Aboard their motorcycles, new riders face a brave new world. Not literally, of course. But from the standpoint of learning fresh physical skills, powers of observation, actions and reactions, and embedding vital strategies for survival, it certainly is. If this is you, first and foremost locate, attend, and successfully complete a Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF) course in your area. Then prepare for and pass the written and riding tests, as required by your state’s department of motor vehicles (DMV).
If you want to play an instrument well, how do you go about it? Focused academic study perhaps, or take lessons, join a band, watch YouTube, connect with friends – or maybe just muck about until something clicks. Well, the same might be said for learning to ride well. Some of the best racers and riders in history were essentially self-taught… especially prior to the industry becoming so specialized. But really, the best way isn’t through such trial and error – it’s formal training.
When BMW created the first GS in 1980, reactions were mixed. Back then, the motorcycle industry did not have the fragmented family tree of specialized segments that it has today, with sport bikes, sport touring, touring, off-road, enduro, retro sport, standard, and all manner of cruisers. However, by mixing on-road, off-road, and touring characteristics into a single bike, BMW must have known they were on to something, because they soldiered on with the model, and not only has the GS survived, but it has thrived. Today, adventure riding, the segment that the BMW GS created, is one of the fastest growing in motorcycling, with every major manufacturer having some variation of the GS formula in their current lineup.
Let’s get this out of the way right here: The Cardo Packtalk Headphones are an extremely niche product. However, for riders who have already bought into the Cardo Packtalk system of communicators and also fall into that niche, the Packtalk Headphones are a tremendously useful tool. Also, just for the sake of clarity, the Packtalk Headphones do not come with Packtalk Bold or Black communicators; they are simply an accessory.
If you’ve been following the minimoto space, you’ve probably heard of the Ohvale name. The Italian company pumping out mini road racers has been a hot topic of conversation in trackday and racing circles. We all know that riding big bikes on a racetrack is a thrill unlike any other. But it’s also true that riding full-size sportbikes at trackdays can be pretty expensive – up the ante even more if you decide to go race. Beyond the cost of the bike itself, you’ve got trackday fees, fuel costs, and tire bills. The costs go up even more if you have to schlep it a long way from home and find lodging for a night or two.
Did you know Triumph Motorcycles run a state-of-the-art training and adventure experience center in south Wales? No? That’s the problem. Well, maybe not much of a problem for Triumph since they seem to be running at near capacity out of the space they’re in. Just outside Ystradgynlais (Welsh names and words make me happy this is written and not a video), just northwest of Cardiff, sits an unassuming world class ADV headquarters just a few miles from a rented forest in which Triumph runs its training.
Has it already been two years since I started at MO? Wild. Time flies when you’re having fun, I suppose. One thing I have been asking, begging, hounding even, of my bosses throughout those two years was for more track time. I’ve been able to run through two schools: Superbike Coach and the Rickdiculous program, both of which I am very grateful to have attended, but without having the time to get out and follow up on those skills learned, it’s hard to advance to the next level. There’s really no substitute for seat time.
My first crash on a motorcycle was a highside. I knew not as to why I had flung over the handlebars like a circus acrobat. I had never ridden a bike before, so my skills on one were very subpar. That was until I went to Coach2Ride, the school that gave me my first step into exercising my passion to become a proficient motorcyclist.
Riders entering the ranks of motorcyclists often face a bewildering cascade of unique terms – and that’s before we consider the alphabet soup of motorcycle names. Perhaps no motorcycling descriptor confuses neophytes more than “friction zone.” However, new riders will never be able to smoothly pull away from a stop without a proper understanding of what the friction zone represents and how to use it correctly.
Fastrack Riders is a popular track-riding organization that has expanded way beyond that of the typical group devoted to giving street riders the opportunity to ride their motorcycles at their limits in a proper closed-course environment. With the majority of its events being held at Fontana, California’s Auto Club Speedway, Fastrack is the venue’s official motorcycle partner. The 2.36-mile road course on the inside of the superspeedway features 21 turns and a section of banking that allows the current generation of sportbikes to really clear their throats. In addition to its exclusive relationship with Auto Club Speedway, Fastrack is sponsored by BMW and KTM.
After a long winter, motorcyclists are coming out of hibernation and reclaiming their place on the streets. Unfortunately, spring is usually the most dangerous time of the year to ride as riders shake off the rust and other motorists learn to start sharing the road once again with motorcycles.
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.
We’ve all been there. Really. We were new riders once. We understand where you’re at: You’ve just bought your first motorcycle. You’re all excited to be riding your new (or new-to-you) bike home, you park your bike and stand back to admire it – and then it hits you: Now what do I do?