Actor Ryan Reynolds explains his deep emotional connection with his 2004 Bonneville, unveils plans for a new cafe racer Thruxton project and reveals why riding is such an important part of his life.
Q. What’s your biking history?
A. A friend taught me to ride when I was kid and I’ve been at it ever since. In that time, I’ve had two Triumphs – an old Tiger and a long-term relationship with a Bonneville, which I bought new about 10 years ago. I’ve heavily modified it down the years, boring out the engine and reinventing it several times with different colours, handlebars and accessories, such that people think I keep buying a new one! In fact, it’s the same one I’ve always had and I’d say now that it’s almost a part of who I am.
Q. What makes it so important?
A. There aren’t many material things in life you can really invest in, but with a motorcycle it’s emotional, it’s long term. I’ve put a lot of time, energy and thought into my Bonnie. I’m a firm believer in the adage that you get back what you give. My Bonneville is a bike that has taken me safely across the country on at least three occasions and there’s no substitute for the feeling that accompanies a long ride.
Q. Can you explain that feeling?
A. It’s like meditation. Riding to work in the morning, I see people in their cars, talking on their phones, shaving, even eating bowls of cereal. When I’m riding a bike, the only things I’m doing are breathing, listening to the engine and changing gears. It’s just me and my bike – no multitasking, no texting – and it clears my head like nothing else.
Unless it’s hailing or snowing, my ass is in the saddleRyan Reynolds
Q. So you ride most days then.
A. Unless it’s hailing or snowing, my ass is in the saddle. When I lived in Los Angeles, I never drove a car unless I had to. Since moving to New York, I’ve acquired a new appreciation for a sunny day. But I’m not averse to a little rain. Or frost. I ride any chance I get.
Q. Who do you like to ride with?
A. I used to do a lot of riding in packs, but these days I’m pretty content to go it alone. I love my job and it’s a huge part of my life, but it also carries with it a certain amount of sensory overload. Being alone on a bike on an empty road is the next best thing to a full-blown vacation. When I get home from a ride, I’m much nicer to be around.
Q. Have you ever taken a full-blown vacation on a bike?
A. Absolutely, though my most memorable trip ended in failure, when I crashed a loaned Triumph Sprint in a monsoon somewhere near Uluru. I’d been attempting to ride across Australia – from Sydney to Perth – with a friend. Although that crash was a real bummer at the time, I look back on the experience now with fondness and I’m craving to get back out in the wilderness with a bike more than ever. I hope to ship a bike to South America this autumn and ride to East God-Knows-Where.
Q. What reaction do you get riding in the US?
A. Speaking to fellow riders is refreshing because, for once, I’m sure to find myself in a conversation about something other than my job or the weather! The great thing about Bonnevilles, Thruxtons and Scramblers is that Triumph has held fast to the classic styling and I like the fact that the cafe-culture scene is timeless and appeals to all ages. Whether I’m parked outside a cafe in Manhattan or in Birmingham, Alabama, I’m just as likely to get asked about my Bonnie by a 60-year-old guy as I am by a young rider of 20.
The best places to ride in the US, as far as I am concerned, are the Pacific Coast Highway near Big Sur and the mountains in upstate New York.Ryan Reynolds
Q. How do you feel about Triumph’s models with more modern styling?
A. I recently had the chance to ride a Daytona 675R. It was wildly different to what I’m used to, but I could see that it’s clearly a modern evolution of what the Bonneville was in the 50s and 60s. My heart will always be with the classically styled bikes and the fact that a Bonneville purchased today isn’t too dissimilar aesthetically to one purchased 40 years ago is what makes the brand so brilliantly unique.
Q. So do you have plans to buy another modern-classic Triumph?
A. I’m about to start work on a 2014 Thruxton cafe racer. I’m still working on the build list, but it’s going to get a custom seat and tank for sure. And more power. The insurance companies behind the movies are never thrilled about actors riding, but I’ll definitely give it more power.