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Welcome to the SoloMotoParts.com blog. We'll be writing about different motorcycling segments like sport, cruiser, adv and off-road as well as sharing tips on motorcycle riding and safety. You'll also find insider 411 on hot motorcycle parts & accessory brands. We encourage you to interact with us by sharing our content on social media and commenting on the posts with what you think! Have at it!

8 Cool Motorcycle Gadgets


If there's one thing that owning a motorcycle opens the door to, it's the excitement of scoping out new technology and gadgets. On more than one occasion, I've caught myself perusing long lists of battery packs, device mounts, Bluetooth communicators and whatever else I think will bring a little extra flair to my ride.

Today, I'm going to go over eight of them that really stuck out and had to go on my most recent wish list. Check 'em out:

1. PSR 2-Up Passenger Bar

In my mind, this is one of the best solutions for riding a sport bike with an extra passenger in tow. Now, instead of gripping onto me and crushing me with their weight under braking, I can tell them to clutch the bar instead.

It's made from high-strength aluminum, has a comfort grip so their hands won't get tired and still allows me to get to my gas cap like normal. PSR has changed the way we ride passengers forever with the PSR 2-Up Passenger Bar!

2. Motion T-Handle Spinner

When I'm working on my bike, I like to have the best tools at my disposal. Anything that can help me remove or install bolts and nuts faster is aces in my book, and this Motion Pro T-Handle Spinner definitely fits the bill. You can get this one in 3/8" or 1/4", and the build quality is everything that its looks make it out to be. The action is smooth, and the inclusion of a shiny chrome finish and the padded handle are like icing on an already well-prepared cake.

Think of this like your standard t-handle but with next level features. Change sockets out when needed, and use the unique spinner handle to easily, efficiently and quickly remove bolts on your motorcycle. This is a must have!

3. Ram Mounts & Accessories

I'm hardly unique in my need to mount various devices on my bike. Be it an action cam, my smartphone or something else entirely, I want something that will stay firmly in place and keep my gadgetry in its optimal positioning. Ram mounts are the perfect tools for the job, available in different styles to accommodate just about any gizmo out there.

By and large, they're easy to install, and the universal cradles are more than sufficient for holding onto most smartphones. For more specialized devices, like GoPros, they have specialized adapters that conform to the shape of the camera, keeping it stationary while on a ride.

4. Tank Bags and Backpacks

To add some storage space to my bike, I like using a tank bag. They're simple to affix or remove, they're plenty durable and, with the right selection, they're also surprisingly spacious. Of the several factors to take into consideration when choosing a good tank bag,

I feel like the mounting style tops the list, and it's largely dependent on the style of bike in questions. Those with metal tanks are well suited for magnetic bags (a great "grab and go" option), while others might work better with a strap-mount or clamp-on style bag.

If you're feeling like you need a little more space and security (like if you're riding with electronics), try a motorcycle riding backpack.

5. Scorpio SR-i900 Series Alarms

Bike security is paramount. For some extra peace of mind when I'm parking somewhere, I like to use an alarm just in case someone decides to make a move on my motorcycle. What makes the Scorpio SR-i900 alarm system so cool is the fact that it incorporates RFID into its workings.

A remote transceiver automatically arms/disarms the system when leaving or approaching, so aside from installation, operation of this device is pretty much hands-free. On top of that, it comes with an "ignition disable" feature that I can use to switch off the engine and a battery backup that keeps the pager working even if the device's wires have been tampered with.

If you want next-level trick features like perimeter sensing auto-arm and disarm, step up to the "R" model with the Scorpio SR-i900R.

6. Portable Battery Jump Starter 

Portable backup/quick-start power is an essential item when riding solo. There are two offerings that caught my eye here. The first is the Ballistic Back Pack, billed as the "smallest, lightest, handheld portable jump starter for motorcycles." In addition to serving as a 12V jump-start, it can also put out extra power for electronic devices with included cables (a huge plus).

The second option I was ogling were the Quick Micro Start battery packs from Antigravity. These small, Lithium-Ion batteries can jump start anything up to a 7.3L diesel engine and are compatible with 19V, 12V and 5V electronics as well. The kits come with everything a rider needs to get electricity where they need it and, in my humble opinion, are a great "emergency preparedness" investment.

7. Kaoko Cruise Control

I've always been of the mind that if you're going to install a cruise control kit on a bike, you might as well go with the best. Since their inception in 2001, Kaoko has built a solid reputation for easy-to-install, easy-to-use throttle controls that integrate almost seamlessly to the models they've been designed for.

Furthermore, operating Kaoko's cruise control is highly intuitive throttle lock type system, a factor that makes them not only more convenient but safer as well.



8. Sena Communicators - Sena 20S

"Why fool around with a ton of wires if you don't have to," I like to say. Bluetooth headsets have been a boon for rider-to-rider communication, and I feel like Sena has been at the front of the pack for some time.

The 20S uses Bluetooth 4.0 (the standard adopted in 2010) and has been designed specifically for use while cycling. In addition to being easy to hook up to a helmet, the Sena 20S has an eight-way intercom with a range of 1.2 miles, works off of voice commands and can connect to two separate devices at once.

Wrapping Up...

I feel like the included accessories have changed some facet of the motorcycle riding experience for the better - that's why they were chosen to be in the list. They're also widely available from your favorite online store as well as your local dealer so getting your hands on them isn't difficult. What would a list of 'cool gadgets' be if they weren't widely available?

If you're lookin' for more, I also compiled a list of popular motorcycle accessories that's worth a read.

Do you have anything to add to the list? Let us know!
By Daniel Relich


Advanced Motorcycle Riding Techniques


Learning to take corners at higher speeds, coming to a stop quickly in case of an emergency and working the throttle to get the most out of a bike are just a few of the more advanced riding techniques that can take a biker's abilities to the next level.

Improving and mastering these techniques in a safe and controlled environment will not only round out your moto-skill-set but will ultimately improve your riding experience and safety. That, folks, is what riding motorcycles is all about - the journey from newbie to expert and all the epic stories about how you got there.

I strongly believe there's passion in the journey and gaining perspective over-time about a sport that's been around for quite some time is an amazing experience.

Today, I want to go over some of these handy tips and tricks so anyone interested in upping their game can glean some valuable insight.

Trail Braking

This is one skill that's sounds simple in theory but takes dedicated practice to master. Though touched upon in many basic riding courses, it's not until a rider puts themselves through repeated attempts at trail braking that they start to truly grasp it.

The main goal is to gain more traction and stability going through corners and traverse them more quickly, while simultaneously providing an option for slowing down rapidly if an unexpected obstacle should appear in the rider's path. The added control gained by trail braking is also useful in tightening a turn radius or remedying a botched cornering attempt.

To execute this technique, a rider has to continually brake beyond the "turn-in" point when entering a corner. Afterwards, by easing up on the brakes as they lean, they can pick up speed and clear the corner more rapidly. This is typically done with the front brake only, but it is possible this skill with the rear brake or both brakes as well.

Again, this all sounds relatively easy, but there are significant risks involved with making errors performing a trail brake. The scariest among these is a loss of traction and going into a slide. It's important for riders to apply only light brake pressure when attempting this technique and to transition smoothly from braking to accelerating.

Throttle/Brake Overlapping

That last bit, handling the throttle and brake smoothly, can be significantly aided by the incorporation of another advanced technique: brake/throttle overlap. There are several ways to go about it, but one highly successful method is to curl finger(s) over the brake lever while squeezing, then straightening them out again to reduce the brake intensity while simultaneously rolling on the throttle.

The idea is to think about the throttle and brake as actually one apparatus and not two - so when the brake gradually comes off, the throttle gradually comes on.. and vice versa. Smooth on and smooth off.

Using Cornering Lines

Mastering cornering lines is another skill that can help with taking faster turns. In addition to "straightening" the curve, reducing lean and increasing traction, using proper lines provides a better view into the corner and a greater likelihood of avoiding hazards.

One of the most common methods is the "outside-inside-outside" line, which involves a rider entering on the outside edge, hitting the apex (closest proximity to the turn) around the middle of the corner, then exiting the corner toward the outside of their lane.

Body Positioning

The way a rider has their body positioned has a great effect on their center of gravity, overall stability and their lean angle when performing a turn. Some novice riders may have a tendency to stay static into a turn. This can actually increase the lean angle and the likelihood that they'll fall when trying to corner.

By shifting body weight to the inside of a turn, however, the rider's center of gravity helps to reduce the lean angle and better stabilize the bike. More lean = more risk.

In general, there are three main body positioning styles, each with an increasing level of aggressiveness.

Basic Type 1: The most basic, used for taking corners at regular street speeds, involves slightly leaning the upper body off of the bike's center line and toward the inside of a turn (when going right, lean right and vice versa). Riders should position their faces as if they were about to "kiss" their mirrors, keep their butts on the seat and look forward through the turn. This method can be employed on the streets.

Advanced Type 2: A more advanced form of positioning involves leaning the upper body into the turn while at the same time shifting the hips and buttocks to support more body weight. It allows for more stability on windier roads and sets a rider up to counter-steer as they take a corner. This method is better suited for a spirited run through the twisties.

Racer Type 3: The most aggressive positioning using the basics from the two methods above, commonly employed by sport bike enthusiasts and racers, employs hanging off the bike to achieve that much vaunted cornering speed. It's trickier to pull off correctly, but by using the balls of their feet to support more weight, keeping their hips perpendicular to the motorcycle and relaxing their arms, most riders can reap the benefits of this more advanced style of positioning. This method is for the race track only.

Knee Dragging

Traditionally seen as a right of passage for the sportbike and racer crowd, no other single skill set is considered a benchmark for setting apart the badasses from the newbs as knee dragging. Knee dragging is a result of proper aggressive body positioning + corner speed. For beginners, this can be seen as a goal or an "ah-hah" moment of achievement with subsequent entry into a faster riding group.

It's not uncommon to see those aforementioned sport-racer-types dragging a knee on the pavement while executing an advanced turning method. Far from simply being a flashy move, knee-dragging has the added benefit of allowing you to take turns faster and safer by shifting the center of gravity by allowing the bike to go faster into the turn (with less lean angle) than it normally would if you were sitting in the dead center of the bike. You can also gauge your lean angle by the pressure on your knee puck and by the relative position of your knee.

While knee dragging has no place on the streets for your daily ride, when tackling faster turns on a race track, it's an invaluable tool when combined with proper body positioning and the other techniques in this post to help you ride faster, safer and more controlled.

Emergency Braking

It's not something many riders want to do, but it sometimes becomes a necessity when an unavoidable obstacle suddenly presents itself. Coming to an emergency stop requires that a rider get off the throttle and progressively squeeze the brake to reduce movement. This helps mitigate the possibility of locking the front tire.

Simultaneously, a rider performing an emergency stop should also whip in the clutch and bring it down to first gear so that they're prepared to evade any vehicles that may be coming from behind. This is a skill taught in most state sponsored motorcycle riding safety courses.


Now get out and ride, do your homework & practice and take it to the track or venture out on a group ride through some twisties! If you want to up the performance of your bike and take things to the next level, pop over to your friendly online motorcycle parts store to pick-up some aftermarket upgrades!


By Daniel Relich


Popular Street Bike Accessories

Popular Streetbike Accessories

What exactly is a street bike "accessory" and how does it differ from parts and gear? Unlike motorcycle parts and gear, which are primarily installed on bikes to enhance or maintain performance or functionality (like a new chain & sprocket kit, brake line upgrade or a slip-on exhaust), bike accessories are geared more toward convenience and comfort in a way that enhances the riding experience.

For the most part, they aren't permanently integrated into the bike itself. Accessories encompass a range of products, from bike covers to tire warmers, and we've got a quick rundown of some of the more popular (and useful) street bike add-ons currently on the market.

Locks & Alarms

Scorpio i900R alarm
Bike security is paramount. Though not infallible, both locks and alarms work to deter thieves by making motorcycles more difficult to steal. Locks can keep a bike anchored to a larger object or keep the handlebars and wheels in place, while alarms can alert people in the vicinity if someone is tampering with the bike. One of the most popular, albeit expensive, motorcycle alarms is by Scorpio.

Depending on where you're parking your bike and what city you live in (and what the crime stats are), a motorcycle lock and alarm is likely going to be at the top of your shopping list when thinking about possible accessories to buy for your bike. If anything, a disc lock tends to be a low cost option for a little piece of mind.

Check out more motorcycle locks and alarms.


Indoor & Outdoor Bike Covers

Motorcycle Cover
When parking a bike outdoors on the mean streets or in an exposed parking spot, a motorcycle cover is essential. In addition to shielding a motorcycle from the dangers of the elements (or pernicious dust build-up if parking in a garage) the cover serves as an extra layer of security. Concealing a bike makes it a less tempting target for potential thieves, and securing the cover makes their job that much harder.

In areas of the country where parking motorcycles indoor for the winter is common, an indoor motorcycle cover will keep things clean and tidy and they're generally cheaper and easier to use than their outdoor versions. And plus, having an indoor cover lends a little bit of mystery when people visit!

Be sure to select the right kind of cover for your needs - an outdoor cover is generally overkill for indoor parking and an indoor cover has not place outdoors (it won't be ready for the elements).

Shop for that perfect bike cover.

Tie Downs

Motorcycle Tie Downs
When transporting a bike on another vehicle for an event or move, we often recommend using motorcycle tie downs or straps to keep the motorcycle in place. Be they ratchet or cam buckle style tie-downs, they work to create downward tension that  (when used properly) stabilizes the bike over a truck bed or trailer. Straps can also be used to secure items to a bike, so they've got plenty of versatility in the hands of a skilled user.

Generally, motorcycle tie-downs are purchased in pairs so they can be used on either side of the motorcycles (usually going from the handlebars to some mount point on the vehicle). There's plenty of different tie downs on the market and most work fine, although the ratcheting style tie-down will give you more security as they tend to hold well and won't loosen over time - this is especially important for heavier bikes.

See what kind of tie downs are available.

Hard & Soft Luggage

Motorcycle Luggage
Luggage add-ons allow riders to transport extra gear on their bikes and are usually associated with bags & packs that mount to the motorcycle permanently or semi-permanently and not something that you'd wear on your body These offerings can come in several varieties, from soft and hard cases to luggage racks that attach to the frame of a particular motorcycle enabling all sorts of luggage accessories to be mounted.

Whereas hard luggage containers offer advantages in stability, security, and durability, some riders might prefer soft cases or bags due to their lighter weight, widespread compatibility between bike types, and overall greater ease of use.

Soft saddlebags and tank bags are the two most popular options for riders not looking for a permanent solution - think a sport tour or a sport bike headed on a longer ride or trip or a lighter weight ADV or Dual Sport motorcycle. For the full long distant tour, hard cases will be the better option and will likely be more suited to your long distance touring or ADV bike.

Backpacks

Motorcycle Backpack
An alternate mode of carrying around essentials is the motorcycle backpack. Lightweight and convenient, these packs offer what some see as the perfect solution for day-to-day commuting or quick trips where but a few essentials are required.

Like normal non-moto backpacks, riders can fit in maps, laptops, or whatever other small items they need. The downside is that all this weight will be on your back and shoulders. The major upside, though, is that packs designed for motorcycle use are usually waterproof, made from heavy-duty fabrics, and secure snugly to the body so as not to slip away.  Some also offer a solution to secure your helmet to the bag while you're off the bike - which is super convenient

A backpack is a good solution for carrying larger items for the commute or quick trip. We suggest an upgrade from a tank bag to a backpack when a laptop or other delicate electronics are in the mix, as backpacks offer a more secure and purpose-built solution.

Front & Rear Stands

Motorcycle Stand
Whether storing a bike in a garage, performing routine maintenance or using tire warmers at the track, a set of motorcycle stands helps to maintain upright stability while the bike is at rest - without using the kick stand.

On top of looking cool and helping to show a bike off, tasks like washing, lubing, changing the tires, or changing the oil become much easier when a motorcycle is in a secure position. Additionally, there are a few cycles (like some race models) that don't come with kickstands, so investing in an external stand becomes a must for keeping the bike standing.

Front and rear street stands can also be used in conjunction with a cover when storing the bike inside and offers more stability than using the kickstand. Pit Bull makes some very nice, durable and long lasting street bike stands - our favorite.

Tire Warmers

Motorcycle Tire Warmer
While not a necessity for those riding on street legal tires, race enthusiasts will gain plenty of use from a good set of tire warmers. On the track, cold rubber is a disadvantage, while warm tires can easily conform to the contours of the road, grasp a track better, and provide increased performance.

Warming tires beforehand grants these advantages, and does so while circumventing the risk of cracking or cold tears that can come from trying to warm tires by running a few preliminary laps. Additionally, warmers can help extend tire life by reducing the instances of unnecessary wear and tear.

Motorcycle Tire Warmers are a necessity if you're hitting the race track. They should be used with front and rear stands. Haven't been to the track yet? You gotta read our track day guide.

Rider Communication Systems

motorcycle communicators
When riding in a group, communication is essential. Old-school hand gestures, though, are easily misconstrued (in addition to being a tad bit unsafe). I'm sure you've seen those memes going around Facebook when riders are gesturing to each other and trying to talk through their helmets - funny, but not effective. Helmet-mounted communication devices provide a solution to this problem, allowing riders to communicate via microphone/speaker to their fellow riders.

There are multiple offerings in this arena, ranging from wired devices with multiple speakers to sleeker Bluetooth communicators that cut out some of the cords. They vary, naturally, in clarity of communication, battery life, range, etc., but there are plenty of options to suit most riders and their personal styles. Some even have the ability to pair with phones to allow for personal calls and music streaming while riding as well.

Take a look at what motorcycle rider communication systems are available.

Device, Phone & GPS Mounts

motorcycle phone mount
When riding with a device, it's impossible to operate features like navigational systems without a mount that keeps said device in place. Phone and GPS mounts for motorcycles have this need covered, and come in several styles to accommodate different kinds of tech.

Cradles, for example, usually work well for smartphones, while many ball mounts are designed to accept clamps for varying GPS units. There are also universal mounts that can adjust size and fit a wider range of gadgets, and mounts specifically for action cams and other recording devices.

Battery Tenders/Chargers

Motorcycle Battery Tender
Motorcycle storage presents a series of issues to riders, one of the more notable ones being proper battery maintenance. When a bike sits idle, especially for months on end, the battery can drain, running the risk of becoming dysfunctional once it is finally removed from storage.

Battery tenders and chargers mitigate this risk by automatically keeping the battery charged (without accidentally overcharging it), then maintaining the charge so that the cycle is ready to go once bike season rolls back around. In addition, there are some chargers that will provide additional functionality such as LED flashlights.

Remember, most motorcycle accessory items are readily available online at your favorite online store. There's quite a few options available from an enormous selection of brands so be sure to ask the community, your riding buddies or go ahead and call or e-mail us! 
By Daniel Relich


Routine Motorcycle Maintenance Guide

Street Bike Accessories

Maintenance can be thought of as the act of caring for your motorcycle so it runs at peak performance and ultimately helps your riding experience - by not breaking down. This is especially important to keep your motorcycle running for a long time, reliably, as well as keeping you safe. Different manufacturers have different routines and pitfalls but I'm going to tackle some general rules that apply to most bikes.

Caring for a motorcycle by making sure that its individual parts are in good condition and working correctly is key. Like most motorcycle enthusiasts, there are some maintenance tasks I can tackle solo (which I'll be going over) and some other items (the more complicated ones) that usually require the skills of a trained professional. Obviously, the latter incurs a higher cost, depending on what overall condition the bike in question is in.

A simple oil change, for example, can run anywhere from $25-60, depending on the kind of bike. Generally speaking, regular bike checkups will run from $100-450, provided there hasn't been any individual maintenance performed on them. Those costs can be higher are lower, though, if the motorcycle is in need of more or less servicing.

As for how often a bike should be serviced, this factor will vary based on the model. I always recommend referring to the owner's manual to get the manufacturer's recommendation but, on average, most motorcycles require service every year or 4,000-6,000 miles (whichever comes first).

Engine and Oil

Motorcycle Engine

Perhaps one of the most important elements of routine motorcycle maintenance is the engine and oil. My top tip for keeping an engine running well is changing the oil at regular intervals. Thankfully, this is a pretty simple "do-it-yourself" task. Most owner's manuals provide instructions on how to change the oil on that particular motorcycle, but here are some additional tips I think are good to keep in mind:

* Use a dipstick to check oil levels and determine if it needs to be "topped off."

* Add a little less oil than necessary, then start the bike. Once it's hot, check if more oil is needed and do so if necessary.

* Be extra careful not to put too much oil into your engine.

* Check the engine for leaks whenever changing the oil. Using a rag to whip down the engine can reveal problem areas

* While checking the oil, taking some time to inspect other fluids is advisable. The primary focus here should be transmission oils and coolants (if applicable).

There might also be a need to change a bike's oil filter from time to time but usually we recommend changing it with every oil change and to use a performance filter from K&N (with a nut for easy on/off). The process can vary, but overall, this involves removing the bodywork surrounding the engine, removing the oil filler cap and draining the plug, removing the oil and mesh filters (along with wiping them clean), installing the new filter, then wrapping up by fitting the removed pieces back into place and replacing the oil.

Depending on the grade and type of engine oil, you might be able to extend larger intervals between oil changes. We use and recommend Motul's line-up of engine oils. The Motul 300V oil is the top of the line choice for high performance motorcycles.

Tires and Tire Pressure

Motorcycle Tires

This procedure will require a tire pressure gauge, but it all starts with a visual inspection of the front and back tires. The goal is to make sure that the tires have not become "bald," that is, that the tread is still in good condition. What constitutes a bald tire is sometimes open to interpretation, but generally speaking, when the tread is less than 2/32 of an inch, it's considered worn. Order a new tire online if you need a new one.

While performing a visual inspection, I also like to keep an eye out for wear, tear and any foreign objects that might have embedded themselves in the tires. If there's a nail or similar hazard implanted in either tire, now's the time to remove it. If the tire starts leaking air afterward, that's a clear sign that it needs to be replaced.

Next, I like to check the tire pressure (this is where the pressure gauge comes into play). An electronic/digital gauge will often be the most accurate, but it's still possible to get a pretty good reading from a quality standard gauge. I always check the pressure while the tires are cold and recommend referring to the owner's manual to determine the correct pressure range. If necessary, I'll inflate the tires to get them within acceptable parameters.

Keep in mind that as the tires heat up the pressure will increase - this is important to keep in mind with sportbikes.

Drive System


A motorcycle's drive system is what puts the power from the engine to the ground, often connecting the rear wheel to the engine through a shaft, chain & sprocket or belt drive. Because of road debris or dirt, as well as lubricants, this area of the motorcycle can be prone to issues and wear. Luckily, it is easy to enough to keep an eye on regularly.

For Chain Drives: Sprockets are prone to dulling and damage, so check them regularly. If any part of the chain is worn down, it might be time to replace it. Owners should keep the tension on their chain within acceptable levels, and they'll also need to lubricate the chain along with keeping it clean. Remember, don't try to clean the chain while the engine is running, and use an appropriate chain cleaning brush to do the job right.

For Shaft Drives: These generally require the least amount of maintenance, but riders should still get in the habit of periodically replacing the shaft drive fluid and greasing up their fittings (if necessary). BMW's are famous for their shaft drives.

For Belt Drives: Remember to check regularly for cracks, fraying edges and other signs of damage. If the damage is too great, it might be time to replace the belt. Adjusting the tension on the belt is another good idea. Check for instructions in the owner's manual.

One final note, when it does come time to replace the chain, the sprockets should be replaced simultaneously. Though sometimes old sprockets might appear to be salvageable, there's a chance they won't match up with the contact surfaces on a new chain correctly, which could result in increased wear in the future. Many aftermarket manufacturers will offer chain and sprocket kits to make this process easier.

Valve Adjustments


Aside from the routine tasks listed above, valve adjustments are generally a big maintenance task that generally require taking your bike to a professional mechanic. Different motorcycles require this service at different mileage intervals. Generally speaking, for brands like Ducati, for instance, there are tighter intervals of 7,500-10,000 miles and most Japanese sportbikes are upwards of 25,000-30,000 miles. Often times, many riders sell bikes before racking up enough miles to need a valve adjustment.

Consider: You might need to service for your valves more often if you're going to the track or running your bike very hard. For our R6 race bike, a tune up was necessary once a season -- or whenever we decide to downshift and pop the clutch a bit too aggressively, hah!

Brake Line Fluid

For those maintenance and/or performance obsessed, the brake line fluid can be bled and changed once a season to keep optimal brake feel. This can usually be performed by getting a bottle of Motul performance brake fluid (or OE) and by using a Mityvac or speed bleeders to make it easier to bleed the fluid from the line.

Tracking your bike? If your sportbike is gracing the track - bleeding the brake line fluid should become routine. On our race bike, we bled our brake lines before every 1-2 track days/events. The Motul RBF600 brake fluid is a recommended for extreme applications.

Coolant

If your motorcycle's engine isn't air cooled then it probably has a radiator and you'll need to maintain the coolant and keep it fresh and topped up. Often forgotten, this can still be an important part of motorcycle maintenance depending on the type of bike you have. Your owners manual will provide the necessary intervals for but those of you that are more performance oriented, you'll want to check out Engine Ice Coolant (for the street).

We change our coolant about once a season as we're in a hot area and we're power obsessed. Cooler engines run better and for longer! If you're at the track, see about Water Wetter as it conforms to many racing organizations' rules and specs.

Maintenance Culture


Motorcycle maintenance in itself is a large part of motorcycle culture and we love sharing our thoughts. I've spent many weekends wrenching on my bike alone with a cathartic calm that's countered only by the intensity of the ride! Buying and installing aftermarket motorcycle parts is an aspect we can't ignore (and I'm sure we all love!).

Getting started working on your bike yourself is a bit step and will require additional tools and likely a motorcycle stand but, more often than not, your riding buddies are more than willing to lend a hand and play teacher for a bit!

Hungry for more? Continue reading What You Should Know About Motorcycle Insurance and our guide to Convincing your SO when you want to ride a bike.

By Daniel Relich


What You Should Know About Motorcycle Insurance


You've obsessed over that new motorcycle for a while now, you've talked to your s/o about riding and you've considered a new versus pre-owned bike. The budget is set aside for gear and other safety considerations and now you're finally ready to pull the trigger on that new ride! F*ck ya!

But...if you're going to be enjoying that brand new motorcycle on the street, then you'll need to consider buying insurance to make sure you're covered in the event of a crash. Moreover, for the sportbike crowd, many insurance companies will not cover damages sustained during a race event or a track day. Make sure to inquire about this if you're going to be hitting the track.

Consider that your motorcycle driving record can effect your insurance premiums for your other vehicles, wisely choosing a policy and insurance company is even more important. Keep those traffic tickets to a minimum on your bike or you might be seeing your monthly premiums increase for your bike and car! Ouch.

Motorcycle insurance tends to fall under most recreational vehicle insurance policies, even if your motorcycle is your primary method of transportation. Regardless of how often you ride your bike, most states require riders to carry a motorcycle insurance policy. Age, experience and vehicle type are considerations for cost so don't have sticker shock if you're in your 20s and are going for a 1000cc superbike as your first bike!

Before you decide on a motorcycle insurance company, make sure you've researched the following items:
* How do they handle claims?
* Available Premium Discounts
* State License status and complaints
* Liability and full coverage costs

Insurance Claims Handling

Filing a claim is stressful but sometimes necessary. Especially after your motorcycle has been damaged in a crash or worse, the last thing you want is for the claims handling process to add to your troubles. While it's tempting to easily purchase a motorcycle insurance policy online, make sure your insurance company offers all of the following:

* Communication options. If you have questions, does the insurance company offer a phone number for the claims department? If not, what are your recourse options when you need to advance a claim status?
* Customer service ratings. Most insurance companies have a rating with J.D. Power & Associates and the National Association of Insurance Commissioners. Review customer service ratings for all companies under consideration.

Insurance Premium Discounts

When comparing discounts for motorcycle insurance policies, make sure the discount is good for the life of the policy and not just an introductory rate.

Most reputable insurance companies give discounts for the following categories:
* Safe rider discounts for proof of completion of motorcycle safety courses.
* Multi-vehicle discounts for coverage of more than one vehicle.
* Multiple policy discounts: Keeping all of your insurance policies (homeowner, renter, automobile) with one company can give you a big break on annual pricing.

With this in mind, don't be surprised if your motorcycle insurance costs as much as your car or truck. If you're in your 20s, male and are buying a powerful sportbike, it could get pricey. This is from personal experience of course, so it's always good to call around and get quotes before getting too involved with the bike you want or putting yourself in a tough place when at the motorcycle dealership.

I also highly recommend completing the motorcycle riding safety course and, as an added bonus in some states, you can skip the riding portion of the motorcycle license test with proof of course completion.

Company Licensure and Complaints

Before you agree to purchase a motorcycle insurance policy, verify the agent or producer is licensed in your state. Check with your local DMV for a license search website or check NIPR.com. If you cannot verify licensure, go to another provider. If a non-active agent or producer isn't licensed through the state, your policy may be invalid when you need it most.

When you find a company that meets all of your criteria regarding pricing, rates and service, type the agent or producer's name into Google followed by the word "reviews." If you see too many negative reviews on customer service and claims filing, continue your search.

More often than not, you've likely heard of several motorcycle insurance companies through word-of-mount or through an advertisement on the radio or TV. This is a great way to start your research. We've also compiled a small directory of motorcycle insurance companies in the US to aid in your search.

Cost of Motorcycle Insurance

Motorcycle insurance rates vary based on the type of policy: liability or full coverage. Liability will only cover damage to other vehicles or property, while full coverage with collision will give you coverage in case of damage to your bike. Depending on whether you own your bike outright or are making payments (and what state you're in), you may be required to have full coverage insurance.

Other factors will play a role in the total cost:
* Age/gender of driver
* Amount of deductible
* Discounts
* Geographic location
* Motorcycle value

Full coverage will always cost more than liability coverage, but the cost is not out of reach for most mature drivers who carry other types of insurance policies. Balance.com gives ranges from $200.00 to $3,000.00 per year, depending on the combination of all the factors listed above.

Don't forget to ask your motorcycle riding buddies about their coverage. If you get a rate that seems much higher or lower than some of your friends, shop around and make sure you're getting the best rate available to you with coverage that suits your needs.

...Now Get out And Ride!

Once you have your insurance sorted out, you can move ahead and buy your motorcycle! Find an online motorcycle parts store for riding gear and, if you have the itch, aftermarket parts such as an exhaust. Modifying your bike is as much as part of the culture as riding so don't forget to experience the fun of shopping and installing new parts!

Thanks for reading! Ride safe!

By Daniel Relich


GP Inspired Sportbike Exhausts You Can Buy Today

GP Inspired Sportbikes Exhausts You Can Buy

When it comes to motorcycle enhancements and buying aftermarket motorcycle parts, the exhaust is one of the number one upgrades riders choose to install on their bikes. The king, if you will. In particular, when riders are looking to improve performance, power and additional aesthetic appeal, I think it's the way to go - especially if you're not a fan of that oh-so-hated sewing machine sounding stock exhaust.

But hey! Not to worry, there's plenty of exhaust options available. Of the many slip-on and full exhaust systems sold by an online motorcycle parts store, the GP style, which derives its name and appeal from top-level Moto GP racing, is quite a popular option. The sportbike GP style exhaust is generally characterized by short, low mounted mufflers and huge sound.

Many are constructed of raw or bare metal and sometimes put together with exposed welds for that one-off look. GP style exhausts leave behind the traditional long muffler in favor of an artfully constructed stubby metal muffler that...roars. They're truly head turners - mostly because they're generally crazy loud!

These next four brands are popular for their GP-style motorcycle exhausts:

M4 GP Exhausts

M4 GP Exhaust
M4 Black Satin GP Slip-on Exhaust

Texas-based M4 specializes in performance exhaust systems, taking great care to fine-tune their wares for optimum performance gains. They have a variety of full systems and slip-on exhausts, of which their GP-styled options are well-known for granting a decent amount of power and providing window shattering sound.

The M4 gp slip-on systems are a great option for those looking to balance price, ease-of-installation, sound output and performance increases. They're well known for a matte black gp canister but offer a wide array of standard style exhaust systems that can often be seen on podium topping M4 supported race teams.

Ever wonder where the name M4 comes from? We did an interview with Kyle Martin about that topic!

Competition Werkes GP Exhausts

Competition Werkes GP Exhaust
Competition Werkes GP Style Full Exhaust

Competition Werkes bills themselves as the "premier manufacturer of sport bike accessories," and their GP-style exhausts most assuredly fit this label. Their slip-ons are simple to install, usually requiring just a bolt to clamp on. They help riders save on weight, don't compromise ground clearance, improve sound and grant a nice boost-to-engine performance to boot.

They are most notably known for their 'bare metal' style Competition Werkes GP exhaust system and use shotgun style canister outlets that replicate the real race look better than most. Mostly available in slip-on formats, they do provide the occasional full system. We definitely dig these artfully constructed boutique Competition Werkes exhausts.

Hotbodies Racing GP Exhausts

Hotbodies MGP Exhaust
Hotbodies MGP slip-on Exhaust

Hotbodies Racing's newest addition is a line of motorcycle exhausts. Hotbodies MGP Exhausts are made "proudly in Italy," these exhausts feature a light and aerodynamic styling that simultaneously reduces bike weight and drag while providing improved sound and upping horsepower.

Available in a slashcut megaphone or shorty shotgun style stainless steel or carbon fiber wrapped cans, Hotbodies MGP slip-on exhausts are available for most major Japanese sportbike brands as well as Ducati and BMW.  While you won't see the biggest gains in horsepower or torque, the MGP exhaust line will add a great aftermarket exhaust note and an even better aesthetic appeal to your bike. Their easy to handle entry price will make you smile, too!

Akrapovic GP Exhausts

Akrapovic GP Exhausts
Akrapovic GP Style Slip-on Exhaust

This world famous Slovenian brand has supplied racing teams around the globe with top quality exhaust systems and they have a reputation for high-end design. Within the Akrapovic exhaust range, they do have a range of GP-inspired exhausts, intended for use by demanding riders who want the best and are willing to pay for it.

Though specifics on their exhausts vary, the overall trend with Akrapovic is that they are precision crafted from high-quality materials like titanium and carbon fiber while offering increased power and torque, while reducing the overall weight of a bike. Not to mention that signature Akrapovic sound come with every exhaust system! Read more about Akrapovic's full product line up.

Slip-on Exhaust or Full System?

Now that you've decided on the style and possibly the brand of GP exhaust you want, there's a whole other big decision to be made: Should you install a slip-on exhaust or a full system exhaust on your motorcycle? Well...Generally speaking, a slip-on is cheaper and requires less support accessories (like a fuel controller) but it won't give you nearly as much usable power as a full exhaust system will.

It's possible to think of a slip-on as just an exhaust for looks and sound (with some added power benefit). Certain slip-on exhausts that remove the exhaust box/cat actually will produce a good amount of power so this decision will vary from bike owner to bike owner. Full exhausts are generally best for the pure performance junkies, track riders and racers. I mean, how much power do you really need on the street? We've put together a nifty slip-on vs full system guide that will go into more details on this topic.

Do you need Power Commander?

Dynojet Power Commander VA full exhaust generally requires the purchase of an additional fuel controller, like Dynojet Power Commanders, that comes with an additional investment. Slip-on exhausts are a different story but you'll get more performance out of your bike with a fuel controller installed. Note that it's not an absolute requirement for slip-on exhausts.

So you got a Power Commander, now what? You'll also likely need smog block off plates in addition to an exhaust for the fuel controller to work properly. Remember that adding a fuel controller or or other supporting mods isn't just about meeting requirements...its about the tune. The tune can be done through various loaded maps, an auto tune attachment or through an expert dynotune center.

A properly tuned Power Commander will ensure smooth power delivery and curb symptoms such as backfiring or overheating. You'll have more usable power and a better riding experience if your motorcycle is properly tuned - and this matters when using a full or a slip-on exhaust - so don't get a full system and then realize you're out of money to do what's necessary to get the full benefits. Plan accordingly. We go into more details about what a power commander is and what it does in our guide.

So, why not get a full exhaust? I suppose the answer to that one is: money.

And add a High Flow Air Filter, Maybe

K&N High Flow Motorcycle Air Filter
It's no secret that leading motorcycle filter companies like K&N produce a wide variety of aftermarket high flow air filters that are designed to flow more air (and, theoretically, more horsepower) as well as being washable and re-usable. Unfortunately, more air in can sometimes throw off the delicate stock ecu ranges (especially when paired with an aftermarket exhaust) and then you're going to be overheating and spitting fire (and backfiring, popping) and all sorts of other squid-ly noises. Eh.

Air filters can be an important part of an overall power mod strategy when properly supported with a fuel controller to make sure to get an upgrade plan together before executing! Also, be careful not to buy 'race spec' filters and then run them on the street - that's a no no.

Browse, Research, Ask then Buy

Aside from the obvious online store option (and reaching out their customer service team), you can also shop for an aftermarket gp exhaust system by watching videos on YouTube or by visiting a bike night or by going on a ride and seeing what people have on their bikes already. It'll most likely give you some great ideas for your own motorcycle! In short: get out and ride, do some research online and then pull the trigger on that new GP exhaust!

By Daniel Relich


Aftermarket Sportbike Levers Guide


But, they're just levers...right? At first glance, the uninitiated might assume that motorcycle levers are nothing more than a stylish cosmetic piece for a bike. Tried-and-true sportbike riders, however, recognize that like most aftermarket motorcycle parts, a good lever provides a range of benefits as well. Both on the road or in the unfortunate event of a crash, having a quality lever for a bike is an investment that pays off in more ways than one.

True, the plain-Jane stock levers might get the job done but they often don't offer the features available on a nice set of cnc-machined brake and clutch levers.

Safety in Features

Riding confidently often translates into riding safely. Levers, just like suspension, clip-ons and footpegs and rearsets are how the rider controls the motorcycle and, as such, these parts of the bike necessitate customization in order for the rider to be comfortable and confident in the bike's feel. Having levers that are too far, short, long, wide for your grip will pose a problem.

Most stock levers don't have a wide enough range of adjustments  or features available for riders to properly dial in their hand controls. This is why its important to set up your bike to ride the way you need it to. Aftermarket levers play a pivotal role in customizing your bike for comfort, safety and looks.

Materials, Customization & Personalization

Sportbike Levers
Many aftermarket sportbike levers are made from stronger materials than their stock counterparts, so they provide an advantage in safety right off the bat. CNC-Machined aluminum is the popular process for aftermarket levers, allowing the manufacturer to develop the shape, features and textures of the lever.

Utilizing aluminum allows the levers to be beautifully anodized in many different colors as well as powder coated. Usually, you can pick and choose the colored lever components to come up with a truly custom look for your own motorcycle.

Shorty or Standard Length

With stock levers, it's common for riders who only use a few fingers on the brake or clutch to get their gloves caught on the back of longer levers (since they usually rest the fingers they aren't using behind the lever). Riders who choose shorter, aftermarket levers won't run into this issue, as they have plenty of clearance for their fingers but some riders opt to keep standard length levers to lessen the need to 're-learn' the controls.

Riders with larger hands, though, might feel that their current lever isn't comfortable enough. In these cases, standard length levers will offer better grip and a smoother feel when riders operate the bike. It's even possible to use a staggered combination with a short brake and long clutch (for example) or vice versa.

Micro-Adjustments for Lever Reach

In addition to providing greater safety and comfort, aftermarket levers often allow for a wider and more precise adjustment range for the lever reach. The lever reach is the distance from the grip to the lever. This reach should be comfortable and effective for both the brake and clutch levers.

This adjustment for reach lets riders set them up in the position that is most convenient for their riding style, improving their abilities on the road or track in turn. Most aftermarket levers offer 8-10 different positions that can be set on-the-fly. On-the-fly adjustments can compensate for brake lever fade due to excessive heat during aggressive braking.

Folding or Non-Folding

Some levers (like Pazzo Levers) even have the ability to pivot during impacts, lessening the chance that they will break. This is an important feature for the survivability of the lever during a tip over or crash - as it's not easy to ride with broken levers! This choice is popular for track day enthusiasts and racers alike. They also look wicked!

What Motorcycle Lever Brands Stand Out?

Pazzo Levers
Pazzo Racing Levers
There are plenty to pick from, but Pazzo Levers (designed and manufactured in Canada) are well-known by riders for their looks and quality. These levers are easy to install (most can complete the process in about five minutes) and made from strong aluminum that is both lightweight and resistant to physical force.

Their adjustable nature allows riders to position the levers away from the handlebar grips at one of six preset distances, and the varied color options (which include UV-protected IFX Candy varieties) cover something for everyone. Any riders needing to replace the stock levers on their motorcycles should give them a look before checking out anything else.

Aside from Pazzo, there are any leading manufacturers of sportbike aftermarket hand control levers including CRG and Vortex. Many of these brands are available from major online motorcycle parts stores and installation is straightforward.

Installation Notes

While the installation of aftermarket motorcycle brake and clutch levers - for most bike models - can be had by simply removing your stock levers and replacing them with new levers, hand controls can be a very sensitive part of the motorcycle so if you're not sure about how to go about it, we definitely recommend seeking a qualified mechanic to install your levers for you.

For more customization options, check out Rizoma Grips and Supersprox Sprockets review next!

By Daniel Relich


How To: Preparing to Ride Motorcycles In The Rain

Riding your motorcycle in the rain may not be avoidable for many people. However, staying prepared with the below tips can ensure you have a more safe and pleasant ride through the rain. If there is a chance you may be riding through bad weather, you should always be prepared with the right gear. Check out our webstore to find the appropriate gear to help you stay prepared for wet weather.


Beware of slippery surfaces
The simplest way to prevent your motorcycle from sliding is to keep an eye out for painted lines, manhole covers, and steel plates on the roadway.

Braking
When braking in wet conditions, apply the brakes with ease to prevent locking your wheels up.

Accelerating 
When preparing to accelerate, beware of the surface you are currently on. Accelerating quickly on a wet surface can be disastrous.

Clear visor
Make sure your helmet visor is treated with antifog and your windscreen is properly cleaned before riding in the rain

Tires
Check your tires for wear and make sure they are properly inflated to ensure you have enough traction prior to riding in less than ideal conditions.

Rain puddles
Going too fast over a puddle can cause your bike to Hydroplane. Make sure you are aware of any puddles you may ride through.

Slow down
Good handling in the rain starts with an appropriate speed prior to corner entry. Watching your speed is one of the most important ways to improve your safety when riding in the rain.

Wear weather proof gear ? Rainsuit
In order to keep focus on the road, ensuring you are comfortable enough to ride through inclement weather is crucial. Consider a waterproof rain suit for the times you may ride through the rain.

Water proof boots
Your feet play a vital role in operating your motorcycle?s gearbox and rear brake. Make sure your feet are protected from the weather to reduce distraction and discomfort in the wet weather.

Water proof gloves
Keeping your hands dry and warm is important for having your hands prepared to react quickly. Weather proof gloves can help reduce rider distraction and improve comfort for your hands.
By Daniel Relich


How Does a Speedohealer Work?



While scrolling through forums and browsing for new motorcycle parts, newer riders might come across mention of a device called a SpeedoHealer - made by the company Healtech Electronics.

Savvy riders might already have an inkling of what we're talking about - allow a speedometer or odometer to display more accurate and complete information, convert KPH to MPH, etc. - but how does it work and why do I need it?

I decided to do some digging to reveal a few of this device's inner mysteries and why they're so important. Here's what I found:

How a SpeedoHealer Functions

Believe it or not, a factory bike speedometer can be somewhat inaccurate (in some cases, reading high up to 10 percent). Bikes that have been geared down to improve acceleration might show an even greater error. A Healtech SpeedoHealer is a calibrator that hooks up to a bike and, when properly programmed, will correct for this slight error, enabling a more realistic display of speed.

Why is this important? If the speedometer on a bike is off, then the odometer will rack up more miles than what you've actually put on the bike, which could, potentially, put it in the upper mileage range more quickly and harm resale value. With a SpeedoHealer, this reading stays precise and won't exceed the true mileage of the bike.

In addition, using a SpeedoHealer will help keep readings accurate even after performing changes on a bike. It helps with optimizing performance and allows riders to stay confident that they're operating within the correct speed limit while cruising down the open road. Changing the gear ratio of your motorcycle's sprockets will throw off your speedometer reading - which sucks - and is the #1 reason riders buy this device!

Installing A SpeedoHealer

SpeedoHealers have a plug-and-play design, so installing one is a fairly simple process that most riders can accomplish in under twenty minutes. After plugging the SpeedoHealer into the speed sensor, it's just a matter of following the instructions included with the device to calculate speedometer error and calibrate the unit to compensate.

Generally speaking, riders will use a GPS to get a true reading of their speed, which they will compare to their bike's (incorrectly) indicated speed. Using a correction chart provided with the SpeedoHealer, they can then enter the appropriate programming values and experience more accurate readouts from their speedometer.

Finding A SpeedoHealer

As with many aftermarket motorcycle parts, there are, for lack of a better term, knock-offs on the market that aren't quite up to par. The best method for getting the highest quality SpeedoHealer is consulting a trusted online motorcycle parts store. There, riders can ensure they're getting an authentic product that will do the job as intended.

Healtech also makes a wide array of awesome motorcycle electronic accessories like gear indicators and quickshifters that make motorcycling safer and more enjoyable!

By Daniel Relich


Supersprox Stealth Sprockets Review


One of the most visible motorcycle parts that riders replace either out of necessity or by way of upgrades is the motorcycle sprocket. It's such a simple piece of equipment, but having the right sprockets can make a big difference in how a bike feels when taking it out on the road or trail, especially when modifying the gear ratios.

For sport and performance riders, in particular, this is one area where aftermarket motorcycle parts most often win the day. Often, the search for performance by way of weight savings have unintended negative side effects - namely that aluminum sprockets wear out way too fast. Supersprox has an answer for this, and it's a beautiful one.

What's So Important About Sprockets?

If achieving better acceleration and power generation are the goal, a sprocket change is a surefire way of helping achieve that goal. The sprockets on a bike influence something known as the gearing ratio; that is, the ratio between the number of teeth between the front and rear bike sprockets. This ratio influences the conversion of revs from the engine into actual wheel speed when riding.

There are plenty of charts and references to look at in achieving the right balance, but the point is that the OEM gear ratio is often not ideal, and heading to the motorcycle parts store to score some new sprockets is the best way to configure the ratio so it's closer to optimized.

Even if you're not keen on changing gear ratios, often riders will go for a lighter setup or sprockets with customizable colors to accent their motorcycle. Remember, if you're modifying your gear ratios, then you're going to want to install a Speedohealer in order to fix the speedometer error that will likely result.

What About Supersprox Sprockets?

For their part, Supersprox USA has an expansive and reliable line of sprockets marketed specifically to street racers, rally racers, enduro-cyclers and motocross guys. Their lineup includes a rather unique offering, the Supersprox Stealth Sprockets. These sprockets are finely tuned for superior performance and increased longevity.

Whereas many sprockets are completely aluminum or steel, the Stealth Sprockets use a combination of an aluminum center and steel teeth. This allows them to produce sprockets lighter (and cheaper) than many competitors and last a lot longer without totally giving up the sought after weight savings of aluminum sprockets.

Additionally, their sprockets come in various color options (gold, red, black) and are well-regarded for their superior performance and high levels of durability. You'll be able to express yourself in more ways than one!

Supersprox Durability and Chain Kits

There's a long list of notable riders who endorse the Supersprox brand across many performance-oriented motorcycle events, and the company is confident enough to offer a lifetime guarantee on its drive kits. I mean, 60+ world championships can't be wrong.

To save on the confusion of chain lengths or matching the correct chain, the Supersprox "lifetime" chain & sprocket kits come with the front and rear sprockets needed for particular setups, along with a chain to link everything together - making finding the right plug and play kit an exceedingly simple prospect.

As always, one of the best ways to source high-quality sprockets (or any aftermarket gear for that matter) is making use of an online motorcycle parts store. They often carry the widest selection of individual parts (even from guys like Supersprox) and know how to keep prices well within the limits of reasonable. Our store has plenty!

Continue reading about the best motorcycle exhausts!

By Daniel Relich