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The Five Whys: Jensen Beeler

Asphalt & Rubber editor definitely did not start riding to emulate Tom Cruise

Based in Portland, Oregon, Jensen Beeler is the editor and doer of all the things at Asphalt & Rubber, a site that has been helping to shape the motorcycle industry (and moto-journalism) for almost a decade (A&R celebrates its 10th birthday in October). He is also one part of the 2 Enthusiasts podcast.

All images belong to Jensen, obviously

When did you start riding?

I started riding motorcycles right after I graduated high school. I was 18 years old and about to move to Santa Barbara, California for college. I grew up in one of those “not under my roof” anti-motorcycle houses, so, of course, the first thing I did when I moved out was to buy a motorcycle.

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It was a 1993 Honda CBR600F2 that had already been around the block a few times. It wasn’t anything special, but I didn’t die on it, which is a testament as much to my riding skill at the time as it is of the bike’s mechanical state when I got it. I had that bike for a year, then traded up to a Suzuki TL1000R. Yeah… I was that guy.

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Why did you start riding?

The short answer? Teenage rebellion.

The long answer? I was young, already in tuition debt for college (class hadn’t started yet, mind you), and didn’t have a car that could go on the highway. At the time, a motorcycle seemed like the perfect vehicle for Southern California and it was cheaper to park on campus with a bike than with a car. I think there is some element of speed involved, too. As a kid, I liked bombing down hills on my bicycle – the motorcycle gave me that same feeling. My mom thinks it was Top Gun. It was definitely not Top Gun. It might have been to meet girls… it’s so long ago, who can remember?

What bike/bikes do you own?

I have a few bikes. For a track bike, I am still rocking the third motorcycle I ever owned: a 2004 Yamaha YZF-R1. If my bikes were a family, the R1 would be the abused red-headed stepchild that I don’t love. This is a key quality in a track bike, since every time you go ride it, there’s a chance things will end with a yard sale of motorcycle parts. It also looks horrible. This may or may not be on purpose. Stop judging my art.

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On the street-legal side, I have a 2012 Husqvarna SMR 511 supermoto, a 2016 Ducati Hypermotard 939 SP, and a 2010 Ducati Streetfighter 1098. The Husqvarna is my money pit. It’s Italian (Huskies were still being manufactured in Varese, Italy, at the time, even though the brand was owned by BMW), and it’s a constant headache, which is a common theme with myself and motorcycles. The Hypermotard is about to make way for something else, though, I’m not sure what. If you know anyone in the market, let me know. Single-owner, always garaged, never wheelied – that sort of thing.

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The Streetfighter is the rowdy bike that somehow hasn’t killed me yet. It’s analog everything, 150hp at the crank – from back when that was something to brag about – and a total handful to ride. I actually don’t like riding this bike on the track. It totally messes with my head. I’m talking to a professional about it though, and making progress every day.

I don’t know if I really have an “everyday” bike. They are all sort of different tools for different jobs. The Streetfighter is the “pretty bike” in the garage. Let’s put it that way. It’s the bike I have the most attachment to emotionally.

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I bought it after graduating school and moving back to California. It was pretty much my reward to myself for going to higher education for the better part of a decade. It’s also been the bike that’s been the most troublesome in my garage. I lived briefly in Italy, so having an Italian bike that constantly is in the shop really makes me feel like I’m back in Tuscany, reliving one of the best times in my life.

What bike do you dream of owning?

Seriously? Just one? There are probably a dozen bikes on my hit list. Quick ones that come to mind: Ducati Desmosedici RR (see above about troublesome Italian bikes), Kawasaki H2R (300 hp, nuff said), Vyrus 986 M2 (one of the craziest and most beautiful bikes I’ve ever seen), and the Honda RC-51 in Castrol Honda livery – to name a few.

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Jensen’s dream machine

If I had to pick just one, though, it would be a Benelli Tornado Tre 900. Visually, the bike is a stunner. I love the three-cylinder motor, too, and the story of the brand. Pretty much all of it, I mean, it has freaking fans under the seat!

Why do want that bike?

Did you not read the part where my favorite bike in my garage is the Italian one with constant electrical problems? What can I say? I suffer from mechanical masochism.

Seriously though, I’ve been really lucky to spend some time with Adrian Morton, who designed the Tornado, and talk about that project and the race program. It’s a timeless design. It’s a great story. It’s a brand that I wish would find its mojo again. When was the last time you saw a Benelli at your local bike night? How rad would that be if a Tornado showed up? I’d lose my mind… and then try to buy it off the person.

What’s the best motorcycling adventure you’ve had so far?

This is going to sound really sappy, but it’s true: my entire professional career has been a giant motorcycle adventure. I’ve ridden on four continents, too many countries to count, and on some of the best roads and tracks that this Earth can provide. My job is literally to go do all the bucket list things a motorcyclist could ever want to do.

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Riding Moab is always something I enjoy. I love every trip that I’ve taken to Europe. I lived there twice, and just jive with the lifestyle. I have been fortunate to go to Southeast Asia and Africa a few times. I love exploring new race tracks, and hope that I can visit all the main circuits around the world before I hang my leathers up.

I’ve also had the opportunity to ride some amazing motorcycles, including a few prototypes that cost more than my house. I was the first journalist to ride the Mission R electric superbike, and there’s a cool shot of me going across the Golden Gate Bridge on it. I also rode the MotoCzysz E1pc race bike that won the Isle of Man TT in 2012, which is something only a handful of people can say.

It has been almost a decade that I’ve been in this industry now, and I’ve met some amazing people and some amazing riders through that process. They’ve pushed me to grow as a motorcyclist, and been great comrades on the journey as well. I’m blessed. I’m just trying to soak up as much of this as I can, because we’re not promised tomorrow.

I think motorcyclists “get” that finite aspect of life (or at least, they should). Living in the moment, especially when they’re great moments, is key. Motorcycles have been a never-ending supply of “moments” for me.

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Where do you dream of riding?

I hope that I live long enough to ride a motorcycle on the moon, or maybe Mars. That would just be cool, plain and simple. I’d like to ride Mugello at some point, but that’s such a boring answer. Actually, what I really want to do is spin some laps at this supermoto track in Pleven, Bulgaria, that’s all asphalt. It has cement berms, whoops, and jumps. Google it. So rad.

I’d also like to do some desert ADV rides at some point, either in Africa or South America – Dakar style. My site is called “Asphalt & Rubber” for a reason, though, so this is probably a bad idea for me as a rider. But I still think it would be fun. Bonneville is on my list. Maybe once a month I sit down and plot how I could get a land speed record. One day… one day.

Riding a MotoGP bike would be the pinnacle, though. Just put me down – I’m done – if that ever happens. How do you top that? You don’t. Just cash out.

Why?

Res ipsa loquitur.

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If you’d like to share your own Five Whys tale, please get in touch.