Interview: Tim Stevens

Tim Stevens of Engadget
If you like gadgets and tech, you’ll know the website Engadget. Famous for its obsessive coverage of everything new, it attracts a staggering six million readers every month. At the helm of this juggernaut is Editor-In-Chief Tim Stevens, who retains a semblance of sanity by donning his helmet and heading out of the city on his bike.

What was the first motorcycle you bought with your own money? It was a 1996 Yamaha Seca II, in red. I wanted something fast enough to keep me interested but not so fast as to get me incapacitated. I bought it in 2006 on Craig’s List from someone who’d bought it in ’98 or ’99 as a leftover and proceeded to put a couple-thousand miles on it before, apparently, losing interest. I loved that bike… until a Speed Triple (above) caught my eye a few years later…

What do you think is the most beautiful production motorcycle ever built? I have this thing with classic BMWs. I adore the look of the BMW R35, but I’d probably have to give the nod to the R32 (below) as most beautiful. I love the straight-shot frame from the head stock to the rear wheel, the beautifully striped tank slung underneath, and the overall simplicity of it all.

What motorcycle do you despise? Anything that makes more noise than power and wobbles along in front of me on a favorite, twisty road.

What is your idea of perfect happiness? Riding along on a dark, cool fall night with no light ahead of me, other than what’s coming from my projectors.

Zero electric motorcycle
Electric motorcycles: Yes or No? Yes! I’ve had the privilege to ride many: Brammos, Zeros (above), and even self-balancing single-wheeled contraptions (below). They’re all currently underpowered, but torquey and fun. There’s a lot to be said for instant throttle response, and as much as I love the sound of a screaming race motor, riding alone in almost total silence is a blissful experience. Riding for me is meditative, and an electric bike makes it even more-so.

Tim Stevens of Engadget
What is your favorite journey? There’s a route my wife and I take at least once a year, up around Lake George (below) in New York. It takes us about four or five hours to complete, so we usually try to be in the saddle around 6am and then stop for breakfast up in Ticonderoga, at the northern tip of the lake, before hopping back on our bikes to complete the loop. The roads aren’t universally glorious, but when they’re good they’re really good and the scenery is about as spectacular as you can get in the States.

Lake George, NY by motorcycle
Which ‘everyday’ modern bikes do you think will become future classics? The equivalent of the Honda CB750 or Moto Guzzi V7 Sport, if you like? I’m fond of Triumphs, and I’d like to think the Daytona, Speed, and Street triples will all be looked at favorably a few decades from now. It’s also hard to imagine that anything produced by Buell won’t have some serious classic status then too. (Buell RW750 below.)

Buell RW750
Who are your real-life motorcycling heroes? For modern riders, I have huge respect for Nicky Hayden. His 2006 championship was 100 percent brute effort against all odds and, while he’s obviously finding less success at Ducati, he doesn’t seem to have given up the fight. That said, in terms of true hero status, I’d have to say Joey Dunlop (below) is the prototypical man there.

Joey Dunlop
Are you optimistic for the future of motorcycling? Absolutely. I think over the next decade or so things could get a little boring for motorcycling in general – noise and emission regs are going to kill some of the fun. But, once electric bikes really hit their stride and battery tech improves we’re going to find ourselves presented with a selection of motorcycles with supernatural performance. I wonder, though, how long it’ll be until they start having true style.

What is your current state of mind? A bit frazzled, if I’m honest. Running Engadget is about three or four full-time jobs rolled into one and there is, sadly, only 24 hours in any given day. One still needs to find time to sleep… and occasionally go for a ride.