Inspiration: Interview

Street Triple and the switchbacks

Four roads, three lessons

Matt Haas’ refusal to plan any trip he ever takes didn’t seem quite such a good idea when he took his naked bike for a trip to the desert… in the height of spring.

“The combination of weather, Street Triple and, crucially, absence of a windshield means bugs. Lots of bugs. So I was stopping every 30 minutes to clean my visor,” he confides.

Despite knowing the rough itinerary of the 320km ride inland from California’s Santa Barbara to Idyllwild, he was undaunted by the fact his two friends were rocking adventure bikes allegedly more suited for a longer haul.

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“I knew I’d be giving up some in-touring comfort compared to my friends, but my Street Triple RS more than made up for it in the fun it provided on the curvy roads that made up the majority of the trip,” he says.

‘Leave the specifics to the moment’

For Matt and his co-riders, the format had a familiar feel to many of their trips: “We only ever do a rough pre-plan but take paper maps and figure out our next road whenever we take a rest stop. I love that. It’s how I normally do road trips or just travel in general. Have a couple of ideas of where I want to go and a general idea but leave the specifics to the moment. That way it leaves you open to discovering new things and experiences that you won’t find in any guide book.”

Within hours, the trio took a wrong turn and found themselves stumbling across a completely unexpected bonus; one of the joys of going impromptu. The Old Ridge Route Road, all 60km and 697 twists of it, led into an unmarked fire service track that they had all to themselves. Now the BMW and Suzuki riders were looking on enviously.

Three things I learned

  • Bugs love naked bikes in the spring.
  • Although a Tiger or even a Bonneville might be a more comfortable ride, the Street Triple comes into its own through the twisties and switchbacks.
  • The RS does surprisingly well when you take the wrong turn and end up on fantastic broken concrete and soft dirt.

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Matt’s must-ride roads

  • California State Route 150/33 combo

One of the treasured Southern California routes. Winds through the mountains behind Ojai. Beautiful asphalt, high-speed sections, tight twisties and light on traffic.

  • California State Route 138 

Climbs the mountains out of the Los Angeles area along the Rim of the World Highway towards Arrowhead and Big Bear. First part has almost no traffic, great surface and really, really tight first-gear hairpins while climbing or descending. Lots of fun.

  • Joshua Tree National Park 

This is for the scenery as opposed to the riding. Beautiful ride but more about the cruising. Open desert, impressive rock formations, gorgeous area. It’s a National Park for a reason.

  • California State Route 74 

One of the great surprises. Rises up above the desert and the hot flat town of Palm Desert. You spend way longer than you expect riding through town, in heavy traffic on a multi-lane main road, and then you make a left and leave it all behind. Within a few minutes you’re climbing straight up the side of a mountain with a great series of banked switchbacks. So good we had to stop at the top just to chat about how awesome that series of turns was.

Matt says: “It’s an awesome part of the world to ride. The kind of place you can find a random gourmet breakfast stop in the middle of the desert, hang out with friends, chat about the ride, smoke cigars and drink Scotch after a long day of riding. All in all, it was California riding at its best. Ocean, mountains, desert, with a constant variation in scenery and amazing roads everywhere we turned. How can you beat that?

You tell us… does your local area have a ride to match? Send the details to For the Ride and the best will win a signed copy of Charley Boorman’s book ‘Long Way Back’.