New motorcycle model introductions follow a well-worn path: travel to the event location, eat nice meals, get briefed on the bike of the moment, ride a route designed to highlight the bike’s strengths, take photos/video, eat more good food, return home, and write up a review. After 27 years in this industry, I still get a cheap thrill about throwing a leg over a new motorcycle before it is available to the general public. However, what really gets me going is when I have a chance to log more than just the couple of hundred miles typically covered in an intro and spend some real time on the road with said bike.
The Garmin zūmo XT is the company’s top-of-the-line motorcycle-specific GPS. While the Garmin Montana 700 series has gained popularity within the adventure-touring community, I opted for the zūmo XT to review for a couple of very specific reasons. Although the Montana 700 has built-in inReach communication capability, I opted to combine the zūmo with the Garmin inReach Mini 2 ( reviewed here) because I decided that, even though the combined cost was higher, I would rather have the inReach device on my person in case I got separated from my bike in a crash. The other feature of the zūmo that swayed me towards it was the updatable database of motorcycle shops that is included. Being out in an area without cell service and having the capability to plan a trip to the nearest bike shop, particularly in the Southwest where there are significant distances between cities, seemed like a good thing to have.
While there’s something to be said about the convenience and cost-effectiveness of being able to toss a set of soft luggage on your motorcycle when you need it, the time comes when you realize that what you really need is a set of hard bags. Since they are bolted or locked to your motorcycle, they are significantly more secure from theft. Then there’s the weatherproofness that can’t be matched by soft luggage. If you’ve done any extensive touring on your motorcycle, you’ve most likely encountered the disappointment of opening your soft luggage to find that you didn’t have it securely closed before that last rain storm, and now, you’ve got to find a laundromat to dry all your clothes.
The Tuesday before Thanksgiving, I found myself at the top of the longest staircase I’d ever seen. My family and I were on a six-mile hike along the Great Wall of China, and we’d just traversed miles of the unrestored wall, clambering over stones that had fallen out of place and pushing through the trees that had grown in the centuries since the Wall’s construction. I’d expected the going to get easier once we reached the area that had been restored just 45 years ago, but this length of stairs pulled me up short. We’d encountered similarly steep sections of steps in 20-30 foot chunks along the wall but nothing like this. In the time of the wall’s construction, the terrain it traversed dictated its shape since the high explosives and heavy machinery we take for granted in modern construction weren’t available to lessen the mountain’s angles to suit those of humans on the wall.
After my recent first-time motorcycle trip to Europe (Split, Croatia, to be exact), I figured I would share some of my tips on how I prepared (and also what I wish I had known). From goats in the road, to switchback after switchback, straight mountain drop offs, confident European drivers who like to cross the center line, and road signs I’ve never seen, I sure got my fair share of learning experiences. However, for as many times as I felt nervous or unsure, there were double the times I widened my eyes in awe at the amazing views I saw and smiled at the wonderful people I met. Croatia was a beautiful place to visit and ride, one that I will never forget. Check out these 10 tips on how to prepare for an international moto trip – and feel free to share some of the things that may have worked for you as well!
It’s “Touring Month” here at MO, and how fitting, ’cause I’ve been riding the wheels off our borrowed Honda Gold Wing for a while now. (Just to let you know I’m not in Honda’s pocket, I’d be just as happy to be riding the wheels off the BMW K1600B, but BMW had to have it back.) I could also be happy to be riding the wheels off a Victory Cross Country 8-Ball, though a quick sweep through Cycle Trader informs me those things seem to be holding their value nicely and are still out of my price range.
From four motorcycles in a garage in 1992 to a long-term alliance with Harley-Davidson with branches projected in over 100 dealerships by May 2018, EagleRider has come a long way from humble beginnings. Founded by Chris McIntyre and Jeff Brown, EagleRider came about as the result of McIntyre’s and Brown’s desire to rent Harleys for a cross-country tour. When they discovered that there was no company offering the service, the seed was planted. Now, 26 years later, the company bills itself as the world’s largest motorcycle rental and travel company, and it has its sights set on making further inroads into the travel industry.
With my three year anniversary as a card-carrying MOron rapidly approaching, I’ve been thinking over my time working at Motorcycle.com. As the staff photographer, I get to spend a little more time out of the office than my coworkers because I’m usually charged with shooting the bike tests – not just those that I’m writing. This translates into more saddle time for me – not a bad deal for someone who has chosen to devote the bulk of his adult life (if you can call it that) to motorcycling.
When we read about people riding motorcycles around the world, the vision that often comes to mind is of big adventure touring bikes, packed to the gunnels with necessary supplies. This image has been fed to us by Long Way Round and other well-heeled and well-documented travels.
Riders who have cut their teeth in the urban jungle don’t understand the fear that can grip a traveling rider when the fuel light comes on while deep in the American Southwest. I’ve seen stretches of road with no fuel for over 100 miles, and on the Dalton Highway in Alaska, I undertook a section of road that I knew was too much for either my Harley-Davidson Electra Glide Ultra or the hardy Kawasaki Ninja 600 my companion was riding on the final gravel stretch to Prudhoe Bay. In most instances, a little common sense can go a long way towards making sure you aren’t stranded by simply filling your tank when it gets less than half-full while riding remote, unfamiliar roads.
The best country for motorcyclists? That question could generate a vigorous debate. But if you’ve not ridden in France, and should you have the chance, you should. While we U.S. riders can boast of our expansive spaces, and the broad varieties of geography herein, and cheap gas, we’re well behind the curve in terms of status on the international transportation scale. When bikes were all but eclipsed by cars in the States, about 100 years ago, motorcyclists were assigned the Second Class label. Been there ever since.