Babes Ride Out

Katie McCanna and her Triumph Bonneville T120

PeopleAnya Violet
Photo by Genevieve Davis

Photo by Genevieve Davis

babes ride out

Name: Katie McCanna ava @unicornfancy

Location: San Diego, Ca

Where are you from? I’m one of the rare and elusive San Diego natives.

How long have you been riding motorcycles? 6 Years

Why do you ride?

I grew up around motorcycles - my dad always rode Harleys (red ones) and my mom always rode on the back. While I had been on the back of motorcycles as a kid and teen, I wasn’t really interested in them until the day my boyfriend (now husband) took me down to a big parking lot to goof around on his 1969 Honda CD175 (that’s not a typo - CD is the Canadian model). As soon as I figured out the clutch, I was hooked. I bought my own bike and got my license within a month, and I haven’t gone longer than a week without being on the bike since then. I’m now so deeply obsessed that I have 3 bikes and run the women’s motorcycle blog with my platonic life partner Sanna - one of the original 50 Babes Ride Out attendees.

Run us through the list of bikes you have had in your past if any.

My first bike was a 1981 Suzuki GS450 that I bought at a swap meet for $800. I put new tires on it, got it registered, and rode it for about 6 months before deciding I wanted something I could ride on the highway at more than 65 mph. I picked up a used 2006 Triumph Daytona 675 (a yellow one) - which was an ambitious choice for a second bike. I was a little worried that I was going to die every time I rode it, so about a year later I sold that bike and got a 2014 Triumph Street Triple R. I LOVED that bike - it was the perfect balance between a sport bike and a standard and I felt totally at home on it from day one. Buuuuttttttt - that’s the bike I rode to MY first Babes Ride Out and I realized that it wasn’t giving me what I wanted in a motorcycle. I loved the experience of riding somewhere with my stuff and exploring the world by motorcycle, and while it’s totally possible to do that on a naked sport bike, I was ready for something more practical.

What bike do you ride now?

My everyday (literally) ride is my 2017 Triumph Bonneville T-120. I bought it from San Diego Triumph and traded in my Street Triple (like 20 miles before the 12k service light was going to turn on). I knew I wanted something that had enough power and sporty enough handling to keep me engaged after two sport bikes, but I also wanted a flat seat and room for luggage. I thought briefly about the Street Twin line, but something about that 1200 motor just totally caught me. I love how it sounds and how it pulls off the line while still looking like a classic bike.

In a weird twist - I also happened across a 1972 Triumph T-120, so I’m in the process of rewiring that and getting it running again too. And - also - I have a ¾ built 1975 Honda CB360 in my dining room I should probably finish.

What first attracted you to Triumph?

My very first Triumph appealed to me because it was different. I’d been looking at sport bikes and it's a sea of GSXRs and R6s out there, so the Daytona stood out.  I like my vehicles to be reliable, sporty, fun, and head turners, and each of my Triumphs have been each of those things. (Except the ‘72, which isn’t running right now, but it’s hard to blame the bike for that.)

How did you know it was the bike for you?

I wanted something that could keep up with me - I loved the Street Triple but sport bikes need more frequent service and I never went to the track to really test my skill on it. I ride a lot of miles in a year, and I need a bike that isn’t going to quit on me 2 years into our relationship or require a $1000 in service every 10 months. I also wanted a bike I could commute on and hit the twisties with in addition to taking epic road trips loaded down with gear. Something I knew I could ride 300 mile days on without being too beat up by the posture. The Bonneville does all of that for me - though I have added a few accessories to make her my own. The fairing and sissy bar are not popular choices for the Triumph classic line, but they make it easier for me to ride more miles. Plus my bike stands out in a parking lot now thanks to that nice round tush Ria the Welder made for me.

What has been your favorite adventure you have taken on your bike?

I’ve put some serious miles on the Bonneville since I bought it in January 2017. It’s about to roll over to 14k miles and it’s only 14 months old. It’s been to the Grand Canyon, Death Valley, Big Bear, Joshua Tree (a couple of times), Palm Springs, San Felipe Mexico, pretty much all of Southern California. It’s hard to pick a favorite, but I think the time Sanna and I rode to the Grand Canyon and back over a weekend without taking any time off work stands out the most. ( The last 100 miles were in a huge storm. Sanna’s air filter clogged with water and my Sena drowned, but the Triumph didn’t seem to think that 100 miles over a mountain in a downpour was a big deal.

Would you recommend your bike to other riders? Why?

Yes! Yes! A thousand times yes! I looooooveeee my Triumph(s) and I loved the ones I had before. They have such cool character while being useful and sporty bikes. I may drag my pegs on the Bonneville all the time - but I also keep up with big cruisers on the freeway and can hit the occasional dirt road without concern. So if you need a bike that can be everything, the Bonneville is hard to beat.

Do you have any fun road trips planned?

DO I EVER! I’m plotting a two-week, 4000 mile round trip ride to Banff National Park in Alberta Canada this July. We’ll be going up via Utah and Yellowstone and heading back through Glacier National Park. I’m probably going to need to buy tires again before we hit the road.

Have you been to any Babes Ride Out events before? If so, what was your experience like?

My first Babes Ride Out was in 2016. I knew about the very first one, but I wasn’t able to actually make it until the 4th. It was AMAZING. I am totally sure I was in shock for my first time. It’s so deeply empowering to be surrounded by so many badass women on bikes. I’ve never felt so welcome and like such a part of something until Babes Ride Out. I came back for BRO5, and you can bet I’ll be there for 6!

Any recommendations for new riders?

Check out! We have a whole Riding 101 series aimed at new riders including what gear to get, how to learn, how to pick a first bike, and more. We also address reader questions.

photo by Genevieve Davis

photo by Genevieve Davis

to learn more about the Triumph Bonneville T120 click HERE

To test ride a Triumph Bonneville T120 click HERE