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Archive for November, 2012

Polar-Bear-Grand-Tour logoJust because it’s winter doesn’t mean it’s the end of your motorcycle riding fun. Yes, agreed, it’s not easy in snowy conditions, and it will mean you need to wrap yourself up in loads of layers of clothing, but riding in the winter can be much fun. Especially when you join a group of likeminded bikers.

One of these groups constitute the Polar Bear Grand Tour. Some 550 motorcycle riders brave the icy conditions and set out for rideouts. Often the rides have a purpose, like a children’s charity; brining toys to kids.

(c) Polar Bear Grand Tour

The rides are centered around New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Delaware and Connecticut. Riders met up at a general starting point on Sundays, and from there they head on out in the cold.

Riding in the winter earns you points, as do special awards like giving blood at the blood banks. The accumulated points earn you patches you can wear with pride.

(c) Polar Bear Grand Tour

So not only do you get to ride your motorcycle in the winter, you do some good as well.

Click here to access the Polar Bear Grand Tour web site.

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Like any group of likeminded people, we have our own quotes and sayings. They can be what you will find in one of the many discussion forums, in books & magazines, t-shirts or on a bumper sticker. But wherever you find the saying, more often than not, the saying makes sense. There’s usually a lot of truth behind them.

One of the most popular sayings is “Four wheels move the body, two wheels move the soul”. And as will be the case with most quotations, the author is unknown. It’s just a term that grew. But in a simple phrase, the author summed up what riding a motorcycle is all about. Another one pitting cars (cages) against motorcycles is “only animals belong in cages” from an unknown author.

About the ride

If we do want a quotation from a known author, how about “faster, faster, faster, until the thrill of speed overcomes the fear of death”. That quotation sums up what often happens when riding. The author was none other than famous book author Hunter Thompson. On the same term, but from the other side of the coin comes this saying from an unknown author “never ride faster than your guardian angel can fly”., or how about “if you ride like there’s no tomorrow, there won’t be”, also from an unknown source.

Another beautiful one is “it’s not the destination, it’s the journey”.

About bikers

Another famous one with an unknown author is “only a biker knows why a dog sticks his head out of a car window”. And I always thought it was because a dog couldn’t stand the smell of the humans in the car ;) How about this one about bikers “you don’t stop riding because you get old, you get old because you stop riding” (unknown author). Another saying which is derived from the aviation industry is “there are drunks bikers, there are old bikers, but there are NO old drunk bikers”.

The difference between old and young bikers can be summed up with “young riders pick a destination and go, old riders pick a direction and go”.

About our gear

From an unknown author comes one about our leathers: “people are more violently opposed to fur than leather because it’s safer to harass rich women than motorcycle gangs”.

A quotation that mentions two of the most used items for a biker “it it moves and it shouldn’t, use duct tape, it if doesn’t move and should, use WD-40”.

About our motorcycles

Other very popular sayings are “keep the paint up, and the rubber down”, or just “keep the rubber down”, or “keep the shiny side up”, all from unknown authors. Another one you’ll see often enough from an unknown is “work to ride and ride to work” (or “live to ride, ride to live”). In the same category, that of riding to work, comes this one, also from an unknown “life is too short from traffic”.

As we all know, motorcycles sometimes leak oil, but according to this unknown author “bikes don’t leak oil, they mark their territory”. Another saying that is often a hot debate issue is “loud pipes save lives”.

This is only a very small sample of all the sayings and quotations you can find in the motorcycle world. There are hundreds of them. But they are all enjoyable. We’ll part with the last one, a safety quotation from unknown source “sweat wipes off, road rash doesn’t”.

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All bikers need motorcycle gear, even if it’s the minimum, and not all of us have the money to spend on top-of-the-line equipment. But that doesn’t mean that we have to do with bad equipment. It’s very possible to buy gear at low prices without sacrificing quality. Because quality is what we’re after when selecting stuff that will save our lives, not cheap and dangerous gear.

Just because a helmet or jacket is low in price does not necessarily mean it is bad quality. Not all manufacturers have enormous marketing & advertising costs, so their product quality is very good, but their street price remains low. Obviously you will need to look carefully when selecting gear on a budget. It’s tempting to buy something that is cheap just because it’s cheap. Make sure it’s cheap AND reliable.

The last thing you want is to buy gear that is cheap, both in price and quality.

For example, when buying a helmet – the essential safety equipment – low cost does not mean bad quality. One quick way of finding out if a helmet is to be trusted, is to check the English Government’s SHARP site. The British government does laboratory testing on many helmets, and will rate them according to predefined methods. Here you can see if the helmet you want is to be trusted, no matter which price. Even very expensive helmets can be of worse quality than cheap ones. There are other sites that test helmets, but this one is the most extensive and the most neutral testing organization.

UK SHARP site

Another way to find out if the helmet or other gear is to be trusted are reviews by web sites and discussion forums. Although individual reviews do not necessarily mean they are accurate (there may be biases or commercial incentives involved), if the product you are looking into on average gets good marks from reviewers, then you can be assured it’s a good product. The internet is your friend, use it to your advantage.

Take the webBikeWorld site for example. This web site tests a lot of gear every month and publishes detailed reports, often comparing the product with other ones in the same category. It will allow you to make a good informed purchase decision. They are not the only site, just Google reviews to find out how many, but as sites go, they are very extensive.

webBikeWorld

The other way to buy quality gear for a good price is a question of timing. If you can wait and have the time to buy your gear, why not wait for a) sales or b) a new updated model of the gear you want comes along.

Sales

Almost every store and on-line site have sales, sometimes several per year. That is when you can buy really good and upmarket gear for big discounts, often half price.

Check the major sale times at on-line stores, usually the holiday seasons like Halloween, Christmas etc. On-line stores are usually cheaper since their infrastructure costs are a lot lower than brick & mortar stores.

Model Updates

Manufacturer have to make new models or update older ones on a regular basis. It’s like sharks need to keep swimming if not they’ll die, manufacturers need new models if not they’ll disappear. And when they do bring a new or updated model, the current stocks of older models need to be gotten rid of quickly. So keep an eye on the motorcycle press, written or on-line. If a new model of whatever gear you need is announced by a manufacturer you like, you can bet your bottom dollar that within weeks you’ll find the old gear being discounted.

Check on-line stores which have closeout sales. That’s your best bet for find good quality gear at a lower price.

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