OK, so you’ve budgeted between $50 and $100 for a few moto-friends, you’re strapped for time – and you want to attend your local International Motorcycle Show. Well, you’d be amazed how much cool, bargain-priced gear you can find in the last 45 minutes of the day at an IMS event. (That way you can spend the rest of the day ogling all the new hardware on display at the manufacturers’ display areas.) Let’s just say that we understand how that could happen. So, with time ticking down, our mad dash to find a selection of MO-worthy gift ideas illustrates that you can have your cake (seeing next year’s bikes) and eat it, too (taking care of holiday shopping). And if some of the frosting (accidentally purchased items for yourself) just happens to end up in your gear bag, that’s OK, too.
’Tis better to give than to receive, they keep telling us, but that’s other people talking, who clearly have an axe to grind. If you must give things to other people, be happy there are plenty of cheap things you can give them and that the magic of the www means you no longer have to schlep through the mall or even to an actual store. Though if that’s what puts you in the mood, don’t let us stop you. Here in no particular order, are a bunch of things we wouldn’t mind receiving ourselves.
Riding when you’re cold is no fun, but thanks to the miracle of flowing electrons and other marvels, just because the weather’s cold doesn’t mean you have to be. It all begins with good clothing of course; many riders swear by a layer (or two) of silk or synthetic base layers under as many more layers as will fit under your windproof/waterproof outer shell. But this isn’t a clothing Buyers Guide, it’s an Accessories one. Here are a bunch of the best items we came up with for keeping your temperature and spirits up when the mercury is low.
While it may still be sweltering outside of the MO offices scattered around Southern California, some of you already need to get your sweaters out of mothballs. To provide the very best information possible to our loyal readers, we’ve decided to bring you our series of cold-weather buyer’s guides before winter starts, rather than half-way through it, like we did this past January. The intention of this updated guide is the same: We want you to ride in comfort and protection as long as possible.
Now that summer is officially over (though SoCal riders may not feel the difference), it’s time to switch gears and prepare ourselves for the cooler temperatures that are around the corner. What follows is an update to the Waterproof Winter Gloves Buyer’s Guide Evans penned at the beginning of the year. We realize the timing of that guide might have come too late to those who already packed their bikes away for the winter, and since that time many glove makers have introduced new or updated models for the upcoming winter riding season. Here now, in no particular order, are 10 more winter riding gloves.
No review of an adventure bike is complete without the observation that few of them will probably ever turn a wheel off-road, since ADV bikes are the SUVs of the motorcycle world, and SUVs rarely get taken off-road. But motorcycle people are way more adventurous than car-driving ones. And even though the new crop of adventure bikes have a lot to recommend them even if you do only ride on pavement, the best of them are packing technology that makes hitting the dusty trail easier and safer than ever. It seems a bit wasteful and sad if you never use that capability.
Riding a motorcycle is relatively easy. Riding a motorcycle well is a little harder. And riding one well enough to bring home a trophy or two is another level entirely. Fortunately for us mere mortals looking to cut down our lap times, there are several schools around the country offering top-shelf instruction to help you ride faster. As a convenient byproduct, learning the proper techniques for faster riding also makes one a safer rider, too. Because remember, to finish first you first must finish. As we said before, there are several track schools out there. These are just a few examples.
So, you’re considering joining the ranks of motorcycle riders. Congratulations! Motorcycling is an activity that many riders immediately fall in love with and even claim to be life altering. You won’t hear any of the MO editorial staff argue with that. After all, we’ve devoted the bulk of our lives, professionally and personally, to motorcycling. Consequently, our opinions skew hugely motorcycling-positive. However, we won’t sugar coat it either. Riding a motorcycle is a challenging sport that requires diligence and constant self-analysis to be done proficiently while limiting danger. With the stakes being so high out on the road, you don’t want to depend solely on the advice of a riding buddy (though it’s always good to have more experienced friends as resources) or just plain dumb luck. With that in mind, we’ve put together this rider training primer to help start you rolling down the highway the right way.
Touring America is one thing. Expanding your range to include Canada and Mexico is another. But for truly leaving your comfort zone behind, nothing beats putting an ocean between you and home. Whether your foreign country of choice be Africa, Australia, Japan or one or many of the Eastern or Western European countries, touring abroad is an experience tailor-made for motorcycle travel, largely because the rest of the world is more inviting to motorcyclists. You’ll return not only with life-long memorable experiences but also with a new perspective about motorcycling.
The great thing about being a motorcycle rider in this part of the globe is that you can do and see plenty on two wheels within the confines of the contiguous 48. However, if you want to expand your borders a little (literally), the options for moto-exploration become even greater should you decide to travel either north or south. Of course, I’m talking about touring to Canada or Mexico. While there are plenty of great roads, paved or otherwise, in both countries, this particular piece is aimed more towards the rider who has never embarked on a trip across these international borders. Here are a few tips on what you need to know, helpful advice, and suggestions to make your ride just a little more enjoyable.
One of the beauties of living in America is that if you’re traveling by motorcycle here, you don’t really need to go anywhere else. We’ve got it all packed into our 3.806-million square miles, from purple mountain majesties to damp New England villages, vast fruity plains and burning sands. Hop across Canada to Alaska if that’s not enough, maybe catch the ferry to Russia. Jump the southern border, and Mexico’s your oyster. Unfortunately, we have no autobahns, but large chunks of the Louisiana Purchase are so sparsely populated, you can intermittently pretend like we do. When it’s time to combat cabin fever and claustrophobia, we Americans are coming from a good place.
Folks who ride motorcycles frequently have a high level of independence. So, when it comes to touring by bike, many choose to go their own way instead of signing up with a company organized tour. While this is particularly common when the ride begins from your home turf, you can also do it when you decide to rent a bike in some remote exotic locale.
Beginning in Spring and ending in Fall, the motorcycling season basically exists during the warmest time of the year. Staying cool while operating a motorcycle during these months heightens the experience by increasing a rider’s comfort. Maintaining a healthy temperature also increases a rider’s safety. We covered the obvious ways to keep your temperature in check with our Warm-Weather Buyer’s Guides for Boots, Jackets and Pants, Gloves. Here we look at a few additional, but no less important, ways to manage your personal thermostat.
It’s June and the temperatures are now starting to hot up. That can only mean one thing: Summer’s here and riding season is in full swing. For some, riding in hot weather means shedding the protective gear in order to stay cool. You don’t need us to remind you what a bad idea this is, as one of our favorite adages when it comes to riding in hot climes is “I’d rather sweat than bleed.” For this buyer’s guide, we’ve put together 10 jackets and pants that’ll both keep you cool on a hot ride and also protect your hide should you have the unfortunate fate of falling down. The list is organized in ascending order based on price.
Shoes are the most common element on earth after carbon, so we’ve barely scratched the surface here of what’s available in warm-weather, vented moto street footwear. But we did attempt to hit all the major purveyors, almost all of which pack a plethora of different styles on their web pages, from high-top sneaker wannabes to serious adventure boots. Though the boots pictured are men’s, nearly all of them are available in women’s sizes too. It’s hard to be cool on your bike with sweaty dogs. Let’s get out there and shop for some coolness, people.
When the temperature climbs, even the most dedicated rider may hesitate a moment before donning gloves. Without vents, leather and armor can turn gloves into a mobile sauna for your digits. Then there’s the indignity of sweating so much inside a pair of gloves that the dyes leech into your skin, leading to embarrassing questions. Well, we’ve scoured the interwebs to find a variety of gloves that offer both protection and a means to keep your paws cool during the summer months.
This Father’s Day, if you like your dad enough to get him something nice, but don’t want to go overboard and break the bank, the $50-$100 category of gift items is the perfect place to shop. Below are 10 items dads are sure to love. Why? Because most of them are tools. And dads love tools.
If your father’s a motorcycle guy and encouraged you to become one too, he’s already given you a great gift by making it easy for you to buy him cool stuff instead of the usual useless junk most civilian dads get. Here are 10 items to temporarily lighten the paternal frown on the third Sunday in June, the 21st this year.
If you’re reading this, you’re either cheap or broke, but you still want to do right by buying a Father’s Day gift for Dad. I’m proud of you, son. So, let me give you a few tips on how to let your old man know that you care while still leaving enough money in your wallet to put gas in your bike. The trick is – and this is true of moms, too, only to a slightly lesser extent – your parents care less about how much you spent on a gift for them than how much you thought about the gift you gave them. Just because you are struggling to afford your artisanal coffee habit doesn’t mean you can’t invest some time thinking about your father and what present would accurately represent your love and respect for him.
If you’re desiring to roll some serious mileage on two wheels but the roadways leading to all the familiar haunts (Sturgis, Daytona, Laguna Seca, et al.) are seeming somewhat lackluster, the cure may be to ride outside your national comfort zone and travel abroad. A foreign escapade brings with it a litany of uncertainties, one being insurance and how to make sure you’re covered in the worst-case scenario, a long way from home in a place where English isn’t the ubiquitous language.
A big joy of motorcycle ownership is getting out on the open road and soaking in the world around you. There are times, however, when that urge gets so strong you’re determined to go on that ride even if you don’t have a bike of your own. Or maybe you just want to sample a different bike before making a purchase. Then again, maybe you’re visiting the land of the free and want to experience it on two wheels. Regardless of your reasons, if you rent a motorcycle in the U.S., you’re going to need insurance.
When you’re flying through the air is not the time to shop for insurance. Like so many other things thanks to the interwebs, it couldn’t be easier to shop for insurance before you need it. The flipside of that is that if you have anything on your record you’d prefer not to reveal, it’s not so easy anymore to conceal it. Once upon a time, Jorge Lorenzo (lead image) might’ve been able to say his Yamaha M1 got hit by a truck while it was parked at the library: That’s probably not going to work anymore.
By the time a rider is old enough to consider licensing a motorcycle for street use, she should be mature enough to realize that humans make mistakes, and motorcyclists count themselves among the ranks of humans. Consequently, the need for motorcyclists to make sure they can pay for any damage they may cause to other vehicles should be fairly obvious. Even though bikes are smaller than cars or trucks, they can still put some pretty big hurt on the other vehicles in the right (or is that the wrong?) circumstances. With that in mind, almost all states require that the registered owner of a motorcycle carry some form of proof of financial responsibility. In most states – even those that don’t require proof of financial responsibility to register a motorcycle – the primary means of protecting oneself is liability insurance.
Sport-tourers include a variety of designs from large technology-laden models such as BMW’s K1600GT, to Kawasaki’s more traditional Ninja 1000 to Ducati’s long-travel Multistrada and Yamaha’s FJ-09. With some luggage and a willing disposition you can, of course, set out for a far away destination aboard your new Yamaha R1 and call it sport-touring. And if you do, the tires in this Buyer’s Guide will certainly be a better choice than the sticky hoops you’d normally install on a sportbike.
Want to make your old bike feel new again? Install new tires. Your current rubber hoops may have mileage left in them, but switching to new tires is an easy and affordable way to elevate the handling composure of a motorcycle. Fresh rubber not only increases both on- and off-road grip, but the manicured profile of new tires also smooths turn-in and transitioning, bettering your sense of control and feedback from the road.
Tire manufacturers have a unique challenge when developing tires for sportbikes. Truth is, most sportbikes on the road will hardly, if ever, see a racetrack. Their time will largely be spent cruising around on the street during the week, with an adrenaline-pumping canyon ride or trackday on the weekends. The challenge engineers face is creating a tire with a center that will last, while also giving the rider side grip for navigating the bends, both on the street and the track. The different tire manufacturers have each come up with their own solutions to accommodate these needs, and what we have in this week’s Sport Tire Buyer’s Guide are choices from eight different tire manufacturers. Each tire is meant to live the majority of its life on the street, but is capable for the occasional trackday if needed.
Cruiser riders want what the rest of us want, don’t they? Round black pneumatic tires that hold air, provide good traction in the wet and dry while providing a smooth quiet ride. Yes, they want those things, and they also want a tire that produces orange smoke when lit off. Otherwise, we’re all one big happy family. Where sport and touring bikes have mostly settled on 17-inch diameters front and rear, with usually a 3.5-inch front and a 5- or 6-inch wide rear wheel, cruisers are less standardized. And where sportbike riders will overlook a little harshness for the sake of handling and grip, cruiser riders tend to be more concerned with ride comfort and long life. Since tire engineers aren’t having to deal with 150-mph-plus top speeds, they’re able to give it to them. Looks are important too. Buying decisions can be heavily influenced by tread pattern, and cruiser riders are swayed by whitewalls and crazy-wide rears on their choppers. Luckily, there’s a tire for every rear. Let’s try to keep it in some semblance of alphabetical order, shall we? (The orange smoker starts with an “S.”)
Tires are, arguably, the most significant factor affecting your safety on a motorcycle. We trust both our shiny, expensive machinery and our lives to what, when you really consider it, are two impossibly small contact patches with the pavement. Modern tire performance in wet or cold or dirty or hot conditions with rapidly changing forces (acceleration, deceleration, cornering, braking, and bump absorption) is nothing short of amazing. While much of the moto-press’ attentions are focused on increased engine output or the expanding role electronics are playing in riding, the unsung advances in motorcycle tires over the past decade have been astounding. There are sport touring tires with performance that was once reserved for racing rubber. Wet weather riding need not be the worrying task it was in the past. Heavy touring bikes and cruisers achieve mileage out of a set of tires that is hard to fathom.
In this month’s continuing series of motorcycle suspensions, we’ve brought you a list of suspension resources in John Burns’ Suspension Buyer’s Guide. E-i-C Kevin Duke followed that up with some tips and tricks for Adjusting Motorcycle Suspension, and most recently, Tom Roderick provided a list of companies who specialize in making the front of your bike work as well as possible in his Fork Buyer’s Guide.
I honestly thought Yamaha’s 1993 GTS1000 heralded the beginning of the end of telescopic fork front suspension. Yet here we are, 22 years later and besides BMW’s Telelever and Duolever technology (and the Bimota Tesi… -Ed.), the telescopic fork remains de rigueur for motorcycle front ends.
Comprehending how suspension works has been described as a black art, but the basic principles are actually fairly easy to understand. Yet an astonishingly small percentage of riders ever touch any of the knobs, screws, valves or nuts that adjust the suspension of their motorcycles.
Now, as we bring our series of Winter Buyer’s Guides to a close, we move in to the nebulous realm of Winter Accessories. Whereas all the other categories were pretty well-defined, winter accessories need only fit one requirement: they need to enable longer, safer rides when Mother Nature is literally trying to suck the life out of your body. What makes a good winter accessory? Typically it specifically addresses one of the two primary issues faced by cold weather riders: wind chill and heat loss (without wind chill).
Winter riding means different things to different people, but we can all agree riding in the winter means chilly temperatures and a high possibility for rain. So, for this week’s winter buyer’s guide, we’re bringing you jackets and pants, all built to keep you dry and warm when the elements conspire against you. We’ve thrown in one-piece over-suits, too, for good measure.
This guide contains a selection of boots ranging in price, manufacturer, style, and a little sex. We included a ladies-specific waterproof boot, the Dainese Svelte, but more exist for women from all of these manufacturers, as well as male-oriented boots from Dainese. Style, while largely sport-touringish, also includes adventure-touring, and traditional. Again, most manufacturers offer more than just the style boot chosen for this guide. About the only thing boot manufacturers don’t offer a selection of when it comes to waterproof winter boots is color. We hope you like black.
Two kinds of folks ride motorcycles: Those who ride year round and those who lock their bikes away during the cold months. Winter is a tough time of year for even the hardiest of riders to enjoy riding motorcycles. First, its pretty dang cold. And when the temperature really drops, roads can get icy. While there’s not much that can be done for the latter other than wait for the roads to de-ice, the former can be helped by wearing riding gear designed specifically for the conditions.
Now, keep in mind your needs are going to vary depending on where you live and ride. Our MO readers in Chicago aren’t gonna make it through to October riding in the Brosh Summer Jackets that their Cali counterparts are wearing. Also, consider your riding situation: Are you going to need extra comfort for long rides or are you more for the quick commutes and moderate speeds? (“Moderate” meaning you won’t be reading Smoulder, Pop and Burn…)
Like any other investment you’re going to make in your lifetime, the secret to success is all in the preparation. Do your homework, shop around, have a clear idea of what you want. Commit at least 75% of your time and efforts to preparation, and you will be rewarded with a loan that complements your specific financial needs.
There are many types of trailers with which to transport motorcycles, and likewise, several types that a motorcycle itself can tow. When it comes to picking how best to tow a motorcycle across town or across country, there are dozens of choices to sort through.
Wrong. Let’s get real. If you don’t have a friend in the business, a proper transport vehicle or a clue, then you’re going to have to put your trust in the hands of a complete stranger. You’re going to have to let go of your partner in crime and hope for a blissful reunion. Here are a few tips on how to find a shipping service provider:
You’re finally going to do it. You’re going to hit the open road with nothing but your bike, your sunglasses, and a badass leather jacket to match your badass fantasy. If you’re like most of our readers, then you’ve probably spent your childhood daydreaming about a motorcycle escape. You’ve romanticized a trip painted with sunny days and starry nights, set to the soundtrack of a roaring motorcycle engine. Now, you finally have the time and money to chase this dream of yours. Before you climb onto your bike and embark on the two-wheeled journey of a lifetime, you need to sit down and do some serious prep work.