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We Are Loving These 2016 KTM Motorcycles


In the off-road racing world, there is perhaps no other bike as easily recognizable as the little orange KTM machines. Since their introduction, KTM bikes have dominated the motorsports tracks. They're some of the most fun to ride bikes out there on the market, and the 2016 line up 

So let's get into some of our favorite KTM bikes, freshly unpacked for 2016.

KTM 350 XC-F


The original 2011 model went down a storm, and the 2013 wasn't half bad either with increased horsepower, but at the expense of bottom end quality. Has KTM addressed this for 2016?

KTM have improved almost every component on this year's release, with the focus on a lighter and more ergonomic design. The new motor (1-cylinder, 4 stroke engine) growls to a heart-pumping 14,000 rpm. A completely new frame design offers an increased torsional stiffness, which improves the handling. The overall result is a massive weight shed to just 227 pounds - making this an agile, compact little bike with the power of that of a much larger one.

What we love about this bike is that it is FAST and yet a comfort to ride. Gear changes aren't required all too often to have a successful blast around the track, and your wrists won't give way too easily even after some hardcore riding. A solid middleweight bike that's just great all-around.

450 SX-F Factory Edition


The 450SX-F is already a huge name in the Supercross championships world, with numerous wins around the world. Similar to other recent KTM releases, this bike has had most of its major components replaced to reduce weight and improve handling.

The new 1 cylinder, 4 stroke engine sheds four whole pounds, making it now the lightest 450 engine for off-road bikes. The frame has always been redesigned for increased torsional rigidity, with a lighter swingarm, fuel tank, and footpegs. Overall, the 2016 model is about 8 pounds lighter than the previous year's.

The fact that the new forks on the Factory Edition are a whopping 3.1 lbs lighter than those on its counterpart is quite amazing. Last year's model received complaints that the forks didn't absorb bumps as well as they needed to, a weak spot in an otherwise brilliant design. The 2016 model has addressed the problem effectively by improving the load its forks can handle, but it could prove to be a little uncomfortable for light-weight riders.

1290 Super Adventure


This is KTM's luxury adventure bike, one that struggled to be a worthy competitor against BMWs R1200GS when it was first released in 2015. How does 2016's model compare?

The 2016 1290 Super Adventure features a large 1300cc V-twin engine with massive 160-horsepower. It's made for tackling long distances with a huge 7.9-gallon tank and an ergonomic design for maximum comfort, including an adjustable seat height. 

It comes with a whole range of technology & safety features, including suspension control, traction control, cruise control, ABS for cornering, a selection of ride modes, and ride-by-wire throttle. There's even heated seat and grips, adjustable windshield, and slipper clutch.

At MSRP of $20,499, this is a pricey bike. But this is a "do it all" bike that does as well on the road as off, and we think it's a worthy contender against the big adventure brands. 

Duke 390



The cult classic Duke 390 has long been one of our favorite bikes, and is one of our top recommended starter bikes. This bike comes in at just over 300 pounds and puts out 44 horsepower. It may be a little thing, but it out-performs a lot of other bikes in the same class in terms of power.

One of the best features of the Duke 390 is its nimble chassis that provides gymnast agility when navigating a painfully busy street. The super lightweight trellis frame is designed for mass centralization, which gives the Duke 390 extreme agility and great maneuverability. This little bike can go anywhere: it's powerful enough to ride on the highway, handles well enough for those twisty mountain curves, and nimble enough to take off-road. 

This bike comes at an MSRP of just $4,999, making it one of the most fun bikes you can buy for five grand. 

RC390


We're happy to see KTM expand into the sportbike category and do well. Lastly, we have the RC390 - KTM's only purely sportbike. This is KTM's version of the extremely popular Japanese lightweights Ninja 300R and Yamaha R3.

The RC390 combines a small yet power engine with a small agile trellis frame and state-of-the-art racing technology. It's powered by a single cylinder, 4 stroke, 375cc engine with a peak output of 44 horsepower, making it a fast bike for a small weight that handles the road like a dream. Aesthetically, it's got a very sporty look with an aggressive riding position, but the ergonomic and aerodynamic design still allows for the comfortable ride.

For a brand that's synonymous with motocross domination, we think they've done well with this sportbike. It's a great little all-around bike with attractive European styling that'll be sure to get attention on the streets. 

It's Hard to Go Wrong with KTM
KTM is a big player when it comes to off-road bikes ? a reputation that's well established. But that doesn't mean you should rule out its marvelously engineered adventure and sport bikes.

Which of these bikes do you have your eye on? Or are you lusting after another model?

P.S. If you love window shopping as much as we do, see more of our favorite bikes round-ups: Yamaha, Kawasaki, Suzuki, BMW, and Ducati.


By Daniel Relich

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Ultimate Fender Eliminator Guide: How To Un-Ugly Your Rear End


Your motorbike is your life. There's nothing quite like waking up to feeling the open air blast against you, racing on a long straight during a hot summer's day. Our bikes do an exceptional job at making us look absolutely cool, so it's only fair you return the favor by modifying your bike to look like a true champion.

The number one aftermarket modification for sport and road-going bikes is something known as the fender eliminator. As popular as this mod is, there are still plenty of people confused by it:

What's the purpose of a fender eliminator? What exactly are you "eliminating"? And why would you want to eliminate it?

In this post, we'll explain everything you need to know about this modification.

Purpose of the fender eliminator 

In short terms, the primary purpose of a fender eliminator is to make your bike look awesome. It's the same reason people like to paint go-faster stripes down the sides of their car, only the eliminator is less cheesy and in-your-face (and actually looks cool).

Your fender is that ugly, sensible-looking plastic thing that hangs off your bike?s tail to cover your back wheel.

messes up the sleek lines of the bike, no?

The fender eliminator kit gets rid of that large unstylish plastic piece and basically instead mounts the lights and plate right under the tail piece. Doing this mod will no longer cover your back wheel. It makes a bike look more slick and "race-y". Some might also argue that eliminators shed a little weight, but really, this modification is strictly cosmetic.

This is what your tail end looks like after the modification:

much cleaner (the license place is mounted between the lights)

A huge reason why fender eliminators are the go-to product for body modifications is their easy-on-the-wallet price, mostly costing no more than $200 and even as low as just $30. It's one of the cheapest and easiest modifications you can do that make a large impact on appearance.

Are there any issues?

Now there's the question that's going to help you decide whether to buy one. While fender eliminators undeniably look sportier and make your whole bike appear more streamlined, there are a few issues you should consider.

Water and Dirt Become a Bigger Issue

That ugly fender that came pre-installed on your brand new bike? It's actually there for a reason. They frame your back wheel to act as a shield. When you're tearing over wet or dirty roads, the tread in your tires serves as a reservoir to make sure you have sufficient grip, and then they throw everything they collect into the air ? and not always behind you.

Your wheels are spinning at mightily fast speeds, and after the rain has created a nice slippery road surface, the speed at which your tires discard collected water and dirt means at least some of it is going to land on you.

Some people only want their bikes for racing or recreational sport. As a result, they don't head out into the soaking wet very often, and this why this type of rider may see no reason to keep their bike?s fender.

Drivers behind you may get it too

That fender isn't there just to prevent your back from getting wet; it's also to protect vehicles behind you from having to literally eat your dust (and water, and rocks). Cracked windshields on cars are often caused by stones and small bits of debris impaling the glass.

Truth be told, keeping your stock fender doesn't eliminate the risk of that happening. Most windshield cracks aren't caused by bikes ? largely because there are fewer bikes on the road. But it?s also because car tires perform in almost the same way as bike tires.

Your license plate may be an issue

That stock fender is also there to attach a license plate to, easily visible to other drivers, and most importantly, to any police patrolling the streets.

A fender eliminator on the other hand, gets rid of this hanging piece. It comes with a mount for the license plate, which usually has it tucked in under the new tail piece. Make sure that the kit you choose have a LED license light and turn signals. And be careful that the angle of the plate doesn't reflect the light into the eyes of the driver behind you.

R&G Racing kit: license mount and lights on the ZX10R

Which brings us to the next question:

Are they Legal?

The legality issue of making this kind of modification to your bike comes down to: 1) your license plate is not as visible anymore, or 2) it's not as well illuminated anymore.

The answer is that they are usually legal. Though this largely depends on where you are. Before you purchase a kit, make sure you check with your state, because in some states (Oregon, for example) fenders on all wheels are a legal requirement.

If you live in a state where removing the fender is okay, make sure that your license plate is still clearly visible (ie. not mounted way under the tail piece) and that your plate is well lit. Not only that, but make sure it's by a light that will not startle any driver behind you. That usually means dipped at a slight angle facing the plate so that the reflecting light isn?t going to bounce directly into somebody?s eyes. You can buy additional accessories for your eliminator if this is the problem.

Most of the top brands (discussed below) manufacturer eliminators with all the features you?ll need to comply with the laws in most states, such as LED rear lights, turn signal hardware, and an acceptable holder for your registration plate.

You should check what the specific laws are in your state to make sure the product you choose complies with local laws. Some states are more relaxed than others in this particular regard, but making sure everything is installed and set up correctly is a good idea for your own safety, never mind the man in blue.

Our recommendations

Competition Werkes: Competition Werkes is no doubt the most recognized name in the fender eliminator market.  Started in 1984 by Ward McKee, his idea of eliminating the rear fender to enhance the look of his sport bike became an instant hit, and by 1996, his Fender Eliminator Kits were distributed to dealers all across the U.S.

Shop for Competition Werkes Fender Eliminators here

Targa: Targa was started in 1983 to improve the styling of today's motorcycles. Their Fender Eliminator kits provide an affordable solution to clean up the tail end of motorcycles with many kits providing short-stalk style aftermarket turn signals. In addition to fender eliminators, Targa also manufacturers half tank covers/bras. 

Shop for Targa Fender Eliminators here


R&G Racing: R&G is a European boutique sportbike accessories brand providing innovative and functional bolt-on accessories. Their European design style really sets their products apart from the crowd, with high-quality material and top-notch engineering quality that lasts long and looks amazing. The most notable items within their product range are Fender Eliminator Kits and Frame Sliders. The Brits call them a Tail Tidy!

Shop for R&G Racing Fender Eliminators here

Conclusion

So is a fender eliminator right for you? While this modification certainly makes you bike look awesome, it depends. If you use your bike primarily for going to the track or the occasional joy ride on a warm weekend day, getting rid of that unsightly stock fender and slipping on one of these slick bad boys will instantly up your ride cred. However, if your bike is your main mode of commute, whether rain or shine, you may feel bothered by the increased water and dust kick-up over time.

Have questions? We're always here to help! Either call us up or hit us up on our Facebook page!

Have you done this modification on your bike yet? What do you think and what are some downsides you experienced? 
By Daniel Relich

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Lithium Batteries: What Are They and Why Do You Need One?

Summer has finally arrived and the sun is out, bringing with it the return of riding season! Which means it's time to strap on your helmet and paint the corners with tire tracks. You're brimming with excitement. You dust off the bike that's just been hanging out in the garage, ram the key into the ignition, turn, and... nothing.

Yep, looks like the battery has died.

And you're going to have to sort that out before any gravel feels your fury.

So what type of battery should you buy? The traditional lead acid type, or do you go for lithium power instead? Aside from the cooler-sounding name, lithium batteries do have a few tricks up their sleeve.

Better Performance

A huge contributor to a motorbike's face-stretching acceleration capabilities is its light weight, which is just one reason we prefer two wheels to four. In this interest, many aftermarket parts are designed to reduce the overall weight of the bike as much as possible.

Enter the lithium battery, which weighs up to four times less than the alternative lead acid battery. That's FOUR times, quite significant if you ask us. Which will directly translate to improved performance.

Now, just a simple change in battery isn't going to take your five-seconds-to-100mph down to two, but every little bit of weight shed helps. So if you're looking for any way to improve the performance of your bike by fitting the lightest parts possible, replacing your current dead battery with a lithium alternative is a smart move.

So just how much weight can be shed? Take the EVX12-12 Battery by Ballistic (a company clearly all about power) that weighs up to 10lbs less than a stock battery, tested by race teams and easy to install for the budding racer. That's quite a significant amount of weight loss, and if you're all about thrills, well, need we say more?

Longevity

Needless to say, when you part with your cash for new parts, you'll want them to last as long as possible. It's the reason we always urge you to choose quality over price when it comes to riding gear, and it can make "expensive" items much better value in the long run.

This is another area where lithium batteries holds a competitive edge over lead acid. It's also worth mentioning that all batteries - yes ALL batteries - lose at least some of their charge every day, even if they're not in use. The lithium battery loses between 3-10% of charge per year if stored. Compare this with lead acid batteries, which lose up to 1% a day!

That's a significant difference. Consider how often you use your bike. Do you adamantly use it daily regardless of the weather threats? Or does it often stand in the garage for weeks or months at a time? If you're more of a seasonal or occasional rider, a lithium battery will still be in good shape when you're ready to start riding again.

(Of course, you can also keep your lead acid battery alive during the hibernation months with a battery tender, which will safely maintain the battery at a full charge without trickling charge damages.)

Are there any downsides?

Every product and its competitors both propose advantages and disadvantages that make them more suitable for different users. So yes, there are a couple of drawbacks to the lithium battery:

Higher price: Now, we've already mentioned the fact that you might expect a lithium battery to last a little longer, especially if it's going to be stored for a while. But then again, batteries charge themselves when your engine's running, and chargers are available should they need to be rebooted after being stored away.

That means the price should be considered. Lithum batteries cost a pretty penny, usually between $160 and $280, while lead acid batteries are much lower priced at $65-$120. But then again, the longer life and improved performance may be well worth it to you.

Warm up time: Depending on where you live and the time of year, the lithium battery does have another drawback: it might need a bit of warming up to function properly in temperatures below freezing. Turning on the light for a few minutes should do the trick, but it could be a nuisance if you're doing it everyday when it's literally freezing out outside! (And seriously, props to you if you ride in freezing temperatures!)

Our recommendations

If you're considering upgrading to a lithium battery, we recommend the following brands that are all leading providers in the market.

Ballistic: Ballistic Batteries is one of the most recognized names in lithium batteries. It uses the latest, state-of-the-art lithium iron phosphate (LiFePO4) energy storage technology to provide you with a high energy battery in a small compact package. Each battery is assembled by hand in the USA using custom designed cells, cases, and hardware.

Shop for Ballistic batteries here.






EarthX: Earth X, Inc. is an American company founded by an electrical engineer and mechanical engineer who wanted to find a better alternative to the lead acid battery. Their batteries are made up of LiFePO4 with built-in electronics to keep its charge level balanced. The batteries last up to 8 years, are 80% lighter than their lead-acid equivalents, and all come with a 2 year warranty.

Shop for EarthX batteries here





Shorai: Shorai was founded in 2010 in California and since then have become one of the world's top producers of lithium sport batteries in the powersports market. Its sponsors include KTM, Galfer, and Dunlp. Their LFX batteries deliver energy faster, with less weight and wear on the battery per start cycle than any other brand available on the market today. All batteries come with a limited 3 year warranty.

Shop for Shorai batteries here.





Lead-acid alternative: And if you feel like that lead acid battery is still the better option for you, we've got a recommendation for that too!

Yuasa Battery Inc. is the largest American manufacturer and a world leader of batteries for motorcycles and powersport vehicles. Besides their replacement battery business, they are also the preferred original equipment (OE) supplier for many in the market. Yuasa's batteries generate more power, last longer, and require less maintenance.

So should I buy a lithium battery?

Honestly, it depends on how you want to use your bike. Raw power and optimized performance required? A lithium battery will do the trick. Prefer a bit of slow cruising on a regular basis? The lead acid battery will likely do just fine. If you're still undecided, and this article has raised some questions, get in touch, and we'll be happy to help out!

Have you swapped out your old battery for a lithium one? What were any improvements and/or issues you experienced? 

By Daniel Relich

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Our Favorite 2016 Suzuki Motorcycles


Aaaaannd we're back! With yet another installment of our current favorite bike models (see Yamaha, Kawaski, BMW, and Ducati.)

Doing these have been quite fun, almost like getting that window-shopping thrill. If we can't own them, we can drool and write about them, amiright?

Here are our favorite Suzuki stallions for 2016!

GSX-R750


Back in 1985, the release of the GSX-R750 (which you may say is the grandfather if modern sportbikes) changed the way we think about bikes forever. Even for the 2016 model, Suzuki hasn't lost touch with this bike's astounding heritage of winning championships and wowing us with its uber-cool style.

Thanks in part to a lighter build than previous models, the latest GSX feels more like a superbike than anything else when it comes to accelerating. This bike?s magical little secret is fitting a whopping 750cc engine on to a compact little machine. The bike is fitted with a aluminum alloy frame, lightweight Showa front forks and single rear shock, and electronically controlled steering damper.  The results are raw power and precise handling in a compact beast that dazzles both on the track and the road.

At MSRP of $12,299, it's not cheap but also not terribly pricey. What we love about it is that you get the agility of a small bike with the power of a 1000. Great balance between getting a smaller cc machine and a huge 1000cc machine. This makes the GSX-R750 an easy-to-ride mean machine that will never stop being one of the most fun all-around sports bikes on the market.

SV650


The 2016 SV650 is a rework of a mega-popular classic, and while it's perfect for beginner bikers, it promises to give the old-timers one mighty nostalgic thrill. The SV engine (645cc, 4-stroke, 2-cylinder, liquid cooled) is a testament to superb manufacturing, and if you're willing to climb the rev meter, you'll be promised a thrilling ride.

It also rivals its competitors with its more than reasonable price tag, especially given that the ABS braking system is fitted as standard ? unlike other bikes that often require pricey additions.
Its new low RPM mode makes setting off and traveling at low speeds easy, which is what makes it so perfect for bikers without too much experience tearing up the dirt. A real little gem in our opinion.

At MSRP of $6,999, this is a solid price for a solid bike that will serve well from the beginner's phase all the way to the experienced leagues.

V-Strom 1000 ABS


Adventure biking more your thing? The Suzuki V-Strom 1000 ABS is a good introduction to Suzuki's ADV offerings.... and with new looks for 2016! It tackles steep mountains as easily as it does straight roads, being the first Suzuki adventure bike to feature traction control as standard while boasting an incredible engine.

Its fuel-injected V-Twin 1037cc engine has been tweaked to provide astounding torque at both low and mid-range levels, and its range of add-ons make it a versatile beast, perfect for taking you anywhere.

At MSRP of $12,699, this bike is also excellent value for money with hand guards, side-mounted cases, and a touring guard fitted as standard. All in all, you can't go wrong with this fine masterpiece no matter what kind of terrain you wish to conquer.

Hayabusa


The new Hayabusa is hard to miss. This slick mad machine looks like it was stolen from the future, and with an incredible 1340cc inline four cylinder engine, we really wouldn?t be surprised to find out that's exactly what happened. The crazy aesthetic may be love-it or hate-it, but it is designed for maximum aerodynamics and once you're on this thing, we bet you'd love it.

The outstanding accelerating capabilities of this crazy-fast sports bike never stop ? you'll still keep climbing until you reach the very top end of the scale. State-of-the-art suspension coupled with a lightweight aluminum frame give this bike astounding agility - it really packs a punch on the speed side of things. Other features include Brembo brake calipers, ABS, clutch assist, idle speed control, and drive modes.

At MSRP of $14,599, it puts this bike in the splurge category. But this is a marvel of an engineering creation with top-of-the-line features, and with all that power, we think it's actually a decent price for what is one of the fastest production bikes currently out there!

GSX-S1000F


Motorbike manufacturers know full well that no thrills are lost along the way to maturing into your senior years. We love experiencing those back-breaking phenomenal speeds, but we don't want actually to break our backs achieving them.

The GSX-S1000F is a power-packed marvel (with an 999cc four-stroke liquid cooled engine), ergonomically-designed to make way for punishing speeds without painful consequences. Suzuki has applied the love of a sports bike design and coupled it with a more upright, standard riding position than that found on a bike destined for the track. The result is a machine with overwhelming power that can be ridden almost endlessly without neck, wrist and back problems.

It's a bike geared towards tearing up the streets rather than painting the track with tire marks. And what it loses in sport like suspension and competition grade breaking, it more than makes up for with comfort. At MSRP of $10,999, it?s an ideal bike for those still chasing adrenaline, but craving more comfort.

Something for Everyone

We really like Suzuki for developing ground-breaking bikes and concepts that promise a little something for everyone. Although they haven't been garnering much media attention lately as their supersport line-up remains mostly unchanged, their bikes have more than earned their place as some of the best purchases on the market - new or used.

Which of these bikes are you lusting over? Or do you have your eye on another model?

*all photos courtesy of Suzuki

By Daniel Relich

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First Motorcycle: Buy New or Used?


Image you're speeding around the Laguna Seca circuit as the crowd roars. Sparks fly from your knee pucks as you tackle corners on your ferocious beast. As you cross the finish line ? breaking tons of records ? you know you've just made motorcycling history. Champagne showers your screaming fans as you celebrate victory in front of your unworthy opponents.

Ok, so you're not quite there yet, but your dreams are as real as the air you breathe, and the first step towards achieving your hardcore racing fantasies is to get out there and buy yourself a bike.

The question is: do you spend your money on a brand new bike, or do you purchase a motorcycle that's already experienced life on the road?

Surely if the money's there, buying brand new is better?

In short, not always. But that's not to suggest there is a definitive correct answer. There are many things to consider.

Let's take a look at all the factors:

Experience Level

Are you a complete beginner who is just picking up riding and has practically never been on a bike? Or are you a more experienced rider looking for a 2nd (or even 3rd!) bike or replacing an old one?

If you're a completely new rider, keep in mind that you're probably going to drop your bike. Maybe even quite a lot. If this is the case, a cheap used bike (no more than $3000) is a good option to learn on. You won't get heartbroken if you scuff up the sides, and even if you decide riding isn't for you, you're not out too much money.

And the best part: if you decide you're going to stick with riding and have outgrown this first bike, you can just sell it - probably even close to what you paid for it in the first place, assuming there were no major mishaps.

Purpose / Bike Category

Now let's take a look at if what kind of riding you plan to do makes a difference:

Sportbikes: Sportbikes are all about pure power. However, all that power takes its toll on the main components of the motorcycle, and if maintenance has been neglected, a used bike might be on its last legs... errr... or wheels. If you're going down second-hand avenue, you'll need to ask questions about the upkeep of the bike ? how often was the oil changed? How often did the bike have a visit to the mechanical GP? 

The thing is, unless you're an experienced mechanic, you may not be able to see all the damages and the owner may not be as forthcoming about the vehicle history.  Because of the more stringent service requirements of sportbikes, buying a brand new one might be the best way to prevent repair work adding to the total cost.

MX/Dirt/Dual-Sport: If dirt tracks and badass ramps are more up your alley, you'll need to know your stuff if you're thinking about buying a second-hand off-road/MX bike. Given the nature of activities they're used for, engines, springs, chassis and other mechanical functions are constantly put to the test. Not to mention insurance costs that could be through the roof.

A brand new bike should be able to take quite the beating for some years, and yes, it means a larger initial purchase investment compared to a used bike, but what you'll save on repair work could very well balance the charts.

Touring: Touring motorcycles are built to last, and as long as the owner has been responsible with maintenance work, a second-hand bike could be a great way to save cash (especially since touring is one of the priciest category of bikes!). Remember that a touring motorbike isn't meant for high speeds and stunts, so make sure the owner has not misused it. A touring bike that's been continually pushed to its limits might be a day away from an expensive breakdown.

In our opinion, it's a good option to buy a well-looked-after used touring bikes. But best to buy adventure and sports bikes brand new if you really want one you can trust 100%.

Maintenance & Repair Costs

A well-maintained, second-hand bike will save you heaps on the purchase price compared to brand new models, but buying used still means a lot of unknowns. If you buy second-hand, ask the owner as many questions as you can regarding the reasons for selling, maintenance work (getting the service records is best), crash history, and number of previous owners.

When it comes to deciding whether the bike has been pushed to its limits... well, you will have to use your initiative, and check the vehicles components like an experienced detective (if you're not sure, bring along someone who understands). Carefully note what aftermarket upgrades the owner has done to the bike and if they were properly installed. Look for signs of crashes and drops.

Does the bike need a battery? Brakes? Or chains and sprockets? Are the forks rusted? Do the tires still have enough tread?

You may be getting a used bike "cheap", but all these repairs could end up balancing things out. Take stock of what repairs are necessary and that will be the "real price" of the used bike. And then think about whether that price is worth it for a bike that's already had 10k miles on it.

Also consider what your own mechanical abilities are. Maybe you're okay with buying a bike that needs some work done because you enjoy fixer-uppers. But if you're not very mechanically astute, repairs could cost a fortune. You may want to just buy a new bike with that wonderful warranty. 

See also: So How Much Does a Motorcycle Cost?

Technology

New bikes will come with the newest technology, such as ABS, traction control, auto-adjusting suspension, rider modes, etc. etc. Maybe you feel that these new features (which are there to improve the comfort and safety while riding) are worth the extra dough. If you're looking at a used motorcycle, be sure to research its specs and see what technology features it may come with.

Financing

Another major thing to consider is how you're going to pay for it.

Great financing promotions can be found at low rates for new motorcycles. Most major manufacturers will have financing incentive promotions or programs for new bikes. So you can become the owner of a shiny new bike with very little money to start.

However, used motorcycles are usually best purchased with cash on hand, as interest rates on loans for used motorcycles generally aren't as favorable. It can be difficult for some people to come up with a large sum of cash. And then also consider what extra repair fees you may have to spend on a used bike.

Another thing to consider: if you're iffy about buying used but still want a cheaper price, a very good option is to buy last year's model new. You will have a never-before-owned bike, and just the fact it's not the current model could knock $1,000 or more off the price. 

Insurance 

Insurance rates are typically higher for new motorcycles. Cheaper used motorcycles typically have lower insurance rates, but depending on your driving history and age, your rates can be pretty high no matter what. And sportbikes and dual-sports will just have high insurance no matter what, compared to say, touring bikes and cruisers. Do yourself a favor and check with your insurance company and get a quote. Here is a comprehensive list of motorcycle insurance agencies.

Conclusion

As you can see, there is no easy answer. It depends on what you want out of the bike, your financial situation, the state of the used bike, and type of riding you want to do. In general, we recommend new bikes if you want to do some serious off-roading or track racing, and used is a good option for touring. Remember, do your research carefully, ask the right questions, and something that is just too good to be true probably is. 


By Daniel Relich

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9 Things You Need When Riding This Summer


Summer is finally upon us! Along with the warm weather, pool parties, and bbq's, also comes the return of riding season! So dust off those bikes and get ready for some epic motorcycle adventures.

Whether this is your first summer on a bike, or you've been riding for years... whether you're going on a long distance trip or just exploring your local roads, we've got 9  things you need for a fun, comfortable riding season.

1. Dark helmet shield

The summer warmth also means sun in your face. A dark helmet shield will keep the sun out of your eyes, so you don't have to wear sunglasses inside the helmet. Smoke or mirrored are the popular options.

And a plus: it makes you look like a total badass.

Just remember that if you're planning on a long ride that goes into the night, bring along with you a clear visor to switch into after the sun goes down.  Riding in the dark with a tinted visor is basically like driving a car at night with sunglasses on. Not safe for anyone on the road.

Or if you're in the market for a completely new helmet, you may want to consider a dual visor helmet, which has a tinted inner shield that drops down. This will cover you in all situations and eliminate having to carry around a clear visor.

2. Short gloves

Don't worry about sweaty hands with short ventilated riding gloves! Short motorcycle gloves will have the necessary padding and abrasion resistant materials, while allowing ventilation to keep your hands non-sweaty. There are tons of options available, including moisture-wicking materials, perforated leather, or gloves with venting systems.

One of our most popular gloves for the summer is the Icon Twenty-Niner Gloves Black, which has rubber knuckle armor, a leather goatskin palm, and a hi-flow mesh on the back of the hand.

3.  Cooling base layers

Yes, the summer sun may be uncomfortably strong, but riding in shorts and a T-shirt is NOT the way to go. We are always champions of safe riding, and that means riding jacket and riding pants always. Based on your personal preference, you may like a lighter weight textile jacket or a perforated leather jacket for these hot months.

To keep cool, gear up with cooling base layers, though it may seem counter-productive to pile on even more clothing. A cooling base layer will wick sweat away from you, keeping you dry and comfortable. Cooling layers are available for both pants and tops, so get some if you're planning on rides longer than just a quick neighborhood jaunt. We all know how uncomfortable a ... ahem... certain area can get.

In extremely hot conditions, you can also consider a cooling vest to go under the jacket. The vest activates with a couple of minutes' soak in water, and it'll keep you cool on your long rides under the sweltering sun.

While this isn't technically a base layer, you can also wear a wet bandana around the neck or a cooling neck tube. Something cool on your neck on a hot day brings instant relief.

4. Hydration pack 

One of the biggest dangers of riding in hot weather is heat exhaustion and/or even possibly fatal - heat stroke. The most important things you can do to prevent this is 1) stay hydrated, and 2) listen to your body and take a break if you are feeling signs of exhaustion, dizziness, cramping, and/or nausea.

To stay hydrated, bring enough water with you on your trip - one bottle every hour as a general guideline. We highly recommend hydration packs so you can sip easily while riding (especially if it's not convenient to stop to take a rest break). We love the performance-focused hydration packs from American Kargo that are designed to fit over motorcycle jackets

5. Windscreen

Summer is the perfect season to cruise along the mountains and country roads with the wind in your hair, right? (Though that's just an expression, because you'll be wearing a helmet, of course.)

Unfortunately, summer also brings an increase in bugs. And bugs in your beard is not a sexy look, not to mention gross. Fit up your bike with a windshield to keep them from splattering in your face. A windshield will also protect against wind fatigue, flying debris, and the summer rain.

If you're worried about a windscreen messing up the lines of your bike, here are our favorite ones that look great while doing the job.

6. Battery

You excitedly get your bike out of the garage, turn the ignition, and... nothing. Yep, a dead battery.

You can make sure your bike doesn't die after months of non-use with a battery tender. These devices are designed to fully charge the battery and maintain it at a safe level. They do not cause any damage, unlike trickle chargers (which means that small currents keep on being sent to the battery even when it's fully charged... a surefire way to destroy it).

Or another option is to upgrade to a lithium battery, which is a lot more slimmed down and lightweight than the heavy lead-acid batteries. Lithium batteries have way better performance, no risk of spills, and can go for months without a charge. The substantial weight savings also translates into increased riding performance as well. Our picks are the Ballistic lithium batteries.




7. Oil

If you're getting your bike out again after a long hibernation in the garage, it's best to start this season off with a fresh oil change. When temperatures near triple digits, your bike can run the risk of overheating, which will break down existing oil quicker and wear the engine more if you're not at the proper levels or running old oil. It's a good idea to carry a bottle of oil with you on your long touring ride too, just in case.

What kind of oil you use is important too. Be sure to check your manufacturer's guide to see what is recommended for your specific bike. During the hot days, a heavier oil or synthetic oil will be able to endure the heat more.

If you're riding in very hot areas, you may want to consider a oil cooler kit, which will maintain the oil at a safe temperature. However, be careful to make sure that your bike will actually benefit from one, as it may even cause damage if your bike doesn't really need one. In general, air-cooled V-Twins is a good candidate for a oil cooler kit, or if you're carrying a heavy load on your ride.


8. Tires & tire pressure gauge

Check that your tires still have maintained their pressure and that there are no damages. Also check that you still have enough tread. If there are any damages or they are too worn out in general, it's best to replace the tires. Make sure you get tires with enough tread to function well for both the hot asphalt and summer rain wet conditions.

Generally, it's a good idea to check the tire pressure before every ride with a tire pressure gauge. Tires with inadequate pressure can significantly affect handling and traction. The lifetime of a tire is also greatly reduced if riding with improperly inflated tires.

9. Sprockets & chains (and chain lube)

Check your sprockets for wear and check your chain to see if it needs replacing.  If your chain has rusted or is worn down, it's best to just go ahead and replace them (replace both at the same time for best results).

If your chain still looks to be in good condition, give it a light cleaning first with just mild soap and a brush, as dirt and grease most likely have gathered on the chain.  The next step is to properly lubricate the chain in order to increase the life of the chain and sprockets. For best results, do so after warming it up a bit (just ride it around the block a couple of times), as this will allow the warm chain to soak up the lubricant better.

Conclusion

Are you ready to take your bike out of hibernation? Riding in the summer is all about enjoying the sun and weather on your favorite bike, but also about staying protected while keeping cool. There are definitely some challenges to riding in the extreme heat, but with the proper gear, you can make sure you have a safe and comfortable ride.

Hopefully we have given you some good tips for both you and your bike for this upcoming summer season. So get out there and have a cool, safe, and adventurous one!

What are some of your ways for dealing with the summer heat? Share them below!
By Daniel Relich

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Convincing Your Significant Other To Let You Ride a Motorcycle


There's a rumble in the distance - the faint curl of smoke and exhaust, the stomp of tires against the pavement. You squint toward the horizon, watching as chrome-covered silhouettes rev steadily forward. Riders roll by, their leather jackets coated in dust and glory, sparing a moment to acknowledge you with the briefest of nods before vanishing around the corner.

It's a perfect moment - and it's one you want to capture for yourself. You want to be one of them. You want to seek out the open road and conquer every mile. You want... your girl to stop staring at you, baffled (and more than a little horrified) by your sudden love for engines.

A motorcycle, she swears, is out of the question.

You'll now have to prove that it's instead the answer.

(For the sake of being concise in this post, we'll assume that you're man with a concerned wife/girlfriend. But if you're a woman who wants to ride - then you go girl! The man in your life will either 1. think you're the most amazing badass girl ever, or 2. be even more worried for your safety. Or maybe even a mix of both. In any case, this article is for you too!)

Embrace the Art of Communication

Communication is the key to any relationship, and this will be the most useful tool when convincing your significant other to let you ride.

Hopefully, time has made you wise, offering you insights into what works and what doesn't. Even if you're met with negativity initially, don't resort to ultimatums, threats, or petty remarks. Approaching the subject of riding with a stern tone and a series of demands is probably not your best strategy.

Instead, create an open dialogue. Discuss why you want to invest in a bike, emphasize the advantages (such as fuel savings and flexible travel options), talk about concerns and solutions, and how it'll affect your finances. (Read more below.)

Remain calm, speak plainly, and never, ever interrupt.

Acknowledge Her Fears

With every mile on a motorcycle comes a sense of freedom, but also undeniable concerns.

Your girl fears these machines, citing endless crash and collision statistics. Don't ignore these statistics. They are true, after all. A recent report from the Insurance Information Institute notes that motorcyclists suffer approximately 92,000 injuries and 4,500 fatalities each year. You can't blame your significant other for being worried.

Address those worries. Acknowledge the risks of riding, and then create strategies to counter those risks. Invest in training courses, anti-lock braking systems, and protective gear (the most important being a helmet, gloves, and riding jacket). Stress the importance of safety to alleviate her fears.

Read more:
How to Start Riding Motorcycles 
Tips for Riding Safely in the Streets
- Beginner's Guides to Helmets, Gloves, and Jackets

Create a Budget

Every month comes a series of expenses - mortgage payments, bills, student loans, retirement savings, etc. etc. These obligations siphon away your savings, leaving you with an empty wallet and a scowl. Affording a motorcycle, therefore, may seem frivolous to your loved one. How can you spare even a cent for a something considered a non-necessity?

The simple answer is to prove that you can. Before even broaching the subject of a bike, examine your finances. Do your homework and understand where your money goes each month. Find areas where you can cut spending. Do you have a daily Starbucks habit or go out for beers with the boys every Friday evening? You may have to sacrifice some smaller joys in order to get your bigger one.

Present these findings and show that you are responsible about staying within a budget. Show that you can come up with the savings necessary. Maybe you have even found that commuting with a bike will save you a ton of gas! Most importantly, show that a bike won't undermine your quality of life.

Choose the Right Bike

Bigger isn't always better, especially for beginners. While you dream of a 1,400cc roar, the reality is less kind, with injuries and fatalities rising drastically with every engine upgrade. Unfortunately, with massive performance comes equally massive safety concerns.

We've suggested numerous times before that beginners choose a smaller 300cc class bike. An inexperienced rider on a too-powerful platform is a danger to himself and others. Consider something with a little less kick and little more reliability, choosing frames that emphasize maneuverability and stability.

Show your loved one that you are level-headed by choosing a bike suitable for your riding level. This will promote safety on the road and foster confidence in her.

Don't worry about a smaller bike not being fun anymore. Plenty of manufactures make smaller bikes that are still a blast to ride (and they are much more budget friendly too... definitely another plus you can use to help your cause!).

Read more: Best Road Bikes for Beginners

Invite her along for the ride

Or maybe her fears go beyond safety or finances. Maybe she is worried that having a new toy will take your time away from her. Instead of spending what little free time you have together as a couple, you'll be dedicating yourself to the highways and backroads.

Luckily, this concern is the easiest to fix.

Invite her to share the ride with you (gear her with the proper protection!). If she's reluctant to hop unto the back of your bike, start off small by just going up and down a safe, low-traffic street. The thrill of riding is addictive, and soon, she'll be ready for more and longer distances.

Sharing this excitement will create unforgettable memories that strengthen your relationship (and enhance your fun). On a bike, you can travel to new destinations and have the kind of adventures that just won't be the same in a car. The open road experience should never be a singular one. Welcome her company instead.

Conclusion

If you want to ride and your significant other is let's just say... less than enthusiastic, don't worry, not all hope is lost. Most of their negativity comes out of fear for you and your safety. It just comes down to alleviating those fears. Show her that you've done your research and that you are going into this in a sensible way.

Have a calm discussion, acknowledge every concern, create a new budget, stress the need for safety, and invite her to share the experience. Involve her in every step of the process. Let her see that isn't just another whim (and admit that you've had more than a few of those). Show her that this is the chance to do something new and explore - together.

Do you have any more tips? How did you convince your partner to let you ride? Share them below! 
By Daniel Relich

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How To Find The Right Size Helmet


We've stressed countless times already that a helmet is the single most important piece of protective gear you can own.  It is the one thing that will save your life during the most terrifying seconds that you might ever experience. And it's also the difference between an amazingly fun ride and a miserable one.

But it'll only work right if it's fitted properly.

So how do you find the right size? Do not just guess your head size or go by solely your hat size. It could be a good place to start, but there is definitely more to fitting the helmet. The best way would be to try the helmet on at stores, but we know that can't always be done. Sometimes, you have no choice but to order online.

In this guide, we're here to help you properly fit a motorcycle helmet.

Why Fit Matters

No matter what helmet you buy (see our guide to the different types), it should be DOT or Snell certified. This means that the helmet has went through a series of tests to prove that it can absorb shock and handle an impact. But this is only valid for helmets that are properly sized.

This is why helmet fit is so important. A cheap helmet that fits properly will protect you more than an expensive helmet that doesn't. 

Not only is the right fit important for your safety, it also plays a huge role in your ride enjoyment. A helmet that's too small can cause headaches, easily turning your ride into an uncomfortable, miserable experience. A helmet that's too big will rattle around on your head, causing increased fatigue and stress. In addition, things like ventilation and soundproofing are all affected by the fit of the helmet.

Head shape

In your search for a motorcycle helmet, you may come across some brands specifying their helmet for a specific head shape. What does this mean? 

Most of the helmets will fall in one of the three categories: round oval, intermediate oval and long oval. 

To find out which head shape you fall under, take a look at the top of your head straight on (have someone take a picture). Take two measurements: 1) from your ear to ear, and 2) from your forehead to the back of your head.

diagram showing top of the head

- Round oval: these two measurements are about exactly the same; you have a pretty close perfectly round head.
- Intermediate oval: your measurement from the forehead to back of your head is slightly longer.
- long oval: your measurement from the forehead to back of your head is much longer

When in doubt, select the intermediate oval. This is the head shape most people fall under. And if a shape is not specified for a helmet, then it's made for this shape. Though it'll also help to know the shape of your head it isn't too essential since the brands these days do provide interior pads of different sizes to help you to fine tune the fit according to the shape of your head.

If you do find yourself having one of the less common head shapes, Arai and Icon are a couple of popular motorcycle helmet brands that make helmets for specific head shapes. 

Head Size

Getting the correct size is the most important measurement.  For the size, measure the circumference of your head where it is the widest. This is usually just above your eyebrows and ears. Note down your measurement in both inches and centimeters (as this is a little more exact). 

measure your head where it is the widest

Then match it to the fitment chart of the helmet you select. The helmets from different manufacturers have their own specific size charts (sometimes even varying between different models), so don't just look at one size chart and assume you're that size for all brands and models. 

For example, let's take this size chart for this AGV helmet as an example:


If your head circumference measurement came out to be 59 centimeters, you would order a Medium. But let's say your measurement came in at 59.5 centimeters. Based on the chart, you're right in between a medium and a large. In this case, size down to a medium, as helmets do loosen as they break in. Different manufacturers have slightly different sizing and shell sizes so it's always best to double check the size charge before assuming your size across all brands.

Checking the fit

When you put the helmet on, it should have a snug fit. It will be quite tight in the beginning because the linings do compress a bit as they break in. In time, they will adjust to your face shape and become looser, but never loose enough that you can move your head easily inside the helmet. 

In a correctly sized helmet, you should feel that:

- It fits tightly around the top part of your head, but no excess pressure. It it feels painfully tight all the way around, then go up a size.
- There are no gaps between the padding and your cheeks. Your cheeks should be compressed a bit, but not painful.
- Try to slip a couple of fingers against your cheek. You should not be able to easily do so. 
- The brow pads touch your temples, but don't exert extra pressure.
- The face shield shouldn't touch your chin or nose, when lightly pressed.
- The helmet should not come off when you grab it at the back and pull up. If it does, then it's too big. 

Like we said, it should feel tight, so how do you know if it's the good kind of tight? Leave the helmet on for 20 minutes if you can, and see if it begins to feel more comfortable. You should not feel any excess pressure or feel any headaches coming on. If after 20 minutes, it's still uncomfortable, then it's not the right size. Try the next size up, and repeat the process.

When you take off the helmet, look for any red marks on your forehead. This means that the helmet is exerting extra pressure at these points and may cause headaches. If you feel most of the pressure on your forehead, then it could mean that the helmet is not for your correct head shape. Try a longer oval helmet. On the other hand, if you feel mostly pressure around your temples, try a more round helmet. 

And if everything else fits perfectly, and only the cheek area feels uncomfortable, keep in mind that it is possible to order replacement cheek pads (either thicker or thinner).  

Conclusion

At the end of the day, the helmet isn't just another accessory you pick up to jazz up your riding outfit. It defines the thin line between a safe, comfortable ride and a risky, miserable one. It's the difference between walking away with just a headache and being rushed to an emergency room. But remember, a helmet's protective features only work if it is fitted properly, so spend some time to find the right fit.
By Sir D

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Our Favorite 2016 Ducati Motorbikes


Every bike enthusiast has that dream list of bikes which he would like to test drive... and let's be honest, own if only we had unlimited disposable income! We're the same and boy do we love to dream big. And this time, it's the ultimate luxury Italian brand Ducati.

For a long time, Ducati bikes have been my ultimate dream rides. Just like the the Italian landscape or the perfect glass of Sangiovese, Ducati motorcycles are beautiful and seductive, exuding a timeliness quality and perfectly refined skill.

Their 2016 line up builds on their widely successful models from the base half decade, like the Multistrada and Panigale, as well as staple models such as the Monster. Either way, Ducati has been making amazing machines recently and has, in my eyes, changed their image among motorcycle enthusiast forever. They're still a luxury brand, so don't expect bargain basement prices here but for once in my life I feel like owning a Duc is worth it.

Let's take a look at our favorite Ducati motorcycles for 2016!

Multistrada 1200 S


Ever since the first launch of the Multistrada 1200S, it revolutionized the moto world by offering a bike that performs as well on the track as it does on the street and on long-distance touring rides.

The 2016 version of Multistrada comes with even more riding modes and is powered by the brand new Ducati Testastretta DVT (desmodromic valve timing) engine - a first on both the intake and exhaust camshaft!  It times the valves' opening and closing based on engine load and speed, which allows the engine to operate more efficiently and deliver optimized performance and torque throughout the entire RPM range.

The bike is equipped with four riding modes ? Urban, Touring, Sport and Enduro - so you can really make it customized to your current riding situation. It also has the Ducati Skyhook EVO suspension, which automatically adjusts the damping and height based on road conditions. Wheelie control, traction control, ABS cornering, and the Safety Pack all ensure a smooth and easy to handle ride.

At MSRP of $20,095, this is the ultimate luxury "go anywhere, do anything" bike - a machine that will take you from commutes through town to long distance adventuring. This swiss army knife of motorcycles can be criticized as trying to do it all but falling short on each front. But as most motorcyclists own only one bike, this can be it for all the different types of riding you're looking to do. Perhaps if you can swallow the price tag.

Monster 1200 S


The simple yet powerful aesthetic of the Monster family bikes is their biggest draw.  The striking color scheme, the naked look, the round headlight flanked by the forks... this bike is a true icon and has been a long time favorite of mine for a city motorcycle.

The new 2016 Monster 1200 S sees an increase in power from 135 to 145 horsepower. It's powered by the Testastretta 11 engine, which is uniquely designed for the Monster 1200 family to fit as a structural element of the frame. The engine has the dual-spark arrangement and secondary air system, as well as smaller throttle units, which all work together to ensure optimized performance and increased torque at low-mid RPMs.

The Monster 1200 S is also equipped with the latest technology packages, which include three riding modes (urban touring, and sport), Ducati Safety Pack, traction control, and ABS with anti-lock braking system. It also has Brembo brakes and Íhlins suspension. Nothing is sacrificed.

At MSRP of $13,995, it's not an introductory model but I feel the upgraded brakes, suspension and tech give the S model the leg up in delivering a spirited riding experience.

Panigale 959


New for 2016, Ducati came out with an entirely new 959 model in the Panigale family! This bike was created in order to meet Euro IV emission controls, which would have required a change in either the capacity or performance of the 899. And because Ducati refuses to sacrifice performance, they came up with the all new 959. So how does it compare to its predecessor, the 899?

There is a slight bump in the piston stroke from 57.2 mm to 60.8 mm, which means a new crankshaft design and new connecting rods. It also sees a horsepower increase from 148 to 157. Other main changes are the piston crowns, different exhaust system, slipper clutch, and better footpegs.

Aesthetically, the 959 has a slightly wider front fairing for aerodynamics, a bit taller windscreen, and a smidge shorter mirror stalks. I've always thought that the Panigale 899 is one of the sexiest sportbikes, and this one manages to look even better.

The 959 aims to be a practical sportbike that takes you from the track to the road. It has three ride modes (race, sport, and wet), Ducati traction control, Ducati Quick shift, ABS 9MP Bremo braking system, and a three-level Engine Brake Control. The electronic rider-aid suite and user interface is the same as the 899 but the parameters have been calibrated for the Panigale 959 platform.

Our opinion is that we love the new Panigale 959! Rarely do middleweight machines do well without being raced but the 899 baby Panigale sales soared. We can barely call the 959 a middleweight sportbike but starting at MSRP of $14,995, dare we say that this is actually a moderately well priced bike for what you get?

Hypermotard 939 SP


And lastly, we have the Hypermotard 939 SP. Just like with the Panigale above, the old Hypermotard SP got an upgrade in order to meet Euro IV emission standards, without giving up power.

The Hypermotard can be thought of as a fancy street-legal dirtbike, that is... one with top-notch suspension, strong motor, and high end streetbike technology.

Compared to the previous model, the new year's Hypermotard SP Testastretta 11░ L-twin engine is bumped up from 821cc to 937cc, increasing the horsepower a bit from 110 to 113. This means new crankshaft design, pistons, and rods. Other main changes include new exhaust system, oil cooler, and top-of-the-line Íhlins forks. Visually, there's little difference to the old 821. But the new 939 delivers significantly more power in the mid-range.

The styling is motocross inspired with the high seat and wide bars (the SP version has an even higher seat height). The technology package include three riding modes (sport, wet, and race), designed to take you from the road to the racetrack. It's certainly an interesting bike.. a sportbike masquerading as a dirtbike, which makes it one of the most fun bikes Ducati ever came out with.

At MSRP of $15,595, it's certainly a splurge for what you may think of as a dirt bike, but the Hypermotard 939 SP proves that it's so much more than that. It's not the most practical bike, but I'd still love to have this in my garage as the "fun bike". 

Which of these bikes are you lusting over? Or do you have your eye on another model?

*all photos courtesy of Ducati

By Sir D

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The Basics: How To Start Riding Motorcycles


Riding a motorcycle is liberating and romantic at the same time, making it awfully addictive & fully worth the risk. There's nothing quite like the freedom of hitting the open road on a bike. 

If you're reading this, you're probably thinking of riding a motorcycle. Congrats and welcome to our world! At the start, riding a motorcycle may sound intimidating, but with the right approach, it is one of the most fun activities you can do. 

This beginner's guide takes you through the most important steps to start riding a motorcycle.

Buying a bike

Which bike to buy first is completely your personal choice, depending on the style you prefer and your budget. Though keep in mind these two important points:

This is only your first bike, and you are probably going to drop it.

Given these, we suggest that you start with something cheap & easy to ride. A more 'flashy' bike can always wait a season or two. As a new rider, you are much, more prone to wrecks. Statistics show that around 50% motorcycle crashes happen in a rider's first 180 days. So get something that you won't feel totally heartbroken about if you ding it up.

Understandably, most new riders want a cool bike, but cool bikes are expensive. So let's wait on that until you're a more experienced rider and can do more cool things too. The good news is that there are plenty of options that fit the description of "cheap & easy to ride". You can buy a good used bike for less than $1000, and some new bikes that are great for beginners can be bought for $3000 - $5000.


The Kawasaki Ninja 300 is my personal pick for a beginner's streetbike

We usually suggest to start with a bike with a smaller engine - something in the 300cc class. A less powerful engine will allow you to be able to focus on your riding more. Standard bikes or small dual sports are best to start with. Standard bikes are basically just street bikes and there are a ton of options from most all manufacturers. Dual sports are very versatile and agile so they're easy to maneuver, and not to mention that riding in the dirt is a great way to learn braking and handling. Popular beginner bikes are Kawasaki Ninja 300 and Yamaha R3.

Sticking to something basic will save you money and in six months or a year you can always upgrade to the bike you wanted. Though, these days there are a ton of 300 class bikes with cool features, that you may find that you won't outgrow it for a long time! 

For more resources, we have a couple of helpful guides:
- The Best New Bikes For Beginners
- How Much Does a Motorcycle Cost?

The safety gear

Choosing the right safety gear is more important than choosing a bike, though not as exciting. You must have seen MotoGP riders stand up with disappointment after a wreck. What makes them being able to stand again? Yep, it's their full head-to-toe safety gear. We know it looks cool to go cruising in just a t-shirt and sunglasses, but forget trying to look cool and let your bike do that for you.

At the minimum, we suggest you buy the following: 


- A helmet: Either a full face or a modular helmet would be okay for street riding. Make sure it is DOT or Snell certified. 
- Motorcycle gloves: Your hands are always the first to take a hit.
- Riding jacket: Should have some sort of reflective material so you are easily spotted at night. 
- Riding pants: Motorcycle pants these days come in styles that look like normal & stylish jeans, so you shouldn't have a problem wearing one even when you are going to meet friends.
- Sturdy boots: Though motorcycle boots are not a requirement, your boots should be very sturdy, cover the ankles, and don't slip on the footpegs. 

A helmet and gloves are the most important pieces of gear as your head and hands will suffer the worst damage in a crash. It's important to buy specifically motorcycle jackets and pants as they come with extra protection and abrasion resistant material (unless you want to loose your skin on the pavement!).  

Safety gear should not be treated like your first motorcycle. You should always purchase new quality gear. Remember, you don't have airbags, seat belts or a protective cage around you. Even a low-speed crash can do a lot of damage if you don't wear adequate safety gear.

Need some help understanding and choosing from the many different styles available?
Motorcycle Gloves for Beginners
Motorcycle Jackets for Beginners
- Motorcycle Helmets for Beginners 

Buy insurance

Don't forget this little detail! Especially since you're more likely to crash in the beginning, remember? Motorcycle insurance provides you with additional coverage if you need medical assistance from an accident. Motorcycle insurance usually comes at a cheaper rate but depending your age or driving record, or the bike you have, it may actually be more than your car insurance so make sure to check!

Insurance companies offer different rates based on your age, medical conditions, the type of bike you choose. For instance, a sportbike will carry a higher rate than a cruiser. You can call an insurance agent or use comparison sites to find a better price. You don't need to spend hours before the computer screen. Just do a few searches and locate one that offers the type of coverage you need at a good price. 

Remember, any damage to your first $1000 bike is insignificant, but any damage to your body... well, you'll want to fix it.

Check out this list for motorcycle insurance agencies.

Get your license

Many people will tell you to just buy a bike in cash form and not to bother about getting a license. They are one of the reasons why law enforcement doesn't like motorcyclists! Some other people will suggest that you don't need a full license - only a continually renewed learner's permit will do the trick. Hate to break it to you, but getting a learner's permit is just as tough as getting a full license. So be responsible and get a full motorcycle license.   

At the time you get your license, take a motorcycle safety course to learn the basic riding skills and safety tips. Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF) is a national, non-profit sponsored by the major motorcycle manufacturers, including Honda, Yamaha, BMW, and Kawasaki. It offers all sorts of courses from basics training to advanced fine-skills courses. There are locations all throughout the U.S. so you will most likely find one in your area. 

Read more: 
Tips for Riding Safely on the Streets

Find a riding group

Riding a motorcycle with a group gives you memories that you can treasure forever. It's important for new riders to experience this social aspect of riding, especially if you're kind of the lone duck in your group of current friends when it comes to your passion for motorcycles. In a group environment, knowledge can be exchanged, skills learned, connections cemented and even lifelong friendships can be forged.  

Sites like Facebook or Meetup.com or various model specific forums online are great places to start locating a riding group. Riders are some of the coolest people (duh, you're one of them!) so there's no need to be nervous about joining a group. Being in a group with other like-minded people who share your hobby will help you improve faster and also make your experience that much more fun.

Conclusion

So now, you are all set to start your journey into this exciting two-wheeled world. It's time to enjoy the weather, hug some curves, and/or jump some dirt hills. Have your fun in a smart way and don't forget to be safe. Go riding!
By Daniel Relich

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