We don’t need much incentive to ride at J&P. But when one of the best bikes shows around and the fastest racers on two wheels roll into your neck-of-the-woods on the same weekend, you posse up and hit the road.  

For the sixth year running, Revival Cycles was hosting its Handbuilt Motorcycle Show in Austin, Texas. It’s a three-day celebration of motorcycle culture, from incredibly crafted custom bikes to raucous Super Hooligan racing. That same weekend, MotoGP rolls into town at Circuit of the Americas, and it’s the only time the fastest cats on two-wheels race on American soil. Then there’s the splendid roads that surround the city itself to sprinkle into the mix, the Texas Hill Country rife with some of the best stretches of asphalt in the state. As a motorcyclist, if that combination doesn’t get your blood boiling, check your pulse.

The menagerie of motorcycles gathering outside J&P’s offices for the indirect 300-mile-blast from Coppell down to Austin was as diverse as the characters riding them. Head honcho Zach Parham was ready to rock and roll on his BMW rNinet. Though it’s not your typical touring bike, its combination of sharp handling and ample power have made it an instant classic coming from the Bavarian marque. To give it more touring chops, he threw on a Puig Naked Retrovision Windscreen to help cut a swath through the Texas headwinds and stuffed just enough necessities to get through the weekend in his Kriega US-10/US-20 Drypack combo. J&P’s VP of Operations Anthony Todd rolled up on his Suzuki V-Strom 1000 eager to put some miles on his new ride. With his Strom decked out in a sharp-looking set of Givi Outback 48 liter panniers, I think Zach might have had a slight case of bag envy. Our marketing wizard, Sean Laughlin, arrived with the same eagerness as Todd because he, too, had just bought a new motorcycle, a Triumph Tiger 800 XC. The ride down to Austin would be its initial shakedown. Even though he’d owned it less than a week, Laughlin already had an SP Connect Moto Bundle for iPhone  mounted on its bars and was running nav through his phone so he could help keep us pointed in the right direction. Our resident go-fast guy Bryan Rastok was looking Top Gun in his X-Fourteen on his Yamaha Warrior, Shoei’s top-flight, racing-inspired helmet what you’d expect from someone who used to make a living spinning fast laps on AMA tracks. Mark McNichols and Robbie Barajas came down from our distribution center in Louisville, Kentucky, so we dug a Kawasaki Ninja 636 out of the garage for McNichols and shot over to Maverick Harley-Davidson to get some bikes for Barajas and myself. Harley and EagleRider teamed up a couple years back to bring motorcycle rentals out of most of its dealerships, and Maverick hooked us up with a 2019 Road King and 2019 Softail Low Rider, each with less than 10 miles on the odometer. J&P’s Creative Director Ryan Everett grabbed his pop’s Road King to make the run on, the sweet King decked out in high bars and custom pinstripes. Much to the amusement of our group, Everett’s bushy Grizzly Adams beard was blowing wildly in the wind beneath his Bell Bullit Helmet.

A chill hung in the springtime air as morning temps hovered in the mid-40s. Everybody bundled up tight as we battled Friday commuters, weaving through the matrix as we headed west toward Fort Worth. It was slow going for the most part, and throttle hands were itching for the opportunity to twist the grip and let our motorcycles stretch their legs. Outside the city we jumped on U.S. 281 and headed south. The sun slowly began warming up the day and towns became few and far between. Green carpeted the land as far as the eye could see as the area has seen more than its share of rain recently. Clusters of golden wildflowers lined the road, and the more traffic thinned, the more we sped up. Todd led the charge on his big V-Strom flanked by wingman Parham on his rNineT. Drivers repeatedly extended good old-fashioned Texas hospitality by sliding over to the shoulder to let our fast-moving group pass. We created quite the chorus, from the wailing of the Ninja’s Two Brothers Racing Slip-On to the drumming of the Warrior’s Vance & Hines pipes.

A Storm's cheeseburger and fries are just what the doctor ordered for a Texas-sized appetite. 

After a few hours of twisting grips we rolled into Burnet with empty tanks and empty bellies. The yellow sign of Storm’s Drive-In shone like a beacon for hungry travelers. Storm’s is a Texas institution, claimed to be a favorite of almighty Elvis himself, the old-fashioned drive-in carrying on the long-lost tradition of car hops bringing greasy grub to you curbside. Inside the restaurant, locals who likely eat there every other day asked us where we were from as our line of motorcycles parked out front stuck out amongst the dually trucks that otherwise surrounded the building. The burgers were right on time, the outsides caramelized to a crisp and sandwiched between a tasty bun, and a meaty two-handed treat was the just the tonic for a growling stomach.

Sitting outside the drive-in letting our lunch settle and the sun warm our skin, a crazy character on a clapped-out chopper rolled in wearing a Cheshire grin. Turns out it was Danger Dan, a big man with a Texas-sized personality. Danger Dan is an anachronism, a splitting image of bikers from back in the day, from his suicide-shifting scoot to his hard-partying ways. He’s also somewhat of a local legend, the Pecos Bill of choppers who broadcasts a weekly podcast from his shop in Tin Top or from wherever he may be on the road. Danger Dan happened to be headed down to the Handbuilt, too, so he joined our posse and we hit the road.

Danger Dan is a throwback to the good ol' days of being a biker. 

Not far out of Burnet we turned off the beaten path and onto Ranch Road 2341. The two-lane road quickly began a rhythmic rise and fall and turns tightened. Bluebonnets mixed with prickly pears as we rambled on the outskirts of Buchanan Lake. Construction had left precarious patches of gravel and dirt in corners but the twisted stretch was just too tempting to back off the throttle. Todd set a spirited pace, the skills he honed in a past life as a stunt rider coming in handy, Danger Dan hot on his heels. Watching Double D do the boot-scootin’ boogie was a real treat, one arm hangin’ high, the other reaching low, his feet dancing as they shifted and braked, his chopper cutting smooth arcs through tight turns. If you would have told me a ratted-out chopper would be keeping pace with a V-Strom 1000 and an rNineT the way Danger was I’d have thought you had one too many puffs of Willie’s wacky stuff. But lo-and-behold, there he was, hanging loose like a big kahuna on the Banzai Pipeline, a big shit-eating grin spread ear to ear.

The pace didn’t let up as we shot over to E. Farm to Market Road 1431. The stretch was cleaner and the curvy stuff was a blend of technical turns and big sweepers. I tested the lean angle of the Road King on more than one occasion, making sure the floorboards were properly broken in. I see why the hills around Austin are a favorite with motorcyclists as it’s easy to find your riding Zen here. We topped off the day with a romp on Lime Creek Road, another popular stretch with local riders, but the road was expectedly clogged with Friday traffic and passing opportunities were few and far in between.  

By the time we rolled into a gas station on the edge of town, Danger Dan had squeezed just about every drop out of his tiny tank. Everybody’s eyes were wide with the excitement a good ride brings and the adrenaline rush still swelled in our hearts. Danger said he had buddies on Dynas and FXRs that didn’t ride that hard through the hills. Coming from someone who can sling an old school rigid chopper around like he does, we take that as the ultimate compliment.