The Fast Stuff - Mat Oxley
Lets get this out there as soon as possible. If you have any interest whatsoever in bike racing, you will love this book. Its really as simple as that. Mat Oxley proves with every word on every page why he's regarded as one of this country's premier motorcycle journalists. What you get here is 470+ pages of insight and stories from the pinnacle of bike racing with articles about the modern riders like Stoner and Rossi, with interviews with legends like Schwantz, Doohan and Rainey. If you do one thing this weekend, hunt this down, buy it and read it. Its fantastic.
the limit - michael cannell
Okay so this has very little to do with bikes or bike racing, but its still a fantastic and interesting read. It tells the story of the build up to and the fateful penultimate race of the 1961 F1 season at Monza. Phil Hill, the American was fighting for the championship with his German team mate Count Wolfgang Von Trips. Both driving for Enzo Ferrari, one would win the title, the other would loose his life. The book provides a great history into the glamorous sport that killed so many drivers and gives a great insight into both Hill and Von Trips and shows the very different journeys they both made to get on the grid on the 10th September 1961.
It is worth noting that Von Trips actually make his debut as a racer in 1950 on a 500cc BMW motorbike, so maybe the book is a good fit here afterall.
stealing speed - mat oxley
I have always liked Mat Oxley's columns in Bike magazine as they are always interesting and educational. What makes them poignant is that he's been there and done that having won a TT. This book tells the true story of international espionage, defection and what it took to win at all costs . Quite a short book, but it's a real page turner and is a very good read
that near death thing -
Bonjour! Is this italy? - Kevin Turner
This is an unusual book. In fact, 'book' isn't really a fair description. It's more like a photographic diary of one mans month long trip to Italy and back after being made redundant. Its 140 pages and you can read the whole thing in an afternoon. I know that sounds a bit blunt and you probably think that I'm going to be cruel about it, but you're way off the mark. This is a charming little book filled with some nice touches and some half decent photos. Deep down we would all love to pack up our stuff and just bugger off for a month, living each day as it comes and this is just what Kevin Turner did. Not an original idea by any means, but still an enjoyable read. www.haplessbiker.com
jupiter's travels - ted simon
In the late 70's before Ewan and Charlie, before mobile phones when the world was a much bigger place, Ted Simon chose to ride around the world on a Triumph Tiger 100. What follows is a fascinating story of exploration, discovery, new people and new places. What makes this story so amazing, is that he did it alone and thankfully Ted was able to adequately and expertly document the journey.
The case for working with you hands - matthew crawford
Originally available in the US as 'Shop Class as Soulcraft: an inquiry into the value of work', I first knew about this book when Sarah bought it for me as she knew I'd find it interesting. The next month Colin Overland of RiDE magazine gave it a hundred word review and was full of praise for this read. The basic gist of the book is that the author, a very intelligent and talented man with a PhD in political philosophy, jacked in a very well paid job to become a self employed bike mechanic. Many people have compared this book to the book 'Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance' by Robert M Pirsig and Matthew's book goes deep into his own life experiences and how they have affected his chosen path. It is really excellently written, but I found at times that is was really rather deep and was subsequently difficult to drop into and out of. Ultimately the book has very little to do which the fact he's a mechanic but more to do with the happiness he found in blue collar work. There's a lovely little moment in the book when he reflects on the feelings of the rider whose bike he just fixed as he rides away. This is well worth dedicating some time to.
Similar to Haynes manuals, the Clymer manuals are American and do pretty much the same job and their UK counterparts. Again all the information needed for home maintenance is present, but is shown and explained in a slightly different way. The main difference is that there are a lot more photos and diagrams which help explain things. Again, not available for every bike, but if they make one for your bike, at £25 they are a little pricey, but well worth a purchase.
tea with bin laden's brother - Simon Roberts
Simon Roberts isn't your usual kind of motorcycle adventure writer. He stands alongside the more traditional writers in the fact that he's an illustrator by trade and that is reflected in the book. What he produced was a fascinating and total original way to document his journey. Leaving Bristol on a BMW R100GS what followed was a seven month journey to Kathmandu. I will leave it to you to buy a copy and find out his reasons and why the book has the best title for any travel book ever written. This is my favourite of all the motorcycle books, possibly all the books I own and that includes The Watchmen
brands hatch - chas parker
Another coffee table book, but unlike others in my collection, this is really rather nice. The contents have very little on motorbikes, just an eight page chapter towards the end, but its still very interesting for those who like motorsport. At the back of the book there is a breakdown of all the bends, which is a nice touch, albeit of little practical use. Brands will always have a special place in my heart, despite crashing at Paddock Hill bend, as it's where I went to watch motor racing for the first time as a child. Over a few years I watched endurance racing, followed by saloon cars and then trucks. It was also the first place I ever did a trackday. In fact this book was part of that very Christmas present, with the ticket concealed within. I didn't care that it was February and freezing, I hate a great time and was hooked.
Bike is currently the UK's best selling motorcycle monthly. Produced by Bauer media, it covers pretty much all of the aspects of motorcycling and embraces them all. At some point Bike will comment on and review all the important motorcycles that the factories make. In the past, there were some great regular features such as Mat Oxley's and Rupert Paul's monthly columns, which were clearly written by riders who are extremely passionate about what they do. It used to be a sort of Top Gear team for motorcycles and in paper form, but is now aiming to adequately cover all aspects of biking life, from off road, to adventures and sportsbikes. An excellent magazine.
The tagline for PB is 'Owning, riding and modifying great bikes' which pretty much explains the whole magazine. Although it does spend some time on the current crop of sportsbikes, it concentrates and indeed celebrates bikes that have always pushed the boundaries of performance, with a certain level of immaturity and cheek, which makes it great fun to read.
I have to confess that this is my least favourite of the magazines that I read, but that doesn't mean its a bad magazine and I do enjoy reading it. It's still an excellent magazine that fills a niche in the market and is aimed squarely at new and very experienced riders. It's the only magazine that gives extensive reviews on kit, which are priceless. Each issue has many articles documenting living day to day with our bikes and always contains at least one story of 'adventure'. There are always a few pages dedicated to new bikes and each issue will concentrate on a great second hand bike explaining what to look for.
Since I have only been riding since 2007, I have no experience of any of the vast majority of the bikes that appear inside PS. Concentrating on the sportsbike from the 70s, 80's and 90's, the Zx7R has appeared in a few issues. For me this magazine is like a history lesson and one which I don't want to throw a sicky for.
hitting the apex
So, Hitting the Apex is the new (for 2015) MotoGP documentary from Mark Neale, director of Fastest etc. produced and narrated by Brad Pitt. Let me say this straight away; this film isn't aimed at fans of MotoGP. Fans of MotoGP will of course enjoy it, but its structured in such a way that you don't need to know anything about it before you start. Fastest does something very similar. The film itself talks about six riders, Rossi, Lorenzo, Pedrosa, Stoner, Simoncelli and Marquez and everything that is shown or mentioned is, well, frankly, common knowledge to fans of racing. The talking heads are good and the footage is excellent, especially on the Blu Ray Hi Def release. Personally, I enjoyed it, but I did have two issues with the film itself. Firstly is its length. At 2hr and 13mins, its too long and secondly, I don't feel that showing the footage of Marco being killed is a good move. I remember watching it live and it was horrible then and time hasn't dulled the experience.
Mark Neale has now made a succession of documentaries about MotoGP and this one is closest to the Doctor, The Tornado and the Kentucky Kid. If i'm being brutal, Hitting the Apex does nothing new. It shows bikes going fast, bikes crashing and has interviews with the riders and staff associated with MotoGP. Did I enjoy it? Of course I did, but its sadly, not the most refreshing concept anymore.
out of nothing
This is the story of four men from the Pacific Northwest of the United States who venture down to the Bonneville Salt flats to ride their bikes as fast as they can. The premise really is that simple and the movie is wonderful. Its simply told and beautifully shot.
I was watching it knowing that these four guys, were my kind of people and they are no tinpot group of builders, far from it, these four guys are artists and its made me want to go to Bonneville even more. Not to race, just to watch, although I fear that if I go once, I may have to return each and every year afterwards....which could be expensive from over here in the UK.
I urge you to make just 90mins free in your day, hunt down the movie and watch it. Its motorcycling at its purest and its simply, brilliant. You won't be disappointed.
Road is structured very much like the film TT: Closer to the Edge and documents the story of two sets of Dunlop brothers; Joey and Robert, Michael and William, but in all truth, this film is more about Joey and Robert and their tragic deaths that it is about the younger siblings.
There have already been lots of different productions that have documented the career of Joey Dunlop, the most successful and popular road racer the world have ever know, but Road goes further as it explores the relationship with, and impact on his brother Robert and subsequently his Nephews Michael and William.
Juxtaposing footage from previous North West 200 and Isle of Man TT races the screen is filled with images of the Dunlops racing down the familiar streets interspersed with photos and interviews with family and friends.
The first half of the film is very much a positive memoir of what the original brothers achieved, but once it gets to the midway point the film takes us down the darker path and shows us some of the consequences of when things go wrong.
For me, the most poignant piece of footage is the footage shot of Robert Dunlop during practice for the 2008 North West 200. You see him leave the start line with William in tow and as he heads around the course it appears that he is one with the machine and the course, floating along. He gradually picks up speed leaving William behind, who unbeknownst to him, was desperately trying to catch his father. The helicopter follows him down the fast straight and we watch the rear lock and throw William from the bike into the path of another rider at well over 100mph. Its a sequence that is both beautiful and horrific and it has a tremendous impact.
For anybody with a passing interest, Road is well worth seeing and is a testament to the Dunlop family. What happened after 2012 is now well known, as this was the year that Michael emerged from his family shadow to possible usher in the next Dunlop domination of the sport. Only time will tell.
Faster is the 2003 documentary by film maker Mark Neale narrated by Ewan Mcgregor and uses film from the 2001 and 2002 GP seasons. In 2001 all the bikes that competed in the top class were 500cc two stokes. By all accounts these bikes were evil, but they were fast. Very fast. For the 2002 season the rules were changed allowing four stoke machines up to 990cc to line up on the grid. This fascinating film covers this moment in history, but also gives great coverage of the infamous Biaggi/Rossi rivalry during this time. The film is very well shot and although ten years old at the time of writing, hasn't dated badly at all. Neale makes great use of some of the onboard footage that was available helping to highten the tension keeping the excitement going. One of the films strongest elements is the interview snippets with riders past and present. Riders that include Kenny Roberts, Randy Mamola, Mick Dooghan, Wayne Rainey, Kevin Schwantz, Valentino Rossi, Gary McCoy and Barry Sheene all give an insight into what it takes to be a rider. Kenny Roberts at one point saying that if riders got it wrong 'they could be seriously killed', which although a strange phrase, simply explains the dangers.
Half way through the movie we are introduced to a baby faced rider by the name of John Hopkins and this gives a great insight into what its like for a young rider at the start of his professional career, thrown in at the deep end and being asked to ride one of the fastest and most dangerous race machines in the world. Overall this is an excellent film, much better than the Fastest, which is effectively an up to date equivalent.
The King is dead, long live the King. For all intents and purposes, Fastest is pretty much the same film as Faster. The only real difference are the players. Again written and directed by Mark Neal, with Ewan McGregor again providing the voice, Fastest covers the end of the 2009 and all of the 2010 MotoGP season and thanks for the wonder of Blu Ray, all in glorious high definition. The 2010 season was one of wonder and was quite possibly the unofficial passing of the baton between Rossi and Lorenzo, who were team mates at the time. At the time of writing, just before the start of the 2013 season, Rossi has returned to Yamaha after two torrid seasons at Ducati, where he will again partner the now two time MotoGP champion Jorge Lorenzo. Only time will tell is Rossi is good enough to consistently challenge for race wins, so therefore this film could very well have documented one of the most important times for modern motorcycle racing. There is little doubt that Rossi is one of, if not the best rider of all time, but this 2010 season could have quite easily been his last season at his very best. Its very easy to view this film as Neale's love letter to Rossi, but I think that to make this kind of film, about this sport, Rossi would have to be a major part of it. There are snippets from other riders like the ever entertaining Colin Edwards, Ben Spies, 2006 champion Nicky Hayden, Randy De Puniet and the late Marco Simoncelli, the thrilling Italian rider who lost his life at Sepang in 2011. Again the footage is first rate and the pacing of the film superb, but sadly for fans of the sport, there is nothing new here. There are no real surprises and no new sides to the story. Ultimately this has been made for the general public, where a film like The Doctor, The Tornado and the Kentucky Kid was made by bike fans for bike fans and is able to give a far greater depth to the proceedings. This is not to say Fastest is bad, far from it. It remains a very entertaining way to spend 100+ minutes of anybodies time.
The doctor, the tornado and the kentucky kid
Although this film is entitled The Doctor, The Tornado and the Kentucky Kid, which is actually a pretty cool title, harping back to classic Westerns, by all rights it should have been called Hopper, The Tornado and the Kentucky Kid as Rossi’s input, or indeed coverage is reduced down to a fraction of sound bites that seem to have been recorded on the telephone. Mark Neale again employs Ewan McGregor to provide the voice for a film that documents the 2005 US Moto GP race held at Laguna Seca between the 8th and 10th July marking the first time since 1994, that the US held a race for the top flight.
We follow Colin Edwards, John Hopkins, Nicky Hayden and to some extent, as previously explained, Valentino Rossi as they prepare, practice, qualify and ultimately race on that hot July day in 2005. Unlike Faster, Mark Neale’s previous film, the directors already assumes that the audience has a certain amount of inside knowledge, so doesn’t waste time on some of the technological nor political issues, but concentrates more on the riders themselves, the highs and indeed the lows. Throughout the film each rider lets the audience see and tries to help it understand the bike, the track and the race.
As this was filmed during summer in California, the film looks great, especially the yellow and black Yamaha race bikes of Edwards and Rossi, which in my opinion, sport the best looking livery of any modern race machinery. I won’t give away the result, but ultimately the actual result of the race doesn’t matter and any quick web search would reveal the outcome, but this film is still very much worth spending the hundred plus minutes to watch and enjoy. What is it they say? Life’s a journey not a destination. Well the same can be said for any race weekend and this one was no different.
motogp 2003 official review
When you break down the MotoGP season of 2003, Only three things really happened. Rossi won his last title with Honda (before jumping ship to Yamaha for 2004), Ducati returned to GP racing after a gap of 30 years and the sport saw the sad passing of Daijiro Kato after he lost control in the first race at Suzuka. Rossis win is well covered, as it Ducati's return, but the death of Kato is pretty much just skimmed over. An extra on the DVD package is entitled 'A tribute to Daijiro Kato' but this is just a very poor rehash of the footage seen in the main feature. All things considered, this could have been and indeed should have been a much better DVD.
motogp 2004 official review
Rossi, Biaggi, Gibernau, Checa, Roberts Jnr, Melandri, Capirossi, Hayden, Barros, Edwards et al.. The line up for the 2004 reads like a who's who of bike racing. Some riders on the way up, some on the way down, but the 2004 season is most notable for the way in which Rossi helped reverse the fortunes of Yamaha and help make them the one of the most dominant teams of the decade. This DVD release has lots of bad reviews, mainly for its lack of actual racing. I will agree the DVD isn't the best, but there are some good points. The showing of each Pole setting lap is a nice touch for example and there is a nice selection of extras too, mostly just some PR stuff done during the year. However there is one 'marmite' factor to this release and that is the race commentary, which is supplied by Ryder and Moody from Eurosport. Now both men clearly know their stuff, but personally, I've never been able to really embrace their respective styles.
long way round
This is the documentary series that ultimately re-launched Charles Boorman's career. Running around ten hours, its shows Charlie and best friend, some actor called Ewan McSomethingorother as they plan and execute a mammoth biking trip that leads them around the world 'the long way round' from London to New York via Europe and Russia. This really is an excellent TV series showing the highs and the lows. Not just for fans of bikes, but for anybody who is a fan of good storytelling and great television.
motovudu - the dark art of performance
Before I start writing my review I just want make one thing totally clear. In my mind, there is no substitute for actually practical lessons. It is easier, quicker and in terms of motorcycling far safer to be actually physically shown and have actions subsequently explained to you in a systematic way. For example, you can't learn to hit a golf ball, just by reading about it in a book. With that in mind, Motovudu is....errrmmm...interesting. Simon Crafer clearly knows his stuff and remains in love with all aspects of motorcycling and the production is really, really slick with some exceptionally lovely visuals that are on par with some of the slo-mo shots from the TT Blu Rays. The disc is broken down into two sections, the first, the instruction, breaks down track riding into each of its individual elements. Its a lot to take in, but those of us who ride on track will be very familiar with the principles. The second part is a 50min Motovudu film, which is ultimately a collection of talking head interviews with Simon Crafar and a few other riders. This second part is reasonable well made, but once you've seen it, I very much doubt you'd feel the need to ever watch it again. Would I recommend it? Yes, but only if you watch/use it in collaboration with some one 2 one training like that supplied by the California Superbike School. If you think this film hold all the secrets to riding fast and safe and is all you need to be a track god, then you are going to end up in the gravel on the first turn I'm afraid.
parallel world - nick sanders
Review coming soon
by any means
Review coming soon
Review coming soon
the barry sheene story
Review coming soon
tt: a film documentary
Review coming soon
sons of anarchy - season 1
The best way to describe the Sons of Anarchy would be to say its the Sopranos crossed with Easy Rider. We're introduced to the members of SAMCRO (Sons of Anarchy Motorcycle Club Redwood Original) across the season, but series focuces on Jax Teller (UKs Charlie Hunnam) who is the son of one of the founders, but now the stepson of the club's President Clay played excellently by Ron Pearlman. Jax's world takes a dramatic change when he becomes a father himself and finds an unprinted book written by his father. As the club tries to balance its control of the small town of Charming, the FBI try to bring the club to it's knees. The first season is very well written (the same people made The Shield), acted and is very well made
sons of anarchy - season 3
After buying the first two seasons on DVD, I got the next seasons on Blu Ray and quality of the image and sound is excellent. The upgrade in quality really shines through and really suits the scenary of season three, where SAMCO find themselves dealing with the Ireland chapter of the club. Without wanting to spoil the ending of Season 2, the club have to leave the country to get back what was taken. More secrets are revealed and Gemma gets some really great storylines and we meet her father, played with great subtlety by Hal Holbrook. Jax's relationship with the FBI takes some interesting turns and the clubs relationship with the Myans becomes more business than conflict. In a great peice of television we also find out the history between Tig and Kozik, played by Kenny Johnson
I'm biased. I love my motorbikes and I love motorbike racing, so realistically this review may be unfair. Compressing the 2010 British Superbike Championships into 90mins, the film manages to keep the pace going, but it does get repetitive, with the races passing at a rate of knots. Its is nicely filmed and uses footage and commentary from the very knowledgeable chaps at Eurosport, which any motorbike fan will enjoy and sadly this is ultimately the film's undoing. There is nothing here that a non bike fan will like. There I've said it. Sorry, but there really isn't. It concentrates on four riders. Tommy Hill, Josh Brooks, Stuart Ellison and Gary Mason. Again if you've followed BSB, you already know the results, but the film does try and give you glimpses of the family behind the scenes to give some idea of what else needs to be done, but realistically, there just isn't enough there. I enjoyed this film, but it is really a season review with some footage of loved ones chucked in for good measure. A true Marmite film, you will either love it or loathe it
tt - 2007
Review coming soon
tt - 2009
Now this is a seriously polished package and the first TT to come out in Blu Ray, resulting in an image that looks amazing throughout. Thankfully Keith Huewen and Richard Nichols were replaced by the pairing of Jamie Witham and Steve Parrish, with Matt Roberts acting as the programmes narrator. So what about the racing? The 2009 season is often forgotten about, especially after the results and alternative coverage of the 2010, just look at Closer to the Edge for example, but this season had it all. Disaster, good luck, bad luck, first time winners and a underdog winning the Senior. Looking back at his overall form (I write this before the 2015 season) it was also Guy Martin's best overall chance of winning a TT. At four hours, all on one disc, extremely highly recommended.
tt - 2011
After a few dry years, the modern day King of the mountain returned in 2011. After the extremely one sided 2010 season, this year the prizes were shared quite nicely among the top riders, which made for some good racing. The coverage, again, was as you would expect, very good, with great visuals and a knowledgeble commentary team. Thankfully Milky Quayle was replaced by Steve Plater and joined the entertaining pairing of Jamie Witham and Steve Parrish, who continue to pair off well with each other. The package is pretty good with this edition, again, being a Blu-Ray and DVD set, but for me there were two issues that niggled. The first was the un-skipable advert for the TT Laps DVD at the start of the Blu-Ray, which is fine if you're going to sit and watch all four plus hours in one go, but if like me, you watch a few races at a time, then this quickly grates. Secondly, about half way through the programme, the sounds goes about a second out of synch. You only notice this when the riders are being interviewed at the end, but this is basic stuff.
bsb: 2007 behind the scenes
Review coming soon
Co-produced by Knievel fan and in a way, spiritual successor, Johnny Knoxville of Jackass fame, this film charts Evel's rise from small town America to his meteoric rise to stardom, his fall from grace, resurgence and them ultimately his passing. When I was a kid, I missed the whole Evel Knievel thing, although I did have the stunt cycle and therefore knew who he was, but growing up I knew he was a big deal and in the time before the web, the truth about the man wasn't readily available.
In short, Evel Knievel was a asshole. A really nasty man who made lots of money putting his life on the line and this film documents that perfectly.
With some really compelling interview segments with friends, family and fans, there is still clearly love and admiration for the man. The film stitches footage from various sources into the narrative and fleshes out the story and is very well made and is certainly worth a watch.
Knievel was a true pioneer in entertainment, showmanship and is arguably the grandfather in extreme sports achieving some amazing things during his lifetime, which is what makes it so sad to hear the truth about the man he really was. The title 'Being Evel' really does work both ways.
SBK 2002 season review
The 2002 World Superbike title was all about two riders; Troy Bayliss and Colin Edwards, both of whom were at the top of their game. Bayliss on the Ducati 998 and Edwards piloting the Honda SP-2. The racing was good, especially the two races at Monza and what Bayliss did in the first race at Silverstone was unreal; fifth after falling..twice. The supporting characters are names that echo through the halls of greats; Hodgson, Walker, Toseland, Haga, Bostrom, Chili, Xaus, hell there's even a young Broc Parkes is in there somewhere.
The quality of the DVD isn't fantastic and is shown in the 4:3 ratio. Commentary is from Parish and Cox and I know they are a very divisive pairing, but personally I prefer them to Moody and Ryder who were on MotoGP duty at the time.
SBK 2003 SEASON REVIEW
Okay so between the 2002 and 2003 season, arguably the three best, or most well known riders Bayliss, Edwards and Haga all left WSBK. Ducati introduced the new 999, a bike so much more powerful than the competition it wasn't funny and we get the introduced to the Foggy Petronas FP1 a bike that was under powered from the start. So the 2003 season is pretty much about Hodgson vs Xaus and from the first two races you can see where it was going. There are a few surprising results thrown in, but nobody was going to stop Hodgson on the 999. Shame he got such a shitheap when he went over to MotoGP. Commentary is again by Cox and Parish, with the exception of the Laguna round, where Shane Byrne makes an appearance. Speaking of Byrne, the Brands Hatch round is epic.
SBK 2004 SEASON REVIEW
Unlike the 2003 season, 2004 was wide, wide open. Reigning champ Hodgson had been lured away by a MotoGP seat, which left British rider James Toseland to take one of the two empty seats at the factory Fila Ducati team. Unlike 2003, where there were only two 999s on the grid, for 2004 they dominated, filling well over half the grid, with riders such like Haga, McCoy and Haslam in with a shot. Two new bikes appeared on the grid in 2004 to; the revised Kawasaki ZX-10R, which didn't do anything and the new 1000rr FireBlade which took several victories with Chris Vermeulen on board. After all the great racing, it came down to the final round where team mates Toseland and Regis Laconi fought for the title. The disc is good and at 224mins, is plenty long enough. Parrish and Cox are replaced on commentary duties by the hyperactive Jonathan Green and James Haydon, with Steve Plater filling in for the final round.
SBK 2005 SEASON REVIEW
Following the dominance of Ducati and the twins over the previous years, 2005 saw the return of the Japanese inline Fours. In 2004 Honda started to race the CBR1000RR and in 2005 both Suzuki and Yamaha returned with factory teams, but to give you some idea of the changes on the horizon, Chilli, a devout Ducati man, rode the Honda in 2005. The racing was good, especially in the latter half of the season, but the result of the championship was in no doubt after the few few rounds, with Suzuki and Troy Corser dominating. 2005 was clearly the year of the fours and Ducati needed something, or more accurately someone special to return them to winning ways in 2006.
closer the edge
The 2010 Isle of Man TT races was one of the most covered events in recent years. Not only were ITV4 providing coverage of the event, shown in hourly slots each evening during race week, but Rick Broadbent was also there working on his book 'That Near Death Thing' and director Richard De Aragues was there with his film crew and 3D cameras making the film that would be know at TT3D - Closer to the Edge. The main star of the film is Guy Martin, but there is input from others including John Mcguiness, Ian Hutchingson, Cameron Donald, Jenny Tinmouth and Michael Dunlop. Documenting the highs and lows of a TT week the film is full of great footage and for me, the awe of the TT is summed up by a very simple shot about 45mins into the film. Its a fixed camera shot looking over the road at a church. You can hear bikes approaching, but you never get a close view of them as the streak past in front of the camera at speeds of over 150mph. For me, there are parts of the film that are very emotional and re-watching it there is a sense of horrible foreboding. Everybody know the results of the 2010 races which made history, buts its the footage of Guy Martin and Connor Cummins from the Senior Race that fills me with dread and had me turning away from the screen. Brave riders, one and all and the film does a very good job bringing the TT onto the big screen.
motogp 2010 official review
I picked this up fairly cheaply after spotting it on Play.com just before Christmas. Having never seen a season review, let alone bought one I was a little worried about what I'd get. I had visions of hearing the voices of commentators that I had never heard of, mis-pronouncing the names of the riders and tracks, but thankfully I was pleasantly surprised to the hear the voices of Nick Harris and Gavin Emmett, who supply the official Dorna commentary to each race, lending their familiar tones to the programme. On this Blu Ray you get three hours of the best bits of each race all in glorious HD. Any important news regarding the riders etc is covered before the start of each race. All in all, its a good package, yes it would have been great to have each race complete, but that would cost a lot more and be in excess of 18 hours in length, so this is a good compromise. Recommended
motogp 2011 official review
Review coming soon
bsb championship season review 2011
The final race of the 2011 BSB championship has been described as the best race ever seen and it is indeed a corker of a race. Hopkins was leading Tommy Hill by two points heading into the third of three races on the final weekend of the championship. Whoever crossed the line first would win. The vast majority of fans who would buy this Blu Ray would already know the result, but even if you didn't the back of the box gives the result away and so does Jamie Witham within the first minute of the introduction. The disc is made up of highlights from each round, with between 5 and 10 minutes used to show each race. I have to say I was hoping for a lot more with this. Pitched as a high def product the only things that come close are the opening title screen, which is just a picture and the filmed segments between races with Jamie Witham. The actual race footage is bog standard stuff as the original broadcast wasn't done in full 1080p high def. The disc runs to 180 minutes and there are no extras. None. You do however get to see some snippets of great racing, as you would expect, but I have to say the MotoGP discs are much, much better, which I guess should be expected. What was most disappointing of all though is that you don't get the whole of that final race. The disc is easily large enough to cater for the thirty odd minutes of footage, even if was only available as an extra. The original rrp for this was around £20, but I picked mine up for a fiver off Ebay. I would have been really annoyed if I paid full price for this and my advise would be to stick to the DVD version as its just as good and cheaper too. Hopefully the 2012 and 2013 discs will be better.
bsb Championship season review 2013
As you can read in the review above this, I really wasn't very impressed with the quality of the Blu Ray review of the 2011 season, so it was with a little trepidation that I bought the Blu Ray of the 2013 season. Again price dictated my decision as this was £5, so if was it was only as good as the DVD (which was £12 at the time) it wouldn't be the end of the world.
Firstly the quality of the picture is vastly improved and there are no real spoilers on the packaging nor during the programme itself, which is another bonus over the 2011 season review. The footage is excellent with lots of great racing with a strong commentary from Jamie Whitham and Jack Burnicle. Highly recommended.
long way down
In the sequel to Long Way Round Ewan and Charlie decide this time to ride from John O'Groats in Scotland to Cape Town in South Africa. Told in the same way as the previous series 'the Long Way Round' this series explores the beauty of Africa but juxtaposes it against some of the horrors of everyday living in the third world. The sequences where they visit UNICEF, for whom Charlie Boorman is an ambassador are particularly well filmed and moving. I would recommend watching this just for this scenes when Charlie gets annoyed that Ewan's wife had decided to tag along. Brilliant
nick sanders - life on the edge
Review coming soon
by any means - sydney to tokyo
Review coming soon
race to dakar
Review coming soon
easy rider - special edition
Review coming soon
ron haslam - superbike masterclass
Looking at the box, this DVD comes across a little bit like one of the January keep fit DVDs. You know the ones. Watch this, do that and you too can look like this. Although there are some hints and tips for riders, its more of an advert for the actual Haslam Race School, this one filmed at Donnington which is where the school will be returning to after a few years at Silverstone. Read my review in the 'Out there, Riding' section of my time at Silverstone in 2012. I have been lucky enough to meet Ron Haslam a few times and he is as nice a man as you would ever want to meet and this passion really does come across when you see him talking riders of all ages through the tricks of the trade. If you do watch this, do so with an open mind because it won't replace the need for real instruction.
sons of anarchy - season 2
Life in Charming tries to get back to normal after the events the concluded season one, but now SAMCRO have to deal with a group of white supremists who are determined to take charge. The relationship between Jax and Clay continues to develop with each man having very clear views of where the club should go. The season ends on a really good cliff hanger as things just go from bad to worse. The quality of the series, that was established during season one, continues with excellent character and story development. It has to be said thou that from Season 2 Kim Coates (Tig) starts scene stealing at every opportunity that he gets. Brilliant stuff
sons of anarchy - season 4
The Russians are out, the Mexican Cartel are in. Unser has stepped down and if I may just use a cliche 'there's a new sheriff in town' played superbly by Rockmond Dunbar, who fans of Prison Break will recognise. There are new characters a plenty as the DA's office looks to shut down the Sons and all those around them, chiefly amongst them is Lincoln Potter played by Ray McKinnon, better known as the Priest from Deadwood, who steals every single scene he is in. Juice and Chibs get some great story arcs this season, with Tig and the rest of the crew taking more of a back seat until the final episodes. Gemma starts to get very annoying and Tara's character just seem lost and is only used to move some further plot twists along. Look out for Danny Trejo and the vast majority of the cast from The Shield, also produced and written by Kurt Sutter.
i, superbiker: the showdown
Review coming soon
i, Superbike 4: the war for four
I'm not too sure how to take the I, Superbiker series. The first wasn't bad and was new and exciting at the time. Previously the only movies/dvds/videos you could get were season reviews, so it made a nice change. The Showdown, was less appealing and the third entry in the series, The Day of Reckoning, was tired and not very good. So with that in mind, I approached this fourth instalment with my expectations fairly low. However, the War for Four, isn't too bad. After a very brief introduction to BSB, we pick it up at the Showdown stage, which are the last three rounds of the BSB season. Commentary is by UK favourite Murray Walker and is passable. Its not brilliant as Murray isn't great with a script and is much better reacting to live events. The biggest problem for I, Superbiker 4 is that BSB doesn't have the glamour of MotoGP and this series doesn't have access to similar photography styles found in the films of Mark Neale, which themselves are getting a bit repetitive, nor that found in Road. Yes BSB puts pretty looking brolly girls out there , but that's a different kind of glamour. As good as a riders like Shane Byrne, Alex Lowes and John Brookes are, they arn't Rossi, Marquez nor a Lorenzo. Please don't think I'm questioning their talent, I'm not, but BSB is a National Championship that can't afford to pay their riders, MotoGP is The Show where millionaires ply their trade.
When it comes to it, the War for Four isn't a bad films. Its short at around 85mins long, but it is watchable and when doing so, enjoyable, but as I said, it's just missing that spark of MotoGP.
tt - 2006
Review coming soon
tt - 2008
In 2008 Honda revealed a new Fireblade and this was the first year that it was released onto the Mountain course. In 2008 there were new winners and one of the best sidecar races for years, although the result wasn't really in doubt. This 2 disc set covers the event with the familiar style of coverage that viewers of previous volumes will be familiar with. I found some of the commentary by Keith Huewen and Richard Nichols to be a bit cliched and annoying at times, but they do know what they're talking about so some concessions should be granted. There are lots of extras on the disc which any fan of road racing in particular with find interesting.
tt - 2010
Following on from the excellent 2009 TT Blu Ray package, the 2010 one is a bit of a let down. Although available in two formats, DVD and Blu Ray, the actual programme itself is the inferior product. For the first days racing, Jamie Witham is joined by local Richard 'Milky' Quayle, a TT winner himself but famous for nearly killing himself after hitting a wall at 130mph+ in 2003 (google it!). A racer he may have been, but a commentator he is not. Thankfully Steve Parrish returns for the rest of the races after being on MotoGP duty with the BBC. I've already documented the 2010 season..sort of, by my review of Closer to the Edge and readily acknowledge that the 2010 season was one of THE most covered TT's of recent years, however watching it again, it comes down to just a few riders. For me there were plenty of support players, but it the story of three men; one a local, one a fan favourite and finally the man who made history. Five wins for one, and two massive crashes for the others. Seeing Connor Cummins lock up and fly off the mountain still brings tears to my eyes.
Now this is how you put together a Blu Ray package for the TT. If you're familair with the TT and previous Blu Ray/DVD releases, you know exactly what to expect, but in short its a four hour highlights programme filled with the highs and lows of TT week. This edition has some nice little extras thrown into the programme, like when commentators Steve Parrish and Jamie Witham have a go in a sidecar...in the rain. Speaking of the commentary team, this is the first time they have interspersed the live radio commentary from the races, which gives the viewer more details on the action. Again, a highly recommended edition which thankfully doesn't have any un-skipable adverts at the start.
bsb: 2008 behind the scenes
Review coming soon