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Archive for the ‘Touring’ Category

Usually bikers do not like riding the bigger highways or even tollroads/freeways. We prefer the good old country roads, with their winding curves and often better scenery. But sometimes you just can’t escape the bigger roads. To get from point A to point B in a hurry, you might not really have any choice; “it’s the highway or no way”.

But riding these kind of roads bring their own risks and challenges. Speeds are higher, there are more vehicles and you are only a very small spec on the road for many of the cars and trucks thundering along the way.

Tip 1 – Wear Bright Clothes

So the first tip is to make sure you are visible. Often car and truck drivers will have been behind the steering wheel for many hours, and their attention span limited. A motorcycle will just not be seen for that split second they need to react. Wear some high-visibility clothing, or at the least some high-visibility markings on your helmet or jacket.

Lane-Splitting

Tip 2 – Be Visible In Your Movements

Again, speeds are higher on these kind of roads, and you are not as visible as an 18-wheeler truck. So when you are maneuvering, make sure you are seen. Changing lanes, check you mirror on both sides and put out those indicators. Then check the mirrors again. You will find that there is always that car driver that is coming up faster than the traffic and before you know it, you will be intimately acquainted with him or her.

When you need to slow down, and if you have the time, press your brakes intermittently, causing your brake lights to flash. This will warn the distracted car driver behind you that you are slowing down.

Tip 3 – Do Not Let Them Tailgate You

It’s always a bad thing when a car or truck is riding a few feet behind you, but it’s even worse on a highway or tollroad/freeway. Speeds are higher, and if you need to slam the brakes, vehicles behind you will crash into you. Remember that a motorcycle will stop in approximately 50% of the distance of a car. If some idiot is not giving you the space, flash your brake lights a few times or use your arms to tell the driver to back off. But whatever you do, do not do a brake check! If the idiot persists, change lanes and let the car pass.

Note: I’ve seen quite a lot of cases where bikers get road rage towards cars that tailgate. It’s hopeless! You are the weaker one. There is nothing you can do to make sure you survive an encounter of the third kind with a car. Always remember that. You will always lose!

Tip 4 – Choose Your Lane Carefully

This is a difficult one. The right lanes are for slower traffic, but are often used by faster cars who are weaving in and out. It’s also where you will find the most number of trucks. The left lanes are normally used for overtaking, so faster. There is no real theory which lane you should be in, you’ll need to pay attention to all sides of the traffic anyway. But remember Tip #2, if you change lane, make sure you are visible. If there are three lanes, staying safe in the center lane may be a good bet, but some car drivers don’t like seeing it, so they may cut you off.

Motorcycle-on-highway

Tip 5 – Which Part of the Lane

Always try to stick to the left or right of the lane itself. The center of the lane is where it is far more slippery. Not only is that where you will find oil, radiator or brake fluid deposits coming from cars and trucks (engines are in the middle of the vehicles), but it is also the part of the lane where no tires have ran over, so dirtier, wetter and therefore slippery. If there are any objects left on the road, they will be in the center part of the lane. Riding behind a car or truck, you’re going to be running over them, not a nice thing to do.

If I had a choice, I’d stick to the right part of the lane, since most cars when overtaking will pass on the left, leaving some room for me to avoid wind turbulence.

Tip 6 – Passing Trucks

When passing trucks you always need to be aware of wind turbulence. If you are passing on the left, and there is wind blowing from that side, while you are passing, you are sheltered by the truck. But once you are clear of the truck, you will suddenly get a wind blast that could move you to the left – into a car’s passage.

If you are going really slowly, and trucks pass you, not only do you have to worry about wind coming from the right, but also the turbulence the truck creates when he passes you. Just be ready for it.

Tip 7 – Tollroads

It goes without saying, but make sure you have spare changes for the toll booths ready. Putting them in your trousers is going to be difficult to get at. If you’ve got storage space in the front of your bike, or if you are using a fuel tank bag, find a handy and easily accessible area. If not keep them in your jacket pocket. If the toll booths accept credit cards, have the car ready in your pocket or storage space.

And whatever you do, make sure you get the right toll booth and don’t end up having to push back your motorcycle because you took the ‘trucks only’, or ‘cars only’ booth.

toll

Do you have any tips for riding highways, apart from avoiding them?

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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 have already mentioned one of our favorite roads to ride our motorcycles on, the Deal’s Gap also known as the Tail of the Dragon. Of course we are slightly biased since the ride is close to home, but there are many others roads that can equal some of the better known roads in Europe and Asia, and they are all found here in the States.

But instead of researching them, writing them up, and publishing them, we are more inclined to show you a web site that has done exactly that.

Best-Motorcycle-Roads

Motorcycleroads.com is a site that lists the best roads to ride on in the USA, and it is not based on the web master’s opinion but of the readers.

Anyone can list their favorite road, and then others can vote if it is really a nice road. So it is you, the reader, who decides which are the great roads. As democratic as you can get.

Each road on their site is accompanied by a map, a description, the scenery encountered, the quality of the road and the amenities (restaurants, garages, hotels, bars). You can also find several photos and videos of the road. And at the very bottom, you will find the individual reviews of that road.

Just have a look at their Top 100 roads in the USA. Just have a look at what they have to say about Deal’s Gap. In fact, Deal’s Gap is listed as 2nd best road.

But there are many roads I have never heard of, but many look like real fun. So many roads, so little time.

If you plan to ride several of their listed roads, you can also get an app for your iPhone or Android smartphone. This way you can go from road to road.

So head on over to the site and start planning your next fantastic ride.

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Europe has predominantly roundabouts, while North America sees mostly 4-Way Stops at intersections. But the question is which is more efficient, and which is safer.

MythBusters tackled this hot issue by measuring throughput using both methods. You can see the results in the video below. But before you do….

Roundabout

Roundabout

For those who are not used to riding with roundabouts, the scope is that you have two types of roundabouts; one where priority is given to vehicles on the roundabout, the other is priority is given to vehicles coming onto the roundabout. The usage will depend on the traffic layout and road density. The most commonly used one, is for priority is given to vehicles on the roundabout.

4-Way-Stop

4-Way-Stop

The advantages of the 4-Way Stops are they require less money to make since roundabouts take up more space and use up more road materials. A 4-Way Stop is also built much quicker than a roundabout. Roundabouts can also be used for more than 2 roads, they can have as many as are required.

Paris Arc de Triomphe roundabout with 11 roads

Paris Arc de Triomphe roundabout with 12 roads

But as you will see from the video, the efficiency of a roundabout is a lot, and I mean A LOT, more efficient.

Ecology-wise, a roundabout makes vehicles use less gasoline. With a 4-Way Stop, even if you are the only vehicle, according to the law, you MUST come to a full stop. Then you start rolling again. Even with a motorcycle, that will use more petrol. With a roundabout, if there is no traffic on the roundabout itself, you do not need to stop, you just keep on rolling. So less petrol is used.

As a biker, I prefer roundabouts. They are a bit safer than 4-Way Stops since I am always afraid that some SUV is going to forget it was my turn to enter the intersection. I’m not talking about malicious intent, just a mis-communication. With roundabouts, there is no problem with mis-communication; if you are on the roundabout, you have priority. So it’s relatively safer. I say relatively, since on roundabouts with more than 1 lane, it is not unusual to see accidents with vehicles in the inner lane suddenly turning out of the roundabout. And that can cause crashes, as I have experienced firsthand.

But on a whole, roundabouts are the way forward. Traffic becomes more fluid, safer and more ecological. So what are we waiting for? However, sometimes planners go wild with roundabouts. Here is one you do not want to take with a motorcycle:

Multiple roundabouts inside one big roundabout (UK)

Multiple roundabouts inside one big roundabout (UK)

What do you think? Are you for the American system or the European?

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Some of world’s motorcycle museums are very good, full of old bikes we have never seen. Usually the manufacturers have their own museums, where they have kept the models they have made over the ages in mint condition.

World’s biggest motorcycle manufacturer Honda has an incredible museum based in Montegi, and although Japan is a bit far away, you can visit this beautiful museum for free. Yes, you read that right, for free.

Thanks to Google and their Street View, you can now walk through the 3 floors that constitute the Honda Museum.

Honda-Museum-Montegi-3

Want to see what Honda merchandising they have? Just visit the shop on your way out. Just do not forget to tip the guide.

Honda-Museum-Montegi-2

What’s more, if you have 3D glasses, press the “3” on your keyboard to see the museum in 3D. It’s almost as good as being there, and it doesn’t cost you a cent.

Honda-Museum-Montegi-1

On the top left you will see the numbers 1,2 and 3. Press those to go to that floor. When “walking” through the interesting museum, you will also see a collection of their race cars.

Visit the Honda Museum by clicking here

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Motorcycle Camping Do’s & Don’ts

We have written not so long ago about the dangers of camping fires, but we forgot to mention the “camping” aspect. Camping is a popular activity for motorcycle riders the world over. Not only is it cheaper than hotels, but we continue enjoying a certain amount of freedom that hotels or motels do not offer. The brotherhood (and sisterhood) of bikers often continue when camping. What can be more fun that living “outdoors” with likeminded bikers?

So here are few things you need to take into consideration when camping.

What To Take?

That is always the big question; what can you take with you. If you are traveling in a cage, it is less of a problem, but traveling on a motorcycle, especially when you are riding two-up, it becomes a real issue. Space is at a premium, and you need to have good motorcycle bags.

If you are planning on cooking yourself (I don’t, since there are always nice and cheap places to eat along the way), you will need to bring cooking gear. That takes up an enormous amount of space; stove, pans, plates, cutlery, cups and some form of drinks (coffee, tea). The food itself you can buy locally, if not you will need to bring cans of food.

The other thing that you need to bring is clothing. Again, it’s a space issue, you can not bring your whole wardrobe, just some basic stuff. But you do need to take into account your destination’s climate. If you will be traveling between different temperatures, be smart in your clothing choice. Bring stuff that can be added, not replaced. In other words if you are in a warmer climate and going to a colder one, do not bring warm clothes and cold weather clothes. Bring warm weather clothes and then add extra clothes that can be put on top of the warm weather clothes to resist the cold weather. This way your clothing is not going to be (that) bulky. A turtleneck sweater takes up more room than two shirts that can be put on on top of each other.

Shoes take up a lot of space. Motorcycle boots can do the trick, depending on the boots, and I would add one pair of easy shoes to be used around the camping. So boots for trekking or walking, light shoes for around the camping. Since you will be wearing the boots while riding, they take up zero space.

Do not forget a towel. Drying yourself off with t-shirts is messy. Nowadays you can buy microfiber towels that take up very little space but are great for drying yourself off.

Another handy thing to have is a first-aid kit. You never know, and they are usually very small. Just the basic stuff, and of course, depending on where you are going, anti-mosquito sprays.

Nomad motorcycle tent

Nomad motorcycle tent

Tent, sleeping bag and mattress are obvious, unless you are planning to sleep under the stars (good luck). The more compact, the lighter, the better. Tents, sleeping bags and mattresses take up a lot of space, so choose carefully. This is where money spent is money well spent. But do again remember your destination’s climate. Your sleeping bag’s choice is going to determine if you are going to sleep well at night.

The last thing to bring is a personal choice: guides and maps. Some people do not care, and just enjoy what they are seeing, while others want to read all about the area they are in. But a paper map can be quite handy, especially if your GPS quits on you.

Packing the motorcycle

Now you need to pack everything. There are really no rules of thumb about packing. Obviously best is to keep stuff together so you know where everything is. So cooking gear in one bag, clothes in the other. The last thing you want is that cooking oil seeping into your clothes.

Do not take unnecessary stuff

Do not take unnecessary stuff

But one thing you do need to keep into account; your motorcycle’s center of gravity. Best is to keep as much stuff as you can, particularly the heavy stuff, as close to the bike’s center of gravity as you can. The heavier stuff goes low, the lighter stuff higher up. So if you are bring a cast iron frying pan (why would you?) place it at the bottom of your pannier/side case/saddlebag. Use as much as you can a fuel tank bag. It’s limited in volume but sits in the center of the bike.

Sissy bar bags hold a lot of space, but do catch wind and will slow you down, and use up petrol. But they are handy to carry a lot of space, especially two-up.

Make sure your clothes are in a rain proof bag. The last thing you want is to arrive at your destination and find your clothes soaking wet.

At your destination

When you have arrived at your destination, whether it is an official camping site, or just somewhere along the road or in the wild nature, be sure to secure your motorcycle. The last thing you want is to wake up in the morning to find your ride gone. It’s going to be a long walk back home. Chains and padlocks are your friends here.

Being able to keep your motorcycle close to your tent, even using your motorcycle as part of your tent is great, but some camping ground do not allow that. Better safe than sorry. But if you do, make sure your motorcycle will not tip over.

Make sure your motorcycle will not sink into the ground, especially when it has been raining. Put a plastic or metal coaster under your side stand, or put your bike on a center stand.

If you are staying at a camping ground, you will need to respect the rules. One of them is not to fire up your engine and revving it. I do not think other campers are going to like you very much if you do.

If you do plan to cook, or just make a fire, read these points about camping fires. The last thing you want is to be held responsible for creating the worst fire known to mankind.

Now just enjoy your freedom and camp to your heart’s content. I just hope it is not going to rain.

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Riding in a city, big or small, brings many more risks for us motorcycle riders. Cities have more traffic, therefore more cars that can bump into us like strangers in the night. But not all cities are equal in the risk you undertake when riding there. It is strange that some cities are consistently bad to drive, while others are more or less a pleasure. What causes this? Is it the city itself that makes people drive their car badly, or is it the air they breath?

We can not really answer that question, if we could, we would probably be very rich. But what we can do is tell you which cities are great to ride your motorcycle in, and which you should avoid like the bubonic plague.

Insurance company AllState research every year where the most claims for car accidents are filed. They look at 200 cities in the USA, and correlate the data into a comprehensive report, showing what are the safe cities, and which are not.

Obviously there are differences in driving ethics between big and smaller cities. In bigger cities, people spend longer times in their cars, and therefore are more frequently annoyed. In smaller cities, speeds tend to be faster.

According to AllState, the best place to drive is Fort Collins in Colorado. Compared to the national average, you have 28.2% less chance to have an accident there. For an individual person, they will have on average an accident every 13.9 years. That means almost 14 years between accidents.

The safest “big” city to drive in is Phoenix, Arizona, with a 2% less chance of an accident, and an average accident every 9.8 years. Not bad, plus you can ride your motorcycle all year there.

Washington DC Traffic

Washington DC Traffic

The worst city in the USA, therefore the unsafest, is Washington, DC. There the chance of having an accident is 109.3%, so it’s almost a guarantee that you will be in some sort of an accident. The average number of years between accidents there is 4.8 years. Washington in particular is probably the city where the air you breath makes you an aggressive and bad driver. All that testosterone in the air.

You can read the data and explanations by clicking here. And if you want to read the whole report, click here to read the PDF report.

Remember that when you ride your motorcycle, it is always best to be ATGATT (All the Gear, All The Time). This is always important, but riding in a city brings so many more dangers with cars all around you that can hit you.  Wearing a Helmet, jacket, boots and gloves are the only way you can escape these kind of dangers.

So ride safe, even if you have to ride in Washington.

Source: AllState

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Riding your motorcycle as we all know requires you to be and stay alert. If your concentration goes, or even worse, you fall asleep, you are going to be in deep trouble. So on long motorcycle trips you need to make sure you stay alert. Imagine riding from or to Sturgis? You could be in for a couple of days with 100′s of miles of road per day, and at times the roads are boring. Your attention starts slipping, and you are going to miss that truck about to cut you off.

The obvious choice for many bikers is to drink some coffee, and it is a wise choice. But remember on all the drinks mentioned below, a lot will depend on your own body but more importantly, your health. If you have a weak heart, think twice before taking any special drinks, or better yet, consult your doctor.

Coffee

Biker-Blend-CoffeeCoffee is easy to get, but for it to make any sense it needs to be pretty strong. Typically an Italian or French expresso coffee (the small cups, typically 2 fl oz.) contains an average of 100 mg of caffeine.

It is the caffeine that will keep your mind active for a few hours. But it will also increase your heart rate and might also give your muscles some cramps, so there are downsides.

But mind you, if you are a regular coffee drinker, 100 mg of caffeine will probably not do the trick, and you might want to drink 2 or 3.

Normal coffee cups, the good old java, is fine too, but you will need a cup or two, and there is an additional downside to this: you are going to need a toilet break faster than normal. Obviously caffeine-free coffee or instant coffee has far less of the good stuff to keep you going for miles and miles.

Tea

You can consider that tea has caffeine though it is called theine. An added advantage is that theine lasts a few hours longer. But that applies only to normal tea (green or black), herbal teas have no theine or caffeine at all.

So if you want to drink something warm and stay awake, a green or black tea is better than coffee since the effects last longer.

Soda

The most known caffeine-induced soft drinks are Coca-Cola and Pepsi, both do indeed have plenty of ingredients to allow you a few more miles on the road. Apart from the many ounces of sugar, Pepsi Max has the most caffeine, with 69 mg per can, while Coke has 35 mg for 12 oz.

All transparent sodas, like Seven-up, Fanta and even root beer have no caffeine.

The normal side effect of having to make a potty-break is obvious, but the other effect is adding a few inches to your waistline.

Energy Drinks

Red-BullThe one type of drink that can be taken quickly since it is not hot, and nice to drink on a hot day, are the energy drinks like Monster and Red Bull. These drinks are made for keeping you focussed on riding your motorcycle. It is what a lot of people drink when they are doing something that needs 100% focus.

A 23.5 fl oz Jolt Energy Drink will supply you with 280 mg of caffeine, a 16 fl oz Rockstar Citrus will deliver 240 mg, while 16 fl oz Monster will give you 160 mg and Red Bull 8.4 fl oz will deliver 80 into your blood stream.

These drinks jolt the system wide awake. They will also make your heart run a lot faster. Health officials in Europe are advising people not to drink more than 2 cans per day, maximum.

Health and Safety

You do need to take into account that too much caffeine is very bad for your health. The older you get, the quicker you will loose focus, the more caffeine you will be inclined to drink. But that is when your own personal engine (heart) will suddenly quit, and before you know it you wake up with EMS staff performing cardiac arrest procedures.

So if your ride is long, and you need to stay awake, try to keep it under 100 mg of caffeine.

Click here for a long list of caffeine per product.

But to keep awake and alert on your motorcycle, coffee and other drinks are not the only way. As I said, caffeine and theine do have some undesired effects on your health. So apart from drinking cups of hot java before setting out again, what can you do?

Eating/Chewing

One simple way of keeping focus is chewing gum. That is right, just by chewing gum you keep your mouth busy and therefore your brains. It is a trick many professional long distance drivers use, so why not you? But remember, you can not blow bubbles if you are wearing a helmet!

(c) Hell Ride Movie

(c) Hell Ride Movie

An alternative is to eat something very (and I mean VERY) bitter. Imagine eating a lemon; your mouth probably grinches just now of the thought of eating a whole lemon. The pucker factor will keep your brains in gear.

For some people, chewing on ice cubes help, but the problem with ice cubes is that they melt, requiring you to stop to get new ones. So maybe it is really the stopping that helps, not the chewing of ice cubes. Maybe one day a scientist will analyze it.

Head Movements

Another way is to shake your head from side to side with enough force to push blood around. In a car you could slap your own face for the same effect, but on a motorcycle that becomes a bit more tricky using a helmet. By shaking your head, you force blood from one side to the other and back. That action will regain you a few minutes of attention and focus.

Talking

If you are riding with a pillion, and you have an intercom/communication device (like the Chatterbox), talking to someone helps keep focused. Just the fact that you talk requires your brain to function, and with that, you gain more attention span.

Listening does not necessarily work, since a smoothing voice will work the opposite way. So tell your pillion your life story.

If your communication device plays music, maybe listening to one of your favorite tunes is not the way forward. In fact, listen to awful music; the fact that you don’t like it will make your brain more active, while on the other hand, when you are listening to great music, your brain goes to “sleep” while listening (that is why many people listen to music before going to sleep).

Stops

StretchingOne of the most important and easy way of staying awake, apart from coffee, is stopping. It may seem strange that in order to stay awake on your motorcycle you need to stop, but by pulling over, getting off the bike, and stretching for 5 or 10 minutes, you will be able to go on for an extra hour or two.

Doctors and other specialists recommend that you stop every 2 hours. Luckily our precious motorcycles do not hold that much gasoline, so we are forced often enough the stop to tank up. But use that time, after you have filled up the fuel tank, to do some stretching exercises.

If you are not in an enormous rush, take a 10 minute nap. Power naps will allow you to go on for hours of riding. If you read more about Iron Butt rally riders, you will see that all the top riders take 10 minute power naps, allowing them to ride 1000+ miles each day.

Drugs

You will have noticed that I have stayed away from drugs, either legal or illegal kinds. Personally I believe that if you need to resort to drugs, you are going to far, and then things escalate.

Stay on the safe side, and as some famous politicians said years ago “just say no”.

Have a safe ride.

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Riding your motorcycle is fun, but when you ride for longer periods of time, your body will start protesting. At least, that is the case for many bikers. Apart from the famous monkey butt, one of the main areas of pain is your back.

If you think about it, or analyze it, your back will take all the strain of your riding posture. A lot depends on several factors; your body measurements, your motorcycle type and some parts of your motorcycle.

Motorcycle Type

Let us start with the type of motorcycle. Basically there are three types, Standard, Sports and Cruiser. Each has a body position, feet position and hands position. These three parts will form a portion of your riding comfort.

Standard

Standard Motorcycle (c) http://www.innova-pain.com/

Standard Motorcycle (c) http://www.innova-pain.com/

In the Standard motorcycle type (typically dual sports, touring bikes), your body is by default straight up, feet are directly below you and your hands straight. This is by far the best position for riding a motorcycle for longer distances.

Cruiser

The second best motorcycle type is Cruiser. Like the Standard type, your body is straight, your hands are straight (unless you are riding an extreme ape handlebar) and your feet are slightly ahead of you. Your legs will “hold” your body less than the Standard type, but your body will remain reasonable straight.

Sports

Sports Motorcycle (c) http://www.innova-pain.com/

Sports Motorcycle (c) http://www.innova-pain.com/

The Sports type requires your body to lean forward, and at higher speeds your torso will be required to fight a strong wind, while your hands are lower and your feet are behind you. In other words, there is a lot of stress on your body, one of the reasons you can not really go that far on a sports motorcycle.

Your Body

Looking at the above motorcycle types, your body measurements will have a big influence on your back. Obviously your body mass (i.e. obesity) will play an enormous factor, but then it will in other aspects of your life.

If you are above average height, you will stoop, hunching your back and thereby creating pain. Raising your handlebars will alleviate that issue. If you are smaller than average, the problem will be different, but the area that will cause your back ache will be your feet. Obviously lower your handlebars (if possible) will help, but few bikes can do that. If your feet reach the ground properly (if they don’t, change your motorcycle), then see if you can raise your foot pegs.

The objective is to straighten your back and keep it straight.

Motorcycle Parts

There are three parts to your motorcycle that can be adapted to make it easier on your back; handlebars, seat and foot pegs.

Handlebars

A motorcycle’s handlebar is made for an average height of the biker. It is obvious that a big percentage of bikers are not the right height, either too small or too big. To make your life more comfortable, and less back aches and hand/finger numbness, you can change the handlebar on your bike for something that fits better. Taller, shorter, wider, etc. When you look at the handlebar make sure it fits your body measurements.

Ask an ergonomics expert for advise what measurements you should take. When you buy a handlebar from a company like Pro Taper, they have an added advantage of usually being lighter and transmit less vibrations.

Seat

Usually the stock seat of a motorcycle is of average quality, and changing the seat for something more comfortable and more adapted towards your body measurements will do wonders towards riding longer distances.

Just adding a Airhawk can make all the difference.

Foot Pegs

Changing the position of your foot pegs will change your body posture. Many bikes allow you to lower or raise foot pegs, and if you buy aftermarket pegs, you can get something that suits your body better.

An alternative to standard foot pegs, depending on your bike are floor boards.

Summary

As you can see, your back ache comes from different areas, and you can help yourself by changing some part of your motorcycle.

Click here to read more about the positions on the three different motorcycles.

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There is nothing more rewarding and pleasurable then riding your motorcycle into the wild, pitching up a tent and camping for a day or two. Find a nice place in the woods, preferably with a great view and a lake, and you might just have a perfect holiday relaxing and enjoying nature.

Motorcycle-Camping

But motorcycle camping has its pitfalls as well, and we are not talking about being bitten by insects, nor not having your morning expresso coffee or sleeping in your comfortable bed. There are real dangers that should never be overlooked while camping, and one of the biggest dangers is fires.

Obviously when you are camping, you will want to eat. And to eat, you will need to make a fire to cook your food (and maybe later on in the evening sing Cumbaya). But fires in forest can cause a wildfires. Nine out of ten wildfires are caused by us humans, and a wildfire can kill people and destroy a lot of property, so you need to take a few precautions:

Fire Pit

Fire Pit

  1. Check if there is already a fire pit or fire ring (an area dug out a bit, often surrounded by stones).
  2. If there is not one, make one, but make sure it is not in an area with dry sticks, branches and leaves. Keep it 15 feet at least away from anything else (your tent, trees). Also watch out for low hanging branches.
  3. It might be a good idea to check where the wind is blowing, because embers and sparks will fly with the wind.
  4. Dig a pit, about 1 foot deep and place rocks around it.
  5. When you have finished putting dry branches in the pit and are ready to get some fire, it is a good idea to get a bucket with water and a shovel:- just in case.
  6. Once your fire is going, do not leave it unattended.
  7. When you are done, and the last Cumbaya song has been sung, if the fire has not died out, drown out the fire with water. You need to do this even if the fire has gone out (unless it is stone cold).
  8. Keep pouring water until you hear no more hissing. Stir the fire, and start pouring water again until it is no longer hot.
  9. If you do not have water, use dirt and sand, but you do need to stir that.

Remember, it is easy to make a fire, but very difficult and expensive to extinguish a wild fire. If the wild fire is tracked down to you, you will need to pay the expenses of all the damage it has cost, and the cost of the firefighters.

So if you go camping on your motorcycle, play it save. For all our sakes. Oh, and don’t forget your rain gear. You do know that Murphy was an optimist!

Click here to read more about fire safety while camping.

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Going on holiday with your motorcycle is twice the fun, first of all you are on holidays, and second, you are on your motorcycle. What more would you want (well, maybe some nice weather)?

But traveling on your bike with your gear requires a few reflections before you set off. Here are a few hints & tips for those of you planning to use your motorcycle to go on vacation.

Heavy-Load

The first thing you really need to do is grab your instructions/owner manual to see what the authorized maximum weight is (if you have lost yours, check the web). These figures are always listed since they represent the weight that your bike can carry safely. Any weight above that and you will forfeit any warrantee claims. You might also want to check your insurance policy what happens if you do not stick to the manufacturer’s restrictions.

Then you will need to add your weight and your pillion’s weight (if you have a pillion), plus any baggage weight. You will then know whether you are safe or not.

In practice, most bikers overload their motorcycles and still ride it safely. But you never know what bad effects it will have on your bike’s health.

Saddlebags, Panniers & topcases

If you have special saddlebags, panniers or topcases, you might want to check their maximum weight restrictions as well. These storage compartments often are limited in weight, and usually it is not for the storage compartment itself but for the compartment’s attachment points (luggage racks).

Suspension & Tires

Again, consult your manual. Each motorcycle has its own setup for heavy loads. You will need to set up your suspension accordingly, making it firmer. The last thing you want is to reach the outer limits of your suspension when taking a curve.

Your tires will need to be inflated to the right pressure. If not you risk bursting your tires while riding.

Ride (More) Safely

Riding with a heavy load on your motorcycle requires a bit more thought and patience to the actual riding itself:

Braking

For example, hitting the brakes while riding two-up and with all your luggage will mean that it is going to take longer to come to a full stop. If you require to brake several times, your brake pads will start suffering as well, and will need to be cooled down.

Your brakes need to slow down a lot of weight now. Remember that.

Handling

The handling of your motorcycle is going to be different. The Center of Gravity (CoG) will have shifted with all the weight, so you will need to take that into account when riding, especially in the tight curves.

The first few miles get to “feel” the bike’s handling.

Wind Sensitivity

Your bike will be more wind sensitive. There is more surface for the wind to push, so you will need to pay attention to that. The same applies to passing (or being passed) by trucks, on both directions (in other words watch out of oncoming trucks as well).

Once your bike starts moving because if the wind, it is going to take longer to get it back to the correct path.

Stopping

When coming to a full stop, remember that you have a lot of extra weight. This might cause your motorcycle to tumble over.

Also watch out when you put the side stand or even central stand out. Your bike is now a lot heavier and can easily dig in, causing your bike to fall over.

Theft

An obvious one that often gets forgotten. When you are in the holiday spirit, riding your heavily loaded motorcycle to your final destination, you stop over for lunch somewhere. Many bikers just leave their bikes parked with all their gear on it. When they come back, they are surprised that all their luggage is gone.

If you need to leave your bike, make sure you can keep an eye on it at all times. It is very easy to take something of your motorcycle.

Now, go out and enjoy your holiday.

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When seasons change, you are always faced with the same question; what to wear. Now that summer is fast approaching, or maybe it has already arrived for you, you need to look at what’s in your closet for riding in the summer. I’ve already written about staying cool in hot weather, but not everyone has extreme temperatures (link). Warm weather does mean adapting your motorcycle clothing.

But whatever you wear, you always need to remember the two important rules; 1) stay protected and 2) stay cool. You do want your body to stay cool, but you also want it protected in case of an involuntary “off”.

Scene from the movie "Waking Ted Devine"

Scene from the movie “Waking Ted Devine”

Helmets

Helmets-ColorsThe biggest winner for summer riding are open faced helmets. They allow the maximum of air coming into your face and head, keeping your head cool.

Obviously they do not protect your face in case of close encounters with the tarmac, but for the rest they will protect you.

The best alternative is a modular or flip-up helmet with lots of vents. Or a crossover helmet. Riding without a helmet is foolish, even if it’s just for bug hits.

Jackets

Nowadays most jackets are well aired, even leather ones. But for sure, a leather jacket is warmer than other materials, except for meshed jackets.

Use jackets that have plenty of vents, so that when it gets warmer during your ride, you just open more and more vents. When riding in the evening, you can close your vents.

Make sure that the jacket is abrasion proof. And since it can rain at any moment (maybe not in Death Valley), bring the rain gear. Just in case!

Trousers

Most bikers like wearing jeans, and although normal jeans are strong, they offer no protection whatsoever against impact or road rash. But there are special motorcycle jeans that do protect you. They will have removable armor and often materials like Kevlar.

But make sure the jeans are well aired, i.e., offer good ventilation. You can also buy trousers that are not jeans, like cargo pants, that are protected and well aired.

Shorts, no matter how welcome they are in the warm weather, are really out of the question. Unless of course you like tattooing your skin with asphalt.

Ad from Utah Department of Public Safety

Ad from Utah Department of Public Safety

Shoes

Obviously motorcycle boots are the best choice, but in warm weather, not very practical. If you insist on sneakers, get some that sits strongly around your ankles, like basketball sneakers.

For the sake of air pollution, yours and people around you, make sure your sneakers are well vented. Because taking them off after hours of riding; you know what I mean.

Gloves

When you take an off on your bike, your first instinct is to protect yourself with your hands. It’s a natural and very human reflex, and it’s the reason we need to wear gloves.

You can get gloves that are thin leather, enough to keep your skin intact after the first impact. They don’t cause much heat build up, and will protect your knuckles from those pesky bug hits.

So when riding your motorcycle in the summer, just be cool; wear protective but well aired clothing. Staying in a hospital in the summer is a real downer.

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Riding your motorcycle alone is fun, but sometimes it’s fun to share. Or you might just need to bring someone somewhere. But whatever the reason, riding with a pillion behind you has its own set of rules and customs.

Remember when you have a pillion, you are the captain of a vessel and the safety of your passengers is in your hands. So always, and I mean always, be responsible.

When I travel with a pillion, I do pretend I am the captain of an airplane. I give my passenger a safety “lesson”. Not the kind that says “this is where the emergency exits are”, and “this is how you put on your life jacket”, but more a do and do not.

(c) BMW

(c) BMW

Here are “my” rules:

Before Riding Off

  • Always ensure that your pillion is properly equippedhelmet and jacket are the minimum, gloves would be very nice as well.. Do remember that in a situation, your passenger probably doesn’t see it coming so can’t brace. The better their body is protected the safer it is for them.
  • Tell them the following:
  1. Getting on or off the motorcycle, always check with the rider first. The motorcycle is suddenly going to get or loose weight which will destabilize the bike. If the biker is not prepared, everyone is going to go down.
  2. Sit straight, not sideways.
  3. When going into a curve, either sit straight, or look over the shoulder that is inside the curve. By moving your head to the biker’s shoulder that is on the inside of the curve, the center of gravity remains the same, doing the opposite means the bike will wobble.
  4. When riding at low speeds, or in between lanes, do not fidget in your seat. Until you have reached gyroscopic speed, the bike will not be stable. Fidgeting will cause the bike to wobble, and you will all fall.
  5. No sudden movements. Moving is fine, but no sudden or jerky movements because the rider will not be prepared to counter. You can turn back, but only from the waist up.
  6. Explain some basic signals and communication. It’s up to you to “invent” them, but you can say “two taps on the shoulder means slow down” or “a shoulder squeeze means I need to stop”.
  7. They are allowed to wave at other motorcycles, but all other communication to other vehicles is up to the captain (i.e. you).

While Riding

(c) BMW

(c) BMW

  • Do NOT try to impress or scare the pillion.
  • Do not accelerate like a madman. The pillion’s head is going to be whiplashed since they don’t control the bike.
  • Do not brake strongly (unless you need to for emergencies). Strong braking is not only uncomfortable for your pillion, but the pillion will most probably slam into you.
  • Speed kills, especially when you are a pillion. It’s also very uncomfortable for them.

Things To Check Before Riding Off

  • Check the tire pressure. Usually when you have added a pillion, the weight of the bike will be such that you need to add air to your tires. Check your manual, it usually says what the tire pressure should be for pillion riding.
  • Adjust your mirrors
  • If you’ll be riding a night, check your headlights. The extra weight might be moving the headlights upwards, so you will be blinding oncoming vehicles.

Riding with a pillion can be fun since it’s two people sharing something nice. But always remember you are responsible for the pillion’s wellbeing.

If you will be riding often with a pillion, and if you bike allows it, get a sissybar. Your pillion will thank you.

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With the hot days ahead of us, or maybe you are already riding your motorcycle in warm weather, it’s time to think about what hot temperatures do to us, and what we can do about it.

When temperatures get really warm, let’s say anything above 100°F, you need to realize that riding your motorcycle for hours on end, can result in the same dangers as riding intoxicated. Once your body heat increases and stays high, if you don’t hydrate and keep cool, your head will become drowsy and you will not longer be able to focus on traffic and riding. And that is dangerous.

There are a few things you can do about it. The easiest, but definitely the less fun, is to ride only when it’s cooler, like at night. But let’s face it, who wants to do that?

Thor Vapor Hydration Pack

Thor Vapor Hydration Pack

The first thing you got to do is ensure that you are well hydrated. Drink plenty of water (no, beer is of no help, and I’d forget about drinking sugar water like Coke). Plain old tap (or mineral) water and plenty of it. One of the best ways of keeping hydrated is using a hydration pack, also called a camelback. Hydration packs are usually used for off road riding, endurance and even by track racers, but you can use one as well for normal riding. The hotter it gets, the more you need to hydrate yourself.

Instead of buying a jacket with a built-in bladder, just get a backpack hydration pack. Fill it with water, and drink while riding. Easy and you will feel much better suited for riding in hot weather. You will thank me, trust me. You will feel that you can ride for miles, even in extreme hot days.

Now let’s look at what we can do to keep your body cool. One way, an extreme way, is to buy an external device that gets mounted on your motorcycle that blows cold air on your body. In other words, an air-conditioning for motorcycles. Believe it or not, they do exist.

Entrosys airco

Entrosys airco

In Israel, a country that is usually very hot (and I don’t mean political), they are building exactly such a device. Called Entrosys, it’s an airco that sits on your bike and blows cold air inside your jacket. But it’s a very expensive solution, you can’t take a pillion and it can really only be used if you commute everyday through Death Valley.

So if you are not in the market for a portable air-conditioning unit, the next best thing is your jacket. Riding without a jacket is not an option for me, not matter how warm it is. Riding in a t-shirt or with nothing is just inviting problems, and it’s not only the dreaded road rash; what do you think your body is going to say when a bug hits it at 55 mph?

The easy way if you don’t want to end up with multiple jackets is to ensure that when you buy a jacket it has many ventilation slots. One or two slots is not enough. You need a jacket that allows you to open your arm ventilation, two or more ventilation slots in the front and let’s not forget the back. If you don’t have any ventilation in the back, air will not circulate and that is the whole idea. Air should come in the front and exit out the back, cooling you down in the process.

When shopping for a jacket, make sure you get a jacket that is to be used for summer, since they usually have vents. Even multi-season jackets will do, as long as they are okay for riding in the summer. It does mean stripping out the liner and probably the rainproofing layer, but at least you will get fresh air on your body. Wear a t-shirt underneath.

Joe Rocket meshed jacket

Joe Rocket meshed jacket

The ultimate in warm weather gear is a mesh jacket. Mesh jackets are jackets that have tiny holes all over them. They have them in male and female styles. When you put one on, once you start riding it’s like you don’t have a jacket on. You will feel air all over your body, cooling you down in the process. Most of them feel like you’re riding with a jacket.

You can get many types of jackets that are meshed, from full riding jackets with all the protection and visibility you want, to just plain jackets with the minimum of protection.

Take a look at this jacket, it’s the Joe Rocket Reactor 3.0. It’s a leather jacket that is meshed, it’s has armor and reflective stripes. If you look at the photo closely, you’ll see the mesh in the front – lots of little holes.

These meshed (or ventilated) jackets will keep you cool while riding. For the rest, wear sensible shoes (you don’t need socks) and pants. Try not to ride with shorts, unless you don’t mind bug hits and possible road rash.

Now go out and enjoy your ride.

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Often people think what can they do to extend their motorcycle riding fun. Just going for senseless rides is not the way to go. Group rides are fine, but what about volunteering for one of the many local sports events.

Many sports events, like bicycles, marathon, triathlon and other road races require escorts (the motorcycle kind – wink wink), often by motorcycles. The escort duty can be marshaling, in other words having an “official” as pillion who has to ensure that no one cheats and that all rules are respected, or to ride around with a press photographer as pillion, or just as safety motorcycle, making sure that all participants can race in safety.

It’s great fun, and you are actually in the middle of the sports event. A bit like being able to run around the football field during the Superbowl.

But riding your motorcycle in a sports event does require a certain ability and experience. You’ll need to be able to ride real slowly, since often the race participants will be slow (like running), or even when it’s a bicycle race, imagine riding up a steep mountain following a cyclist. You’ll be doing only several miles per hour with a pillion sitting behind you moving around to take photos.

And when you’re not going very slow, you’re going very fast, for example, when following cyclist going down a mountain. Bicycles can go around those corners often faster than motorcycles, so you’ll need all your wits and abilities to do the same, but in this case having a 6.4” 300 pounds gorilla sitting behind you shifting around.

You also need to keep in control of your motorcycle, since often you’ll be inches away from the race participants who are jockeying to get into a better position.

But despite the challenges, it’s fun to ride as an escort service for race events. It gives a feeling of accomplishment; 1) from helping people compete in a sports event and 2) for riding your motorcycle for a good reason.

To find out where you can volunteer for escort duty, check your local bicycle race or running organizations. They usually subcontract to a local group that escorts their races. Or you can check with the Purple Wing organization in the USA who organize many race escorts. There’s a calendar of events on their site, so you can quickly see which races are of interest to you.

tour_de_france_crashes_18

Do make sure that the organization you select will evaluate you, or even train you for the event, and always ask what the insurance issues are. Usually the organization is insured in case of an accident. If not, check your insurer if you are insured. Imagine the financial consequences of crashing into participants, with a TV camera operator with full $100,000 equipment sitting behind you.

Make sure that the organization will give you the appropriate clothing, like safety-vests.

Also make sure your bike is appropriate for escorting events. For example, they’ll never accept a motorcycle with loud pipes (for obvious reasons).

Who knows, maybe you’ll become a professional, escorting races like the Tour de France bicycle race?

Click here to access the Purple Wing web site.

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Many riders love riding and discovering new places. Often we love riding our motorcycle to exotic places, marveling at the sights. But many haven’t even discovered our own country. Here is an idea for a motorcycling holiday; ride the Four Corners Motorcycle Tour.

The Four Corners Motorcycle Tour is a long distance motorcycle ride, a bit like the Iron Butt rides but without the forced daily long distances you need to accomplish. You need to ride your motorcycle to the four corners of the USA, and you have 21 days to do it. So it’s not extreme riding, you can turn it into a real holiday event.

USA-Four-Corner-Motorcycle-Tour-Map

(c) jimsmotorcycletrips.blogspot.com

The Four Corners are San Ysidro in California, Blaine in Washington, Madawaska in Maine and Key West in Florida. There is no mandatory sequence or itinerary, as long as you visit the four cities within 21 days.

The Four Corners Motorcycle Tour is run by the Southern California Motorcycling Association, and you need to not only register, but also pay a small administrative fee. The Association sends you a towel with your participation number and a form (and a hat).

(c) jimsmotorcycletrips.blogspot.com

(c) imsmotorcycletrips.blogspot.com

Once you’ve done your mileage and been to these four places, you need to send the Association proof that you have been there. The proof consists of:

  1. A gas receipt from each Four Corner city
  2. The Association form, filled in and completed
  3. A photo taken with your motorcycle, your registration towel and as background the city’s post office, police station or another main landmark.

Once you’ve sent in the data, the Association will send you a commemorative plaque with your name, honoring you for having completed this trip. It’s something to be proud of, since not that many have done it, usually 100 or so per year.

Depending on your planned itinerary, expect to ride some 7,000 miles, and obviously that does not include the ride to the first Four Corner city and the ride home. On average, you’ll be riding a little over 300 miles per day, so not very unrealistic or tough.

If you really want to go hardcore, you can ride the Four Corners Motorcycle Tour “True X”, which requires riding to the Four Corner cities, and then to the center, namely Lebanon in Kansas. For that, you have 26 days to ride the some 11,000 miles (average 420 miles per day).

If you want to see how it goes, head on over to Jim’s Motorcycle Trips blog. He’s going for the tour around May 29th, and you can follow his trip on his blog. Click here to follow the trip. He is using a SPOT GPS tracker, so you can see where he is at any moment.

Click here to go to the Southern California Motorcycling Association for more information, or to register for the Four Corners Motorcycle Tour.

Make sure you’ve got a good GPS.

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The dual-sport, or dual-purpose motorcycles have become very popular since BMW came out of the famous GS motorcycle. Many manufacturers have tried to take a stab at the GS crown, some with success, some less so. But whatever brand motorcycle you ride on and off road, you will need to think about your feet.

If you do ride your dual-purpose bike on the streets and the trails, you’d better think about a good sturdy boot to protect your feet when riding off-road. But you also need to think about walking in those boots, since often we go for walks when we’ve arrived at our destination on our dual-purpose motorcycles.

Gaerne Balance Oiled Boots

Gaerne Balance Oiled Boots

One boot I love that fulfills all the above requirements is the Gaerne Balance Oiled Off-Road Boots. These boots look, feel & perform the business. The brown leather is oiled, meaning it will handle very well in damp and wet conditions.

Mind you, they are not waterproof, so don’t go fly-fishing with them, but if you need to cross a stream or river on your bike, you’ll be ensured that your feet will stay warm & dry.

The soles are made out of gum rubber which enhances your grip on the soil, no matter how much dirt and sand. Even when crossing a river, these soles handle the way they should.

I recently took my BMW R1150GS for a run, and after a good 35 miles riding down the blacktops, we went off-road following a fire lane through a forest and then climbing up a hill. There were two smaller streams to cross. Both the GS and the boots functioned perfectly. The GS may be a pig, heavy and sluggish, but it just keeps on riding. The Gaerne boots are light, much lighter than what they look like. The 3 buckles can be adjusted so they fit perfectly. The boots didn’t move but my feet remained snug and safe. There’s sufficient air to keep the feet comfortable, but just watch it when you remove the boots after a long day, and you are in a small enclosed space. But it’s not as bad as many boots I’ve tried.

After arriving at our destination (I was traveling with 2 others, both on KTM), we stopped for a picnic. We walked for about 500 yards up a hill, and the boots felt comfortable and despite riding through 2 streams (I’m a bit of a chicken, since I ground my feet on the ground to ensure I don’t tip over, the others just ride fast and splash through), my feet remained dry. For the walk, these boots were more than fine, almost like hiking boots.

As boots for riding street and dirt trails, and for walking, they don’t get any better. But mind you, do not think these are motocross boots!!!! They are not. Do not plan to use them in real off-road riding, enduro or motocross. They are not designed for it; your ankles are not protected enough for this kind of riding.

If you are a real dual-purpose rider, these are the boots for you.

Click here to but the Gaerne Balance Oiled Off-Road Boots

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Red-Traffic-SignalNot many people, if any, like red lights. They are a pain; when they are red you have to stop, and when they are green, you need to cross the intersection while keeping a close eye on the other traffic. There are always idiots who run red lights. The only time you might like a red light is when there’s a big glass window close by and you can admire yourself and your motorcycle (if you don’t think this happens, have a close look at what happens at red lights).

“Normal” red lights are okay I guess. They are timed, and after so many seconds they will either turn red or green. It’s the “demand-actuated” red lights that can be bothersome for bikers. These lights will turn green if there’s a vehicle stopped in front of them. And the way they know there’s a vehicle is because they have a metal wire in the ground, and through this inductive-loop traffic detector it can “feel” that there is a vehicle through its magnetic field. That’s because the wire acts like a metal detector.

This means that when a car is stopped above the wire, the wire senses a metal object and turns the light green. It’s handy since if there’s no traffic at the other side, why would you need to wait for the light to turn green. It’s a waste of time, money, gas and CO2.

However motorcycles are at a disadvantage. The metal mass of a bike is far less than that of a car, and often the light is not tripped. Standing on your own as a motorcycle, even a big one, is not enough. There are several types of sensors, from ones that behave very badly for motorcycles, to ones that recognize even the smallest bike or scooter. Click here to read more about the types of sensors and how to spot them.

For those sensors that just don’t change for a motorcycle, there are gadgets out there that say they can change the lights for you. Most are magnetic, but personally I have never seen one work properly.

So you end up moving aside, hoping that a car will drive up and trip the light.

The only saving grace in all this, is that many states in the USA and countries in the world, are allowing more and more for motorcycles to turn on red. You can’t cross the road on red, but at least you can turn on red. But to do that, you really need to pay attention. Vehicles can travel faster than what you may think. And remember, if you do turn on red, even if it’s legal, and someone crashes into you, you’ll be at fault.

So be careful when turning. Also be very careful when crossing a road on green. Many cars don’t pay attention, even for a red light. Have a look at the shocking video below (this is China, but this can happen anywhere in the world). The car runs a red light.

Warning – this is shocking.

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FirstGear Kilimanjaro Jacket

FirstGear Kilimanjaro Jacket

The weather has changed, winter is gone replaced by some sunshine, warmer temperatures, and more important, lots of rain. Riding in the rain can be fun (see previous article) as long as you dress for the part. When you put on your riding gear, you need to ensure that it’s not only warm, but also very rainproof. And to that effect, there is nothing better for all kinds of weather riding than FirstGear’s Kilimanjaro Jacket,a full 3/4 length jacket.

As motorcycle jackets go, this one is difficult to beat. It has become an industry standard.

FirstGearKilimanjaroJacket-bThe Kilimanjaro Jacket is made out of a waterproof but very breathable shell (in contrast with others that use rainproof liners), using nylon materials. To show you that this jacket is meant for rain, it has a rain hood that can easily be worn under your helmet. What that means is that no rain water will drip down your neck from your helmet, something that does happen often enough with other jackets.

The jacket is well protected with the ultimate in biker armor; D3O. This means you really don’t need to worry when hitting the pavement unexpectedly since D3O is a liquid gel that hardens on impact without adding too much weight or bulk.

Another thing I really liked about the FirstGear Kilimanjaro Jacket are the air vents. If the weather gets warm you can open a total of 6 vents allowing fresher air to circulate, cooling down your body.

Another great thing about the jacket is the numerous pockets. As a biker I can never have enough pockets. The many pockets available on the Kilimanjaro have proper all-weather closures so no water can seep into them. Only thing missing IMHO is a sleeve pocket since that is where I keep my credit card and driving license.

If you’re riding in-between seasons, you have a removable thermal liner which keeps you warm when the temperature outside is too cold. If you have got the matching pants, you can zip them up to the jacket, thereby ensuring that no cold air moves through your body.

Review Ride

For the ride, it was very damp and rainy. Temperature was pleasant, around 55-60 but the whole day was rained on by the weather Gods. A perfect day to test the jacket.

Putting on the Kilimanjaro is no problem.Usually you need to squeeze on a motorcycle jacket, but this jacket uses stretch material in the shoulder, arm and elbow areas, making it much easier to put on. With the straps on the bicep and forearm, you adjust the the sleeves to fit your body. With the waist belt, you adjust to your belly. This unique capabilities make the jacket fit you like it was tailored, a very nice experience.

I had put on the rain hood under my helmet, no problem there, and set out for the ride. The ride lasted 1 hour 45 minutes and throughout the ride, my body never felt wet nor cold. The jacket fulfills its promise to 100%.

At one stage, later in the day, temperatures started rising so I opened the back vents, enough to give some cooler air, but not allow water to get inside. A cool back is enough to stay comfortable.

Summary

On the positive side, the Kilimanjaro is heaven. It’s comfortable, it blocks water and cold air, it allows cool air in when it’s warm, it’s not heavy and you can get it in high-visibility colors.

On the downside, the sleeves at the hand are very open & wide. If you are wearing thin gloves, you’ll be getting air and rain inside via the hand, though there is a neoprene closure. It’s not a biggie.

The jacket is an all-round perfect jacket.

Watch the video below for more information.

Click here to buy the FirstGear Kilimanjaro jacket.

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Most people when they go for a motorcycle ride end up doing 100 miles or so. Usually they commute or do day trips, traveling to a destination within a day’s reach and back. Some bikers can’t get enough saddle time, while adventure riders can go hours and many miles, often visiting foreign places.

The group of fanatics who love extreme long distances have been well documented, the Iron Butt Riders. They can go for some 1000 to 1500 miles in one day, which if you think about it, is phenomenal. Talk about saddle sore.

But these are not the records. The current Guinness World Record for the longest distance travelled in 24 hours is held by Texan L. Russell “Rusty” Vaughn. Rusty rode his Harley-Davidson Electra-Glide motorcycle during 24 hours for 2,0194 miles (that’s 3,249 kilometers)!

Rusty Vaugh   © Guinness World Records

Rusty Vaugh © Guinness World Records

2,000 miles is enormous, but almost impossible to do on the road (due to speed limitations). That’s why the attempt was performed on the Continental Tire Test Track in Texas.

Source: Guinness World Records

The longest distance on the public roads was not set in North America or Europe, but somewhere you would not expect it, namely in Oman (Middle East). There, Omar Al Mamri and 36 year old biker drove his Honda CBR 1100 from the capital of Oman, Muscat to Salalah, a distance of 640 miles (1031 kilometers) AND BACK. And this road that would not qualify a good rating since it was full of potholes.

This totalized to a trip of 2,062 kilometers (1,281 miles), averaging 94.1 kph. What makes this record even more impressive was that the temperature in the desert was between 42 and 48°C (107 – 118°F).

Source: World Record Academy

And if you are interested in knowing about all those folks who have traveled long distances on their motorcycles, how about the record holder of the longest distance traveled in one trip?

That record is held by Argentinian Emillio Scotto who in one trip took his motorcycle 457,000 miles (735,000 kilometers), traveling around the world, visiting 279 countries. It took him 10 years to do the record breaking trip, and he did it in luxury & style, riding a Honda 1100 Gold Wing.

I have to presume that Emillio didn’t set out one morning to go and buy a packet of cigarettes, returning 10 years later. During the trip (he left with only $300 in his pocket), he went through 13 big sized (64 page) passports, used up 12,500 gallons of fuel and 86 tires.

Source: Guinness World Records

So next time you go out on your motorcycle and think that the 300 miles you have traveled was much, think again.

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