2022, A Motorcycling Year In Review - Alex Strange

Alex looks back on 2022, reliving his favourite motorcycles, launches, and all-around two-wheeled highlights from a Strange year.

Riding Brands Hatch indy circuit

As we get ever closer to 2023, we thought it would be worth reflecting on 2022 on two wheels - a year that had it all; sporting achievements, a return to ‘normality’ (whatever that is), and - most importantly - plenty of motorcycles.

It’s been my second year here at Visordown, and it has certainly been a strange year. I’ve been lucky enough to enjoy many a launch and test ride review, a few days on track and off-road, and plenty of time on motorcycles new and old.

Both Toad & Alex Whitworth have already covered their respective highlights of 2022, so now I step up to the stage to ramble on about the stand-out bits over the past 12 months that I’ll always look back on in years to come as the best-of-the-best. And trust me when I say it was tough to whittle down these picks.

Favourite Motorcycle of 2022 | Moto Guzzi V100 Mandello S

Let’s start with the trickiest one, then. Moto Guzzi announced the celebration of its 100th year of production with the release of the entirely brand-new Moto Guzzi V100 Mandello S, a motorcycle that is the first to hit the roads with automatically deployed adaptive aerodynamic tech - or fancy wings to you and I.

It was a quick launch event over one and a half days, we flew out to Mandello Del Lario on the banks of Lake Como to get a taste of what the Italian marque was very pleased to present, along with a quick look around the public museum. 

Despite pretty bleak weather on the riding day, the V100 Mandello S was an absolute treat to ride. The characteristic throw of the transverse V-twin supplied plenty of character, and I seriously enjoyed throwing the bike around the Northern Italian twisties. What a delight. Stunning photos from this launch, too.

You’ll have to read the review for the full scoop, but even in the damp UK-esque weather it was great fun and is seriously one to watch out for in 2023.

Close considerations for the illustrious title of ‘Alex’s best bike’ were naturally Verity the Versys, my Kawasaki Versys 1000 SE Grand Tourer long-termer, and the Norton Commando 961 SP. Both very special machines.

Favourite Track | Brands Hatch - California Superbike School

Over to tracks visited, and the first outing for my custom RST race leathers was at the iconic Brands Hatch for two days of the California Superbike School on the Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R.

This honestly felt like a dream come true for me. I’ve seen plenty of races at the circuit down in Kent, and (virtually) lapped the circuit hundreds of times on the Ride series, plus other 4-wheeled games. 

I was blessed with two perfect days of weather for some track-riding tuition from the stellar guys & gals of CSS, and the Ninja itself was a seriously impressive platform to practice on. Forgiving, smooth, and powerful enough to rocket me around one of the better short-circuit tracks in the UK - even if it was just the shorter Indy variation. Oh, and at 6’3” I actually fit comfortably on it!

As expected, sending it around Paddock Hill Bend (turn 1) and into the rollercoaster drop of Hailwoods Hill was just as intimidating the first time as the last, but serious fun all the same. As mentioned it was the shorter 1.2-mile Indy layout, though that was perfect for practising line choice and turn-in points on corners that rapidly arrive. 

I learnt an immense amount over those two days, and whilst strictly not a track day of any kind, the final session is where I all saw it come together beautifully, with an encouraging pat on the back from the instructors who said I smashed it. Great time, highly recommend a visit if you haven’t been already.

Most Memorable Launch | Indian Pursuit - Chamonix, French Alps

For the launch of the 2022 Indian Pursuit, I headed over to the French Alps & Chamonix.

I’ll be first to admit that a nigh-on 400 kg road-tourer wouldn’t be my first choice for the twisties, but I’m always up for a challenge, and the PowerPlus motor was an impressive bit of kit, with the gadgetry on board making it a proper option for long-distance two-up tours. 

But what made this such a memorable launch? Quite simply, this launch featured some of the best roads I’ve ever been on, and the hundreds of motorcycles I saw on the ride day were a testament to the fact that when thawed out, the Alpine snow is hiding some seriously addictive riding experiences. 

Typically a skiers paradise, the off-season is very much on-season for two-wheels. Downhill bikers converge on the otherwise vacant ski chalets and apres ski bars, and it all felt like a little wonderland hidden up in the alps. 

I’d highly recommend a tour out there, and the views are absolutely astounding. Again, stunning photos on this launch, too! Honourable mentions go to the Zero DSR/X launch in Sicily, and the Energica Experia launch in the Dolomites of Italy. I think I like mountains.

Best Experience Day | Yamaha Off-Road Experience, Wales

Experience days are apparently the order of the day, and having already mentioned the California Superbike School above, I’d say the next best adventures were had in Llanidloes of mid-Wales, with Geraint Jones, Dylan Jones, and Rowan Jones (plus the rest of their family and colleagues) for the Yamaha Off-Road Experience

Riding across the breadth of the country, I packed up Verity’s panniers & top box with the essentials for a day in the 300+ acres of mud, trails and forest at their disposal. It was a long ride over, and it got seriously entertaining when the road started barking a different language at me (Araf!) and the twisties started appearing.

It was the official opening of the new YORE world-class centre & facilities, and we were the first bunch of visitors to head over and try out the Yamaha Tenere 700, Tenere 700 World Raid, WR250F & WR450F. 

I’ve done a fair bit of off-road riding, but by no means an expert, so any chance to strap on the off-road gear and brush up on my skills is a welcome one - particularly for a first proper go on an enduro motorcycle. 

Where the WR was an absolute beast (in the right hands), the 2022 Tenere 700 World Raid, with superb suspension, was much more familiar to me - making light work of seriously heavy terrain. Visiting here is a great chance to sample some proper off-road machinery in their native environment.

If you’re not comfortable with the harder bits, the guys there are always keeping a watchful eye as they ride alongside you, dropping in with seriously helpful tidbits to improve your riding skill, and as a result your riding confidence (off & on-road). 

Wales is an absolute gem in the UK, with terrain to suit all types of riding - and whilst the Welsh readers may not appreciate me saying it, I’d definitely advise you to head over there for a tour if you haven’t already. 

Motorcycle Sporting Highlight | Bradley Ray BSB win

2022 had a load of motorsports action, and chief amongst those (for me) was Brad Ray finishing the BSB season as a champion for the first time. 

Everyone loves an underdog, and the 25-year-old was certainly considered an outsider at the start of the year to finish ahead of the pack with his head held high, with the crown on his head.

That’s not to say he was an unlikely winner. He was always tipped for success when he first officially appeared in the BSB paddock back in 2017, and it was finally atop the proven Yamaha R1 (which I still need a go on) that he outshone the rest of the BSB paddock. 

It’s a great story, perhaps better told by our resident motorsports encyclopaedia Alex Whitworth, but a serious achievement I think is worth the plaudits for.

A close second was introducing some of my strictly F1 fanatic mates to MotoGP on a Sunday afternoon in June. It was the day of the Assen GP, and they were witness to Aleix Espargaro rescuing a 4th place finish thanks to a sensational last lap (and last corner) double overtake, particularly notable after dropping to 12th earlier after a collision with Quartararo (who later had a nasty highside and walked away). Perhaps not the race of the season, but you don’t get that kind of race on 4 wheels!

Looking forward to riding in 2023 | Ducati Panigale V4 R, Husqvarna 701 SM

So that just about wraps up a few of my 2022 highlights, so as a quick look ahead to 2023… what do I have my eyes on?

Following a day filming Toad at Silverstone with Ducati, his persistent enamouring of the Ducati Panigale V4 has got me intrigued - if I wasn't already. He says it’s a serious weapon, a proper race machine, and certainly at home on the track. I guess that’s rubbed off on me, and if I didn’t already have an eye on it, I absolutely do now. Let’s see if I get the chance to don my Visordown leathers and get a knee down in 2023. 

Another hopeful look is towards the Husqvarna 701 SM (or, to be fair, the GasGas SM700 which is practically the same thing). It’s a red hot single, and I reckon it’ll be a great time. Though dangerous, if I like it my wallet could be 10 grand lighter. I suppose it would need 10 grand in to start, though.

That’ll do for now! 2022 has been another seriously good year, and a huge thanks go to you - the Visordown readers & viewers. Let’s keep it pinned for 2023.

Also, seeing as I’m responsible for a large majority of the social media presence, here’s my chance to effectively beg you to give us a follow/like if you haven’t already. We’re over on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and TikTok - join the community, say hello!


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