Dale Franks

I write stuff. A lot of it is about cars and motorcycles.


2015 Volvo XC90 T6

I while back, in my review of the Volvo S60, I discussed the Swedish concept of lagom, which is the state of being acceptably good. The Swedes also have another, related concept, called Jantelagen. Basically, it means that, if you show your success too ostentatiously, you should be scorned and reviled. Frankly, the Swedes seem to hate and fear success, which seems a bit wacky. What this means in automotive terms is that, driving around in a high-status BMW X5 is a violation of Jantelagen, while driving around in a Volvo XC90 is not. And that seems wacky, too, because it’s totally wrong

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2015 Nissan Altima 2.5 S

If you’re looking for a reasonably priced, reliable, mid-sized family sedan, you’ve probably got the Nissan Altima 2.5 S on your list of cars to check out. And, on paper, nearly everything tells you that it should be a serious contender. Sure, if you’re a serious car aficionado, you might quibble over the front-wheel drive, but practically everything in the class is front-wheel drive, and literally everything in its price range is. Everything else on the spec sheet should fill you with a bit of enthusiasm, though. Like I said, on paper, it looks good.

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(Not) Buying a Beater

So, here’s my deal: Thanks to some unexpected income, and a lack of knowledge about tax law, I found myself with a 5-figure income tax bill. Obviously some belt-tightening was in order, so I had to sell the GTO back to CarMax, leaving me with just my Triumph Trophy for daily transportation. That’s not a bad thing on a daily basis, but, sometimes, you just need a car. And I need a cheap car that I can buy outright, because the IRS is on my back. So, I had to enter the exasperating world of buying a beater car.

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VikingCycle Skeid Jacket

So, here’s the usual thing with gear and apparel reviews, when you write for a web site like this one: someone sends you an item to review for free, and which you get to keep. In return, you are obligated to write a review of it. Most of the time, it’s no big deal. They send you a mid-range bit of riding gear, you write a review with mid-range approval, because they almost invariably send you an item that does the job it’s supposed to do, at a reasonable price. I mean, nobody sends you a piece of suck, expecting you write about it glowingly. If you care about your credibility, you don’t want to give something a glowing if it isn’t, and you don’t want to come off sounding like a company fan-boy shill. But, what happens if you get sent an item you really, really like?

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2015 Triumph Trophy SE

BMW Motorrad has long had two boxer-engined motorcycles that were considered the top of their class: The R1200GS adventure bike and the R1200RT touring bike. Apparently, the Brits at Triumph Motorcycles found this enraging. Over the last century, the Brits have often found the Germans enraging, of course. Anyway, Triumph produced two bikes to compete directly with BMW’s offerings, the Tiger 1200 for the adventure crowd, and the Trophy for the touring rider.

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The Future That Never Was

Concept cars have been pretty boring in recent years. There are occasionally some interesting stylistic exercises, or some showcases of new technology, but for the most part, recent concept cars have been pretty dull. It wasn’t always that way, though. There was a time when concept cars were…insane.

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