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Intermot-LogoWorld’s second largest motorcycle exhibition (the largest being the Italian EICMA), Cologne’s (Germany) Intermot, is going to open its doors at the end of the month. Held every two years, the last Intermot exhibition saw 203,000 visitors from all over the world, and 1,022 exhibitors from 37 countries.

Motorcycle exhibitors from all over the world will be showing off their wares, and a lot of new products will be shown for the first time to an overflowing crowd.

Intermot exhibition center

Intermot exhibition center

Of course there will be a plethora of new motorcycles; Ducati will be showing off their new Scrambler, Honda will have one or two new motorcycles and at least one new powerful scooter and both Suzuki and Yamaha are expected to be launching some new bikes at the popular show. Since this is the home turf of BMW, we expect to see at least one new or major revised motorcycle and/or scooter.

The only two USA based motorcycle manufactures who have a press conference to introduce new stuff are Harley-Davidson and Zero Electric.

Many of the manufactures are vying for sales in Asia, particularly India and Pakistan which is a very growing market for them. So expect quite a lot of low displacement models in the 100 to 200 cc range. Suzuki already mentioned a 150cc Gixxer, Yamaha have been making sub-200 cc bikes and then of course Honda who have lost their partnership with Hero and now attempting to take over the market on their own.

Intermot's main Boulevard with all halls on the side

Intermot’s main Boulevard with all halls on the side

But it’s not only new motorcycles that will be shown. Many manufacturers will be showing new helmets, clothing and security gear such as communicating locks (locks that communicate with your phone, in case of a theft attempt). More and more clothing manufacturers are incorporating airbag jackets, so expect to see many more of these.

The official opening is on Wednesday October 1st, but press day (the day the new stuff is introduced) is on Monday 30 September.

So after those dates, you will find much of the new stuff over here. Plenty of photos and a firsthand look at interesting products.

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WD-40 needs very little introduction to anyone who has something mechanical. Anything that moves needs to be lubricated and motorcycles are no exception. The following illustration is one of a biker’s normal workflow diagrams:

WD-40-Duct-tape

But so far, WD-40 has been used mostly as a lubrication oil. A handy spray-can that allows you to spray a good quality oil somewhere to make things move. But now WD-40 have extended their Specialist care product range to include motorcycles.

The WD-40 Special Motorcycle product range is currently on sale in Europe (I haven’t been able to find it in the USA, yet – but it will come, no doubt about it). The products are:

WD-40-Brake-CleanerBrake Cleaner

This product is designed to quickly remove brake dust, dirt, oil, and brake fluid from brake and clutch systems. The fast working formula dries in minutes and leaves no residue. Regular cleaning helps brake discs and pads last longer.

WD-40-Chain-CleanerChain Cleaner

This product is easy to use and quickly removes dirt, grime, dust and oil from chains. Compatible with O, X and Z ring chains the formula blasts off contaminants and dries in minutes. Regular cleaning helps to reduce wear on the chain to maintain performance for longer.

WD-40-Chain-LubeChain Lube

This product provides lasting lubrication and protection for your chain and is O, X, Z ring compatible. Its exceptional long lasting action makes it particularly suitable for dry conditions. It’s also quick drying and provides outstanding anti-fling properties. Regular use helps maintain the performance and life of your chain.

WD-40-Chain-WaxChain Wax

This product provides lasting lubrication and protection for your chain and is O, X, Z ring compatible. Its exceptional long lasting action makes it particularly suitable for dry conditions. It’s also quick drying and provides outstanding anti-fling properties. Regular use helps maintain the performance and life of your chain.

WD-40-Silicone-ShineSilicone Shine

This product is designed to give an all over great shine to your bike. The fast evaporating formula acts quickly and is easy to apply with no need to buff.

WD-40-Total-WashTotal Wash

This product is an all-purpose cleaner designed to quickly cut through traffic film and road grime. This formula leaves a great finish and is sage to use on paintwork, plastic, rubber, aluminium, chrome, carbon fibre and disc pads – basically all over the bike!

WD-40-Wax-PolishWax & Polish

This product is designed to leave your bike with a deep glossy shine. The formula contains Carnauba Wax, one of the hardest naturally occurring waxes, which provides a wet look finish and long lasting shine. It’s great for repelling water, allowing it to bead off paintwork to maintain a fantastic finish for longer. It’s easy to apply and streak free.

So now you can get a complete set of maintenance fluids for your motorcycle, all from that same dependable company (which turned 60 years this year).

You can find the whole range of WD-40 Special Motorcycle Care product by clicking here.

Is this something you would be interested in, or do you think it’s just a marketing gimmick?

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In the last article we explained about track days and all the preparations to go to one. It’s your chance to find out how fast you really are without running into cars, stoplights and even cops.

Now let’s look at some tips on the actually racing. Most of this you will hear from the circuit professionals, something you will really, really, need to go for. Ask them, since they will show you all the ropes, more than I can ever tell you. Track day training is going to be essential.

But for the mean time, here are a few points.

  1. Before going out, make sure you know what each flag stands for. Know when the track marshals are telling you that there is oil on the track, when the session has been called off, when to stop, etc etc. It’s very important to know all the flags, since it can save your life.Trackday-flags
  2. Have fun out there. You don’t have a career in racing, so have fun. You are not there to race everyone on the circuit. Eventually you will find some other racers whom you can measure yourself against, but don’t try it in the first few sessions.
  3. First few laps, ride behind an experienced racer. They will know when and where to brake, and enter into the corners. This way you get a “feel” for the circuit, and you slowly memorize the layout.
  4. Never, ever, look just in front of your tires. Always look as far ahead as your can, especially in a curve. If you look down in front of you, that is where your bike will go. So look towards the exit of the curve, unless of course you want to inspect the grass and gravel.
  5. When hitting the brakes, remember that most of the work will be done by the front brakes. It’s an 80/20 rule – 80% front and 20% the rest (remember your body can also slow down your bike, so not only your rear is in the 20%).
  6. If you do run off the track, do not use your front brakes. When you are still at speed, keep straight and slowly use your rear brakes to slow down. If you are still going too fast and heading for the crash barriers, get off your bike. You will stop faster than your bike.
  7. If you do go back to the pits, make sure the other riders know this, or even when you are slowing down. Race your arm, signaling that you are slowing down. This will prevent another riders from slamming into you.
  8. Don’t over do it. Know you limits, and slowly start improving them. Just because Nicky Hayden was riding in front of you and managed to take that curve at 150 mph, doesn’t mean you can. Do not ride outside your limits. It’s going to take time and practice.
  9. Slowly start lowering your body alongside the bike in the corners. Don’t worry if you can’t put your knee down yet. It takes time and practice to be comfortable doing this. Move your center of gravity (CoG) more and more to the inside of the curve.
  10. When going out on the first laps, take it slow to warm up the tires. Be safe and take two laps making sure the tires have reached perfect temperature, but when you do, keep looking behind you since other racers will already be in their fast laps, and you don’t want to “mingle” with them.
  11. Relax! Racing is about being relaxed. If you stiffen up, you will not be racing smoothly, and therefore you will not be racing at all. More likely, you will be crashing a lot. Just relax, breath going into the corners through the nose, breath out when exiting through the mouth. This way you get a good rhythm going, and you will not fog up your visor.
  12. Oh, and if you think you’ll look cool doing that winner’s wheelie, think again. You’ll find that the circuit will ask you to leave.
  13. When you are part of a novice group, and the seasoned riders are on the track, go and look how they are doing it and learn from them. Talk to them when not riding, and ask for advice. You’ll find that most of them will help you if they can.

Trackday-3

So now you are ready to go and play on the tracks. Remember, it’s for fun. You will learn a lot, and gain more skills in riding your motorcycle in day-to-day traffic in the city. And you will finally find out in a safe way how fast you really are. And that is what it’s all about.

Have fun.

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Once you have got your motorcycle, you will want to find out how quick it, and you, is. If you have a sportsbike, chances are it’s very fast, and trying it on the streets is not the way to find out. You will probably find out what the inside of a hospital or morgue looks like before finding out how fast you are. The smart thing to do is race your motorcycle on a circuit. And for that, you don’t need to be a Nicky Hayden: anyone can try their skills on a race circuit. Most circuits have track days, days that the race tracks are open to the general public. Click here for a list of many track day organizers.

Find a race track close to you and call them, or check their web site. Track days are usually during the week, since weekends are for races. It’s not going to be cheap, count about $100 per day and that is just for the privilege of riding on the track.

Trackday-1

Instruction

Most circuits will have professional racers available to show you the ropes. They will take you around the track to show you where you need to watch out, when to hit the brakes, where to take your curve etc. It’s a bit like tennis courts of golf links; it’s the circuit pro who knows the track inside out. Pay attention, any advice they give is going to be important, no matter how small the details.

So don’t worry if you have never done it before. Newbies are just as welcome as seasoned track day racers. And if the pro is not available, ask the other users. A good friendship is always to be found on the circuits, people are usually eager to help each other.

When registering for track day, go for the new rider slots & training. Almost every circuit has them, and for your first few times, you will need it. Do not be ashamed to do it, everyone has done it.

Which Motorcycles?

There is no hard and fast rule. Any bike will do, but obviously you are going to be looking a bit silly racing a cruiser. Street bikes and sportsbikes will be the ones seen the most on track days.

Trackday-2b

ATGATT

If there is one rule that should be golden it’s the ATGATT rule. All The Gear, All The Time. Most circuits will not even allow you to race without proper gear. No skimping, your life is going to depend on it.

Get a full face integral helmet. Not even a flip up helmet will do here, it needs to be one piece. And the lighter it is, the more you will enjoy it since your head is going to be pulled by the G-forces.

You will need race gloves. If you do go off the bike, chances are that your speed is going to be very fast, and when sliding, those gloves will need to withstand a long slide. Unless of course you don’t mind some skin grafts.

Best is leather pants and jackets, preferably racing ones, but they are very expensive. Best are of course the one-piece racing suits. Expensive, but worth it. But whatever your have, you will need to have either leather or synthetic anti-abrasion material. Do not go out in jeans.

A spine protector really is a must. You’ve probably seen images of professional racers tumbling across the sand and gravel after a shunt. Now imagine this is you, and what your spine is going to go through!

And finally, get some race boots. They need to fit properly, since if you do go off, you don’t want to see your foot without boots sliding 150 mph over the track, do you?

Check Your Motorcycle

You are going to need to make sure your motorcycle is in racing condition. No, I don’t mean that you have sponsor decals on your bike, and umbrella girls. Tires and brake pads should be new, not worn down. The tires should really be racing tires since they stick better to the surface. But race tires wear down quickly, so be prepared to buy a few.

Remove your mirrors and if possible your indicators. If not the track will do that for you when you drop your bike the first time, but it’s not going to be neat.

Tape up your remaining lights, since if your bike goes down, chances are their is going to be debris on the track.

Your suspension should be set up properly for racing. Usually the firmer, the better. Read the manual for the best settings.

Make sure your bike has had a full maintenance done recently, and that fuel, water, coolants, fluids etc are all topped up.

Trackday-2

Going There

If you have done all of the above, best is to transport your motorcycle on a trailer. Not only does it save time once you are at the circuit, but also in case you wreck your bike, you at least have some form of transportation to get back home.

Alternatively, ask if the circuit rents sportsbikes. Some do, and this way you can wreck someone else’s motorcycle.

Check the sleeping conditions at the track in case you are a bit far away. Many circuits offer sleeping areas, but don’t expect comfort – more likely that they’ll be bunk beds.

Eat & Drink Smart

Obviously the last thing you want to do the night before your track day is go on a drinking (and even eating) bender. Avoid alcohol since you are going to be sweating a lot during the day, even if it’s cold. Make sure you hydrate continuously, so bring plenty of water.

Have a good breakfast since you energy is going to be zapped. It’s like going into combat; your adrenaline is going to be pumping through your veins, so make sure you have proteins and fluid in your tummy and more to top it up during the day. Soldiers don’t fight well on an empty stomach, and neither do racers.

Paperwork

You will be needing to sign all sorts of waiver forms with the circuit, but that’s normal. Do check with your insurance company what they will cover on track days. You’ll be surprised that insurance companies accept track days, since at the end, it improves your riding skills.

In our next episode, we will tell you more about the physical aspects of racing your motorcycle during track days. The “how to race” part.

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We have talked about riding when it is cold (part 1part 2part 3), an activity which is not as much fun as riding during the summer to say the least. But with the right clothing (heated jackets, gloves, etc) and equipment (heated grips, saddles) you can ride even when it is freezing.

Apron-Cutoff

But if you have ever been in Europe, even in the summer, you will have with no doubt noticed that many motorcycles and scooters have something over their ride; it is an apron.

Many riders over there buy an apron that gets attached to the handlebar or a central attach point, and then the apron stretches all the way over the rider’s legs and even chest.

Apron-grips

Several aprons even extend over the handlebars covering the rider’s arms. Usually the aprons are leather or thick plastic and you will not be surprised to see the inside made out of fur or wool.

The apron keeps the rider not only warm but also dry. Which is why you also see aprons used during the summer months; the rider wants to be kept dry. It is quite often the couriers / express delivery riders who use aprons, but nowadays business folks who use their two wheels to commute. Remember that in most European countries, people keep riding all year long, and often have their motorcycle as only mode of transportation. So it is a necessity.

Apron-Motorcycle-Taxi

Motorcycle taxi almost all have them now. These taxis transport their passengers all year long, so they need to keep them warm, toasty and happy.

It is an interesting way of keeping warm and dry, even in the winter that does not seem to have caught on in the USA. Maybe one day?

Apron-Motorcycle

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We’ve talked a few months ago about a new technology helmet coming from Russia, the Livemap helmet. But in the mean time, several other companies have announced the design of these kind of high-tech helmets.

One of the latest is from California and is called Skully Helmets. Skully Helmets, like Livemap, is stuffed with technologies; Heads Up Display, GPS, 180° video camera, Bluetooth connection, etc. (but it’s not limited to Skully; Nuviz, BikeHUD and even Reevu)

Skully Helmet

Skully Helmet

Jetfighter HUD

Jetfighter HUD

The technology used is what you will keep seeing, either integrated inside the helmet, or standalone like Google Glass. The idea is to provide essential information to the rider without overloading the biker.

Safety-wise it’s a double edge sword; the technology allows the rider to receive important information, like telemetry data (speed, revs, temperature, etc), navigation instructions (GPS), road & traffic data and other information without their eyes leaving the road. It’s safer since the rider can concentrate on the road and traffic.

But on the downside is the fact that there is more and more information given to the rider, with is not only a distraction but also an information overload. And furthermore, developers will not stop there. What about that important email from your boss? Shouldn’t that be displayed as well? Or the latest stock prices?

It is one of the reasons that Google Glass has been forbidden to be used while driving almost everywhere in the world.

So on one side, it’s handy to have a Robocop-like helmet, but on the other side, it the development is not strictly controlled, it will become a danger.

Robocop

Robocop

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Cowboy-SaddlebagSaddlebags are great. No matter what kind of a motorcycle you ride, you always need to take something with you. The only bikers that don’t need a saddlebag are the track racers.

Commuters, day trippers, Round The World riders, city bikers, rural riders, you name it ..if you ride a motorcycle, chances are you have stuff you need to take with you. And what better than storing it behind you in some nice saddlebags.

Then you can walk around with the saddlebags slung over your back like in the old days.

But you need to take care of what you are going to buy. Here are a few pointers for those of you who are about to buy a saddlebag.

Leather-SaddlebagsMaterial

First of all, let’s be clear. For me a saddlebag has to be made out of leather. Imagine a plastic saddlebag? That’s like serving a hamburger in the Four Seasons restaurant.

But even leather comes in different types:

Top Grain Leather

The most expensive part of a cow. It shows the most of the leather’s grain.

Full Grain (also known as Whole Grain) Leather

It’s a one piece leather, so not split. It is the top leather you can use for saddlebags. It’s heavy and thick.

Split Leather

Split leather is leather that has usually some other material in it. It comes from the bottom part of Full Grain leather, so much cheaper. It is usually thinner.

Bonded Leather

Leather mixed with another material, usually plastic. If done right, it can be quite good and less expensive while still giving the impression of real leather.

Covered Leather

This is the cheapest form, it’s when there is a different material covered by a thin layer of leather.

Waterproof Or Not?

You will need to think about waterproof. If you ride only in the desert, than skip this, but if you stand the chance of riding in the rain, you’ll need to think about this.

Most leather saddlebags aren’t really rainproof. This might surprise you, but it’s a fact. But you can buy waterproofing leather cream that will stop moisture from penetrating your saddlebags. But if your bags fall in the river, all hope is lost.

But if you live in a wet climate, better go for waterproof saddlebags. Maybe they’ll not be 100% leather, but at least you spare socks and phone will not get wet.

Saddlebags Support

throw-over-saddlebagsThe last thing you need to remember is that you can not just buy a nice saddlebag and throw it over the rear of your motorcycle. It’ll come off seconds after you open the throttle. So you need to ensure that you also get the saddlebag support for YOUR bike’s model. Not all models are available for a given saddlebag, so watch out carefully.

However, some bags can be used without supports, but those require it to be tied-down. Called Throw Over Saddlebags, they do allow you a lot of flexibility, but personally, I prefer my bags to be fully locked onto my bike’s support. Perish the thought that the bag leaves my bike while riding. Stuff of nightmares!!

Maintenance

Like everything that is good in life, believe it or not, saddlebags require maintenance. Leather will deteriorate over time. The elements are not nice to them; sun, rain, snow, dust & dirt – all will make your leather turn ugly.

To prevent this from happening, and to enjoy the saddlebags for many years you need to wipe the bag clean and place leather cream over it and then rub the cream in. This keeps the leather soft and supple, AND it makes the leather waterproof.

A few minutes and your leather is good to go for many more weeks.

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