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Stolen-Motorcycle-Just-Chain-leftBarring accidents, there is nothing worse than having your motorcycle stolen. Arriving at your bike hoping to ride away and finding an empty space is a very emotional moment – a moment of despair.

Professional thieves will take your bike no matter what, you can slow them down and more important, prevent it from being stolen by amateurs.

First, let’s look at this video to see how quickly a professional will steal your bike:

You see how quick that went? The bike had two locks…

Now let’s see what you can do about Sunday-thieves or opportunists.

  1. Garage: Get a covered garage. It’s more complicated to steal from a garage than from the street. You can even buy bike shelters that you can put in your garden if you don’t have a garage.
  2. Ignition Lock: The easy one. Make sure your ignition is in the “Lock” position. It’ll not do much, but it slows thieves down.
  3. Chains/Locks: Use big and heavy chains, or approved and very strong locks. You can see from the video that a professional will cut through chains/locks like you would cut through butter with a knife. But a big chain anchored to a heavy object will prevent thieves from grabbing your bike and placing it in a truck.Placing a chain from your rear wheel to a fixed position is the best you can do. Front wheels are more easily removed.
  4. Alarm: An alarm is a good thing, especially if it’s very loud. Once someone moves your bike, the alarm goes off. No thief wants to be seen next to a very loud siren. You can get really fancy alarms that will send you a text message once your bike is being stolen, allowing you the time to contact the police to file your report.
  5. Tracking: A tracking device hidden in the bike will not prevent it from being stolen, but might make its recovery faster and easier.
  6. Cover: Cover your bike. Often professional thieves look for motorcycles “on demand”, meaning they will have been asked to steal a specific brand. Covering your bike will make it more difficult to spot.

So there you are. Remember, you can’t prevent a season and professional thief from stealing your bike, but you can make it more difficult. And another good thing to do, get a good insurance.

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When you ask people what they think the top 5 motorcycle companies are, they will probably get 2 or 3 right. Most bikers know that Honda is one of the biggest, and that Harley is not a small fish. Some might add to that list Yamaha. And they would not be wrong, but very few bikers will know about 2 other enormous manufacturers: Hero and Bajaj.

But first let’s go back to the Top 5 list. According to Research and Markets the top 5 leading motorcycle companies in performance, strategy and competitive analysis (so not in raw sales figures) are:

  1. Honda
  2. Yamaha
  3. Hero MotoCorp
  4. Bajaj Auto
  5. Harley-Davidson

So again, let me say, it’s not in number of sales, but in their strategy, their performance and how they stack up in a competitive market.

Number 1, 2 and 5 you will know, but 3 and 4 are mostly unknown to most North American bikers, and that is because they are not present in that market. Both manufacturers are from India, and their markets are Asia, Africa and South America. Markets where low displacement bikes that are sturdy and cheap are the chosen form of transportation.

Hero-MotoCorp-logoHero MotoCorp used to be a partner with Honda but in 2011 split from the Japanese company (they used to be called Hero Honda). Now, they are world’s largest motorcycle manufacturer in terms of sales.

They have also bought themselves into Erik Buell‘s company, so this new partnership will probably see Buell’s bikes sold through Hero’s shops, and possibly see Hero’s motorcycle start selling in the USA but with some redesign by Buell.

Bajaj-Auto-LogoBajaj Auto, despite the name having “Auto” is not an car maker but a motorcycle manufacturer from India. They are world’s 3rd largest and India’s 2nd largest in terms of sales.

Both manufacturers make small displacement bikes, typically 150 cc, although 200 cc is not uncommon. Sold for a few thousand dollars, these motorcycles are very strong, designed for the bad roads in many countries. Both manufactures are looking at expanding their sales base, and competing with the other, more known, brands on the Top 5 list.

But is the North American market ripe of brands like Hero and Bajaj. On the plus side, they are not fly-by-night operators, they have been in business for decades. They are enormous and have the money to develop many new bikes. But on the minus side, their bikes are unattractive and low power. But they are …. CHEAP.

Bajaj-Pulsar-200cc

Bajaj-Pulsar-200cc

So would you consider buying a 200 cc motorcycles for let’s say $1500? A bike that is sturdy that you can use as runaround and one that you will not mind if you drop it? Or would you prefer to pay double even triple for a more recognizable name?

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Motorcycle gear does not get created just like that. It is not like someone waves a magic wand, and presto, you have got some new product. It takes time, resources, patience and most important, it takes imagination.

Many people have ideas for motorcycle related products. They can be out for a ride, and something happens to them or their bikes, and they think about some item that could solve the problem in the future. But going from idea to manufacturing is an enormous step. The step is so gigantic that 99.99% of the people do not even bother.

The thought of drawing up their idea, getting financing, making it, shipping it, etc. It’s a nightmare. But thanks to the internet, one of the biggest headaches in the life of a new product is now reduced; that of financing.

Stack Of Cash

In the old days, if you wanted to make a new product, you needed to go to either a bank or an investor. But either way, you ended up leaving your shirt. Banks charge interest rates and investors want a piece of the action.

Today crowd funding has arrived and is giving the traditional financial institutions a run for their money. With web sites like Indiegogo and Kickstarter (and a few more), if you have an idea, you put the idea in one of these websites, and ask the crowd to help fund it.

How Does It Work?

Once you have designed your product/idea, calculated what it will cost you to make, you go to one of the crowd funding sites. Once you have entered your product and the total amount of money you will be looking for, you need to let people know what they can get when they pledge money.

This is where the nifty part of crowd funding comes in. People pledge money, they don’t transfer money directly. The only time money is taken from your bank account is when the financial goals are met. In other words, if Joe is looking for $20,000 to make Gismogritzers, any money pledged will only be taken from the people who have pledged once there is $20,000 in the pot.

The pledges are usually different amounts, and with each different amount, the rewards are different. A reward can be for example if you pledge $1, you can a hand written postcard, or for maybe for $2 your name is listed in the credits on a web site. In other words, you do not need to pledge much money. On the other hand, if the idea for a product is attractive, and you are interested in having that product, you will usually be able to pledge money to buy the product at a lower price than when it goes into production. A kind of “early bird special”. But remember, no matter how much you pledge, you will only need to pay if the target is met.

So the person who had the idea does not have to hand over equity in their new company, nor have to pay monthly interest rates to a bank.

What Kind Of Products?

There are many different kinds of motorcycle related products finding their way into crowd funding sites. From accessories, to new technology, to books, to charity, etc. For example, one idea that was funded last week is an interesting book about a guy named Karl Allan who travelled around the world on his motorcycle. Not only has he got very interesting stories to tell, but he also collected many local food recipes which he explains in his book, and shows you how to make it.

Forks-Book

The book, entitled “Forks”, was put in the Kickstarter site for $20,000. In a few days (about a week), Karl managed to get the funds he needs to make, print, publish and distribute the book.

Another example was that of Joseph Campo in the United Kingdom. He wanted to make a web TV comedy series about a biker gang. He went to Kickstarter and got the funding to make the TV series (The Clandestine). He is now in his second season.

New motorcycle accessories can be found here as well. For example, Vololights, a way to warn drivers behind you that you are decelerating (by engine braking or down shifting), was looking for $50,000 to start production. They got $53,000.

But of course not all products find a crowd. Some may have a great new product idea but have not been able to sell the idea to the masses. Some have not so realistic financial goals, and a crowd will ‘feel’ this, and not bother.

But as you can see, it is not only a great way of putting new products out there, but also a great way for you to find something new and interesting.

Here are some of the crowd funding site that have motorcycle related items:

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The latest thing in the technology world is 3D printing (although 3D printing exists since the late 70’s). For you who don’t know what that is, it’s the possibility to “print”, more sculpt, 3D images. Instead of printing a 2D image on paper as we do now, the printer adds resin (or other materials) upon resin forming layers. These layers can be almost anything. You can read more about 3D printing at the Wikipedia, click here to read it.

3D-suspension-model

Many things have already been printed nowadays while the 3D printing technology keeps advancing. But can you for example print a motorcycle?

The answer is “why not?”. The only problem is that the material used the most frequently for printing is plastic, so you would have problems with heat. But people have already made a 3D printed gun, and guns generate heat, so eventually you might even see engines and exhausts printed in 3D. But for the mean time, we’re stuck with other uses inside the motorcycle world.

One very good application of 3D printing for motorcycles is for motorcycle designers. They can now design their motorcycle on a computer, and after pressing a button, see what the motorcycle will look like in real life.

See this video of a 3D printed motorcycle. It looks real, but it isn’t. But imagine being a designer. Now you can see very quickly what your new bike will look like. You can sit on it, feel it, test it in a wind tunnel. What this means to us bikers, is that we will be seeing new motorcycles hitting the market faster. The time-to-market can be drastically reduced with this technology.

3D-Printed-object

But another application of 3D printing can benefit individual bikers. That is the printing of custom-made parts. Now if you want a special part, you need to either find it, which might be very difficult if it’s rare, or you have to have it made (or make it yourself if you are handy enough).

But with 3D printing, you can look up the specs of the part, put it in a computer, and print it out. There are more and more companies being created that will do exactly that. Tell them what you want, they put it in a computer, and then print it out.

Here’s a video showing you a 3D printer printing (not a motorcycle related object, but you get the picture):

3D-printed-toolImagine requiring a tool to work on your bike, and you don’t have it. Jump on the computer, download the specs and drawing and print the tool.

It’s crazy, I admit it, but why not?

So these are exciting times. We can now already design parts for our motorcycle and have them printed, and very shortly, you will be able to do so yourself at home. Then all bets are off for custom made motorcycles. You can really have your creative juices go wild. 3D printers are becoming more and more affordable.

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As a rider, even on one of the biggest motorcycles, we remain very small. And when you are in traffic, car drivers might miss seeing us and before we know it, we’ve crashed into them. It’s not that the car driver isn’t looking for us, many actually do try to pay attention to bikers, but at times they just don’t see us. One of the possible reasons is Motion Induced Blindness.

Motion Induced Blindness, also known as MIB, is a recently discovered phenomena. Back in 1991 it was first formulated as something that could cause people in motion not to see certain things. Jet fighters and even airline pilots know about it, since in essence MIB is a result of staring into a space while in motion. With your vehicle’s movement (be it a jet fighter or a car), looking at a spot (like the center of the road) can hide other objects.

Look at the moving diagram below. You see three yellow spots on the outer limits, in the center is a green blinking dot and around it are blue crosses turning. Not exactly a situation you’ll find on the road, but it’s just to illustrate the MIB point (image driving a car on a country road with trees lined on both sides and the yellow dots are motorcycles). If you now stare at the green blinking dot, you’ll suddenly see the yellow dots disappear and reappear. There’s no rhyme or reason behind the timing, it happens at different times for different people. Have look:

Motion-induced blindness demonstration

Motion-induced blindness demonstration

You can say that the dots are too small, that is why you can’t see them, or that they are turning to fast, or slow. Well, head on over to the MSF site and try it there. The same diagram can be changed by increasing or decreasing the size of the spots, or making things go faster or slower. The result is the same; you’ll occasionally not see the yellow objects.

You can see the same in this video, with only one object (top left)

or try this one:

Basically the MIB phenomena means that even if you are wearing high-visibility jackets, a car could not see you.

The only way out of this process is to have the car driver shift eyes continuously, i.e., not stare in one spot (straight ahead). So, no white line fever, something that for sure will involve cars ramming into motorcycles.

Obviously MIB is not the main reason that cars and motorcycle have accidents. There are many factors at play, and as we know from statistics, around 70% of motorcycle accidents are caused by car drivers, and this will be one of them.

What can we do as motorcycle riders? Not much. If the car driver can’t see you because of MIB, maybe the only thing is flashing your headlights and swerving, but that will result in a whole other series of problems and dangers. Nobody ever said that riding motorcycles is a safe hobby.

Click here to read more about Motion Induced Blindness.

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Yamaha are popular motorcycles and although not as expensive as many, it’s still too much for many to afford. You can of course buy a miniature scaled model, and many do so, but how about making one?

Yamaha have on their web site many of their popular motorcycles in a DIY fashion. All you need is patience, a printer, scissors, glue and lots of paper. Because these models are all papercraft, in other words, they are made out of paper. Click here to go to the Yamaha realistic papercraft models.

Paper-Yamaha-YZF-R1

Paper-Yamaha-YZF-R1

Yamaha have downloadable PDF files, either in full color or black & white, that once you’ve downloaded them, and printed them, you use your scissors and glue and make your own model. Each model has many pages since they are very detailed. You can also just download individual details.

Their popular R1 sports motorcycle is available, but so are many other models, like the Vmax or YZ450FM. Or if you prefer a scooter, there’s also the Tmax scooter.

Maybe if you resize the printouts to a bigger size, you can actually make the model bigger, maybe even life-size like this guy has done;
Paper-Yamaha-R1-1

Or if you taste lies more with Harley-Davidson, you can make this Harley.
Paper-Harley

Maybe it’s not as detailed as the Yamaha, but it’s going to be a lot quicker to make.

If you really want to go wild making paper models, here’s a site that lists many of the paper models from other sites, so you don’t need to hunt them all down.

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Scorpion-Exo-1000

Scorpion-Exo-1000

It was time for me to try out a new helmet, and the choice quickly fell upon the popular Scorpion EXO 1000 Helmet. I’d read a few reviews, spoken with a few owners and decided this was the helmet to try.

I got my shiny new, and very black, Scorpion helmet but when I put it on, I noticed that it was a bit too “snug”, if not too tight. I used my previous measurements for helmet sizes, but obviously Scorpion’s sizes are different. So back it went, and a few days later I was the happy “owner” of a new, but slightly larger (1 size) Exo 1000 helmet. Note: when ordering the EXO 1000 get one that is 1 size bigger than normal. You’ll thank me for it.

That one, when it went on was a good, if not perfect fit. There are two really good things about this helmet; a) a very good drop down sun visor and b) pump up cheek pads.

But I’m ahead of the review, so let’s good back to the test ride. Weather was nice and sunny, some 71°F, dry. I took a road through a forest through the Tail of the Dragon. The first thing I noticed is that the helmet is quite. There’s very little outside noise, and even wind noise was down to a minimum.

At a later stage I used the air pump. The air pump, an idea used by sneakers a few years back, pumps air into the cheek pads, making the helmet sit much more snug, as tight as you want to make it. Initially I looked at this as a marketing gadget, but it’s far more that. Not only does you helmet fit you to perfection with this feature, I also noticed that it cut down noise even further. I guess it’s because the helmet “vibrates” less due to the snug fit, so it lets less vibration noise into your head. Color me impressed!

The helmet was already snug, but with the air pumps, I have to say, I felt much safer. Helmets should not move when they are on, and this “gadget” makes sure that it doesn’t. It’s like a customizable helmet, made to perfectly fit your head.

The sun visor is heaven sent. Riding through a forest means that you’ll be facing times that it’s dark, followed by times that the forest clears and you’re hit by direct sunlight. Putting on a dark visor is problematic when it’s dark. Same with sunglasses. Now it’s just a question of pushing down the sun visor, or up if it’s dark. Less than a second and you’re dark or clear.

Ventilation was excellent, no problems there. The visor never fogged up, and the head stayed in a perfect temperature.

The only downside for the Scorpion is the weight. This is a heavy helmet (Kevlar and fiberglass), more so than most helmets in the price range. But after an hour of riding, I have to say that it did not feel that heavy. I thought that my neck would feel it, but apparently the aerodynamic flow of the helmet is done in such a way that it doesn’t push down on the neck. Maybe you’ll feel it in city riding with lots of lights and intersections. But for normal riding, no problems.

As helmets go, I can highly recommend this one. You can’t got wrong with the price, nor with the sun visor and air pump cheek pads.

The Scorpion EXO 1000 helmet received top rating at the very strict UK Government test site, Sharp. Click here to read the test results.

To buy the EXO 1000 helmet, click here

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Safety for bikers is something many look for. Helmets, body armor, gloves, special boots, all are items that most would consider normal in a biker’s everyday life.

But for the last few years, airbags have made an entry in the motorcycle world. They started with big motorcycle jackets with incorporated airbags. The first models had a wire attached to the motorcycle, and if the biker left the motorcycle unexpectedly, the wire pulled a CO2 canister that pumped air into the jacket within milliseconds. This way, if the biker was flung from the bike, the body was pretty well protected from impact.

Michelin Man

Michelin Man

The first models were a bit slow, and when the airbag was deployed you looked like the Michelin man. But in recent years, airbag technology evolved. Much of that is thanks to the efforts of MotoGP racers who tested such airbags, and are currently using them when racing.

The first airbag jackets were made by manufacturers who made nothing else than airbag jackets, but soon big names, like Dainese (D-Air series), Alpinestars (Tech Air), Spidi, etc. came into the game.

Now airbag jackets are high-tech. Many of them don’t have a string attached to the bike, but use sophisticated electronics to determine if a biker is leaving the motorcycle unplanned. Of course, it means that there are counter electronics installed on the bike, which communicates with the jacket. And when we say sophisticated electronics, it also means sophisticated price; a big price. The Alpinestars Tech Air Racing Replica 1 cost for example US$2,899.95

Spidi DPS Airbag vest

Spidi DPS Airbag vest

But if you’re not a racer, or not someone who makes full use of open track days, it doesn’t need to be that expensive. If all you’re looking for is some added protection without having to spend a fortune on new jackets, you can buy a vest that is put over your current jacket. So you keep your current jacket, and have the added protection of an airbag.

The technology is still not that cheap that anyone can purchase it, count a couple of 100’s of dollars for a vest. But if you can afford it, what’s the price of safety?

Since more and more manufacturers are now making airbag jackets, the concept is becoming mainstream. In the next few years, prices will become competitive, and most manufacturers will offer airbag models.

Have a look at this video to see how effective the airbag jacket is.

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You’ve probably heard of chicken strips, or maybe you haven’t. Chicken strips is a term used in the motorcycle world for the edge of the motorcycle tires.

Chicken-Strips-1

Each tire when it rolls out of the manufacturing plant has small strips on the side. These strips, depending on the tire type, are the small little cones that stick out of a tire, which can be found on the edge (like in the photo above). Normally speaking, these strips get worn off when you ride, particularly when you use the bike a lot in curves while maintaining a high lean angle. The more you put your knee closer to the road, the less chicken strips will be visible.

Chicken-Strips-2

For other types of tires, particularly sportstires (like the photo above), the chicken strip is the edge of the tire that has not been used, and is therefore still raw.

For many clubs and discussion forums, chicken strips therefore indicate whether you are afraid to take curves aggressively. The less chicken strips you have, the more you are willing to attack a curve.

With many bikers it has become a thing of honor; no chicken strips. So much so that they have started using sandpaper to remove the strips, in other words……. cheating.

Obviously it’s a question of how far you are comfortable in putting your knee down. Never try to outdo your own capability, no matter how many chicken strips you have left on your tires.

Jafrum.com

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Wanna get this poster? Check out this Motorcycle Quotes Poster Giveaway

Motorcycle Quotes Poster

Motorcycle Quotes Poster

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When I went for the test ride of the before mentioned Tour Master Synergy 2 Heated Liner (click here to read the review), I also wanted to test my Bell Vortex Helmet.

The Bell helmet is one of the better helmets that you can buy for a moderate price. Snell and DOT approved, it only weighs 1600 grams thanks to the lightweight composite polycarbonate allow shell.

Bell Vortex Helmet

Bell Vortex Helmet

An important aspect I wanted to test in the cold weather was the air circulation, since when it’s cold outside, my body was being heated by the Tour Master Heated Liner, so you can count on your visor fogging up.

The Bell Vortex helmet has a special area reserved for loudspeakers, and I am using it for my Cardo Scala Rider G9 headset. I just love listening to music while I ride.

When you put on the helmet the first thing you notice is the magnetic strap keeper mechanism. It’s handy, but I’m worried for long usage, but that is something we’ll see over time. But what the strap keeper does is keep the remainder of the strap from flapping in the wind. On its own, a great idea, but time will tell how it holds up.

As mentioned before, the weather was pretty cold, about 32°F, and the Tour Master was doing its job in heating my body.

The collar of the helmet is padded, which means that there’s less cold air entering the helmet from below, and the noise is reduced as well, although I have to say the helmet, for its price, is quite silent. Obviously when you open the air vents, more noise comes in, but when the vents are closed the helmet is surprisingly quite.

I started with the air vents closed, but quickly the heat coming from my body started putting patches of fog on the visor, so I opened up the vents. That not only cleared the visor, although I did have to open the visor once or twice, but the air flow was comfortable over my head. I was afraid it would freeze my brain, but it didn’t and it felt nice. The helmet fit is snug, but that will depend on your own head size and shape.

Noise levels with and without air vents were more than adequate. I was listening to the Cardo Rider built-in FM radio, and had no problems hearing anything. Even with the radio switched on, noise levels are kept to a minimum. Remember, this is a sub-200 dollar helmet!

The one thing I didn’t like about the Bell is its size. It’s bigger than my other helmets and has a problem fitting in the top case. But for the price, I can live with that. On the other hand, you can get many different colored visors and other accessories.

Click here to buy the Bell Vortex Helmet

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Riding your motorcycle, especially in the winter, comes with inherent dangers. Many of them are very obvious; slippery roads, cars not paying attention, speed, etc. They are all well documented, and most bikers are very well aware of them.

Asking for it

Asking for it

But there’s one hidden danger that many bikers don’t think about, and often enough they happen in the winter, though not limited to the winter. And that is the danger of riding with scarfs and other items that can get caught in the motorcycle’s wheel.

If your scarf, or for example a backpack strap, is too long, it stands the chance of intertwining in the spokes of your wheel, or in the chain. While riding, it’s an as-good-as death sentence. The scarf is pulled into the motorcycle wheel and within a second your are being choked to death. It can happen very fast, and there’s very little you can do about it.

One of the first recorded death by scarf on a motorcycle was the famous dancer, Isadora Ducan. Back in 1927, she was riding her motorcycle in the South of France, when her scarf got caught in the spokes of her wheel. She was almost decapitated by the incident, and died on the spot.

Backpack-strap-danger

But there have been several case of this happening, and not always limited to scarfs. A backpack strap that gets caught in the rear tire means you are going to get ejected, pulled off your bike.

The item doesn’t even need to be tied to you, it can be anything that will get caught, Last year, a biker in Ojai, California had a piece of clothing that was tied to his sissy bar get caught in the rear wheel, which resulted in the rear wheel being blocked. The biker was ejected and died from the impact (source).

On January 21 this year in France, a motorcyclist also lost his life when a scarf got caught in the spokes of his wheel (source)

As you can see, they are not isolated incidents, they do happen. So when traveling on your motorcycle with objects that can get caught, make sure they are safe. Stow away any object, better safe than dead.

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We’re right in the middle of world’s biggest and greatest race, one of the toughest rallies known to mankind. We’re talking about the famous, or should I same notorious, Dakar rally.

Back in 1978, Frenchman Thierry Sabine (already know for organizing the wacky Le Touquet beach race) got lost in the Libyan desert on his motorcycle while racing in the Abidjan-Nice rally. He spent many days & nights digging himself out of the sand, and thought this could be a great idea for a motorcycle race. So next year he organized a race for his friends, all amateurs, to race from Paris to Senegal’s capital, Dakar.

Trucks were required to give assistance to the weary riders, and cars also entered the rally. A legend was born, the Paris-Dakar rally.

Although even today the majority of races have finished in Dakar, it wasn’t always the route Paris to Dakar. The last time Paris was used as departure was in 2001, and even before that, 3 times Paris was avoided. The reason for that was simple; weather. The Dakar rally starts in January, and often it snows at that time in France.

The routes were different each year, and eventually Dakar was left out of the destination. With more and more terrorist activities taking place in the Northern part of Africa, eventually in 2009 the organizers, ASO (organizers a.o. of the famous bicycle race the Tour de France), decided to move the race to South America, where it is still being held today.

Cyril Depres in the 2012 Dakar

Cyril Depres in the 2012 Dakar

The motorcycle portion of the race (the rally is divided into cars, quad, trucks and motorcycles) generates the most interest from the public. And there’s a good reason for it; the efforts required to ride a motorcycle through deep sand, dunes, mountains, plaines and the feared fesh-fesh (a thin ash), often for hours on end, are practically inhuman. Riders at times don’t get to see their beds (which are small pup-tents) for days, requiring major physical efforts to dig out their bikes from the sand, repair & maintain and provide their own assistance. And all that while high speed cars and trucks blast past them, often missing them by a hair (and sometimes they do crash with deadly results – 62 people have died in the Dakar, but not all in the race, sometimes in “normal” traffic accidents).

The dream of most is just to finish the race and arrive at the final destination in one piece. Forget about winning the race, that’s left to super professionals like Cyril Despres, Marc Coma and a few others. Usually more than 50% of the entered bikes don’t arrive at their destination, some even ending their dreams in the first day.

The professionals, all riding for manufacturers’ teams, require big budgets to win. Millions are spent on the race, since it’s a showcase for the motorcycle manufacturer if they win world’s toughest race.

Dakar-1980-Vespa

Dakar-1980-Vespa

Since 2001, Austrian manufacturer KTM has won every single race. Before that, the bikes that won most races were BMW, Honda and Yamaha. But all sorts of bikes have entered the race, Moto Guzzi, Cagiva and even a Vespa scooter.

Entering the race, even as an amateur costs a lot of money, so much that some have even mortgaged their homes to be able to race. ASO figure that you need a budget of €75,000 to race as amateur.

Alpinestars Tech 8   Gaerne Balance   Tourmaster synergy

Stephane Peterhansel is by far the racer with the most victories. He won the race on a Yamaha motorcycle 6 times, and then went racing in a car, winning the Dakar 4 times. It shows how tough the race is for motorcycles, since several motorcycle winners have gone to race cars in the Dakar.

Thierry Sabine had a slogan for his race, a slogan is means something to competitors and spectators alike: “A challenge for those who go. A dream for those who stay behind.”.

Unfortunately, Thierry Sabine died in a helicopter crash during the 1986 rally. Today, the legend still lives, and millions (according to ASO statistics, 1 billion people will have seen images of the race each year) enjoy and dream of this race.

Will you be one of the next competitors?

Alpinestars Tech 8

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We all do it when the new year strikes midnight. We make some resolutions, or promises to ourselves that we plan to do for the year.

Often they are about losing weight, doing more exercise, being nice to neighbors or learning to make that special meal for your loved one. But how about new year resolution for you & your motorcycle?

Here are a few you may want to consider. Don’t take all of them, since you’ll never get all done, and it’ll end a disappointment.

  1. Clean the motorcycle regularlyIt’s a pain, but it’s the best for you and your bike. Often we start cleaning at the beginning, but towards the end of the season, it’s quickly forgotten.
  2. Check your tire pressure before setting out – alwaysTire pressure is important, and even if it’s a visual inspection, it’s better than nothing. You should really do it every ride, but as humans we’re lazy. Better commit to doing it.
  3. Ride more, preferably to workNothing beats riding, even to work. But when we get tired from work, you get lazy and take a cage. But remember when riding your motorcycle you will feel so much better.
  4. Make those long awaited upgradesOften put off, why not get that extra gear or upgrade and install it. You’ll thank yourself afterwards?
  5. Learn to fix and maintain your bikeIf you don’y know how, how about a course to learn to fix your own bike? It’ll save you money in the long run, and it’s gratifying.
  6. Take advanced or refresher motorcycle riding courseYou can never learn enough or train enough. Be a safe rider.
  7. Get your racing licenseEven if you don’t plan to race, learning to race means you learn to control your bike under difficult circumstances.
  8. Do more track timeIf you like riding fast, knock yourself out (not physically please) on a track. Get your adrenaline flowing.
  9. Go to a big motorcycle event (Sturgis, MotoGP, Le Mans)If you’ve never been, GO! It’s like going to Mecca for your once in a lifetime pilgrimage.
  10. Ride a motorcycle charity run (like Toys for Tots, etc)Be good and help others.

New-Year-2013

No matter what your new year’s resolutions are, have a great and happy new year, and most important, ENJOY.

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The first decision you have to make when buying a new motorcycle is which brand and model. They are important decisions since the manufacturer and model have to please you since you’ll be riding them for years to come. But the second decision is probably as crucial as the first, namely what color.

PigeonIt may sound strange that color would be so important, but according to a recent survey done by British retailing group Halfords, depending on the color of a car, more or less bird droppings may be found. In other words, if you have got the wrong color, be prepared to be cleaning more.

The survey was made on cars, but it applies to motorcycles as well. The surface is just smaller for birds to make their deposits, but make them they will.

The survey of 1140 cars showed that 18% of cars that received bird poop were red. The next in line were blue cars at 14%, black at 11%, white at 7% and grey or silver at 3%.

The lucky ones? Kawasaki owners should be happy, since only 1% of green cars got hit by bird droppings.

Of course this is not a scientific study, but a survey. Color is not the only determining factor for a bird; location, shelter, threats etc all play a factor. But one thing is for sure, if your motorcycle has been targeted by birds, clean it off immediately. Paint will deteriorate if you don’t remove the bird droppings. You will start seeing discoloration, and that is a bad thing. And that goes especially for Ducati and Honda owners, since your motorcycles are predominantly red.

The only thing you can do if your motorcycle “sleeps” outside is put a motorcycle cover over it.

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If you are in the market for a new or pre-owned motorcycle, and you are not too fussy about the model, colors and options, the time to buy a new bike is now.

Since most people stop riding their motorcycle during the winter, many are longing for a new ride the next year. So they will try to offload their motorcycle now, raise the cash, and then in spring buy a new model.

Snowed-In-Motorcycle for sale

In other words, many bikers will be trying to sell their bikes, and the longer it takes, the cheaper the motorcycles become. Many bikers don’t think about buying a motorcycle when it snows, so the demand is low, but the offers are quite plenty.

Check the local newspaper listing, or check the on-line web sites like eBay or Craiglist. You’ll be sure to find some interesting motorcycles for sale at very reasonable prices.

If you are more into a new motorcycle, but you don’t really need next year’s model, now is the time to go through the doors of your local motorcycle dealer. They will be desperate to get rid of this year’s inventory, often giving big discounts.

Maybe you’ll not have the latest model, but in the end, do you really need that extra little gadget, or those 2 extra horsepowers the manufacturer has managed to squeeze out of the engine in next year’s model?

You will have less choice in terms of colors, usually your discounts will be limited to what is in stock. But you will not beat the price. And remember to negotiate. Don’t take their first offer, they need to get rid of their stock if they are getting new models for next year’s riding season.

The only problem you will most probably face is getting the bike home, especially if it’s snowing.

Happy hunting.

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

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

About the ride

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

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

About bikers

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

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

About our gear

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

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

About our motorcycles

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

UK SHARP site

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

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

webBikeWorld

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

Sales

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

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

Model Updates

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

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

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Respect – David Barr

Riding a motorcycle on its own is difficult enough. Anyone who is just starting to learn how to ride one will know that. Even under the easiest of circumstances, you need to have a good control of your body in order to properly control your bike.

You can then imagine how difficult it is if you are someone like David Barr. David, a former professional soldier, lost both his legs when his car went over a mine in Angola. In order to save his life, the South African doctors had to amputate both his legs. But despite the fact that he no longer had any legs, David went back to active duty until his contract ran out.

When he returned to the USA, he took out to his “old” motorcycle, a 1972 Harley-Davidson Panhead which he bought just after returning from Vietnam in 1971. He restored to Harley, fitting it with devices that allowed him to ride his motorcycle with his prosthetics. He also fitted it with an electric starter, since there was no way he could start the heavy bike otherwise.

After getting used to the bike, he set out doing something that only a few people have done before him – all of them with no disabilities. He went and took his Harley around the world!

David Barr in China

During 3 1/2 years, David took his Harley-Davidson on an 83,000 miles journey around the world, often riding under extreme conditions and the most dangerous roads.

David finally returned home in 1994, and wrote a lengthy book about his ordeal. Called “Riding the Edge”, he describes, supported by many photos, his trip and all the memories.

In 1996, David finally put his trusty ride to rest, with 250,000 miles on it. He then set out in the same year on a new Harley-Davidson Sportser 883 with a sidecar, from France into the Siberian winter, traveling through a desolate Russia. The trip resulted in another book, called “Riding the Ice”.

David’s incredible adventures have earned him 2 Guinness World Records, and an induction in the Motorcycle Hall of Fame in 2000.

With several books to his name, documentaries and worldwide recognition, David is now on the lecture circuit as a motivational speaker.

Click here to go to David’s website where you can read more about him and buy his books and/or DVDs.

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This week sees one of world’s biggest and largest motorcycle exhibitions take place in Cologne, Germany. Called Intermot, this once-every-two-years event alternates with the French motorcycle expo.

The show, since that is what it really is, starts for the public on October the 3rd. Specialists recon it’s second to the Italian expo Eicma in size and visitors.

In 2010, Intermot saw some 195,000 visitors visiting the 110,000 square meters (some 131,558 square yards) of space, divided into 6 different halls. The exhibition is not a “German” event, it’s truly international. 1,106 exhibitors from 40 countries are present in this event, with large representation from Asia (particularly China), Europe and North America.

Intermot Halls Layout

2010 Exhibitor Countries

This year should be a bumper year, since most main motorcycle manufacturers will be launching many new and updated motorcycles for 2013. BMW on their home turf will be showing their best-selling and new all-round motorcycle, the GS. But in contrast with previous year’s models, this boxer engine will have liquid cooling, an enormous step for the Bavarian manufacturer.

Ducati should be splitting their new models between Intermot and Eicma (their home turf), but the internet has already leaked information on their new dual-purpose 1200 Multistrada, so it’s not going to be a surprise.

The same will apply to Kawasaki with their 300 Ninja and the ZX-6R. Information has been circulating on the web about their much expected new models. Many other manufacturers are known to have new models ready for launch; Honda, Suzuki, Yamaha and even harley-Davidson.

But it’s not only motorcycles that are shown here. Accessories, helmets and clothing are everywhere. From traditional manufacturers, to even the smallest shops in India can be seen here. Often you’ll find the latest gadgets meant for riders anywhere being exhibited.

Intermot (and their Italian counterpart, Eicma) are two exhibitions that any true motorcycle lover should visit at least once in their lifetime. A bit like a pilgrimage to Mecca, it shows what is being done in the world of motorcycles globally. A must!

Source: Intermot

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