AMCN donned its finest attire to attend this year’s Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride, motorcycling’s undisputed global charity showpiece
AMCN took part in the Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride (DGR) again this year, suiting up in what was a very wild and windy Wollongong, NSW.
The Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride is an annual global charity event that unites classic- and vintage-style motorcycle riders all over the world to raise funds for, and awareness of, prostate cancer research and men’s mental health. This year, on Sunday 21 May, more than 6000 riders took part in 38 cities around Australia, raising more than $1.2m in total.
The Wollongong ride, hosted by City Coast Motorcycles, had 264 registered riders and ended up being the fourth-highest fundraising ride in Australia, raising around $130,000.
Worldwide, 2023 was a record year for fundraising, raising more than $10m globally from a total of 893 rides, held in 107 countries with more than 100,000 riders.
The Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride was founded in Australia in 2012 by Mark Hawwa. After being inspired by a photograph featuring classic suits and vintage motorcycles, he decided a themed ride would be a great way to connect the global motorcycling community and raise funds for an important cause.
Hawwa told AMCN that he and his team felt privileged to run an event that helped people through their darkest days.
“Men are opening up, and year on year we are getting more men contacting us sharing their deep stories and thanking us for saving their lives,” he said. “Running DGR is a rollercoaster of emotions, from dealing with men who don’t want to be here anymore to being credited to saving lives.”
There is a very personal reason why the charities DGR supports are focused on the physical and mental wellbeing of men.
“The reason is a gentleman called Nigel Marsden,” Hawwa said. “He contacted me after the first ever DGR to explain prostate cancer and why it’s killing so many men. That typical macho bullshit mentality. We worked closely and decided to change the world in our own little way.”
Hawwa added that he never thought that DGR would become such a hugely popular and influential event.
“I would never have expected that 12 years into the Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride, we would be celebrating such an incredible milestone, raising record-breaking funds for our charity partner, Movember, and releasing our very own limited-edition motorcycle with Triumph,” he said.
Indeed, this year marks 10 years of DGR’s partnership with Triumph Motorcycles, with support also coming from ELF Lubricants, Hedon Helmets and Quad Lock.
A distinguished boxer
BMW R 18
What a great bike choice for a dapper Sunday cruise in the sunshine. The BMW R 18 is big, beautiful brute of a thing, guaranteed to put a grin on the face of anyone with a pulse.
It looks super cool and old school, and indeed a two-cylinder boxer engine with pushrod-driven camshafts above an open driveshaft does sound pretty 20th century. However, add features such as keyless ride, automatic stability control, engine braking control and even heated grips, and you can see why this bike can’t be considered a dinosaur.
This particular R 18 was supplied by Macarthur BMW Motorrad, which thought that, with its silver-smoke paint job (performed in tribute to the iconic R 90 S) and fastback seat, the bike would perfect for DGR. And it was right.
It’s crazy wide (don’t even think about lane splitting with those cylinder heads) and heavy (almost 350kg!), but somehow BMW has made it feel quite light and refined with a super-smooth transmission and modern electronics combining to harness the buckets of torque the engine produces. Just beware the torque reaction, which is huge on this thing; it lurches to the side as the crankshaft changes speed when you start or rev it. It’s not only noticeable, it’s impossible to ignore.
I admit I fell a little bit in love with the ridiculousness of the R 18. It’s not a bike you buy because you need a useful mode of transport. It’s a piece of modern art that is beautiful, charismatic and fun.
A dapper twin
Royal Enfield Continental GT 650
I was quite taken with Royal Enfield’s Interceptor 650 on last year’s Dumb & Dumber ride, and I was keen for a spin on the sportier-looking but mechanically identical Continental GT 650 variant, with its lower clip-on ’bars, slightly narrower seat and tank combination, and more rear-set footpegs. The 2023 DGR seemed like the perfect opportunity.
When it comes to retro bikes, not many come close to Royal Enfield’s line-up, and the 650 parallel-twin range has the look nailed. As well as plenty of polished alloy mixed with flashes of chrome, the Continental GT sports twin rear shocks, old-school fork gaiters, simple analogue gauges, a big round headlight, and basic black mudguards over 18-inch spoked alloy rims.
One of the highlights of the Continental GT is its character-laden 650cc parallel-twin, with its 270° crank ensuring a tasty exhaust note. There’s decent performance on offer with a broad spread of torque throughout the rev range, and the air/oil-cooled engine looks great too; you could be forgiven for thinking it was designed in the 1960s, but it is a thoroughly modern, fuel-injected and Euro 5-compliant powerplant.
The Continental GT weighs in at a relatively hefty 212kg and, while it takes a fair effort to lift it off its sidestand, once on the move weight is not an issue and the well-balanced chassis comes to the fore. The GT is bereft of high-tech traction aids but with a tad under 50hp it doesn’t really need them, and the basic single-disc brakes front and rear offer adequate stopping power for the performance on offer. While I thoroughly enjoyed my ride on the GT I think I still prefer Interceptor, which nails the retro brief just as well but in a more relaxed and comfortable package.
The next DGR is scheduled for 19 May, 2024. For more information on the event, visit www.gentlemansride.com
Words Sean Mooney +Photography Keogh’s Vision Photography & Dean Mellor