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The Beginners Guide To Motorcycle Jackets



To continue with our series more geared (ha-ha, no pun intended!) towards beginners, we're introducing a detailed motorcycle gear guide, kicking off with jackets!

These days, there are a ridiculous amount of options available, everything from types of fabric to features to ventilation. It can be overwhelming to pick the right one (or ones!) suitable for your needs. We're here to break it down a little to help make the selection process a little easier.

Functionality of a Motorcycle Jacket

A motorcycle jacket is not just to make you look badass. Its purpose is to not only protect you in case of a crash, but also to make the riding experience more comfortable. This is why you can't just buy any old leather jacket from a swap meet and use it for riding protection!

Here are some primary functions and common features of motorcycle jackets:

Impact protection: Many jackets will have built-in or removable armor options.  Some common protection areas include elbow, chest, back, and shoulders. All jackets will have a different level of protection, the lowest being just foam layers to the highest being CE-rated armor with sliders  (we recommend looking for jackets with CE-rated armor!). When picking out a jacket, be aware of which protective pieces it provides. The price, of course, varies based on level of protection, but we recommend being on the safer side and going for something that offers more protection.

Abrasion resistance: Should you end up horizontal on the pavement, a good riding jacket should be made of tough enough material that it holds up during a crash, ideally so that you walk away with minimal skin injuries.

Weather protection: There are also many options for those of you who are not stopped by rain or cold weather! Many riding jackets will come with some kind of waterproof coating or internal liner in case you find yourself stuck out on the road in rainy weather. There are also insulated longer-length jackets for those brave souls who ride out in the freezing cold.

Ventilation: Just like it's important to be protected during rain or cold weather, it's equally important to stay cool while protected during hot weather. The sun may be shining, but that doesn't mean it's okay to go out riding in a t-shirt! There are lightweight jackets designed for these hot summer days with ventilation panels or mesh to keep you from heating up, and all the padding and armor to keep you safe.

Jackets for Different Types of Riding

Your most typical riding style will play a big role in what kind of jacket suits you best. Here are the features you want to look for for each riding style:

Race and aggressive sport: This is the most intense kind of riding and you will need the highest level of protection. Leather is the superior material for this case. The fit must be snug in order to maximize protection in the event of a crash. These jackets are designed with pre-bent arms, sport humps and heavy armor designed from race track development. Leather jackets are also more wind resistant and aerodynamic, meaning you can ride faster and more comfortably.

The Alpinestars GP Pro jacket is one of our best sellers in the race and aggressive sport category, with CE-rated protection, external sliders, perforated back hump and pre-curved arms

Touring and urban: Long distance touring jackets are designed to endure long hours on the road in all weather conditions, all year round. The fit and design are more relaxed than race-style jackets. Touring jackets typically have enough abrasion resistance and armor to protect the rider while still being comfortable. They make a great choice for commuting or everyday use.

Joe Rocket's Sonic 2.0 leather jacket is a stylish touring jacket with a relaxed fit, zip-close breathable mesh sleeve panels, removable insulated liner, and armor in the elbow and shoulders

Dual sport: Protection from all sorts of weather conditions is a must for dual sport riders. These types of jackets are typically specially designed lightweight jackets with less armor and road protection, but offer a great range of versatility in terms of weather protection. They are often waterproof, windproof, and breathable, with the option for liners to keep you warm.

The Moose Expedition jacket is a solid choice in the dual sport category, featuring a lightweight waterproof and windproof shell with elbow, shoulders, and back protection

Now let's take a look at the materials. Leather or textile is a great debate between riders. Let's break down the pros and cons of each.

Leather Jackets

Pros: best protection, extremely durable, classic
Cons: more expensive, heavy, hot to wear, not rain resistant

When it comes to protection, nothing can beat leather. Leather is the most durable material with incredible abrasion resistance. A high quality leather jacket can hold up for multiple crashes. But it is extremely important to choose a jacket that is thick enough to take the impact. A thickness of at least 1.2mm is ideal as it offers a great level of protection while still being soft and comfortable enough to wear.

Looks-wise, leather is also the most classic option. It will always look cool and never go out of style (and let's be honest, a bonus of riding is looking like a badass!).

We love the vintage look of Alpinestar's Charlie leather jacket!

However, leather does have its downsides. It is heavy and hotter to wear. Many modern leather riding jackets are trying to overcome this issue with features such as perforation or zippered vents to help with heat dispersion, but you may still find that it is not enough if you're riding during summer or live somewhere very warm and humid. (It is a great choice however for riding in cooler weather due to its wind resistance.) Leather jackets also don't hold up in the rain. Contact with water can cause the jacket to discolor or shrink, and in some cases, even get completely ruined. It will be necessary to get a rain shell to go over the jacket.

Shop for leather jackets here: http://www.solomotoparts.com/Motorcycle-Leather-Jackets-Men/


Textile Jackets

Pros: inexpensive, lightweight, comfortable, better for riding in weather
Cons: not as durable or abrasion resistant

There is a wide range of high-quality textile jackets on the market today designed for all riding styles, making it the more versatile choice. With more and more advanced textile construction these days, some can argue that textile can even rival leather in some cases, but we'll get into that in a bit.

Textile jackets are the better option for riding in all kinds of weather conditions, due to the variety of materials used. They can be waterproof, windproof, insulated, or ventilated - they can do it all, sometimes even all in one jacket by snapping in liners!

Textile jackets come in the full range: from lightweight mesh to keep you cool (a lot of riders who live in very hot and humid States find that this is the only viable option), to heavier advanced fabrics like Gortex or kevlar to protect from harsh climates. Textile jackets can also offer 100% waterproof protection and will not damage, whereas leather will in wet conditions. Basically, for ever changing weather conditions, textile jackets make a great choice.

Alpinestar's Valparaiso Drystar Jacket is a premium textile jacket with features such as waterproof and breathable membrane, sonic quilted liner, and CE-rated armor. A great all-weather jacket.

The lower cost and light weight make textile jackets a good option for general all-around riding, but they do not have the durability and abrasion resistance of leather. They're an ideal option for touring, sport touring, or adventure riding due to their flexibility, many versatile features, and the ability to be worn in many weather conditions.

Shop for textile jackets here: http://www.solomotoparts.com/Textile-Jackets-Men/

Cost Considerations

Leather is the more expensive choice, when comparing jackets with similar features and levels of protection. It could go for upwards of $500 to even $1000 for GP-technology race jackets. However, a good one could last for multiple crashes, or even a lifetime if well taken care of. Textile jackets are definitely the more budget friendly option, however, they may need to be replaced after a single crash. It is also possible to patch and repair leather, whereas with textile, damage would usually mean having to buy a new jacket.

In the long run (though we really hope you don't experience too many crashes!), some may find that just getting a leather jacket upfront end up being more cost effective.

Picking a Jacket

The fit is extremely important when picking a jacket that will protect you. In general, a jacket should be snug. The protective padding/armor should not move out of place when the jacket is on. When you're in the riding position, the protective pieces should still fit snugly where they belong (elbow pads at the elbow, etc.).

The right fit not only will protect you better, but also makes a big difference in your riding comfort. Too loose jackets means extra material flapping around in the wind. A tight fit will decrease the wind strain, which will translate into a much less tiring and much more enjoyable ride.

Conclusion

Of course, the best option is to have a few jackets to suit different weather conditions and riding situations, but we understand that the average person does not have that kind of budget. There are strong cases of pros and cons to be made for both leather and texture, so the jacket you choose will all come down to personal preference. But in general, leather is the safest bet for performance riders, while commuters or adventure riders could opt for the more budget friendly and versatile textile jacket.

But remember, whatever jacket and material you choose, the golden rule of "you get what you pay for" applies here. A good motorcycle jacket means the difference between severe bodily injury and walking away without a scratch, so don't risk your safety by going too cheap!

If you have questions or need help picking out the right jacket for you, feel free to ask below, call us, or hit us up on our Facebook page!

By Daniel Relich


Ten Things to Remember when Riding on Cinco de Mayo

Cinco de Mayo has long been a day that many Americans use to enjoy great Mexican food and margaritas with their friends and families. However, much like on holidays such as the Fourth of July or New Year's Eve, these celebrations can lead to an increase of intoxicated drivers on the road. Here are ten tips to remember if you decide to go out on the roads on your motorcycle this Cinco de Mayo.

1. Never ride intoxicated
The only thing more dangerous than riding among intoxicated drivers is riding while intoxicated yourself. If you feel uncomfortable operating your motorcycle after enjoying a few drinks, then trust your gut and find an alternate way home. It may also be a good idea to purchase a home breathalyzer test kit, which can be found for cheap prices at many pharmacies and convenience stores. Even if you feel comfortable riding, your blood alcohol levels may tell a different story, so a breathalyzer test can be used to make sure your BAC is within legal standards.

2. Avoid riding late at night or early in the morning
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, or NHTSA, has often found that the hours between midnight and 3 a.m. feature the most fatal drunk driving accidents, especially on weekends and holidays. If you must ride your motorcycle following a Cinco de Mayo celebration, try to be extra cautious during these times or avoid these hours on the road altogether. 

3. Have a designated driver
If you have any close friends or relatives who live with you or close to you, it may be a good idea to hitch a ride with one of them. However, it is unsafe to be an intoxicated passenger on a motorcycle, so make sure you choose a friend who will be driving a car for both you and your friend's safety.

4. Avoid long road travel if possible
Whether you are starting a vacation or planning to visit family in another state, it is generally best to avoid long travel on days such as Cinco de Mayo. The more time you spend on the road on Cinco de Mayo, the more likely you are to encounter dangerous situations. Furthermore, drowsiness from long travel will decrease your awareness and slow your reaction time to those situations, so try to arrange your travel to occur the day before or the day after if at all possible.

5. Do not let others ride intoxicated
If one of your friends or relatives is ready to leave a celebration and is not sober enough to travel on the road, do not let that person ride a motorcycle. If you are hosting a party, you may want to encourage him or her to stay the night. If staying overnight is not an option, you may want to arrange for a ride sharing service or friend in a car to bring him or her home.

6. Enjoy an alcohol-free Cinco de Mayo
There are countless ways to celebrate Cinco de Mayo, so if you are not interested in drinking, try to celebrate simply by enjoying some great Mexican food and culture. Doing so will mean you will not be endangering yourself or others with intoxicated riding nor will you have to worry about issues at DUI checkpoints.

7. Enjoy great Mexican fare
It is well-known that drinking on an empty stomach increases impairment from alcohol, so go ahead and enjoy some great Mexican food on Cinco de Mayo. While eating will not prevent impairment, you are less likely to be too impaired to ride after one or two small drinks if you drink them on a full stomach rather than on an empty stomach.

8. Wear proper protective equipment 
There are some states where helmets are not required to be worn by law. However, wearing proper protective equipment such as helmets, jackets, boots and gloves will significantly reduce your risk of fatal or severe injury in the event of a crash. The NHTSA estimated that more than 1,600 motorcyclists' lives were saved by helmets in 2013, and more than 700 more could have been saved if all states required helmets by law. On a day when there is an increased risk of auto accidents, it is more important than ever to wear proper protection while riding.

9. Arrive at a celebration with a friend or in a taxi
One major issue that leads to people driving or riding while impaired is not being able to leave their vehicles or bikes somewhere overnight. If you are going to a celebration where you know that could be a possibility, avoid that issue by riding with a friend or using a ride sharing service or taxi. In fact, if you plan to drink on Cinco de Mayo, leaving your motorcycle at home to begin with is likely the best course of action.

10. Put down the phone
While there are helmets that come equipped with bluetooth capabilities to allow you to listen to music or receive phone calls while riding your motorcycle, it is still best to avoid those activities while riding. Talking on a phone, even hands-free, can distract your mind from events on the road around you. To guarantee your safety on the roads, it is of utmost importance that you stay as alert and focused as possible by concentrating solely on riding.

Do you have any safety tips to share? Let us know!
By Daniel Relich


The Ups and Downs of Motorcycle Suspension


When it comes to motorcycle aftermarket improvements, replacing the suspension is often seen as the ultimate upgrade for performance riders. This is one of the few upgrades that allows you to feel IMMEDIATE improvement after installation (and some slight adjustments to dial it in). 

A good suspension setup can take a mediocre bike and transform it into the smooth handling beast you didn't even think was possible. And more importantly, it can inspire confidence that you never knew you had, transforming you into a riding superstar, whether on the street or track. Confidence while riding is a huge deal that will ultimately translate into a safer, funner riding experience.

Even if you're not sliding the back end around on a race track, upgrading your suspension whether in whole or in part, will vastly improve the riding experience because, after all, it's really all about the experience. That's why we ride!

Suspension 101

Before we get too far into this post, let's quickly review the setup and function of a suspension system.  A motorcycle suspension system is typically made up of shock absorbers in the back and forks in the front, acting as a cushion between you and the road. (After all, you're basically sitting on a chair on two wheels zooming down the road at 70+ mph!). The suspension system is usually made up of an assembly of dampers and springs (for the rear) and forks (for the front) to insulate you from road vibrations and bumps by compressing and rebounding. These are basics.

In a well set up system, in the event of a road bump, the suspension would take in all the impact, keeping the wheels in contact with the road at all time so that you can ride hard, safely and comfortably. In the simplest of terms, an awesome suspension system will make you feel like you're gliding on velvet and riding as smoothly as silk. It will let you ride faster and smoother while being more controlled and, as a result, you'll enjoy the ride more and feel like a superstar.

Benefits of Upgrading the Suspension

Upgrading your motorcycle's suspension system is one of the most costly aftermarket improvements. It could cost thousands of dollars depending on how much of it you want replaced. So for anyone who's not a serious performance or track rider, what would be the benefit of investing this much money? Good question.

Stock suspensions are usually fine (until they wear out), but manufacturers still must cut costs where they can in order to produce their bikes at an reasonable price. A truly great suspension that works for you will have to put weight and road conditions into consideration. So as a result, manufacturers end up supplying a suspension system that fits the "average" rider for "normal" roads. Anything not average or normal and the suspension suffers. This is when riders look to aftermarket systems to boost performance and to dial in the ride for each rider's personal differences and preferences.

Here are the benefits of buying an aftermarket suspension:

It makes the bike smoother and safer! -  When you encounter a bump or a hole, your bike will jerk up or down. The travel distance is how much your suspension is able to move before being fully compressed, or "bottoming out."   The amount of travel affects the handling characteristics of the bike. Aftermarket shocks often offer a longer travel distance, meaning the bike will not "bottom out" as easily. The bike will also turn much smoother with the wheels gaining better traction on the ground. Better handling + better traction = a safer ride!

They are adjustable -  Stock suspensions do not take into consideration the terrain or additional loads and, more often than not, do not have a wide range of adjustment capabilities and some don't even allow for compression or rebound adjustments. Carrying more load, riding with a passenger, or riding on more twisty or rough roads will all burden the stock suspension.  Aftermarket suspensions typically have a greater range of compression and rebound adjustments, thus allowing you to custom tune your suspension to suit your weight and riding style. With some prestigious brands, such as Ohlins, even the shape of the damping curve can be changed to suit all types of tracks and conditions.

Íhlins: The Best of the Best

Íhlins was founded in Sweden in 1976 by Kenth Íhlin, and since then has dominated the motorcycles suspension market. Their products can be seen on race tracks all over the world on world-championship winning motorcycles in every class of racing.  By 2012, over 300 World Champions have won using Íhlins products.

Íhlins suspension products are developed with state-of-the-art technology and thousands of hours of research and test data from race teams across the globe. With a focus on service and support, Íhlins have their distribution networks across 50 countries ranging from MotoGP circuits to the local national racing events.

Some special features on Íhlins shocks include:

-All independent settings, with high and low-speed compression and rebound damping.

- A huge range of adjustments with equal increments of force. Even the shape of the damping curve can be changed to suit all types of tracks and conditions.

- Unique compression damping forces caused by an increase in pressure on the compression side (as opposed to a drop in pressure on the rebound side of the piston like in conventional shocks). This reduces cavitation and makes high gas pressure in the shock reservoir unnecessary. The internal pressures in the shock unit is kept low, which results in excellent suspension response.

- A piggyback-type shock reservoir gives improved cooling to the shock oil for more consistent damping and long damper life

- Integrated remote hydraulic spring preload adjuster.
Quite simply put, Ohlins is used in most aspects of motorcycle racing so they have an immense amount of product feedback and development to go off of so that the end consumer product is absolutely brilliant.

Conclusion

So is a suspension upgrade worth the steep cost? We think most definitely! The price may be hard to swallow, but once you feel the difference in handling, we can't imagine anyone regretting it! If going for a full system upgrade is not possible in one shot, we recommend first checking and setting the bike's sag and possibly adding aftermarket springs and valves, as it'll give a significant improvement over stock while you save for the big upgrade!

*photos via Íhlins 
By Daniel Relich


Tips for Riding Safely on the Streets


Motorcycle riders (and riding) ROCK! While we believe there's nothing as invigorating as blasting down the street on a bike with the wind in your face, we're still all about safety first and foremost because, you know, crashing hurts.

While riding a motorcycle is perhaps the most exhilarating mode of transport out there (that is... until hovercrafts become a reality!), it is also notorious for being the most dangerous. But we get it. We do it for the adrenaline and thrill factor too.

For one, motorcycles don't have an exterior frame or seat belts like cars do (obviously). So in the event of a collision, the bike and the rider absorb all the forces of the crash, which means a high risk for the rider of being thrown off. Seriously, just ask Aram how badly it sucks to get flung off your bike (twice!). Ouch.

Chances are, if you're reading this, you're thinking about riding or are a novice rider. Don't be scared off by the statistics out there. Riding a motorcycle is not the suicidal affair that your mother would like you to believe. All you have to do is practice some safety guidelines. Here are our most important tips for safe riding on the street!

First and foremost, don't ride above your ability!

start with a smaller bike like YZF-R3
We know riding a motorcycle is one of the most adrenaline-pumping activities, and once you get a first taste, you can't wait to get to do "big boy" stuff! But if you're a beginner, don't be tagging along with your experienced buddies for a highly performance-based ride through twisty mountain roads. Don't be speeding down the highway weaving in and out of traffic (actually, even if you're experienced... we don't recommend doing this either!). And also, don't be starting out on a powerful 1000cc bike. It's best to start with a smaller 250-300cc road bike (you may be surprised at just how powerful the engines on these could be!), and one that you can rest both feet flatly on the ground.

It's okay, there's no shame to start smaller and safer. We all start from somewhere! Nobody was born being awesome at sex either. Once you've got enough experience, you  can be twisting and turning along those cliff hugging roads with the best of them!

So as a beginner, how can you grow your skills? Consider taking a Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF) riding course in your area. MSF is a national, not-for-profit organization sponsored by the major motorcycle manufacturers including Honda, Yamaha, BMW, and Kawasaki. It offers a variety of courses, from basics training to more advanced fine-skills courses designed to develop a novice rider into an excellent rider. Find a location near you on their website!

Before hitting the road: 

Always wear the right gear

We cannot stress the importance of wearing the correct gear, for yourself and any passengers you may have! It may look (and sound) cool to go cruising along with beach in a T-shirt and Ray-Bans, with that salty seabreeze in your hair, but it is definitely not cool to end up on the pavement with your head cracked and half the skin scraped off your arm (trust us, we know from a real life example).

At the very minimum, we recommend that you gear yourself up with:

A helmet: We know some states have abolished the helmet law (which is just plain crazy....), but please still choose to wear one! Statistic show that riders without a helmet are 40% more likely to die in a crash due to head injuries. Don't become part of that statistic! We recommend a full faced helmet that is approved by the Department of Transportation (this is very important!). Not only will a helmet keep you safer, it also aids your riding experience by reducing wind pressure and fatigue. And remember, helmets do deteriorate over time, so it's best to get them replaced every 5 years or so.

A riding jacket: A leather jacket is always the best option, or if not, a textile riding jacket is also a solid choice. Leather jackets are classic and are extremely durable and abrasion resistant, while textile jackets are more versatile, lightweight, and less expensive. With the modern advanced materials used, many textile jackets even rival leather ones in terms of abrasion resistance! We recommend riding jackets with built in armor and reflective materials.

Check out our beginner's guide to motorycle jackets.

Riding gloves: Aside from the helmet, this is probably the next important gear to get suited up with! What happens when you fall? Your first instinct is always to catch yourself with your hands. Right... and now think about how well that would go over if you're hitting the asphalt at 20 mph. Ouch! A right pair of gloves will not only ensure that you keep these hands nice with all skin intact, but also offers protection against weather and road rash.

Check out our beginner's guide to motorcycle gloves.

The right foot protection: Obviously, this means no flip flops or sandals! While you don't necessarily haaaave to buy special motorcycle boots, the right shoes should be closed toed, sturdy, and with a rugged sole, something that won't burn your feet or slip off the foot pegs.

These are the gear items we absolutely 100% recommend you slip on before any ride. To complete your head to toe protection coverage, consider riding pants (there are plenty of reinforced riding jeans that are available if you're worried about looking like a power ranges), and motorcycle boots. It is always better to invest in protecting yourself because you never know what kind of riding situation you may get in and there's always that learning curve period where stuff can happen.

Check your bike

Perform a quick pre-ride check to make sure that the tires, brakes, chain, drive belt, lights, horn, and turn signals are all functioning properly. Under-inflated tires and worn brake pads are common no-nos and significantly drive up the risk of crashing. We know expecting anyone to do this on every ride is near impossible but I'd keep an eye on these things at least once a month.

On the road:  

everything in this picture are definitely riding DON'TS 

Practice situational awareness at all times

Watch out for cars: The most common cause for car/motorcycle crashes is because the driver did not see the motorcyclist. So unfortunately, this means that as a biker, we have to do both jobs: watch out for the cars and also make sure they see you. Be aware of cars suddenly changing lanes or pulling out from the side. Use your mirrors to check behind you. Never ride in someone's blind spot and check around you often too.

Don't tailgate: Leave enough stopping distance between you and the car in front, not only for in case the car stops suddenly but also to avoid obstacles in the road. Sand, gravel, potholes, or bumps are no biggies to a car, but can all be hazardous to a motorcyclist. Practice stopping to know just how much distance you would need for your bike - you'll need lot than you think!

If you do encounter road obstacles, it's best to slow down as much as possible and be very gentle with the steering. It can be easy to over-countersteer, resulting in skidding and crashing. Braking and steering are the two most important skills to master to keep yourself safe on the road in case of emergency situations.

Don't be distracted!: Practicing a heightened sense of awareness will save your life on the road. So don't allow yourself to be distracted with headphones or even worse, the phone! If riding with a passenger, don't always turn your head to talk with the person behind. If you must communicate, do so safely with products such as Sena's bluetooth communication devices.

Try not to ride in bad weather

This one seems self explanatory enough. If you're planning on a Saturday morning jaunt through the mountains but woke up to rain, cancel! If you're a commuter and you see rain (or heavy snow) on the forecast, don't take your bike to work that day! Rain makes the roads slippery and thus harder to get traction on your tires. And unlike cars, motorbikes also lack the windshield wipers so you'll also have the added problem of not being able to see the road too well (trust us, this isn't fun!).

However, we do understand that sometimes it is completely unavoidable to ride in bad weather. If you do find yourself out in the rain with your bike, it's best to wait it out a bit. The most dangerous time is when it just starts to rain, as the water brings oil residue to the top of the asphalt, making roads very slippery. And then when you're ready to go, practice extra caution, be extra gentle with the brakes and throttle, and leave extra space in between you and other other vehicles.

And lastly, ride with confidence!

Yes, confidence makes a huge difference in how you ride! So get out there, be safe, and have fun! 

These are our top tips for riding safely on the street! What else would you add? 

By Daniel Relich


Green with Envy: Kawasaki 2016 Motorcycles


It's time for another installment of our favorite new 2016 bikes (aka. what we would buy for ourselves should we happen to come into a large sum of money)! We're going to focus on Kawasaki this week and a few models we're hot on because, hey, you gotta have dreams!

Seemingly quietly, Kawasaki hasn't missed much of a beat by releasing a strong line-up of sport bikes over the past 5-8 years. Although I can't seem to mentally cheat on Yamaha, it's hard to ignore the impressive models being cranked out by Japan's team green. 2016 isn't full of all-new models but there are a few that are tried and true and have been seen vast improvements through the years.

Here we go...!

Ninja ZX-10R 

Kawasaki Photo
The Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R is already one of the fiercest bikes out on the racetrack (with two World Superbike Championship titles!), so this version definitely has got us drooling! Made using all the racing technology that propelled the Kawasaki Racing Team to stardom, this is a machine that dominates from the track to the street with looks to boot.

When this electronically assisted superbike platform first arrived on the scene a few years back, it was a grand debut from any Japanese manufacturer. With Honda still a bit in the stone ages as far as superbike electronics and power goes, Kawasaki was sitting at the top of the mountain for a bit...only to be challenged by S1000RR, Panigale and the new R1.

The Ninja ZX-10R features a 998cc four-cylinder 16-valve engine, delivering incredible power. It boasts an electronics package carried over from Kawasaki's World Superbike experience and is exclusive to this bike, including a sophisticated traction control that automatically adjusts according to conditions and a new Bosch five-axis Inertial Measurement Unit (IMU) that allows for even more precise control. The new launch control modes and power modes allow the rider to control the power delivery to suit different rider abilities and conditions.

Other new features include a lighter crankshaft that allows for quicker revving and increased low-mid-range power, a computer controlled electronic throttle valve, lightweight titanium alloy exhaust system, and World superbike-derived Showa suspension (a first on a production bike!).

At a US MSRP price of $14,999, it's certainly more in the splurge category, but we feel like this bike is a great choice for those looking to buy a high performance liter bike that offers high performance suspension and a strong electronics package.

Z1000

Kawasaki Photo
The Z1000 is the ugly sibling everyone loves to hate! This is a beyond powerful naked style street bike wrapped up in a compact chassis and minimal bodywork. It features an impressive 1,043cc inline four-cylinder engine, which out-cranks a lot of sportbikes even! The engine provides a wide range of power and delivers impressive low and mid-range torque for street riding. It also has a more comfortable, upright riding position for greater leverage on the handlebar and better control at those corners.

The Z1000 is designed for a high degree of mass centralization, which results in crazy light, sharp handling and it is a blast to ride! This is achieved with an exhaust system design of a large pre-chamber and short silencers, lightweight aluminum rare frame, horizontal back-link rear suspension and the use of downdraft throttle bodies. Most of us will be slapping on an aftermarket exhaust system but it's good to know manufacturers are keeping this in mind during development so we can still enjoy a good 'ole time in stock trim.

As an off-the-showroom-floor hooligan bike from Japan, Inc., well, this would be our choice for a fun weekend bike and low mile commuter - given the lack of a fairing. If you're looking to put on the miles and do a little light touring however, Kawasaki offers the near identical platform Ninja 1000 for just that purpose!

It's priced as a non-entry level machine at $11999 for the US market. It's definitely a lot of a bike but in the hands of an experienced rider, there can be endless fun (...and speeding tickets). The look of the Z1000 leaves some scratching their heads but we really love the bike's presence - even when sitting alone in the parking lot. There's a little bit of mystery behind it. And we like mystery.

Ninja 300

Kawasaki Photo
The Ninja 300 is every rider's bike! Whether you're a beginner, a track enthusiast, a commuter, or leisure rider, this lightweight and nimble sportbike has enough cool features to perform in any situation at any level of experience.

Unfortunately, in a macho, over-hyped US marketplace where cc's and horsepower are king, the Ninja 300 (and most 300 class motorcycles) are often scooted into the dark corner of 'beginner land' and mocked. Recently however, with the introduction of Honda and Yamaha's 300 class sportbike choices, the segment has opened the way for more new riders to get into motorcycling. Back in the day (oh, say 2004), the majority of the options from a major Japanese manufacturers was either a 600 or 1000cc sportbike. Today, we have so many choices that the industry has us eyeing more than one machine.

This little bike is powered by a compact but potent liquid-cooled 296cc parallel-twin engine, delivering strong low and mid-range torque, as well as excellent high-RPM power on the open road. Its advanced Digital Fuel Injection (DFI) helps manage cold starting while providing excellent throttle response and great fuel efficiency. Experienced riders will have a hoot with this thing!

The beginners will find the six-speed sequential transmission helpful, and the premium race-inspired FCC clutch offers assist and slipper functions to provide a lighter lever effort and reduces the effect of back-torque. All this makes the Ninja 300 a super agile little sportbike that's easy and great fun to handle.

The Ninja 300 goes for a US MSRP of $4,999, making this powerful nimble little number one of the best deals out there. It was the first of its kind in the US market, basically setting the stage for 300 class machines, and it is still a great option whether new or used. Don't rule it out!

KLR650

Kawasaki Photo
This is the ultimate adventure bike that will take you from the street to twisty canyon roads! The KLR650 features a solid torque pushing 651cc four-stroke single-cylinder engine for smooth power delivery. The bike offers superb balance with a long-travel 41mm telescopic front fork and Uni-Trak rear suspension, which can take you comfortably across any terrain. The large 6.1 gallon tank provides an unbeatable fuel range for long distance touring.

The KLR650 is a well rounded choice for a basic dual sport and adventure bike since its been around from what seems like forever. It isn't going to have crazy power or all the fancy electronics or a fancy shaft drive but it'll do what you need it to do. Take it across the street or across a continent, the KLR650 is easy to maintain, easy to repair and easy to ride. There's a lot of aftermarket accessories available so the bike is easy to customize for any kind of riding.

Other features include a multi-contoured seat for long-range comfort and stability,  a taller windshield to reduce buffeting, an engine guard to protect against loose rocks, and a lightweight sturdy rear luggage rack. This is a bike built with the adventurer in mind but it also commutes around town or to your local Starbucks juuuust fine.

The KLR650 goes for a US MSRP of $6,599 - a great value for those looking to get into motorcycling but aren't interested in a sportbike. On the road or off, new or used, the KLR650 is a strong choice for a basic do-it-all kind of a workhorse.

Which of these are you favorites? Or are you eyeing some other models? Do tell! 



* images courtesy of Kawasaki
By Daniel Relich


Rocking Stock Brake Pads? No Bueno!



Bike enthusiasts are quick to spruce up their new toys with all sorts of aftermarket upgrades, from exhausts to windscreens to frame sliders. However, one of the most overlooked parts is the brake pad (yeah, that).

I hope we don't need to elaborate on the importance of a good braking system in general (pads, rotors, brake lines, fluid levels). As fun as riding the bike full throttle is, safety always rules, and well, it's important to also be able to stop the bike. Brake pads work by pressing against the rotors with a friction surface, and overtime, they wear down with the constant pressure. Don't put off replacing your brake pads and only finding out that they are no longer working properly when leaning into an apex of a sketchy mountain road!

The pads that come on stock motorcycles are perfectly functional in the sense that they offer decent stopping power for the average pleasure riders or commuters. However, you may find that they are insufficient for those engaging in more performance-based riding. And isn't better always, well, better?!

Different kinds of brake pads will make a difference to your riding experience. Organic vs. sintered. Kevlar or carbon. And what about those double letters commonly tackled on in the product names? While all this can be an entire post of its own, today we will focus on the HH friction rated (or double-H) pads.

While we generally don't recommend HH pads for a rear caliper application (unless you're looking for a hard bite), they perform wonderfully with front brake calipers in most performance scenarios.

Read on:

What HH means

When the brakes are applied, kinetic energy is converted to thermal energy through friction. Brake pads are typically made from steel or aluminum plates to main heat stability, and then with friction material bound to the surface. The more friction the material offers, the better the braking power.

The Chase Test is a procedure which assigns a two character code to the brake pad on the basis of their frictional characteristics. The 'HH' code indicates that the pads have the highest coefficient of friction. The first H refers to the friction coefficient while at a normal temperature, and the second H refers to the friction coefficient while hot. Having a double H means that the friction is maintained during the braking process, as the brake pads heat up from the applied pressure.

Brake Pads with this code are ideal for high performance street and track day performance riding. They offer the best in street & track dual duty performance since they bite well and work when cold. HH Pads are even considered as a standard by some modern moto buffs. As a downside, these higher friction pads may prove to be bothersome for regular everyday commuting since the the braking effect may be a little too sensitive and may produce a little bit more brake dust.

But hey, we're talking about pure performance here -- especially when engaging the sportbike crowd! In the brake pad industry, two brands rule: EBC and Galfer:

EBC HH Double-H Sintered Brake Pads

EBC launched in the 1970's with an innovative range of motorcycle brake and clutch parts. EBC Brakes produce the largest range of brake pads and brake discs in the world and has become an industry leader with its superior technology, quality control, product performance and customer service.

EBC's HH Sintered pads became the industry standard due to their high friction rating. (Sintered metallic pads are made using heat and pressure to fuse together metallic particles and other elements, which results in a longer life and enhanced heat performance.) They're known in riding circles everywhere as THE brake pad for upgraded braking performance. These are so popular, in fact, they are considered the go to brake pad by many performance riding enthusiasts.

EBC HH brake pads are made in the USA using sintered copper alloy of the highest quality. Most are fitted with perforated stainless steel heat radiator plates to help reduce the heat transition into the caliper and brake fluid. Their "double segment" vented design keeps your brakes cooler and prevents drag and overheat or fade.

Riders report a superb "brake feel" (which uber moto performance geeks know is most important). EBC's HH Sintered pad are ideal for the weekend performance riders, track day events and even for touring because of the fantastic stopping power and long wear life.      

See if they're available for your bike:
http://www.solomotoparts.com/EBC-Motorcycle-Brakes/

Galfer HH Sintered Brake Pads

Galfer is a family-owned company primarily known for their motorcycle brake lines, brake pads, and their patented, state-of-the-art Wave Rotor technology. Galfer works with top motorcycle race teams to develop high performance braking systems that satisfy even the most demanding rider. We recommend pairing Galfer brake lines with Galfer brake pads for the ultimate braking experience but some riders choose to mix and match to their liking.

Galfer HH Sintered pads are made with an advanced ceramic-coated back plate, which helps to dissipate heat away from the brake pad and reduces the amount of heat transferred into the caliper pistons. This gives you a cooler running system that will be able to withstand more heating cycles. This means a very fast heat recovery for more consistent braking.

Galfer's HH Sintered pads are used by sport street riders to racers at the top of club levels and AMA contenders. They are ideal for moderately aggressive everyday riding as well.

Though these pads are available for the front and rear, one thing to consider is that rear has so much stopping power and the potential to lock up that it may be too much for the average street rider. The most popular combination of brake pads for performance street use are the HH sintered pads in the front and black compound pads in the rear.

See what's available for your ride:
By Daniel Relich


New 2016 Yamaha Streetbikes We Love

Apologies, we at Solo Moto are a little late to the unveiling of 2016 bike models. But hey, better late than never, right?

We're always had a soft spot for Yamaha bikes (the Solomoto bike is a R6!), so we were super excited to see what Yamaha has in store for us this year in their line up. Most are carry overs from 2015 (2015 was a big year!), but have plenty of new features to make us excited. Here are our favorites that we're drooling over!

YZF-R1/R1M/R1S

We will never get to ride MotoGP bikes, but now we can get close to making that dream come true with the new YZF-R1! It's developed without compromising MotoGP technology to create a superbike for both sport riders and racers. This is a huge leap for Yamaha and this new R1 is designed to chisel away the lead the Ducati and BMW have pulled on Japan, Inc. in recent years. This bike - this R1 - is Yamaha's answer.

The YZF-RIM features a lightweight and compact crossplane crankshaft, inline-four-cylinder, and 998cc high output engine. It has titanium fracture split connecting rods (a first ever for a production motorcycle!), which delivers extremely high horsepower and a strong pulse of linear torque. This thing just pulls and pulls on the straights. Another first ever offered on a street bike is the six-axis Inertial Measurement Unit (IMU) that offers complete 3D controllability over traction, slides, front wheel lift, braking and launches. Electronic packages have helped superbikes be a friendlier and quicker ride by putting all that power to good.

The new R1 is sexy as well, with the body design inspired by their winning MotoGP M1 - a masterpiece sculpted for maximum aerodynamic efficiency. Some Yamaha fans won't love it as it is quite a step away from the normal Yamaha Motor aesthetics but it's definitely growing on us!

The new bike has an MSRP Price of $16,490 - $16,990. These new generation superbikes are sophisticated and complex machines but they aren't the hard hitting-all engine- $12,000 machines of the past.
The R1M is a special version of the R1 with premium features and even higher factory specifications. This is the closest you can get to riding the winning M1 (or so they say). Premium features include Ohlins Electronic Racing Suspension (ERS), lightweight carbon fiber bodywork, and a new Communication Control Unit with GPS that enables the rider to capture ride data and then download it via WiFi. Other differences between the RIM  and R1 include wider 200 series rear tire, carbon fiber front fender and fairing, and polished & clear coasted aluminum fuel tank and swingarm.

Using all of Yamaha's finest racing technology, this is the most technologically advanced machine you can get! At a US MSRP Price of $21,990, it's a splurge, but if you're going to be frequenting the race track, this is the bike we'd want.

Check out our R1M Project Bike!

On the other end is the new for 2016 R1S, which is basically a stripped down R1. This bike is promoted as a street bike, but the awesome thing about is that it has much of the same racing technology as the R1 and R1M!

The main difference between the R1 and R1S is in the materials used - steel connecting rods (as opposed to the R1's titanium), stainless steel exhaust headers (vs. titanium), and slightly heavier aluminum engine covers and wheels (vs. magnesium). The weight is 448 pounds as opposed to R1's 439. 

Technology wise, it features most of the fancy electronics of the R1, just minus the quick shift system. Power delivery is very comparable. And priced significantly lower at US MRSP of $14,990, this is a solid choice for more street-orientated riders. 

YZF-R3


The all new R3 is the best of both worlds for riders who commute on weekdays and enjoy sport riding on weekends! The R3 is Yamaha's answer to the wildly popular Ninja 300 and the newly released CBR300. This segment provides a stable and fun starter platform for new riders that may want to start out on something smaller than a 600-1000cc bike. Although non-liter bike segments have been mocked for a while now, there's now a whole slew of options for the rider not looking to get a 180mph street missile.

The R3 features a fuel-injected 321cc twin-cylinder engine that is capable of delivering a maximum power of 10,750 rpm. The 180 degree crank design ensures that the machine is smooth when accelerating through the rpm range. Forged aluminum pistons (like the R1 and R6) provide excellent strength while remaining super light weight, while the offset cylinders reduce friction for more power. Don't let its size fool you, this is still a fun bike to ride!

The styling is Yamaha supersport inspired with a full fairing in an ultra-light chassis, and newly designed steel frame and swingarm. The riding position is lower with a flat seat design, so it's great for new riders as it's easy to get both feet firmly on the ground.

The R3 is a super value at MSRP price of $4,990. This is a machine built for everyone - from beginners to more experienced riders, from commuters to racetrack enthusiasts.

FZ-09


The new Yamaha FZ-09 is our favorite in the street category!  The development concept behind the FZ-09 is "synchronized performance", which in a nutshell means that it's been designed to allow the rider complete control in every riding situation. The big deal surrounding the FZ-09 when it was released, is that Yamaha re-invented the wheel a bit because this is a torquey 3-cylinder engine by a company known primarily for its high revving inline 4 cylinder engines.

Even though the FZ-09's target ride is for the street, this is a true performance machine, delivering huge torque in a slim lightweight body. It features a compact new chassis and a lightweight liquid-cooled 4 stroke, 850cc high-torque 3-cylinder engine. The engine combines advanced high tech components with a crossplane concept crankshaft, providing linear torque development for smooth handling. It has excellent response in the low- to mid-rpm range and is a blast to ride!

Other key features include an advanced ride-by-wire Yamaha Chip Controlled Throttle (YCC-T) system that senses the slightest throttle input by the rider and instantaneously calculates the ideal throttle valve opening to control the intake airflow volume. Yamaha's D-MODE ("Drive Mode") variable throttle control system is another great feature that allows the rider to select the optimum engine character by being able to choose from three throttle valve control maps for all different riding situations.

Aesthetics wise, we love its naked roadster style. The aluminum, tapered-type handlebars is a first for a Yamaha sportbike, providing strength in a stylish lightweight design. At a US MSRP Price of $8,190, it is incredibly attractive as a comfortable daily rider option for new and experienced riders alike. Hey, even my dad bought one!

Which of these are you most excited about?

*all images courtesy of Yamaha
By Daniel Relich


Slip-on vs Full System Motorcycle Exhausts


Ah yes, the exhaust. Every bike enthusiast's favorite aftermarket upgrade. That rumbling of the engine is pure music to our ears. Of all the upgrades a biker makes to his beloved possession, the exhaust system is perhaps the only one that can deliver both performance gains and an improved look and sound (and, some might argue, joy).

There are many considerations to be made when choosing the perfect aftermarket exhaust for your bike. It's not a cheap upgrade after all! You want it to buy one that works well for your bike, not just any one because it sounds good on your buddy's. So let's make sure we understand the workings of an exhaust system and the different models available. We'll also offer some suggestions as well.

Benefits of an Aftermarket Exhaust

A motorcycle exhaust has three parts: the header, the midpipe and the muffler. The header collects the exhaust gases from the cylinder while the midpipe runs the fumes towards the motorcycle?s rear. The muffler modifies the engine sound with the help of baffles and interior diameters.

Motorcycles comes fully ready to ride with an exhaust system already in place. And yet, replacing the stock exhaust is often the first thing a bike owner will do. Though this is somewhat of a costly upgrade, it offers the most value for improved performance. Let's go over the benefits:

Improved sound: Yep, there it is - the number one reason for aftermarket exhausts purchases! Mufflers do just what their name suggest - they muffle the engine sound by trapping sound waves inside a series of baffles. An aftermarket exhaust has less baffles, which will translate into a better sound, as well as better performance. And this brings us to our next point:

Performance gains: An aftermarket exhaust reduces the backpressure created by the typical stock muffler, which will improve the airflow in the engine, therefore letting the fuel burn more efficiently and increasing the bike's power.

Less weight: Stock exhausts are usually clunky heavy ol' things. Today's aftermarket exhausts are much more slimmed down and constructed with much lighter materials. Depending on your bike, you can be shedding as much as 20 pounds! Simply put, less weight = faster and more power.

Better material and aesthetics: Let's face it, most stock mufflers are not winning any awards in the looks department. Aftermarket exhausts are commonly made from titanium, stainless steel, or carbon fiber, which all offer strength while still being lightweight. They all have very distinctive looks that will lend some individuality to your bike. Whatever style you're looking after, there will be a design to suit your taste!

Slip-ons vs. Full System

Exhaust systems for motorcycles have two categories: the slip-on and the full system. While the former connects at the place where the stock muffler is, the latter connects to the head of the engine. Let's look a little closer to understand the differences between the two and the advantages that they each bring to the table.

Slip-on Exhausts

Pros: the cheaper alternative, great value, easy installation
Cons: less performance gains, less weight shed

Slip-on systems are the cheaper option and offer great value for the amount you spend. They basically just replace the stock muffler of the bike and are a popular upgrade for sportbikes. This is a good option for those who want that rumbling sound without having to install the jet-kit or fuel controller. The installation of this system is simple since it is literally "slipped-on" in place of the stock muffler.

Considerations: Slip-ons are great for improving the look and sound, but understand that there won't be a significant improvement to the performance of your bike. Also, the weight isn't substantially reduced since the midpipe and the headpipe remain stock, which also means that there will not be a very noticeable horsepower gain. But that said, a slip-on will still be better than the one that came on the bike.

On an average, the slip-on can increase your horsepower by 5% while reducing the weight of your bike by pounds. Different applications will vary.

Solo's Recommendations:


M4

M4 Performance Exhaust designs and manufactures one of the highest quality exhaust systems available in today's market. The products are developed through racing experience, extensive research, and fine tuning on and off the track. Many systems eliminate the infamous stock 'exhaust box' which makes way for more power and a deeper, meaner sounding motorcycle. They also look crazy cool!

Competition Werkes

Competition Werkes Grand Prix-style slip-on exhausts are some of the industry's bests with their sleek aesthetics, super light weight, and positive effects on performance. They're made of stainless steel and come in a range of colors to suit anyone's taste.



Full System Exhaust

Pros: great performance gains, significant weight shed
Cons: More expensive, more hassle to install

Full exhaust systems replace the entire stock exhaust from the header to the muffler. This is the more expensive option. Aside from the superior sound and look, it is the performance gains that you pay for when opting for a full system. This option is great for drag racers, long distance riding, or those who like to run their bikes on full throttle.

Considerations: The installation of this system requires more time and body work than the slip-on version. It's also highly recommended that you get a professional tuning after installation in order to reap the maximum benefit. We also suggest that you also install a corresponding fuel controller, such as a Dynojet Power Commander. A full system heavily changes the characteristics of your bike and it will be necessary to optimize fuel delivery, in order to avoid harmful side effects.  See our article here for a more detailed explanation.

Solo's Recommendations:


Yoshimura

Yoshimura was founded in Japan in 1954, and since then has been consistently in the forefront of the aftermarket exhaust industry.  Yoshimura has been associated with Factory Honda Racing and GEICO Honda racing for quite some time, and so their products are tested in the harshest environments possible. Yoshimura exhausts are designed to the highest standard of craftsmanship, quality, and aesthetics.


Akrapovic

Akrapovic is widely recognized as a highly innovative materials technology company. The brand is synonymous with the highest level of design, performance enhancement and the creation of an unmistakable deeply resonant 'Akrapovic' sound. Over 80 world champions have already relied on Akrapovic exhaust systems. Furthermore, the company has been blessed with numerous Best Brand awards by readers of the most prestigious motorcycle magazines.

Some considerations for purchasing an exhaust

Be familiar with your State's inspection/legal requirements. Aftermarket exhaust manufacturers are generally not subjected to the same regulations imposed on bike manufacturers. The products are not tested for sound level or emissions control. You can find out your State's requirements from your DMV, inspection station, or bike shop. 

Play it safe and also replace gaskets and hardware. This stuff is pretty cheap to replace, so it's a good idea to just get it done when installing a new exhaust in order to prevent leaks.

Consider also installing an air filter and fuel controller. Modifications often work best in combinations. An aftermarket exhaust improves the airflow through the engine. An air filter will increase the amount of air entering the engine to match the air leaving it, and a fuel controller will ensure that air and fuel are mixed in the right ratio for optimal performance. This is particularly recommended when opting for the full system. 

Once mounted, consider it sold! Typically, retailers will not take back an exhaust once it has been mounted and fired up. This is to protect both us and you, the buyer. You can be assured that any exhaust you purchase from us is brand new and never been used. 

Conclusion

An aftermarket exhaust, whether it be a slip-on or full system, will always be an improvement over the stock exhaust. The slip-on is the better option for those on a budget and only looking to enhance the sound of the bike while shedding some weight and increasing the power slightly. The full exhaust system, if you have the cash to spend, will deliver significant performance gains as well as a powerful sound. Either way, an aftermarket exhaust is one of the best value upgrades for a bike.

If you have any more questions or need help choosing the perfect exhaust for your bike and riding style, feel free to ask below, call us, or hit us up on our Facebook page!

By Daniel Relich


How do Power Commanders Work & Are They Worth The Money


Power Commanders may just be one of the most perplexing accessories in the motorcycling world. There are a lot of questions associated with it. How does it work? What exactly does it do? Is it worth the money?

If you're just getting into bikes and the thrill of buying parts for it, reading about Power Commanders and whether you need one may seem like deciphering quantum physics theory. It's true that there is not the perfect one-size-fits-all answer, but we'll break it down for you to gain better understanding.

Power Commander Overview 

The appeal of a Power Commander for most riders is its promise of boosting the bike's horsepower higher than what you can get out of a stock engine. Does it really do that? It actually depends (we'll get into it later). What it does is adjust the bike's fuel/air ratio to run at an optimum level, and thus improving the motorcycle's overall performance and power delivery characteristics. This is especially important if you've make some upgrades to your bike, like installing an aftermarket exhaust or a air filter.

The Power Commander itself is small and plugs directly into the bike's electronic control unit (ECU) and generally requires absolutely no additional modifications, thus making it a very simple solution for that additional desired performance.

Understanding the EFI

The modern motorcycles we ride today have a Electronic Fuel Injection (EFI) system. Gone are the clunky old carburetors of the bikes from the century past. The new EFI system is a no-brainer way to mix fuel and air in the right proportions for optimized performance. Essentially, a computer (ECU) is constantly assessing the current operating state and communicating how much fuel to inject in order to keep an optimal fuel/air ratio.

For most bikes, this system performs reasonably well when the bike is in stock trim.  However, if you're anything like the average moto-fanatic, one of the most exciting things about bike ownership is sweetening it up with aftermarket upgrades. An exhaust or air filter upgrade will increase airflow, likely making it run leaner or richer than it should. There's various side-effects from this including a high running temperature, exhaust popping (awesome fireballs), power surging... all because the stock ECU is not able to adapt to the aftermarket accessories in most cases.

The stock ECU is programmed according to the stock specifications, so it can only adjust within a certain range. Effectively this means that the EFI ends up delivering an air/fuel ratio that is not optimized. This is when the Power Commander comes in handy!

What a Power Commander does

A Power Commander allows you to remap your bike's air/fuel ratio to be optimize for your aftermarket modifications. It adjusts the fuel injection to optimize the fuel/air ratio in accordance to the increased airflow and modified power delivery dynamics. It allows for a full range of adjustments, thus can adapt to almost any modification. This makes the bike perform faster, smoother, better overall, and yes, will help deliver added horsepower. You will see an improved throttle response and smooth power delivery which translates into a better riding experience and faster times at the race track.

The PCs have an on-board microprocessor that makes changes to the ignition curves and fuel output. Every PC unit comes with software and a cable link that allows you to change between different maps or make adjustments to a map file. It's also possible to download existing map files to best match your bike's mods from the power commander website.

Some considerations 

Most motorcycles, even stock ones, will benefit from a power commander in some way, but as this is a costly purchase, it's necessary to assess what your upgrade goals are and weigh the pros and cons.

A good rule of thumb is that a power commander is likely a required addition when purchasing a full exhaust system (or 3/4 system) because a full system heavily changes the characteristics of your bike and it'll be necessary to optimize the power delivery to avoid those unwanted side effects and any possible long term harm to your engine.

In the past, to really reap the benefits of the power modifications you've made to your motorcycle, a professional tune can be done on a Dyno by a performance shop to create a custom map for the modifications you've installed. This option is generally reserved for high performance oriented riders, racers and track day enthusiasts as it is very expensive. Dynojet has considered this, and for most riders, the addition of a Dynojet Autotune (see accessories below) with your Power Commander will help keep things under control and your bike purring like a kitten at a fraction of the cost.

Dynojet Power Commanders

In the fuel controller market, Dynojet Power Commanders dominate.

Dynojet PCs use OEM equipment style connectors and plugs directly inline with the bike's stock fuel injection system (no splicing or cutting required!). The installation is fast and simple, taking as little as 15 minutes. The Power Commander merely overrides the factory settings of the ECU, so don't worry about permanently altering your settings! Once the PC is removed, the bike goes back to its stock condition.

Dynojet Power Commander V (the newest version) has some exciting new features including: a built-in two position map switching function, allowing you to adjust on the fly (switch not included - see accessories below). The gear position input allows each cylinder to be mapped individually and for each gear. It also has 10 throttle position columns.

Some of the other noteworthy features of Dynojet Power Commander V are:

- has the world?s largest downloadable map database
- Dynojet collaborates with the leading exhaust manufacturers of the world to offer pre-tested settings for your bike
- Compact, USB powered from computer for quick and easy map changes
- The notes from the map are stored in the on-board memory along with the map making it easier for the notes to be retrieved easily when the unit is connected
- A cylinder trim adjustment feature facilitates offsetting fuel to one or more cylinders
- An expansion port lets you connect various accessories with utmost ease

In custom or specialty applications cases, where a map is not available, there is a network of Official Dynojet Tuning Centers to help develop custom maps for the bike. So whatever you've got, they've got you covered!

The Power Commander V is Dynojet's newest model. Some older models of motorcycles are available on the Power Commander III platform.

Power Commander Accessories

The Dynojet Power Commanders V comes with a range of accessories to aid performance.

The AutoTune kit automatically corrects the fuel mixture while riding. Just plug in the unit and it'll do all the work for you! This is a perfect addition for most riders.

The Quick Shifter allows you to shift up to the next gear without having to roll off the throttle or pull in the clutch. It does so by momentarily cutting the fuel and/or ignition. This accessory is great for the serious racers who understand that every split second matters!

The Map Selection Switch allows for switching between two different maps. For example, you could switch between a "fuel economy map" (for long leisure rides) and a "full performance map" (for racing).


You can order Dynojet Power Commanders and their accessories here:
http://www.solomotoparts.com/DynoJet-Power-Commander/

Conclusion: so is a power commander worth it?

Purchasing a power commander will most likely depend on what you want from riding and what kind of modifications you have on your bike.  Generally, the benefits of a power commander will work best with a full system exhaust (not a slip-on), as it creates more power and allows for a wider range of adjustments. If you're more performance oriented, then a power commander may be worth the investment to get a smoother, more powerful ride.

What have your experiences with a Power Commander been like? Got more questions? Free feel to ask below in the comments! 


By Sir D


A Hell-a-va Guide: Zero Gravity & Puig Windscreens



A windscreen (or windshield) may not be the most drool-worthy or sexiest accessory on a bike, but it is in fact one of the most user-friendly upgrades for a rider. With the hundreds of options out there in the market, choosing the right one is a daunting task. Not to worry! We'll go over the benefits, what to look for in a good one, and our personal picks. 

BENEFITS OF A WINDSCREEN


The windshield vs. no windshield conundrum could turn into a hot debate item with riders, so let's quickly review the benefits of installing a windscreen! 

Decreasing wind blast: A windscreen redirects the wind blast away from your face and chest, which in turn reduces riding fatigue, which equals a much more comfortable ride and the ability to ride farther. Whether your ride is morning jaunt through the mountains or a week-long tour along the coast, you'll be thankful for a windshield to take the majority of wind strain. 

Protection from weather: A windscreen will also divert cold wind and rain, allowing you to stay dryer and more comfortable when riding in less-than-ideal weather. 

Protection from bugs and other debris: Ever rode through the countryside during summertime? Yuck. Bugs in your beard is not a sexy look. Need we say more? A windscreen also protects from gravel kick-ups and other unexpected incidents.

WHAT TO LOOK FOR:


Now that we all understand the benefits, let's go over how to select the one right for you. Here are some general qualities to consider when choosing the perfect windscreen:

Material: Generally, windscreens come in either polycarbonate or acrylic, both durable plastic materials. The benefit of acrylic is that it will stay clear and shiny and won't yellow with long-term sun exposure, while polycarbonate is more scratch-resistant, but will yellow with age. 

Height: This is one of the most important considerations and the hardest to get just right. A too tall windscreen may block your vision, which will be dangerous especially during rainy weather. A too short windscreen won't offer the protection you need and may even direct wind into your face. 

An ideal height should be so that the top edge is just under your line of vision (at the nose level). That way, you can easily see over it, but still be able to slightly drop your head if needed. 

Fixed, detachable? A fixed windscreen is well, exactly that. Once mounted, it's a permanent addition to your bike. A detachable one has quick detach mounts, and may be a good option for those who want the flexibility to go with or without a windshield depending on your ride and weather conditions. 

SOLOMOTO'S PERSONAL PICKS:


Okay, so all that information is great, but what about the look?? 

Now, being moto junkies ourselves, we understand that you're concerned with destroying the sexy body lines of your bike. We get it, really. No one wants to work hard sprucing up their bike, getting everything just perfect, only to have an ugly windshield sticking out like a sore thumb. But having a windshield on your bike doesn't have to look bulky or dorky. In fact, a windscreen can look cool and still complement the sleek lines of your bike. 

Here are our favorite windscreens for both aesthetics and performance (and also our best selling brands!):


PUIG Windscreens

PUIG Windscreens was founded in 1964 by Josep and Jaume Puig, brothers who shared an interest in mechanics and a passion for motorcycles. Since the beginning, the windscreens have been designed, produced, and distributed from their Granollers facility in Spain. PUIG Windscreens was introduced in the USA market almost a decade ago, and since then has expanded to include other motorcycle accessories. Finally in 2013, the first PUIG USA opened in Orlando, FL. Now, PUIG products are being exported to more than 60 countries all over the world. 

The racing and touring Windscreens are designed in Orlando using data generated by a virtual wind tunnel. This research and development method is used to create new shapes and screens with proven real world performance.Their extensive research has resulted in significantly minimized wind bast, thereby improving the bike experience for riders. PUIG windscreens are unparalleled in the moto world for their superior quality, unique shapes, and fit and finish.

There are currently three types of windscreens manufactured by PUIG. Briefly, here are the differences between them so you can choose which one best suits your riding style:

PUIG Racing Windscreens

The PUIG Racing Windscreens have been derived from competition and have a "race bubble" design, helping to minimize wind blast on the rider's helmet. These are made from high-impact acrylic, which makes them stronger and more flexible. These windscreens are resistant to cracking and scratching and are able to absorb vibrations at higher speeds due to their 3mm thickness. 

All of PUIG's racing screens are developed based on virtual wind tunnel tests. This improves their aerodynamics and enhances wind protection. Please note however, that the Z racing windscreens have better aerodynamic characteristics due to a more aggressive bubble.

PUIG Naked Windscreens

Like the naked look but need a little wind protection to make those longer rides more enjoyable? PUIG's Naked New Generation Windscreens are specifically designed to fit the shape and style of a naked bike and they look great! These windscreens are similar to the Racing ones in the material and the way they are designed based on wind tunnel tests, however, they have been specifically made to ensure a cozy fit on the naked bikes. 




PUIG Touring Windscreen
The PUIG touring series has been specifically designed for long distance rides, and can fitted on any naked or touring bike. The top edge is several centimeters higher in order to minimize wind blast. The lower section of most of these screens has a shaded part to hide the cable behind the speedometer. It is made up of high-impact acrylic as well. Although easy to mount on any bike, windscreen adapters are also available for some bike models.




You can order Puig Windscreens here:


Zero Gravity

Zero Gravity has built a reputation manufacturing lightweight windscreens with superior optical quality, fit and finish. Zero Gravity windscreens have helped many race teams win major championships around the globe and is constantly striving to push the envelope of windscreen design in both performance and efficiency. All their windscreens are constructed with a specialized "vacuum forming" technique (like that used for aircraft canopies!), which results in a virtually distortion-free lens. They're made from a high grade acrylic, strong enough to resist cracking and at the same time flexible enough to absorb vibrations. 

There are four types of windscreens offered by Zero Gravity, each unique in design and target toward different riders. All windscreens are factory pre-drilled and ready to install and match the O.E.M. fairing for a precision fit and finish. Here are the brief descriptions of each:

SR Series

If you like the bike lines of your original stock windscreen, then the SR series may be just what you're looking for. The Zero Gravity SR Series windscreens are shaped like the original factory screens and are designed to work with your stock motorcycle lines. They're great for replacing a damaged screen or for riders wishing to change the tint without altering the profile. These come pre-drilled and are designed to fit your motorcycle fairing with precision using your stock mounting hardware/fasterners.


Double Bubble

The Zero Gravity Double Bubble windscreens have a "bubble within a bubble" design, which has changed the face of the sportbike industry. This innovative concept was pioneered by zero Gravity in 1995 for Team ZG's race bikes, and is now seen on race tracks all around the world! This unique windscreen design perfectly complements the sportbike's sleek, futuristic lines while providing added aerodynamics.  



Sport Touring

If more long distance rides are your thing, then look no further than the sport touring screens! Zero Gravity's Sport Touring windscreens are the tallest windscreens in their line-up, designed to maximize longer distance ride comfort with enhanced wind protection. These taller screens reduce the windblast by raising the point at which the wind hits the rider by several inches, ensuring more comfort while in the upright riding position.   


Corsa

For the more serious racers, Zero Gravity's new Corsa Series was designed in collaboration with professional racers from around the world! The Corsa Series screens have a taller bubble that offers more wind protection when tucked in at speed, even for the larger riders. Once a "racers only" windscreen, the Corsa is now available to all riders. This is only available in limited sport bike models. 








You can order Zero Gravity Windscreens here:



CONCLUSION

After seeing these sleek windscreens, I hope we helped change your mind that windscreens can be cool. They help provide a safer and more comfortable ride, no matter how long or short or the weather condition. We hope this guide has helped you get a better idea of what kind of windscreen you're searching for.
By Sir D