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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!

MotoGP at Laguna Seca 2012

The first of our tour of gas stations
This was my first year riding up to Monterey, CA from Los Angeles with an 01 FZ1 and I have to say it was quite a memorable one. The plan was to take 450 miles of back roads all the way up.

We started off on the Thursday before the race weekend and took a riding through Latigo Canyon Road in Malibu over to Agoura Hills. A rider in our group has a mechanical issue with his FZ1 and he had to turn back (luckily he was able to rent another motorcycle and met us later that night).

The Route
From Agoura Hills we went up the 23 to Filmore, then we took Telegraph Road to the 150 into Ojai. From Ojai we took the windy 33 up to the 166 into Taft. Then from Taft we continued on the 33 and hopped on the 58 and passed by Paso Robles into Templeton. From Templeton we took Las Tablas to Vineyard Dr - which took us through some very picturesque wineries. We passed Lake Nacimiento through Interlake Road/G14.  Then we took G14 to Mission Road/Nacimiento-Fergusson Rd which took us through Fort Hunter Ligget and onto Hwy 1.

We took a bathroom break :)
If you've never taken Nacimiento Fergusson Road from Fort Hunter Ligget through to Hwy 1 it's a must! The road is very technical but it brings you over to Hwy 1 with some breathtaking views. It's a little bit hairy going through there and it really made me want a GS or something of that nature but the group made it through just fine and took Hwy 1 up through Big Sur and into Monterey.

The group rented a huge house just outside the track in Monterey and it was good times for the entire weekend. We rode into the track daily and had a blast! We even took a ride up north to visit Alice's Restaurant - which is a famous Nor Cal biker bar of sorts outside of Palo Alto. The food was amazing but I did run out of a gas on the way up there and we had to siphon from a buddy's bike. It's an "adventure" though, right?


Premium Paddock Pass
I started the day with a standard paddock pass but ended up scoring a premium paddock pass which gives you serious access. I was able to check out Rossi's helmet and Rossi himself. 

Through some other cosmic grace I found myself as a guest of HRC and ended up on a tour of the Stoner/Pedrosa's HRC Repsol Honda garage which, if you aren't familiar, is some serious VIP status! They even fed us! 

I'm looking forward to next year's adventure and, hopefully, by then I can be on a new Ducati 1200 Multistrada!




Alice's Restaurant
Parking at the track
Siphoning gas
Valentino Rossi's Rear
Rossi's Carbon AGV Helmet
Rossi's Carbon AGV Helmet
Rossi's Carbon AGV Helmet
Dani Pedrosa
Ben Spies: Injury after practice
Ducati Girls
Yamalube Girls
PSR Girl - Michelle Yee
Brammo Girls
Repsol Honda Garage Access
Repsol Honda Garage Access
Repsol Honda Garage Access
San Carlo Girls
Valentino Rossi

By Sir D


Frazier Mountain with the Ventura Boys

On the way to the Klim Adventure Summit in Idaho last month (more on that soon), Jayson Plummer and I ran into a group that he rides with out of Ventura County. Cameron Marshall (a.k.a. Nuclear Jesus) of BMWVC organizes a 'Gear Up & Ride' weekend about once a month. The first time I met Cam, Plums and I just happened to cross paths with him on day-1 of our 2-week trip. This time, I was voluntarily subjecting myself to the likes of this motley crew.

Saturday morning I packed up a few things and rode out to meet Cam and Steve, both of whom ride R1200GS Adventure's. We picked up Pat on the side of the road on his KTM 990SMT and found Rick at a gas station on his R1200GS. Beagle met us at the market at the bottom of the mountain somewhere around Frazier Park in his CJ7. Poor Beagle had a bum knee so he got to pilot the giant ice chest on wheels.

Pat and I swapped bikes so I got to try out the Big Orange Supermoto. That 990 engine is nice and smooth. It revved up so fast I was hitting the rev limiter without even meaning to. I thought I would hit the throttle and the front wheel would fly up in the air, but it wasn't all smoking wheels shooting flames as I had expected. Overall, the bike felt like it would handle best while being ridden aggressively, which is a good thing riding with sportbikes, but not today. In corners it wanted to drop much further than the modest lean angles I could afford within the group. Brakes were good. The throttle felt a little twitchy but this is compared to my little ADV-Touring machine so no official complaints about the 990SMT. Just a different bike all together. I could see having a lot of fun on it in a different setting.

All-in-all, the riding/camping trip was a good overnighter. Everyone got to relax, shoot Beagle's .22, and just hang out. It was dead silent up there that night. No insect noises or vehicles or anything. I think I'm addicted to the ride and camp experience. I've been on plenty of riding trips, but ever since my Grand Canyon trip earlier in the year it seems like I'm sleeping in the dirt almost every weekend now. So be it.

Another good weekend guys. See ya next time.


   
By Aram


Review: TKC80 Dual Sport Tires for Big Bikes

My F800GS sees a lot of miles on and off the pavement. When it comes to tires, I'm always looking for that perfect combination of smooth, reliable handling on the highway and over the top traction and reliability in the dirt, gravel and sand. There will never be a perfect, all-in-one tire to deliver the highway miles I need with all of the off-road handling I could ask for but, my experience with the TKC80 has left me thinking that this is just about as good as it gets.


Continental TKC 80 Twinduro Dual Sport Tires
SoloMotoParts.com TKC80 Dual Sport Tires

Pros: This is, hands down, my top tire pick for big bike performance on and off-road. Why? I've never ridden another tire that handled better off-road on the GS. That's a big deal- for me at least.  The knobs are nice and fat so you get a great contact patch with the pavement, but there is plenty of room in between to get great traction in sand and loose gravel. The same wide tread pattern allows the tire to self-clean as you ride off-road rather than caking up like a lot of other dual sport tires.

What's amazing about the TKC80 is that it handles incredibly well on the road for a knobby tire. I can be very aggressive on the street and lean the bike all the way over like I would with a more street-biased tire like the Michelin Anakee's. The TKC80's inspire confidence with the traction they retain, even in wet conditions. Yes, that's right. A smart rider can ride these in the rain and be just fine.

I actually worked the TKC80's so hard on a recent trip that the rubber compound was melting under the hot conditions at speed. This just illustrates the kind of traction you'll get with the TKC80's, as sport racing tires will routinely experience some 'melting' at the track as well. Traction was not compromised by any 'greasing' effect that makes some tires slippery under these extreme conditions. I will add that I was riding a fully loaded adventure bike through tight, twisty roads at a pretty good clip on a hot day. This is the only time I noticed the tires actually heating up this much. It's not an every day occurrence, but just something interesting I thought I'd share.

Cons: Oh, so there's a catch?! Well, this is where real life creeps into the equation. The TKC80 will wear out a lot faster than other tires on the market, but don't forget, this is a straight-up knobby tire. I mean, look at it! The top 20% or so appears to wear very quickly but, this could be the power of suggestion since everyone likes to say that about this tire for some reason. My personal experience has shown that they wear quickly in two settings: a lot of highway miles and spinning the tire in rock and hard surfaces off-road. I tend to be aggressive with the throttle which accelerates the wear of any tire with a soft compound like the TKC80.

Another point you're likely to consider is the cost. They're not exactly cheap, so you could say that this is the cost of performance. I can run a front TKC80 for thousands upon thousands of miles but, that rear is being replaced with as little as 3,000 miles on it! Please keep in mind this is after extremely aggressive riding resulting in melting the tire on the road and burning them up on rocks in the dirt. Most people will easily get over 5,000 miles on a rear TKC80 with perhaps 8-10,000 miles on the front. I'm at about 5,000 miles on my current TKC80 front and it looks like I have about that much further to go.

Conclusion: It's been worth it for me to splurge and have a set on the bike for desert rides and off-road excursions, but I wouldn't recommend using them exclusively if you're commuting on a big bike. I hope some of this has been helpful for riders that have seen people using these tires and wondered what the deal was. The truth is, most riders will not use their tires to their full potential to begin with so, it's not going to be critical to get the best performing tire out there. You can expect everyone at Solo Moto to be honest with our opinions on parts and gear and more importantly, be forthcoming with what we do and do not have experience with. There is no agenda here to sell you one brand over another because there are a million different brands out there and we want to try all of them!

I've ridden four or five different models of tires on the F800GS so far and I plan to try a couple more in the coming months. I'm hoping to have a write-up on my #2 pick for big-bike dual sport tires soon in addition to adding a certain popular German tire manufacturer (hint, hint) to our selection.

Pricing and Availability:

Continental TKC 80 Twinduro Dual Sport Front Tire

Continental TKC 80 Twinduro Dual Sport Rear Tire

By Aram


2012 BBTR 'Big Bear Run'

I packed up the GS and rode out to Big Bear Lake, CA, for the annual Big Bear Dual Sport Ride put on by the Big Bear Trail Riders. There were two courses offered: the Easy Loop and the Hard Loop. I?ve been visiting Big Bear my whole life so I?m very familiar with the lay of the land and most of the dirt roads. Click here for an 800gs GoPro video through rain and hail in Big Bear

 My Saturday morning began with a nice ride up to the San Bernadino Mountains where Big Bear Lake resides. The familiar curves of Highway 330 beckoned me onward as my 800cc parallel twin hummed past the cager?s trapped in single-file lines behind one another. Upon arriving at the convention center I felt the nervousness begin as I counted orange bike after orange bike- and not the big, heavy, long distance orange bikes I?m used to traveling with, but small displacement, single-track weapons with trials tires and Rekluse clutches.


Visions of flowery meadows filled with the sound of roaring four-stroke engines occupied my dreams for the weeks up to the event.
I had been seeing this ride publicized for years and I wasn?t about to let another year go by without participating. I'm planning to buy a smaller dual sport motorcycle within the next year so, I had better take the GS while she had the chance.


Jim and Tom
It didn?t help the anxiety as people gathered around my bike asking what it weighed and what I weighed and how experienced I was and yada, yada, yada. I signed up for the Easy Loop, didn?t I?
Easy Loop

Jim, President of the BBTR, shared some stories with me about riding to Alaska and various other places around the US on his GS. This took my mind off the task at hand and put me at ease for the time being. We shared memories of a couple special places and I was on my way after chugging a cup of coffee and inhaling a donut.



Hard Loop
The ride began as soon as I hit the dirt off highway 18. It started out pleasant enough, passing jeeps and ford explorers along the way. There was a healthy water crossing and fun, banked sides along the road from so many travelers coming through.


I approached the Vista trailhead and immediately noticed the presence of an inordinate amount of large rocks littering the vicinity.  I stopped to take some pictures, catch my breath from the ride so far, and soon be on my way.

 I quickly discovered that there was nothing ?easy? about the Easy Loop when riding a 400lb dual sport motorcycle. What I did not realize was that the Easy Loop shares the Hard Loop?s route for the first section of the ride? interesting. I left so late in the day that I was the only rider traveling in this direction at this time. I was excited and nervous all at once, riding like so many times before not knowing what the next turn would bring and if I would be able to make it.



Shh, she's sleeping.
Eventually, handing the bike was more than I could muster. The bike bobbled over some rocks so I lost my momentum below a steep, slippery, sandy trail. Did I mention there were rocks everywhere? I wasn?t sure if I was making a literal mountain out of a mole hill so I proceeded with impunity! Damn it all! This is the Easy Loop for God?s sake! Bring it on! I gave it my best shot but there wasn?t enough traction for that amount of space and there was not enough room to turn around. I toppled over, like so many times before, easing the bike down before I let my body fall to the ground.


Klim Badlands Jacket and Pants
The Klim Badlands jacket and Badlands pants have saved me more times than I can count. It?s gotten to the point that I have no recollection of any pain or discomfort whatsoever. This can also be a bad thing (ha!) but my point is that the gear has done its job again and again. Klim makes some good stuff, but I digress.








You get to know yourself pretty well when you push yourself to do things you?re not sure you can do. I really had to slow myself down, literally, by taking deep breaths of the thin mountain air to lower my heart rate. I wasn?t going to let my excitement lead to my own ruin. After unloading the bike and enjoying a nice break with a great view near the top of the hill I got to work lifting and shifting the adventure bike so that it lay slightly perpendicular to the hill. This allowed me to use gravity to my advantage and stand above the motorcycle on the hill to get it up. After that, a little shimmying back and forth and the bike was upright and ready to roll back down.  Eventually, I got the motorcycle back on its kickstand further down the hill and I was making my second attempt at the climb- still, with very little runway.

Second attempt: fail! But I did manage to stay at the top of the hill and work the bike up from there (see video).  The remainder of the ride was pretty uneventful as far as drama goes. My senses were heightened near the approach to each grade, being mindful of the possibility of another steep incline existing just out of sight. Adrenaline must play a part in this because I rode much better than I was riding earlier. Lesson learned, I guess.


I?m an average guy in average physical shape, and I was exhausted half way through the day. I putted around beautiful Big Bear, took some pictures, and made my way up a dirt road where I saw an easy-up next to some trees. There, I found Duane and Chuck from BBTR at the final checkpoint for the Hard Loop. How cool is that? I didn?t even know it was there.



We killed some time shooting the breeze about my heavy dirt bike (haha) and talked about the club, local riding, cool bikes, etc. Cool guys. I was a little shaky after just coffee and a donut so I asked the guys if they wanted a sandwich while they performed their duties. With that, I was off to Subway to get a few sandwiches.



Damn, there were a lot of people at Subway. The whole time I was in line I thought they had to be thinking that I took off with their money, haha.


After chowing our food, Duane and Chuck told me we could expect the first finishers of the Hard Loop to arrive soon. I got my camera ready and shot some video of the first finishers for the day (see video). I don?t know about anyone else but, I was actually pretty excited. My first time at the event and here I was watching the hardcore of the hardcore in Southern California roll in after completing the most difficult 100-something mile loop the area had to offer.


I know it?s not a race but there was something symbolic about being there with the first finishers, and they felt the same way. I know this because I overheard the riders talking about bumping into each other on the trail vying for position. The first group of three came in within seconds of each other so it must have been quite a ride. I love it. Good job guys.



The banquet room was filled with exhausted and happy faces alike. The BBTR crew was organized and especially helpful in issuing me another wrist band and meal ticket since I had misplaced mine at some point during the day. I heard that there were still riders on the course when I was sitting down to eat. The food was good- too good. I ate like a pig.


I?m already looking forward to next year but hopefully I won?t be riding alone! Thanks to the Big Bear Trail Riders for putting on a great event. You guys are all so nice. Oh, I almost forgot? Thanks Paco for letting me stash my helmet and stuff in your trailer! I had ridden my motorcycle up there and it was nice to be able to relax at the banquet without lugging all my gear around.

See you guys next year!





By Aram


Grand Canyon Adventure with Giant Loop Motorcycle Luggage


We recently had the opportunity to try some motorcycle luggage from Giant Loop. I'd heard great things about their soft luggage so I was excited to pick out a new tank bag and rear saddlebags for a 700-mile big-bike adventure to the north rim of the Grand Canyon through Nevada, Arizona and Utah. Giant Loop embraces the "go light, go fast" concept, which is reinforced by building luggage that doesn't outweigh your gear. This makes sense to someone like me who is always concerned with weight and performance so I can maximize fun along the way. 

I began with the Giant Loop Diablo Tank Bag. I started using the bag around town, back and forth to the office, running errands, etc. Even though the Diablo is the smaller of the two tank bags offered by Giant Loop (the larger being the
Fandango tank bag), it had more than enough room for my needs. Things get more critical with space on long trips, and this little tank bag swallowed everything I shoved in it: sunglasses, goggles, spare goggle lens, camera, GoPro, chapstick, sunscreen, knife, spare batteries, cables, chargers, phone, rags, pressure gauge, leather riding gloves, insect repellent, and a map and itinerary in the see-through sleeve on the top. I was able to store all of those items in the Diablo and still have room to sort through it all and zip it closed very quickly with my gloves on. I tugged on the zippers a million times and the Giant Loop Diablo Tank Bag took the abuse over hundreds of miles of dust and dirt. 

I've put another 4,000 miles on the motorcycle since this trip and the Diablo works incredibly well. It's important to mention that the Diablo slants up and out of the way so you can stand up and lean forward all day without crushing the contents of the bag. Other riders have complained about their tank bags fitting around them in a seated position and being in the way while standing. Something to think about when considering a tank bag. Click any of the links to the tank bag in this post and you'll see what I mean.

The bulk of my gear was stored in the Giant Loop Great Basin Saddlebag. The Great Basin goes over the seat where a passenger normally would and uses the passenger pegs as a mount point. The straps over the top of the saddlebag allow you to compress softer items at the top of the bag while storing heavier items like tools and tubes lower on the sides. This is extremely helpful with weight distribution on the motorcycle, which means better handling. The compression straps and cam buckles tighten as you pull, so it's quick and easy once the bag is zipped up. I stored all my food, cookware, clothes, shoes, basically everything outside of my camping gear in the Great Basin. As I used consumables along the way, the straps cinched down and kept the load close to the motorcycle. I'm rough on my gear, and this saddlebag was tugged on, pushed, and dragged over dirt and rocks- all the while, acting as one unit with the motorcycle. The Giant Loop Great Basin Saddlebag delivered a flexible, scalable, sturdy unit of storage for all of my necessities during the trip. 

Both the Diablo Tank Bag and the Great Basin Saddlebag are removed from the motorcycle with ease. I would throw my GPS and Spot in the tank bag, unzip it from the harness that remains on the motorcycle, and carry the bag by the built-in handle. The Great Basin was just as easy, which made me feel like a total stud when we got to camp because I could un-strap the bag, throw it over my shoulder and drop it next to my tent with very little effort. It might not sound like a big deal, but at the end of a long day it made all the difference not having to make multiple trips from the motorcycle to my tent.

One more thing about the Great Basin Saddlebag: it comes with 2 heavy-duty Cordura internal pannier pods (with handles), 2 yellow nylon stuff sacks (I used for freeze-dried food and clothing), 2 integrated bottle carriers attached to the inside of the bag (which stay flat and out of the way if you don't need them), and a healthy zippered top case lined with high-visibility yellow nylon (which also stays flat and out of the way when not in use). All of these little compartments and storage containers were extremely useful for someone like me who doesn't want to go out and buy containers for all his junk- especially when you consider how much it would cost. Each internal bag is sized to a specific area of the saddlebag so, once you fit your possessions into all of the internal containers you want to use, you just slip them into the areas they're sized for in the saddlebag. This made life a lot easier because I just used these containers in my tent and around camp and then loaded them into the saddlebag when it was time to go.

Overall, I was very happy with the look, function, and quality of the Giant Loop luggage I used on this trip. Road travel is even better with this soft luggage because the bike remains narrow for splitting lanes and navigating congested areas and traffic. I was very happy having everything secure and close to the motorcycle. I don't know how someone would deal with the kind of weight I was carrying off-road with panniers or top racks. I found a great solution in Giant Loop's luggage for traveling hundreds of miles in rough terrain with a lot of gear. I would highly recommend their products to anyone looking to do the same.


By Aram


Hanging Out with Jonah Street

I had the privilege of hanging out with rider Jonah Street in Indianapolis earlier this year. It was a big moment for me considering that it wasn't a meet and greet or an autograph signing. I had heard (and seen) so much about this rider since moving into the ADV scene and I have to say- what a nice guy! He started off by telling me we were going to have to wrestle right there and then since I didn't have any of my Klim gear on, but when I offered to buy him a beer (from the complimentary bar) he seemed willing to pass on the wrestling. Everyone was relaxing while we watched the current round of Supercross. It was the race from this season (2012) with the Chad Reed injury so, perfect timing to be in close quarters with so many people that love motorcycles!

I got to talk to Jonah about everything from movies and music to riding growing up and his early days looking for sponsors. He had it rough for a lot of years and it doesn't seem like things got any easier as the road went on. I didn't expect to find so much common ground with a seasoned rally rider. This was just part of the charm that is Jonah Street. He was vocal about loving what he does and how lucky he is to do it. I happen to share this sentiment as well. All this bonding and I still wanted more so, I captured his attention at the exact wrong moment- right when Reed hit the ground live on TV!!! Uh-oh... back to wrestling we go.


So, thumbs up to Jonah for endlessly humoring a fan and best of luck to him as spokesperson for Top 1 Oil.
By Aram


K&N Releases "Race Spec" Air Filters for Select Bikes

K&N Engineering, Inc., releases new "Race Spec" OEM replacement type air filters for the 08-09 R6, 09 R1 and 09 GSX-R1000.

KEY FEATURES:
- K&N's RACE SPECIFIC High-Flow Filter Media
- Lowers restriction, increasing horsepower and torque
- Fuel-Management modifications WILL BE necessary.
- Closed-Course Competition Use ONLY.
- Washable & Reusable
- One-Year Limited Warranty
- NOTE: MUST be oiled prior to installation

BMC's had a line of "Race" filters for quite some time now. Is it a little too late in the game for K&N to be releasing a "race spec" filter? I think not.

Most seasoned riders tend to gravitate towards BMC filters as the "must have" product for their sportbikes. I think this very reason is due to BMC's focus on motorcycle filters in the consumer U.S. market and the availability of their "race" version which gives our beloved Sunday-Rossi-wanna-be's a chance to feel sporty. I tend to think the majority of new riders would go for K&N given their huge brand presence there in the USA. Heck, I had a K&N in my 03 R6 when I started riding. I use K&N in my automobiles. Oddly enough, my current 06 R6 breathes through a BMC Track Filter. I guess I think I'm fast - ha ha.

In the end both companies seem to make a good product. BMC Filters are re-usable and washable just like K&N filters but you rarely hear about it. Marketing goes a long way. I've read forum posts such as, "K&N? It's not a car, it's a motorcycle. Go with BMC." Did you know that BMC makes automotive filters as well? You do now.



By Sir D


520 Conversions & Gearing Changes

The term "520 conversion" means a couple of different things to different people. I hope to clarify a few things. First, a 520 conversion doesn't necessarily designate a change in gearing. For most people, the "width" of the chain/sprockets is what we'd refer to as 520, 525, or 530, etc. to make things simple (the technical term is "pitch"). The idea here is less weight on the drive train which is suppose to translate into better performance. Generally 520 sprockets are aluminum (which means they wear down faster) over the stock steel sprockets but they are lighter. A 520 conversion is generally a pretty performance oriented modification for your motorcycle so it really depends on your riding style and what you want to achieve with modifying your drive train before choosing the right set up. Remember, all the components of a chain kit (front sprocket, rear sprocket and chain) need to have the same pitch to work together.

A very popular tweak to the 520 conversion is to chain the gearing of your sprockets or the number of teeth which works miracles on acceleration of middle weight 600/750cc sportbikes. The consensus is that -1/+2, down one tooth from stock on your front sprocket and up two teeth from stock on your rear sprockets, is a good place to begin for most 600's. This is a great set-up for the performance oriented riders as it adds a big bottom end punch (helpful for these newer top end friendly bikes with little bottom end) and will bring you through the rpms/gears very quickly. This adds to the already frenzied 600 attitude but I absolutely love the way it feels. It's not a crime to run -1/+0 if you're just looking for a little boost when commuting or riding with your buddies. -1/+1 is also a popular choice.

I found that some of our customers on the big bikes (1000cc) like to do -1 in front OR +2/+3 in the rear as it lets you gear up, or use a higher gear than you usually would, while riding. This is a great benefit as most of the big bikes do about 100mph in first gear and screaming along at 11,500rpm with a hair trigger throttle and 180hp can be a bit unnerving all while at full lean. The low end is improved for your daily riding as well.

I receive a lot of questions about which brand of sprocket or chain to use. As far as the sprockets go, any hard anodized sprocket will do. Some of our top sellers are Driven, AFAM and Vortex for aluminum 520 sprockets. Front sprockets are generally steel. With chains, like most things in life, you generally get what you pay for so don't skimp on the chain and it will serve you well.

SoloMotoParts.com offers 520 conversion kits that allow you to pick your sprocket and chains in various colors and teeth size to serve your needs. See them for Yamaha, Honda, Suzuki and Kawasaki.

What do I run? I use Driven/AFAM sprockets (-1/+2) with a DID ERV3 chain on my 06 R6 track bike. Also, note that changing your gearing will make your speedometer read wrong. A Speedohealer will fix this.
By Sir D