Let’s clear the air right off the bat with this one: This is *not* a crash-tested review, though I can understand why you would think so after I wrote about my recent experiences tumbling down the road in the Forcite MK1 helmet and Alpinestars’ own GP Force Chaser entry-level suit. While it’s never a great time to crash a motorcycle, the timing of those experiences brings a great deal of context to the latest in safety innovation by Alpinestars: the Tech-Air 10 airbag system.
Reviewing a crash-tested piece of gear is up there on our least favorite things to do on this job, and when said piece of gear is a helmet, we’re especially annoyed – and that’s putting it mildly. However, the fact I’m here and able to write a review about a crashed helmet at all is a good sign, especially when the helmet comes from an up-and-coming company in the smart helmet space.
Continental Tire is recalling 68,770 motorcycle tires because they may develop cracks that can result in tread separation. The recall includes the popular TKC 80 dual sport tires, ContiGo! tires for lightweight motorcycles, plus K62 and LB scooter tires. The recall may also include tires that were installed as stock equipment on certain BMW, KTM and Husqvarna models. The recall affects tires manufactured between Jan. 6, 2019 and April 30, 2022. The full list of tires and specific sizes affected is posted at the bottom of this article.
Being the resident sportbike guy at MO didn’t just happen overnight. I’ve been fortunate enough to have some good mentors in my early days of riding that prevented me from riding myself straight off a cliff. Then, through the perks that come with a job like this, I’ve been extremely lucky to receive the coaching of some of the best riders – and teachers – this sport has to offer.
Writing a Crash Tested review is never something we want to do, but if I’m going to write one, then this one is especially important. If you weren’t aware, a couple months ago while comparing the Triumph Speed Twin and BMW R nineT, I was hit by a car. I flew over the hood of the car, did a flip in the air, landed on my shoulder, and rolled to a stop. It sucked, but thankfully I was able to walk away, injury-free albeit pretty sore.
Stop and think about helmets for a minute. Undoubtedly the most important piece of safety equipment motorcyclists wear, have you thought about what goes into testing a helmet? Basically, a helmet is dropped straight down onto a surface and the results of the impact are measured. That’s all well and good, but there’s more to a crash than the impact itself. And besides, how many accidents involve the rider falling straight down, as if dropped from a building?
Have you ever wanted to grab an oblivious motorist and scream “CAN YOU SEE ME NOW?” after narrowly avoiding a crash? There’s no doubt that the number-one cause of multi-vehicle crashes involving motorcycles is a car violating a motorcycle’s right of way at an intersection. “I didn’t see him!” is the frequent excuse. “He came out of nowhere!” Sure. “MAYBE IF YOU WEREN’T INSTAGRAMMING YOUR LAUNDRY LIST YOU WOULD HAVE NOTICED ME,” you scream in your fantasy dialogue. What can we do to combat the motorcyclist’s arch-nemesis: the distracted driver?
When it comes to any kind of riding gear, comfort is key. This is especially true when it comes to gloves. Since your hands are pretty darn important to riding, if a glove doesn’t fit well, it doesn’t matter what sort of advanced materials or techno-farkles it has. It’ll just sit on the shelf, anyway. Now, there are plenty of comfortable gloves out there, but as far as race gloves go, I’ve never worn a pair that were instantly as comfortable as the High Racer Glove from Racer. Forget the old baseball analogy, now when I hear “it fits like a glove,” the High Racer is what I’m talking about.
Like me, you probably know Aerostich as the company making funky one-piece motorcycle oversuits that go over your regular clothing. Well, that suit is called the Roadcrafter, there are many derivations of it, and it’s basically the class uniform for veteran moto-journalists. However, many people don’t know Aerostich also makes much, much more. Like this, the Protekt jeans.
This motorcycle helmet sale over at Cycle Gear is a big one, including a ton of our favorite helmet brands including Arai, Bell, HJC, Shoei, and many more. Literally hundreds of offerings are up for grabs for discounts ranging from 15% to over 60% off, covering a healthy mix of styles from full-face street helmets to helmets for motocross and ATV/UTV riders as well. Solid colors, race replicas, and bold graphic helmets are all part of the equation as well, and a quick skim revealed that a number of HJC’s Marvel Comics series helmets ( Captain America, The Punisher, Iron Man, and others) are up for grabs for a reasonable 20% off. If you missed the info on the Revzilla End of Season Clearout sale we covered a few weeks back (it’s still on!), here’s another chance to save big on new gear.
It’s fair to say most, if not all, of us prefer riding over wrenching, but as much as our beloved motorcycles provide us with happy memories and roadside therapy, these machines also need a little loving. Basic maintenance isn’t difficult, but it does require periodic attention. Adhere to the manufacturer’s suggested maintenance intervals and your machine will provide you with miles upon miles of trouble free riding. The best part is that most of the things we suggest below don’t require special tools! Curious what you should be on top of when it comes to motorcycle maintenance? Then keep on reading.
Kind of when it comes to love, money, work, international diplomacy – everybody has to learn the hard lessons on their own. Some other things, though, it’s good to learn from those more experienced, those who’ve slid around the block a few times on their head. Well, sister, that’s me. There’s a lot to take in and understand when learning how to ride a motorcycle. It all looks so easy and fluid from afar, but there’s a lot that’s all happening at the same time, and it can be somewhat overwhelming. Fortunately, just like anything new, starting will be the hardest part. Here’s our best advice for staying safe while you get your sea legs.
Have you ever seen a rider who pulls away from a curb, crosses one (or two!) lanes of traffic before easing his way back into the right-hand lane that he originally pulled out into. You know what he was when pulling across traffic and then back into the right lane? A target. Although this is a skill that is so basic that it is taught in motorcycle safety courses, we’ve seen enough near misses that we believe many riders do not know how to make a sharp turn from a stop. Hopefully, this article will do a small bit to help remedy this problem.
Maybe I’m not your typical motorcyclist because I absolutely love riding in the rain. I find that it heightens all my senses and can turn a mundane ride into one that becomes an intensely-focused experience. Perhaps my love of rain riding comes from the fact that, the very first time I commuted on a motorcycle, it rained – and I was prepared. (I was also terrified, but I’d only been riding for a few days.)
Motorcycle licensing in the United Kingdom is a convoluted process that requires several steps to be taken before riders qualify for riding bigger and more powerful bikes. It’s a tiered process dependent on age and riding experience that begins with the AM Mopeds (less than 50cc) stage, then to the A1 Light Motorcycle (120cc to 125cc, less than 14.8 hp) and then the A2 Motorcycle (at least 395cc and between 26.8 and 46.9 hp).
Entering turn one, the new Dorsoduro 900’s wide handlebar would allow me to easily point the big supermoto toward the apex and then quickly afterward, get it pointed toward the next. Out of the corner of my eye I saw coach Can Akkaya wheelie-ing through the shortcut on the track to make his way in front of me. Can would tap the rear fender of his KTM 450 supermoto shod with race slicks, indicating I should follow his lines closely around the track. As we made our way around the tight little Stockton 99 Kart and Motorcycle track, coach Akkaya would point to each apex and then up to the outside of the track and then back to the next apex while, in between, motioning to keep my eyes up and moving from corner to corner.
Only two products are required to make a good idea a category of gear. With the advent of Cosmo Connected and the previously reported Brake Free, the era of the helmet-mounted smart brake light has arrived. These devices do not require a connection to the motorcycle but, rather, use internal sensors to detect deceleration, such as engine braking, to trigger a brake light on the back of the rider’s helmet. The high location of the units places them in the line of sight of most drivers, offering motorcyclists a greater level of conspicuity.
The November issue of Google’s Self-Driving Car Project Monthly Report was all about motorcyclists and how Google is tackling the difficult task of designing an autonomous vehicle that’s capable of safely sharing the road with smaller, lighter, faster accelerating and braking motorcycles. Lucky for us, a senior software engineer named Christian is involved with developing Google’s autonomous technology.
In recent months, the passage of a bill legalizing lane splitting in California has gotten a lot of press. We believe the legislation is a good thing ( Gabe’s opinion, notwithstanding). However, even in states where the practice is not legal, riders should position themselves such that they can take advantage of the space between vehicles at a stop. No cop is going to cite a rider who jumps between stopped traffic to avoid becoming a minivan sandwich.
If the technologies driving motorcycle components progressed at the same rate as motorcycle helmet technology we’d still be riding around on drum brakes. Where’s the motorcycle helmet equivalent of cutting-edge technologies such TC, C-ABS or semi-active suspension? The general construction of motorcycle helmets hasn’t changed much since leather lids became passé: a hard outer shell, impact-absorbing EPS (expanded polystyrene) liner, comfort padding. Helmets are certainly lighter, quieter, more comfortable and safer than their bygone counterparts, but I would have argued 20 years ago that the features touted by failed helmet company start-up, Skully, would have been commonplace by now.
On Monday, August 1, 2016, California bill AB 51, the lane splitting bill, passed the full California State Senate in a 38-0 vote. AB 51 recently passed the Senate Transportation Committee in an 11-0 vote. The bill now returns to the California State Assembly for approval.
You know better than to ride around trucks any longer than absolutely necessary, but a far more insidious danger is the unprofessional vacationista whose load-securing skills are often primitive. Whenever you see somebody towing a boat, a trailer, or especially a boat or a trailer with a bunch of other junk strapped onto or around it, expect this to happen and ride accordingly, i.e., nowhere around it. Especially not behind it. That goes double for the bane of Southern California motorists, the gardening truck, which is often a rolling obstacle course of weedwackers, rakes, and aluminum ladders yearning to break free. If you see someone holding a mattress to his roof with one hand out the window, know you’ll be the one most likely to take a nap if you’re silly enough to ride behind him
Motorcycle safety instructor, researcher and advocate Duncan MacKillop was the first presenter at the International Rider Training Symposium. MacKillop, Alf Gasparro, and Kevin Williams are the founders of No Surprise: No Accident – an initiative proposing that motorcycle crashes are largely a product of prediction failures.
Here at MO, we are strong proponents of lane splitting. Not a day goes by in which we don’t filter between the lines of slower moving or stopped cars. In the process, we’re also easing congestion and protecting ourselves from being rear-ended by distracted drivers. So, naturally, we were excited last year when we heard of California bill AB 51 was making the rounds in an effort to codify the act of lane splitting by giving it a set of clear rules for riders to follow. One of the primary benefits of the rules would be that they would make it possible to educate the driving public about lane splitting.
As a fan of local radio station KCRW I hear a lot of Los Angeles traffic reports. Many of these include coverage of vehicle collisions (a frightening amount involve motorcyclists). Nearly all are referred to as accidents, but most are not. For example, texting while driving and smashing into someone is an act of idiocy, not accidentalism. For years I’ve complained about the universal use of the word accident for referring to any/all traffic collisions. Finally, advocacy groups are pushing to replace the word accident with crash. “Traffic crashes are fixable problems, not accidents. Let’s stop using the word ‘accident’ today.” If you agree go to crashnotaccident.com and sign the pledge.
If your occupation is testing motorcycles there’s a certain measure of accepted risk that comes with the job. When cornering ABS (C-ABS) arrived a couple years ago, the general consensus among the motojournos was, Hey that’s awesome, we’ll take your word for it working as described, because no matter how professional we try to be, grabbing a fistful of front brake mid-corner to evaluate this new technology is a line few were willing to cross. Just thinking of the action conjures images of impacting asphalt at a rate approaching lightspeed.
It’s nearly impossible to purchase a new motorcycle that doesn’t include some form of pre-installed electronic rider aid. From cornering ABS to switchable ride modes, on-the-fly adjustable traction control to hill-hold start, the variety of rider aids made available in just the last few years is mind blowing.
The International Driver & Rider Training Symposium was a weekend-long event comprised of demonstrations, test rides and presentations all geared toward understanding and improving motorcycle safety via training, research, education and technology. The event was sponsored by the newly created powersports division of Bosch, and presented by Cedergrens MEK, creators and manufacturers of an innovative new training tool called Skidbike that we got to test for ourselves.
It’s the moment of reckoning for the motorcyclist-in-training. The time when clutch plates come together, and balance and forward motion begins. The fear of rocketing out of control and crashing horrendously is palpable. But it doesn’t have to be this way. Cedergrens has removed all the monster-under-the-bed scariness of learning to operate a motorcycle and replaced it with a Skidbike security blanket.