Archive for the ‘Touring’ Category

At times it just can’t be helped; you need to transport your motorcycle on a trailer instead of riding it. Either you have great distances to go with multiple people, you have a need to have a car and a motorcycle at your destination, or your motorcycle is not roadworthy and needs to be transported on a trailer – or all of the above.

There are a couple of points you need to take into consideration, especially if it’s the first time you trailer your bike.

First point is the actual loading of the motorcycle onto the trailer. The best is always with the help of another person. But riding the bike up is usually going to require a nice repair bill:

If you are alone, and the bike is too heavy to push up, you can use the engine like so;

Having a second ramp for the biker to walk on is a much better and safer idea.

  1. Stupid point, but I’ve seen this happen. Make sure you trailer can hold your motorcycle, i.e., it’s big enough. Whether a standard trailer or a pick-up truck, you don’t want the bike overhanging the trailer. Imagine all the nasty things that can happen to your ride while it’s sticking out.
  2. Bring up the bike and make sure the sidestand is down. It should be off the ground once you have properly secured the motorcycle. I tend to keep the sidestand down, just in case, but others are totally against the idea.
  3. Get good solid straps/tie downs. You’ll need at least 4 of them. Buying cheap is going to cost you more, trust me. From the different types of straps, my own preferences goes for ratchet type. Once the strap is on, all you need to do is activate the ratchet to tighten, so much easier and you have a better control of the strength.Tie-Down-strap
  4. A wheel chock IMHO is a must. I know several bikers who don’t use them, but I also know a few who have had their bike tilt over and faced interesting repair bills. Once the bike is on the trailer, move it into the wheel chock. That will hold nicely.
  5. Attaching the frame is one of the better parts to hold on to. A common attachment point is the handlebar, but you need to be sure that the handlebar is not mounted on a rubber ring. If that is the case, do not tie down via the handlebars, since the rubber is going to compress during the trip and that’s bad news for your bike.
  6. WATCH OUT that you don’t pass the straps over hydraulic lines or any cables. The stress the straps will face, will crush the lines. Stay away from them.
  7. Compress as much as you can the front suspension, but never to a maximum. Leave some play. During your trip, the trailer is going to hit a few potholes or bumps in the road. That will make your motorcycle go up in the air (by a few notches), and on its return the suspension is going to compress and that will loosen the straps.
  8. Don’t strap down the mirrors, pannier bags, top case, exhaust or even a sissy bar. Unless of course you don’t mind them being ripped off the bike.
  9. The straps should go in the front around a 45° angle, and the same at the back. It is this angle that gives you the best possible grip.Trailering-Motorcycle-Straps
  10. Once strapped in and secure, walk around the trailer/pick up truck and with your hand, shake the motorcycle. If it moves, it’s not secure.

There, now all you need to do is drive carefully and not go too fast through the curves. Remember, the motorcycle is behind you, not under you.

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The Wiktionary (link) defines a “Bucket List” as “A list of things to accomplish before one’s death”, and it first became a public occurrence in Justin Zackham’s screenplay for the 2007 movie “The Bucket List”.

In other words, things you want to do, things you want to see before you kick the bucket. Many people have bucket lists, and it wouldn’t surprise you to know that many of them are motorcyclists, and their bucket list is centered around motorcycles.

Personally, I have one, and I have been crossing off items every year. What’s left is attainable, but it will take time. Here are a few of the items on my list:

  • Attend Sturgis

    Sturgis Main Street (c) Sturgis Motorcycle Rally

    Sturgis Main Street (c) Sturgis Motorcycle Rally

  • Ride Paris to Cape Town (though that is becoming more and more difficult)
  • Ride Deadman Valley
  • Ride in Alaska (not necessarily in the winter)
  • Attend the Isle of Man TT race
  • Go to the original Ace Cafe in London
  • Ride Route 66
  • Cross Australia on a motorcycle
  • Cross Scotland on a motorcycle
  • Attend the Baja 1000 race
  • Follow Che Guevara’s ride through South America
  • Ride as pillion on the Ducati MotoGP bike with Randy Mamola

Some of the items I have crossed from my list are:

  • Ride the Dolomites/Alps (1999, 2002, 2003)



  • Go to a MotoGP race (2010 Le Mans, 2013 San Marino)
  • Follow the Dakar race on my motorcycle (2005)
  • Ride the Sahara desert on my motorcycle (2005)
  • Ride from the top of Chile to the bottom of Chile (1978)
  • Ride an electric motorcycle (2013)
  • Visit world’s biggest motorcycle exhibition, Milan’s Eicma (2013)
  • Go to the 24 Hours of Le Mans motorcycle race (2009)

As you can see, my (motorcycle) items on the list are becoming less and less. It’s interesting to see that once you have a list, you can actually work towards doing as many as you can; in a “if it’s written down, it gets done” theory.

Have you got a bucket list? And if you do, are you striving towards doing as many as you can?

Let us know what you bucket list contains. I’d really like to know. Obviously the items should be feasible, not like “race Valentino Rossi”.

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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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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?


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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.


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….



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.



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.


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


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.


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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