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Essential Gear for Adventure & Dual Sport Rides


Dual sport/adventure is one of the fastest growing bike segments. That's not hard to believe because these bikes are basically the best of both worlds. You get the fun of riding off-road and the thrill of speeding down the street. These bikes are light and versatile, while still being comfortable and safe with great maneuverability.

This segment of riding comes with gear requirements all of its own. Dual sport/adventure riding is all about having fun in a variety of surroundings and road conditions, and this means specific protection requirements because you never know what kind of conditions you'll encounter.

In this post, we'll talk about what you will need to make your trip a success.

Luggage with at least 1 waterproof luggage item 

You're going to need a luggage to store all the necessary tools (we go into more detail later) and anything else you may need for your adventure trip. Make sure at least one luggage item is waterproof, as you're never sure what kind of weather you'll run into. If you don't have a waterproof bag, then at least purchase a waterproof liner or storm cover for your bag.

Place everything that you don't want to get wet into the waterproof bag, like your phone, camera, and any electronic tools/accessories. Also, any clothes, because it really sucks when you have a luggage-full of damp clothes that will never get the chance to dry out.

Briefly, here are the different options you have for motorcycle luggage:

- Saddlebags: This is the classic form of motorcycle luggage. They hang over the rear seat and come down on both sides at the back wheel. Saddlebags are the most popular because of the amount of stuff they can hold and their position is low enough that it doesn't affect the bike's center of gravity.

- Tail bag: This type of bag sits behind you on the tail of the bike. You can purchase a tail bag that matches the your saddlebags for a complete, cohesive look. This is a good place to put anything that may break if the bike falls on its side.

- Sissy bar bag: This kind of storage attaches to the sissy bar or back rest, and are often vertically stacked luggage compartments. This is not popular on off-road/adv bikes so most likely, you won't be considering this option.

- Tank bag: This is a small bag that's attacked to the tank area either with straps or really strong magnets. Many come with a clear panel on top for a GPS or phone.

Luggage bags can come in either soft (nylon, cordura, PVC) or hard (aluminum, plastic) varieties. Soft bags are more versatile and lighter, which is great for off-road riding, but they may not be as durable or secure as their hard counterparts.

Giant Loop is one of our favorite luggage brands. We personally have tested and loved the Giant Loop Mojavi Saddlebag (detailed review here). This military-grade bag is reinforced with ballistic nylon, and can withstand even the clumsiest of riders. Aram from our Solomoto team has used his for four years now and it's still going strong (if you don't already know, Aram has quite the reputation for crashing and abusing both his bike and himself). This bag is incredibly sturdy and lightweight, and despite a deceivingly small size, it's roomy enough to pack all the tools you would need.

Another luggage brand we highly recommend is Wolfman. Their high quality, stylish luggage is made right in the US.

Depending on what kind of luggage you choose, you may have to buy a luggage rack.  A top rack, which can be used to hold or fasten down a tail bag or water/fuel jug, is the most popular choice. And if you choose a hard case, you'll need mounting brackets to fix the case on.

Dual Sport Mirrors

Even mirrors have a different set of requirements in the dual-sport and ADV world. A good mirror should be able to give you complete visibility, be sturdy enough that it won't break in a crash (and yes, we tend to dump our bike a lot out there), and fold out of the way when you need it to.

Our absolute favorite dual sport mirrors are Doubletake Mirrors (detailed review here). They take you from highway riding to off-road seamlessly. The height, length of mount, and angle of the mirror can be adjusted in about every direction you would need. And when riding in tough off-road situations, they can be swiveled down and locked in place, protecting them against any potential crashes.

Water and fuel containers

Keeping properly hydrated is one of the most important things to do on any motorcycle ride. You're going to have to bring (at least, some of) your water supply with you as there won't be any handy Seven-11s to stop by out in the woods or canyon.

Don't take up all your precious storage room and instead carry your water on your back with a hydration pack. You can also easily sip while riding instead of having to stop and unscrew a water bottle. Our favorites are the performance-focused hydration packs from American Kargo that come in a crazy cool assortment of styles and colors. (Of course, if it's going to be a longer ride, bring along as much water as you think you will need.)

Instead, save that storage room for a fuel container. You should always carry with you some spare fuel, because well... you probably won't see too many gas stations in the woods either. We recommend an aluminum fuel bottle. They can be found in almost all outdoorsy stores like REI.

Tubeless tires

Tubeless tires have a couple of major advantages when riding: 1) first, they don't deflate as fast when punctured, and 2) it's much easier to fix them on the go. Unlike a tubed tire, you don't have to remove the wheel and the tube. All you have to do is plug, re-inflate, and patch. In most cases, you may not even have to do a roadside fix. If it's a small object and you don't take it out, you can even get home.

We've ridden with the traditional tubed tires before and fixing a flat is a real waste of time and hassle. I gotta say that we're becoming fans of the tubeless system when riding off-road, simply because there are so many things that can puncture your tire. Tubeless tires are also less expensive, lighter, and have better fuel economy.

Handguards

Because of the nature of this type of riding, the hands often take a beating. Even if you're smart and wearing gloves, repeated slapping of branches on your hands will quickly become a nuisance. And at worst case scenario, if you ride your grips into a tree, your hands are going to be in big trouble. Basically, gloves alone will not do the trick when you're taking your bike off-road.

Whether riding through the countryside, up rocky terrain, or through the woods, installing handguards on your adventure motorcycle will protect your hands from flying debris, rocks, and brush. They are durable plastic pieces that attach to your handlebars and are designed to protect your hands and clutch levers in all types of extreme weather and road conditions.

They're easy to install and remove and come in a variety of options and colors, including: vented and spring-loaded, which will flex back in case of a crash.

Our favorite handguards manufacturers are Bark Busters and Moose Racing, both of which are known for their high-quality, durable, and sleek designs.

Skid plates

Just like handguards protect your hands and clutch levers from flying rocks, branches, and collisions, skid plates protect the delicate underbelly of your prized motorcycle. This is where all the expensive parts of your bike is located! A stray rock or branch can easily damage your casing or oil filter, causing you to not only end your day early, but also hundreds of dollars worth of damages.

Skidplates are not the cheapest, but trust us, it's a small investment to make to avoid a far, far more expensive repair job. When you wish you had one, it's already too late. We recommend a skidplate made with durable, lightweight aluminum or steel (NOT plastic), as plastic just can't stand up to constant beating of rocks.

Tool kits

And lastly, you can't go off on your adventure ride without a tool kit. At the very least, we recommend packing:

- things to fix a tire: a tire tube for the front and back tires, an electric pump, tire irons, patch kit
- for any fuel issues: extra fuel pump, extra fuel, siphoning hose
- for battery issues: jumper leads
- para cord/tie-downs: are extremely useful to carry extra things or keep pieces together
- extra brake pads for the front and rear if it's a longer trip
- valve core remover
- small tools: wrenches, screwdrivers, sockets, hexes, pocketknife
- headlamp: especially useful if you're still out into the night and need light and both your hands to fix something
- Misc: duct tape, WD-40, zip-ties

Don't forget to have your bike in top running shape by maintaining your bike and upgrading it to do what you need it to do with performance parts & accessories.

What other essential gear would you recommend for a dual sport/adventure ride?
By Daniel Relich


Everything to Know About Motorcycle Group Riding


Riding doesn't have to be a lone activity. Sure, there's the thrill of independence and the romantic appeal of nothing but you, your bike, and the road. And sometimes you need to just get out there and ride to clear your head. But often times, it's even more fun in a group.

We've recommended before that one of the best things for a new rider to do is to join a riding group. You can bond with truly like-minded people and you will improve your skills faster in a group environment. Riders are some of the coolest people (but you already know that) and they're all happy to share knowledge.

But that said, there are still etiquette to follow when on a group ride (don't be a douchebag, for one), or you won't be invited back to the next one. If you're a novice rider or just new to riding groups, we've got you covered, so you won't be making a fool out of yourself on the next ride.

Here is everything you can expect from a group ride and tips to make it a success.

First things first: come prepared

Hopefully, this is something we shouldn't even have to say, but hey you never know. I've been in group rides before where people obviously didn't prep, and it really brings down the entire group. This means come with a full tank, full tire pressure, a cell phone, and your wallet. No one wants to have to make an unexpected stop just because you forgot to fill up.

And of course, don't be late. No one wants to stand around waiting for that one rider who can't keep track of time either.

Group ride meeting 

Before the ride starts, there should be a meeting to go over the general expectations of the ride, including: the route, how long to ride for, where the break points will be, and what to do if someone gets behind or lost.

It's especially important to decide on a meeting spot (or spots if it's a long ride) if riders get separated. Sometimes, even the best of plans and formations (see below) can still lose riders, which can happen during turning, passing, or if not everyone makes it through a traffic light. And when that happens, the person may panic and feel the need to ride faster, going beyond their ability, in order to catch up. But if there's a designed meeting spot for such situations, then they can go at their own pace, knowing that the others will be there waiting.

The meeting should also go over hand signals to be used, such as when to ride in single file and when to slow down/speed up, and to point out obstacles on the road. See Motorcycle Safety Foundation's guide to hand signals here.

Roles within the group

Every group ride should decide on:

Someone in front (the leader): this person needs to access situations and make decisions for the entire group (such as do you all pass a vehicle or go through a light?).
Someone bringing up the rear (the sweeper): this person sets the pace and keeps an eye out on the entire group. If someone falls behind, the sweeper is responsible for making sure they get caught up.

Both of these should be someone with experience in group riding and good judgment. A communication device, such as Sena's wireless communicators, between the leader and sweeper can be extremely helpful .

Everyone else should have their place in between the two. If you're a new rider, you should go right behind the leader, so those with more experience can watch out for you from behind.

Size of the group

We recommend to keep the group as intimate as possible, because the more riders there are, the more problems it can cause. A good number is 4-6 riders.

If the group is larger, it's a good idea to split fast and slow riders into separate groups, each with their own leader and sweeper. This way, the smaller groups diminish risk of accidents and everyone can ride with others close to their preferred riding speed. Though keep in mind that the slow group would still need an experienced leader and sweeper.

The formation

We know... talking about a "formation" sounds so stuffy. After all, this is supposed to be a fun ride with your buddies, not the army. But trust us, this is important.

So now that you have decided on the leader, sweeper, and your relative position, you need to work out a formation. This part can get tricky. The staggered formation is best for the safety of everyone in the group, with each rider 2 seconds behind the one in front. It keeps your group compact (which means less chance for a car to try to merge in and break you apart) and also gives each rider enough buffer space around them.

Stick to your place!

Once you have a formation figured out and your place in it, don't break it!

This means not riding like a dick. Group riding is supposed to be a fun social experience to build camaraderie. Not a competition with your fellow riders. Don't be that rider who decides to show off and speed up to pass others.

Also be sure to keep the proper distance between you and the rider in front (in other words, don't tailgate!). This is so there's enough cushion space for the other rider to swerve if there's an obstacle. Don't slide into another rider's zone, as this may cause them to panic and run off the lane. And also, don't make sudden brakes without warning, which can cause the rider behind you to plow into you.

Basically, respect your fellow riders' space, and don't do anything stupid that will get you pulled over.

Passing

Speaking of passing, this is one of the trickiest things to maneuver in a group.

It's important to pass in order (in a single file) and once you have passed the vehicle, to return to your spot in the formation. Once you have passed the car, continue riding at speed (don't slow down) so there is enough room for the bike behind you to also pass and get into the lane. One of the most common mistakes I see is riders who pass a car and slow down, which will leave the next rider stranded in the other lane, with no room to get in. This is especially dangerous when passing on a 2-lane road with the threat of oncoming traffic.

Lastly, listen to your gut

Group riding is about fun and building friendships, but as always, safety comes first (you're probably sick of hearing us say that). So if at any point, you don't feel comfortable with the situation, it's okay to get out of the group and go solo (moto -ing).

Maybe the group is riding faster than you're comfortable with and others are saying that you're slowing them down. Don't feel pressured to go beyond your ability to keep up. Or if it's the other way around and someone else in the group is riding like an ass, give him a wide berth and/or remove yourself from the group.

In any case, if it's not feeling right, don't think you have to stick out the ride.

Conclusion

We highly recommend trying a group ride (bikers groups on Facebook or Meetup are great places to find one in your city) if you haven't yet. There's a lot that can be learned from other riders. It's a great experience that will allow you to build strong friendship and make you feel more connected to your local riding community. We hope you understand a little more now about what to expect on a group ride. To put it simply, be careful, don't ride like an asshole, listen to your gut, and have fun!

By Daniel Relich


We Are Loving These 2016 KTM Motorcycles


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

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

KTM 350 XC-F


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

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

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

450 SX-F Factory Edition


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

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

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

1290 Super Adventure


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

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

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

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

Duke 390



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

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

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

RC390


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

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

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

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

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

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


By Daniel Relich


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


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

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

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

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

Purpose of the fender eliminator 

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

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

messes up the sleek lines of the bike, no?

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

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

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

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

Are there any issues?

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

Water and Dirt Become a Bigger Issue

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

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

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

Drivers behind you may get it too

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

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

Your license plate may be an issue

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

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

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

Which brings us to the next question:

Are they Legal?

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

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

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

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

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

Our recommendations

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

Shop for Competition Werkes Fender Eliminators here

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

Shop for Targa Fender Eliminators here


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

Shop for R&G Racing Fender Eliminators here

Conclusion

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

Have questions? We're always here to help! Either call us up or hit us up on our Facebook page or head over and start browsing our selection. Buying motorcycle parts online on our website is easy as pie!

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


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

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

Yep, looks like the battery has died.

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

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

Better Performance

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

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

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

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

Longevity

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

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

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

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

Are there any downsides?

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

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

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

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

Our recommendations

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

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

Shop for Ballistic batteries here.






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

Shop for EarthX batteries here





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

Shop for Shorai batteries here.





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

Yuasa Battery Inc. is the largest American manufacturer and a world leader of batteries for motorcycles and powersport vehicles. Besides their replacement battery business, they are also the preferred original equipment (OE) supplier for many in the market. Yuasa's batteries generate more power, last longer, and require less maintenance and they make batteries for popular sportbike models like the GSX-R750 and ZX10R.

So should I buy a lithium battery?

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

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

By Daniel Relich


Our Favorite 2016 Suzuki Motorcycles


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

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

Here are our favorite Suzuki stallions for 2016!

GSX-R750


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

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

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

SV650


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

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

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

V-Strom 1000 ABS


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

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

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

Hayabusa


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

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

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

GSX-S1000F


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

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

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

Something for Everyone

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

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

*all photos courtesy of Suzuki

By Daniel Relich


First Motorcycle: Buy New or Used?


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

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

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

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

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

Let's take a look at all the factors:

Experience Level

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

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

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

Purpose / Bike Category

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Maintenance & Repair Costs

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

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

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

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

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

See also: So How Much Does a Motorcycle Cost?

Technology

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

Financing

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

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

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

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

Insurance 

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

Conclusion

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


By Daniel Relich


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