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Eicma in Milan, Italy is world’s biggest motorcycle expo & show, with thousands of companies showing off their latest products. At the 2013 Eicma, one of the manufacturers that showed some new products was Xena, the company that makes some of the more interesting and high-tech locks for motorcycles and scooters.

Xena-Eicma-2013-01

Xena-Eicma-2013-06One of their latest products is a “Ground Anchor”. The Ground Anchor is used by drilling a hole in your garage floor (presuming it is concrete), turning in the rod, and when finished, hitting the end with a hammer. That seals the rod into the ground, making it almost impossible to remove, unless you’ve got a JCB or jackhammer.

On the rod gets mounted a cap onto which you can hook up a solid metal chain and lock (see the last item here). The cap folds down so you can ride over it safely.

Xena-Eicma-2013-02

What is interesting with this Ground Anchor is that compared with its competition, the cap turns on itself. This means you do not need to put stress on the lock or chain when placing it onto the cap. No matter at what angle you park your scooter or motorcycle (or even bicycle), it is going to be easy to place the lock & chain. No turning big metal chain to fit the opening.

Xena-Eicma-2013-03

Xena have also added many more colors to their existing alarm disc locks. Now you can color match the lock with your bike’s colors.

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Another change made to the existing locks is the key. Previous versions of the key were in a “S” shape which allowed people to jam stuff into the lock making it difficult to open. The new key is “8” shaped and easier to use. Placing the key into the hole is simple, almost self-guiding, and it is more difficult to place junk into the hole, and easier to remove if it has been done.

Xena-Eicma-2013-05

Finally, Xena now have an alarm lock for chains and for the Ground Anchor. This means you can place the Ground Anchor in the ground, and with the lock you have a very loud alarm in case someone still tries to relieve you of your bike.

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.

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?

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

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:

Motorcycles come in all sizes; there are small ones, usually 50 to 125cc, medium sized ones and even big motorcycles, like the BMW GS series. But what is a truly big motorcycle?

Fabio Reggiani from Italy recently made the Guinness Book of World Record by making world’s biggest motorcycle; a 16 ft 9 inch (5.10 meter) tall, twice as long as it is high and weighing 11,000 lbs (5,000 kilos). That is 6 times as big as a normal motorcycle.

Fabio-Reggiani-Tallest-Rideable-Motorcycle

But this is not a static bike, it actually runs. To power such an enormous big bike, it has a 5.7 liter V8 engine developing 280 horsepowers.

Fabio-Reggiani-Tallest-Rideable-Motorcycle-2

Just watch the video below to get an idea how big this monstrosity is. Of course it is not as long as world’s longest motorcycle (measuring 72 ft 2 in – 22 meters), but it is taller than the previously tallest motorcycle measuring 11 ft 3 in (3.429 meters).

But if the world record of the most number of people on a motorcycle stands at 54 (source), imagine how many can be on this record breaking motorcycle?

But one thing is for sure. No one in his right mind is going to cut off this bike on the road.

You can follow Fabio on his Facebook page. If you want to read more about the record breaking bike, you will need to buy the 2014 Guinness Book of World Records.

But remember, it is not size that counts.

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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