is shining a light on 2016’s cars. The study scrutinizes 177 possible problems across the eight major categories: mid-size sedans, full-sized pickups, all the sizes of SUVs, etc. Then, each vehicle gets a score, using golf rules: the lower, the better.

With all the numbers crunched and Lexus in the number one spot, Toyota and Porsche tied for second. The Porsche 911 won the inaugural “Most Dependable Model” award. But, for the first time, mass-market brands like Toyota and GM outperformed luxury brands. J.D Power’s study also revealed Audi, BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Porsche and Volkswagen are better than the industry average for the first time in 30 years. If that doesn’t dismantle the urban legend of German cars being historically reliable, nothing will.

“Vehicle dependability continues to improve, but I wouldn’t say that everything is rosy,” said Dave Sargent, Vice President of Global Automotive at J.D. Power. “Vehicles are more reliable than ever, but automakers are wrestling with problems such as voice recognition, transmission shifts, and battery failures.” So it would seem manufacturers have the most mechanical kinks worked out, but the more technology we pack into our cars, the more we’re leaving up to a chance of failure. At least now you know the best bet is a Lexus.

The Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio Is Already a Legendary Car

You can’t be a genuine gearhead unless you’ve owned an Alfa Romeo. It’s a common axiom. That’s because Alfa Romeo, above all other automakers, understands that driving is a sensual, visceral experience. Alfas look gorgeous. Their engines sound explosive and sonorous. Their potency comes with a distinct personality. Driving an Alfa Romeo reminds you why you love cars.

The current Giulia Quadrifoglio ($73,700) is a proper Alfa Romeo. It was the perfect car to reintroduce Alfa Romeo to the U.S. market. Already a legend, it is destined to be a modern classic.

One must appreciate Alfa Romeo’s sheer ambition. BMW’s M3 provides the benchmark for sport sedans. That reputation stems from decades of excellence. Alfa, with help from Ferrari, took on the M3 with the Giulia Quadrifoglio and blew it out of the water. The Giulia Quadrifoglio is faster. It’s more compliant. It looks better in metallic blue paint.

A German dad and former M3 owner hailed me in a grocery store parking lot. He asked whether the Giulia Quadrifoglio was as good as he had heard. The most forthright answer, after admitting the car wasn’t mine, was “yes, it’s incredible.”

Driving the Giulia Quadrifoglio thrills. It’s as close to a four-door Ferrari production sedan as we’ll ever get. The “Ferrari-derived” 505hp Twin Turbo V6 makes the Giulia QF lightning quick. It would be unnerving but for the supreme balance and laser-precise steering. It can be as maniacal or as composed as you want it to be. The German ZF transmission is dulcet and intuitive. You forget the paddles (or the absent manual option in the States) after a short while. The Giulia shifts better than you can.

The transmission misstepped once in a week’s worth of driving. When I accelerated from zero to 20mph over the speed limit, the Giulia Quadrifoglio presumed I wish to keep going. In true Alfa fashion, it was more in tune with my heart than my head.

Daily driving the Giulia Quadrifoglio is not annoyance free. Lane clogging SUVs will annoy you. Our oppressive regime of traffic laws will subdue your buzz. The Giulia QF can still provide a compelling drive at normal speeds. But, you’re ever cognizant of how much fun you could be having if not for other people.

Performance comes with impeccable Alfa style. The Giulia is beautiful. Clear lines project the available power and aggression under the hood. But a subtlety and effortless restraint underlie the whole package. The Quadrifoglio version does not announce its hotness beyond the odd clover. It doesn’t need to. The Giulia looks like what it is, an M3 redone with better taste.

The sports sedan is the ultimate real-life driver’s car. The Giulia Quadrifoglio may be the ultimate high-performance variant. It may never be topped.

It also brings the noise. The Giulia Quadrifoglio’s engine is a purified raucousness. Think Beethoven over Metal Machine Music. You find yourself cranking up the revs to hear it again, at every stop sign, light, or gap in the traffic.

Alfa Romeos are perfect. Why doesn’t everyone who can afford one own one? They don’t always run. Stereotypes depict Alfas as notoriously unreliable. Some stereotypes are rooted in fact. My parents still remember the name of their old GTV 2000’s mechanic forty years later. They remain convinced he was sabotaging the car. It didn’t seem possible to them that many things could go wrong with a car.

In that respect as well, the Giulia Quadrifoglio has proved itself a proper Alfa Romeo. There are two general reviews of the car. The first rates it as at or near “best car on the road” status. The second describes where the reviewer was driving when the engine light popped on and the car died with an unclear prognosis. Mine had zero issues for what it’s worth. Though, I only drove it for a week and did not track it.

Issues, particularly in early press cars, no doubt stemmed from the development process. Alfa Romeo rushed the Giulia into production in two and a half years. Most cars take four-plus to put out. Working out some of the inevitable electrical gremlins happened with real drivers on the road. Things could get worse as these cars age. If you want a sedan to bore you with its obsessive reliability, buy a Toyota Camry.

Okay, so the Giulia Quadrifoglio is a great car. It’s a mind-blowing drive when it runs. Why, beyond that, will it be collectible?

Animalistic car performance will be at a premium moving forward. The sports sedan is the ultimate real-life driver’s car. The Giulia Quadrifoglio may be the ultimate high-performance variant. It may never be topped. A pocket rocket sedan with a 3/10 EPA smog won’t be on the menu moving forward. Manufacturers are phasing out both sedans and internal combustion. Even Alfa will be moving toward plug-in hybrids and EVs. Performance may well be “ludicrous.” But, it won’t feel or sound the same. This car will remind purists what they loved about gas and be worth what may be a crushing expense to fuel it.

The Giulia Quadrifoglio is part Ferrari, the important part. It’s not an affordable car. But, it’s more attainable than a true Ferrari. It’s a special and memorable collaboration. The notion is similar to the legendary Mercedes 500E from the early 1990s that had a Porsche designed chassis and was assembled on a Porsche line.

Giulia Quadrifoglios should be relatively rare. Alfa does not sell in huge numbers compared to Mercedes and BMW. The Italian company did have a record U.S. sales year in 2018. But, that was still fewer vehicles than Mercedes sells in the U.S. during one month. Most Giulias sold will be lower trims, not the Quadrifoglio. My local Alfa dealer has 86 2018 and 2019 Giulias listed in its present inventory. None are Quadrifoglios.

Finally, it’s an Alfa Romeo, a darn near impeccable one. Alfas charm car people. They charm non-car people. My wife scolded me for shifting out of dynamic mode and softening the suspension on the highway on the way back from dinner. My other passengers gushed about rides around the block. The Giulia Quadrifoglio’s charisma was infectious. Or, perhaps, it was my persistent glee rubbing off on everyone I met.

2019 Porsche Cayenne Review: A Proper Porsche, and One You’ll Pay For

The Cayenne is Porsche’s larger mid-size luxury SUV. For its third generation, the self-described “sports car for five” has gotten lighter, faster, and more performance-inclined to distinguish itself from external competitors and similar internal competitors like the Audi Q8 and the Porsche Macan S.

The Good: Porsche designed it. Quick for an SUV. Excellent balance and low center of gravity. Responsive steering. Intuitive transmission. Notably comfortable front seats.

Who It’s For: Affluent SUV buyers who want Porsche cachet and performance. Perhaps a one-car Porsche enthusiast whose kids have outgrown the 911’s rear seat.

Watch Out For: Engine noise underwhelms. Standard suspension feels tight. The option tree gets pricey and borderline exploitative.

Alternatives: Other high-end European performance geared SUVs in this general price range include:
Range Rover Sport ($67,050, base)

Audi Q8 ($67,400, base)

BMW X5 ($60,700, base)

Review: The thing about driving a Porsche around Napa for a day is you can’t describe it as work. Social mores mandate at least a knowing smirk when you say that. We all know why. Porsche means premium, precisely engineered, and damn near perfect. When Porsche needed to redefine the Cayenne for its third generation (and differentiate it from its Audi Q8 cousin using the same MLB platform and engine) the answer was to play up just how much of a Porsche this midsize SUV is.

Porsche made the Cayenne more athletic. The SUV has gotten lighter (down 120lbs) from the last generation. The new 3.0L Turbo V6 in the base model generates more power (+35hp) and torque (37lb-ft) than the last model. Getting lighter, more powerful, and having the driving dynamics improved makes it faster. Every iteration of the Cayenne will do 0-60mph in under six seconds.

Porsche wants the Cayenne to look more like a Porsche. Truth be told, it looks similar to Gen 2. But, Porsche wants the wide shoulders to remind you of the 911’s characteristic, much fawned over back end. The new Cayenne also incorporates a number of performance features from other Porsches. It has staggered front and rear wheels, replacing the predecessor’s square alignment. It can be fitted with rear axle steering and launch control. The Cayenne will be the first Porsche fitted with proprietary Porsche Surface Coated Brakes (PSCB). These deliver most of the benefits of ceramics, cost much less, and leave a boss mirror finish.

Upping the Porsche quotient (surprise, surprise) produces an engaging SUV to drive. The Cayenne is quick. It is well-balanced. The steering is responsive. It has a low center of gravity and an impressive amount of grip. The transmission intuits what the driver wants seamlessly. It’s a keen corner taker. It behaves when bottled up behind a Subaru on a two-line highway. About the only criticism is the engine note which was either too mild or too mild to puncture the noise canceling glass.

Rest assured. Porsche did not go full-on “SAV” here. The Cayenne is still an SUV. The grab bag of Porsche sports car features available did not include the PDK transmission, because Porsche believes its 8-Speed Tiptronic is better for off-roading and towing. The Cayenne has multiple off-road terrain settings. The closest we got to testing them was ducking into a scenic roadside lookout for pictures.

The Adaptive Air Suspension is worth the expense. The standard one felt very tight and unforgiving on our morning tester with 21-inch wheels. The air suspension gives a smoother and more composed ride. Even when the car is being pushed, the copilot can settle into a notably comfy front seat for a post-lunch snooze.

I would lean toward taking the PSCB brakes as well. I found them too touchy starting out at slow speed. I missed how easily they stopped the car when I didn’t have them. The standard brakes are adequate. The PCSBs, as they should be for the cost, are better and look cool.

I didn’t futz with the infotainment system too much. The Cayenne has dual customizable 7-inch displays behind the wheel and a 12.3-inch tablet screen in the center. The design was clean. Menu progression was natural. I wish the big screen had been angled toward the driver slightly more.

Where the Cayenne offers the truest Porsche experience is when you reach for the checkbook. Porsche makes nearly everything, including many features most luxury cars would make standard, options. Those options get expensive in a hurry. Embark with me on a quick configurator journey.

Let’s add the air suspension ($4160) and the PSCB brakes ($3490). The latter require you to upgrade to at least 20 inch wheels ($1720 minimum). That alone is approaching $10,000. You probably want adaptive cruise control ($2000) and lane change assist ($950) on your kid transporter. Sunroof? That’s an additional ($1850). Want your car to remember your seat settings ($1900) and heat up during the winter? ($530 for just the front).

Does the performance stuff intrigue you? The Sport Chrono package for launch control and sport plus driving mode ($1130) is a must have. There’s the rear-axle steering ($1650) Do you plan to use your Cayenne for SUV stuff? That will be an additional off-road package ($2000) and tow rig ($660). Yeah, I dig that Biscay Blue Metallic paint ($800) too. This stuff only scratches the surface of the customization options.

Our lightly outfitted, base model tester vehicles were pricing out north of $80,000 for what, reminder, is the third best engine you can have in a Cayenne. That price tag factors into the perception. The Cayenne provides a great drive for an SUV. It’s an all-around, capable, and fun car. It’s recognizable as a Porsche. It’s more than a profitable placeholder in the Porsche lineup. But, an $80,000-plus or more car should have some outstanding quality that makes that expenditure feel justified. However improved or formidable, the Cayenne in the base trim doesn’t.

The Cayenne will be more than enough SUV for most buyers. Porsche will sell a number of them. The cachet from that Porsche emblem alone will keep many Cayenne customers happy. It better, because they are paying a steep premium for it.

Verdict: The Cayenne is a proper Porsche. It’s top notch engineering. It performs just about every task well. It will be more than enough for most buyers. But, a near $90,000 car, SUV or no, should give you the giggles. It should have one exceptional quality that excites you about spending that much money. The Cayenne didn’t.

What Others Are Saying:

• “It took Porsche 53 years to sell a million 911s. Porsche has sold 770,000 Cayennes in the 15 years since it was launched in 2002, and the millionth will probably be built in about three years. As much as we love and cherish the sports cars from Stuttgart, Porsche in the 21st century is the house that the Cayenne SUV built.” – Tony Quiroga, Car and Driver

• “If you’re willing to pay the premium, though, the new Cayenne delivers precisely what cargo-hauling Porsche fanboys consistently insist they want: an SUV that satisfies the sport part of the equation while offering a level of functionality and people-moving they can’t get in a 911 or 718. – Basem Wasef, Autoblog

2019 Porsche Cayenne Key Specs

Engine: 3.0L Turbo V6
Transmission: 8-Speed Tiptronic
Horsepower: 335hp
Torque: 332lb-ft
Weight: 4,377 lbs
0-60: 5.6sec (with Sport Chrono package)
Top Speed: 152mph

Porsche hosted us and provided this product for review.

Read More Gear Patrol Reviews

Hot takes and in-depth reviews on noteworthy, relevant and interesting products. Read the Story
Note: Purchasing products through our links may earn us a portion of the sale, which supports our editorial team’s mission. Learn more here.

My 8 Gear Essentials For Surviving an Off-Road Race Across Nevada

Going by the way of smooth, paved asphalt and piloting a modern, road-legal car, it’ll take you just under seven hours to get from Las Vegas to Reno, Nevada. Your luxurious, climate-controlled cocoon of leather and carpet can effortlessly glide over the ribbon of road connecting those cities regardless of the searing sun, triple-digit temperatures and gusts of wind carrying buckets of desert dust. It’s almost too easy. But try to get from one of the casino-laden cities to the other without using any roads at all, as fast as you possibly can, while fighting off dehydration, silt beds waiting to swallow wheels, blind turns preceding cliffs and suspension arm-hungry boulders… that’s a different story. Coincidently, The Best in The Desert Vegas to Reno, which at 540 miles is the longest off-road race in the US, puts on just such show. I attempted to finish it in a relatively stock Polaris RZR Turbo S.

By “stock,” I mean the only things added to the RZR were to make it race-safe and compliant — an extensive, reinforced roll cage, race seats and safety belts, removable-steering wheel, race fuel cell, radio, safety lights and fire extinguisher system. Other than what the regulations deemed necessary, everything on the Turbo S was factory-spec — there were no mechanical upgrades. Meaning the suspension, engine, transmission, ECU and basic chassis rolled up to the starting line the same as they were on the showroom floor. My co-pilot and I, on the other hand, were in need of necessary optional extras. Fireproof suits, gloves and driving shoes and a ventilated race helmet were baselines; on top of that, we needed a way to communicate to the pits and, as we found out 50 miles into the 580-mile race, food and water, just in case we got stuck out in the desert. This is the gear we brought along to attempt America’s toughest off-road endurance race.

Polaris RZR XP Turbo S

Pyrotect Pro Airflow Helmet

PCI Race Radios Offroad Helmet Wiring Kit

Alpinestars GP Race Suit

Alpinestars Tech 1 Race Glove

Oakley Race Mid Boot

CamelBak Ratchet 6L Backpack

Cliff Bars

Country Archer Beef Jerky

A Damn Fun, Affordable, Stripped-Down Overlander from Polaris: the Polaris General

When you think of side-by-sides or UTVs, you’ll most likely conjure up images of a roll cage jacked up on an arm’s length of suspension travel, shod with massive tires ripping around desert dunes and tearing through a mountain trail. Or, you’ll picture a seasoned ranch hand puttering along mending a fence or moving hay bails. If you’re in the market for a UTV it’s understandable to see one as too extreme, over the top and unnecessary and the other as dull and joyless. The Polaris General lives at the 50-yard line between the company’s performance-centric RZR and its workhorse Ranger.

The Good: Slinging the General around the surrounding trails and property at the Main Line Overland Festival, it quickly became abundantly clear how a UTV like the 180 horsepower Can-Am Maverick X3 XD S turbo was complete overkill. Unbelievably fun, yes. But, is that much power needed to entertain yourself on a gravel back road or rock crawling path? No. The 100 horsepower the General sends to all four of its wheels is more than enough to get the back end to step out, get you into all sorts of trouble and get you out of that trouble when you come face to face with a boulder or log crossing.

Who It’s For: Overlanders, and active lifestyle types. Considering it’s not too raucous, the General was designed with weekend warriors in mind. It has enough power to keep you on your toes, a utility bed, significant payload capacity, 1,500-lbs winch and the ability to add optional racks, cargo boxes, light bars and tougher rims.

Watch Out For: One problem with Polaris performance UTVs is they inherit the upright seating position from the Ranger. The proper posture works fine when you’re putting the machine to use as a docile cargo hauler, but the minute you want to switch to hooligan mode, the higher seat position multiplies the “we’re about to tip over” feeling.

When it comes to getting the machine optioned exactly as you need it, prices start to climb. The base model doesn’t come with much and a $1,500 jump to the Premium trim only gets you the 4,500-lbs winch, front bumper and painted body panels (which you’ll probably scratch up immediately). The $20,299 Deluxe edition buys you a roof, MTX sound Bar and Fox podium shocks on top of what the Premium offers. And that’s just the two-door model, the four-door starts at $21,299. So if you can live without the bells and whistles, the smart buy is to go with the base and add the roof, cargo boxes and racks, which start around $250.

Alternatives: The most direct competitor to the Polaris is the Can-AM Commander. It certainly looks more aggressive and has better base-level storage options, and the General-equivalent model price is $3,000 below the Polaris. However, the Polaris comes out on top with better suspension, more power and a higher cargo capacity, which, all things considered, are key aspects if whether you’re doing some light off-roading or hailing camp gear.

Review: Cutting through narrow trails, crawling over boulders, logs and splashing through boggy mud pits, the General seemed right at home on the dirty side of this year’s Mid Atlantic Overland Festival. But the machine’s dual personality is what sets it apart from the rest of the lineup. When it wasn’t thrashing trails or picking up a front wheel while the back two swung around, the UTV’s ‘utility’ shined through, hauling gear and taxiing people from one side of the campground to the other, to the bonfire and back again. When I wanted to have fun, I had fun. When I needed to tend to a few festival responsibilities, it was right there, willing and able, with one major caveat.

As much as the General champions being the 50-50 mix of the RZR and Ranger, I was split between the two- and four-seater depending on where I was going or what I needed to do. Going for the win at this year’s rock-crawl hill climb challenge or tackling the boulder-strewn trails along the property outskirts? Two-seater. Giving rides across the grounds to campsites, hauling a keg or two to the bonfire or putting the bed to use as skybox seating for the film festival? Four-seater. The longer wheelbase of the four-seater brought out the best of the utility side of the General, but on obstacle trails, the wince-inducing scrapes and slides of knee-high stones and logs along the side rails were enough to permanently appoint it to workhorse status.

Verdict: Just like a Jeep, as an affordable, stripped-down overlander, the General makes a lot of sense. Again, like a Jeep, the base model is incredibly capable fresh from the showroom floor. But if you want the real weekend warrior-mobile with Moab trail tackling suspension, light bars, roof racks, crash bars and cargo boxes, you’d better be prepared to shell out extra cash on top of the MSRP. The General will do what you ask of it and it’ll put a smile on your face the entire time, but that’s entry-level. If you want to make extracurricular overlanding activities easier, it’s pay to play.

What Others Are Saying:

• “On one particular day, we logged just over one hundred miles on some really tight, rough trails at Anthracite Outdoor Adventure Area in Coal Township, PA. The General was really comfortable, providing us with a comfortable ride and spoiling us with some kicking tunes streamed via Pandora through the Bluetooth MTX audio.” — Lance Schwartz, UTV Driver

2019 Polaris General 1000 EPS Key Specs
Engine: 999cc Twin Cylinder
Transmission: Automatic PVT
Horsepower: 100
Torque: 65 lb-ft
Payload Capacity: 1,100 lb
Weight: 1,491 lbs (dry)
Price: $16,299(base)

Engine: 999cc Twin Cylinder
Transmission: Automatic PVT
Horsepower: 100
Torque: 65 lb-ft
Payload Capacity: 1,280 lb
Weight: 1,857 lbs (dry)
Price: $21,299(base)

Read More Gear Patrol Reviews

Hot takes and in-depth reviews on noteworthy, relevant and interesting products. Read the Story

Note: Purchasing products through our links may earn us a portion of the sale, which supports our editorial team’s mission. Learn more here.

2018 Ducati SuperSport S Review: A Sport Bike for the Average Rider

The Ducati SuperSport came back in 2017 from a 10-year hiatus to bridge the gap between the upper echelon of the Ducati lineup and more approachable bikes. The SuperSport brings the elegant, looks-fast-standing-still design and technology from the Panigale to riders who aren’t used to reigning in 200 horsepower on a daily basis.

High strung sportbikes are one-trick ponies, as eye-catching and blisteringly advanced as they are. Bikes that are born from racing but adapted to the streets while still retaining impressive stats are compromised for everyday riding. Ergonomics, torque curves and power bands well-suited to produce lightning fast lap times are a bike’s most significant weaknesses on a daily commute while dodging traffic going from stop light to stop light. The Ducati SuperSport S cherry picks the best aspects from longer distance bikes and the sport bike world to give the average rider a taste of top-tier Ducatis on a daily basis.

The Good: Styling on the SuperSport is one of its main draws. What used to be out of reach for most riders — those who didn’t want a high-performance track machine but adored the styling — can now enjoy one of Ducati’s best designs in years.

A host of electronic aids and layers of menus let riders customize the character of their bike. You and a friend could both get a SuperSport, but through the eight-level traction control and three level ABS system, you can mix and match the computer’s level of intervention so much that you could share the same bike but have two completely different experiences.

Who It’s For: Commuters who are looking for a premium bike to use almost every day but don’t want the aggressive and cramped ergonomics of a track bike.

Watch Out For: The SuperSport only comes in two colors, but there’s a catch. The base model just comes in red, so if your heart is set on the white, you ‘ll have to spring for the S model and throw down an extra $1,700. And if you can live with red, a non-adjustable suspension and adding an optional quick-shifter, I’d stick with the base model, because those are the only differences.

One of the most egregious flaws of the SuperSport is undoubtedly its mirrors. I’m somewhat broad-shouldered, so with the SuperSport’s mirrors on such short stalks I had to keep pinching my shoulders and elbows in to get a view of what was behind me. That annoyance, however, had nothing on vibrations that rendered the mirrors all but useless at night. A bike with that big of an engine, with so few cylinders will, of course, not ride very smoothly — there are bound to be vibrations and a lot of them. The mirrors vibrated so much that during the day my rear view was closer to a French impressionist’s interpretation of reality and at night, I gave up entirely and just used quick glances over my shoulder.

Alternatives: The only real direct competitors are the Kawasaki Ninja 1000 and Suzuki GSX-S1000F. Both the Japanese bikes are more powerful than the Italian at 140 hp and 148 hp respectively and also both get power from inline-four engines, affording a smoother ride.

All three have similar price tags and multi-level traction control systems, but the Ducati is the only bike of the three to offer fully-adjustable suspension, three ride modes (Sport, Touring and Urban) on top of the eight-level traction control system and three level ABS.

Review: I never got the chance to take the SuperSport on to a track to explore or even get close to the limits of what can do, but then again, the majority of riders picking this bike up won’t either. In my week with the SuperSport I commuted back and forth from Manhattan to Jersey City through the Holland Tunnel during a heatwave, did a few highway blasts on the way to see friends and took a trip down to the beach for the weekend. In other words, I lived my life as I usually would, I just happened to have a Ducati underneath me. And, for an everyday rider, the SuperSport followed through on Ducati’s promise of versatility and performance.

I already had it in my head that Ducati’s idea of a ‘comfortable’ sport bike was simply bolting the footpegs lower on the bike and calling it a day. And with styling so close to that of the Panigale superbike, it was all too easy to write the SuperSport off almost immediately. Getting proved wrong the second I sat on the bike was the most jarring moment of the entire week.

Yes, the pegs are lower, opening up more leg room, especially for taller riders, but so is the seat. Combine that with the raised position of the handlebars and I was sitting nearly bolt upright. On longer rides or even short bursts through the city where body position is continuously changing, that freedom of movement affords the rider back an incredible amount of endurance.

In slipping in and out of traffic to and from work, useable torque is the SuperSport’s calling card. If the SuperSport boasted superbike performance to match its looks, all the power you need would be comically high in the rev range. Instead, Ducati moved most of the torque to just above 3,000 RPM, so you can ride around at a pace which won’t earn you any tickets or summons, but you can still get your money’s worth from the power you paid for. You can thank the punchy 937cc L-Twin for that because the more rev-happy inline-four competition from Japan make you go searching for power above the 9,000 RPM mark, which can be useful on the highway but you’ll rarely see that on city streets.

The engine gives the Ducati trademark vibrations throughout the bike — it renders the mirrors absolutely useless and becomes temperamental at low speeds, on light throttle. Trundling through the Holland Tunnel, where there’s no passing and traffic moves at crawling pace on a regular basis coasting was difficult. At low RPM, power delivery was choppy, causing the bike to jerk slightly. I wasn’t anywhere near the point of stalling the bike; the engine just didn’t like the lazy pace — noting the bike’s air-temperature thermometer read 122 degrees Fahrenheit in the middle of the tunnel, neither did I.

Verdict: If you look at the price tags and performance numbers alone, the Ducati doesn’t sit at the top of its class. The Kawasaki and Suzuki easily beat it out there, offering more power for the same if not less money. But – and this is very big, obvious ‘but’ – numbers aren’t everything.

The full experience on the Ducati SuperSport is more than just numbers. Superior design, sound and the way it effortlessly takes on corners are the reason anyone leans towards a Ducati. Throw in the everyday usability of the SuperSport and you know have a beautiful bike, packed with performance and technology, without the torturous ergonomics of a superbike set up as a track weapon. The engine does have its flaws but as a whole package, Ducati scored a major win by opening up more riders to the more exclusive and intimidating part of the dealership.

What Others Are Saying:

• “Ducati may have designed this ride to bridge the gap between the laid-back riders and the more spirited ones, but the look is all sport and distinctly Ducati.” — Top Speed

• “Agile on city streets, comfortable on the motorway and superlative on out-of-town twisties, the SuperSport is super-versatile. Relaxed rider and passenger positions, good airflow deflection from the height-adjustable Plexiglas screen and the mileage provided by the 16-liter fuel tank also make the Ducati SuperSport a cool companion on medium-distance rides.” — Total Motorcycle

• “The SuperSport S is marketed as perfect for road riding without compromising its sporting spirit, to paraphrase Ducati. The subsequent lack of any soreness after riding definitely backs up that statement. The seating position makes for a pleasant commuter ride, while the handlebar set-up allows you to sit high, and the soft, wide – but not quite Honda Gold Wing wide – leather seat is perfect for stylish road riding.” — The National

Ducati Super Sport S Key Specs

Engine: 937cc L-Twin
Transmission: Six-speed
Horsepower: 110 hp @ 9,000 RPM
Torque: 69 lb-ft @ 6,5000 RPM
Weight: 463 lbs

Read More Gear Patrol Reviews

Hot takes and in-depth reviews on noteworthy, relevant and interesting products. Read the Story

Note: Purchasing products through our links may earn us a portion of the sale, which supports our editorial team’s mission. Learn more here.

Affordable Commuter Bags From Timbuk2 are On Sale, But Not For Long

If you missed all the sales over Memorial Day weekend, you’re in luck. Over on Revzilla, you can save up to 30 percent on Timbuk2 commuter bags. Whether you walk, take the train or ride a bike — motorized or not — Timbuk2’s selection will have… your back all summer long (not sorry). All different styles are available at various price points, so we curated a few to make it a little easier as you settle into the short work week.

Parkside Laptop Backpack $69 $49

Tuck Pack Carbon Coated $99 $70

Stark Messenger Bag $160 $112

Especial Medio Laptop Backpack $179 $126
More Deals, Served Up Fresh Every Day

Deals, discounts and drops on products you actually care about and want. Curated by the Gear Patrol Editors. Start Saving

Note: Purchasing products through our links may earn us a portion of the sale, which supports our editorial team’s mission. Learn more here.