Blog

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


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


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


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


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


Everything You Need to Know About Doing a Track Day


So you have finally decided to take your bike to the track! Track days are the event where you can actually open that sucker up and see what you bike can do. It is absolutely the best place to improve your riding skills. Where else can you get the opportunity to push your limits as a rider without any cops, cliffs, or SUVs to worry about?

On the first go, a track day sounds like a hassle. You've gotta make sure you have everything you may possibly need for a day out, get your bike ready, and get your bike there. Track days often mean crack-of-dawn wake up calls and a hot day under the sun in your leathers. Not to mention that a day doesn't exactly come cheap. But don't worry! it certainly takes some effort but the fun and experience you are going to get makes it all worth it.

Your first time at the track may be nerve-wrecking. Maybe you're not sure what to expect and you're afraid you're going to be the slowest rider out there. In this post, we aim to put your fears behind you. We'll cover track day safety tips and must-bring checklist items to make your day a success!

Why Track Days?

Let's get something straight: track days are not race events. It is not true that you must ride as fast as you can. There is no winning. And it is certainly not true that you must own a sportbike to be allowed out on the track.

So what is the purpose of a track day? A racetrack offers a controlled environment where you can safely advance your skills. Yes, riding at the track is an extreme sport, but contrary to popular belief, it is actually a lot safer than riding on the street. Assuming you and every other rider follow the rules, of course. Out there on the racetrack, there are no cars to contend with. No bad drivers changing lanes suddenly or pulling in from out of nowhere. No potholes or bumps on the road and other hazards. There's only you and other riders who love the sport as much as you do.

You don't even need to own a sportbike to participate in a track day. There's no rule that only a certain type of bike is allowed. As long as you own a bike and want to improve your skills and have the time of your life, you're welcomed!

Riding Level

Newbies are often worried about being too slow when compared to the more advanced riders. Not to worry - there is good news for you. Track events are usually split into three levels: Levels 1, 2 and 3. Level 1 is generally for the fastest riders while level 3 is for novice riders who want an easier pace. Some organizations do A, B or C but usually there are always different groups for difference riding paces in order to preserve track safety and riding experience.

On your first track day, you will be in Level 3 (or the slowest group). So don't feel bad to go at your own pace. As this is not a race, there is no pressure to go fast. Only go as fast as you're comfortable with. And of course, as you ride the racetrack over and over, you will refine your skills and you may be even safely passing others by the end of the day!

Safety Check and What to Bring

We always stress on safety first at Solomoto, and riding at the track is an entirely different beast with a very specific set of requirements. A safety check will encompass everything from foods and spare tools, to rider's equipment and motorcycle's requirement.

Proper nutrition:

It is extremely important to carry enough food and water with you as doing a track day is very physically demanding. Tracks are mostly situated in slightly more remote places where access to food will be scarce (most likely, you'll just find hot dogs at the concession stand). They also tend to be in hotter areas like Southern California. Inadequate hydration or nutrition will cause extra fatigue in near triple digit summer temperature. At worst, heat strokes can even be life threatening.

We recommend bringing a cooler with plenty of water (1 bottle every hour as a general rule of thumb). Also pack foods high in protein and carbs to provide the necessary energy, including a proper meal for lunch (I always bought chicken breast sandwiches). Snacks like beef jerky, bananas, or a protein shake are great for providing nutrition the healthy way.

Bring more water and food than you think you will need. Twice as much even. When you're sweating inside your leathers under the hot sun, you'd be surprised at how fast food and water will burn off after just a few laps around the track!

Rider's requirement:

Rider gear requirements at the track are much much more stringent than for any other kind of riding. Track racing is the most intense kind of riding there is and when going at such high speeds, any kind of crash could be very painful for you without the proper gear. So if you're planning on picking up this hobby, please don't skimp on the gear. Remember that you get what you pay for.

But the good news is that serious injuries are quite rare at the race track. Crashes are usually a result of you pushing past your limit, and not due to bike collisions. If you think you should 'try something' on the track - don't.

As a rider you must have the following:

- a full-face helmet (DOT or Snell certified)
- full leather suit: we recommend a one piece suit, as they hold up better than two pieces zipped together. Some tracks inspect your two-piece leathers and won't let you go out if the marshal deems that it's not enough.
- back protector: either in your jacket, or a separate strap-on that fits under the jacket
- motorcycle boots: must cover your ankles
- motorcycle riding gloves: you must have full-length gloves that go at least one inch above the wrist

Also, make sure you have valid medical insurance.

Motorcycle's requirement:

Prep your bike the day before the track day so you won't feel rushed the morning of. Your bike will have to pass a technical inspection when you arrive. Whether you have sportbike or sport-ish bike, it must have:

- an operational kill switch
- road racing tires and wheels with valve caps: the tires should not be worn down and should be free of damage.
- functional front and rear brakes (also check your brake pads and make sure they have enough life left in them)
- mirrors or plastic lenses taped or removed
- unplugged fuses for headlight and taillight
- tight & sound oil drain plug with no fluid leaks

Remember, all glass must be taped up. And don't forget to check the tire pressure and allow some time to get your tires heated before diving in.

What to Expect

Now that you understand the requirements, let's go over what you will encounter in a typical track day.

Gates open for riders usually around 6-7 AM. Aim to get there early enough to secure a place in the pits. Some organizations allow covered garages to be rented at various tracks. If your local track does not have this option, make sure you bring your own pop-up tent (and fold up camping chair!). The shaded respite is necessary when you're sweating it out on the track under the sun.

Start to prep your bike if you haven't done so the night before, or if you rode your bike to the track. Tape up your mirrors and change out your tires if needed.

Then you will be called for registration. After registration, you will be going through technical inspection of your bike. You will need to participate in rider's meeting where general rules and meaning of different flags are discussed. Pay attention at this meeting! It is important for your and everyone else's safety.

Track sessions generally start at 9 AM, with each group rotating for 20 minutes at a time. Some organizations will do sighting laps first, where an instructor takes you around the track for a couple of slow circuits (no passing here!). This is so you can become familiar with the track and warm up your bike.

The last session ends around at 5PM, but don't feel pressured to stay all the way til the end. You should know when to stop. If you are feeling tired or develop any kind of discomfort, listen to your body and stop. Riding at the track is very physically demanding and not being at your best will run the risk of crashing.


Conclusion

Now you know what to expect and what to bring! Hopefully, you no longer feel nervous about your first track day. Remember, it is not a race and there is absolutely no pressure. Track days are designed to allow you to practice and improve in a controlled environment. It's also a great social event to be around other riders as enthusiastic as you are. It's one of the most fun you can have on a motorcycle!

Solomoto has always been a strong proponent of the track days. It is where I really discovered my love for riding. Lastly, we would love to give a shout-out to Fast Track Riders. This organization provides on track training for beginners & first-time track riders, and aids you with every braking points, every sharp corner, throttle control tips & riding mechanics available. We are the proud sponsor of Fast Track Riders and are very happy to support this great sports event.

Simply put, there is no such thing as too old or too young, too inexperienced, or not having the correct bike. As long as you can ride a motorcycle, you're welcomed at the track!

By Sir D


So How Much Does a Motorcycle Cost?


So, how much does a motorcycle cost? This is a complicated question with no easy answer. The short answer is: it depends on what kind of bike you're looking to buy and your budget. The good news is that bikes come in virtually all price points, so you're pretty much guaranteed to find something suitable for your budget. The mindset is that if you spend more, you get more. That may be true to some degree, but it's important to consider that you're not buying too much bike for your riding level or preference.

Chances are, if you are reading this article, you're probably thinking of buying your first bike (congrats!) and are not sure where to start. So here, we will cover the different types of motorcycles and give suggestions for bikes at the different price ranges.

Street/Standard

This category of bikes have the largest variety of body styles. Basically, they're exactly what they sound like: they're for riding on the street. Standard bikes are commonly known as "naked" bikes, or bikes without a fairing. Fairings are those plastic body elements that cover the engine and frame. They help to make a bike more aerodynamic, which is absolutely needed for sport bikes. However, street bikes have less of a need to be so aerodynamic so a naked style is quite popular.

Most all manufacturers offer a street bike, so you're not going to have any trouble finding one at your budget. Generally, the price will increase with the engine size. Let's take a look at the prices ranges.


Entry Level: A standard street bike is extremely affordable, with bikes going for as low as just $4,000 (like the Honda CB300F) to $8000 (like the Suzuki GSX-S750). The Yamaha FZ-07 is another popular option going for $6,990.




Mid Level: Mid-range standard bikes go from $8 - $12k. The Triumph Street Triple goes for $9,400 and the Kawasaki Z1000 goes for $11,999.





High-Level: If you've got the cash, you'll be spoiled for choice in this category with streetbikes from luxury brands. The BMW R1200R is $14,095, Aprilia RSV4 RR goes for $16,499, while the Ducati Diavel is a whooping $18,795.


Supersport

Sportbikes (often called "crotch rockets") are built for performance and high speeds. They are characterized by powerful engines in a lightweight frame with full fairings for maximum aerodynamics. The seating position is tucked forward with longer reach to the handlebars and higher foot position. 

Because of how powerful sport bikes are, they are not usually ideal to learn to ride on, but there are plenty of manufacturers now making smaller, more newbie-friendly 300-class sport bikes. And even better? They are super affordable too.

Entry Level: These bikes are a steal at the lower end. Bikes like the Kawasaki Ninja 300 ($4,999) and Yamaha R3 ($4,990) come with plenty of cool features. For a little bit more, you can get more power with bikes such as the Honda CBR500RR for $6,499 and the Kawasaki Ninja 650 for $7,199.




Mid Level: At this price range, you'll see some more power. The Honda CBR600RR is a decent deal at $11,490, as well as the Yamaha YZF-R6. Racetrack favorites such as the Suzuki GSX-R1000 ($13,899) and  Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R ($14,999) cap off this price range.




High-Level: On the splurge end, supersport bikes go from $15k up, and can go as high as you imagine. The Yamaha YZF-R1 is a good choice in the lower high-level range at $16,490, while if you want something super luxe, the Ducati Panigale R starts at a staggering $34,695.

Touring

Touring bikes are designed for comfort during long distance travel. Size wise, they're the largest bikes (and the heaviest) because they have to be capable of enduring many, many long hours - and even days - on the road, while being loaded up with a lot of equipment. They usually have large windshields, large storage compartments, large fuel tanks (you get the theme...), plush seats, and an upright riding position for maximum comfort on those long rides.

Price wise, they are among the most expensive because of the luxury features they offer and their durability. Therefore, they're probably not the best choice for beginners... unless you've got quite a budget!

Entry Level: Even at the lower end of the budget scale, you're looking at around $10k - $15k for a touring bike. The Kawasaki Vulcan 900 Classic LT goes for a little bit less at $8,999, while the Honda NM4 goes for $10,999.




Mid Level: Mid-range touring bikes go from $15 - $20k, and this is the price range you'll find the most options. BMW's revolutionized the touring segment with their RT series. We love the R1200RT as a higher-mid range option at a starting price of $18,145. Other solid options are Harley-Davidson Touring Road King ($18,749) if you prefer the classic look or Kawasaki Vulcan 1700 Voyager ABS ($17,399).

High-Level: If money is no concern, top of the line tourers go for over $20k with bikes such as Honda Gold Wing Audio Comfort Navi XM ($26,899), Harley-Davidson Touring Electra Glide Ultra Classic ($23,549), and BMW K 1600 GTL ($23,200).

Cruisers

Cruisers are those big ol' clunky machines with the high handlebars and forward foot pegs, that don't even particularly go so fast. Basically, they're the iconic American motorcycle from the 1930's - 60's. These bikes are characterized by a low riding position, larger V-twin engines,  and raked-out front forks. Riding a cruiser is not about performance or even the practicality of taking you from Point A to Point B. Rather, it's all about buying into that carefree lifestyle.

Because of the riding position of the cruiser - one where your hands are raised way up there to reach the handlebars and your feet are stretched way out there to reach the footpegs - they're not ideal for beginners. The slightly leaned back, low riding position makes it so that the bike is very hard to handle and tiring at high speeds.

Entry Level: It is possible to find bikes in the cruiser style in the lower price range around $5,000 - $8,000, though most likely, you won't be able to find an American cruiser.  The Honda Rebel is only $4,190 and The Suzuki Boulevard is a bit more at $5,499, while the Kawasaki Vulcan S goes for $6,999. At this range, there will be significant differences in styling and performance.

Mid Level: The next bracket up ($8-$12k) has far more options, from both classic American cruiser manufacturers and other brands. Check out bikes such as the Triumph America ($8,400), Victory Gunner ($12,999) the Harley-Davidson Sportster Seventy-Two ($11,099).



High-Level: There are also plenty of luxury cruisers for those with money to spend, such as the Harley-Davidson Softail Deluxe ($18,549) and Indian Chief Classic ($18,499).

Off-road/MX 

Off-road bikes are a whole different breed. They're made for jumping over dirt hills, rolling over gravel trails, and slugging through mud paths. Because of the rough terrain off-roaders encounter, the bikes are designed to be very lightweight with a high seat and high center of gravity. Dirt bikes are not street-legal as they often have no horns, turn signals, mirrors, or headlights.

Entry Level: Off road (or dirt) bikes are among the most affordable. Tiny 100-class dirt bikes go for as low as $2000's, like the Kawasaki KLX110 ($2,299) and Honda CRF125F ($2,799). The price goes up as the engine size increases. The Yamaha TT-R230 is $3,990, while the Honda CRF250L goes up to $4,999.


Mid Level:  KTM bikes dominate the dirt tracks and you'll find a lot in this range. The 250SX is decently priced at $6,799. Solid comparable models from their Japanese counterparts include the Yamaha WR250R at $6,690 and the Honda CRF250X for $7,410.




High-Level: Even at the higher end, off-road bikes won't break the budget.  KTM 450 SX-F goes for $9,299, while the BETA 480 RR goes for $9,499.







Dual Sport/Adventure

Dual sport bikes is one of the fastest growing bike segments. These bikes offer the best of both worlds: the lightness and versatility to ride off-road, while still being comfortable and safe enough to ride on the street. They're basically dirt bikes but with mirrors and lights so they're legal to ride on the street. And like dirt bikes, they have smaller engines, lightweight frames, and higher center of gravity.

Dual sport bikes make a good option for beginners because of their less powerful engines and maneuverability. Just make sure you are able to plant both feet firmly on the ground. They also tend to be lower priced, making them a great starter bike.

Entry Level: You can snag a dual sport bike for as low as $5,000, though spending a bit more in the $6k range will get you the most value. Popular lower-priced favorites are the Yamaha WR250R ($6,690), Kawasaki KLR650 ($6,599) and the Suzuki DRZ400S ($6,599).




Mid Level: Except to spend about $8-$12k in this price range, with bikes such as the Suzuki V-Strom 650 ABS ($8,399) and BMW F700GS ($9,995).







High-Level: For a pricier dual sport bike, the BMW F800GS starts at $12,295 and the Triumph Tiger 800XC goes for $12,500. And at the very high end, the ever-so-popular legendary BMW R1200GS goes for a cool $16,495.




By Daniel Relich


Motorcycle Holiday Safety Infographic

As any rider knows, riding a motorcycle requires constant awareness.  You're often surrounded by much larger vehicles often driven by people not paying full attention to the road.  The holidays can sometimes present extra challenge that requires riders be even more vigilant than normal.  Check out our infographic for some interesting and important holiday riding safety tips and suggestions.  Also, feel free to share this infographic on your own website if you have one.

Motorcycle riding requires awareness given that the rider is generally surrounded by larger vehicles, with often oblivious drivers.  Holiday riding requires extra vigilance.


Embed this graphic on your website or blog:



By Sir D


Motorcycle Helmet Basics


A motorcycle helmet is the NUMBER ONE protective gear item you could get for yourself, if nothing else.

In the event of a crash, you mostly likely will survive a bad case of road rash (though that will really really suck) if you don't have a good riding jacket, but the same can't always be said for a head injury if you don't have a good helmet. We're not discounting the need for other safety apparel - not at all - merely emphasizing the importance of a helmet.

With so many different styles of helmets out there, choosing the correct one is no easy task. We'll help you get ahead in your research with our guide.

Take a look:

Functionality of a Motorcycle Helmet

A motorcycle helmet is designed to take the impact so your precious head can keep its beautiful shape. Over 42% of motorcycle fatalities are due to head injury. Of course, there is no absolute guarantee that a helmet will save your life, but statistics show that riders without a helmet are 40% more likely to die in a crash due to head injury. Don't become part of that statistic!

Secondly, not only does a helmet protect you in case of a crash, it also aids your riding experience by reducing wind pressure and fatigue, thus making for a more comfortable ride. And plus, can we also say no bug splatters in your face?!

Let's take a look at what makes up a motorcycle helmet in the most basic form:

- The outer shell is made of a tough material that is designed to compress upon impact, thus diminishing the force of the impact before it gets to your head.
- A dense impact-absorbing liner (kind of like Styrofoam) just inside the shell absorbs the shock
- The padding is what surrounds your head and provides a soft layer for comfort. It should fit snug, but not so tight that you feel excess pressure.
- The retention strap (chin strap) is what keeps the helmet on your head. We don't want the helmet flying off in a crash!

Testing procedures often test for the helmet's shock-absorbing capacity, its ability to withstand a blow from a sharp object, and the chin strap's ability to stay fastened. In the event of a crash, the helmet may crack and break, but that just means it has done its job! Sometimes, even if you don?t see any visible damage, there may be damage to the internal layers and thus has little protective value left. You should always replace your helmet after a crash!

A Word on Safety Ratings:

Make sure you look for a helmet that is certified by DOT (or ECE in Europe), as it means that the helmet meets the Department of Transportation safety standards and is approved for use on the street.

Another type of certification is SNELL, which is a voluntary third-party tester that test random samples from each batch of helmets. Helmets with this certification means that all the tested helmets have passed.

Stay far, far away from helmets that do not have any of these stickers. Not only do they may NOT provide adequate protection, they may even be illegal to wear in areas where helmets are required!

Different Kinds of Helmets

Full-face/Sport:

Just like what it sounds like, these helmets cover the entire face and offer the highest degree of head protection. The rounded, completely sealed shape means that it?s very aerodynamic, which equals more comfort when riding at highway speeds. They also offer a good level of soundproofing against traffic/wind noises. Because of all this, full-face helmets are a good all-around choice for any kind of rider.




Race Helmets:

Full-face helmets specifically designed for racing are aerodynamic with strong ventilation for comfort. They're typically made of strong high-tech materials (such as space-age composites) that provide strength while being very lightweight. They're usually less concerned with soundproofing as racers usually wear earplugs anyway. Race helmets are the most technically constructed due to the extreme nature of the sport and thus are the priciest.

Off-road/MX:

Off-road helmets are specifically to be used for some dirt riding fun. Because of the highly athletic nature of motocross, these helmets are designed to be as lightweight and ventilated as possible, meaning that they are NOT ideal for street riding. They provide very little (if any at all) soundproofing against traffic and wind noises on the highway, and the extreme visor means that it will catch the wind at high speeds.

Style-wise, they are characterized by a visor edge to shield from the sun and debris, and a strong jutted out angular chin bar. Dirt bike helmets have an open eye port (no face shield), so they're lighter and you have the option of wearing goggles. Because dirt riding tends to be?well, dirty... googles with tear-offs are a great option so that when you?re hit with a face full of dust, you can simply tear off the top layer and have a clear field of vision again.

Dual Sport and Adventure:

Dual sport helmets are kind of a cross between full-face and off-road helmets. They're designed to be used on and off the highway, streets, and in the dirt? basically they?re a bit of both worlds! They're designed for riding across a wide variety of terrain and conditions.

They often come as a shielded helmet with style elements taken from MX helmets. They have the visor edge help shield the sun, a face shield that can be flipped up for goggles use, soundproofing, and ventilation. The visor is not as extreme as that of an MX helmet and are designed to be more aerodynamic at highway speeds.

Modular Helmets:

These helmets look like the full-face helmets, except the face shield can be flipped up. Modular helmets are a good choice for urban riding or touring because of how versatile and convenient they are. You can hit up the gas station and grab a drink, chat with your buddies, while letting some sun and air in, all without taking off your helmet. This is also a good around-town or commuter helmet.

One thing to note: even though modular helmets look like full-face helmets when the face shield is down, they don't offer as high level of protection. Because they're constructed of two separate parts held together with a hinge (as opposed to one integrated piece), the helmet won't hold up as well in a crash.

Half Helmets and Three-Quarter Helmets:

shown here a three-quarter helmet

Half-face helmets are popular in the cruiser world because of its look that says "I'm just cruising along with the wind in my face, and I have not a care in the world." Total. Freedom. It's as close to not wearing a helmet as you can get.

This is the bare minimum!! The top of the head is protected with this helmet, but if you were to faceplant into the pavement? well, we don't want to think about what your face will look like. And these helmets offer no protection at all against wind impact, sounds, bugs, or rocks in the air.

Three-Quarter helmets offer only marginally more protection than half helmets. They offer about the same amount of head coverage as a full-face helmet, but without the face shield or chin bar. You're still going to see some serious facial damage if you go down face first. Only you can say what your safety priorities are, but in general, we don?t recommend these kind of open-face helmets.

Picking a helmet

Now that you've decided the style of helmet to get, it's time to pick one! Choosing the correct fit is absolutely crucial in how well your helmet actually protects you. A cheap helmet that fits correctly is going to protect you more than a top-of-the-line helmet that doesn't fit right. A too-loose helmet may fly off in case of a crash (at worst) or let in wind and strain your neck (at best), while a too-tight helmet will just become a headache (literally).

A helmet should fit snug enough that your head is not bobbing around in there, but not create any excess pressure that causes a headache. An uncomfortable helmet could quickly turn into a nightmare on a long ride, and being in discomfort means that you won't be riding at your best.

Talking about helmet fit is an entire separate post (especially if you want to talk about helmets designed for different head shapes!), so check out our detailed helmet fit guide.

Conclusion

The helmet you chose will ultimately be a personal decision based on the kind of riding you do most and how much priority you place on safety. But just keep in mind that a helmet is the number one piece of protective gear you can get. A high quality ones means the difference between walking away from a crash and severe head injury. And can you really put a price tag on your life?

Still have questions? We're here to help! Feel free to call us, ask a question below, or hit us up on our Facebook page!
By Sir D


Off-Road: Staying Safe on the Track and on the Trail


Going off-road is one of the most fun activities that can be had on a bike, whether it's at the motocross track or a long ride through the wilderness or desert. After all, that's half the point of the bike right? A bike is all about the lack of limitations, the flexibility to ride through any terrain, the freedom to go off the beaten path where 4 wheels can't take you.

We hate to be the one raining on your dirt-paved parade, but as always, fun only comes after safety. Trail or dirt riding is highly technical and then there's that added factor of unexpected obstacles (that?s all part of the fun!). When riding off road, you may find that you tip over more due to rough track surfaces and obstacles, but the good news is that the accidents tend to result in only minor injuries (as opposed to street riding collisions).

If you haven't already, take a read at our street riding safety tips. A lot of the same tips apply no matter what kind of riding you're doing. But going off-road does require a very different set of rules. In this post, we'll focus on safety tips for off-road riding.

Don't ride above your ability

Choose the correct bike: This is the first thing! Riding a bike that's too large (or too small) means you won't be able to control it as well. And that's especially important when going over uneven ground.

Off-road or dirt bikes also have a different seating position than street bikes, so it's very important to make sure you have a bike that suits you. Dirt bikes tend to have a higher seat height, but your feet should still be able to just touch the ground. And when you stand up on the footpegs, you shouldn't be pulling up on the handlebars.

For beginners, we recommend these off-road/adventure bikes:

- Kawasaki KLR250
- Yamaha WR250X
- Husqvarna TE310
- BMW F800GS
- Triumph Tiger 800XC

Ride within your limit: If you're a beginner, start small. Find a riding group or riding partner that you're comfortable with and that is at the same relative skill level as you so you can take your time and not feel like the slowest guy in the group. We've seen a lot of ego take a bike and ride to the ground in a bad way! It's okay, you?ll work your way up to the big boy stuff. And that's half the fun of riding anyway: to feel the gradual improvement and sense of accomplishment and to share stories with your buddies over the camp fire or local watering hole.

Wear the Right Gear

Just like on the streets, it is important to wear the correct protective gear for off-road riding. But going off-road has its own set of requirements. When you're riding off-road, you never know what kind of obstacles you'll come across, whether it's loose gravel on the trail, tree roots, a sand patch, or a rut. Any of these could make your tires slide and cause you to lose control.  And furthermore, having an accident on a trail could mean hitting your head against rocks or other objects. This could cause serious injury even at low speeds.

Here is the gear you should always be suited up with:

A helmet: This is the most important piece of gear and we highly recommend splurging for a quality one. The helmet should fit snug. Dual sport helmets have a visor edge to shield from the sun and debris. A dirt bike helmet has an open eye port, so it's lighter and you have the option of wearing goggles. But if you're going for a helmet that can be used for the street as well, look for one that is DOT approved (approved by US Department of Transportation).

Gloves: Gloves will not only protect your precious skin in a fall, they'll also protect your hands from rocks, debris, and other flying obstacles you may encounter. It's impossible to find a glove that does it all, so use one that suits your riding conditions and the weather (hot, cold, wet) that you'll be riding in.

More in-depth read: Beginner's Guide to Motorcycle Gloves

Goggles: If the helmet doesn't have a face shield, goggles will protect your eyes from dirt and dust, branches, and any debris that may fly your way. Goggles with tear-offs are a great option. When you're hit with a face full of dust, simply tear off one of the layers and have a clear field of vision again.

Boots: Boots will provide protection for your lower legs, ankles, and feet. Most off-road boots are designed to be worn over the pants.

Jackets and Pants: Off-road riding jackets and pants are specially designed to be comfortable, lightweight, and flexible. They're usually made of a light textile in a highly breathable material (this is important so you don't overheat on your excursion!), and don?t offer as much protection as street gear does. If you're going to be riding split-shift on the street and off-road, then go for a higher abrasion resistant dual-sport or ADV riding jacket and pants instead of purely off-road apparel. 

Protective Gear: Because the jackets and pants don't come with too much built-in protection, dirt bike riders typically wear their armor separately. Chest protectors, knee braces, and knee & elbow pads are common additional protective gear worn by MX and Off-Road riders.

Be prepared for the journey

If you're heading out for a longer length adventure ride, it is absolutely essential to make sure you have packed the correct supplies. Even if you have all the protective gear, not having the supplies you need could quickly mean the difference between a pleasurable adventure ride and serious trouble.

Stay hydrated: Probably the MOST important thing you can do is to stay properly hydrated during your ride. Check out the highly performance-focused hydration packs from American Kargo that are designed to fit over the protective guards and allows you easy sipping while riding. This is a MUST, we say.

Bring the proper supplies: At a minimum, we recommend bringing a GPS, an extra gas tank, water, and a tool kit to do repairs such as flat tires.

Be prepared for changing weather: On a longer ride, the weather can change in an instant and you need to be prepared for any possible weather conditions. Rain can drench you in an instant and turn your ride into a complete misery. Pack a rain shell to keep yourself comfortable and dry. Motorcycle rain gear is designed to keep you dry while still providing ventilation.

Be ready for any temperature swings with base layers and mid layers to insulate the body from the cold and wind. Look for moisture-wicking material that will aid in cooling as you ride.

If you're on an overnight or multi-day adventure: Look for small compact tents and sleeping bags (down is the lightest and warmest). Pack camp stoves and non-perishable food (freeze-dried meals are good options). Even if you're not on a long trip, packing snacks is always a good idea in case you run into trouble and lose time.

Have a first aid kit: As most injuries off-road tend to be minor (if you're wearing the correct protective gear, that is!), it is handy to learn basic first aid kit. Your kit should contain supplies to bandage scrapes and treat burns.

Use the buddy system: Always ride with a buddy or in a group if you can. If you're riding alone out in the desert and get into an accident, it could be a long, long time before anyone even realizes you're in trouble (especially if you're not supposed to be due back until a certain time).

Conclusion

With these safety tips in mind, go out there and have fun! Riding in the trail or dirt present a whole new slew of challenges but that's all part of the fun. Don't be discouraged if you're a beginner and falling over a lot. Just practice safety and wear the right protective gear at all times, and go out there and ride with confidence!
By Daniel Relich