The Sunday Social with The Missenden Flyer
For this weeks Sunday Social we spoke with YouTube motovlogger The Missenden Flyer about his YouTube rise and new bikes.
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What’s for breakfast at the café?
“It’s got to be the fully fry up. I call it the gut buster or the fat boy special.”
What’s your mission on a Sunday ride?
“Blow the cobwebs away, I guess. To be honest I’ve never really thought about going out with a specific objective in mind – I just like going out in the fresh air. I’ve got two or three different rides I do in my local area that I know exactly how long they’ll take. I’ve got 15 minute, 30 minute, one hour and two hour routes. It’s really predictable and maybe a bit sad but that’s just to blow the cobwebs away.”
What are your essentials on a Sunday ride?
“These days there’s usually a camera somewhere obviously because of the YouTube channel, but that’s not so much of a problem because everything’s so small now. Other than that, there’s an abundance of security stuff due to the way bike crime is at the minute. And some money of course, for the breakfast!”
What do you think to all the new bike news from Milan?
“It’s amazing! This time of year is like Christmas. Just when you’re getting to grips with all the amazing bikes that are out there another lot comes out. How they come up with this new stuff every year is amazing. The 790 Duke looks fantastic and the three wheel Yamaha does. The H2-based tourer sounds like an incredible feat of engineering. The problem I have now is that there are no bad ones out there, so people wonder why I’m always saying good things about them!”
Well, 99% of new bikes are good.
“Yeah, well, you and I could name one bike that isn’t!”
Which one are you most excited about?
“The 790 KTM. I rode the 690 and that was a fantastic bike so I’ll be interested to see how the 790 goes since it’s a twin.”
You had a 1290 Super Duke for a while, didn’t you?
“I did. It was amazing, but more bike than I could handle to be honest. I’ve got a bit of a thing at the moment about horsepower and the fact that you don’t need all that horsepower if you’re just a normal road rider. Although I’ve got a sportsbike and stuff they’re all way more capable than I am. I don’t think there’s any need to have anything more than a Street Triple, really. Even that’s probably more than you need!”
I agree, I think. It’s nice to have the abundance of power for when you want to go a bit mad, but 99% of the time it’s completely unnecessary.
“Absolutely. I’m borrowing a Ducati Multistrada 950 at the moment and that thing just flies. Now they’ve just announced the Multistrada 1260 which is an absolutely nuts amount of power. I’m sure it’s lovely, but the baby one is plenty fast enough. I don’t know what I’d do with more power. I appreciate all the engineering and technology that goes into them and I think it’s great that these bikes exist, but for a rider of my level they’re beyond what I need. And they’re expensive.”
It’s getting a bit silly with capacities now – your middleweight bikes are almost as big as the top range bikes from the last generation.
“Yeah, it’s all taken a big step up.”
A Multistrada 950 isn’t a baby Multistrada at all, it’s just not quite as fast.
“It’s crazy that you talk about a 950 as a medium-sized bike, and the new 765 Street Triple. I was musing the other day about what would be the minimum cc that you could get away with as a road rider and it still be practical. I reckon that 300cc is all you actually need. I know it’s always nice to have power, but with a 300cc machine you can overtake stuff on the road easily, keep up o the motorway and the bike’s nice and lightweight. I was riding my Honda CRF250L which I thought was almost powerful enough but not quite.”
I think you’re about right there. I’ve spent some time riding the Kawasaki Versys-X 300 recently and it was enough. It wasn’t exciting by any means but it did everything I wanted.
“Exactly, at the end of the day we ride bikes for thrills but when you go to the other extreme and look at bikes with 200bhp it’s just nuts. Especially when they’re costing £20,000 or more.”
How’s the YouTube channel been going lately?
“Great! I started it a while ago but I only started doing it in earnest about a year ago when I gave up full time work. I’ve started putting more time into the YouTube channel than I ever did with a job! It’s been great – I’m doing it because it’s fun and it’s opened up so many opportunities that I didn’t think I’d ever get, like manufacturer’s giving me bikes to test and things. The internet is a big place and in the grand scheme of YouTube channels mine is only very small, but in the UK motorcycle class it’s quite sizeable. I’m getting something like 27,000 views a day which blows my mind. In the last year I’ve had 12 million views which is just nuts. I’m just a fella in a study knocking out a few videos!”
What prompted you to start a YouTube channel in the first place?
“I’ve always been a keen photographer and I love skiing, flying and riding bikes. When GoPro cameras became popular a few years ago I thought I’d make a few videos to share with my family and friends, which I did. The bike videos got a bit of traction, so after a while I decided to just focus on bikes. That was three years ago. I usually do three a week now.”
It must be quite a task doing all that on your own?
“It can be, yeah, but at the end of the day I’m doing it for fun and I’m enjoying it. If I stop enjoying it then I’ll stop doing it.”
And now it’s got to the point where manufacturers are taking notice.
“Yeah, that’s fantastic. It’s flattering to be asked by them, but at the same time I’m not a trained journalist so I don’t think I can go along to some events I get invited to and do a proper job, you know? I wasn’t going to go to the Triumph Bobber Black unveiling, but then they said there’d be free beer! But times are changing. It seems in all industries now social media has much more clout than anything.”
Have you just taken delivery of a Triumph Tiger?
“I had it about a month ago. It’s a great bike – that 800 engine is just great. It was the XR, which is a lovely bike. It’s just missing the beak from the off-road version. It’s absolutely splendid, it’s not particularly heavy for an adventure bike and comfort-wise it feels very much like an R1200GS. It’s been around for a number of years so it is due a refresh and I look forward to seeing the new one at Motorcycle Live.”
What’s your opinion on the technology we’re seeing on bikes now?
“On the one hand I love the idea of it, but on the other it can get in the way of the actual riding. Sometimes I’ll ride a more basic bike and think its great fun because I’m not messing about wondering how to change engine modes and stuff. A lot of the time I can’t tell the difference with engine modes anyway!”
I find the same with a lot of them.
“I’m glad you said that because I thought it was only me. You definitely can tell the difference on some bikes, like the Super Duke, but I can’t tell the difference on the Tiger 800. The TFT screens that are everywhere now – I think they look great, but I wonder if they’re going to be a bit of a distraction. If you’ve got to scroll to a completely different screen to check your tyre pressures or whatever then I think it’s going to make it slightly more dangerous. There is a certain something about going back to basics that’s just nice as well. It’ll be interesting to see where we’re going to be 20 years down the line.”
Self-riding, self-balancing bikes probably.
“Yeah! Electric as well.”
I think self-riding bikes defeat the object of bikes a little bit, though.
“Have you actually seen some self-riding bikes on the horizon?”
Yeah, Yamaha have the MOTOROiD, which they unveiled at the Tokyo Motor Show.
“That’s just nuts, there’s no need for that. I suppose it’s quite handy coming back from the pub!”
I guess that’s another thing that needs to change with self-driving vehicles. Does somebody need to be responsible for that car?
“One of these self-driving car manufacturers did a test where the car was about to have a collision and it had to make the choice between a bike and a car. It chose the bike because it would have been less damaging. That’s a bit frightening.”
That’s an ongoing debate I think. If a crash is inevitable, does the system choose to save you or a pedestrian.
“It’s a fascinating area. On the other hand, given my understanding driverless cars have accidents very rarely anyway. I guess we’d all get super-cheap insurance because there’d be no accidents. How great would it be to go out and dial your car to pick you up? I guess the capacity of the roads would be increased as well because these cars would all be driving around sort of in convoy at sensible speeds. It will be interesting to see where our fun on motorbikes fits in with all that. Bikes would cause havoc!”
How was your recent trip to Gran Canaria?
“It was fantastic. I went out there with a company called Canary Motorcycle Tours. It’s run by an English couple and they provide the kit, bike, routes, hotel, everything. It’s biking weather all year there – in the evening it was 21C which was lovely. The scenery is absolutely stunning – there are parts that look like the Arizona desert, and there are bits that look like the Black Forest. I look forward to going back as soon as possible. If you get itchy feet over winter get out there and do that.”
Do you do quite a lot of trail riding then?
“I bought the CRF250L to have a go at it but I’m not very good. I should go on a course, I suppose. I’ve enjoyed it when I’ve done it and I really like the CRF250. I thought I might to a bit of off-roading when I bought my R1200GS, but the thing is so big, heavy and expensive I just don’t want to drop I and break it. The little Honda is light weight, cheap, it’s reliable, great fun and it’s got just about enough. It’s my highest value bike in terms of fun per pound. There’s no way the GS is four times as much fun as the CRF. The CRF Rally upped the game a bit and that’s a fantastic machine. If I was going to go round the world I’d take a CRF250 Rally.”
If you were going to add to your stable what would you buy?
“I don’t really know. I’m missing a cruiser, I guess. I love the look of the XDiavel, although I’m not really a cruiser man. Harleys and things like that don’t really appeal to me from a riding point of view. I’ve never ridden a Harley but it’s something I’d love to do. In my mind, I’ve got a trip planned for 2020 across the U.S, and that will have to be on a Harley. I’m not anti-Harley – I do wave at Harley riders! Some of them just look a bit too big and unwieldy to me.”
They do handle really well, though. The BMW K1600B for example.
“Yeah, that bike handles really well, but every time I stopped I was a bit worried it would topple over and I would be in a whole heap of financial trouble. I guess if you drop them they don’t go far because of the panniers! I don’t know why a bike manufacturer hasn’t developed the technology yet for a little stabiliser to shoot out if it thinks you’re going to fall over. Or even a little airbag that pops out and catches it if you drop it. I should patent that!”
I guess we’re getting to the point where they aren’t needed because manufacturers are now developing bikes that can balance themselves.
“That’s just witchcraft.”
Have you ridden a three wheeler?
“I haven’t, no. I’ve only just started riding scooters in the last couple of months. I’m hooked! Going back to your earlier question about what I might buy next, a scooter would be great. I’d love to try the three-wheel scooters. The Piaggio ones stay upright as well, don’t they?”
Yeah, you press a button to lock it when you’re coming to a stop and then you don’t need to put your feet down. I find a lot of bikers are dismissive of scooters, but they’re great. Neevesy owns one!
“Really?! Well, they tick all the boxes for practical transport. Why wouldn’t you have a scooter if you live in a town? It’s much better than sitting on the train or in the car.”
I guess the bike theft will put some people off.
“Yeah, and also the weather in this country isn’t great. There’s just a stigma attached to scooters in this country for some reason, which is a shame. I rode the Honda X-ADV – that was amazing! It was expensive though – the big scooters cost as much as motorcycles!”
So what’s in the future for The Missenden Flyer?
“Who knows! Hopefully I’ll get to ride some of the fantastic new bikes. After that I want to do more trips and tours – that’s what I really love. I’d love to do the west coast of Ireland and some more European stuff. I haven’t actually done the Alps on a bike, so maybe next year I’ll do that.”